I don't expect too much from these types of romances (let's face it we buy these novels as a way to escape and a to enjoy a quick guilty pleasure), so that's why I was so pleasantly surprised when I listened to this audiobook.
Melissa Brayden has written a charming book with two wonderful, very down to earth characters, Brooklyn & Jessica, they both come across as normal people with virtues and flaws.
There's quite a cast of secondary characters, mostly Brooklyn's friends. They've been friends since college and they are partners on a small advertising firm. Jessica is the head of a larger firm, and this brings an interesting dynamic in which our two heroines are competing for the same clients. You can say that this is a lesbian version of Mad Men!
Contrary to what happens to many books on this genre, this story seemed pretty plausible to me. The dialogue sounded sensible and normal, and the reactions and emotions of the characters are not at odds with their personalities. And the author was able to achieve this without making the story sound boring or too predictable.
As with any romance novel, the main characters have lots of emotional baggage and issues that need to be resolved before they can start their happily ever after, but the story keeps you involved and overall it's is actually a pretty entertaining, well written book.
There are also quite a few very funny scenes, there's a particular one that happens while two of the characters are at Starbucks that was hilarious!!
Since the story involves the lives of 4 close friends, I am looking forward to what's next for the rest of the gang!!
Felicity Munroe did a wonderful job with the narration, I don't believe that I heard previous audiobooks narrated by her but I'll make sure to see if I can find more here in Audible...
Please be aware that my review contain what could be considered spoilers!!!!
I read somewhere that Euphoria is a novel of ideas. At its center, the novel follows three young anthropologists and the very strange romantic triangle that takes place between them in the early 1930’s during a short period of time when their lives and careers intersected along the Sepik River in New Guinea.
Lily King based the main three characters, Nell Stone, Fenwick Schuyler & Andrew Bankson, on the lives of pioneer Anthropologist Margaret Mead and her 2nd and 3rd husbands, Reo Fortune & Gregory Bateson.
Nell is an American, who is already well known for having published a rather controversial book called “Children of the Kirakira”, her husband Fen is an Australian, who’s very envious of his wife’s accomplishments, and Bankson is a British anthropologist who has survived a suicide attempt.
Bankson is the main narrator, but Nell’s diary entries are intertwined as part of his narrative and somehow the author makes this work beautifully. If anything this structure enhances the suspense and sense of foreboding that are present from the beginning of the book.
I adored the characters of Nell and Bankson. When they met, there’s an immediate connection between them, both romantically and intellectually. They seem to complement and respect each other, something that Fen is unable to provide for Nell, since he feels constantly threatened by his wife’s success.
There are times when if sounds as if Nell believes that a relationship with Bankson could help balance her broken marriage, although I am not sure that is clear how exactly this was supposed to work. She is also obsessed with the idea of becoming a mother, so this also plays an important part of her psyche and motivations.
Euphoria gave me the opportunity to learn a little bit about Anthropology at a time when it was an emerging science, so to me the most fascinating part of the book is to be there as new theories and ideas take form in the minds of these young scientists. When it comes to Anthropology, these people were developing theories while observing human behavior, and nothing had been written yet.
And what a delight it is to experience the passion and dedication they show while observing these tribes with different traditions and social structures, compare to our Western way of life.
You should know that this is not a scientific book of course, but science provides the tapestry where the novel develops, and the character’s ambitions and pursuit of fame are intrinsically tied to the story at large and its tragic conclusion.
Euphoria’s title comes from Nell’s description of “that moment two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the place,” inevitably “followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything”. There are a couple of times in the book where Nell, Fen & Bankson, work very well together, they have these brainstorming sessions that feel so intense, it’s almost as if they are in a trance.
So I love everything about this book, from its cover and title, to the characters, the sensual tension, the feminist undertones and its poignant portrait of a time when scientists were sort of celebrities and were much more part of pop culture. Achieving success as a scientist provided a path to glory, fame and immortality in a way that I believe no longer describes how society looks at them today (with a few exceptions of course).
