Book Review: My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

My Notorious Life

My Notorious Life: A Novel by Kate Manning

Terry Donnelly (Narrator), Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 19 hours and 59 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible Release Date: September 10, 2013

My Review (5 Stars – Loved it!)

My Notorious Life: A Novel by Kate Manning is historical fiction and takes place mainly during the second half of the nineteenth century in New York City.  The protagonist, Axie Muldoon, daughter of Irish Immigrants, becomes an orphan and then becomes the notorious Madam X, searched out for her superior mid-wife skills as well as treatment for other female troubles.

This is a long novel (approximately 20 hrs.); however, I breezed right through it.  I must admit, having my own Irish ancestry, grandparents arriving in NYC in the early twentieth century, I was automatically fond of Axie.  She tells her story in the most interesting and fun way, even though the main topics are very serious.

I am also fond of Historical Fiction.  The author, Kate Manning, does a suburb job in representing this era.  Women of all classes come to Axie for help under their dire circumstances.  Axie does not turn them away, despite the peril she places herself in.  I doubt I will ever forget Axie.

Whatever side of women’s issues you find yourself on, I think you will enjoy this novel.

I highly recommend the audio version of this novel.  Axie has an Irish/New York accent and way of speaking which adds to the enjoyment of this novel.

Purchase From Amazon

What Others Are Saying

“Axie’s profane Irish brogue is vividly recreated with virtually no anachronistic slips, and though a certain degree of polemical crusading is unavoidable given Axie’s proclivities, her voice never fails to entertain. – Kirkus Review

“Kate Manning has written a compelling novel about the plight of women and reproductive rights, and of course, the battle over these issues continues today. Highly recommended!” – Book of Secrets

Video (From The Author’s Website)

 

 

Book Brief: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 12 hours and 13 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Audible Release Date: May 3, 2016

I enjoyed I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  I started listening to it one morning while catching up with my ironing and stayed up past midnight to finish it.  It is an impressive debut novel.  According to Clare’s website, she has a second novel out this year, I See You.

I Let You Go is about a five year old boy who is killed in a hit and run.  The novel is effectively narrated by Nicola Barber and Steven Crossley.  As the investigation into the accident continues we are given a chilling look at domestic violence.

What Others Are Saying

This novel was my local book club’s monthly selection.  On checking what others have to say on GoodReads, I was surprised many of my friends have read it.  I am not alone in my assessment.  Below are a few quotes.

“I LET YOU GO takes off like a speeding train and doesn’t stop with the suspense until the last page.” – Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews

“Wow, I LET YOU GO is an amazing psychological thriller.” –  Diana @ Book of Secrets

“This is a brilliantly written book which I couldn’t put down until I was finally finished.” – Maureen

“A chilling and dramatic conclusion left me holding my breath until the final page…and even then, I wasn’t sure that something dark would not appear at the last second.” – Laurel-Rain Snow

“I Let You Go will grab hold of you from the very opening sentence and leave you slack jawed.” – Lisa @ Sassy Cat Chat

“The ending is unexpected and shocking, and you wonder what will come next.” – Harvey @ Book Dilettante

About The Author (from the author’s website)

Clare spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time.

(purchase from amazon)

Review: The Lost Girls by Heather Young

 

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Narrators: Alice Rosengard and Laurel Schroeder 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 35 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 26, 2016

The Lost Girls is told in a steady, very somber/dark tone.  It is multi layered with many surprising twists.

There are two narrators for this novel.  One narrative is about three young sisters and their relationship while spending the summer at the family’s lake house,.  It is told by one narrator in the voice of the middle sister, Lucy.

The second narration is about Lucy’s grand-neice, Justine, who inherits the house.  Justine has two daughters.

Having two different narrators was very effective.  Lucy is writing about that summer for Justine to read and know about what happened.  The author, Heather Young’s talents are clearly on display.

The Lost Girls gives you pause for thought about families, the relationships that exist behind closed doors and the evil that may be lurking there.

