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.

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?

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

Review: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

 

Before the Fall By Noah Hawley

Grand Central Publishing, 2016

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley got off to a good start with a private plane crash and the dramatic survival of two passengers, a man and a boy.

About two-thirds of the way into the story, I felt it had stalled (the story, not the plane) and almost put it down.

The main characters, dimly connected, included those who were on the plane, the boy’s aunt and uncle, those investigating the crash and a reporter.  Many of the individual characters’ backstories and life perspectives are in-part looked at.  Since most of their stories, individually, were interesting and I was curious to see what or who caused the plane crash, I continued to read/listen to the end.

I consider this book to be more of a mystery than a suspense.

Book Trailer

What Others Are Saying

“Opening with the plane crash, the book works backwards and forwards to tell the stories of each passenger and those close to the crash’s aftermath. As with some other books that worked for me lately (The Expatriates, Only Love Can Break Your Heart), the mystery (i.e. why the plane crashed) serves as a catalyst to explore human emotions and behavior. The crux of this story is more about the people on the plane and what today’s media can do to a tragic story than the crash itself.” – Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves

About The Author (from amazon)

Noah HawleyNoah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo.

 

Click on Image to Read More or Purchase from Amazon

SheReads

 

Before The Fall is a SheReads Summer 2016 book selection.  Click here to find links to other blogger’s book reviews for Before The Fall.  I’d like to thank the publisher, Grand Central Publishing and the SheReads organization for sending me this book, free of charge for review.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: 

NetGalleyBadgeI received this book (ARC) free from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, Hatchette Book Group as a member of the SheReads blog network.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  As I have been preferring audiobooks lately, I purchased this book when it became available and listened to it instead of reading it.  NetGalley also provided me with an electronic copy for review.

Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

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

 

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Audiobook narrated by Joshilyn Jackson

  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 53 minutes
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 17, 2012

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer is a quirkyclever novel.  It is a slightly exaggerated story about a family that is not, ‘normal’.  Maybe I should say each member is ‘special’.  It’s a story about fitting in or not fitting in, change, and adaptation.

Joshilyn Jackson (who is a bestselling author in her own right) did a good job narrating this novel.

I’d like to say that Netzer’s cadence in this story is particularly interesting.  This may also be a credit to narrator, Jackson.

Listen

What Others Are Saying

“Netzer’s debut, about a heavily pregnant woman left to care for her dying mother and autistic son while her Nobel-winning husband travels to the moon, takes the literary concept of charmingly quirky characters to a new level.” – KirkusReview

“A quirky, wonderful story with unique, well-developed and likeable characters. There is joy, sadness and occasional laugh-out-loud humor.” – Leslie (Under My Apple Tree)

Click on Image to Read More or Purchase from Amazon

 

Review: Since She Went Away by David Bell & Giveaway

since she went awaySince She Went Away by David Bell

New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2016

With Questions For Discussion

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

David Bell is a smooth storyteller.  I enjoyed this captivating novel.  It is an, easy to read suspense/mystery with a steady pace and great characterizations.

Since She Went Away takes place in a small town.  At the heart of this story is a single mother, Jenna Barton and her teen-aged son, Jared.  The suspense and the mystery surround Jenna’s friend, Celia, who is missing and Jared’s girlfriend who is new in town.

Please feel free to enter the giveaway contest below.  You don’t want to miss this novel!

First Chapter(s)

CHAPTER ONE

Five police cars.  Three news vans.  And one coroner’s wagon.

Jenna Barton saw them as she made the turn onto the last county lane.  The vehicles were fanned out around the old weathered barn with one all collapsing and the others hanging on for dear life.

About The Author

David Bell is bestselling and award-winning author whose work has been translated into six languages.  He’s currently an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  He received an MA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in American literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati.  His previous novels are Somebody I Used to Know, The Forgotten Girl, Never Come Back, The Hiding Place and Cemetery Girl.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and for sponsoring this giveaway contest (June 21-July 18) for a free copy of Since She Went Away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** This is the second novel I’ve read by Bell.  The first one was in 2015, The Cemetery Girl.
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

netgalley50I received this book  free from the publisher, Random House as well as an advance copy via NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

AudioBook (Downloaded from my local library.)

Publisher: Macmillan Audio, 2014

Narrated by Robert Petkoff

Length: 9 hr.s and 3 min.

Release Date: 10-07-14

Being Mortal is an in-depth look at our views about aging and dying.

The author Atul Gawande is sometimes analytical and philosophical while at the same time he discusses our mindsets about how we face our own mortality.  The real life and death stories he describes are insightful.

I had put off reading this book because of the heavy nature of the the subject, but am glad I finally listened to it.

Continue reading “Review: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande”

Review: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Audio

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Narrator: January LaVoy

Sept 1, 2015

Length: 14 hr 6 min

Category: Mystery

Provider:Penguin Audio

Presented by Audible

I won a signed hardcover copy of this book from T @ Traveling With T.  I’d like to thank the author, Hester Young and T.

The Gates of Evangeline is also one of SheReads Books of Winter 2016.

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

The Gates of Evangeline is a thoughtful and entertaining debut novel by Hester Young.

The protagonist of this novel, Charolette (Charlie) Cates has visions.  They began after the tragic death of her four year old son.  The visions are from children needing help.  That is what draws her to a  wealthy family’s home, Evangeline, in Louisiana.

Religious and spiritual questions are raised in this novel.  It is a mystery with drama, twists and turns.  There is also romance.  Young does a great job in building her characters and presenting the Louisiana setting.

Continue reading “Review: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young”

Review: Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

 by Anna Quindlen – Unabridged – purchased ($14.95) via iBooks – presented by Audible.com – from Brilliance Audio.

Narrator: Brittany Pressley

Length: 8 hr 9 min

and

Advance Reader’s Copy (via NetGalley), Random House, 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved It!)

I received an ARC e-book for review, free of charge from NetGalley, but due to a back injury decided to purchase the audio version.

Listening to audiobooks is new to me.  Miller’s Valley was the first one I chose to listen to on my new iPod.

It was an excellent choice.  I did not expect a production, but it was one, by narrator, Brittany Pressley. She voiced each character differently.  I think I am hooked now on audiobooks.

Continue reading “Review: Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen”

Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

 by Lynda Cohen Loigman

St. Martin’s Press, New York, First Edition March 2016

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

In The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman, there are many memorable and touching scenes.

This is a story about two Jewish families; two brothers, their wives and their children.

Brothers, Mort and Abe, couldn’t be more different.  Abe is outgoing, Mort is introverted.  Abe has four sons, Mort has three daughters.

Abe and Mort run a box company together in Brooklyn.  Their families were always close.  They shared a duplex with Abe’s family living upstairs and Mort’s family living downstairs.

One night, after a winter blizzard, the family dynamic changed.  Abe and Mort’s wives were once close friends, but became estranged.  During that night, stranded at home, they each gave birth to their youngest child (one-girl, one-boy).

The story begins in 1947.  The changes taking place during the next 21 years or so after the storm are totally engrossing.  We are left wondering about the nature and uniqueness of families.

Loigman, in her debut novel, shows us there is usually more than one side to a story and pulls at our heart strings as we read this family saga.

I’d also like to give a nod to the historical aspects of this novel.  I felt transported to that time period.

Continue reading “Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman”