Favorite Books of 2022 – eBooks and Audiobooks

It is always a challenge to pick out our favorite reads of the year and 2022 had many. I’ve narrowed it down to twelve once again, one in each month. 

As always, these are a mix of Indie authors, favorite authors, as well as bestselling authors and cover a good range of genres including domestic drama, historical fiction, suspense, and thrillers. And I do so love audiobooks as well as eBooks.

Listed by month, thinking next year I’m going to note my No. 1 pick in the monthly recaps, hopefully to make a year-end wrap-up easier. Links on titles are my full review and pics are links to Amazon (US).

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerJan – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Yes! An audiobook narrated by George Guidall (one of my favorite narrators). It’s an immersive fantasy brought to life with characters that create an enchanting tale of the ancient arts and magic. It’s way outside my normal reads as #HistoricalFantasy published in April, 2013. So why did I fail to give it my coveted five stars? I disliked what happened to one of the main characters. Ya gotta listen to it—or read it—your choice. My 4.5 stars

The Lincoln Highway audiobook coverFeb – The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. No. 5 on the Amazon Charts the week I reviewed—yes—another audiobook! I adored this book! Right up until the end. Another sabotage with my happy ending. This #ComingofAge – #HistoricalFiction was released on October 5, 2021 and got a lot of attention. It should have. Right up to the end (sob). Still, it’s one you shouldn’t miss. My 4.5 stars

Poison PenMar – Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe. (Claudia Rose Forensic Handwriting Mysteries Book 1). The CE gave this one five stars in March, Reading Ireland Month, and I included it here as I read a number of Irish authors, all of whom were good. A #domesticthriller released on February 22, 2021, the CE noted it was a fascinating study of handwriting analysis—a unique plot device. His 4.5 stars

The LosstApr – The Lost by Jeffrey B Burton. A Mace Reid K-9 Mystery. I had to include one of my favorite doggy stories and this is a sweet one. Vira is a cadaver dog almost on a paranormal level with her handler, Mace Reid. It’s a fast-paced and well-plotted #animalfiction released on June 28, 2022. My 4.5 stars

The Physicists' DaughterMay – The Physicists’ Daughter by Mary Anna Evans. A big reading month and this #historicalmysteries captured the CEs attention and kept it. He noted it was well written and he could not put it down. (I believe it—he burned through it.) His 4.5 stars

Before We Were YoursJun – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. OMG, this Goodreads Choice Award Winner also got five full stars from me. Loved it! Authentic, emotional (I listened to the audiobook), and as my heart rose and sank throughout this unputdownable narrative could find no reason to shave a half-star. Published in June 2017, a #fictionsagas #literaryfiction, it is indeed a beautiful #historicalfiction. 5 stars!

Lessons in ChemistryJul – Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Another audiobook takes the month as a #HumorousLiteraryFiction.This NY Times bestseller and a book club pick is a cerebral argument for the ability of women to expand beyond the “big three” for women (teacher, nurse, secretary—now called Adminstrative Assistant—no additional pay). It attains that lofty five star peak, also showing as No. 20 on the Amazon Charts the week I reviewed. In the early 60s, this brainiac woman wants to be a chemist (gasp!). The author does it up right, although it definitely garnered a lot of criticism. My 5 stars

The Lindberg NannyAug – The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks. The CE was very impressed with this #HistoricalBiographicalFiction and gave it five stars. So many tidbits included that he notes is very well written and “has some literary license” to support the final court decision. A very well known and tragic case in our history that led to the creation of the Lindbergh (kidnapping) Law. His 5 stars

The Dutch HouseSept – The Dutch House by Ann Patchett an Amazon Editors’ pick for Best Literature & Fiction. Another audiobook and I’d be willing to bestow an honorary Audie for Tom Hanks’ narration. Heavy family dynamics, abandonment, love, loss, redemption. A #literaryfiction and my 5 stars. But, also vying for that 5 star mention are Painting with Fire by Amanda Hughes and The Quarryman’s Girl by Melanie Forde both by favorite authors of mine and whose works continue to be top drawer. You can’t go wrong with any of these September reads. All my 5 stars (Unusual, huh?)

