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

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Night Boat to Tangier: A Novel by Kevin Barry – #Audiobook Review – #TuesdayBookBlog

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

A Reading Ireland Month book 

Book Blurb:

From the acclaimed author of the international sensations City of Bohane and Beatlebone, a striking and gorgeous new novel of two aging criminals at the tail ends of their damage-filled careers. A superbly melancholic melody of a novel full of beautiful phrases and terrible men.

In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen – Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs – sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter, Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals, and serial exiles, rendered with the dark humor and the hard-boiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fiction writers at work today.

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2019 
Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book ReviewLit Hub, The MillionsThe Paris Review, and NPR 
Number One Irish Times Best Seller
Longlisted for The Booker Prize 

My Review:

Man oh man, did I miss the boat on this one! All those accolades, I figured it must be good. The blurb sounded interesting. Audiobook from my favorite library, what could I lose? Time—and at my age—that’s getting more precious.

I had an awful time with this one. For an audiobook some five and one-half hours, it just seemed to go on and on. I didn’t think I could get through it. Spoken in hushed, harsh monotones, and, finally, thankfully, it ended.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin BarryAs mysteriously as it started.

What did I miss here?

A plot? Oops. Did I miss that? (Of course, it’s totally character-driven.)

Depth to the characters…well, certainly they were described and we understood by the blurb they were despots. Cue the heavy Irish slang, had to back it up several times but after awhile that got tedious.

Perhaps so literary it went zooming right over my head. Perhaps I didn’t give it the attention it deserved. Perhaps I was so bored, I just flat couldn’t get into either of the characters or their stories.

There were times when it seemed chunks of narrative had been edited out and no backfilling ensued.  I don’t want to characterize them as the dregs of society, but they were the dregs of society and if one of them was waiting for daughter Dilly, I feared for the character of the poor child, wondering what kind of childhood she might have had.

My first experience with the author. Have you read or listened to this book? Am I just ignorant or do you agree even somewhat? Can you cite a book by the author that you discovered profound and would recommend I try again? This one was just not the book for me and I’m giving it two stars simply because I did not DNF it.

Book Details:

Genre: Urban Fiction, Humorous fiction, Fiction Urban Life
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B07X6HL9JW
Listening Length: 5 hrs 39 mins
Narrator: Kevin Barry
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Night Boat to Tangier [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing: 2 stars

Kevin Barry - Irish author
Photo of Kevin Barry, author appearing at the International Festival of Authors 2013. Photo courtesy of IFOA and Goodreads

The Author: Kevin Barry is the author of the novels Beatlebone and City of Bohane and the story collections Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. His awards include the International Dublin Literary Award, the Goldsmiths Prize, The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. His stories and essays appear in The New YorkerGranta, and elsewhere. He also works as a playwright and screenwriter, and he lives in County Sligo, Ireland. –This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition.

©V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne - banner

A Reading Ireland Month book 4 leaf clover w leprechan

“Ambition is putting a ladder to the sky.”
—American proverb

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for fame. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent—but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall. . . .

Sweeping across the late twentieth century, A Ladder to the Sky is a fascinating portrait of a relentlessly immoral man, a tour de force of storytelling, and the next great novel from an acclaimed literary virtuoso.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

My Review:

Maurice Swift—to what ends will this brilliantly manipulative character go to cement his life’s goal—that of a successful literary author?

OMG, did this one fairly bury me in amazing characters; fascinating, narcissistic, bold, secure and begins naively enough with the introduction to aging author Erich Ackermann. Erich is inexplicably attracted to young Maurice who exudes fan adoration in Erich’s books. So when Erich invites him to act as his assistant on a book tour, Maurice jumps at the chance. Erich falls heavily for young Maurice and it doesn’t help that Maurice is exceedingly attractive and aware of his sexual appeal.

Maurice, who would LOVE to write the next prize-winning literary novel but doesn’t have a clue how to come up with his own original story is, unfortunately, willing to do anything. Then Erich entrusts him with his most shameful haunting secrets and there’s Maurice’s story. It’s dark and deliciously deadly. It ultimately destroys Erich when it comes out but Maurice basks in the success. He can neatly and effectively avoid any guilt. It is, of course, Erich’s disgraceful act during the war that leads to the public outcry against him.

