Friday, August 31, 2012

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

This is a beautifully written book about a young white girl Lisbeth or Miss Elizabeth as her parents want her known as who grows up on Fair Oaks Plantation in the 1800’s. When Lisbeth is born she is handed from her mother to slave/wet-nurse Mattie who has been taken from the Quarters and her newborn son to the Big House and Elizabeth’s mother thinks she should be so grateful to be living in the lap of luxury. As time goes on Lisbeth learns to love and depend on Mattie much more than her own mother but Lisbeth is young and naïve and doesn’t realize there is much more to life on the plantation than she is seeing.

This is a coming of age story as we watch Lisbeth from the time she is born till she is a grown woman, we watch as innocence is replaced with knowledge and knowledge is not always a happy thing. This realization is a slow building and at times Lisbeth doesn’t want to see but when the time comes she has to make a choice- “ Decisions to make, she thought to herself. She was too tired to make any more decisions.”

These characters were so real to me I could hear their voices in my head; I could see what they saw. This author gave voice to these people in such a beautiful way I can’t even come close to finding the correct words to explain it. This is a debut novel and I am amazed by that and hope this author writes many. Many more books because I plan on reading them all!

Beautiful southern historical fiction I highly recommend!

5 Stars

I received this book from netgalley and have purchased the print version 

Crossposted on Eddy-New Rockford Library blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stories: All-New Tales edited by, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio and written by various authors narrated by, Euan Morton, Katherine Kellgren, Jonathan Davis, Anne Bobby, & Peter Francis James

Stories: All-New Tales edited by, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio and written by various authors narrated by, Euan Morton, Katherine Kellgren, Jonathan Davis, Anne Bobby, & Peter Francis James

These stories weren’t really connected they had no common theme except life. I tried my best to figure out who narrated each story and I may be wrong on some if anyone can correct me I would be happy to change the narrator so I can give credit where credit is due. Some of these stories were very odd and most didn’t have a pat ending, some I enjoyed way more than others and I tried to say a little something about each of them.

About the narration-

I am now a fan of Euan Morton and I believe her will be added to my “Will listen to them read the phonebook list” so I think I will finally be listening to some Christopher Moore!

Katherine Kellgren was as always great, I just wish she had narrated more stories.

Anne Bobby showed her range in these stories and I enjoyed her narration and would listen to her again.

The two I had a hard time figuring out who narrated which were Jonathan Davis and Peter Francis James because they both have voices like butter I have been a fan of Jonathan since listening to Shadow of the Wind but Peter was a new to me narrator and in the one story Juvenal Nyx he sounded like Dion Graham and that is never a bad comparison I will look for more from this narrator.

The introduction by Neil Gaiman was a great story all on its own and of course it’s narrated by Neil so what else can I say.

Blood by, Roddy Doyle narrated by, Euan Morton Really liked the narrator of this one but it was a very odd story.

Fossil Figures by, Joyce Carol Oates narrated by, Ann Bobby was a creepy but interesting story I liked it

Wildfire in Manhattan- by, Joanne Harris narrated by, Jonathan Davis this was a story about gods/elements living in Manhattan it was interesting

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain by, Neil Gaiman narrated by, Euan Morton was wonderful! And great narration even after I was a little disappointed it wasn’t Neil himself.

Unbelief  by, Michael Marshall Smith narrated by, Peter Francis James it was just ok still trying to figure out if he was with his family at the end or if he was dead/a ghost

The Stars are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale maybe narrated by, Jonathan Davis…was a really good story I liked it a lot this was one of my favorite stories

Juvenal Nyx by, Walter Mosley was a very different story, not what I expected from this author narrated by, Peter Francis James who I thought sounded a lot like Dion Graham and did a very good job at the narration

The Knife by, Richard Adams narrated by Euen Morton Was a very short odd story that really made no sense

Weights and Measurements by, Jodi Picoult narrated by, Anne Bobby odd story about losing a child I think it was a metaphor about how you lose a part of yourself but done very oddly.

Goblin Lake by, Michael Swanwick narrated by, Jonathan Davis Was a very interesting story that I liked very much begs the question does a character in a book know they are a character?

Mallon the Guru by, Peter Straub narrated by, Peter Francis James was another odd story about life and death

Catch and Release by, Lawrence Block narrated by, Jonathan Davis was a really superb story very suspenseful and I could see an entire mystery novel written about this character.