Her Deadly GameOct – Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni. A CE review, his turn for a Robert Dugoni book and how can you go wrong with that? You can’t and he gave it 5 stars. He says the novel contains a myriad of legal wrangling and is engaging and entertaining. Dugoni books are consistently fresh and well-crafted with relatable, well-developed characters. #legalthrillers His 5 stars

Hang the Moon by Jeannette WallsNov – Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls. A unique look at the 20s and Prohibition whose main character is a woman—and a strong, savvy, and smart one at that. Loved the atmospheric narrative with themes of religious passion, bootlegging, and gang wars. (Guess nothing changes, huh?) #biographicalhistoricalfiction My 4 stars. (Loved the book, wasn’t keen on the ending, but can still recommend.)

Swamp StoryDec – Swamp Story by Dave Barry. This is a case of an ugly cover but winning the month for the content of the book. Perhaps the cover is meant to convey this is not going to be a serious book. It’s the epitomy of #darkhumor and it’s hilarious, tongue-in-cheek rapid fire snark, twists, unique atmospherics, and an outrageously imaginative plot. That’s Dave Barry for you. So funny I had the CE read it. We both agreed. It’s a solid 5 stars and heartily recommended.

Obviously, not all the monthly favorites were five stars but still impressed us. So, in looking over this list, a strong pattern is becoming obvious. We are definitely leaning to #historicalfiction and #audiobooks. It’s another argument for just how many sub-genres fall under the general historical fiction category.

Reads by Genre

Do any of the above grab your interest? Read it already? Disagree with our reviews? I’d love to know and always welcome your comments!

©2023 V Williams

Rosepoint Recommended-5 Stars

Revolution (America Book 3) by Mike Bond – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

Revolution by Mike BondThe 1968 Tet uprising plunges America deeper into the abyss of Vietnam. Martin Luther King is shot, and riots rage in 130 burning American cities. Students protesting the War take over American universities, and street battles in Paris nearly topple the French government. Senator Eugene McCarthy enters the Democratic presidential race against Lyndon Johnson, followed by Bobby Kennedy, who goes on to win the California Democratic primary.

Mick joins the Paris student street battles, then returns to the US to work in Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Daisy leaves Stanford to work also in Bobby’s campaign. Troy faces increasing dangers as the Vietnam War widens into Cambodia and Laos. American astronauts land on the moon and safely return to earth.

Tara and her band shine at Woodstock. The My Lai massacre is revealed, further darkening the tragedy in Vietnam, and America teeters on the edge of revolution.

His Review:

The draft is actuated in the mid-1960s and deferments were hard to get. Troy has re-upped for a second hitch in Vietnam because he is in love with a Vietnamese woman named Su Li. (For the life of me, I could not understand why our country went from the Korean War directly into the conflict in Southeast Asia!  The French had lost that war at Diem Bien Pu!)

Revolution by Mike BondThe political climate was supercharged with political parties split between following the French into Vietnam or allowing the country to unify under one communist government. The justification was to forestall the entire Asian continent become communist. John F. Kennedy tried to stop it as did his brother Bobby. Both were killed for their trouble. Meanwhile, the flower of American youth are being sent to this war with no opportunity to say no.

Mike’s older brother Troy is listed as a casualty of war. Mike does not want to go into the military although he has been issued a summons to have a physical examination prior to being inducted.  His avoiding this summons results in his arrest and potential ten-year sentence in a maximum federal prison for draft evasion.

The author likens the activities of our military akin to the atrocities leveled by Hitler. The casualties on both sides are exaggerated with death tolls of the enemy being enhanced and the American casualties minimized. Meanwhile, the fighting soldier has nowhere to go and is fighting a determined enemy in their own country.

