Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“…Presbyterian church, where some folks go to get right with the Lord and others go to be seen going.”

Book Blurb:

From Jeannette Walls, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle, comes a riveting new novel about an indomitable young woman in Virginia during Prohibition.

Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans.

Hang the Moon by Jeannette WallsSallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.

Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

You will fall in love with Sallie Kincaid, a feisty and fearless, terrified and damaged young woman who refuses to be corralled.

My Review:

The 20s was such a tumultuous time in our country, flappers and Prohibition playing a major role until the Depression hit. Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of a wealthy land and business owner. He doesn’t just rule the home roost but the rural Virginia county folk as well.

Sallie Kincaid lost her mother when she was very young and was quickly sent away by her step-mother to live with a destitute aunt after an accident involving her little half-brother. The existence was hand to mouth during which time she did what she could to help her aunt buy food including scrubbing soiled sheets. When at last she is allowed to return to the family home nine years later following her step-mother’s death, she is blown over by the opulence, the size, and the enormity of the Kincaid holdings.

It’s not a bed of roses for Sallie, however, when additional family members make it clear she is there to help care for her brother. Unfortunately, given Sallie’s proclivities and her natural forthright habits and strong opinions, she appears to be more comfortable in an enforcer/collection position than that of nurturing. Through a series of unforeseen tragedies, she is suddenly thrust into the position of heading the Holdings.

The Holdings of course are driven by the illegal sale of spirits and who does a better job at making whiskey than these mountain people with their stills? But the mountain people have a stranglehold on their grudges as well as their illegal activities. (You’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys?)

Hang the Moon by Jeannette WallsThe novel tackles a number of issues from complicated family secrets and the woman’s position in the family to moral and religious passion, bootlegging, and gang wars. Sallie is a strong female protagonist. I applauded her triumphs and understood her attitude but hoped it would soften. It didn’t. It’s a complex and classic study of a culture peculiar to the area. I hoped for a better conclusion and was disappointed.

Nonetheless, the narrative is engaging and highly entertaining, the voice authentic not just to the time but to the geographical area. I loved hearing a few of those words I heard as a child—fun words like hifalutin. You just don’t hear those descriptive, clean words anymore. A couple of my favorite quotes:

“…the whiskey makers were always the heroes and the revenuers were always the villains.”

“…folks call it firewater, mule kick, tangle leg, ruckus juice, rise-n-shine, hooch, preacher’s lye, and panther piss…”

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Currently on pre-order.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
ISBN-10: ‎ 1501117297
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1501117299
ASIN: B0B3Y5Q75C
Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Jeannette Walls - authorThe Author: Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up in the American Southwest and Welch, West Virginia. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York for twenty-five years, writing for New York Magazine, Esquire, and MSNBC. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than eight years, has been translated into more than thirty languages and was made into a film starring Brie Larson. She is also the author of the best-selling novels The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review. Her new novel, Hang the Moon, will be published by Scribner in March 2023. Walls lives in central Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.

©2022 V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

Defending Jacob by William Landay – #Audiobook Review – #throwbackthursday

Audiobook review-Defending Jacob by William Landay

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, and as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own – between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis – a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

My Review:

I must admit that I chose this audiobook because I saw that it was narrated by Grover Gardner and I’m a huge fan of Mr. Gardner—the “Andy” of the Andy Carpenter series (by another author). His artistic rendition carries most any book to new heights, not just reading the book, but making the characters come alive—flesh and blood—along with their foibles. Such is the Andy in this book.

The hook at the beginning manages to jump what will become the meat and potatoes of this book—the POV by Andy Barber. Andy is happily married and they have a fourteen-year-old son, Jacob. Every now and then, the POV jumps over the catastrophic event in the family’s life that propels the legal thriller to a heartbreaking family drama.

Jacob is accused of the murder of a classmate. Andy becomes convinced that Jacob would not—could not—commit the heinous crime—stabbing three times the chest of the boy found murdered and left in the park. He is temporarily suspended from his position as ADA and becomes convinced beyond all reason (and mostly circumstantial evidence) that his son is innocent.