If the author’s second novel, Lovelock, is as good as her first, The Lost Girls, it will be a doozy.

This novel is reminiscent of another 5-star rated novel,  A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (my review ~ 2014).

What Other’s Are Saying

“I enjoyed THE LOST GIRLS despite the gloomy feeling that seemed to overshadow everyone. Ms. Young has a marvelous, descriptive writing style that helped you understand and connect with each character and each situation.​ Her writing just pulled you into the story. ” – Elizabeth of Silver’s Reviews

“Impressive debut!” – Diana ☕ Book of Secrets

“I am thrilled to announce that The Lost Girls has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. – Heather Young 

“Young’s intricately wrought family drama tarries over details of time, place, and emotion as it gradually reveals her debut’s tragic core.” – Kirkus Review

About The Author (from the author’s website)

After a decade practicing law and another raising kids, Heather decided to finally write the novel she’d always talked about writing. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and the Tin House Writers Workshop, all of which helped her stop writing like a lawyer. She lives in Mill Valley, California, with her husband and two teenaged children. When she’s not writing she’s biking, hiking, neglecting potted plants, and reading books by other people that she wishes she’d written.

She is currently working on her second novel, Lovelock.

(Purchase Fron Amazon)

Review: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

My Review (4 Stars – Liked it a lot!)

 

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 11 hours and 6 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: March 22, 2016

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was not the humorous and light read I was expecting.  It was quite the opposite.

From Amazon

“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People

“Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.”— New York Times Book Review

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.”

I’m sorry, I did not see much humor in The Nest.  This novel is much more serious.

Each chapter starts out with the focus on a particular character’s lives/issues or people in their lives.  The story progresses this way which I thought was enjoyable.

Four siblings were to inherit a lot of money that they where counting on when the youngest reached 40.  They called this ‘The Nest’.  However, the older son got into some trouble and his mother bailed him out with most of ‘The Nest’.

Each of the siblings have different lives: two with life partners, one with a husband and set of twins, and one who roamed from women to women.

It felt like there were two or more interesting, underdeveloped separate novels in this story.  However, it was overall an entertaining read.

This is the author’s debut novel and I would definitely consider reading more by her as she writes well.  The characters and their issues felt very real (nothing sugar coated) and Sweeney presented them well.

Purchase From Amazon

What Others Are Saying

“I love that The Nest is a debut novel by a 55 year old woman AND she got a $1 million advance!” – Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves

The Nest  was an enjoyable beach/vacation read and I whole-heartedly recommend it for a weekend diversion.” – JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

“The story weaves the past and the present together in such a way that I felt as though the characters were people I might meet. Even the supporting characters were fleshed out, enriching the tapestry that made each of their lives real.” – Laurel-Rain

““The book is very much about the thing that everyone inherits, which is a place in a family narrative,” Sweeney says.” – A Conversation With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney — Kirkus Reviews

Book Trailer Link

About The Author (From the author’s website)

“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the New York Times bestselling author of The Nest, which has been translated into more than 25 languages and optioned for film by Amazon Studios with Sweeney writing the adaptation. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. The Nest is her first novel.”

Review: The Women In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

My Review (5 Stars – Loved it!)

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 8 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 19, 2016

 Imogen Church (Narrator)

Once I started it, I enjoyed The Woman In Cabin 10 and listened to it over the course of a couple of days.  I listened to the enjoyable English accent of Imogen Church out-loud as I don’t like to wear headphones, if I don’t have to.

There was a lot of cursing, which didn’t bother me as it added to the tension in the story.  However, my husband, hearing nearby, expressed some shock!

The main character in the story, Lo Blacklock, suffers from anxiety.  When she is thrown into a whodunit murder mystery, her anxiety intensifies.  I thought the continual anxiety was a little overkill.  On second thought, that is the nature of anxiety and the author, Ruth Ware, captured it well.

To the author and narrator’s credit, I was, in a way, glued to my seat until the end.  While I didn’t feel it was a particularly clever plot, I rated it 5 Stars since it was entertaining.

On the Simon & Shuster’s website there are links for the book trailer as well as a reading group guide.

What Others Are Saying

“Whoa! This book was a wild ride.” Diana from Diana ☕ Book of Secrets

“The Woman in Cabin 10 was a riveting tale that kept me hanging on by a thread as it catapulted from one strange event to another.” – Laurel-Rain

About The Author (from the author’s website)

Ruth Ware grew up in Lewes, in Sussex and studied at Manchester University, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer.

Her début thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood and the follow-up The Woman in Cabin 10 were both Sunday Times top ten bestsellers in the UK, and New York Times top ten bestsellers in the US.  She is currently working hard on book three.

Purchase From Amazon

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

William Morrow an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublisher, 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

I’ve been in the mood lately for chic-flicks (i.e. staring Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant) and chic-lit, The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne.

The Hating Game is cute, fun and sexy.  Two young co-workers who sit across from each other are already engaged in many games such as the ‘staring’ game when they both become competitive for the same promotion to a new position.

Sally Thorne in her debut novels draws an interesting, smart plot with fun antics.

This novel was better than comfort-food and perfect for me for this time of year.

What Others Are Saying

“Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.”

“From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.” – Kirkus Review

“I love this book so much!! Couldn’t put it down, and it got me out of a book slump. So so good!!” – Brandie @ Brandie Is A Book Junkie

First Paragraph

“I have a theory.  Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.  I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.”

Read More or Purchase

About The Author

Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia, and spends her days writing funding submissions and drafting contracts (yawn!), so it’s not surprising that after hours she climbs into colorful fictional worlds of her own creation.  She lives with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse, and the world’s sweetest pug.  The Hating Game is her first novel.

Coffee Table Book: Dogs and Their People by BarkPost

 

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (October 18, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399574263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399574269
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds

My Review (5 Stars: Loved It!)

I’ve already written a Book Spotlight & Giveaway Contest post as well as a Mailbox Monday post about this book, but thought I would present it one more time.  It’s such a fun book!

Congratulations to Nise’ who won the giveaway contest.  Thanks to everyone who entered.

This hardcover is my new favorite coffee table book and favorite dog book.  It’s funny, has great heart-warming short stories and beautiful, truly adorable, images.

The pages have a nice weight to them.  I like the dimensions for a coffee table book (8.4 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches) and it’s not too heavy (1.7 lbs.).

Dogs and Their People: Photos and Stories of Life with a Four-Legged Love by BarkPost shows the great lengths people will go to for the love of their dogs.  It also includes many other interesting side notes.

There are so many heart-warming stories, too many to include here, but I’ll share one that gave me a laugh-out-loud moment:

“You Give Your Dog The Keys To NYC And Tell Him He’s The Mayor.”

When Hamilton Pug ventures out into his city (sometimes alternatively referred to as “New York City”), it is not uncommon for fans to recognize him and for future friends to stop and say hello.  It would be an understatement to say that Hamilton has mastered the art of the meet and great.  In fact, some people call him “The Mayor.”  It’s a fitting title, so we let him believe that he’s in charge.  His brother Rufus is his bodyguard. – Wendy, Steve, Hamilton & Rufus, New York, New York, p. 154

Read More or Purchase from Amazon (Currently on Sale)

I’d like to thank the folks at BarkPost and the Publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for sending me a hard-copy edition of this book for review.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

I received this book free from the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  

Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 24 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 9, 2015
  • Narrator Zach Villa

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens has some violence in it, but it is about a murderer, so it fits the story well.  The novel is fast paced and well written.  I listened to it in just a few days as it held my interest.

At the opening of the story, the convicted murderer, Carl Iverson, is an old dying man in a nursing home.  Joe Talbert, a young college student, on a school assignment to write a biography of an older person, begins a quest to find out the truth about the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl, thirty years ago.

I enjoyed Eskens’ characterizations.  In a short amount of time he was able to bring his characters to life and make them seem very realistic and in some cases sympathetic.