CE WilliamsThis novel is a long overdue diatribe regarding the Vietnam War and the way that the American people were duped and lied to. Anti-war sentiments at most major universities highlighted the angst born by the average draft-age citizens. Read this enlightening exposé of corporate America making billions on the sale of war material. 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: Political Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Big City Press
ASIN: B09ZQ7ZTD3
Print Length: 316 pages
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Revolution [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Mike Bond - authorThe Author: Called “master of the existential thriller” by BBC, “one of America’s best thriller writers” by Culture Buzz, and “one of the 21st century’s most exciting authors” by the Washington Times, Mike Bond is a best-selling novelist, war and human rights journalist, and environmental activist. He has covered guerrilla wars, death squads, and military dictatorships in Latin America and Africa, Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, and ivory poaching and other environmental battles in East Africa and Asia.

His critically acclaimed novels take the reader into intense situations in the world’s most perilous places, into wars, revolutions, dangerous love affairs and political and corporate conspiracies, making “readers sweat with [their] relentless pace.” (Kirkus) and drawing them “into a land and a time I had not known but left me with my senses reeling.” (NetGalley Reviews)

His books have been named among the best of the year by reviewers and readers alike. He speaks multiple languages, has climbed and trekked over 50,000 miles on every continent from the Antarctic to Siberia, and is at home in some of the most primitive and dangerous places on the planet.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Have a merry Tuesday!

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

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The Quarryman’s Girl by Melanie Forde – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“Gossip was a major form of entertainment in the eighteen-nineties…”

Book Blurb:

The Quarryman's Girl by Melanie FordeLife seemed to be winding down for French–Canadian immigrant Rose Dowd. She had not been fighting the inevitable until Fate forced her to gear up for yet another chapter. Much like her adopted country, as America begins staking out a new international role in World War II, Rose must reinvent herself. Quickly. Before she can move forward, however, she needs to absorb the lessons from her past. Integral to that journey are Rose’s sharp-tongued sister Izzy; her perpetually worried son Vince, a resourceful shipyard worker; her long-dead Métis mentor Mère Agathe; her bright and bubbly but sickly granddaughter Netty; and Nate, the “Ragman’s Grandson,” a club-footed, pre-law student dreading his future and inching instead toward a career as a writer. The Quarryman’s Girl follows these vivid characters from the 1880s to the 1940s, from the hard-scrabble pig farms of Quebec to the granite quarries of Quincy, from the frozen St. Lawrence to the deep-channel Fore River. A compelling story from beginning to end, once again Melanie Forde has shown why she is a consummate storyteller and one of contemporary America’s finest writers.

My Review:

The wait is often worth it.

Such is the case with this beautifully penned literary novel deeply entwined with characters so well developed you want a hug them. They’re family.

I was introduced to this author back in 2019 with the request for participation in a book tour; one I was glad to accept for Reinventing Hillwilla (final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy) followed a few months later by Decanted Truths. I loved them both, each read as a standalone and each entirely unique.

“In the Irish culture, the gift of gab was equally distributed between the sexes.”

In this novel, Rose Dowd is staring down senior hood and doesn’t like what she sees. Thank heaven she has Vince, her youngest son, to help her meet day-to-day challenges she was formerly capable of handling on her own after her husband passed on. She also has others in her life well established near the granite quarries of Quincy (KWIN-zee—not KWIN-see) where she and estranged sister Izzy were abandoned after her large Irish family left Quebec and Quincy for Manitoba. The girls, barely teens, survived and thrived.

“You’ve heard of spring fever. You know what it really means? Scurvy!”

There are a number of threads interweaving through the well-plotted narrative and we get to know each of the characters, identify easily with people we know, care about, invest in. Descriptions of scenes are so well drawn that the reader is plunked into the middle of them. Loved the inclusion of the French phrases in the storyline as well as the Native American’s contribution to the shipyard efforts—the dialogue between Vince and Walter, a Mohawk, is priceless male banter.