Finally I should say, that I enjoyed both narrators immensely, I believe that their performances only served to enhance the story.
This book is well written and I found the explorations and description of the Mormon culture and customs fascinating.
A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was intrigue with the unusual setting of the story. This is the first adult novel by Mette Ivie Harrison, who apparently is already well known in the world of young adult fantasy romance.
Linda Wallheim, who is the title character and narrator of the book, is a 50 something mother of 5 boys and the Bishop's wife. Kurt, her husband is an accountant and the Bishop of their ward(congregation).
The book is both a mystery novel, that deals with the investigation of two murders that, at times seem pretty implausible, as well as a window into the Mormon church, its culture, doctrine, rituals and practices.
As a mystery, the story seems to stretch far longer than necessary and the way the plot(s) develop are not in my opinion, intriguing enough to consider it a "page turner".
Linda becomes very involved in the investigation over the mysterious disappearance of Kelly Helm, a young wife that is part of her ward after Kelly's husband pays Linda a visit. This is one of the two crime stories that are explored throughout the novel.
There are several characters and subplots, most of which include very chauvinistic men, that are in one way or another involved in the mistreatment, abuse, rape and even killing of women. My guess is that many Mormons, particularly men, might find the book's characterization of the male genre perhaps too one-sided.
The novel also provides lots of details into Mormon culture, traditions and rituals. These descriptions might be culturally chocking for many readers, including me. I have to acknowledge my own bias, since as a someone that was raised within a Protestant tradition, I was taught that Mormonism was a not part of what is considered "mainstream Christianity". This perception appears to be changing somehow in the last few years as more high profile Mormons become part of our culture, politics, etc. and I think this is all for the better.
Linda herself seem to acknowledge this characterization and sometimes appears to be conflicted about her faith and they way Mormons are perceived by many in our society.
I also appreciate the fact that the author allows this character to show doubts about her beliefs, and even once in a while show some sense of humor by acknowledging how odd some of these beliefs might appeared to someone outside of her church (Special Underwear alert!!). Personally I don't think this is unique to the Mormon faith and most of us can probably find "quirky" practices on any religion.
Also on the positive side, the book explores important social issues that are still so relevant today and that obviously not limited to Mormon culture, such as domestic violence, rape and anti-gay sentiments.
At times Linda can be obnoxious and very bad a reading people!, her inner dialogue through the book drove me crazy sometimes, but she is also a wonderful wife and mother, loyal friend, supportive and a generous spirit.
Linda still aches for her(stillborn) daughter and is very emotionally affected by this loss. But now that her youngest son is about to finish high school and probably leave the nest for good, she is a middle age woman looking ahead to the next chapter on her life and perhaps finally learn how to put aside this painful chapter of her life.
I noticed that the book is described as a "Linda Wallheim novel", which seems to suggest that this is the first book in the series.
I haven't made up my mind yet as to whether or not I'll give the author another try but I suggest that readers that are interested in Mysteries with a different flavor might want to give this one a try.
I should also add that Kristen Potter, the audiobook narrator did a wonderful job as usual.
I must admit that during the first chapters of these novel I was a little dissapointed as the story seemed trite and pretty formulaic, which I guess should not come as a total surprise for this genre. But after reading Ms. Beer's 96 hours, I have come to expect good writing and a deeper type of story-line from her.
The novel is divided in chapters that are told in chronological order and follow the relationship of Angie and Jillian, from its beginning when they moved together in 1988 thru the summer of 2011. So in a way, this is the anti-romantic novel that cares to ask the question, what happens when the honeymoon is over and a relationship falls into the day to day routine? Obviously most couples expect go live happy ever after, but we know that's not how things happen in real life.
For the most part of the book the author throws a few tidbits of pop-culture and well as of the politics of the day, to keep you aware of what's going on in the world but this is really keep to a minimum as it mostly follows the two main characters and how their personal lives and their relationship develops.
I should point out that the books goes a little deeper into two landmark events for the LGTB community in the Unites States and these are given special attention, one is the airing of The Ellen Degeneres show, more specifically the episode when Ellen comes out. The second one is the passing of the Marriage Equality Act, by the New York state legislation in June 2011.