But while Maurice as despot is the main character, there comes a succession of deeply emotive characters, gripping, engaging. The well-developed part of Maurice’s wife; easy to love, sweet unsophisticated, and trusting, her POV comes to the forefront—for a short while.

Remember that old saying, “When the Gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers.” [Oscar Wilde]

Maurice always wanted to have a child of his own. In the meantime, there is a series of name-dropping that includes Gore (Vidal) whose conversations lead to some very witty, insightful glances into the cut-throat world of the literary (…that hack Swift). Dog eat dog. How far is Maurice willing to go to succeed, to be the one with the next bestseller. His bestseller or not?

A Ladder to the Sky by John BoyneAt each turn, the plot goes from benign to cancerous, bland to black, and soon this reader is turning pages over jaw-dropping twists you wouldn’t have believed, was it not for the continued fleshing of the moral character of Maurice. Is he capable of this? Oh yes, he is. And it’s becoming frightening.

Maurice is a master at rationalization—he can always see where the fault lay in the other—himself as the innocent who merely provided the catalyst to the story—made it better. Why shouldn’t he reap the reward?

And then the end, when you think it’s caught up with him? The irony? The last laugh is on you, fellow reader. It’s a gotcha!

Now, have you ever wondered what the words are under the title? I know what it is. Have you read this book? Want to discuss it or are you curious what it says under the title? Ask me in the comments.

One last thought: The narrators did a superlative job on this audiobook, most especially that inebriate voice. So realistic. This novel still resonates with me and will for some time. I’ll look for more books from this author.

Book Details:

Genre: LGBTQ, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B07FW4C8BC
Listening Length: 11 hrs 32 mins
Narrators: Richard E. GrantRichard CorderyNina SosanyaLaurence Kennedy
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: A Ladder to the Sky [Amazon]

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John Boyne - authorThe Author: John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of three Irish Book Awards, he is the author of thirteen novels for adults, six for younger readers and a collection of short stories. The international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than eleven million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over fifty languages. He lives in Dublin. http://www.johnboyne.com.

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin - Banner

A Reading Ireland Month book

“The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough.”

Book Blurb:

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter-mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in best-selling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. 

My Review:

It was in August 1974 when 24 year old Frenchman Philippe Petit made it his “le coup” to illegally walk on a high wire across the top of the twin towers a total of eight times, the “artistic crime of the century.” And the feat was so bizarre, so over-the-top astounding that a film was released about it October 2015 called “The Walk.” I wrote a short article about the headline capturing story on July 2, 2016, not knowing that Colum McCann released this book in January 16, 2015. To be fair, I have not viewed the film.

It wasn’t long before I realized the book was about a particular group of people who may (or may not) have been impacted by this stupendous feat. The first half of the book is very slow, and for me, disjointed. I was trying to figure out how these characters had anything to do with the event that was unfolding before their eyes, or in some other unrelated capacity, connecting them. Indeed, for quite some time it didn’t.

It wasn’t a book about the feat itself or the man who walked the high wire. It was a deep-diving story that eventually begins to form a wire itself—uniting the stories of those five or six of the sixteen plus million people in mid-70s New York City.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCannYou probably couldn’t find a more disparate group of people to dissect, from Irish priest (okay, monk), to mother and daughter hookers. Tillie’s story is graphic and profane but at least she finally breathed some much needed energy into a novel long in the tooth, reveling in finding a topic and expanding on it sixteen different ways, “the wind of the…, the trees of the…, the whatever…eventually just feels like filler to me and indeed, this narrative manages to extend beyond fifteen hours. Not a style I particularly enjoy—the constant philosophizing. It seemed dark, depressing. And when I thought it would get on with the story simply introduced yet another new character that was then studied to within of that life with no discernible bond to any of the previous characters.

I especially had a problem with the “Nam” references since the CE is a veteran of that era; we lived through it. But at least I could identify with the gold star mothers since I lost a brother during that time, not as a mother, but a sister. A pain that gradually dulls but never lets go and also gripped the mothers in this emotional support group.