The Quarryman's Girl by Melanie FordeTension builds as the characters are developed and Nate, the “Ragman’s Son” is sent to perform handyman jobs at Rose’s home and to report to Vince her slips of memory. Vince is frustrated with Rose’s senior moments as he tries in vain to glean grist for a thesis, unhappily facing law school.

And then there is Izzy, her sharp tongue alienating more than immediate family, who has a crisis of her own that may force Rose to deal with the upheaval that caused their rift so many years ago.

Oh, so bittersweet, examining the hurts, the love, the physical as well as the mental constraints that bind family and friends as easily as isolate. A unique story that scrutinizes senior cognitive decline, betrayal, aspirations, and, hopefully, reconciliation.

The story is full of emotion, raw, alternately filled with wry bursts of humor. It’s written in an intelligent, sensitive, and articulate style that pulls in the reader and doesn’t let go. The conclusion is both heartbreaking and tearfully satisfying and is heartily recommended. Not just family drama. Truly literary magic.

“Intense relationships never really died.”

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.

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Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction
Publisher: Mountain Lake Press

  • ISBN-10: ‎ 1959307002
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1959307006

ASIN: B0B7BM9KLX
Print Length: 325 pages
Publication Date: August 27, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon US   |   Amazon UK  |  Barnes & Noble

 

Melanie Forde - authorThe Author: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Melanie Forde - authorTwenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018. In 2022, Forde mined the stories about her French Canadian ancestors, to publish another period novel and family saga, The Quarryman’s Girl.

Find more info about Melanie Forde here.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

Dancing in the River by George Lee – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“When the assumption you begin with is false, everything generated from that must be false.”

Book Blurb:

Dancing in the River by George LeeGrowing up in a small, riverside town, Little Bright is thrusted into the political whirlwinds along with his family during China’s Cultural Revolution. When a reversal of the winds of reform blows through the land, however, he learns the once-forbidden tongue―English―which lends wings to his sense and sensibility. At college, he adopts a new English name, Victor. With the deepening of his knowledge of the English language, he begins to place himself under the tutelage of Pavlov, Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare.

When the story unravels, however, Victor’s un-Chinese passion and tension threaten to topple his moral world and mental universe. Now, he must wade into an uncharted journey to unlock the dilemma and to unearth his destiny.

Drawing on his own life experiences, George Lee has fashioned an unforgettable coming-of-age story about fate and faith, good and evil, power of imagination and storytelling, and, above all, wonder of English literature.

My Review:

I’m not sure how to describe this narrative, part memoir, part poignant journey of a Chinese male born in a little riverside town and indoctrinated heavily as a child with anti-western sentiment. As a child, Little Bright is filled with the ideas, history, and culture of thousands of years that teach everything is first about the country (not self) and the ideals fostered by propaganda through education and family traditions. Indeed, there were strong repercussions for viewing any angle of a subject that wasn’t sanctioned.

Dancing in the River by George LeeSo the shock felt by the author during China’s Cultural Revolution is extreme. Now encouraged to learn the once forbidden English language—the better to infiltrate and turn into intelligence—the more valuable the student.

Secretly, however, the author had been questioning a lot of life’s mysteries and coming across Sherlock Holmes devoured everything about the way of life and heretofore conclusions. And that only opened additional doors to many more questions the author began to wrestle with.

Deep into philosophical and political questions, the author transitions from the equivalent of grammar school and high school to a university where he goes from being Little Bright to Victor and experiences all the new found independence of a college student. More and deeper questions. And English? There was another whole exquisite literary world out there to explore.

I enjoyed many of the sayings and stories, though there were also many passages that required rereading to understand sufficient to digest. Too many quotables to list. I also enjoyed the little explanations in…Hanzi(?). Interesting to see those translations.

I felt at times that I was rereading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Much the same struggle of making sense of oneself with similar conclusions.

