#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Dutch House’ by Ann Patchett @ParnassusBooks1 #BookReview #Audiobook by @TomHanks

The Dutch House: A Novel by [Patchett, Ann]

I am ashamed to say that this is the first novel I’ve read by Anne Patchett, and I’m so glad I read it. I was so impressed that I read her most famous novel Commonwealth, straight after, and I enjoyed it even more, but more about that another week.

The Dutch House (from the blurb).

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. The story is told by Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

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Ann Patchett

ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels and has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes.  She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

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My Review

The Dutch House is such an emotional novel that I had to wipe away some tears as I listened to the last lines.

It’s hard to describe the beauty of the story and the smoothness of the prose, in a novel where nothing exceptional happens and yet so many extraordinary things take place over three generations.

Danny, the narrator, is an honest and endearing character. We first meet him as a child trying to understand the world and the contradictory adults in his family. As he grows up, he becomes a generous and reliable narrator who tells every character’s story with insight and empathy.

Danny chronicles a tragedy about dysfunctional families, including deficient parenting and the destructive power of jealousy leading to cruelty bordering on abuse, and yet it’s also an uplifting tale of love, forgiveness, and goodness.

Nothing is repaired, because the past can’t be changed, and yet everything works out, because life’s like that; it’s a cycle, so, in a way, we are always going back and revisiting the past, occasionally, as in this case, with some improvement.

A warning, the beginning is slow, but it’s well worth persevering, and if you can, listen to Tom Hanks magnificent reading. Unforgettable.

A must read for anyone who enjoys family sagas set in 20th century USA, and for those who believe in the healing power of forgiveness.

*****

More reviews by Luccia here!

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘My Life as a Rat’ by @JoyceCarolOates #BookReview

My Life as a Rat: A Novel by [Oates, Joyce Carol]

I’m a bit behind with my reviews. I’ll be catching up gradually. Today, I’m starting with the last book I’ve read, which is My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates.

I am ashamed to admit that although I have read some of her poems and posted about one of them here, I had never read any novels by this author. Then a few weeks ago, I read an interview with the author about her new novel, in the Guardian, and my interest was peaked, but when I read the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I was almost put off. I say almost, because I’m an avid reader, reviewer and writer, and I know how subjective most reviews are.

Some of the negative terms which appeared were, too long, repetitive, slow, disappointed, disorganised, violence, abuse, disturbing. That made me realise it would not be an easy book to read, but I decided I was up for the challenge.

I started reading the book on my Scribd subscription last Friday, and I couldn’t stop until I finished it on Sunday night. It’s hard to introduce other readers to such a brilliant book in a few hundred words, but I’m going to do my best.

Joyce Carol Oates

My Life as a Rat is a heart-rending novel which deals with topics such as, abuse, domestic violence, ignorance, racism and gender inequality.

It presents these topics honestly and brutally, so much so that some people may feel uncomfortable, or even disgusted. Well this isn’t a light romance, this is a raw and harrowing view of a segment of the population. Extrapolating Violet’s town, family and life to every woman in the world would be absurd, even though Violet is not the only girl who has lived or lives so close to so many ignorant and/or evil people.

In spite of everything Violet experiences, I find the novel hopeful because the reader is led to believe there is an implicit answer to the senseless violence, lack of love, gender inequality, racism and ignorance, and that’s Violet’s attitude to adversity: learn the lesson, get up and move on! That is to say she persevers, she tries to do the right thing, she actively searches for a better education, she wishes to accept her responsibility in events, forgive herself and others and repair whatever she can, and especially, she never loses the ability to keep reaching for her dreams.

Violet is a wonderful character who never gives up, she’s bigger than the events she overcomes, because she’s able to move on, keep loving and forgiving, and I think she stands a good chance of finding happiness, perhaps, one day…

A must read for anyone who wants to understand what’s wrong with our society and how we can find ways to heal and be reconciled.