The author does draw the characters finally together in a cohesive, sensitive manner—a study of the people, of the time. Perhaps not the event, but event driven? In the end, we also get the inside story of the judge, laid open and bare, warts and all, the storyline tied by his wife’s support group, while he’s ecstatic he got the defendant of the year in his court–sufficient to relieve his judicial boredom.

Well, mercy. One final stinging epithet.

Book Details:

Genre: Urban Fiction, Fiction Urban Life, Family Life Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B00SC80QC4
Listening Length: 15 hrs 15 mins
Narrator(s): Richard PoeGerard DoyleCarol MondaJohanna ParkerRamon De Ocampo
Publication Date: January 16, 2015
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Let the Great World Spin [Amazon]

 

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

 

Colum McCann - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Colum McCann is the author of three collections of short stories and six novels, including “Apeirogon,” due to be published in Spring 2020. His other books include “TransAtlantic,” “Let the Great World Spin,” “This Side of Brightness,””Dancer” and “Zoli,” all of which were international best-sellers.

“Let the Great World Spin” won the National Book Award in 2009. His fiction has been published in over 40 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Paris Review and other places. He has written for numerous publications including The Irish Times, Die Zeit, La Republicca, Paris Match, The New York Times, the Guardian and the Independent.

Colum has won numerous international awards and has been a bestseller on four continents. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Irish association of artists, Aosdana. He has also received a Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres from the French government. He is the cofounder of the global non-profit story exchange organisation Narrative 4.

In 2003 Colum was named Esquire magazine’s “Writer of the Year.” Other awards and honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Independent Hughes and Hughes/Sunday Independent Novel of the Year 2003, and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. He was recently inducted into the Hennessy Hall of Fame for Irish Literature.

His short film “Everything in this Country Must,” directed by Gary McKendry, was nominated for an Academy Award Oscar in 2005.

Colum was born in Dublin in 1965 and began his career as a journalist in The Irish Press. In the early 1980’s he took a bicycle across North America and then worked as a wilderness guide in a program for juvenile delinquents in Texas. After a year and a half in Japan, he and his wife Allison moved to New York where they currently live with their three children, Isabella, John Michael and Christian.

Colum teaches in Hunter College in New York, in the Creative Writing program, with fellow novelists Peter Carey and Tea Obreht.

Colum has completed his new novel, “Apeirogon.” Crafted out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material, McCann tells the story of Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan. One is Israeli. One is Palestinian. Both are fathers. Both have lost their daughters to the conflict. When Bassam and Rami learn of each other’s stories they recognize the loss that connects them, and they begin to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

In the novel McCann crosses centuries and continents. He stitches together time, art, history, nature and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. Musical, cinematic, muscular, delicate and soaring, Apeirogon is a novel for our times.

Sign up for Colum’s newsletter: http://bit.ly/mccannsignup

Website: http://www.colummccann.com

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz and Kirsten Kairos (Narrator) – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Book Blurb:

With each of his number-one New York Times best-sellers, Dean Koontz has displayed an unparalleled ability to entertain and enlighten listeners with novels that capture the essence of our times, even as they bring us to the edge of our seats. Now he delivers a heart-gripping tour de force he’s been waiting years to write – at once a love story, a thrilling adventure, and a masterwork of suspense that redefines the boundaries of primal fear and of enduring devotion.

Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the Southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered golden retrievers. Among dog lovers, she’s a legend for the risks she’ll take to save an animal from abuse. Among her friends, Amy’s heedless devotion is often cause for concern. To widower Brian McCarthy, whose commitment she can’t allow herself to return, Amy’s behavior is far more puzzling and hides a shattering secret.

No one is surprised when Amy risks her life to save Nickie, nor when she takes the female golden into her home. The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny. Even her two other goldens, Fred and Ethel, recognize Nickie as special, a natural alpha. But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents: An ominous stranger. A mysterious home invasion. And the unmistakable sense that someone is watching Amy’s every move, and that, whoever it is, he’s not alone.

Someone has come back to turn Amy into the desperate, hunted creature she’s always been there to save. But now there’s no one to save Amy and those she loves.

From its breathtaking opening scene to its shocking climax, The Darkest Evening of the Year is Dean Koontz at his finest. 

My Review:

When I first told my son I was reading a book by Dean Koontz, he said, “but Koontz is a horror writer, mom.” I explained to him that I was reading his new Jane Hawk series (including The Night Window, the fifth and final in the series) and that it was more action thriller, techno thriller. Indeed, I read the whole series, and another suspense standalone, The Good Guy. To be honest, I hadn’t read a horror book by him as I don’t read horror books.

The Darkest Evening of the YearThe one filament common to most of his books is that little edge of the supernatural and this one is no exception. That said, this one is a surprise for me but of course I was drawn to the dog on the cover with promise that it might include a canine in the storyline. It does.

Amy is apparently wealthy. She spends her time in the rescue of golden retrievers and she’s developed quite the rep—and certainly the mastery in rescue of the animals in some of the most dire situations. This time Amy rescues Nickie. Her boyfriend is horrified by the circumstances, but she successfully manages the retrieval of the dog. She has no idea she is part of a dark plan, but she does share some of her feelings regarding Nickie to her boyfriend, Brian. (Is it possible Nickie has been here before?)

What starts as eerie incidents escalate into a darker and darker chain of events that introduces Hope. POV’s switch to the head of Hope as she coyly manages her mother, something the ten year old Down’s syndrome daughter has learned to deal with. 

The antagonist charges head long into some of the cruelest, most despicable scenes of a mother imagined. The worst kind of depraved person a human can be posed against the most innocent, decent. Good versus evil personified.

While Amy separately deals with demons, they plan their perverse scheme, and it’s revealed there is more to Hope than conceived of. Indeed, if at first your heart broke for her, it just as quickly rose in pride for her astute management of the situation.

Nickie, the golden, did indeed prove herself a stout-hearted canine, more than just a beautiful companion.

Scratching my head. This is one devil of a narrative. Stomach-churning scenes at odds with triumph. My problem is the conclusion. Both the main characters as well as support barrel into the climax in one swooping, crashing plot crunch. And then it ends just as quickly. You can turn another page if you want, but the story ended. Just like that.

I’m a Koontz fan. Not a horror story fan. Most of my positive experience with this writer is the subtle, descriptive way he delivers the prose, so beautiful you can almost (almost!) forget the horrific circumstances. It’s hypnotic. And I’m compelled to look for the next Dean Koontz book.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Suspense Thrillers
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B0010BA81O
Listening Length: 9 hrs 9 mins
Narrator: Kirsten Kairos
Publication Date: November 27, 2007
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Darkest Evening of the Year [Amazon]

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

Dean Koontz - authorThe Author: Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

The Narrator: Kristen Kairos is a New York/LA-based voice-over technician, singer, songwriter, and percussionist who has toured worldwide and recorded with a variety of artists including Julio Iglesias, INXS, and David Lee Roth. While her speaking voice can be heard on numerous radio and television commercials, as well as character voices for animation and narration for audio books, she is currently singing, writing, arranging, and playing percussion with individual musicians and bands in the New York area.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

TV Netflix movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society vs #Audiobook by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows – #historicalfiction – #TBT

TV Netflix movie vs audiobook

“If books do have the power to bring people together, this one may work it’s magic.”

Trust the CE to find the pseudo-Hallmark of the week, in this instance, the Historical Fiction of the adaptation of a book published more than ten years previous amid vocal yays and nays. But, once again, my attention snagged, I sat and watched the two hour 3 minute movie with him. Seems we are in the grip of WWII stories and it doesn’t take much more than the slightest undertones of romance and a happy ever after to get the attention of those who hear the ka-ching in the wind. So yes, FIRST I watched the movie, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, although it was awhile before I noticed the audiobook come up at my local, well-stocked (audiobook) library. Once more I discovered quite the wide disparity of book vs TV version and glad I saw the Netflix rendering first.

Netflix Movie

No doubt most of my readers watched this movie before I did. Briefly, for those who haven’t, a successful London writer gets a letter from a resident of Guernsey and responds to his inquiry which begins an odyssey into the war history of the residents who invented a book club in the face of probable arrest by the Nazi occupiers.

In 1941, four friends confronted by soldiers of the German occupation invent a book club to explain why they’ve broken curfew. The historical romantic-drama borrowed heavily from the cast of Downton Abbey in forming a solid, immersive cast on film.

