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

#ThrowbackThursday

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Book Blurb:

Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Cole has 30 days to write the thriller that could put her back on the best-seller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing her down in both her professional and her personal lives, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine, Beth.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone caring for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, she sets out to catch him in the act and to make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the East River.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the same river, and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

My Review:

EEK! Not one unreliable narrator but two? Wait a minute…A book within a book?

Maybe my fault, as I normally listen to my audiobooks while performing another task; gardening, cooking, cleaning, shopping. Big mistake here as the story begins at a rather slow pace, easy to fade in and out, and the narration by two similar voices wasn’t wholly easy to separate out which character was speaking.

Lies She Told by Cate HolahanFirst, Liza. She’s an author in a slump, on deadline, and sweating it. Beth is the main character of the book she is struggling with and it doesn’t help both are experiencing somewhat parallel stories. So each chapter alternates between the author and the MC in the book she’s writing and pretty soon it gets tougher to keep up with whose story we are currently following. Confusing.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I thought Beth was over-the-top whiney and got tired of her fighting tears all the time. Okay, she’s a new mom—there is such a thing as post-partum depression. But she’s just psychotic. This lady was in full-on post-partum separation and there were times when I feared for her infant.

Liza was still trying to get pregnant and scheming on how to get hubby in the sack for the next go-round with fertile timing. Enter unresponsive (cheating) husbands, the bast…ds. As I didn’t care all that much for either MC though, I couldn’t whip up sufficient empathy.

Lots of twists and turns took me half the chapter to sort out whose voice I was currently listening to when suddenly I became quite alarmed at what was happening. GEES, what had I missed??!  I couldn’t believe it! Well, that got my attention and was also the point at which the lazy rhythm began to speed up.

I paid close attention then through the conclusion, but still my head was swirling, trying to separate the two storylines—make sense of it. And I wasn’t satisfied. Were all threads closed? I don’t think so.

It was a weird, often bewildering ride and I must admit to being hooked, entertained, and engaged. An unusual thriller for me—perhaps for you as well.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ASIN: B073WHSPC4
Listening Length: 9 hrs 54 mins
Narrator: Amy McFaddenLisa Larsen
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Lies She Told [Amazon]

 Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four stars 4 stars

 

Cate Holahan - authorThe Author: Catherine “Cate” Holahan is the USA Today bestselling author of The Widower’s Wife (August 2016), Lies She Told (Sept. 2017), Dark Turns (November 2015), and One Little Secret (July 9, 2019). An award-winning journalist and former television producer, her articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record newspaper, and on many web sites. She is a graduate of Princeton University and lives in New Jersey with her husband, two young daughters, and sometimes-good dog.

©2022 – V Williams V Williams

Bad Axe County (A Bad Axe County Novel Book 1) by John Galligan – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Bad Axe County by John Galligan

Bad Axe County by John Galligan

Book Blurb:

Dennis Lehane meets Megan Miranda in this “dark beauty of a novel” (William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author) about the first female sheriff in rural Bad Axe County, Wisconsin, as she searches for a missing girl, battles local drug dealers, and seeks the truth about the death of her parents twenty years ago—all as a winter storm rages in her embattled community.

Fifteen years ago, Heidi White’s parents were shot to death on their Bad Axe County farm. The police declared it a murder-suicide and closed the case. But that night, Heidi found the one clue she knew could lead to the truth—if only the investigators would listen.

Now Heidi White is Heidi Kick, wife of local baseball legend Harley Kick and mother of three small children. She’s also the interim sheriff in Bad Axe. Half the county wants Heidi elected but the other half will do anything to keep her out of law enforcement. And as a deadly ice storm makes it way to Bad Axe, tensions rise and long-buried secrets climb to the surface.

As freezing rain washes out roads and rivers flood their banks, Heidi finds herself on the trail of a missing teenaged girl. Clues lead her down twisted paths to backwoods stag parties, derelict dairy farms, and the local salvage yard—where the body of a different teenage girl has been carefully hidden for a decade.

As the storm rages on, Heidi realizes that someone is planting clues for her to find, leading her to some unpleasant truths that point to the local baseball team and a legendary game her husband pitched years ago. With a murder to solve, a missing girl to save, and a monster to bring to justice, Heidi is on the cusp of shaking her community to its core—and finding out what really happened the night her parents died.

