Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald

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Narrator: Heather Henderson

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc. (2016)

Length: 9 hours 40 minutes

Author’s Page

Betty and her family had quite the time on Vashon Island, Washington State. With her second husband (Don MacDonald) and her two young girls (Joan and Anne), Betty experienced the joys and disappointments of living on an island. Set during WWII, this mostly autobiographical book recounts Betty’s life with wry humor and insight.

Once again, Betty has amused me. By now, after reading 4 books by her, I feel like Betty is somewhat of a friend. I really enjoyed this book from clamming to peaches to teen years to housecleaners. Living on Vashon Island, which was only connected to the mainland via ferries and personal boats, was quite a bit rougher than she and her family expected. There’s also the beauty of having an island house which is also captured well in this book.

The MacDonalds took over the house during an idyllic summer. There were plenty of clams on their personal beach, including geoduck clams. The downstairs practically-outdoor shower was perfect for rinsing off after time in the sea. The great big hearth would be quite wonderful in winter. Then the cold season sets in. The family comes to find out that having a nearly-outdoor shower is onerous to heat up in winter. The great big hearth is truly magnificent but you have to haul in the wood for it, usually driftwood from the beach. The reality settles in and yet the MacDonalds still find much to love about the island.

Betty does such a great job with the humor. She gently pokes fun at everyone and is a little more jabby when focusing the eye on herself. She praises her daughters abilities while also realistically portraying their teen-aged arguments and volatile mood swings. There are plenty of characters that appear through the several years this book covers. Some are helpful handymen, some good cooks, some terrible at child rearing, some are drunk and merry.

Onions in the Stew does a good job of showing the hardships or inconveniences (depending on your point of view) of island living. Betty doesn’t paint the entire experience as a ‘wonderful’ way of life. Nope. Using humor she gives us a slice of reality. That is the root of why I enjoy her books so much. While The Plague and I is still my favorite book by her, this one was quite good as well.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Heather Henderson is great as the voice of Betty MacDonald. She also did a great job with the voices of Joan and Anne even as they age throughout the book. I also enjoyed her male voices, including Don’s. Her Japanese accent was also good.

What I Liked: Plenty of humor; island living in all it’s glory and inconveniences; the clamming stories; other islanders are characters; the girls growing up on the island; the peach-picking summer; everyone makes it through the teen years.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a great, fun read.

Check out more reviews, interviews, spotlights, and more on the blog tour.

About Heather Henderson:

NarratorHeatherHendersonHeather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts.  Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire;  and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine.   She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry.  In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.

Connect with the narrator: Website ~ YouTube ~LinkedIn

Synopsis of Onions in the Stew:

The bestselling author of the American humor classic The Egg and I continues the adventure with this collection of tales about life on the fringe of the Western wilderness. Writing in the 1950s, Betty MacDonald, sophisticated and urbane, captivated readers with her observations about raising a family on an island in Puget Sound. As usual, humorist MacDonald is her own favorite target. She manages to get herself into scrapes with washing machines set adrift in rowboats, used cars, and a $25 Turkey Squasher. And then there’s the scariest aspect of island life — teenaged children.

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About the Author Betty MacDonald:

AuthorBettyMacDonaldBetty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters. 

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island). 

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

Find out more on Wikipedia

Connect with the Publisher Post Hypnotic Press

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GIVEWAYS!!!

Onions In the Stew Giveaway #1

Onions In the Stew Giveaway #2

Onions In the Stew Giveaway #3

A Colder Kind of Death by Gail Bowen

BowenAColderKindOfDeathNarrator: Lisa Bunting

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc. (2015)

Length: 7 hours 33 mins

Series: Book 4 A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 4 in the series, it works mostly well as a stand alone. There are definitely some character backstories that I was a bit muddled on, but in regards to the main plot, they dd not matter.

Set in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Joanne Kilbourn is a parent, a professor, a TV panelist, and a widow. Now her past comes back to her with the news that Kevin Tarpley, the man who killed her husband, Ian, six years ago, was shot to death in the exercise yard of a Saskatchewan prison. Odd as that is, it pales in comparison to the unexpected photo of a young mother with her baby in Ian’s old wallet. Then Maureen, Kevin’s wife, shows up for cocktail drinks at one of Joanne’s local haunts and ends up dead. Joanne starts digging into her husband’s past in order to unravel her current mystery.

I can see why this series is so popular! I really enjoyed this Canadian mystery. Joanne is a very interesting character with her multiple professions and her single parenting skills. Toss in the 6-year-old case of her husband’s murder with the recent death of Maureen, and you have quite the engaging story. Joanne was really caught in this balancing act – does she ask the questions and possibly dig up hurtful information or does she let things lie and cherish the memories of the husband she knew?

Even though Maureen ends up dead in the first quarter of the book, I found her character rather seductive. She obviously has quite the ego on her. Even after her demise, we continue to learn about her as Joanne digs into the past. Maureen indeed was quite the little manipulator, but Joanne has to figure out why and to what ends.

Then there is that odd photo in her husband’s old wallet. Was this a secret lover of his? His baby? I really felt for Joanne as she struggled with what to do over the photo. Should she dig into it, hoping that there was some benign reason he had this photo? Or should she let things lie, maintaining the memory of her husband? This aspect of the story really shows Joanne in a very human light as she has some ungracious thoughts about her dead husband.

The story builds cleverly upon itself as one clue after another is dragged into the light. However, they don’t all appear to be part of the same puzzle. Joanne struggles to connect them all and it’s not until near the end that things become clear. There’s also some drama at the end as the real killer feels trapped and out of choices. It was a real spin up with a final, rather messy ending. Joanne will need therapy. I was so caught up in this book, I listened to it all in one day. I plan to go back to Book 1 and enjoy the rest of the series in sequential order to get the most out of it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox.

Narration: Lisa Bunting was a really good pick as narrator. She was the perfect Joanne in my head. I liked her male and female character voices, as well as her regional accents. While I’m no expert on Canadian Native American accents, I can say that Bunting’s performance matched my experience with Native American accents here in New Mexico. I also liked her kid voices for the various kids in Joanne’s household.

What I Liked: A murder mystery that digs up the past; Joanne is successfully juggling several things in her life; the cops have to rule out Joanne as a suspect; she questions her dead husband’s integrity; plenty of clues but I wasn’t sure where they were going; a logical and dramatic ending; great narration.

What I Disliked: There were a few things with Joanne’s kids that I didn’t get but I think that is because I jumped into Book 4 and haven’t read the previous books.

What Others Think:

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