Defending Jacob by William LandayMeanwhile, Laurie, his wife is becoming alarmed at her crushing emotions and conflicting beliefs—then guilt over her thoughts. Could her son have killed that boy? The atmosphere in the air becomes increasingly contentious, Andy defending his son beyond reason. Jacob declaring his innocence. His mother no longer so positive—doubts seeping into the bedrock, loosening her private shocking fears and revelations to her husband.

Meanwhile, as Andy works second chair with the attorney they hired to defend Jacob, they are confronted with Andy’s own history—dark secrets he’d never shared even with Laurie. She becomes horrified and as her experience with her baby boy begins to shed more light on him, Andy continues the unreasonable and dogged resistance to the possibility.

The reader is first left with a child—yes, sometimes children can be cruel—but this is far beyond bullying—and increasing questions as to the veracity of Andy’s arguments. The toll on the family is unimaginable, threatening to ruin the marriage, his mother’s belief in Jacob’s innocence flailing wildly in the wind. While Andy is a well-developed main character, Laurie is more a strong periphery character and Jacob only known through the insight of Andy and his mother.

I’m a fan of legal thrillers and the courtroom dance in the narrative proceeds with all the drama a reader could want, the push-pull, win-lose. Written by a former ADA, the author knows the timing, the procedure, the lingo—it’s high drama in itself.

The family appears to survive the process albeit briefly when another event sends the reader back into high-pressure territory, gasping with shock at the turn of events.

And then; the final twist. I don’t care who you are. You never saw this coming. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. No, trust me. This one is so beyond what you might have imagined it echoes over and over in your head, leaving you with a book hangover.  The unthinkable. No do-overs here. You can run it over in your mind. It won’t change. I was almost sick.

Does that mean I wouldn’t recommend it? Are you kidding? This is crazy unique, gripping, heart-pounding, and unquestionably a novel both engaging and entertaining. The narration by Gardner is mesmerizing. (I guess it was turned into a TV series released in 2020.)

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Legal Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ASIN: B0073OGZNM
Listening Length: 12 hrs 24 mins
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Defending Jacob [Amazon]

 

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William Landay - authorThe Author: William Landay’s latest novel is the New York Times bestseller “Defending Jacob.” His previous novels are “Mission Flats,” which won the Dagger Award as best debut crime novel of 2003, and “The Strangler,” which was an L.A. Times favorite crime novel and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of 2007.

Visit the author at http://www.williamlanday.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/williamlanday

Grover Gardner - narratorNarrator: Grover Gardner is an American narrator of audiobooks. As of May 2018, he has narrated over 1,200 books. He was the Publishers Weekly “Audiobook Narrator of the Year” and is among AudioFile magazine’s “Best Voices of the Century”. Wikipedia

Born: 1956 (age 66 years).

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

 

The Last Summer in Ireland by Noelle Harrison – #BookReview – #WomensFriendshipFiction

“A gripping and emotional page-turner.”

Book Blurb:

A lost girl. A mysterious house in Ireland. An invitation that changes everything.

The Last Summer in Ireland by Noelle HarrisonTwenty years ago, at the end of a long hot Irish summer, three sisters submerge themselves in the cool lake at their home, Swan Hall. As the elder two watch their beautiful younger sister Nuala laughing and splashing, droplets of water clinging to her dark hair, they can hardly hide their envy of her. But later that day, when Nuala tragically drowns, they appear devastated…

Now, as Iris scatters the ashes of her beloved mother onto the golden leaves of Central Park, she feels very alone. But then hope comes in an invitation across the sea to Ireland from her aunt – the woman her mother left behind after a terrible tragedy and never spoke to again.

Swan Hall is more than Iris could ever have dreamed, sitting on the edge of a lake, full of history. But its dark corridors and staircases are caked in dust, and Iris’s unease deepens when she finds a diary belonging to her aunt Nuala, who she has never heard of.

