The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg & Giveaway (US/Canada)

April 27th, 2015

dreamThe Dream Lover weaves fact with fiction as it takes us on a journey through the life of the French novelist George Sand.  For those who don’t know (like me) George Sand was actually a woman who led quite the scandalous life for the 1800’s.  She was a woman before her time who believed in equality for women and she just didn’t fit in the norm of your normal housewife of the times.  Instead after a failed marriage she went on to have several affairs and live a life that consisted of parties and interaction with many of the important people who traveled in the world of artists.  She is most well known for her writing and her affair with the composer Frederic Chopin.

When Sand left her husband she moved to Paris to write and there she began to wear men’s clothing and move in the circles of the people she most desired to associate herself with.  She also had affairs with many men and even an actress named Marie.  She enjoyed her life as a man because it gave her so much more freedom than she had as a woman.  She would go out to cafes with men and sit and talk about plays, art, and writing – all the things that mattered to her.  And there were many parties; she talks of parties that would go on until the next day.  Her affairs were plentiful but it seemed she chose young men who she ended up having to take care of.  The only person it seems she truly loved was the actress Marie but even they didn’t stay together.

The story almost comes across as a journal written by George Sand chronicling her life from childhood to her final days – her days, her writing, and her affairs.   She reflects back on the turmoil of her childhood and the disagreements that her mother and grandmother continually had over her until her mother finally just leaves her in the care of her grandmother.  I wonder if this didn’t shape the person she becomes in that it always seemed so easy for her to jump from one lover to another.  She was always on the search for that one true love that kept alluding her.

I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg’s writing and I’ve read more of her books than I can count.  I was reading her novels long before I even starting blogging and she’s an amazing writer.  Being completely honest though her foray into historical fiction fell a bit flat for me and I think it’s because I just couldn’t like George Sand.  She seemed very selfish to me; going from party to party, man to man.  Many times when you read of a historical figure you feel some connection to them but  I just didn’t feel that here.  Really more than anything I felt sorry for her because it seemed that nothing other than her writing was ever truly enough for her.

With that being said it is still an interesting novel for historical fiction fans in that you do learn a lot about  George Sand and that’s always a good thing but it  didn’t leave me liking her or wanting to know more and that’s disappointing.  I just wish I had felt more of a connection with George Sand and her life.  What I did enjoy and what kept me interested in the book was that I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith and she really did a fantastic job of bringing the story and especially the time period alive for me.  So while this one didn’t completely work for me I’m not sorry I read it and I still love Elizabeth Berg’s writing and look forward to her next novel.

 

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GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS

1 copy of The Dream Lover up for giveaway

*CLICK HERE*  and fill out the form to enter

Draw Date May 13/15

 

 

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

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Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

April 22nd, 2015

Where They Found Her Where-They-Found-Herby Kimberly McCreight is one of those novels that completely holds you in it’s grip from the first page to the last.  It is both a psychological thriller and a book that will hit you emotionally.  I could not pull myself away from it.  I listened to the audiobook and I like nothing better than when a book has multiple narrators so I was excited to see that Where They Found Her did.  The narrators are Tavia Gilbert (who I love), Lauren Fortgang, Rachel F. Hirsch, and Therese Plummer (who I love) and they do an incredible job of pulling together the separate story lines in this novel.

The storyline centers around a newborn baby that is found dead in the woods surrounding the town’s university.  The town is in chaos.  Who does the baby belong to?  Why was she left there in the woods?  Molly, a freelance journalist, who has recently moved to the town is given the task of heading down to the scene to cover the story.  She has no idea that it’s a newborn that has been found and while this would be a hard case for anyone to cover it is especially hard for Molly.  Molly recently lost a baby and is just finally pulling herself out of the depression that hit her afterwards.  Still Molly feels that trying to find out what happened to this poor baby may help her heal so she begins to investigate and what she finds has the power to shake the whole community.

The novel is told from three points of view – Molly’s, Barbara’s, and Sandy’s.  The book is so well executed that all the story lines flow together perfectly and there is never a moment of confusion.  Each of these women has a story and it truly amazed me how, by the end of the story, it was quite plain to see that they were all connected.  Molly of course works for the newspaper and is reporting on the story of the newborn baby and I liked her character.  Barbara is another story.  She’s a mom and completely obsessed with controlling her husband who is a cop and her kids.  I never really warmed to her even though later in the story I could see where some of her anxieties came from.  And then we have Sandy, a teenager, who comes from a very unstable home with a mom who parties more than she takes care of her daughter.  Seemingly unrelated, the stories of these three women will all culminate in an ending that will shock and surprise the reader.