The various characters added another facet to the story,  Among the character’s were Joe’s bipolar mother and autistic brother and the college girl who lives next-door to Joe, but keeps her distance.  Another facet is Carl’s story from when he was a soldier in Vietnam.

The Life We Bury is an apropos title as it smartly shows, in several instances, the past that people move on from and in a sense bury.

The narrator, Zach Villa did a great job and was very easy to listen to.

Read More or Purchase from Amazon

First Paragraph (from library book)

Published 2014 by Seventh Street Books an imprint of Prometheus Books

Chapter 1

I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples.  There are people in this world who would call that kind of feeling a premonition, a warning from some internal third eye that can see around the curve of time.  I’ve never been one to buy into such things.  But I will confess that there have been times when I think back to that day and wonder: if the fates had truly whispered in my ear – if I had known how that drive would change so many things – would I have taken a safer path?  Would I turn left where before I had turned right? Or would I still travel the path that led me to Carl Iverson?

What Others Are Saying

“Allen Eskens had a way of capturing Joe’s voice in this book. The addition of what his family/home life was like was brilliant.”

“There are not many books in the last year that I can say I fell in love with right from the start, but this one earned that statement.” – Sheila @ BookJourney

“There’s a lot of action and tension so I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could.”

“I thought the storyline of THE LIFE WE BURY was strong and very compelling.” – Kathy @ BermudaOnion’s Web Log

About The Author (from the author’s website)

SHORT BIO

Allen Eskens is the award winning and USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another and The Heavens May Fall. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Rosebud Award and the Silver Falchion Award for his debut novel, The Life We Bury, which was also named a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Allen honed his creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.

Review: Lust For Life by Irving Stone

 by Irving Stone

My Review (4 Stars ~ Liked it a lot!)

If you are curious about the famous man who created famous art work, Vincent Van Gogh, then this book is for you.  The reason I rated it four stars instead of five is that it seemed a little too long.  Other than that, it was very insightful and entertaining.  This is historical fiction largely based on facts.  The novel was initially published in 1934.

The author, Irving Stone, based his story on Vincent’s letters written to his bother Theo.  Theo was Vincent’s benefactor and supported him throughout his life.

Vincent wrote Theo over 600 letters during his short lifespan.

In the novel, it is mentioned that Van Gogh wanted to know his subjects more so that he could better paint them.  Knowing more about Van Gogh helps to better understand his art.  I didn’t know much about Van Gogh and feel now, after reading Lust For Life, I can understand his art work much better.

The narrator kept my interest, however he used the same type of voice for several of the different female characters.  The time periods were distinct, so it really didn’t matter much.

 

Read More or Purchase from Amazon
Read More (Currently out of print.)

I wanted to see some of the works described in the  novel and so purchased the hard copy – (coffee table book) – Vincent by Himself: A Selection of Van Gogh’s Paintings and Drawings Together with Extracts from His Letters.  I highly recommend this book, if you can find it, or one like it, as a companion to Lust For Life.

What have you been reading lately?

Coffee Table Book: Vincent by himself Edited by Bruce Bernard

October 12, 2016

 Edited by Bruce Bernard (purchased)

Chartwell Books, Reprinted 2014

First published in great Britain in 1985 by MacDonald & Co

I hesitated writing a post for this book as it is not the type of book I typically read or write about.  However, I highly recommend it as a companion to a novel I just completed, the historical fiction, Lust for Life by Irving Stone, which tells the story of Van Gogh’s life.

Lust For Life via Amazon
Read More or Purchase from Amazon

While reading/listening to Lust for Life, I decided I wanted to find a coffee table book to see some of Van Gogh’s works described in the novel.  Barns and Nobel occasionally offers such books at a considerable discount.  When I went to the store, it happened to be the only such book on sale!  I thought I was very fortunate to be able to pick up the last two copies, one for myself and the other for a gift.  (I have a similar book about Monet.)

Vincent by Himself nicely corresponds with Lust For Life.  I enjoyed looking at the images and now know so much more about them than I ever would have had I not listened to Lust For Life (my local monthly book club selection).  This picture book also includes excerpts of the many letters written by Van Gogh that I hope to delve into more sometime in the future.