Why did Iris’s mother never mention Nuala? As Iris reads Nuala’s slanting script, she uncovers dark secrets and shocking betrayals from a long hot summer long ago, and begins to wonder: was Nuala’s death really an accident? Can Iris find the truth, and will it change everything she knows about her mother… and herself?

His Review:

Ireland is a verdant landscape with lovely lakes and ocean scenes. Three daughters are being raised at Swan Hall, a lovely three-story home built on nearly 200 acres of farm/ranch land with its own lake. One would think it is a wonderful place to raise three daughters but there was trouble.

The Last Summer in Ireland by Noelle HarrisonThese three daughters were the target of a handsome Irishman who wanted to bed them all. One of the daughters, Aisling, becomes pregnant and is able to escape to New York to raise her daughter Iris. Iris never knew her father is not aware that she has any aunts or uncles.

Conrad, a tall and good-looking man sought after by many of the young women in the area, has a bit of a problem with the drink. Also, he is working with the I.R.A. to rid Ireland of English rule. When he is not drinking, he is pursuing the three young ladies. He professes true love for each of them, depending on which one he is able to get alone. Jealousy between the sisters splits the family unit.

Iris is invited to come to Ireland for the Christmas season after her mother is tragically killed in New York and is met at the airport by her “Uncle Conrad” whom she had never heard of! He drives her back to Swan Hall. She brings with her some of her mother’s ashes to spread in the country of her birth.

Iris is apparently the spitting image of one of the sisters. The mystery of Nuala’s disappearance and presumed drowning in the family lake called Lough Bawn is a big mystery and spawns questions that Iris will confront.

CE WilliamsThe author has developed a very interesting and tragic novel of life among the Irish. The fine beers and spirits of Ireland contribute to the ensuing calamity. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Friendship Fiction, Women’s Literary Fiction, Contemporary Women’s Fiction  
Publisher: Bookouture
ASIN: B0B5LYRFFW
Print Length: 334 pages
Publication Date: October 3, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Last Summer in Ireland [Amazon]
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The Author:

Noelle Harrison - author
Noelle Harrison – author

Welcome to my Author’s Page!

I’m an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. My first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 which was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.

My books have been published in over 12 different countries.

I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013.

In 2014 I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.

I have also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.

I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.

If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets, and always, always a love story set against evocative landscapes, you might like to pick up one of my books. My aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard. Want to know more about me and my writing, go to http://www.noelleharrison.com

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Have a sweet weekend!

Where the Crawdads Sing (the movie) vs #Audiobook #WheretheCrawdadsSing by Delia Owen – #literaryfiction

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

Intro

Back in May of 2020 when I downloaded and listened to Where the Crawdads Sing audiobook, I had no idea it would be a movie. The audiobook blew me away. I loved it, although it has not been received with the same genuine appreciation by all who read the book.

When the movie opened in July, I was able to see the result on the big screen, and I should mention, the big screen is the only way to view this atmospheric movie—the cinematography is breathtaking.

I promised a critique of the movie comparing it to the book that took the author ten years to write. Did the movie do justice to the book that has now been read by millions around the globe?

The Movie (Blurb)

“A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man she was once involved with.”

My Thoughts

Daisy Edgar-Jones - actor
Photo Attribution: Daisy Edgar-Jones

The movie does a credible job following the major plot points of the book. The actors are wonderful, including London star Daisy Edgar-Jones who has to dig into her non-existent Southern roots to get the drawl right. No one likes the guy who ends up the murder victim, everyone loves Kya (both the girl and the woman do convincing, emotional jobs) and the support characters are great. So far, so good.

Taylor John Smith - actor
Photo Attribution: Taylor John Smith

But the photography and cinematography are exceptional. Atmospheric and beautiful, the location draws you in and almost overpowers the storyline, although the storyline as you must know by now is gripping.

It’s a passion-packed plot with themes of abandonment, loneliness, ingenuity, independence, love, loss, and triumph. It’s enough to wring tears from Scrooge.

