Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Dark Sacred Night: A Ballard and Bosch Novel: Harry Bosch, Book 21 by Michael Connelly

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Book Blurb:

Detective Renée Ballard is working the night beat–known in LAPD slang as “the late show”–and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin.

Ballard can’t let him go through department records, but when he leaves, she looks into the case herself and feels a deep tug of empathy and anger. She has never been the kind of cop who leaves the job behind at the end of her shift–and she wants in.

The murder, unsolved, was of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally killed, her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy, and to finally bring her killer to justice. Along the way, the two detectives forge a fragile trust, but this new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.

My Review:

Yes, I know—Michael Connelly is becoming a bit overused, certainly on this blog as well as the print and screen media, including the Bosch series and now Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer), but let’s face it, Connelly is a master at creating iconic characters that stand out—over and over.

I can’t help it—I really am enjoying these books, audiobooks, and particularly when Renee Ballard teams with Bosch in the late show.

This entry to the series, Book 2, follows The Late Show (Renee Ballard Book 1). There are five in the series; I’ve listened to three (only because my library apparently doesn’t have the other two). The CE reviewed The Dark Hours.

Renee is introduced to Harry Bosch in Book 2, discovering him in the Hollywood case files in search of the Daisy Clayton file. (I recognized this thread as we burned through the Harry Bosch series on Amazon.) Interesting to actually hear Welliver’s (pleasing male) voice and the two narrators do an excellent job.

Dark Sacred Night by Michael ConnellyBosch is actually retired at this point, but still works on cases, and Renee works cold cases, so they team up to solve their current cases, as well as work on the layered threads underneath the two main plot lines.

I enjoyed the two working together, each separately at times, then coming together again sharing clues, piecing the storyline bit by bit.

Both are strong, complex characters coming from complicated background experiences. I was slower to engage with Bosch than Ballard until I watched the Amazon series. I’m still not sold on Titus Welliver, but totally get the character’s moral compass—his code. Ballard is sharp, crafty, and comes at the case with a bulldog attitude.

As always, it’s fast-paced and never lets down or slows the momentum, although there are certainly times when the focus is on the character, fleshing them out, making them real, revealing character traits. Bosch has a daughter; Ballard a surfboard and canine companion. Both characters are strong, effective, good at their jobs, and have each other’s backs. Engaging and entertaining. Easy to invest in both.

How deep have you delved into Connelly? The Bosch books? The Haller books? Did you like Renee Ballard? Any of his others you’d like to recommend? I’m all ears.

Book Details:

Genre: Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction, Fiction Urban Life
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
ASIN: B07G3J6SXC
Listening Length: 10 hrs 39 mins
Narrators: Christine LakinTitus Welliver
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Dark Sacred Night [Amazon]

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

 

Michael Connelly - authorThe Author: Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty-five foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include The Law Of Innocence, Fair Warning, The Night Fire, Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds Of Truth, and The Late Show. Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, “Sound Of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story’ and ‘Tales Of the American.’ He spends his time in California and Florida.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

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] 
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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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

Netflix Series The Lincoln Lawyer vs #Audiobook #TheLincolnLawyer by Michael Connelly – #legalthriller

TV Netflix Series The Lincoln Lawyer vs Audiobook by Michael Connelly 

TV Netflix series The Lincoln Lawyer vs audiobook by Michael Connelly
TV Netflix series The Lincoln Lawyer vs Audiobook – photos courtesy http://www.imdb.com

Intro

So, have you been thoroughly saturated with The Lincoln Lawyer yet? First, we had the book written by Michael Connelly (2005), then the movie starring Michael McConaughey (March 2011), and now the Netflix series starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. No? There’s a reason for that (besides the male stars of either screen version)—it’s good. Escapist entertainment, satisfying, realistic well-drawn characters. (But I have to be honest with you—I didn’t see the movie version.)

Netflix Series

“Idealistic lawyer Mickey Haller runs his practise out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car, taking on cases big and small across Los Angeles.”

The Brass Verdict by Michael ConnellySeason 1 is actually based on Connelly’s second novel, Brass Verdict, as conceived by David E Kelly and developed by Ted Humphrey. Haller is a defense attorney whose practice and marriage to prosecutor Maggie McPherson (McPherce) were curtailed by his painkiller addiction. Now clean and ready to resume his legal profession, he inherits a colleague’s caseload. The caseload includes one new and a couple of ongoing cases that are pulled to the fore with a team necessarily involved in extensive investigation.