What I really love about novels like this is being able to try and figure out what is going on as I read.  I was very busy trying to solve this mystery and I had even tossed around the idea of who the baby’s mother was and was right although I didn’t know it at the time.  I didn’t however predict the ending and it shocked me.  For those who love psychological thrillers I can’t recommend Where They Found Her enough.  I really enjoyed it and it’s worth it to mention once again that the audio production is fantastic!

 

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

Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

April 16th, 2015

Read-Bottom-UpRead Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham is a short novel (can be read in a few hours) about dating in the modern world of today.  It’s told exclusively through emails and text messages and it really does scream of the world we live in now.  Back in my days of dating we didn’t have social media.  It was the phone or nothing.  Yet still the same emotions and insecurities exist today – they are just communicated in a different way.

Madeline and Elliot meet at a restaurant opening and begin dating.  Of course in today’s world it’s all about emailing and text messaging and we see the relationship between these two unfold in just that way.  In addition to the messages between Madeline and Elliot we also have the messages between Madeline and Emily (her best friend) and Elliot and David (his best friend).  You really can see from the beginning that this relationship may be doomed because these two want very different things from life.  Madeline is looking for a really serious relationship while Elliot is still looking to just have fun and doesn’t really see the big deal if he doesn’t answer a text message for days.

As the relationship progresses we see the insecurities and over analyzing of the relationship.  Both Madeline and Elliot are constantly copying and pasting messages and sending them to their best friends for their opinions.  There is anger and a million questions but neither makes a move to just confront the situation.  It’s a normal dating scenario – just taking place in today’s world where everything seems to revolve around social media. I don’t want to give away the eventual outcome of the book but I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

I enjoyed this book primarily because of the format.  I enjoy books done a little differently like that.  The only thing I would have liked to see was a bit more of a romantic tone to the book.  I think this book will really appeal to those who are hooked on all of the social media of today and definitely those who are currently dating in it.

 

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

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

April 14th, 2015

The-Hurricane-Sisters-PB-199x300I have read a few books by Dorothea Benton Frank and so enjoyed them.  Needless to say I feel no different about The Hurricane Sisters.  It was such a wonderful ‘listen’ for me and I think it would make the perfect summer read.  I liked the story, the characters, and most definitely the setting.  As I mentioned I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Robin Miles.  I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to her before but she is now a new favorite.  She captures the southern tone of this novel to perfection and I enjoyed every minute of listening to her tell this story.

The story takes us to the South Carolina Lowcountry and introduces us to three generations of women.  First is Maisie, the matriarch of the family.   Maisie is eighty years old and she’s bound and determined to still live her life which includes catching herself a much younger boyfriend.  She still holds court over her family though and I adored her character.  There were many times she had me laughing over one thing or another.

Then there is Maisie’s daughter Liz who loves her work with a battered woman’s shelter but is starting to really feel her age.  She isn’t any longer the young sexy model but the older more mature woman and she is starting to feel quite neglected by her husband Clayton.  Needless to say their marriage is not what it used to be and even when Liz puts forth the effort it seems Clayton isn’t interested.  The question is why?

Last we have Liz’s daughter Ashley, a young woman in her twenties who dreams of being an artist one day.  In the meantime though she lives in her family’s beach house with her best friend and works for a living.  Ashley is a girl who is taken in by the rich and powerful and finds it so very attractive.  This leads her to a relationship with a powerful man who turns out to be one of her worst mistakes.

While this novel is the perfect beach read it also effortlessly tackles a lot of heavier subjects like infidelity, physical abuse, and mother – daughter relationships.  Moreover it really brings to light the love and support of family and friends.

I would recommend The Hurricane Sisters to those who love women’s fiction and if you have a chance to listen to the audiobook I highly recommend it.  The performance by Robin Miles is amazing and she brings this wonderful story to life for her listeners. I really enjoyed this book and it only highlights why I enjoy the books of Dorothea Benton Frank so much!

 

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Source: Review copy was received from the publisher for an honest review. Audiobook obtained from library. No compensation was received.
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