Audiobook Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

a-man-called-ove-9781476738024_hrI have a soft spot for the “grumpy old man” trope, and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman hits that spot perfectly. 

Ove is a curmudgeon with a long list of things he dislikes, a short fuse, and staunch principles. He is the person who patrols and neighborhood and keeps people in line, but his routine gets thrown off when a boisterous young couple moves in next door.

One November morning, the new young couple whom Ove calls “the lanky one” and “the pregnant one” accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox. That evening is the comical lead-in to a heartwarming tale of stray cats, unexpected friendships, and the general skill of baking up a car with a trailer. The events that follow are stories of unlikely connections that shake an old man, a small community of row houses, and a resident’s association to their core.

Narrated by George Newburn, this audiobook is a mix of happy and sad moments that will stay with you and make you reexamine your life and the connections you’ve formed. 

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Audiobook Review: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

hopefulsYou ever read a book where you want to be friends with the character for maybe a few hours, then you want to slowly “ghost” yourself out of their lives? Yea, The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close is kind of like that!

Beth and Matt Kelly are Washington D.C. transplants. They leave New York when Matt is offered a job on the Presidential Inauguration Committee after working on Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign. Beth hates her her home, where levels of security clearance serve as stimulating dinner conversation, the roundabouts eternally confuse her Australian GPS, and where no one seems settled in their current career.

Things get worse when they meet Jimmy and Ashleigh Dylan. Jimmy works in the Advance Department. The four become inseparable, going on golf dates, coordinating brunches, and planning long weekends away.

But, as Jimmy’s star rises higher and higher, jealousy develops between the couples.  Hopefuls chronicles eight years in The Kellys lives and examines ambition, friendship, marriage, in a refreshingly honest way.

Audiobook Review: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girl by Anton DiSclafani

Book Cover - The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafaniOkay, let’s talk about girls, equestrianism, and the onset of the depression? Or let’s just focus on the first two with hints of the last one. Yea, that sounds like a good idea.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani tells the story of a young lady named Thea who is being deposited at a riding camp for young women after shaming her family. Set in the 1930s, the book details Thea’s experiences at the camp while she unspools the series of events that brought her here.  During all of this, the Great Depression is just beginning, and the camp is starting to feel the strain.

The first-person narrative deftly weaves the past and present together, while exploring Thea’s coming of age. In the backdrop of this novel is the oncoming financial crisis of The Great Depression.

Book Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Book Cover - No One Knows by J.T. EllisonSometimes I just can’t find thrillers thrilling, or even interesting until the very end. Sadly, No One Knows by J.T. Ellison was one of those for me.

Aubrey Hamilton’s husband went missing five years ago, on the eve of his best friend’s wedding. His disappearance made Aubrey a prime suspect in the case and turned her life upside down. Now, five years, later Josh has officially been declared dead. His life insurance is paying out, and she and her mother-in-law are at odds once again.

But then a stranger shows up, and Aubrey is immediately taken in by how much he looks like Josh, leading her to believe that her missing husband may still be alive. As the story begins to unspool, questions about their relationship come into play, as well as some long kept family secrets. As the story begins to unspool, questions about their relationship come into play, as well as some long kept family secrets. 

Book Review: The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry (The Elements Series #4)

Book Cover - Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. CherryIn July, I signed up for a Round Robin at Keystroke Blog. There are four bloggers who have signed up to read each other’s favorite books and annotate them with our thoughts.

We had to be able to read any book we received within a few weeks and be willing to read any book in any genre.

This is the first book I received. The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry. It’s the fourth book in The Elements Series, but it’s really a complete standalone.

The story is a romance about reclusive writer Graham Russell and wild-child Lucy Palmer. The two can’t be more different. Graham has closed himself off to the point where he doesn’t feel any emotions, and Lucy feels absolutely everything.

The unlikely pair is drawn together by circumstances and the result is a story that will leave you laughing and crying.

Audiobook Review: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

9780718181338-668x1024I love a good thriller. I can’t remember where I first heard about Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, but something made me want to get the audiobook version. I started listening and I was amazed. At first glance, it seems like this is a story you’ve read before, but as it continues, you realize that this is an artful narrative with several dimension to it. 

