The New Neighbor by Karen Cleveland – #Audiobook Review – #DomesticThriller @RandomHouseAudio

The New Neighbor by Karen Cleveland

Book Blurb:

Idyllic neighborhood, perfect family, meaningful career. CIA analyst Beth Bradford has it all—

Until she doesn’t.

Now, facing an empty nest and a broken marriage, Beth is moving from the cul-de-sac she’s long called home, and the CIA is removing her from the case that’s long been hers: tracking an elusive Iranian intelligence agent known as The Neighbor.

Madeline Sterling moves into Beth’s old house. She has what Beth once had: an adoring husband, three beautiful young children, and the close-knit group of neighbors on the block. Now she has it all. And Beth—who can’t stop watching the woman stepping in to her old life—thinks the new neighbor has something else too: ties to Iranian intelligence.

Is Beth just jealous? Paranoid? Or is something more at play?

After all, most of the families on the cul-de-sac have some tie to the CIA. They’re all keeping secrets. And they all know more about their neighbors than they should. It would be the perfect place to insert a spy—unless one was there all along. 

My Review:

I love me a good thriller, although not usually of the espionage variety. Still, I was caught by the blurb, the recent release already in my well-stocked library which is no stranger to the author.

I’m not sure what to think of a CIA agent on the hunt for seventeen years of an Iranian intelligence agent who is now coded as “The New Neighbor.” Beth Bradford is married with children, the last of three now about to leave the nest of a lovely home in a neighborhood they’ve lived in almost the entirety of the children’s lives. They know and love their neighbors but as their circumstances are changing, think it’s time they scaled down.

That is, right up until the time Beth’s husband allows as to how they’ve both been hanging on until the kids leave. He wants to leave too, but into his own quarters with a new squeeze. They sold their home to Madeline and somehow Beth immediately suspects Madeline isn’t who she says she is.

The New Neighbor by Karen ClevelandMadeline is making friends in the hood (her friends) and keeps an odd schedule. Beth raises the question to her boss who immediately shuts her down and cautions that perhaps she’s experiencing overload with losing her kids, her husband, her home, and now after seventeen years taken off the hunt for The New Neighbor as well. The proximity to their headquarters is too coincidental, along with other points she can tick off. Can you spell neurotic?  J-e-a-l-o-u-s?

Must she lose everything? NO! She will not lose that too and determined to ferret out The New Neighbor finds ways to short cut her new assignment in order to watch Madeline.

Okay, seventeen years is a long time to work on one assignment, especially if it lacks success, why wasn’t she reassigned years ago? Has the woman just gone off the deep end? Is this all really too much for her?

The character definitely can be annoying, ramping into paranoia quickly. She’s jumping all over the place with theories forcing the reader to consider another possible neighbor when really suspicion rose early as to who it might have been and was borne out in conclusion. 

Having to concede it was an entertaining narrative, well-plotted if not redundant, it did pose several thought-provoking questions. I didn’t care for her character nor most of those in her neighborhood—her best friend also failing support for her as well.

Engaging, bordering on annoying. I read Need to Know back in 2018 and enjoyed it, noting a continuation between the family life and this one—that conflicted tension with family and her CIA position in counterintelligence searching for Russian sleeper cells in the US that she is (or was) apparently still working.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Espionage Thrillers
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B09MVDNPNF
Listening Length: 8 hrs 10 mins
Narrator: Lisa Flanagan
Publication Date: July 26, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link:  [Amazon]
 

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

 

Karen Cleveland - authorThe Author: Karen Cleveland is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know and Keep You Close. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University. Cleveland lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.

 

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout – #BookReview – #contemporaryliteraryfiction @RandomHouse

#1 Best Seller in Contemporary Literature Fiction

Book Blurb:

With her trademark spare, crystalline prose—a voice infused with “intimate, fragile, desperate humanness” (The Washington Post)—Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic.

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth StroutAs a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we’re apart—the pain of a beloved daughter’s suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.