Polka dots and moonbeams by, Jeffery Ford narrated by, Peter Francis James? Didn’t really make much sense to me just meh

Loser by, Chuck Palahniuk narrated by, Jonathan Davis? Was just meh didn’t really seem to have a point

Samantha’s Diary by, Diana Wynne Jones narrated by, Katherine Kellgren of course I didn’t have to look this one up to try to figure out who the narrator was and really with these two names could the story go wrong? A futuristic take on the 12 days of Christmas that was very funny!

Land of the Lost by, Stewart O’Nan narrated by, Anne Bobby Wish there would have been more of this one

Leif in the Wind by, Gene Wolf narrated by, Katherine Kellgren good Sci-Fi story, Would have liked more of this one too

Unwell by, Carolyn Parkhurst narrated by, Anne Bobby crazy old lady and her sister kind of funny kind of sad

A Life in Fiction by, Kat Howard narrated by, Katherine Kellgren  if someone writes a character slightly based on you are you real or do you become the fiction… interesting story

Let the past begin by, Jonathan Carroll narrated by, Jonathan Davis very odd story that I didn’t quite get

The Therapist by, Jeffery Deaver narrated by, Peter Francis James kind of a murder mystery, psychological thriller, with a touch of the supernatural, and conspiracy a good story… well it is Deaver after all 

Parallel Lines by, Tim Powers narrated by, Anne Bobby didn’t really get this story

The Cult of the Nose by, Al Sarrantonio narrated by, Peter Francis James just plain weird

Human Intelligence by, Kurt Anderson narrated by, Katy Kellgren an alien story with a heck of twist haha this was a good one!

Stories by, Michael Moorlock narrated by, Euan Morton A look at the life of a group of writers interesting story

The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s by, Elizabeth Hand narrated by, Jonathan Davis sort of sci fi another kind of odd one that lost me

The Devil on the Staircase by, Joe Hill narrated by, Peter Francis James kind of a Daniel Webster story

3 ½ stars

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court by, Michelle Moran

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court by, Michelle Moran

Before I started this one I knew nothing about Marie Louise or honestly that much about Napoleon (I thought he was still married to Josephine when he was exiled), I recently started reading more about French history including Michelle Moran’s last book Madame Tussaud and the confessions of Catherine de Medici plus one about the Hapsburgs (The Last Queen) by, CW Gortner. So I am slowly learning more about these two timelines & royalty. As with any Historical Fiction an author is going to take some liberties and I for one don’t mind this at all, I want to read a historical fiction that will make me want to research the facts for myself and this one did that.

I felt sorry for Marie as I’ve said before, these poor princesses just can’t catch a break, trotted off to marry an ogre who just wants you as birthing mare, but as Marie said the sooner she got pregnant the less she had to deal with Napoleon.  I was glad Marie’s life turned out for the best; I think the best thing that ever happened to her was when Napoleon was overthrown and exiled.

I was a bit freaked out and disgusted with Napoleon’s sister Pauline she had a very unhealthy relationship with her brother and she seemed to be a nymphomaniac and was a very selfish, just not a nice person at all. But her story was fascinating as she flounced from man to man, and used old women as footstools but one has to wonder how many men she gave the clap to??

And Paul let us not forget poor put-upon chamberlain Paul, his love for Pauline was all he could think of even as she took lover after lover but I also loved his ending *no spoilers* all I could think was it’s about time!

I really like the authenticity added by the actual letters written by Napoleon & Josephine that showed they still cared very much for each other right to the end.  Napoleon was a piece of work, talk about an egomaniac but you have to give it to him he came from the bottom of the barrel and made to Emperor so I suppose he had a right to be proud of himself but he took it way over the line with how he talked to people and what he thought was his “by right”.

I love Michelle Moran’s writing always takes you to a place and time where you can almost smell it and this book was no exception.  Can’t wait for more books by this author!

