TV Netflix Series Maid vs #Audiobook Maid by Stephanie Land – #TBT

TV Netflix Series Maid vs Audiobook

 

Another Netflix original that I noticed had been adapted from a popular book by a debut author. As you know, I am loving the challenge of listening to the audiobook to see how much (or little) Netflix changed and made it their own. Did they make it better? Worse? And as also mentioned before, I noticed a radical departure from some of the original books (although not quite so much with Longmire, but thankfully for the Virgin River series).

The storyline by Stephanie Land chronicles her experiences of taking on approximately 25 hrs work a week as a maid (I would call her a housekeeper—not really a maid)—who is trying to care for her toddler daughter and take classes toward a degree. She writes in detail of her struggles with a broken welfare system (Washington state), assistance, that sometimes takes days of time to complete applications, numerous trips to the separate agencies, and then suffer through wait times of months, even years for relief.

Netflix Series

Sarah Qualley - actress
Alex–played by Sarah Qualley – Attribute Wikipedia

Alex is a single mother with daughter Maddy who has escaped the child’s abusive father and homelessness to perform housecleaning duties for clients of a cleaning service where she is paid minimum wage. The series began on October 1, 2021 and was written by both Stephanie Land and Molly Smith Metzler. At 5/8”, the 27 year old Sarah Margaret Qualley  (who plays Alex in the title role) was born in Kalispell, MT to parents Andie MacDowell (who also appears as her mother) and Paul Qualley.

Rylea Nevaeh Whittet - child actress
Maddy–played by Rylea Nevaeh Whittet – Attribute-imdb.com

Billed as a limited series, Season 1 of Maid has ten episodes. I say Season 1 as it has been holding the Top 10 spot since the premiere. Since the season ended with a solid (happy) conclusion, there is debate regarding a continuing story. Maddy, the sweet cherub-faced toddler is adorable and steals any of her scenes (I think anyway).

There are additional support characters (but the POV is all Alex)—the father—not the most supportive of dads, and the storyline zooms in on the various houses where she is assigned to clean, their stories, houses, and the relationship (or lack thereof) to their housecleaner.

My Thoughts

This one starts out fairly slow building (after the initial fleeing in the night scene) the whos, whys, whats, whens, and wheres. Episode 1. Episode 2 begins building on the stories of the homes—who they are. Some are fleshed more than others depending on their involvement with Alex, many of whom have none at all. She names each of the houses—“the sad house,” “the porn house,” etc.

The story continues to build conflict with her ex—Sean—who is getting progressively violent. Conflict escalates with each new financial burden—carefully calculated on screen showing deductions into deficit. Her mother’s character is an aging hippie, alternately a helpful grandmother or not. I really like the fictional additions—the stories of some of the housecleaning homes, but there are holes in the series. I believe she is getting child support, but it doesn’t appear in the financials—only that of her earnings(?).

She is over the moon with her daughter and seldom (maybe once in ten episodes) gets tired or cross with her. I understand the overwhelming exhaustion—and times when she needed a break. And she does, from time to time get those. She has a pessimistic attitude, facing one crisis after another, not always making the wise decision. She tends to snoop when opportunity presents itself, trying on clothes while decrying the small pilfering by a co-worker.

I was the daughter of a mother left with two children, no education or working experience. I can remember the struggles, the panic, and the admonition that we could “NOT get sick this winter” (we wouldn’t dare!), wherever that was going to be. She never had a break, nor did we have any kind of child support. There were days she simply ironed—for eight hours (and any income is deducted from welfare).

Sometimes Alex just doesn’t feel authentic.

Audiobook (Blurb)

At 28, Stephanie Land’s plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients’ lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her writing as a journalist gives voice to the “servant” worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie’s story, but it’s not her alone.

My Thoughts

Maid by Stephanie LandMs. Land wasn’t a teenager when she split from her ex. Nor at 28 (29?) did she seem to have an education she could apply to any available job, falling back on housekeeping as a way to spend time with her daughter. But at 25 hrs a week housekeeping, she was below the poverty line which left her with mounds of applications for aid, the embarrassment of food stamps, the doctors who only see the “Medicaid” patient, the WIC quandary. The failure of the system, heaven knows, is rather massive in any state, but Stephanie is detailing the failures, one at a time, over and over.