In 1946, Juliet Ashton receives an inquiry from one of the residents of Guernsey that sets off a barrage of correspondence eventually resulting in her move to the island to get to know them better and write a book about their WWII stories. Juliet has been writing successfully as Izzy Bickerstaff but explains to her publisher, Sidney Stark, that she wishes to write something of greater substance and senses a winning story.

It doesn’t take long to get to know the residents, appreciate their kindness, and understand their reticence in sharing emotional stories. Many of the stories keep revolving around another resident named Elizabeth, the founding member of the Society. Elizabeth’s daughter Kit was left with members of the Society when Elizabeth was arrested. She is still missing but hope remains for her return.

Juliet had left Mark in London expecting to return, an American in the armed forces, who proposed to her shortly before she left for Guernsey. He gleans info regarding Elizabeth for Juliet to relay to the Society, but her heart is now in Guernsey; the people, a man named Dawsey, Kit, and she’ll stay there.

Enter your happy ever after, queue the violins, swell the volume, fade to scenic pictures of the happy couple with the sun setting on the surf.

My Thoughts

Being a war baby, I got stories from my mother, the pictures, the music—the wartime mentality. Stamps for provisions, making due (chicory instead of coffee), darning until the clothes fell apart, shoes stuffed with paper or cardboard. So, yes, perhaps I tend to get a bit nostalgic. I’m not big on romance novels or movies, but there is more to this story than the romance both Juliet and Dawsey were denying. There is happiness gleaned in stories of triumph and the tragedy of loss. The scenes shot across England were beautiful, the clothing and hairstyles authentic. The production is engaging enough to forgive a few little details that might have been glossed over. 5 stars

Audiobook

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. 

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends – and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island – boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. 

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My Thoughts

WHOA! What a shock to discover the novel is actually Epistolary Fiction. Not that I haven’t read other books in that particular format, I guess, just that I didn’t know there was a name for that. Letters. A literary work made entirely in the form of letters. Hence, the multiple narrators (for the different characters in the audiobook).

Not at all what I was expecting. But then after a chapter or two, I expected it to evolve. It didn’t.

he Guernsey Literary and PPP Society audiobook coverFirst, the speed with which letters seem to fly back and forth left me wondering about post-wartime posts. With addresses disappearing daily during the raids and people missing, there was still the capacity of posting and receiving letters that fast?

Rather than trading letters and characters every chapter, I wished for some off-page narration. A little filler.

The letters, though written (and narrated) by different characters all seemed to have much the same sense of humor and insight. Only the character of Mark, the wealthy American, who was largely offensive, seemed distinct.

I did enjoy a number of the little side stories, dips into the characters for instance of Dawsey Adams, a pig farmer, and how a pig was used to dupe the Germans. I’m quite sure many such shenanigans were played, lightening the dark times just enough to make bearable another day under deplorable conditions.

Still, I was never able to become engaged with Juliet and the letters as laid out, always wanting to “fill in” what I perceived missing. 3 1/2 stars

Overall Impression

This would not have been my choice of reading had I known it was an Epistolary novel. And quite possibly, I’d have denied myself the pleasure of the book seen through the visionaries in the Netflix movie had I read the book first. So much is conveyed through sight and scene, the flashbacks, the instant impressions that make the movie come alive. The desperation, hurt, denial, and guilt, missing in part in the novel. The actors were superb. Their eyes spoke volumes. The letters failed to impart that emotion for me.

I have to give the Netflix movie the nod over the novel. If you haven’t had the pleasure, even at this late date, look for it.

Book Details

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Genre: World War II Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Audio (Unabridged)
ASIN: B001FVJIN8
Listening Length: 8 hrs 7 min
Narrator:  Paul BoehmerSusan DuerdenRosalyn LandorJohn LeeJuliet Mills
Audible Release: September 2, 2008
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Publisher: The Dial Press
Genre: Epistolary Fiction, Historical World War II Fiction, World War Historical Fiction
Print Length: 306 pages
ISBN : 0385341008
ASIN: B0015DWJX2
Publication Date: July 29, 2008
Title Link: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society [Amazon]

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Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - authorsThe Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Annie Barrows - author[Goodreads] Mary Ann Shaffer worked as an editor, a librarian, and in bookshops. Her life-long dream was to someday write her own book and publish it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel. Unfortunately, she became very ill with cancer and so she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half, to help her finish the book. Mary Ann Shaffer died in February 2008, a few months before her first novel was published.