At sixteen, Tessa Cartwright was left in a grave on a farm covered in black-eyed susans with another dead girl and the bones of two others. Sixteen years later, the man who was convicted of the crime is set to be executed.

Now an adult, Tessa is second-guessing her actions all those years ago, partially because of the sudden appearance of a patch of black-eyed susans that appear outside her bedroom window. Needing answers, Tessa enlists the help of an attorney and a forensic investigator as they attempt to prove who is really responsible for the crime. At the same time, memories of the event, and of her best friend haunt Tessa, resulting in a tense and suspenseful mystery that just wouldn’t let go.

Audiobook Review: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

fight-club-book-coverYears ago, I watched Fight Club for the first time on DVD during a big storm, and I had no idea what happened. The DVD was sitting in my cabinet forgotten. I actually thought that I may have given it to my brother for a time. Something about this movie seemed to keep inching its way into the recesses of my mind!

I decided to pick up the audiobook during a sale last year, and I finally gave it a listen! Let me set the stage for you. I have just read two romances that left me feeling like I was bathing in a sticky sweet bath of cough syrup, and I wanted something that sounded so antithetical of a boy meets girl scenario, that when I came across Fight Club in my library, I said: “Okay, that’s the book!”

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is about two friends who find a way to channel their rage through underground boxing clubs, or fight clubs. The anonymous narrator is an insomniac who frequents support groups so he can cry and get some sleep, despite not dying of any actual illness. Then in walks Marla Singer. Marla is also a faker, who frequents these support groups while not dying of any illnesses, and her presence is what makes our narrator’s world starts to unravel.

Audiobook Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salt-to-the-sea-bigcoverThis has been on my digital audio shelf for over a year and I finally got around to it, and the only thing I have to say is: what took me so long?

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a masterfully crafted young adult World War II story about fate, survival, and guilt.

As the war draws to a close in East Prussia, thousands of refugees embark on a desperate quest towards freedom. Among them are Joana, a medical student desperate to reunite with her mother, Emilia, a pregnant Polish girl who is trying to outrun her guilt, and Florian, an art conservationist who is on the run. Their paths converge as they board a ship that can lead to their salvation: the “Wilhelm Gustloff.” Just when it seems like their freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes and the three teens are forced to fight for their own survival along with the ten thousand people on the Gustloff.

A book that is moving at times, sad at others, and doesn’t shy away from the tragedy and grotesque nature of war, this audiobook is definitely one that will haunt you.

Audiobook Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

semple_where27dyougobernadette1If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now, you know that I tend to listen to audiobooks while driving to different places. You may also know that I don’t drive a lot, or very far, so sometimes that means it can take me weeks to finish one audiobook!

That is not the case with Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. I actually found myself making excuses to drive so that I could get to the next bit of this audiobook.

Bernadette Fox is many things in her suburban Seattle community. To her husband Elgin, she’s a smart and challenging partner. To the”Gaylor Street gnats” she’s the one parent who doesn’t volunteer for school activities. To the world, she’s a reclusive architect known for pioneering green architecture, and to her daughter Bee, she’s her best friend.

Then Bernadette goes missing after a series of events triggered by Bee’s perfect report card and her request that the family go on a cruise to Antartica. The problem is that Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle has resulting agoraphobia, and her aversion to other people means that Bernadette has a virtual assistant from India that runs most of her errand for her.

To find her mother, Bee compiles a series of emails, secret correspondence, and official documents that result in a very readable narrative.

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Book Cover - The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon There is a part of my that loves sickeningly sweet stories about teenagers in love, and a part of me that just can’t suspend my disbelief about how unrealistic the expectation of finding your soulmate is. These two parts of me have a hard time reconciling themselves when it comes to Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star.

In this novel, Yoon tells the story of two teenagers. Daniel is a Korean-American boy who is supposed to be on his way to a Yale alumni interview. Natasha is a Jamaican illegal immigrant who is about to be deported that evening. The two meet by coincidence and have a brief whirlwind romance of opposites.

Throughout the book, there are brief interludes about time, the universe, and the mindsets of the different characters they meet along the way. These little snapshots end up forming a “web” of the universe, or is it really just chaos theory?