The more griping and negativity I heard, the greater my exhaustion of hearing about her victimization. She seems openly envious of anyone with more than she, perhaps not considering what it took to get them there. She may have tried on their shoes, but she didn’t walk in them.

Overall Impression

Okay, I’m scratching my head over this one. Clearly, I did not care for the audiobook, read by the author or not. I could not engage, work up the sympathy. SOOO many thousands of women going through the same and they may, as my mother did, cry in their pillows at night, but they carried on without pointing fingers at everyone else.

Netflix, as they usually do, found a strong middle ground, showing both the failures and the successes, building empathy where due, focusing on the child, lifelines for abused women, groups, and helplines. Conflicts and resolution. Light at the end of the tunnel only to have the light smashed and the tunnel black again. The storyline moves, however gradually, in an upwardly mobile direction.

I don’t think Netflix softened or frosted over the critical situation of the women. But they did provide just that sliver of hope that the tide will turn. And indeed it does. I’d recommended the Netflix version, but certainly cannot the audiobook and by that extension the book as well.

Book Details

Full Title: Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
Genre: Poverty & Homelessness Studies, Government Social Policy, Social Public Policy
Publisher: Hachette Audio
ASIN: B07MNHMYCP
Listening Length: 8 hrs 34 mins
Narrator: Stephanie Land
Audible Release: January 22, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link(s): Maid [Amazon] 
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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Stephanie Land - authorThe Author: Stephanie Land is the instant bestselling author of “MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.” Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and many other outlets. Her writing focuses on social and economic justice. Follow everywhere @stepville or stepville.com  [Goodreads]

 

 

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell – #Audiobook Review – American Revolution Biographies – #TBT

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best History 

Book Blurb:

From the best-selling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette – the one Frenchman we could all agree on – and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor, and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been 30 years since he had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette‘s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans; it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing, singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

John Slattery as the Marquis de Lafayette
Nick Offerman as George Washington
Fred Armisen as Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
Bobby Cannavale as Benjamin Franklin
John Hodgman as John Adams
Stephanie March as Evelyn Wotherspoon Wainwight and Linda Williams
Alexis Denisof as The British Leadership
Patton Oswalt as Thomas Jefferson and Sherm
 

My Review:

Add me to the list of those who thought I knew something about the Revolutionary war—particularly owing both myself and the CE had ancestors who fought—and must have obviously survived.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah VowellMy question after listening to this audiobook is how in the world did we EVER win our independence? Only, in no small part, to those countries who also either had no affinity for dear ole England themselves, or the English after eight years (which I also didn’t realize) was being bankrupted. Certainly a resulting factor for the massive help from the French king Louis XVI, who himself was guillotined in 1793.

We were certainly an ungrateful bunch. Tired of the monarchy, the Red Coats, the taxes, and lack of freedom. King George III absolutely refused to surrender the colonies. The fledgling Americans decided he would. Period.

The author is a surprise. When the audiobook started with that unusual voice narrating, I thought “you gotta be kidding” expecting the narrator to change. It did, frequently, but only to inject many of the other voices listed to portray another of the main characters of the war. Her delivery is beyond droll and it’s necessary to pay close attention because much of her zingers, sarcastic wit, often comparing or contrasting present day history comes through in contemplative conversation.

I had no idea that the Marquis de Lafayette, who came over strictly as a volunteer at the age of eighteen, rose in the ranks to establish himself so completely in the successful strategy of our battles. As has been noted previously, American troops were starving, lacking boots or proper winter clothing, materiel, or training.

For awhile, the narrative seemed to follow no one pattern, chronological or otherwise, until it settled down somewhat while she followed a specific tour of well-known battlegrounds and skirmishes and describing despicable conditions, noting at one point, “who needs to pay for gun powder when heat stroke kills for free.” Or at well known Valley Forge where more than 2,000 died owing to catastrophic winter conditions alone.