His Review:

Can a loveless abusive childhood lay the cobblestones of life’s road in such a way that nothing changes for the individual? Elizabeth Strout’s character Lucy seems to have developed her character with this pattern in mind. Lucy’s mother was negative and abusive and she grew up defending herself by developing a mother in her own mind that she called her “good mother.”  Her good mother was always caring and lent supportive encouragement to everything she did.

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth StroutLucy’s first husband William is a supportive man, a scientist, with a compassionate heart and protective attitude. With the advent of the Covid Pandemic, he encourages Lucy and him to escape to the clean air and trade winds upon a rocky point in Maine. The weather is always colder, the wind always blowing and the days less predictable. They have escaped New York City to become isolated in a desolate prison of their own making. How could she be happy in this desolation?

William and Lucy do not live together. His affairs early in their marriage had driven a wedge between them that could not easily be withdrawn. They shared a house but with separate bedrooms and an uneasy truce. All conversations are delicately planned which avoids the obvious elephant in the room. His marriage betrayal and additional indiscretions had led her to spread her own affair wings.

Elizabeth Strout is a very gifted writer who did not leave the central theme of her story throughout the read. She develops a character who is hell-bent on being unhappy throughout her life. This centralized dogma thoroughly confounded me as a reader. I have never read such a singularly minded character before. Lucy cannot accept any real progress or happiness in her life although she did have a happy second marriage with a man named David. But he died which added to her misery.

CE WilliamsCould anyone ever complete her as David had seemed to do? Her daughters grew up leading fairly accomplished lives but tended to avoid their mother. The reason was the negative aura surrounding her. Life becomes extremely tedious when every day seems to add more misery to an already dark existence. I kept having the beginning of that old Buck Owens song ring in my mind! “Gloom, despair, and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery…” I believe Elizabeth Strout has developed a very dark and sensitive heroine confronting a noir-esque setting. 3.5 stars – CE Williams

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

 

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

 

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Book Details:

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Literary Sagas, Saga Fiction
Publisher: Random House
ASIN: B09VWWN5BJ
Print Length: 291 pages
Publication Date: September 20, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Lucy by the Sea [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Elizabeth Strout - authorThe Author: Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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Murder at Black Oaks: A Robin Lockwood Novel Book 6 by Phillip Margolin – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip Margolin

Book Blurb:

In Phillip Margolin’s Murder at Black Oaks, Attorney Robin Lockwood finds herself at an isolated retreat in the Oregon mountains, one with a tragic past and a legendary curse, and surrounded by many suspects and confronted with an impossible crime.

Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip MargolinDefense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Hardy to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history – originally built in 1628 in England, there’s a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Hardy, however, wants Lockwood’s help in a legal matter – righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA. A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Hardy, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Hardy convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Hardy now wants Lockwood’s help in getting that conviction overturned.

Successful in their efforts, Hardy invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees – including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Hardy is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum – who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there’s another victim.

His Review:

Attorney/client privilege is a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. In the course of defending his client, a young district attorney learns of the other attorney’s inability to disclose certain facts in a case. The result is the client being sent to death row for a crime the young man did not commit. Jose Alvarez spends over thirty years on death row- an innocent man.

Murder at Black Oaks by Phillip MargolinRobin Lockwood is contacted 30 years later to help salve the conscience of the then much older district attorney. He resides at Black Oaks Manor, a desolate mansion in an even more desolate region of Oregon. Black Oaks Manor is at the end of a remote location often unable to be reached by land vehicle. Jose is now released because papers have surfaced that proved he could not have killed the man he was sentenced to death for.

The story’s plot is further complicated by a faulty elevator and washed-out roads. The washed-out roads strand Robin and her associate while deaths continue at Black Oaks. Who is responsible for these untimely deaths?

Throughout the novel’s plot line, the story leads to false trails and impossible outcomes. I found myself flummoxed by the possibilities and recognized my personal inability to discover the truth.

