Where the Crawdads Sing (the movie) vs #Audiobook #WheretheCrawdadsSing by Delia Owen – #literaryfiction

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

Intro

Back in May of 2020 when I downloaded and listened to Where the Crawdads Sing audiobook, I had no idea it would be a movie. The audiobook blew me away. I loved it, although it has not been received with the same genuine appreciation by all who read the book.

When the movie opened in July, I was able to see the result on the big screen, and I should mention, the big screen is the only way to view this atmospheric movie—the cinematography is breathtaking.

I promised a critique of the movie comparing it to the book that took the author ten years to write. Did the movie do justice to the book that has now been read by millions around the globe?

The Movie (Blurb)

“A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man she was once involved with.”

My Thoughts

Daisy Edgar-Jones - actor
Photo Attribution: Daisy Edgar-Jones

The movie does a credible job following the major plot points of the book. The actors are wonderful, including London star Daisy Edgar-Jones who has to dig into her non-existent Southern roots to get the drawl right. No one likes the guy who ends up the murder victim, everyone loves Kya (both the girl and the woman do convincing, emotional jobs) and the support characters are great. So far, so good.

Taylor John Smith - actor
Photo Attribution: Taylor John Smith

But the photography and cinematography are exceptional. Atmospheric and beautiful, the location draws you in and almost overpowers the storyline, although the storyline as you must know by now is gripping.

It’s a passion-packed plot with themes of abandonment, loneliness, ingenuity, independence, love, loss, and triumph. It’s enough to wring tears from Scrooge.

Reece Witherspoon promoted the film from the get-go, loving the marsh story which was enough in itself, and then the added mystery of the murder—was it murder or an accident? Must be a murderer as Kya goes to trial—she was seen with him. And though I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, she contributes a lovely, haunting melody.

Movie Details

Director: Olivia Newman
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Jojo Regina
Released July 15, 2022 (Filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana)
Among the eight producers, Reese Witherspoon is listed as executive producer and promoted heavily.
Although Mychael Danna is listed under Music, Taylor Swift also contributed a song she named Carolina.

4.5 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

Amazon Charts #1 this week

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING PHENOMENON—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!
More than 15 million copies sold worldwide
A Reese’s Book Club Pick

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Thoughts

Well, if you read my original review of the audiobook, you know I loved it. Unique, beautiful in the telling, and so well drawn and gripping, it’s one of those you truly can’t put down.

Taken from my 2020 review:

The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh that it’s easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects…

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl… Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensSelf-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming of age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover.

5 stars 

Book Details

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Audible Release: August 14, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Links: Where the Crawdads Sing [Amazon US]

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - UK
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens-Amazon UK

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Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

Overall Impression

The Movie

While the actors do an amazing job of bringing to life the experience of the marsh, it was (for me) the atmospherics so well drawn in the book that commands attention. It was an engrossing recreation of the novel by Delia Owens, faithful to that jaw-dropping twist at the end. A fine representation of the book and well worth the time spent on the big screen.

The Book

You already know my assessment of the book—while it might approach cheesy a few times—it introduces innocent romance (on one side anyway) and manages to successfully weld a sub-plot realistically with a satisfying conclusion.

Conclusion

Loved the book, loved the movie, the latter being an excellent choice for a cinema visit. For me, however, I’ll still give the nod to the well-crafted narrative by Ms Owens. There’s a reason it’s gone around the world a few times and continues to garner major attention. You can’t go wrong with either the audiobook or the digital/paperback, however, I would recommend the audiobook as being expertly read by Cassandra Campbell.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

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]

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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

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth audiobook banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Review:

You can’t beat this clever read for the tension, suspense, and riveting pacing. The author has managed a brilliant masterpiece of unreliable voices.

Who are you to trust? The voice of Fern, on the autistic spectrum, is super sensitive, reticent, intelligent but socially inept. She often views simple concepts literally and it’s confusing to her. Her sister, the slightly older twin, has been successful in life. Marrying, holding a responsible, well-paying position, and always,

…always,

watching over her vulnerable sister.

