Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

little fires everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
(Purchase)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 27 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 12, 2017

My Review ( 5 Stars: Loved it!)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a well written, well thought out story.  The first half is devoted to laying ground work and building characters, the second half is to the engrossing plot.

Set in the time period around 1980, I’ve tagged this novel as Historical Fiction as it describes the times of that period (making me feel old).  I remember the history and time period well.

I read/listened to Little Fires Everywhere in starts and stops and found it was no problem picking up where I left off and no problem enjoy each and every chapter.  The narrator, Jennifer Lim, did an excellent job.

At the heart of this story are two families, at different sides of the spectrum, one very domestic and middle-class with a mother, father, and four children and the other a mother and daughter who are nomads.  The children are adolescents.  The focus of the novel is the mother/child relationship.  I am amazed at the number of perspective Ng manages to bring into this story.

While I have marked this novel as Historical Fiction, the 1980s were not too long ago and the issues at the heart of this novel have not changed much.

In Ng’s previous, debut, novel, Everything I Never Told You, family dynamics and disconnects were central to the story.  So far, this is common theme in her work.

Continue reading “Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng”

Book Brief: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Pope Joan

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 19 hours and 24 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 24, 2009

Barbara Rosenblat (Narrator)

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it)

I listened to Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.  It is about a women, in the 9th century who becomes the Pope.  It is historical fiction that has gotten high marks, but I struggled getting started with it.  However, even though it has difficult vocabulary and even many words in Latin, I enjoyed the story and wondered how much of it is based on believed truths.  Almost toward the end, I was compelled to look up information about this pope and got a clue to how the story ended.

At the center of this novel is the stark contrast between men and women’s places in society.

The narrator had a gruff voice and I wasn’t sure I liked it.  However, she did represent the various character’s voices distinctly which helped in following the narration.

There is a movie based on this novel, that got less than stellar marks.

Movie Trailer

Continue reading “Book Brief: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross”

Book Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Dress

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is fairly predictable, but still enjoyable.  It is a ‘Christian’ based novel.  I found the religious undertones to be distracting.  I think the story would have stood better on its own without some of the ‘preaching’.

Instead of magic, there is divine intervention that takes place with a wedding dress sewn with gold thread that is beautiful, timeless and fits every bride who wears it (without alterations).

 

(purchase from amazon)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Oasis Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 13, 2012

I tagged this review with Romance and Light Reads. This novel is not too complicated. It was a pleasant read I think, especially because of its predictability.

There is some meat to the novel as it switches between present day Birmingham Alabama,  and 1912.  I always like going back in time.  The examination of relationships leading to marriage is also entertaining.

I enjoyed the southern setting.  The narrator, Eleni Pappageorge, does a good job with the southern accent and representing both male and female characters.

So, if you like romance, light reading and can take a little preaching to, this would be a novel to enjoy.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck”

Book Brief: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

The Mountain Between Us

I listened to the audio version of The Mountain Between Us: A Novel by Charles Martin.

Update: 12/23/2017 – I heard the movie does not resemble the book/audiobook.  Which is too bad, because the book was terrific!

Book Brief (5 Stars: Loved it!)

I wont go into too much detail in this brief.  I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.

While stranded in the middle of nowhere, in a frozen, desolate mountain range, between Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado, an extraordinary hero, Dr. Ed Payne  takes one step at a time to survive.

On the surface The Mountain Between Us is a story of survival.  On a deeper level it is about the bonds that tie people together.

The author Charles Martin explores what it means to be truly in love.

I easily pictured the wilderness and enjoyed each moment of the story.  I felt it was cleverly written and well done.

I’ll just say the ending brought a few tears to my eyes.

 

(Shop Amazon)

What Others Have To Say

This was a great love story. A real one. Not cheesy at all. – Debbie Stone

It’s a book that is both plot driven and also manages to get inside people’s emotional heads. – Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

Book Review: My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 12 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 12, 2016
(purchase from amazon)

My Name Is Lucy Barton was an interesting read (listen) for a day.

Familial relationships can be complicated.  In My Name Is Lucy Barton, Lucy looks back at a time when her mother, after not seeing her in years, visits with her during her stay in the hospital.

Continue reading “Book Review: My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout”

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