That cynical sense of humor comes through when she notes the horrific Battle of Brandywine (September 11, 1777) resulted in “random rattled fleeing…struggling to put the toothpaste back into the tube.”

I enjoyed learning about Lafayette, given the writing style, not wholly a dry history lesson and more certainly the contemporary observation and connections made, one referring to Lafayette Square across from the capitol in DC.

The author’s writing style might not appeal to everyone, nor her often sense of irony dispensed in conversational fashion. However, it is entertaining, educational, and enlightening. I learned a lot and will be looking for more of her history audiobooks.

Book Details:

Genre: American Revolution Biographies, French History, United States Colonial History
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
ASIN: B013RODKRA
Listening Length: 8 hrs 7 mins
Narrators: Sarah VowellJohn SlatteryNick OffermanFred ArmisenBobby CannavaleJohn HodgmanStephanie MarchAlexis Denisof
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States  [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

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

Sarah Vowell - authorThe Author: Sarah Jane Vowell is an American author, journalist, humorist, and commentator. Often referred to as a “social observer,” Vowell has authored several books and is a regular contributor to the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International. She was also the voice of Violet in the animated film The Incredibles and a short documentary, VOWELLET – An Essay by SARAH VOWELL in the “Behind the Scenes” extras of The Incredibles DVD Release.

She earned a B.A. from Montana State University in 1993 in Modern Languages and Literatures and an M.A. in Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996. Vowell received the Music Journalism Award in 1996.

Vowell is a New York Times’ bestselling author of five nonfiction books on American history and culture. Her most recent book is Unfamiliar Fishes (2011), which reviews the takeover of Hawaii’s property and politics first by white missionaries from the United States and later joined by American plantation growers, ultimately resulting in a Coup d’état, restricted voting rights for nonwhites, and forced statehood for the small chain of islands. Her earlier book, The Wordy Shipmates (2008), examines the New England Puritans and their journey to and impact on America. She studies John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” – and the bloody story that resulted from American exceptionalism. And she also traces the relationship of Winthrop, Massachusetts’ first governor, and Roger Williams, the Calvinist minister who founded Rhode Island – an unlikely friendship that was emblematic of the polar extremes of the American foundation. Throughout, she reveals how American history can show up in the most unexpected places in our modern culture, often in unexpected ways.

Her book Assassination Vacation (2005) describes a road trip to tourist sites devoted to the murders of presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Vowell examines what these acts of political violence reveal about our national character and our contemporary society.

She is also the author of two essay collections, The Partly Cloudy Patriot (2002) and Take the Cannoli (2000). Her first book Radio On: A Listener’s Diary (1997), is her year-long diary of listening to the radio in 1995.

Her writing has been published in The Village VoiceEsquireGQSpinThe New York TimesLos Angeles Times, and the SF Weekly, and she has been a regular contributor to the online magazine Salon. She was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, also participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows.

In 2005, Vowell served as a guest columnist for The New York Times during several weeks in July, briefly filling in for Maureen Dowd. Vowell also served as a guest columnist in February 2006, and again in April 2006.

In 2008, Vowell contributed an essay about Montana to the book State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Biographies & Memoirs 

Book Blurb:

2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

PEOPLE magazine Best Book of Fall 2016

New York Times Best-seller 

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, featuring Carrie Fisher, is scheduled for release on December 15, 2017. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds debuted on HBO in January 2017.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience. 

My Review:

If ever a book is best read by the author, this one is it. I must admit that I wasn’t an overly enthusiastic fan of Ms. Fisher, feeling she rode her parents’ coat tails (Debbie Reynolds and [gasp] Eddie Fisher) to stardom.

Carrie, born October 21, 1956, discovered an old diary she’d kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie. She was struck by co-star Harrison Ford. Carrie at the time being nineteen years of age admitted all those years later that she was still gaga over him. But this is not a tell-all about her very brief (three months) affair with the fastly rising-to-stardom co-star.