With “striking prose, engaging characters, and a searing story of crimes rooted in the heartland,” Bad Axe County is a “darkly irresistible thriller” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) that you won’t be able to put down.

My Review:

I didn’t realize that the CE read and reviewed Book 3, Bad Moon Rising last year, and wasn’t wholly thrilled with it.

That is essentially my reaction to Book 1. From the beginning, it’s heavily atmospheric, describing Wisconsin very well. This is a small town with all the idiosyncrasies that comes with a small town: everybody knows everybody’s business. Most have been born, raised, and never strayed beyond the county city limits. Usually, that also means narrow thinking, biased attitudes, ole boy enclaves well entrenched. The haves; the have nots.

Bad Axe County by John GalliganThe protagonist, Heidi Kick is a former beauty queen turned law enforcement who suddenly discovers herself sheriff upon the death of the former officer. She has a history, of course, the apparent murder/suicide of her parents—something she never accepted and a case that is never far below the one currently being investigated.

And what’s being currently investigated is plenty. The storyline veers into missing girls, discovery of bodies, drugs, and human trafficking.
Lots of characters. Heidi is married with little ones. She is battling those who don’t want a “Dairy Queen” in the position—but she does have a base support.

The plot line turns decidedly dark, the dialogue raw, profane, denigrating, and demeaning. It is suspenseful, violent, and fast-paced. Better keep up!
The conclusion manages to work out all the threads, leaving Heidi snarking with her buddy, Denise—that part is fun—and I like the character of Denise.
It is well-plotted, loaded with atmosphere, and for the most part dark. I like strong female protagonists, but will have to give this one more thought.

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

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths, Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
ASIN: B07NDYSZLJ
Listening Length: 10 hrs 24 mins
Narrator: Samantha Desz
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Bad Axe County [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

 

John Galligan - authorThe Author: [Goodreads] John Galligan, in addition to being a novelist and teacher, John has worked as a newspaper journalist, feature-film screenwriter, house painter, au pair, ESL teacher, cab driver, and freezer boy in a salmon cannery. He currently teaches writing at Madison Area Technical College, where his experience is enriched by students from every corner of the local and world community.

 

 

2022 V Williams V Williams

#ThrowbackThursday

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

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction 

Book Blurb:

Audie Award, Fiction, 2016

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

France, 1939

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Add to Goodreads

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

 

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

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

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

http://www.kristinhannah.com

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

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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Rosepoint recommended

American Dirt (Oprah’s Book Club) by Jeanine Cummins – #AudiobookReview – #TBT

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction

 Book Blurb:

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day, a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy – two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia – trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave listeners utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity. It is one of the most important books for our times. 

My Review:

If you want to know what happens to a book that has the claim of being an Oprah’s Book Club selection, check out American Dirt. Alternately panned and praised, it is certainly a novel with great expectations. The reviews, as they can be with controversial subjects and authors, are wildly mixed.

Once again, however, I didn’t set out to find this book but happened on it in my search for a good audiobook. It certainly delivered.

American Dirt by Jeanine CumminsLydia Pérez lives in Acapulco with her family where she owns a bookstore. She has her favorites and the classics and knows her business. When Javier wanders in and chooses two of her favorites, it’s the start of an interesting relationship. She sees the man; smart, charming, handsome, but is ignorant of the fact that he is the new jefe of the drug cartel making a deadly strangle-hold on the city.

Her husband is a journalist and noting what is happening to their peaceful, beautiful tourist destination, writes a scathing profile of Javier.  It results in the horrific, violent death of her family—all except her son, eight-year-old Luca whom she manages to save, but Javier will not stop until he has them all. She begins a harrowing exodus from Acapulco to the states.

During the trip north, the reader (or listener) is introduced to a number of migrants, not just from Mexico, but those fleeing untenable conditions in their own countries, from juveniles and older all being guided in their trek from Mexico by a coyote of successful reputation.