4 ½ stars
I received this book from the Librarything Early Reviewers Program

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Kitchen House by, Kathleen Grissom narrated by, Orlagh Cassidy & Bahni Turpin

The Kitchen House by, Kathleen Grissom narrated by, Orlagh Cassidy & Bahni Turpin
Published by, Blackstone Audio
Length: 12 hours 55 Minutes

This book is getting revitalization lately thanks to book clubs discovering it; I listened to it back in December 2010 so I thought I would share my review of this fabulous audiobook! I think this is great book for a book club because it brings about a great conversation on what is family, also the slaves and indentured servants was there a difference? As I said, I read this in 2010 and as I am looking at this review I can still recall how this book made me feel and the emotions it evoked, that right there should tell you how great this book is!

This was a very good well written story it is sad but there was a lot of sadness for slaves. It is set in the late 1700’s & early 1800’s. Lavinia is an Irish immigrant whose parents died on the trip over so Lavinia is taken by the Captain as an indentured servant to pay-off the trip. She is dropped off at the kitchen house with the slaves/servants. Mama Mae takes her in and raises her as her own and Lavinia grows up being well loved by the family in the Kitchen House. This book is told in alternating chapters by, Lavinia & young slave girl Belle.

The characters in this book are so well written you care about all of them. Except Rankin but you hate him because he is written as so revolting! This book was just so wonderful, it shows that family isn’t blood and that blood doesn’t make you family. This book was at times so heartbreaking and may make you cry! Everyone in this book goes through their share of hardships and it isn’t a happy book but there is just something about the story that is beautiful. I just don’t know how to express it but to say I loved this book!

The narration by, Orlagh Cassidy & Bahni Turpin was wonderfully done, and both narrators brought these characters to life. The casting of these two voices couldn’t have been more perfect. Their characterizations were pure perfection. If you are planning to read this book I highly recommend it on audio.

5 Stars

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Little Century by, Anna Keesey narrated by, Tavia Gilbert

Little Century by, Anna Keesey narrated by, Tavia Gilbert
published by, Blackstone audio
Length: 10 Hours on 8 CD's

This was an interesting yet slow moving story. Esther is a city girl whose mother dies so she goes west to live with a relative he talks her into staking a claim on a piece of land which Esther thinks is hers and will always be hers but there is more to this “kindness” than meets the eye. Once Esther figures out the real reason behind it and what she has to do to keep her land things go from bad to worse. There is also a war raging in this little town between cattlemen and sheepherders and there is also the railroad and I think we all know they weren’t always the good guys!

There is a romance too, which forces Esther to choose sides in this war between the ranchers, plus some violence that opens Esther’s eyes. This story starts very slow and even once there is a big conflict it doesn’t pick up very much, don’t get me wrong it’s a good story it is just slow moving. It was nice to see Esther grow into a strong independent woman.

A good look at a time in our past when our country was just starting to really come into its own especially in the west, the homesteaders, the railroad, and women owning land, all new in this wild land.

Tavia Gilbert’s narration of the male voices took a little getting used to, but once I knew the characters it was fine. She did a great job at handling all the different characters and there were quite a few different males and females and her characterizations helped to keep all the characters straight.

I really hated the ending I’d rather know what happened to these people than this elusive I’m not going to tell you which I felt the author was trying to be clever for the sake of being clever.

This one was just kind of mid ground for me there were parts I liked and parts where I felt like screaming oh get on with it. If you like a slow moving western you may like this one more than I did.

3 stars for the book
4 stars for the narration
 So 3 ½ stars overall

I received this book from Audiobookjukebox Solid Gold reviewer program for a fair and honest review

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sophie and the Rising Sun by, Augusta Trobaugh narrated by, Rue McClanahan

Sophie and the Rising Sun by, Augusta Trobaugh narrated by, Rue McClanahan

I am not sure what I was expecting when I started this book but what I got was a beautiful chaste love story between southern belle Sophie and Japanese American Mr. Oto. This was a beautifully written look at the south during the time of Pearl Harbor and everything changed for Mr. Oto and the women in his life his boss Miss Ann and his friend (and woman he loves) Miss Sophie. But this was so much more than a love story; it’s a friendship story and also a historical look at a very tough time especially for Japanese Americans and the people who cared about them, and the people who blamed them for everything.

This was a sweet story and even the “bad guy/woman” was redeemable she wasn’t so much a bad guy just an old busybody. My favorite character was Big Sally, or Queen Sally as she’d rather be called, she took such good care of everyone. I liked the friendships in this book between Sally, Sophie and Miss Ann.

