The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell (Audiobook)

September 8th, 2014

houseThe House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is one of the She Reads Books of Fall that are being announced today and what a great start! I loved each and every page of this book. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Karina Fernandez and she does such a beautiful job of bringing this novel and its characters alive. I haven’t listened to her before but I wouldn’t hesitate to again. The House We Grew Up In is an emotional and beautifully told story that I’m sure will stay with me for a long time.

The Bird family is your run of the mill family living in a Cotswold village. There’s Meg who is sensible and straightforward and Beth who goes with the flow and idolizes her sister. Then there are the twin boys Rory and Ryhs. Rory is the outgoing and more popular twin whole Ryhs is more of a loner and withdrawn. Dad is the kind of guy who just wants everyone to be happy but it’s really mom Lorelei who shines in this family. She is the heart of everything with her sweet nature and free spirit. She’s the kind of mom who takes joy in birthday parties, Easter, Christmas and just about anything that gives her a reason to celebrate.

In the meantime though she’s busy collecting things. Mementos she calls them and slowly they are filling up each and every spare spot in the home. Then in one split second it all changes. Tragedy strikes the family and it isn’t long before their seemingly perfect family becomes unhinged.

As the years pass they find the children grown and Lorelei has managed to become the village’s worst hoarder. Her husband has left and her children and grandchildren aren’t even able to visit due to the hoard. Consequently Lorelei has lived her days as a very lonely woman and yet still she refuses to part with any of her things. The Bird family can’t escape tragedy and the latest one brings the family back home. Back home to confront their mother’s hoard and even more to face and accept how the events of the past changed them all.

This was such a good story and one that stirs so many emotions. It deals with a family tragedy that has repercussions for years to come. While Lorelei liked to collect things maybe her illness might not have been so severe without the tragic incident hanging over her and this is the case with so many hoarders. Their desire to collect leaves them broke, lonely, and alienated from family. The characters in this book make many mistakes but eventually learn that forgiveness is the only way to move on.

I really connected with the Bird family. I felt joy for their happy moments and sorrow for the sad ones. You can’t ask for much more from a really good story that ultimately touches your heart in many ways. Highly recommended for lovers of women’s fiction!

 

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Source:  Digital review copy provided by the publisher however audiobook from my personal library.  No compensation was received for this review and all thoughts and opinions are that of the blog owner.

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The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

September 5th, 2014

agincourtThe Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson highlights the many reasons I love historical fiction. I was swept away to another time and place and into the life of Catherine de Valois who was the daughter of Charles IV, King of France, and Isabeau of Bavaria, the Queen of France. This novel is rich in historical detail and begins in the early 1400′s at the start of Catherine’s life up until she marries King Henry V, hence becoming the Queen of England. I listened to the audio which is narrated by Catherine Harvey who does an amazing job. I listened every chance I got and in truth breezed through the almost seventeen hours of this audio in no time and loved every minute.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Mette who after losing her own child became nurse to Catherine. At first Mette doesn’t warm to Catherine but it isn’t long before the child has her whole heart and Mette will do anything for her. As unlikely as one would think the royal children were treated horribly by their governess which continued until finally Queen Isabeau showed up and decided that finally her children would be of some use to her in forming alliances. It is then that Catherine finally meets her father who was already considered mad and of course unfit to rule at all. As the story evolves we follow Catherine as she is used to pull in King Henry V yet at the same time suffers at the hands of the Duke of Burgundy and her mother. Ultimately though she is married to King Henry V and that is where this story ends. Lucky enough for us readers there is a sequel in The Tudor Bride coming soon!

Putting court intrigue and politics aside what I loved most about this novel other than the historical aspect was the way it was told through Mette. As a reader I appreciated the details of court life, the look into a royal household, and even into the everyday life of the common folk like Mette. Being told this way the reader is able to form a connection with Catherine because she seems so real and vulnerable in the circumstances. As always the treatment of women in these times horrifies me. They had no say over anything and being royal really gave no benefit as they were used as pawns and subjected to giving in to whatever was wanted for them. The author very vividly portrays the brutality of the time period and along with her descriptiveness on the overall happenings of the time I felt as though I had taken a step back in time.

I really enjoyed The Agincourt Bride and can’t wait to get my hands on The Tudor Bride. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction!

 

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Source: Audiobook from my personal library.  No compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are that of the blog owner.

The Hexed by Heather Graham & Giveaway (US/Canada)

August 29th, 2014

hexedWhat can be better that witches, ghosts, and a mysterious thriller all set against the backdrop of Salem?  The Hexed by Heather Graham offers all of this and more!  I really liked this book and had such a hard time putting it down for anything.  Things haven’t been the best lately and I’ve been so lucky to have books like The Hexed to escape into.  You know you’re reading or listening to a good book when you’re gasping or talking out loud when things are happening or going to happen and therefore scaring your poor dog a bit.  The Hexed is one of the books in the Krewe of Hunters series but these books all have separate stories and stand alone and I’m more than excited to start tackling them all.