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.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Guernica Editions

  • ISBN-10: ‎ 177183756X
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1771837569

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: November 1, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

The Author: George Lee was born and raised in China. He earned an M.A. in English literature from University of Calgary, and a Juris Doctor degree from University of Victoria. His first novel, Dancing in the River, won the 2021 Guernica Prize for Literary Fiction. He practices law in Vancouver, Canada.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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Ellis River by Nicki Ehrlich – #BookReview – #generalfiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The Civil War scattered her family and now, along with her beloved horse, a young woman must travel across a war-torn country to collect what’s left of her life.

Ellis River by Nicki EhrlichFor fifteen-year-old Ellis Cady, life has gone quiet on her western Tennessee homestead. Her father and older brother left to sell horses to the army two years earlier and never returned. She watched her mother’s health decline, finally succumbing to a broken heart. Her twin brother left in search of their father, and while he was gone neighbors moved out of their Quaker community, searching for peace ahead of the final sweep of war.

Ellis is left with nothing but the company of the remaining horses and the letters and journals she continues to write, trying to make sense of a desolate world. A small band of soldiers rides through to claim the last of the herd, and hope for the return of life as she knew it, evaporates like the mist on the river.

When the head-strong mare, Billie, returns, having escaped from the soldiers, Ellis takes it as a sign to leave. Disguised as a boy, for safety and comfort, she rides off to find her twin. Though war refuses to fade, Ellis stumbles upon an unlikely group of rescuers who teach her family is more than blood, and love has no limits.

His Review:

The American Civil War left many families torn asunder. Ellis is a twin and her twin brother, older brother and father went off to war. Ellis is at home with her mom but as the war drags on her mother becomes melancholy and passes away. Ellis strikes out to see if she can find her brothers and father. Her quest is epic.

Ellis River by Nicki EhrlichThe military came to most of the farms in Tennessee and requisitioned most of the horses for use in the war effort. The “fair price” paid by the military did not compensate for the loss of utility and companionship of the animals. The soldiers used them until they got too thin, old, or infirmed, and then simply abandoned them.

Billie, her horse, is a constant companion during her adventures in hunting for her family. She meets up with her twin brother and they continue the quest to find her father and her other brothers. They have family in Missouri, her uncle and her father’s older brother. Ellis is trying to find and join up with any of her relatives.

Her brother dies on the trail north and west. She is heartbroken but assumes his identity to avoid the perils of a single woman during that time period. With her hair cut short and wearing men’s clothes, she can pass as her brother. She has good upper body strength and is very skilled at horsemanship. Her primary goal is to avoid military convoys and arrest or confinement by the military. She gets into a group of people including emancipated slaves and is heading north into Illinois and ultimately to Missouri. Her companions want to continue north to Canada and freedom.

CE WilliamsThe author writes a very compassionate and sympathetic narrative of a tragic time in our American history. I appreciated the thoughtful way she approached the issues of a woman who is trying to hide her femininity, identity proclivities, and struggles with her own identity. I was moved by the overall narrative experience. 5 stars – CE Williams

[NB: Not currently on pre-order and I could not find links to either Amazon nor Goodreads. There is, however, a lovely review published in the Monterey Herald regarding her upcoming release.]

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

Book Details:

Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction 
Publisher: Bay Feather Books – Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
ASIN: ISBN 9798985997415
Publication Date: September 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Coming soon! Will be available at:

Indiebound.org
Bookshop.org
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Nicki Ehrlich - authorThe Author: Nicki Ehrlich grew up in Southern Illinois before attending college at the University of Denver and later, Idaho State University, where she graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy/English. After living ten “horse-rich” years in Idaho, she moved on to Oregon, and later Washington, where she realized she had unwittingly traveled the Oregon Trail.