The Good Sister by Sally HepworthThe sisters, however, have had a chaotic childhood and suffered traumas along the way. They both hold devastating secrets. Rose, through years of therapy, has been advised to keep a journal, chronicle her thoughts and the reader is spoon-fed her entries, alternating with the direct, open, and cloistered life of the librarian, Fern.

When Fern discovers Rose appears incapable of conceiving, she decides this is what a good sister would do—surrogate a baby for Rose. But Fern also decides it’s she who must decide who the sperm donor will be and when she meets Wally (the name she assigns to him), it seems he will be the perfect donor. Wally (Rocco) has issues of his own and understands Fern so it might appear these two are a good match. Indeed, it’s easy to invest in these characters.

While the head might be saying…”wait a minute…there are problems here,” the heart is nodding with joy that these two people, damaged though they might be, found each other and make a happy match.

In the meantime, Rose is beginning not to look so rosy. Doesn’t ring true. She’s manipulative—all those years taking care of Fern—protective? Or controlling.

In the meantime, the well-plotted narrative takes alternate dark and light turns, yanking sensitivities, emotions, pushing boundaries and begins to sneak in a few little revelations—twists you wouldn’t have suspected and the rug starts gently being pulled out from under you.

These two are so different. In looks. In character. In their memories. How could they view the same event with such diverse recollections?

Not prepared for the ultimate reveal, this one knocked the wind out of me. WOW. Have I just been played or what?

I received a review copy of this audiobook from my local lovely library and the narrator did one very fine job—totally had me hooked. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Family Life Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B089XJLJ43
Listening Length: 8 hrs 31 mins
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Good Sister [Amazon] 
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Sally Hepworth - authorThe Author: Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) The Mother’s Promise (2017), The Family Next Door (2018), The Mother In Law (April 2019), The Good Sister (April 2021) and The Younger Wife (April 2022). Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler, has optioned The Mother In Law for a TV series.

Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

©2022 V Williams

V Williams

#throwbackthursday

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

 

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

My Review:

Elsa Martinelli got sick when she was a teenager and though she survived, the family kept her at arm’s length and isolated until too late for marriage, she is overwhelmed and succumbs to the attention of the first man to notice her, the son of landowners, a Texas farmer.

Her urban family, wealthy and more worried about appearances than the love of their daughter, dumps her at the porch of the boy’s family. Rafe’s family has no alternative other than to take her in and teach her about the farm where she must learn to (gasp!) work. But they are good people, as we used to say “the salt of the earth.” Rafe does what he must with a shot-gun marriage and gives up his dreams of college.

The Four Winds by Kristin HannahThere is much to learn on the farm and the years pass, now with two children, and a tenuous marriage, but his parents come to embrace Elsa as the daughter they never had and love their grandchildren. When the drought hits and hits hard several years after the Great Depression started, the struggle to make severe changes in an effort to survive wears on all of them.

Rafe’s parents are determined to stay on their land, but Rafe is ready to head west. When their son confronts a devastating lung disease born of the Dust Bowl situation, Rafe has enough and he leaves them all in the dead of night. Elsa makes the difficult decision to head west, alone, with her two children hopefully to save her son.

But the harrowing drive alone to California is just the beginning of more years of extreme poverty, struggle, and the overwhelming competition for manual labor work with the many thousands who’ve also left their own Dust Bowl states to find a better life. It’s not.

My father’s family were among those who left for California (from Missouri) in 1938 and lumped in with the cruel denigration of “Okies” (Oklahoma). The staggering numbers of the destitute overwhelm the state and the farmers quickly take advantage of the infinite labor pool setting outrageously low levels of pay for back-breaking work sun-up to sun-down.

Emigrant camps blossom the length of every fertile valley with crops to tend including cotton, which when ready to pick is cruelly heavy with thorns as well as cotton bolls. The author paints a grim picture of the unsanitary conditions of tent and cardboard camps, lacking any potable water and tied to the “company store” where more money is deducted from paltry wages.

There are themes of love—the love given to each other in extreme situations—family, the love of a mother for her children, hopeless conditions, and those who overcome and who don’t. It’s not that hard to imagine the same can happen to anyone. The haves and have-nots and those who take advantage of the victims.