If that’s what you are here to read, or listen to, then you’ll be disappointed. What Fisher relates in her own witty, sarcastic, and often humorous recollections of those years regarding pre and post 1977 Star Wars is the immense impact it would have on the rest of her life. Not just a successful starring part, but the beginning of a sci-fi phenomenon of globe capacity with unforgettable characters whose names are still familiar. Forget Luke, we were all over Han Solo.

The ugly and the beautiful.

Carrie can wax poetic and, indeed, a sizeable portion of this book is her daughter’s (Billie Lourd) reading of the poems she penned in the diary, along with all her observations.

“After all is said and done, I was playing for keeps and he was playing for fun.”

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

 

Carrie was bi-polar, angst ridden, and prone to abuse both drugs and alcohol. The audiobook gives the listener the impression of having a private conversation with her, extremely animated, totally open and honest, a one-on-one veritable hoot for most of the narrative. No matter the memory she related, the audiobook voice is audacious and often self-deprecating. And of course, she does discuss that iconic hairdo. (Link to sound clip on image below.)

Excerpt of The Princess Diarist read by Carrie Fisher
April 14, 1977 – Princess Leia Organa (CARRIE FISHER) – (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

This wasn’t her first book, however. She wrote voraciously and produced a number of other books, including two additional memoirs. Actually, her death at age 60 in December 2016 reflected the loss of a serious talent. No one can forget either the death of her mother the following day.

A thoroughly enjoyable audiobook that you must listen to for the full flavor in which it was written. Enthusiastically recommended. Then why not five stars, you wonder? (Glad you asked) The poems read by Lourd may have, in my opinion, extended for just a tad too long (for me at least, anxious to get back to Carrie’s chronicle).

Book Details:

Genre: Bipolar Disorder, Humor Essays, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01AAXYD54
Listening Length: 5 hrs 10 mins
Narrator: Carrie FisherBillie Lourd
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Princess Diarist [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

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

Carrie Fisher - author, actress, playwrightThe Author: Carrie Fisher was an American actress, screenwriter and author, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. Fisher was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. She had one daughter, Billie Lourd (b. 1992). [Goodreads]

Her final film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was released on December 15, 2017 and is dedicated to her.

The Narrator: Billie Lourd was born July 17, 1992, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of actress Carrie Fisher and talent agent Bryan Lourd. Lourd is also the only grandchild of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. [Wikipedia]

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Sound clip attribute: Sound Cloud-Penguin Audio

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

TV Netflix Series Firefly Lane vs #Audiobook Fly Away by Kristen Hannah and Susan Ericksen (Narrator) – Family Life Fiction – #TBT

Netflix series Firefly Lane vs Audiobook Fly Away Book 2 of the Firefly Lane series

 

Somewhere in my travels through buddy blogs or Netflix ads, I noticed the novel Firefire Lane and that the book had been picked up for a Netflix original series. I must admit to loving the challenge of listening to the audiobook and then making a mild comparison to the Netflix version. In the past I’ve noticed a radical departure from the original books (not quite so much with Longmire, but seriously rewritten in the Virgin River series).

The storyline by Kristen Hannah in Firefly Lane (Book 1) is about Kate Mularkey, who in the summer of 1974 meets Tully Hart. Kate is in the eighth grade and a doomed bottom feeder whereas Tully is “the coolest girl in the world.” But Tully lives a tenuous life with an addicted and aging flower child and she quickly assimilates into Kate’s family. The ensuing well-paced narrative chronicles the friendship, the bond between the girls through thirty years and several life changes.

Netflix Series

Firefly Lane follows Tully played by Katherine Heigl and Kate played by Sarah Chalke through their coming of age, young adulthood, and the rise of each in their chosen life path. They are BFFs, supporting each other through both the good times and bad into their 40s.

There are ten episodes in Season 1 with Season 2 promised some time in 2022. The actors, both the youths and adults, do an incredible job of selling their characters.

Katherine Heigl - actressKatherine Marie Heigl (born November 24, 1978) is an American actress, producer and former fashion model. She started her career as a child model. Heigl and her husband of 13 years — the singer Josh Kelley — have a 4-year-old son together, Joshua Bishop Kelley, Jr. They adopted their daughter Nancy Leigh, 12, from South Korea in 2009 and Adalaide, 8, who is Black, in 2012. [Wikipedia] She may best be known for her role in Grey’s Anatomy.