The Narrators: Paul BoehmerSusan DuerdenRosalyn LandorJohn LeeJuliet Mills

Juliet Maryon Mills (born 21 November 1941) is a British-American actress of film, stage, and television. She is the daughter of actor Sir John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell born November 1, 1941 in London and the eldest of three siblings; her younger siblings are actress Hayley Mills and director Jonathan Mills. [Wikipedia]

©2021 V Williams

happy thursday!

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – #Audiobook Review – Biographies

Amazon Charts #2 this week

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

 

Most of the times it’s not stolen, it’s right where you left it. 

Book Blurb:

Number one New York Times best seller Over one million copies sold!

From the Academy Award-winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me. 

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights”. So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops. Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears. It’s a love letter. To life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too. Good luck.

“…outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.”

My Review:

Ugh! I’ve never been a fan of Matthew McConaughey. And if I can’t switch channels fast enough to NOT see another of his Lincoln TV commercials, it’ll be too soon.

I won’t deny that I don’t find him attractive. The problem is that he comes off egotistical, flaunting it (like most Hollywood women?). Narcissistic. Yeah, that too.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaugheySo why then, when I saw his audiobook come up on my wonderful library selections did I hit “request?” You’ve got me. No clue. And I’m not usually one to follow Hollywood types. The way they live is so beyond my imagination, I can’t even feign interest.

However…

McConaughey begins his book with an introduction to his early life in lower middle class east Texas. Begins with stories about his family. I’m hooked.

Strictly audiobook, strictly McConaughey and his quiet intimate voice but as he gets into his storytelling, becomes animated with nostalgic memories. And then his intro to the Hollywood scene—perhaps it all comes off too easy—and that throws him. An oft told story. Oh, he handles it with booze and women alright, pranks, and then comes his first (***) dream. (I’ll let you fill in the blank. Yeah, graphic, but not the first.)

So now MM turns into Monk McConaughey as he pushes off to seek the truth of life. Gimme a break. Would that we could all disappear for months at a time to seek the truth of life—or would I? Nah. In the quest of second and third dreams, he travels Africa and South America. (He’s already done Europe by motorcycle with two of his buddies.) And he does come back with some hard truths. Now McConaughey turns Texas Baptist preacher and mounts his pulpit. He punctuates his memoir with memorable stories or experiences that taught him little pearls of wisdom which he notes as:

PRESCRIPTION!

NOTE TO SELF! or

BUMPER STICKER!

These he almost invariably shouts. ARGH! Unfortunately, I almost invariably enjoyed them. Gees! Don’t encourage him!

It’s better to jump then fall.

 Blue collar prayers – `I need` / White collar prayers – `I want`.

It’s classified as a biography, memoir, and also personal development or self-help and his many travels and experiences have enabled him a Ghandi range of personal development and self-help ideas—many of the latter loaded into the conclusion—almost to preachy levels.

Experiences seen as problems, difficulties, crises, quandaries, and hindrances eventually turned to his “greenlights” which he is happy to share. An over-abundance of optimism. Maybe we need that right now.

If you think you might enjoy a well narrated, lively novel by Machismo Matt, go for it. If all those laughin’, scratchin’, and testosterone-driven stories might not be your cup of tea, you might want to pass. I will say, however, that it turns out he is human. It is highly entertaining and you never know what the next chapter will bring you—maybe another story you’d like to live vicariously.

Book Details:

Genre: (#1 in:) Biographies, Personal Development, Self-Help
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B08HLW2JXD
Print Length: 288 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: Matthew McConaughey 
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Greenlights

 

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

Matthew McConaughey - actor-authorThe Author: Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is a married man, a father of three children, and a loyal son and brother. He considers himself a storyteller by occupation, believes it’s okay to have a beer on the way to the temple, feels better with a day’s sweat on him, and is an aspiring orchestral conductor.

In 2009, Matthew and his wife, Camila, founded the just keep livin Foundation, which helps at-risk high school students make healthier mind, body, and spirit choices. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, and co-creator of his favorite bourbon on the planet, Wild Turkey Longbranch.

©V Williams

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