“Doom and gloom and agony on me” says the little ditty riddled throughout the old “HeeHaw” variety show. But can there be any light at the end of the tunnel?

The author does an amazing job of describing the devastation wreaked by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the thousands of migrants that choked California’s economy, services, and infrastructure. The characters are so well fleshed you can smell them, see the cardboard in their shoes, and wonder how much longer they can live on stone soup, their ribs prominent.

In the end, this is not a totally depressive narrative but one of triumph over all the odds and ultimately the indomitable spirit of human nature.

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0882VNQKS
Listening Length: 15 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Four Winds [Amazon]
 

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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.

www.kristinhannah.com

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Book hangover

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – An #Audiobook Review – #historicalfiction

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Blurb:

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So, when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. 

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them – and to the men they love – becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: Bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic – a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

My Review:

Well, add me to the list of those who read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek (by Kim Michele Richardson) prior to The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. Richardson’s book was first. Jojo Moyes is a NY Times bestselling author and a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club (of the month) pick. It was also chosen to be one of “USA Today’s top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing.” A London author of this magnitude would not have to plagiarize anything, but that’s been the controversy since the Moyes book was published…and now set to be a major motion picture. ?!

I wrote my review of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek after I tried to join a local library book club in February, 2020. They discussed many of the similarities during the meeting. When I saw this audiobook become available, I had to check it out.

I loved that first book for several reasons:

  1. It was my introduction to the 1930’s Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky and as such a historical fiction—you know I have an affinity for those.
  2. It introduced me to the “Blue-skinned people” of Kentucky and that was quite the revelation.
  3. Intensely immersive into the times, the people, and the mountains of Kentucky.
  4. The hopeless stories of the desperately poverty-stricken (Depression era) people, living so isolated the only people they might see was the pack horse librarian.
  5. They received old newspapers, magazines, outdated books from other libraries, and homemade journals gleaned from other mountain folk of recipes, patterns, hints, and wise sayings or poems.
  6. A coal mining state, many miners died of black lung disease and the despairing living conditions of their families, lack of sanitary conditions, health care, and food.
  7. Heavily character-driven storyline.
  8. Many issues including political, societal, religious, domestic abuse, women working (gasp!) outside of the home (which really doesn’t widely occur in this country until WWII), and racism.

The main character of Troublesome Creek is Cussy (a blue-skinned woman). One of the two main characters of The Giver of Stars is an English woman, Alice Wright, crazy to leave her London home and stifling parents for an exciting new life. But the new life in the backwoods of Kentucky is not the life she imagined, and her groom, not the man. In fact, it is her father-in-law who is head-of-household and he’s old school in a staunchly patriarchal society. In an effort to make contact with the other women of the area, she jumps at the chance to become a part of the pack horse program. There, she meets the co-protagonist, independent minded and outspoken Margery O’Hare.

The men (and many of the women) are against the program, thinking it’ll put thoughts in the heads of the women, up until now kept “barefoot and pregnant” as they used to say. Also being in the Bible Belt of America, strict religious tenets played a strong part in defining a woman’s role and the participants distributing books were thought scandalous.

Am I largely repeating my review of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek? Yes, and it would appear to a large extent the storyline of this book as well. Most of the above are included albeit rewritten to more closely match the author’s writing style. The shunned blue woman now the shunned English woman. But fans and readers of author Jojo Moyes (there must be some romance) will find their expectation granted. This book, however, doesn’t describe the recipients of the program and their circumstances to the extent of the former, which I missed.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo MoyesBefore you start throwing rocks, there were also several things I liked about this book:

  1. A greater explanation of the “company store” and the castigation of the owners.
  2. The unfortunate division of the races, their roles, and living circumstances.
  3. The sisterhood of the widely differing women of the pack horse program.
  4. Descriptions of the mountains and remarkable heroism.
  5. The murder, jail account, and courtroom drama.
  6. Nicely done conclusion pulling not one but two rabbits out of the hat. Loved the first; not crazy about the second although at that point you had to figure it would happen.