Devin has only recently returned home to Salem after inheriting her great aunt Mina’s old cabin.  Aunt Mina was always considered to be the crazy old lady because she could speak to the dead and yet so many of the women of Salem came to see her.  Devin is loving her time there until she finds a murdered woman nearby her cabin.  Luckily she flags down Rocky, an agent working for the Krewe of Hunters who are the FBI’s paranormal investigators.  Rocky too has a past in Salem having grown up there.  Not only that but when he and his friends were younger they found one of their own friends dead in the woods … exactly the same as this new body so many years later.  What could it mean?  Is the killer after the young women of Salem again and if so why did they wait so many years to commit another murder.

Devin has a few special abilities that she inherited from her great aunt Mina and one of those is the ability to see and communicate with the dead.  Still she is startled when her aunt Mina shows up and begins talking to her like she’d never left.  Needless to say she’s worried about Devin and has every intention of keeping her safe.  When Devin is led to yet another dead woman by a ghost from the long ago Salem witch trials the investigation really heats up.  As Rocky and the team uncover more and more details it becomes apparent that there is a method to the killer’s madness and even more terrifying is that Devin may also be a target.  Rocky can not let Devin be hurt … especially since they’ve developed feelings for each other.  Will he be able to uncover just who the killer is before it’s too late?

This book had my heart a pounding in more than a few places and I loved it.  The characters were great especially aunt Mina.  She was so funny popping in and out.  More than that though I just simply enjoy books like this – ones that deal with anything to do with witches and Salem.  I’ve already started listening to The Cursed which is the book before this one and in the coming months I’ll be reviewing the next one called The Betrayed.  I know without a doubt I’m in for another treat!  I listened to The Hexed in audio and it is really well done.  It’s narrated by Luke Daniels and at first I was leery because I’m not always fond of male narrators but he’s great and had the perfect voice for the telling of this often suspenseful tale.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy thrillers and the supernatural.  I loved it!

 

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GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS

1 paperback copy of The Hexed up for grabs!

*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter

Draw Date September 14/14

Good luck!

(comments are welcome! but do not count as an entry)

 

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher. Audiobook from my personal library. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are that of the blog owner.

The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger & Giveaway (US/Canada)

August 22nd, 2014

virtueThe Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger is a wonderful novel. It not only was a story that touched my heart but also one that makes you think about how precious the gift of life is. Taking place in a small town during the recession The Virtues of Oxygen is an emotional tale of love and friendship but even more so about making each moment in our lives matter.

The story revolves around Vivian and Holly, both very different in their circumstance in life. Vivian has been confined in an iron lung since having polio as a young child. Although she has her bad moments she really has a strong spirit and amazing strength that keeps her going each day. As the years passed Vivian earned a degree in business and has been successful despite not being able to live as a normal person. Being a sweet lady the small community has always rallied around Vivian and many volunteer to sit with her as she has to have constant supervision. She literally depends on the machine to live – to breathe.

Then there’s Holly, a widow with two boys. She began sitting with Vivian when she moved back to her hometown after getting married and they formed an instant bond. Holly works at the local newspaper but she’s struggling. With help from her mother she’s been able to at least keep up with her bills but now her mother has has a stroke. Holly’s world is quickly closing in on her. Although she’s never discussed her troubles with Vivian she knows that things aren’t going well for Holly. She wants to help but even more she wants Holly to realize that she can reach for anything she wants and get it if only she wants it bad enough.

This book really makes a person think of life in a different way. I had heard of iron lungs but didn’t know what one looked like until I looked it up. I can’t imagine being confined in one for a minute let alone a whole life. The one thing Vivian craved was a even a moment alone because she’d never had that and I know I would feel the same. This novel made me realize that you have to take the time to enjoy your family, friends, and even that moment in which you can step outside and take a breath of fresh, beautiful air.

I listened to the audiobook of The Virtues of Oxygen which is narrated by Tanya Eby and Laural Merlington who both did a wonderful job. I’ve listened to Tanya Eby before and always enjoy her narration but Laural Merlington was new to me and was perfect as Vivian. I felt that the two of them really brought out the emotional side to this novel and as a warning – be sure to have a Kleenex nearby!

For fans of women’s fiction I highly recommend The Virtues of Oxygen.

 

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Buy at: Amazon, Amazon Canada, B&N, Audible

 

GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS

Win 1 Paperback edition of The Virtues of Oxygen

“CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter

Draw Date September 6/14

Good luck!

(comments are much welcomed but do not count as an entry)

 

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Source: Digital review copy was provided by the publisher.  Audiobook from my personal library.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are that of the blog owner.
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