Sarah Chalke - actressSarah Louise Christine Chalke born August 27, 1976) is a Canadian actress and model. She is known for portraying Elliot Reid on the NBC/ABC comedy series Scrubs. Chalke is engaged to lawyer Jamie Afifi. The couple have a son, Charlie Rhodes, and a daughter, Frances. Her son was diagnosed at age two with Kawasaki disease. [Wikipedia]

My Thoughts

I love finally having female buddy films that women can identify with, enjoy. Of course, Thelma and Louise made some waves when it came out, but I don’t remember seeing a number of similar cinema offerings after. A League of Their Own? (“There’s no crying in baseball.”) First Wives Club? Not sure this isn’t apples and oranges and you no doubt can cite better or more current examples.

In this case, the often bawdy Netflix theme offers adult entertainment from violence and drug abuse to nudity and sex scenes. If that’s not offensive, then behind the restricted content comes the beautiful story of a powerful friendship that manages to survive jealousy, anger, triumphs, and betrayals. Life is a struggle, but the friendship and connection prevails.

Really, if you haven’t discovered this one yet, I recommend the series. Engaging, well-developed and portrayed characters. So far, a “feel good” series, although I understand that changes. 5 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

The number one New York Times best-selling author returns to the characters in Firefly Lane in her next blockbuster novel, Fly Away. Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than 30 years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. 

But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on…Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate – to be there for Kate’s children – but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people. Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her…until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world. 

Dorothy Hart – the woman who once called herself Cloud – is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs. 

A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need each one another – and maybe a miracle – to transform their lives. 

An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness. 

Told with her trademark powerful storytelling and illuminating prose, Kristin Hannah reveals why she is one of the most beloved writers of our day. Includes a Reading Group Guide Read by Kristin Hannah  

My Thoughts

[Spoiler alert—Book 2 revelations]

Well, damn, try as I might, could NOT get the first book, Firefly Lane, which would have thoroughly supplied the background that Fly Away appears lacking. After a friendship spanning thirty years, Kate dies.

Fly Away by Kristen HannahThere has been a rift between the two, but Tully drops her very successful daytime TV show to spend the rest of the time she and Kate have left together. Tully promises Kate she will be there for her children. The problem, of course, is that Tully has devoted her life to attaining stardom on television. She never marries, doesn’t have children. Has no clue how to play devoted aunt to Kate’s twin boys and sixteen year old Marah.

What follows is a sub-plot involving Marah and her attempt to turn on, tune in, drop out. And there is an intense story in which the reader (or listener) gets the full low down on Dorothy Hart (Cloud—Tully’s flower child mother). Her story is heart-breaking and familiar to many of the older generation.

And finally, Tully’s failed attempt at reconciliation with her world, the cost and the redemption and ultimately a conclusion that somewhat settles the heart.

The narrative is long-toothed on retrospection, coulda, woulda, shouldas. A review of the highlights of the thirty years—the good and the bad. The romances, their families. Overall, I felt it rather morose, sad, not an audiobook to read with depression or happy for that matter—it’ll bring yah down. (And here again, I did not care for the narrator). Really, a rather unfortunate wrap-up for what is otherwise a celebration of a relationship few are privileged to experience. 2 stars

Overall Impression

Sometimes I discover I prefer the (audio)book, sometimes it’s the Netflix version. The Netflix version is usually a compromise of adult material, softened somewhat, or not. Character events are switched, or a major plot-twisting event occurs—not as originally written but what works best for the TV version. In this particular instance, the character that stuck out for me the most from the book that Netflix nailed is Dorothy (Cloud), who eventually looks at least ten years older than her real age. The story of Tully is tragic, really, and although obvious in the Netflix version, concentrates on the stark reality of her childhood and the life-long battle that forges in the Tully character.

I’m all over Netflix Firefly Lane Season 1, but if Season 2 follows Fly Away, I’m out.  

