A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell (Audiobook)

March 27th, 2015

ghostA Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell centers around the three Alter sisters: Lady, Vee, and Delph, middle aged,  who live together in their rent controlled family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  The sisters are extremely loyal to each other and share a history of bad luck that hasn’t skipped a generation yet.  Has it been any different for the sisters? … Well, no.

Lady, Vee, and Delph, due to circumstances in their lives, have decided it’s time to put an end to the Alter family curse.  While the rest of the world is looking forward to the new millennium, the sisters are looking back.  They are recording their family history, every bad bit, which will ultimately end in the final chapter – theirs – at the close of 1999, following in the steps of many of their kin before them.

The novel then takes us back in forth in time between the lives of the sisters and their ancestors.  As they look back we learn that their great-grandfather was responsible for a truly atrocious event in history and this, in effect, has shaped the lives of the Alter’s going forward.  Throughout their own lives the sisters have tried to live as anyone would but they can’t escape the shadows of the past, when in middle life, they find themselves facing regrets, depression, and illness.  It leaves us questioning if one can ever really escape the sins of their fathers before them or are we doomed to the same fate?

While this may seem really depressing it isn’t.  The sisters are very witty and they bring humor to an otherwise dire story.  I laughed at times and felt their pain at others and ultimately I understood their decision to end their lives.  I had picked up the audiobook of A Reunion of Ghosts and it’s narrated by Kirstin Potter and William Charlton.  I felt that listening to this book really brought a lot to the story for me because there were a few times where the story lagged for me and the narrators drew me right back in.

Recommended for those who enjoy literary fiction.  I enjoyed it.

 

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Source: Digital copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.  Audiobook from personal library.  No compensation was received. 

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Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran (Audiobook)

March 25th, 2015

rebel queen
 

I was beyond excited to get to Michelle Moran’s Rebel Queen as I had been anxiously awaiting the time when she would release another novel.  I just knew it was going to be a good one and I was right!  I’ve loved all of Michelle’s novels but Rebel Queen is my new favorite.  Michelle Moran weaves fact with fiction and sweeps us on a journey to India where we are immersed in the culture and politics of the time.  Her stunning portrayal of this world and the strong women that inhabit it fully drew me in from the beginning and I just could not put it down.  I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Sneha Mathan and she does such an incredible job.  She has a beautiful voice that literally carries you back in time to India and its people.  Between Moran’s beautiful writing and Sneha’s wonderful narration I found India coming alive before my eyes.

In the 1850’s when the British attempt to takeover India they assume it will be easy because at the time India was a bunch of kingdoms, not a country.  Not so in the Kingdom of Jhansi where they encounter one very strong woman who along with her female and male warrior guards have no intention of giving up their kingdom that easily. 

The novel itself is told from the perspective of Sita, one of the female warrior guards who eventually becomes Queen Lakshmi’s most trusted guard.  Sita comes from a small village where she lives with her sister, father, and grandmother.  Being of a poor family, both of the girls have no dowry and without one their prospects of finding a suitable husband are not good.  While her grandmother tries to sell Sita to a temple where she will become a prostitute her father has a very different idea.  He trains her to become a member of the Durgavasi.  They are an elite group of women who are trained to guard and fight for the rani.  In doing this Sita will be able to support her family and provide a dowry for her sister.  Becoming one of the Durgavasi and the war on India changes Sita’s life in unforgettable ways.

While the story woven throughout this tale is captivating so is the history.  I know little about Indian history although it fascinates me and Moran so vividly brought to life so much of it within the pages of this book.  What really amazed me was this band of female guards especially at a time when such a thing was unheard of.  These were strong women who could fight with knives, arrows, and guns just as well as any man and they weren’t scared to do all they could to protect their queen.  And the Queen herself is such a rich historical figure.  To be so strong and capable of running a kingdom as she was is inspiring to women especially considering the times and how women were usually regarded.  She was a fair ruler and her utmost priority was always towards doing what was best for her people.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say this is a novel that a historical fiction fanatic should not miss.  I love that Michelle tackled a time and place not often written about and told such a mesmerizing story as she always does and even more for teaching me something once again.  This story, the characters, the culture, the history – all of it combines to bring the reader a truly captivating tale.  Highly, highly recommended!

 

 

Source: Digital review copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Audiobook from personal library.  No compensation was received.

 

Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue (Audiobook)

March 19th, 2015

Dog-CrazyFirst of all how can anyone who loves dogs resist this cover?  Dog Lover is Meg Donohue’s newest novel and what an emotionally powerful story it is.  Every so often I feel the need to gush over a book and this will be one of them.   I connected so deeply to this story and it’s characters – dogs included of course!  This novel is for anyone who loves or has loved dogs.  It will make you laugh and it will make you cry.  It will also stay with you long after you turn the final page… one of my favorite books of the year.