This novel harkens back to some of the older great mystery writers. As the body count mounted, I found myself on quicksand trying to ferret out the culprit. Usually, a concrete motive for the killings and an obvious villain begin to surface as the novel proceeds. This is not the case with this novel. Facts are not presented until the end which exposes the killer. However, I still found myself in disbelief as to the capacity of the killer to be responsible for the crime. CE Williams

I suggest you read the book and see if you reach another conclusion. I have read many of Phillip Margolin’s books and this is one of his slippery best. Enjoy! 4 stars – CE Williams

We’ve read several previous Robin Lockwood series novels, most recently The Darkest Place and  A Matter of Life and Death, and in 2020 A Reasonable Doubtand enjoyed them all, although more so the former. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars 4 stars

 

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Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B09NTKCH8C
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder at Black Oaks [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
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 Phillip Margolin - authorThe Author: PHILLIP MARGOLIN has written over twenty novels, most of them New York Times bestsellers, including Gone But Not ForgottenLost Lake, and Violent Crimes. In addition to being a novelist, he was a long time criminal defense attorney with decades of trial experience, including a large number of capital cases. Margolin lives in Portland, Oregon.

[Read more about Mr. Margolin on his website.]

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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What She Found (Tracy Crosswhite Book 9) by Robert Dugoni – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

What She Found by Robert Dugoni

Book Blurb:

Solving a decades-old disappearance sets Tracy Crosswhite on a dangerous collision course with the past in a pulse-pounding novel by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

What She Found by Robert DugoniDetective Tracy Crosswhite has agreed to look into the disappearance of investigative reporter Lisa Childress. Solving the cold case is an obsession for Lisa’s daughter, Anita. So is clearing the name of her father, a prime suspect who became a pariah. After twenty-five years, all Anita wants is the truth—no matter where it leads.

For Tracy, that means reopening the potentially explosive investigations Lisa was following on the dark night she vanished: an exposé of likely mayoral graft; the shocking rumors of a reserved city councilman’s criminal sex life; a drug task force scandal compromising the Seattle PD; and an elusive serial killer who disappeared just as mysteriously as Lisa.

As all the pieces come together, it becomes clear that Tracy is in the midst of a case that will push her loyalties and her resilience to the limit. What she uncovers will come with a greater price than anyone feared.

My Review:

What I love about the Tracy Crosswhite series? This is Book 9 and could still be read as a standalone. I popped into this series with Book 7 A Cold Trail, and then read Book 8 In Her Tracks. I feel I know Tracy pretty well, although as a complex, intelligent detective in Seattle there is always more that can be discovered. Lisa has been relegated to Cold Cases after a couple little disagreements with her former superior.

What She Found by Robert DugoniThis entry to the series has decorated Detective Crosswhite looking into the disappearance of investigative reporter Lisa Childress at the behest of her daughter, Anita, who was two years old at the time of her mother’s disappearance. After 25 years and the circumstances surrounding her departure though, there are few possibilities—none with what would look to have a positive outcome.

Lisa was full-tilt into an extremely dangerous investigation that certainly pointed to the circumstance of finding herself at risk. She was meeting someone in the middle of the night that might have exposed corruption within the department, a murder, and a crooked drug task force. It was Lisa’s husband, however, that became the local police focal point and they looked no further following scrutiny of their family life.

Chief of Police Marcella Weber may be a stumbling block in Crosswhite’s digging into the Childress case as her objective is positive public opinion and council approval and the desire to investigate only those cases where new DNA evidence is found that might lead to a resolution of the case.

Crosswhite still maintains a strong bond with recent partners from the Homicide Division, all strong support characters as well as maintaining a happy home life with a successful, supportive hubby and sweet baby girl. But she has a history and Crosswhite is driven to find the answers to the Childress case whether she secures approval or not.

I loved the direction it took, well-plotted, and the conclusion is very satisfying.

520 floating bridge into Seattle
Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Seattle, WA

Dugoni’s novels are well-paced and deliver leads that keep the reader engaged. I always enjoy references to the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge better known as the 520 bridge, bringing back memories of the sensation of riding over it on my motorcycle. These narratives are always intelligent offering learning opportunities as well as incite to strong characters and motives. Easy to invest in Crosswhite, follow her discoveries, look for the next, and applaud her victories.