I thought that Ms. Beers does a very good job at incorporating these events into the storyline and allows us to experience first hand how they were felt by Angie and Jillian but also by their friends and families. I got very emotional when I read these passages of the book and was particularly moved to see that the author have both straight and gay people celebrate these truly remarkable events.
The relationship story of Angie and Jillian also breaks the mold of your typical lesbian romance as they experience life, its valleys and mountains, ups and downs, but eventually mature and make the necessary sacrifices that are required for any couple, straight of gay, to stay together.
Overall, this is a romantic, witty and insightful read that I enjoyed a lot but I was also able to appreciate how much Ms. Beers have improved as a writer but also as a literary voice representing well the LGTB community.
The Narrator, Abby Craden as usual, does a good job with her narration,
This was my first Kate Atkinson book and I enjoyed her style of writing very much.
As you probably know, the books consists of 3 stories/crimes that after 30 years, are being investigated by PI Brody as he looks into a possible connection between all of them.
The start of the book felt a little difficult to follow up but by the 2nd story the author starts putting all the pieces together and I found the conclusion satisfying, although perhaps the journey was more enjoyable than the destination.
I am not typically a reader that grumbles a lot about the ending of books so very rarely this is an issue for me, but I can see how the wrapping of Case Stories might not satisfy many readers.
Susan Jameson was a wonderful narrator and a perfect fit in my opinion for this audiobook.
I am not sure that I've heard more books narrated by her but I'll make sure to look up her name for others in the future.
Case Histories it's sort of a complex read but I found the writing beautiful & compelling so if you are into literary mysteries this might be a good option for you.
I am adding the other 3 books on the series to my long list of books to read/listen in 2015!!
I should start by saying that this is my first Sara Waters novel even thought I have some of her books in my to-be-read list for years now. I admit that I enjoy The Paying Guests so much that I at times I forced myself to slow down and curbed my impulse to read it fast.
It's the kind of book that has everything I look for in a historical novel, well developed characters, fascinating time/period and a original story, almost painstakingly thorough in its details.
Because I listened and read the novel at the same time, it was quite a absorbing experience. The audiobook was narrated by Juliet Stevenson, who did an amazing job at delivering the voices of so many characters but more than that allowed me to be transported to London in the early 1920's with the clouds of the First Word War still hanging on everybody's memories, casting a big shadow on its citizens who are still unable to move on after living through this most horrific event. I have listened to many audiobooks by many different narrators and I can say that this is one of the best performances I have listened to in a long time.
Sarah Waters is a wonderful storyteller and I love how with her detail descriptions of ordinary lives, you experienced first hand how this war has changed the very fabric of society and how it must have felt to live in London during this time. There's a working class (the so-called "clerk class"), that is emerging as well as women that are pushing their boundaries, demanding ever more rights, feeling more entitled to do so, after being left behind by a whole generation of men that was sent to fight a war that to many, was unnecessary and unjustified.
I enjoy the main characters, Frances and Lily, their relationship felt authentic in the slow way it developed, with all the intensity and passion of romance a its outset, followed by the angst, guilt and shame that comes as the consequence of being unfaithful.
As many has described before me, the novel is divided in 3 parts:
1st part- Introduces us to Frances and her Mon, the downfall of their family social status forcing them to take "paying guests", The Barbers, Leonard and Lillian.
2nd part- Develops the friendship (and later on the romantic relationship) between Frances and Lilly.
3rd part- Don't want to give too much here, but basically the books become more of a Legal thriller following a big development.
I really liked all 3 parts of the book, although at times it felt repetitive and it dragged a little too much for me.
But in general, I really recommend this excellent historical novel. I can see why Sarah Waters is a favorite author to so many, her gift is in using words as devices to develop interesting characters and create the atmosphere that takes you to that place and time.
Ultimately, Lillian and Frances are forced to confront moral and ethical questions and made decisions that would have permanent implications in the direction their lives would take, and we are right there with them feeling all the anxiety that comes with weighing those decisions and we can't help but wondered what we would do in a similar situation.