Neve Campbell - actress
Neve Campbell – Courtesy http://www.imdb.com
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo - actor
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – courtesy http://www.imdb.com

The part of Mickey Haller is handled well by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (although I’m not sure if I missed an explanation for his accent or not),

Neve Campbell as Maggie McPherson,

Becki Newton - actress
Becki Newton – courtesy http://www.imdb.com

 

 

Becki Newton as ex-wife number 2 Lorna Crain, Jazz Raycole as Haller’s driver Izzy Letts, and Christopher Gorham as Trevor Elliott as well as a number of other prominent parts, including Angus Sampson as Cisco.

Christopher Gorman - actor
Christopher Gorman – courtesy http://www.imdb.com

Christopher Gorham as Trevor Elliott plays his despicable part to Emmy level and for the most part, the cast works well. LA always sparks an iconic atmospheric setting and who doesn’t love those ginormous old Lincolns? The series sets an early hook and keeps the viewer gripped with a tantalizing and complex plot, full of suspense, ending each episode with a cliff-hanger into the next. It’s well done.

 

My Thoughts

I could see Netflix following the book, making expected changes for a series often predicting the scene and plot line of the book but not necessarily the timeline. There were subtle differences but not so radical as encountered with a few of the previous books to small screen conversions lately. I suspect Connelly had a strong hand in keeping the series version authentically Connelly. In any case, the series is engaging and entertaining using wildly divergent characters to glue together a gripping thriller.

4 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

INSPIRATION FOR THE ORIGINAL SERIES THE LINCOLN LAWYER – THE #1 TV SHOW ON NETFLIX

The bestselling legal thriller has charismatic defense attorney Mickey Haller taking on a slam-dunk court case involving a Beverly Hills playboy — but as it spirals into a nightmare, he finds himself in a fight for his life.   Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers — they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list. For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it’s about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it’s even about justice.   A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney’s dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career. Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal — this time to save his own life.  

My Thoughts

Mickey Haller is handed a “franchise” case in the form of an entitled, rich playboy who is very used to calling the shots. Haller, however, working out of the back of his Lincoln isn’t exactly flush himself and could use the revenue. On the surface, it didn’t look like it would be a tough negotiation.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly--audiobook coverHaller isn’t new to the game. He’s defended and accumulated a client list of a variety of defendants from bikers and con artists to drug dealers. Louis Ross Roulet is the spoiled child of a wealthy mother who will do anything to keep her son out of jail. He is accused of beating up a woman he met in a bar when they went back to her room. He vehemently denies hitting her and further asserts she set him up. What could go wrong?

Well, I have to say I liked the character of Haller, even with having two failed marriages and his ex-wives still in the picture, no less, along with a small daughter. He is charismatic, there’s a heart of gold beating in there somewhere, and it shows in the clients he’s successfully defended and willing to perform some pay-back work.

Haller is complex; obviously, he has his failings, his flaws. He brings intelligence, wit, and energy to the story. He’s been around long enough to know the score and quickly begins to smell a rat. Something about Roulet isn’t ringing true. And if nothing else, he won’t allow himself to be manipulated beyond his moral compass. I love the way he deals with his antagonist.

4.5 stars

The Author

Michael Connelly - authorMichael Connelly is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and one work of nonfiction. With over eighty million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into forty-five foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won numerous awards for his journalism and his fiction. His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. His most recent New York Times bestsellers include The Law Of Innocence, Fair Warning, The Night Fire, Dark Sacred Night, Two Kinds Of Truth, and The Late Show. Michael is the executive producer of Bosch, an Amazon Studios original drama series based on his bestselling character Harry Bosch, starring Titus Welliver and streaming on Amazon Prime. He is also the executive producer of the documentary films, “Sound Of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story’ and ‘Tales Of the American.’ He spends his time in California and Florida.

Overall Impression

The Netflix Series

WOW! I have to hand it to the Netflix version. While it doesn’t follow Book 1 to conclusion (after all, it’s a series), it does include all the important plot points, charismatic characters, and atmospheric LA locations and scenes. The character of Haller’s first ex doesn’t fit for me—feeling she appears older, not just in terms of maturity, but age as well, looking a good ten years older to his youthful good looks. Doesn’t work for me as well as ex number 2, although I can understand why that marriage didn’t work either. It appears that Haller could be a player, but he’s a great deal more dedicated to his profession than to his women. And he’s very, very good at his profession.

The Audiobook

I’ve become a solid fan of the Connelly style of writing a legal thriller; the mystery, the suspense, the characters all well-drawn and engaging. The fast-paced plot never sags and he brings a satisfying conclusion to the narrative, if just a tad beyond plausibility.

Book Details

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Hachette Audio
ASIN: B000BND03U
Listening Length: 11 hrs 36 mins
Narrator: Adam Grupper
Audible Release: September 27, 2005
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Lincoln Lawyer [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Conclusion

Netflix has done an admiral job of bringing to the small screen an authentic feel of the original work by the author. With just a couple casting wobbles, it engages and entertains solidly throughout the episodes with an equal level of suspense leading the viewer to continue the series and looking forward to Season 2 (and surely there will be a second).

The book, in my case audiobook, narrated capably by Adam Grupper hooks from the beginning and becomes suspenseful, gripping, and thrilling. I enjoy legal thrillers anyway, and this checks all the boxes for me that include a seriously complex plot that doesn’t sag.

Happy either way—one or both—entertaining and looking for more. Have you read the book? Listened to the audiobook? Saw the movie? Viewed the series? What did you think? Haller or Connelly fan? I’d love your comments!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

 

Rosepoint Reviews – May Recap—Welcome June!

Rosepoint Reviews – May Recap

Rosepoint Reviews - May recap

Yes, May is when I spend more time outside than in, working on my gardens; cleaning up the fairy garden, flower bed, and adding soil and amendments to the vegetable garden, turning that over and getting the veggies in. The tomatoes love it and take off immediately. Same with beans and peas—still cool enough for them with the occasional 90-degree day. I put in marigolds as usual to ward off bugs and the bunnies ate them. This year I’ve tried to secure all my defenseless little seedlings (except marigolds I guess) against all manner of deer and bunnies. (I’ve done that before but redoubled the effort this year.) The deer are being scattered due to construction on the other side of the pond. (I haven’t seen the doe with the broken leg in a while.)

Welcome Spring! I fired up the BBQ with a chicken and potatoes and then sat down to eat. Wasn’t long before we had a raccoon trying to clean up the drippings. He was wearing a mask and had no sense of humor. The bandit was a big boy intent on an easy meal and wasn’t happy with the interruption or my broom. At least the possums are smaller and non-threatening.

I relied pretty heavily on the CE for his reviews, so much of my time spent otherwise. The man can read three books to my one. We did read or listen to eighteen books in May, most from NetGalley as I’m still working on that badge, now up to a count of 460 and my ratio continues to be 95%.

May reads and reviews

The Trouble with Secrets by Jean Grainger
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (audiobook)
Somewhere in the South Pacific by John J Gobbell (a CE review)
Last Night with Tokyo Rose by Alexa Kang (a CE review)
Gambling with Murder by Lida Sideris
The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard (audiobook)
Warrensburg by Fleury Sommers (a CE review)
Answering Liberty’s Call by Tracy Lawson
TV Netflix series Along for the Ride vs the audiobook
Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben (audiobook)
Playing with Fire by Mary Burton (a CE review)
The Physicists’ Daughter by Mary Anna Evans (a CE review)
The Doctor’s Daughter by Shari J Ryan
The Crystal Beads by Patricia Black Gould
Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha (audiobook)
Tom Clancy Zero Hour by Don Bentley (a CE review)
The Last Saxon King by Andrew Varga
The Wylder Ghost and Blossom Cherry by Sharon Shipley

 

Reading Challenges

Reading Challenges

My challenges continue to be a problem keeping up. I’ll get them all caught up soon—spring planting push now mellow.  My challenges for 2022 are all listed and linked in the widget column on the right. You can check out the progress of my challenges by clicking the Reading Challenges page but so far I’m at 45% of the Goodreads Challenge of 180 books at 81.

Spring Challenge

Speaking of challenges, that little Spring Challenge in the Kindle app is progressing, albeit not at full speed.

Have you checked yours out yet? It’s not something you joined, it joined you. Now it says I’m a Silver Reader—40 books. (A Gold Reader is achieved upon reading any 75 days during the Challenge.) Also notes I’ve earned eight of 16 achievements with 30 days remaining in the challenge. Actually, there are several I do not see ever achieving including a non-fiction. It’s been a while. Memoirs don’t count(?).

Book Club and Reading/Listening Update

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is the new club pic. It had just started and I jumped the gun when I saw the audiobook. While it might not have been one I’d have chosen, it turned out to be quite compelling. Of course, it was published last year and achieved an “Amazon Best Book of 2021” designation—and a debut at that!

Soap Box

The NetGalley Shelf continues to be an exasperation. I thought short shelf life applied to food? The audiobooks are rift with blanks (guess I’m supposed to fill in whatever words I want?). I can’t afford to buy the books expired and I try very hard to fulfill the promise to review. Too new to be in the library. Ideas?

Have a rant you’d like to mention? Like the change in the Kindle app and mobi conversions?