Van Gogh wrote his brother, who was his benefactor, many letters (over 600) throughout his short life.  The author of Lust for Life, Irving Stone, used these letters to build much of Van Gogh’s story.

Vincent by himself via Amazon
Read More (Currently Out of Print)

What have you been reading or listening to lately?  Do you enjoy coffee table books?  I don’t normally actually keep these books on my coffee table, but rather keep them in my bookcase and enjoy pulling them out occasionally.

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

 by Colleen Hoover

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: August 2, 2016

Narrator: Olivia Song

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

In the past author, Colleen Hoover, wrote for entertainment purposes.  It Ends With Us, while entertaining and fictional, is different in that it is more personal to Colleen.

It Ends With Us starts out with a Fifty Shades of Grey type of sexual tension between florist, Lily Bloom and brain surgeon, Ryle Kincaid.

Ryle avoids long-term relationships, but finds Lily irresistible.

Lily occasionally thinks about her first love, but falls for Ryle.

While their romance is hot and heavy, the story suddenly takes a very dark and serious turn.

Colleen Hoover gives us a nice balance between the dark and lighter sides of the story.

It Ends With Us, touched my heart as it is about resilience in the face of tremendous obsticles.

What Others Are Saying

“A beautiful story of bravery, strength and hope – this book will change people’s lives. It’s without a doubt Colleen’s best work.” – Brandie @ Brandie is a Book Junkie

“A beautifully sad and inspirational story about breaking cycles, making hard choices, and loving the one you are meant to be with, even when someone else is also the love of your life.” – Laural Rain Snow

Read More or Purchase from Amazon

Review: Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (audiobook)

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (audiobook)

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 15 hours and 56 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 15, 2009

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum is a Jewish holocaust story focused on the question of the culpability of Germain citizens.  The author uses great vocabulary and descriptions.  However, like these stories are, it was upsetting and disturbing to listen to.  These descriptive stories of atrocities tend to make me sleep less well.

The narrator, Suzanne Toren, has a pleasant voice and added a nice touch of reality, using the German language and accent in different parts.

While listening to the ~16 hours, I fell asleep a couple of times and needed to backtrack.  The story goes back and forth in time.  My audible version of this novel does not have chapters label correctly, which made it difficult to  backtrack.

First Paragraph

HarcourtBooks, 2004 (from my local library)

PROLOGUE

Trudy and Anna, 1993

The funeral is well attended, the New Heidelberg Lutheran Church packed to capacity with farmers and their families who have come to bid farewell to one of their own.  Since every seat is full, they also line the walls and crowd the vestibule.  The men are comically unfamiliar in dark suits; they don’t get this dressed up for regular services.  The women, however, wear what the do every Sunday no matter what the weather, skirt-and-sweater sets with hose and pumps.  Their parkas, which are puffy and incongruous and signify the imminent return to life’s practicalities, are their sole concession to the cold.  …

Anna and Max,

Weimar, 1939-1940

1

The evening is typical enough until the dog begins to choke.  And even then, at first, Anna doesn’t both to turn from the Rouladen she is stuffing for the dinner that she and her father, Gerhard, will share, for the dachshund’s energetic gagging doesn’t strike her as anything unusual.  The dog, Spaetzle, is forever eating something he shouldn’t, savaging chicken carcasses and consuming heels of bread without chewing, and such greed is inevitable followed by retching.  Privately, Anna thinks him a horrid little creature and has ever since he was first presented to her five years ago on her fourteenth birthday, a gift from her father just after her mother’s death, as if in compensation.  It is perhaps unfair to resent Spaetzle for this, he is also chronically ill-tempered, snapping with his yellowed fangs at everyone except Gerhard; he is really her father’s pet.  And grossly fat, as Gerhard is always slipping him tidbits, despite his hallowed admonitions to Anna of Do not! Feed!  The dog!  From!  The table!

Read More or Purchase from Amazon