Does all the drama over-shadow the story of the pack horse librarians? To a large extent, it does, and many of the support characters remain one-dimensional. Yes, I enjoyed a second take of the story of those courageous women, this one done in a strongly Jojo-esque style of drama and romance. But I still prefer the emotional impact, the prose, and the immediately engaging narrative written by author Kim Michele Richardson.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07QQ3J91J
Listening Length: 13 hrs., 52 mins.
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Giver of Stars [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Jojo Moyes - authorThe Author: Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.
Bio from Goodreads.

 

Julia Whelan -authorThe Narrator: Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and narrator of over 400 audiobooks. Recently named one of AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voices, she has won numerous other awards, including the 2019 Best Female Narrator Audie for Tara Westover’s Educated and a SOVAS for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director as well as a certified tea sommelier. [Penguin Random House Audiobooks]

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen – An #Audiobook Review No. 1 BestSeller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Audiobook - Where the Crawdads Sing

 Book Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Review:

Admittedly, this may be a book you’ll struggle with or wholeheartedly love. I went on the WL side. The story of six-year-old Kya Clark, abandoned by her mother and shortly thereafter by her (much) older siblings is now living in a marsh shack with her despotic father. Kya has to pretty quickly learn to survive on her own near Barkley Cove, North Carolina.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensThe novel is divided by her story that begins with her mother leaving in the early morning hours of 1952 and the discovery of a body in 1969 near the old tower. Kya saw her mother leave–she’d left before following violent outbursts by her father sporting bruises and split lips. He often went into violent rages–and could–with or without the alcohol or moonshine infusion. But she’d always come back–this time she doesn’t. They are living on her father’s disability and at her age, a girl, not like her older siblings taught her much.

The storytelling is so emotionally poignant, the prose flows through beautiful descriptions of the natural setting in the marsh. It’s so easy to smell the decaying vegetation, algae inhabited waterways, spy the marsh inhabitants, amphibians, birds, and insects. Feel and smell the salt air rush inland from the Atlantic as it waves the marsh grasses and reeds. I enjoyed the setting as much as the characters. And the characters are powerful.

The characters are brought vividly to life with the narration, alternately spoken by child or adult, literate or illiterate, as well as the Carolina drawl. More afraid of the occasional human than the critters of the marsh, she becomes adept at hiding and carefully keeps to herself, spying on the few who wander into their area. Once having learned to motor into town on their old marsh fishing boat, she begins to draw the attention of the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly, the African American family, Jumpin’ and Mabel, where she bought the gas, and soon the lady from school, where she was promised a meal–real food–once a day. The problem was the intolerance of the kids, their taunts, sneers, jeers, and humiliation. She never went back. Kya, scrambling to find food, eventually connects with a friend of her brother. Gradually, driven by loneliness, she begins to meet with him and he patiently teaches her to read.

The mystery of the man many years later found just outside of the little village soon becomes a statewide scandal. He’d been a high school football star, son of a well-to-do and well-established family. The “Golden Boy.” And local law enforcement begins to work on tying his murder to Kya, as they’d been spotted together and she an easy target. She is brought up on charges and there are heart-thumping courtroom scenes.

Self-educated, no one knows more about the natural world of the marshlands than Kya. She’s come to be known as the “Marsh Girl.” She’s smart, has gone on to publish books on the wildlife of the marsh. But could it possibly have been she to cause the death of Chase?

The conclusion resolves carefully allowing you long enough for your heart to settle back down when you are knocked off your feet by a shocking revelation you didn’t see coming. It’s a brilliant twist, the well-plotted and written narrative so engrossing, so achingly atmospheric, every sense poised that you are hanging on every word. It’s a serious exploration of not a male coming-of-age this time, but a female left on her own reconciling abandonment, loneliness, hunger, disappointment, and triumph. Completely immersive, so engaging it remains solidly planted long after the end resulting in a tremendous book hangover. I’m going to be awhile getting over this one.

I received this audiobook download from my local library Overdrive offerings. The narrator does an award-winning, stunning job. Heartily recommended now that I have my emotions in check.