*****

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘K’ is for Lisa Kleypas @LisaKleypas ‘The Ravenels and The Wallflowers’ @Scribd #HistoricalRomance

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I love novels set in Vicrorian England and I enjoy reading romance, in between psychological thrillers and literary fiction, and I’ve found the perfect combination in Lisa Kleypas. She has written various series of historical romance, set in 19th century England, such as The Ravenel Series of four novels and The Wallflowers of five novels. In her latest novel, The Devil’s Daughter, The Ravenels meet The Wallflowers!

Lisa is ranked #10 bestselling kindle (US) author of historical romance, and the reason is she writes engaging and entertaining, well-written historical romance. On this occasion, I’ve listened to her  novels on Scribd, but they’re also available on Audible.

Lisa Kleypas

All her novels are standalones, but if you read them in order, it leads to a better reading experience, because the characters are related, either by family or friendship, so characters in previous books will appear in later titles.

I’d recommend you start with the first Ravenel book, published in 2015, which is also one of my favourites. By the way, aren’t those covers beautiful?

Cold-Hearted Rake audiobook cover art

Hello Stranger, published in 2018 is my favourite, perhaps because it was the first one I read and then I made my way back to the first three books in the series!

The female lead in Hello Stranger, Dr. Garrett Gibson, is a woman ahead of her time. She’s the only female physician in England, and is making herself respected in a man’s world. She’s intelligent, strong-willed, daring and independent. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. They are both drawn into dangerous plot against the government.

Hello Stranger audiobook cover art

Her latest novel, Devil’s Daughter, is the delightful story of a widow with two young children and a reformed rake.

Devil's Daughter audiobook cover art

Lisa Kleypas’s historical novels have all the ingredients for an exciting and entertaining journey into Victorian England. The novels are well researched and plotted, with engaging heroes and heroines. Readers will visit Victorian London, from the dark alleyways and slums, gentlemen’s and gaming clubs, to stately town houses and horse rides in Regents Park, as well as travels to country estates. There are villains, rakes and other evil characters who battle against her main characters. You can also look forward to plenty of (unstressful) suspense, in spite of expecting a happy ending, because the journey towards the grand finale is so enjoyable.

Lisa Kleypas, like Jane Austen, is well aware that in 19th century England, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” And just like Jane Austen, that’s what she writes about, except in Kleypas’ case, the novels are more about assertive women fighting for love matches and independence in a world of marriages of convenience and gender inequality.

Most of her novels are read by Mary Jane Wells, who does all the accents and genders very nicely, although, as always, I would have prefered at least two narrators, for male and female voices, but I enjoyed listening to all of them as they are.

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Lisa Kleypas’ novels are especially for readers who want an escape from real 21st century life for a few hours, and enjoy historical romance set in Victorian England, with strong-willed female leads who overcome obstacles on their way to a happy marriage. A delightful indulgence!

Lasa Kleypas’s Audible Author Page

Lisa Kleypas’s Scribd author page

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks!

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘J’ is for Jess Rider ‘The Ex Wife’ @JessRyderAuthor @Audible @Bookouture #PsychologicalThriller

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with Jess Ryder author of three psychological thrillers, Lie to Me, The Good Sister, and The Ex Wife all published by Bookouture. She also writes books for children, teens and young adults as Jan Page.

Jess Ryder

I’ve listened to and enjoyed Lie to me and The Ex Wife on Audible, because, as you all know I love psychological thrillers, and I also trust Bookouture, because they publish plenty of great novels of his genre.

Lie to Me: A gripping psychological thriller with a shocking twist by [Ryder, Jess]

Meredith’s entire world falls apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her, and hears her mother’s cryptic and disquieting words. Her father refuses to clarify their meaning and she embarks on a dangerous search to discover who her mother was and how she was involved in a murder which had taken place 30 years earlier.

Once you start listening to Meredith’s first person account of events told with the immediacy of the present tense, you won’t be able to stop until you find out everything about Meredith’s mother and father. I say no more, because I don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience of listening to this emotional and exciting thriller.

The Ex-Wife: A nail biting gripping psychological thriller by [Ryder, Jess]

Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. Then her dream shatters when she returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. She’ll need her husband’s ex wife’s help to find them, but is Jen her ally or her enemy?