Reece Witherspoon promoted the film from the get-go, loving the marsh story which was enough in itself, and then the added mystery of the murder—was it murder or an accident? Must be a murderer as Kya goes to trial—she was seen with him. And though I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, she contributes a lovely, haunting melody.

Movie Details

Director: Olivia Newman
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Jojo Regina
Released July 15, 2022 (Filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana)
Among the eight producers, Reese Witherspoon is listed as executive producer and promoted heavily.
Although Mychael Danna is listed under Music, Taylor Swift also contributed a song she named Carolina.

4.5 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

Amazon Charts #1 this week

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING PHENOMENON—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!
More than 15 million copies sold worldwide
A Reese’s Book Club Pick

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Thoughts

Well, if you read my original review of the audiobook, you know I loved it. Unique, beautiful in the telling, and so well drawn and gripping, it’s one of those you truly can’t put down.

Taken from my 2020 review:

The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh that it’s easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects…

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl… Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensSelf-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming of age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover.

5 stars 

Book Details

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Audible Release: August 14, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Where the Crawdads Sing [Amazon US]

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - UK
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens-Amazon UK

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Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

Overall Impression

The Movie

While the actors do an amazing job of bringing to life the experience of the marsh, it was (for me) the atmospherics so well drawn in the book that commands attention. It was an engrossing recreation of the novel by Delia Owens, faithful to that jaw-dropping twist at the end. A fine representation of the book and well worth the time spent on the big screen.

The Book

You already know my assessment of the book—while it might approach cheesy a few times—it introduces innocent romance (on one side anyway) and manages to successfully weld a sub-plot realistically with a satisfying conclusion.

Conclusion

Loved the book, loved the movie, the latter being an excellent choice for a cinema visit. For me, however, I’ll still give the nod to the well-crafted narrative by Ms Owens. There’s a reason it’s gone around the world a few times and continues to garner major attention. You can’t go wrong with either the audiobook or the digital/paperback, however, I would recommend the audiobook as being expertly read by Cassandra Campbell.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

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]
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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/

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction 

Book Blurb:

Audie Award, Fiction, 2016

In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.

France, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

My Review:

Well, mercy, I do pick up some major tear-jerkers. Tear-jerkers for some, DNF for others. It’s another where the divide between the perceived outstanding literary fiction and bad chick-lit sparks an arc between one and five stars. As usual, I manage to come in when the dust has settled.

Okay, yes, I had a few of the same arguments I’ve seen voiced in reviews as I’ve long believed the old adage, “when poverty comes in the door, love flies out the window.” So during war with so many atrocities happening as well as rampant starvation, can you really believe a spark of anything much past the drive to survive? There was more. But I’m not going to hold her feet to the fire for using a modicum of artistic license to spin a riveting tale.

The Nightingale by Kristin HannahHannah may have taken just a few liberties with certain WWII factoids. Still, overall she paints the devastating horrific picture of carnage we’ve been given through survivers and she paints that scene behind the story of two French sisters, Viann and Isabelle.

Polar opposites with some years between, the younger Isabelle is passionate about doing whatever she can to aid her country in the fight against the Germans. And she finds a niche she exploits far beyond what anyone could have expected of either man or woman. I know in my heart there was probably more than one unsung female hero whose sacrifices we’ll never know except through fictionalized stories such as these.

The characters are well drawn: Viann, older and a mother who has kissed her husband goodbye and waiting for his return finally realizes she has been left to survive on her own. Isabelle, alienated from her sister and her father has no compunction in joining the resistance as her youthful confidence would drive her passionate activities safely. Eventually, her service is curtailed and there are retributions to be paid.

It’s a narrative that yanks the emotions one way and then another.

Both the main characters and the support characters create a realistic scene—often coming easily to mind providing numerous cringe-worthy moments. Certainly, there were times when I thought the feat beyond the ability of a woman, much less in wartime, or inclement weather.

You can’t fault the storyline for lagging anywhere; it’s driving, driving, and difficult to stop at any chapter endings. The conclusion in the 1995 wrap-up was satisfying with one little twist left to mull over and it’s one of those books that haunts for some time. My favorite quote:

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.” 