Book Details

Fly Away: Book 2 of the Firefly Lane series
Genre: Family Life Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Women’s Sagas
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B000V77082
Listening Length: 16 hrs 4 mins
Narrator:  Susan Ericksen
Audible Release: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Fly Away Book 2 [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

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 the 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

©V Williams V Williams

The Bone Bed: Scarpetta Book 20 and Chaos: Scarpetta Book 24 by Patricia Cornwell – #Audiobooks–How long can a good series stay good?

Audiobooks by Patricia Cornwell

Can an author really only have a few fresh stories to tell in the same series or is one more one too many?

Patricia Cornwell is coming out with Autopsy, Scarpetta Book 25 late November. I got audiobooks for series Book 20 and 24. Was Book 24 one too many for me?

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Book Blurb-The Bone Bed

A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in the remote wilderness of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way to the inbox of Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, over 2,000 miles away, in Boston. She has no idea why. But as events unfold with alarming speed, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the paleontologist’s disappearance is connected to a series of crimes – much closer to home: a gruesome murder, inexplicable tortures, and trace evidence from the last living creatures of the dinosaur age.

When she turns to those around her, Scarpetta finds that the danger and suspicion have penetrated even her closest circles. Her niece Lucy speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI forensic psychologist and husband, Benton Wesley, have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.

This is Kay Scarpetta as you have never seen her before. The Bone Bed is a must-listen for any fan of this series, or an ideal starting point for new readers.

My Review-The Bone Bed

I’m always gratified to see that my reaction to an audiobook generally meets consensus. And this one left me scratching my head. My first novel by Patricia Cornwell, not that I didn’t recognize the name, just that I hadn’t stumbled across one of her (library) audiobooks before.

The Bone Bed by Patricia CornwellThis narrative begins with an interesting premise: a body is found attached to an endangered leather-back turtle. The body was sent to the bottom using an intricate system of ropes that would essentially dismember the body if retrieval was not precisionally crafted. The leather-back, poor thing, was not in good shape, near drowning.

Then a man is on trial for killing his wife—without the substantiation of a body, and an archeologist is missing. Do all these things really share a common thread? I enjoyed the courtroom scenes and some portions of the technicalities of forensics, but then there is all this other…”stuff” just thrown in. Could we please just stick to the main plot points?

It’s amazing just how long it took to sort all this out, but really, so much is tied up with Kay’s personal life. Does she or doesn’t she have a good marriage? Thank heaven they can agree on the most appropriate red or white wine, otherwise, they’d have nothing in common. Tons of minutia—and what’s up with Marino? ARGH! So much suspicion, possible betrayals. And Kay getting way too big for her medical britches. She drips cynical thoughts about everyone.

This one jerked me around a bit—interest to boredom—chemical names bandied around until the mind is whirling with eighteen syllable words. I liked the storyline. I didn’t particularly like the way it was delivered and got very tired of Kay and her superior, confrontational attitude pretty quickly. 3 stars

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Book Details: The Bone Bed

Genre: Medical & Forensic Thrillers, Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B009RFGJX6
Listening Length: 12 hrs 54 mins
Narrator: Kate Reading
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Berkley
Print Length: 513 pages
ASIN: ‎ B0083P1QUM
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Bone Bed [Amazon]

Book Blurb-Chaos

In the quiet of twilight, on an early autumn day, 26-year-old Elisa Vandersteel is killed while riding her bicycle along the Charles River. It appears she was struck by lightning – except the weather is perfectly clear, with not a cloud in sight. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Cambridge Forensic Center’s director and chief, decides at the scene that this is no accidental act of God.

Her investigation becomes complicated when she begins receiving a flurry of bizarre poems from an anonymous cyberbully who calls himself Tailend Charlie. Though subsequent lab results support Scarpetta’s conclusions, the threatening messages don’t stop. When the tenth poem arrives exactly 24 hours after Elisa’s death, Scarpetta begins to suspect the harasser is involved and sounds the alarm to her investigative partner, Pete Marino, and her husband, FBI analyst Benton Wesley.