I’ve also read the Charles Jenkins series (even started with Book 1 The Eighth Sister!) and now I’m thrilled to see a new Dugoni book come up, whether one of either series or a standalone; a go-to author. This is one you won’t want to miss! Currently on pre-order.

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 point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

[goodreads]

Book Details:

Genre: Murder, Women Sleuths, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: ‎ 1542008328
ASIN: B08ZMWPP9Q
Print Length: 343 pages
Publication Date: August 23, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

 

Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 8 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, the David Sloane legal thriller series, and several stand-alone novels including The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novels, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award and the critically acclaimed, The World Played Chess; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series. Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and a three-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He has also been a finalist for many other awards including the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than thirty languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertD

©2022 V Williams V Williams

520 floating bridge attribute: Wikipedia

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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

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra – #BookReview – #historicalfiction

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

Book Blurb:

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—BookPage

Like many before her, Maria Lagana has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Born in Rome, where every Sunday her father took her to the cinema instead of church, Maria immigrates with her mother to Los Angeles after a childhood transgression leads to her father’s arrest.

Fifteen years later, on the eve of America’s entry into World War II, Maria is an associate producer at Mercury Pictures, trying to keep her personal and professional lives from falling apart. Her mother won’t speak to her. Her boss, a man of many toupees, has been summoned to Washington by congressional investigators. Her boyfriend, a virtuoso Chinese American actor, can’t escape the studio’s narrow typecasting. And the studio itself, Maria’s only home in exile, teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.

Over the coming months, as the bright lights go dark across Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures becomes a nexus of European émigrés: modernist poets trying their luck as B-movie screenwriters, once-celebrated architects becoming scale-model miniaturists, and refugee actors finding work playing the very villains they fled. While the world descends into war, Maria rises through a maze of conflicting politics, divided loyalties, and jockeying ambitions. But when the arrival of a stranger from her father’s past threatens Maria’s carefully constructed facade, she must finally confront her father’s fate—and her own.

Written with intelligence, wit, and an exhilarating sense of possibility, Mercury Pictures Presents spans many moods and tones, from the heartbreaking to the ecstatic. It is a love letter to life’s bit players, a panorama of an era that casts a long shadow over our own, and a tour de force by a novelist whose work The Washington Post calls “a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles.”

His Review:

Pre WWII the movie industry was in a state of flux. Many of the industry leaders were immigrants escaping the turmoil that was Europe. The first world war ended and storm clouds of the second world war were on the horizon. Many immigrants from Italy and Germany went to the Los Angeles area where their lack of understanding or speaking English was not a deterrent to a good-paying job.

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony MarraMercury Pictures was a B-film company making many soon-to-be-forgotten films. Hiring good production people was almost impossible. The individuals in this tome were struggling to make it in the business. The entire cadre of production and actors was contained within a five-mile area of Hollywood. There is a number of main characters who fade in and out of the storyline. Maria Lagana (never given a title because she is a woman) is an “associate producer” who carries the main workload throughout the novel.

The idealism of some of the characters within the government was to control the thinking of the American people. Prior to making a movie, the script was required to be sent to the motion picture censors who had to approve the film before production. Many topics including foreign governments and potential espionage were summarily excluded from production.

I found the book very enlightening on so many levels. Foreigners gravitated to Hollywood because of the motion picture industry. Scripts were written which could have been viewed as subversive so freedom of expression and freedom of speech is curtailed because of the potential for foreign influences. Censorship is rampant.

CE WilliamsMy overall impression was that the material is well researched and written and could be a history lesson. Of course, during those times after WWII our country was paranoid regarding communism and other foreign ideas. The best way to control these ideas at the time was to clamp down on those in the motion picture industry. An interesting lesson in government intervention. 4 stars – CE Williams

Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Italian Fiction Literary Sagas, Historical Literary Fiction
Publisher: Hogarth
ASIN: B09G9V5MJN
Print Length: 430 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Mercury Pictures Presents [Amazon]

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Anthony Marra - authorThe Author: Anthony Marra is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and longlisted for the National Book Award. His new novel, Mercury Pictures Presents, will be published in July 2022.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 

Goodreads Choice Award nominee 

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Details:

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

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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