The Ex Wife is a great novel for readers who enjoy long twisting thrillers where good and bad depends on the chapter your reading! plenty of unexpected events and relationships. Be warned, most of the characters are unlikable at some point in the novel, and likeable later on!

It’s narrated in two time frames by two characters, the wife and the ex-wife and the husband has the final say in the last chapter. It is an original take on an old theme of a love triangle involving the husband, old wife and new wife.

Both narrators, Annette Chown and Lorraine Coady have pleasant voices and the present tense, first person writing style, makes listening a vivid and exciting experience for listeners. However, I would have preferred two different narrators in the Ex Wife, because, although the chapter headings inform the reader of which of the two narrators is speaking/narrating, with the same voice, I found it confusing at times.

I’ve just discovered on Twitter that Jess Ryder has a new novel out soon! I can’t wait to read another one of her psychological thrillers!

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Jess Ryder’s novels are especially for readers who enjoy nail-biting, well-plotted and complex psychological thrillers set in the UK.

Jess Ryder’s Audible Author Page 

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘I’ is for Laila Ibrahim ‘Paper Wife’ @Audible #HistoricalFiction #Migration

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with Laila Ibrahim, author ‘Paper Wife’, a historical novel set in Southern China and California in the 1920s.

Laila Ibrahim spent much of her career as a preschool teacher, school director, and as a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for the stories in her novels.

Laila Ibrahim

I started reading this novel quite by chance. It was recently offered as a daily deal on Audible, I read the blurb, listened to an extract and decided to buy it, at once. I’m glad I did because reading The Paper Wife is an unforgettable experience of walking in a young, penniless young migrant girl’s shoes, as she travels across the world to another civilisation, with a new family, leaving her past behind.

The Paper Wife is an emotional story about immigration, arranged marriages, intercultural differences, the subjection and exploitation of women and children, motherhood, marriage, strife and ultimately the power of faith and goodness.

Mei Ling lives in Southern China in the 1920s. Her parents decide the best way to improve her prospects is to sell her in an arranged a marriage to a first generation Chinese-American widower who lives in California with his two-year-old son. But to enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

The perilous voyage is described, her incipient relationship with her new husband and son and how she befriends, Siew, a young orphan girl, her detainment on Angel Island and her arrival at San Francisco, where she’ll discover that her husband and her new life are not what she expected.

In spite of the harsh topics discussed, such as slavery, child labour, forced prostitution, corruption and other criminal activities, it was not depressing or sad, because the story is told with great empathy and understanding for Chinese culture. Mei Ling is a strong woman with a purpose in life, to do good and be happy. I loved her strength, optimism and kindness.

I enjoyed listening to the story, told in the realistic and detailed manner of traditional historical novels, immersing the reader in another time and place.

It’s told in the third person entirely from eighteen year-old Mei’s point of view.

The Paper Wife was brilliantly read by Nancy Wu, who is talented enough to read all the voices, men, women, children, American and Chinese in such a way as to bring the story to life.

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The Paper Wife, is especially for readers who enjoy realistic and detailed, historical novels, which bring the past to life by means of traditional and emotional storytelling!

Laila Ibrahim’s Audible Author Page 

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘H’ is for Helen Hoang @HHoangWrites @Audible ‘The Kiss Quotient’ #Romance #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with Helen Hoang, author of my favourite romantic novel of 2018, The Kiss Quotient, One of Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2018 and One of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2018.

In 2016, the author was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT.

Helen Hoang

You all know how I love all genres of novels with quirky and/or unusual heroines, The Kiss Quotient is one such novel.

Stella Lane is brilliant at math. She loves algorithms to predict customer purchases. She also has ASD, and hates physical contact, especially kissing and sex. She’s over thirty and her family expects her to marry and have children, and she doesn’t want to let them down, so she decides to hire an escort to help her overcome her aversion to sex.