She also enlists the help of her niece, Lucy. But to Scarpetta’s surprise, tracking the slippery Tailend Charlie is nearly impossible, even for someone as brilliant as her niece. Also, Lucy can’t explain how this anonymous nemesis could have access to private information. To make matters worse, a venomous media is whipping the public into a frenzy, questioning the seasoned forensics chief’s judgment and “a quack cause of death on a par with spontaneous combustion”. 

My Review-Chaos

Oh good grief. And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse. This one takes forever to get into the whole reason for the plot—a body found on a bike trail. She has 30+ years of experience and by God, she’ll take her dear, sweet time because this is a lady she’d met earlier. She thinks. No, she’s pretty certain. But must not jump to conclusions. Wait, is that a familiar bike helmet? Groan.

Chaos by Patricia CornwellScarpetta is so full of angst it’s annoying. Good grief, how do these people keep a job? Her personal life is crap. Marino is irritating. But this narrative doesn’t worry about adding minutia, there is already pages upon pages of poor Kay’s childhood (it’s a wonder she isn’t a serial killer), her sister and mother. (Husband) Benton is gorgeous, rich, and every woman’s dream which is enough to make any woman nervous. Lucy is pushing anxiety.

I do enjoy the info about the ME’s office and the study of forensics, but no, don’t want to be hit over the head with it anymore than be inundated with chemicals. (And please, don’t keep telling people they can get the formulas for this stuff off the internet.) The interview with the (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?) twins who discovered the body was touching.

Everyone is anxious, confrontational, hyper. Or is that just the narrator? If I had a problem with the narrator in The Bone Bed, I really disliked this one. The tone, delivery seldom waivers below exaggerated confrontational attitude, whether from Scarpetta, Marino, (UGH! Hated the affected inflection on that character) or one of the other characters thrown in to maintain a heightened level of tension.

In the end, I couldn’t. Just couldn’t. Life’s too short. I turned off my machine. There are other audiobooks. Lots of them. 1.5 stars

Autopsy, slated to release November 30, 2021, is already flagged as a #1 New Release in Medical Thrillers. Will it sign off the series or is the author finished with Scarpetta yet? Even more important—will Scarpetta mellow just a bit? And would I try just one more? I might. But not as an audiobook with the same narrator, unless she also mellows.) 

Book Details: Chaos

Genre: Medical & Forensic Thrillers, Medical Fiction, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B01JGOYA60
Listening Length: 3 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Print Length: 483 pages
ASIN: ‎ B01BKD6YY
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Chaos [Amazon]

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Patricia Cornwell - authorThe Author: In 1990, Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. An auspicious debut, it went on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity Awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize—the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year. Growing into an international phenomenon, the Scarpetta series won Cornwell the Sherlock Award for best detective created by an American author, the Gold Dagger Award, the RBA Thriller Award, and the Medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contributions to literary and artistic development.

Today, Cornwell’s novels and iconic characters are known around the world. Beyond the Scarpetta series, Cornwell has written the definitive nonfiction account of Jack the Ripper’s identity, cookbooks, a children’s book, a biography of Ruth Graham, and two other fictional series based on the characters Win Garano and Andy Brazil. While writing Quantum, Cornwell spent two years researching space, technology, and robotics at Captain Calli Chase’s home base, NASA’s Langley Research Center, and studied cutting-edge law enforcement and security techniques with the Secret Service, the US Air Force, NASA Protective Services, Scotland Yard, and Interpol.

Cornwell was born in Miami. She grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston and Los Angeles.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Happy Thursday!

The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

A Reese’s Book Club Pick

The bride – the plus one – the best man – the wedding planner – the bridesmaid – the body.

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

My Review:

When I wrote a post about joining a book club back in May 2020, I included Reese Witherspoon in the picks and joined her club, getting book club choices and posts from time to time. No, I didn’t see this one, and usually, an island, a murder mystery—I’d have been onboard. But it wasn’t until I saw this in the audiobook selections that I actually noted it was a Witherspoon pick and now I’m confused—it’s a bestseller?

The Guest List by Lucy FoleyFirst, the setting: an Island off the coast of Ireland, solid with bogs worse than quicksand and rocky, sheer cliffs into the ocean that had me terrified just reading about it.