I look forward to enjoying more books by this author!
This books has pretty much all the elements that I enjoy in fiction: wonderful characters, interesting history background, romance, friendship and some twists and turns that should keep you listening through the end.
I agree with others reviewers that it is perhaps the correspondence exchange format that makes this book perfect as an audiobook.
To top it all, the narrators are all great and their performances allow you to be transported to London & the island of Guernsey during and after World War 2.
The letters that are exchanged between the different characters, served as the perfect vehicle to help you experience the German occupation of the little island of Guernsey (located in the English channel out of the coast of Normandy) and how it impacted their lives.
A little nugget of information, as you can see the book has two authors listed, Mary Ann Shaffer and Ann Barrows. Mrs. Shaffer finished the original manuscript of the book but by the time the editor requested some rewriting, she passed away. Ann Barrows, Mrs. Shaffer's niece, was already an established author of children's books, so she was asked to finish the editing and rewrite the parts requested by the editor.
If you enjoy historical fiction with a little bit of romance, you will probably enjoy this wonderful book!!
By now I am sure you know what this story is about so I won't spend too much time discussing it.
Our main character, Louisa Clark is thrown into Will's life and is forced to confront the moral dilemma of whether a person has the right, under extreme circumstances, to take his or her own life.
I must confess that until I read Me Before You, euthanasia and suicide in general, were issues that I never put too much though into.
Like most people raised in the west, I grew up with a pretty typical religious understanding that just like abortion, suicide was immoral, and that by committing it you were spitting in God's face.
After reading this book I have a more open mind, and although I don't necessarily agree with suicide (assisted or otherwise), as the best way to solve our problems, I have much more empathy towards those that might decide that is this an option for them.
At this end, this is why I love reading and getting exposed to new points of view.
There's plenty of reviews on this books out there, but I wanted to put my two cents. i would advise anybody with an interest in social and moral issues to give this book a try.
I realize that my review might give you the idea that this is book is boring and sad, but it is in fact a wonderful, charming love story, it has great characters, witty dialogue and a few unexpected twists that will held your attention.
On a final note, with very few exceptions I usually don't enjoy audiobooks with multiple narrators, but the full cast of narrators both male and female on this book were superb.
I think most audiobooks listeners will enjoy it!
Love the story line from the beginning. If you are a supporter of the Death Penalty, this book might make you reconsider your position. The main character, Dani Trumball, is an attorney that works with the Help Innocent Prisoners Project, she is confronted with the decision of taking on a new case to defend George Calhoun, a man that is on death row and only a few weeks away from his execution. He and his wife were convicted of murdering their your daughter 17 years earlier, but claims that they did not commit this crime. What follows is an intense chase for the truth and evidence, filled with lots of interesting twits and turns. I stayed hours awake last night because I needed to hear the conclusion to the story.
The book it's at moments very intense, with many of the characters involved on a crazy chase for evidence in order to save a man's life, at the same time it has moments moments of introspection that make you think and consider (or perhaps even reconsider) your position on the death penalty.
I have enjoyed Tanya Eby's performances before, specifically narrating the Rizzoli & Isles series, but I absolutely love her voices on this audiobook, both males and females. She is the rare narrator that can incorporate many different characters of both sexes, without annoying you (at least not me!)
There's a moment where Dani is in the prison cell with George, just a few hours from execution, awaiting a decision on their request for a stay and it surprised me how emotional I became, it's a very powerful moment in the book...
If you like Legal Thrillers, you will probably enjoy this one, very much worth the credit!!. I look forward to more books by this author.
Probably within the next few months. Likable characters, romantic story line and not too many cliches..
Probably 96 hours by Georgia Beers, the author has a similar style of writing likable characters that are not perfect but are decent human beings looking for love.
No I have not, but I am sure to look for other titles narrated by her. She's was wonderful to listen to.
The travelling adventures of two amazing girls that fall in love in the process!
This book is a wonderful romantic escape, give it a try!
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