While Lydia and Luca are the main characters, the support characters are well developed and elicit strong emotions from loathing to love. They are easy to picture, wield sympathy and provide disparate visuals. The journey is fraught with tension, hardship, and sacrifice and manages to alternately focus on many of the support characters.

Unfortunately, it is also strongly stereotypical and runs on melodrama. Goodness, it hardly slows—the melodrama yanking the reader in different directions, sparking like firecrackers, perhaps to miss obvious flaws in the writing.

I didn’t take the time to dissect every nuance, glean out whether or not that was truly Mexican Spanish, or whether or not a certain character might have done or said something that way. I might even decry that a white woman could rake in those kinds of bucks on such a sensitive topic, but I did find the narrative engaging and compelling. Perhaps it didn’t reflect the people or factual situation correctly but it did provide a face to the individuals and the desperation that would drive a human being that strongly.

And when I read of another truck full of migrants found in the deadly heat of summer, it bestowed a visage on real people. I thought the narrator did an exceptional job and I hung on every word. You’ll have to make up your own mind about this one. Did you read it? Listen to it? What was your reaction?

Book Details:

Genre: Latino American Literature, Hispanic American Literature & Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07RQ9LR1K
Listening Length: 16 hrs 43 mins
Narrator: Yareli Arizmendi
Publication Date: January 21,2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: American Dirt [Amazon]

 

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars 4 stars

 

Jeanine Cummins - authorThe Author: Jeanine Cummins is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling novel, AMERICAN DIRT, which was an Oprah Book Club and a Barnes & Noble Book Club selection, has been translated into 34 languages, and has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. She is also the author of the novels THE OUTSIDE BOY and THE CROOKED BRANCH, and the true crime memoir, A RIP IN HEAVEN. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Goodreads Choice Award Winner

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong. 

My Review:

Taken from headlines back in Memphis, Tennessee 1939, this audiobook gripped me quickly and never let go. Yes, I’m probably the last to see this title, but so glad I did. My mother ended up in an orphanage in the late 20s when my grandmother and grandfather split; the Depression, the crushing poverty, and no way to care for two young daughters. So, while my mother didn’t have this horrendous experience, her’s was not pleasant either.

The storyline narration splits between 1939 and present-day Aiken, South Carolina.

It is essentially the true account of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage and Georgia Tann, who in today’s dollars, made a ton of money selling children from the facility. Not just orphans, however, as some were literally stolen from their parents for the bounty they would bring.

Babies were a hot commodity and Tann found a market with well-to-do couples unable to have their own. Then she found further avenues of income by squeezing them further for various trumped-up charges and fees.

The cruel life the children lead in the orphanage is heart-stopping. Tann apparently had cultivated major connections, including judges, politicians, and police who literally turned a blind eye to what was happening.

Historical POV is told through twelve-year-old Rill Foss, the oldest of five children from a family living on the Mississippi River in a shanty, a river houseboat. They are taken from the boat following a nighttime emergency trip to the hospital by their mother and father. Rill’s story is poignant, riveting, heartbreaking, and suspenseful.

In present day Aiken, Avery Stafford is caught up in the family drama of an elderly woman and makes a shocking discovery.

I definitely preferred the voice of Rill—her story captivating—her strength, resolve admiral. She had loving parents and had been well taught but was far too trusting. Avery is more difficult to warm up to—rich, her narrow scope of view rested on the well-to-do, educated, classed gentry. Once she got into the investigation; would not let it go.

There were a few things I didn’t quite understand (the adult sisters hanging onto their secret) and the conclusion that managed a touch of romance (obvious which way it was going), and really—he’s a nice guy and all but wondered how long the nice guy part would last over her kind of privileged background.

Yes, I got the audiobook from my lovely library and thought the narrators did an outstanding job. My heart rose and sank throughout, hanging on every word, until I was emotionally exhausted. I kept thinking of my mother—and understood again—why she was so paranoid about losing my brother and I when our dad left. Thank you, mom.

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Sagas, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
ASIN: B06Y1MGNL9
Listening Length: 14 hrs 29 mins
Narrator:  Emily RankinCatherine Taber
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Before We Were Yours [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

The Author: Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Wingate lives in the Ouachita Mountains of southwest Arkansas.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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]

Add to Goodreads

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.

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