Then add to the island a large (well, I consider 150 wedding guests to be large) wedding party in all phases of drunk or stoned, the ole’ boys club from uni, Jules, the bride, successful editor, as is the groom, a successful TV personality.

This has got to be the most depressing wedding ever (well, except possibly for my own), told in multiple POV’s from the bride, groom, plus one, best man, wedding planner, and bridesmaid. It also bounced time frames from the university experience to the present.

I needed an engaging character, but there wasn’t any. Privileged, monied, educated, all keeping secrets, prejudices, injustices, and selfish, narcissistic.

The atmosphere is toxic leading the reader to correctly assume someone isn’t going to make it out alive. Pretty obvious who that will be—he’s positively obnoxious. Which also opens the door to the person who’ll knock him off. Well, really, if you’ve been listening to the narrative (although I agree it gets difficult), you’ll have a pretty good idea who that might be.

Between the rotating POV chapters and the timelines, it takes forever to say the vows. Phew! But no, the reader/listener still has to survive the reception—well, most will survive except for one of the characters.

Takes too long to get to it, plot holes, unrelatable and nasty characters. (And need I mention objectionable language?) It was a relief when it quietly ended and skipped right into an intro for another book. Not sure I missed something but by then didn’t care.

So tell me–have you read this? A typical example of her writing style? Do I dare try another?

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers,
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B07WSFQHSX
Listening Length: 10 hrs 22 mins
Narrators: Jot DaviesChloe MasseyOlivia DowdAoife McMahonSarah OvensRich Keeble
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Guest List [Amazon] 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three Starsthree stars

Lucy Foley - authorThe Author: Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Say hello at http://www.facebook.com/LucyFoleyAuthor and follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyFoleyTweets and Instagram @LucyFoleyAuthor

©2021 – V Williams V Williams

His & Hers: A Novel by Alice Feeney – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

His and Hers by Alice Feeney

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, his and hers. Which means someone is always lying.

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation.

Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

His & Hers is a twisty, smart psychological thriller. A gripping tale of suspense, told by expertly drawn narrators that will keep listeners guessing until the very end. 

My Review:

OMG, does this grip and hang on or what? Related in three POVs, Anna Andrews is the “her.” She’s been a fixture on the BBC news as a lunchtime anchor, always dreaming of her next big break. The old anchor returned, however, beloved, well-known, and still under contract after maternity leave and Anna is unceremoniously returned to the position of news correspondent.  Oh groan.

His and Hers by Alice FeeneyJack Harper is the “his” working on the police force in Blackdown. He was called to investigate a body found in the woods and is shocked to see it is someone he knows—and knows very well, btw. But he keeps that part to himself.

And then there is the perp, the killer, whose dialogue is skewed by a voice changer. Very creepy and creepy enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Insult to injury, now Anna is asked to cover the murder in the little town of Blackdown and no, she doesn’t want to go—she grew up there, not particularly happily. Of course, she, too, recognizes the victim.

Once in, the listener doesn’t get a bathroom break. You must listen to the next chapter, whether it is her or him—or that other one.

“There are always two sides to every story, yours and mine, ours and theirs, his and her. I always prefer my own.”

Fast paced, well-plotted, creepy narrative spiced with hometown-childhood secrets, adult secrets. Twists and turns leave the listener spinning. No getting a breath now—are you figuring it out? The tension ramps up another notch.

Jack came off as highly engaging, approachable. Anna not so much—she’s narcissistic and scheming. Her career is her life. She just wants back in the anchor spot and she can detach her emotions from the scene.

This novel-audiobook totally envelopes the listener, sinister, gripping, full of suspense. And, oh yeah, that one last gotcha at the end? Brilliant! Storytelling genius. You don’t want to miss this one!

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Police Procedurals Mysteries
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07TFLWV4H
Listening Length: 10 hrs 39 mins
Narrators: Richard ArmitageStephanie Racine
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: His and Hers [Amazon]

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Alice Feeney - authorThe Author: Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. His & Hers is also being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown. It will be published around the world in 2021.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

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