Maggie Brennan is a pet bereavement counselor, who after moving to San Francisco to open her own business suddenly loses her own beloved dog Toby.  This huge loss throws her life into a tailspin and she finds herself so anxious and overcome with panic attacks that she can’t even leave her apartment.   This overwhelming panic is starting to have an effect on her business and the work she does for a dog rescue organization.  Then one day a young woman named Anya walks into her office but she doesn’t need counseling because she claims that her dog has been stolen and is still alive.  Maggie can’t help this girl as the only thing that will help is finding Anya’s dog.  Yet Maggie soon finds herself taking small steps and actually leaving her apartment all with the help of her best friend’s dog.  As she walks the streets of San Francisco with Anya searching for her dog  Maggie finds herself opening up to life and love again.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot of the book as I’d rather talk about my connection to this book and how it made me feel.  That is after all what makes you love or hate a book.  I felt like the author wrote this book about me; like she was talking directly to me.  I wish I had this book to listen to when I lost my precious soul mate Buddy.  And while one might think it would have made me sad it really didn’t.  Yes I had a good cry over losing Buddy when Maggie was talking of her own loss but moreover I found myself remembering all the times that little guy made me smile or laugh.  I remembered all the things that made Buddy the great dog that he was.  Like Maggie, my dog Buddy touched my soul and while I desperately love my Sammy (who helped my heart heal from its loss), Buddy will always hold a piece of my heart in his little paw.  This book makes you appreciate the unconditional love you receive from your pets and it sure makes you want to give them a big huge hug and tell them how much you love them.  Sammy got many hugs and kisses throughout this book for the beautiful dog he is, for how much he loves me, and for all he’s done for my emotional well being.  I am full of emotion for this book and I don’t think I could put it all on the page if I tried.  What I do know is that this book touched me deeply – in a good way.

I listened to the audiobook of Dog Crazy which is narrated by Donna Postel and she does a fabulous job.  I would have loved this book in any form but the audio really highlighted the emotional side of this story for me. Highly recommended for dog lovers!  I think you need to be a dog lover or pet lover to truly appreciate the beauty of this book.  It shows the power of our furbabies to not only love us but heal us in body and soul as well.  Absolutely loved it!

 

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.  Audiobook my personal copy.  No compensation was received.

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister (Audiobook)

March 17th, 2015

Magicians-LieThe Magician’s Lie is Greer Macallister’s debut novel and was chosen as a  She Reads Books of Winter selection and it is yet another fabulous book club choice.  The Magician’s Lie will take you on an adventure that captures your interest from the first page to the last.  I listened to the audiobook version which is narrated by Julia Whelan (who I adore) and Nick Podehl (who I haven’ t listened to before but would again).  It’s no secret that I love audiobooks that feature multiple narrators and this one is no exception.  Julia Whelan is a fabulous narrator she and Nick Podehl complement each other perfectly in telling this story.

The Amazing Arden is one of the first female magicians in 1905.  Of course this was a time when a female as a magician was unheard of but whether out of curiosity or the fact that her magic show was good people came to see her perform.  And perform she did.  Arden has loved to perform since her earliest memory.  As a young girl it was ballet but an injury put an end to that career.  When performing magic tricks or illusions as she liked to refer to them became an option Arden found she had a true talent for it and soon enough she became famous for her shows.

Arden is most known for her illusion of sawing a man in half on stage. This is the illusion she is performing the night that policeman Virgil Holt is attending the show.  When she uses an axe instead of a saw Virgil is curious but doesn’t worry too much about it thinking maybe it’s a new trick … until he hears that her husband has been found dead below the stage and even more alarming is that Arden is no where to be found.  She seems to have run off.  The question is why?  Is she guilty of murder?  Virgil is sure his luck is changing when he happens upon Arden running away.  This could make his career if he could bring in The Amazing Arden.  Of course he assumes she’s guilty.  Why else would she be running?

Arden begs Virgil to let her go and to further her cause she shares her story with him.  She tells him of her turbulent childhood and her struggles to get where she is in her career.  She tries hard to play on his sympathies and for his part Virgil is torn.  Does he believe her?  Or, being the illusionist that she is, is she just lying to him and he can’t tell the difference? And for us, the reader, that is the question as well – is she telling the truth or spinning a tale?  Read it and find out…

Highly recommended for historical fiction fans or for those who enjoy a good story.  I really enjoyed it and the audio production is great!

 

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Source: Digital review copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Audiobook from personal library. No compensation was received.
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