I’ve read several Kristin Hannah books, including most recently The Four Winds*, and enjoyed them all for the human stories they offer; the hope in times of loss, and the amazing resilience of the human spirit.

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B00NY8OTR0
Listening Length: 17 hrs 19 mins
Narrator: Polly Stone
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Nightingale [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

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

 

Kristin Hannah - authorThe Author: Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix show around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently being filmed.

http://www.kristinhannah.com

*In April 2021, Netflix and The Walt Disney Company signed a deal with Sony for the right to exclusively stream and broadcast on Disney’s linear television networks for upcoming films, including this film after their theatrical and home media windows.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nightingale_(upcoming_film)

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint recommended

Dream Town (An Archer Novel) by David Baldacci – #Audiobook Review – #TuesdayBookBlog

Dream Town by David Baldacci

Dream Town by David Baldacci

#1 New Release in Historical Mystery 

Book Blurb:

It’s the eve of 1953, and Aloysius Archer is in Los Angeles to ring in the New Year with an old friend, aspiring actress Liberty Callahan, when their evening is interrupted by an acquaintance of Callahan’s: Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter in dire straits.

After a series of increasingly chilling events—mysterious phone calls, the same blue car loitering outside her house, and a bloody knife left in her sink—Eleanor fears that her life is in danger, and she wants to hire Archer to look into the matter. Archer suspects that Eleanor knows more than she’s saying, but before he can officially take on her case, a dead body turns up inside of Eleanor’s home . . . and Eleanor herself disappears.

Missing client or not, Archer is dead set on finding both the murderer and Eleanor. With the help of Callahan and his partner Willie Dash, he launches an investigation that will take him from mob-ridden Las Vegas to the glamorous world of Hollywood to the darkest corners of Los Angeles—a city in which beautiful faces are attached to cutthroat schemers, where the cops can be more corrupt than the criminals . . . and where the powerful people responsible for his client’s disappearance will kill without a moment’s hesitation if they catch Archer on their trail. 

My Review:

Okay, yeah, it’s Archer, Book #3. I did catch the first in the Archer series, One Good Deed, and found it…compelling, dispassionate, unusual. Somehow, I missed Book 2 but seems I didn’t miss much. This is the same Archer I remembered from Book 1.

Perhaps what I notice immediately is that 50s style delivery. Not quite Friday-esque, but almost. It’s rather black and white that tends to turn gray sometimes.

Dream Town by David BaldacciBut this entry to the series didn’t quite grab me. Perhaps there were just too many characters. Archer has a lady friend, Liberty Callahan—perfect for the 50s Hollywood set. Back then it was easy to visualize Bogey, Sinatra and his cronies wielding their Hollywood power and mining the darker side of LA for opportunity. Archer, as a private eye is contacted by Eleanor Lamb who is worried about recent threats. Then she promptly disappears leaving a body in her home. (If it’d been me, I’d have dropped it right there.)

Between the mob-riddled Las Vegas scenes and LA, Archer works with Liberty and his partner Willie Dash (a character in his own right) to hunt for the missing Eleanor and the murderer—or is that one and the same?

While the male narrator’s delivery of the storyline was geared toward the period, it just didn’t light a fire, the characters remained a bit blah for me, and the female narrator at times seemed to have phoned the whole thing in, sometimes lagging or slightly disjointed in the dialogue. I suspected she read her part from a remote location.

It’s a bit of a slow burn, noir crime fiction. There are the usual themes in noir fiction of gangsters, drugs, secrets, smuggling, and murder; entertaining if not engaging.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. 3.5 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, War & Military Action Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ASIN: B09Q89CMLT
Listening Length: 11 hrs
Narrators: Edoardo BalleriniBrittany Pressley
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Dream Town [Amazon]

 

Add to Goodreads

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

 

David Baldacci - authorThe Author: David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, “because every mom needs a break now and then.”)

David published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 44 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into over 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. David has also published seven novels for younger readers.

David is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across the United States.

©2022 V Williams

V Williams

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