Michael, takes on the job, however he has issues of his own, such as his reasons for being an escort and how he feels about his part-time job. Neither of them imagine they’re going to learn about the joy and pain of falling in love.

It’s a romantic comedy filled with depth, as the two complex and imperfect characters overcome personal and social obstacles and build a unique and heart-warming love story.

There are hilarious moments, heart wrenching moments, tender moments and uplifting moments as their relationship develops.

The Kiss Quotient audiobook cover art

By the way, I first read The Kiss Quotient as part of the Romance package, but I enjoyed it so much I bought the audiobook and the kindle version, and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know who enjoys reading romance!

In case you didn’t read my post yesterday and haven’t heard of Audible’s Romance Package,  If you sign up for this package you can borrow up to any ten books included in the package, at a time. When you finish one, or if you decide you don’t like it, you can delete it from your Audible app and choose another one. All this for under seven dollars! It’s well worth it if you love reading romantic novels, as I do in between, thrillers and literary fiction.

I have already pre-ordered her second novel, The Bride Test, which will be published in May.

The Bride Test: Goodread's Big Books of Spring 2019 (Kiss Quotient Series) by [Hoang, Helen]

Another great plus of listening to the audio version is the brilliant narrator Carly Robbins. I normally prefer two narrators, one male and female, but Carly Robbins is such an excellent narrator that she did an excellent job on her own! The third person narrator gives both characters’ points of view and the audio narrator conveys both unique characters perfectly.

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The Kiss Quotient, is especially for readers who enjoy romantic comedies with likeable main characters, sweet stories with uplifting endings, steamy sex scenes, and great writing. If you like reading romance, you’ll love this novel!

Helen Hoang’s Audible Author Page 

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘G’ is for Rachel Grant @Rachelsgrant @Audible ‘Flashpoint’ #Romance #Thriller

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with Rachel Grant, author of romantic, military and political thrillers. Rachel, who worked for over a decade as a professional archaeologist, mines her experiences for storylines and settings, from her diverse international experience excavating, surveying, and mapping on sites all over the world. Find out more on her blog. 

Rachel beside a tree

Rachel Grant has written thirteen novels, eight in the Evidence series and three in the Flashpoint series, as well as two standalone romantic mysteries.

I’m working my way through the Evidence series, but I’d like to tell you about the Flashpoint Series, because I’ve listened to all three books and because they’re part the Audible Romance package, which is why they have a big, pink R in the top right-hand corner.

Flashpoint Book 1

If you sign up for the Romance Package you can borrow up to any ten books included in the package, at a time. When you finish one, or if you decide you don’t like it, you can delete it from your Audible app and choose another one. All this for under seven dollars! It’s well worth it if you love reading romantic novels, as I do in between, thrillers and literary fiction.

Tinderbox takes place in the volatile and dangerous Horn of Africa. archaeologist, Morgan Adler has made the paleoanthropological find of a lifetime, but the discovery brings her to the attention of a warlord eager to claim both Morgan and the fossils, so she is forced to seek protection from the nearby US military base. There follows a heart stopping action-packed race against warlords, corruption, mercenaries and the hazardous landscape, which will keep you eagerly listening to the very end.

Catalyst audiobook cover art

Flashpoint Book 2

Her stories are well researched and realistically plotted, with engaging characters. Her heroines are intelligent, strong-willed, independent and professional women, working in adverse male-dominated situations in the horn of Africa. They also fall passionately in love with men who are self-assured enough to have a relationship with such determined women, so be warned, sparks fly!

Firestorm audiobook cover art

Flashpoint Book 3

Another great plus of listening to the audio version is the brilliant narrator Greg Tremblay, I normally prefer two narrators, one male and female, but Greg is such an excellent narrator that he conveys both the female voices, multiple male voices, as well as the third person narrator of the novels, perfectly, so the listener is always aware of who is speaking.

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The Flashpoint Series, is especially for readers who enjoy exciting and steamy, romantic military and political thrillers, with plenty of action, and intelligent, determined heroines, working in high-risk areas of the African continent.

Rachel Grant’s Audible Author Page 

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!