Monday, October 17, 2016

Truly Madly Guilty - Audio Book Review

Six adults and three children gather on a chilly afternoon for an impromptu weekend barbecue. A few months later, these people can't move past what happened at the barbecue and they sincerely wish they hadn't gone at all.

Written in a style that allows perspective from all the major characters, Liane Moriarty's newest novel takes the reader into a study of relationships. Marriages and friendships are not always what they seem. Moriarty builds on the suspense as the story and events of the barbecue are disclosed.

Until now, my experience with audio books has been listening in the car to either biographies or children's books. Truly Madly Guilty is the first novel that I have listened to as an audio book. I turned it on when I was folding laundry or processing photography or driving in the car on my own errands. It took me a couple of months to actually finish the book. I'm sure had I been reading it, I would have finished in a few days. I think taking time actually allowed me to appreciate the cast of characters and the mystery more than if I was reading it.

The narrator, Caroline Lee did an excellent job of distinguishing between the characters. Even though I only listened to short sections at a time, I was able to quickly decipher which character was speaking in each chapter. I loved Lee's voice and started to really look forward to the opportunity to fold laundry.

Though it's not my favorite novel from Moriarty, I really enjoyed Truly Madly Guilty. I appreciated the eccentric cast of characters and the dissection of their relationships with one another. Moriarty excels at the character drama. Though the plot was not as thrilling as other novels, it felt very possible and very life changing. I found Truly Madly Guilty to be believable, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty was published by Flatiron Books in July 2016.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fall Reads

Liddy James is a divorce attorney in New York City who is also well known for her divorced parenting books. The woman is classy, powerful and formidable. Liddy's ex-husband's partner Rose is scared and in awe of the woman who "broke her husband's heart". Liddy has it all and she let's nothing stand in her way. Until it does. Rose is on bed-rest with a risky pregnancy. Her teenage son is surly. Her nanny quits. And suddenly, Liddy has to juggle more roles and find her true self, yet again.

The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey is witty and fun and I enjoy it more than I expected to. I got a kick out of the characters who are flawed and full of inner worries that they desperately try to hide behind their outer shiny, veneer of perfection. It's hard to be a woman and keep up with all the demands and expectation from ourselves and from others. Liddy James does her best to be the woman she has always wanted to be. I enjoyed watching her struggles, her triumphs and her metamorphosis.

The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey is published by Putnam and released on September 20, 2016.

Clara Lawson is taken from her home by armed men and held in a barren room where is she is questioned repeatedly. As she was being forcibly removed from her husband and daughters, her husband shouted not to tell them anything and Clara is determined to keep her mouth shut. But the longer she is held, Clara begins to think about her past and wonder if anything she knew was the truth.

The Girl Before by Rena Olsen was very compelling and terribly disturbing. It might be one of the most distressing novels I've read in a long while. Though not exactly mysterious, The Girl Before takes the reader inside the mind of a woman who is a victim but not exactly innocent. I couldn't put it down but I read the entire novel with that sick knot in my stomach. It will make you think and make you shudder as Olsen exposes the horrors of human trafficking.

The Girl Before by Rena Olsen is published by Putnam and released on August 9, 2016.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ashes - Book Review

Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains and Forge have been anxiously and maybe not so patiently waiting for the final installment of The Seeds of America Trilogy. I must confess that I have not read the first two books. I bought them for my children who loved them. With trepidation, I decided to read Ashes without reading the first two. I am almost positive that I would have enjoyed it even more if I was already familiar with Isabel, Curzon and Ruth and their struggles. However, I must say that I loved Ashes and would like to go back and read the earlier novels in the series.

Isabel and Curzon are on a dangerous mission south to find Isabel's younger sister Ruth. Besides, the constant fear of being discovered and sold back into slavery, they find themselves in the midst of the final days of the American Revolution. Unsure of what side to join to maintain their freedom, Isabel and Curzon are faced with heartrending and potentially very dangerous decisions.

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson is a brilliantly written novel aimed at a middle grade audience. I appreciate that she doesn't talk down to the readers but allows them to see the hypocrisy and danger that faced young African Americans in the early days of our country. I felt that there was a good balance portrayed between the inspired brilliance of the Declaration of the Independence and the fight for freedom as a nation and the duplicity in the personal lives of the Founding Fathers. The writing is beautiful and using vocabulary to push the readers.

The research is good and I loved to be right in the middle of the action as Washington's troops lay siege to Cornwallis at Yorktown. Though just getting to know them, I cared about the characters and their constant plight. They are inspiring in their strength and hopes for a better future. I can't wait to pass Ashes on to my kids to see how they enjoy the final chapter of this lauded trilogy.

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson is the final book in The Seeds of America Trilogy. It is published by Antheneum and released on October 4, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

News of the World - Book Review

Since the Civil War has ended, Army Captain Kidd has earned his dimes by reading the world's newspapers in small towns all over North Texas. He is offered fifty dollars to deliver a recently rescued girl to her relatives in San Antonio. Johanna has been with the Kiowa tribe since raiders killed her family and kidnapped her when she was just six years old. She's completely forgotten the English language and her birth family and wants desperately to return to the Kiowas who have "raised" her.

Captain Kidd has taken on a load of troubles with his ten year old package and runs into danger along the rugged trail to San Antonio. He is determined to keep the girl safe and return her even if it means losing his own life.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles is a slim adventure tale that completely captivated me by the story and her lovely style. There's never an extra word. Every single word counts. And I love that. The setting of North Texas and the characters are so real that I felt like I was riding along on the rickety carriage.

Witty and wise, Captain Kidd is an entrancing character. I understand he plays a major role in one of Jiles's earlier novels and I am now curious to read her other books. News of the World is a fascinating tale that one reads and is absolutely convinced it must be a real story. I loved it.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles is published by William Morrow and will be released on October 4, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of News of the World. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**