While living in the Pacific Northwest, Nicki continued to write fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She has won awards for her poetry and creative writing, including the Writer’s Digest Annual Poetry Awards and the Ray Fabrizio Memorial Award. Her writing has been published in Scheherazade, the literary magazine of MPC, among other magazines and newspapers. Nicki holds a Certificate in Creative Writing from Monterey Peninsula College and is a member of the Central Coast branch of the California Writers Club. She also holds a Coast Guard Captain’s License and currently lives on California’s inspiring central coast where she is at work on the sequel to Ellis River.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett – #Audiobook Review – narrated by Tom Hanks – #ThrowbackThursday

The Dutch House by Ann Patachett

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction

Book Blurb:

Ann Patchett, the number-one New York Times best-selling author of Commonwealth, delivers her most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love, and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves, and of who we really are.

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. 

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

My Review:

Okay, yes you got me! I enjoyed this book in no small part because the audiobook is narrated by Tom Hanks. Hanks literally becomes Danny, the main character but still never veers too far from that Academy-winning rad-da-tat animated delivery. I had to check the speed as there was more than once I thought I might have set it to 125% of normal. Gees, he’s good, and thank heaven or this could have become a rather slow burn at times.

The Dutch House by Ann PatchettAs revealed by the blurb, Danny and his sister Maeve (7 years older) are kicked out of their very wealthy and lavish estate by their wicked step-mom after his father passes suddenly intestate. I may have been washing dishes at that point and missed how old the kids were at that point, but it was literally a case of rags to riches back to rags. They’d enjoyed the good life and then it ended.

So, Danny, always looked after by his big sister, may be the typical clueless male. I thought there were times he swerved into narcissism, while his stoic sister Maeve never takes her eyes off the ball. There were also times I wanted to slap him upside his head! Maeve has settled into a comfortable living but will not settle unless Danny does the same and using the one loophole their step-mother failed to see, she pushes him to higher learning. GO! Be a doctor! Dutifully, he does, all the while declaring he will never practice. (Thank heavens as his bedside manner would suck.)

What he does practice, wisely, is real estate. Hey, he had gleaned some knowledge from his father. Yes, and then because that was expected, a wife. But Danny, perhaps again mirroring his dad with his step-mother, marries a woman he really does not love. I doubt there would ever have been a woman who could take Maeve’s place. That is a sibling bond born of desperation and survival.

Through the decades this narrative covers, each, together and separately, go back to The Dutch House to see how it is faring. Amazingly well, as it turns out, although the same cannot be said of Andrea, the step-mom. It’s a great, hulking enormous estate, still oozing the original (Dutch) owners’ vibrations—a reason their mother fled after they moved in to go serve the poor where she felt she really belonged.

Heavy family dynamics, feelings of abandonment, sibling loyalty, loss, the characters well developed and, typically, 180 degrees in dreams and thought processes. Times I ached for Maeve, angry with Danny. The step-mom painted with all the warts of the stereotypical step-parent.

As always with an extremely successful novel, there are detractors, but this is a Pulitzer Prize finalist. And performed by Tom Hanks, I’d also bestow an honorary Audie. He is awesome.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Recommended-5 Stars

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Family Life Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B07NSJZWY5
Listening Length: 9 hrs 53 mins
Narrator: Tom Hanks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Dutch House [Amazon]
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The Author:

Ann Patchett - author Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction. She writes for the New York Times Magazine, Elle, GQ, the Financial Times, the Paris Review and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

New York Times best seller | A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick | A New York Times Book Review Notable Book | Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019 | 2020 Audie finalist – audiobook of the year and best male narrator

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, The Washington Post; O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed

The Narrator:

Tom Hanks - actor-narratorTom HanksNarrating this heartbreaking and compelling story is not the first connection between Patchett and Hanks. Patchett, the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, told the Associated Press that she and Hanks have become friends in recent years. Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, have spent time with Patchett at Parnassus Books, the renowned bookstore she owns in Nashville, Tennessee. And in 2017, Patchett joined Hanks at a sold-out event sponsored by the Washington, D.C., bookstore Politics and Prose to interview him in conjunction with his promotion of Uncommon Typehis own collection of short stories.

[Info and photo attribute: BookBub]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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