Book Hangover

Book Details:

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B07FSXPMHY
Print Length: 384 pages
Listening Length: 12 hrs 12 mins
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon)
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Delia Owens - authorThe Author: Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in AfricaCry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao

The Narrator: Cassandra Campbell is a prolific audiobook narrator with more than 700 titles to date. Winner of four Audie Awards and nominated for a dozen more, she was a 2018 inductee in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Memories We Hide: Can you trust your memories? by Jodi Gibson

Can we indeed trust our memories, especially in the view of a tragic event?

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonBook Blurb:

Laura Murphy thought she could, that was until she returned home.

When Laura returns home ten years after the death of her childhood sweetheart Ryan Taylor, her past begins to unravel and memories she’d long pushed aside begin to resurface.


Having trouble reconciling truth and memory, Laura reconnects with childhood friend Tom, to try and find closure, but Tom has issues of his own. Not only is he faced with the threat of losing his farm, but he is also hiding a secret that could change everything for them both.


Will Laura and Tom find the answers they need to move forward, or will they discover that memories can’t always be trusted?

 My Review:

Having fled her small town in her teen years following a tragic accident, Laura Murphy returns after ten years to be with her terminal mother. Returning, however, has begun to push powerful emotions stemming from the accident so long ago that ended the life of her boyfriend in the last week of their twelfth year.

The Memories We Hide by Jodi GibsonThe mind is forced sometimes to take heroic measures to shield the person of an event too horrendous to accept. And though Laura had spent those years steadfastly refusing to revisit the event, attempting to shove it out of her life has only resulted in confusion, her heart unsettled and unable to quell the feeling that the terrible memory is just beyond her reach and inability to resolve.

The debut of this author’s contemporary women’s fiction explores the problem of understanding and coming to peace with the past. Until those issues have been determined and resolution implemented, there can be no peaceful future.

The narrative tackles some major family matters, depression, friendships, young love and relationships that shape life as well as the crush of betrayal. There is a lot to sort through and the mystery of what happened is gradually revealed as Laura attempts to sift through the snatches of her memory to attain the truth–perhaps too difficult to bear.

It’s a heavy subject and the novel worked to create a small-town vibe, collective secrets slowly revealed. Inherent in the anguish, however, is the repetitive nature in the storytelling. There were times either the protagonist or support characters spilled into wringing emotional scenes. Laura is not as well-developed as she might be, and scenes flipped to reliving the moment during the school years sharing obscure details and YA angst.

Ryan Taylor, the lost love, is a character well-fleshed by Laura’s memories as well as a personal journal. Tom, a close childhood friend is most engaging and sympathetic but also possessed of closely held secrets.

The author waxed prose at times, with an interesting turn of phrase or description (“The rain formed a diagonal drizzle that slid slowly down the windowpane“), but I missed some investing into the small-town feel of the people. The sense of hopelessness and frustration in the depressed young interwove a powerful statement.

The climax came with a ring of disclosures almost shocking and one more far-reaching than you’d have guessed.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The conclusion is satisfying but the book would benefit from one more pass through an editor.  Recommended for those more inclined to emotional family struggles and women’s fiction.

Book Details:

Genre: Australian & Oceanian Literature, Small Town & Rural Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction

  • ISBN-10:0648551202
  • ISBN-13:978-0648551201
  • ASIN: B07VBCHJ53

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Memories We Hide

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Rosepoint Publishing: 3.5 of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Jodi Gibson - authorThe Author: Jodi Gibson is an Australian author of women’s contemporary fiction. She writes in two genres – character-driven contemporary drama, and light-hearted rom-com.

Her contemporary dramas revolve around the lives of seemingly ordinary people and usually involve secrecy, lies, and a touch of mystery.

Her lighter style rom-coms are the perfect escape from the mundaneness of everyday life with characters who will make you laugh, cringe, and whom you’ll love spending time with.

When she’s not writing you’ll find Jodi managing our family bathroom renovation business, kid-wrangling, and tending to the many animals on her mini-farm in regional Australia. You’ll also often find her with my nose in a good book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next traveling adventure.

2019 V Williams V Williams

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