June is a big birthday month around here (hubby and son on the same day). Welcome to my new followers and those who continue to read, like, share, and comment. What is this without you? Hope you saw something that piqued your interest above!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

 

Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir by Jennifer McGaha – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha

Book Blurb:

When life gets your goat, bring in the herd

Jennifer McGaha never expected to own a goat named Merle. Or to be setting Merle up on dates and naming his doeling Merlene. She didn’t expect to be buying organic yogurt for her chickens. She never thought she would be pulling camouflage carpet off her ceiling or rescuing opossums from her barn and calling it “date night.” Most importantly, Jennifer never thought she would only have $4.57 in her bank account.

When Jennifer discovered that she and her husband owed back taxes—a lot of back taxes—her world changed. Now desperate to save money, they foreclosed on their beloved suburban home and moved their family to a one-hundred-year-old cabin in a North Carolina holler. Soon enough, Jennifer’s life began to more closely resemble her Appalachian ancestors than her upper-middle-class upbringing. But what started as a last-ditch effort to settle debts became a journey that revealed both the joys and challenges of living close to the land.

Told with bold wit, unflinching honesty, and a firm foot in the traditions of Appalachia, Flat Broke with Two Goats blends stories of homesteading with the journey of two people rediscovering the true meaning of home. 

My Review:

OMG, so many reviewers disliked this memoir! And I must admit I had to agree with most of the arguments presented. I can’t even imagine not knowing you haven’t filed with the IRS in years. Robbing Peter to pay Paul until Peter drops a foreclosure on you.

From living well above your means and having your children in private schools to eating gourmet and drinking expensive craft beers. You can’t tell me there wasn’t a hint.

Well educated, this couple made every stupid financial decision you could make. And he was an accountant? Thinking he was handling the finances, she works part-time and plays homemaker, rearing the children, and caring for multiple animals.

Sounds nice—few women get to do that (or even want to) anymore. She tends to blame him for all their financial woes—but how did she miss all the dun letters or calls? Creditors can drive you crazy.

When they make the decision to let foreclosure happen as well as default on the second with their close friends, they flee to the Appalachians to live in an abandoned cabin in a North Carolina holler.

I’ve lived in tar paper shacks—they can be populated (depending on where you live) by spiders (especially black widows), snakes, and every manner of bug or mammal that can find a hole from the size of a pin to a dime. And their old cabin is no better. It takes a while, doing what little they can with what they saved by not paying their last several mortgage payments. UGH! I see a lot of beans in their future.

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGahaGradually, however, she begins to think about chickens. She could raise them, gather and/or sell eggs. Then goats. GOATS! Not an animal I would have considered—remembering how well they perform head butts. And BTW, chickens do have personalities.

Here is what I don’t understand, however; where did they get the money to be buying chickens and build their coop, much less the appropriate provisions and feed for goats? For that matter, chicken feed isn’t cheap and chickens can waste almost as much as they eat. Descriptions of breeding the goats were penned in detail and don’t get me started on the vet bills.

You have to say that listening to this audiobook is like listening to an impending train wreck. They learn the hard way, not having had experience with animals other than canines, and make some big mistakes along the way. There are regrets, embarrassment, shame, loss, recriminations, and a lot of soul-searching. Plus, you gotta love the title.

Sometimes the decisions become outrageous. It’s easy to castigate others’ actions, particularly when so many people have experienced extreme financial conditions and similar hardships and found a way to work through them honorably. Still, the narration is excellent and the author’s wit and sense of humor shine through. As maddening as it can be, it’s also engaging, entertaining, at times enlightening. For one thing, I’ll never try to breed a goat.

The conclusion comes rather abruptly; guess there was nowhere else to go, but pretty much sums up the journey to living happily off the land.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from my local lovely library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Agricultural & Food Sciences, Biographies of Women, Agricultural Science
Publisher: Tantor Audio
ASIN: B078WZVJSF
Listening Length: 9 hrs 19 mins
Narrator: Pam Ward
Publication Date: January  23, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Flat Broke with Two Goats [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars 4 stars

Jennifer McGaha- authorThe Author: A native of Appalachia, Jennifer McGaha lives with her husband, five dogs, twenty-three chickens, and one high-maintenance cat in a tin-roofed cabin bordering the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. Her creative nonfiction work has appeared in Brooklyner, Toad Suck Review, Switchback, Still, Portland Review, Little Patuxent Review, Lumina, Literary Mama, Mason’s Road, Now and Then, and others. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, mountain biking, sampling local beers, and playing with dogs.

©2022 V Williams – V Williams

#throwbackthursday

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

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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