This is a short, but good story , if you are a fan southern fiction and/or friendship stories I would recommend this one.

This was narrated by Rue McClanahan of Golden Girls fame and she did a good job but sometimes with someone so recognizable her voice almost gets in the way of the story because you are picturing her as all the characters instead of the characters speaking for themselves.

4 stars

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

A fascinating look at the life of Catherine de Medici, I knew nothing about her before I started this book and have been googling like crazy to see what is fact or fiction. As usual C.W. Gortner has done his homework, of course I’m sure some liberties were taken but that is why this is historical fiction not non-fiction. This is my third book by Gortner and I must say I really enjoy his style, his writing has a nice flow and as I said the man has done his research.

The more I read about royals the more I see their lives as something not look up to; these people are the epitome of dysfunction. Daughters, were only born to wed someone who will further their Father, Mother, or Brothers political ambitions. They will kill anyone who gets in their way no matter how closely related. They are so controlled by everyone around them that most of the time they can’t make any decisions’ themselves and if they do well, you went against someone else’s ambition so they will make sure you pay for it.

There were times I felt for Catherine, more so before her husband died but afterwards she wasn’t near as likable and seemed to get less so as her life went on. Some of Catherine’s decisions were questionable and so was her relationship with her children but this was really a sign of the times and pretty much how all royals were with their children. By the end of her life she was so hated by the French, but with what I know of French history it seems there are few French Royals that were liked by the people. But she did have some powerful enemies and really her family didn’t run France the Guise (*sp audio*) did. I was surprised by the appearance of Nostradamus and how much Catherine believed in his prophecies, but I guess they were right sometimes, and how Catherine supposedly was a bit of a seer herself.

This is narrated by, Cassandra Campbell and as big fan of hers,  I was a bit apprehensive because she doesn’t have a British accent  ( Yes, I have a thing that no matter where it is set all historical fiction should be done in a British accent) that being said she was Fantastic and she has changed my stance on this ! Her slight French just the rolling of some r’s and not a full out French accent was absolutely spot on, I was glad she didn’t go into a full accent I don’t know that it would have been believable but the subtly she showed was wonderful.

Great author and fabulous narration, I highly recommend this one especially on audio.

4 ½ Stars

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The True Meaning of Smekday by, Adam Rex narrated by, Bahni Turpin

The True Meaning of Smekday by, Adam Rex narrated by, Bahni Turpin

What a fun book!! I highly recommend listening to this one on audio Bahni Turpin’s narration is Fantastic!!

I wasn’t sure what I would think of a book about an alien invasion since I am more of a fantasy girl than a sci-fi one. However this is such a fun story I recommend it to teens and adults alike! Our heroine Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is 11 going on 40 she is assigned a paper for a time capsule on “The True Meaning of Smekday” but Tip’s story is not the usual fare and she doesn’t know where to start, should it be when her mother starts receiving alien messages from the mole in her back? Or when she meets and befriends one of the Boov named J-Lo? Or about her journey to Happy Mouse Land where the aliens are sending all the humans?

This is such a great adventure and hilarious to boot. I love Tip and J-Lo well actually every character in this book is so fun! I don’t know what else to say, I just feel like I can’t do it justice other than to say go get this book and enjoy it! You will not be disappointed!

I have recommended this book so many times I think this is a great roadtrip book!

I have been a fan of Bahni Turpin for a long time I’ve listened to her narrate many southern fiction books but her narration of this book shot her to the top of my favorite narrators list. This one shows her absolutely amazing range.

5 Stars

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wicked Business by, Janet Evanovich narrated by, Lorelei King

Wicked Business Lizzy &  Diesel Book #2 by, Janet Evanovich narrated by, Lorelei King

The second book in the Lizzy & Diesel series is a fun romp and I did laugh out loud a few times and enjoyed the story, I did have a few problems with it though…

The first being Lizzy’s car getting torched and the new fancy cars showing up, it was too Stephanie Plum for me I don’t want her to get new cars every book…The second is the hint of a triangle between her, Diesel and Wolff please no more triangles I don’t want this book to be just a rehash of the Plum series please give it it’s own life and storyline’s.

What I did like… Carl , he cracks me up I know he doesn’t talk but he just adds so much humor to the story also Hatchet cracked me up too the way he talks and dresses I could just picture him and he made me giggle. Glo had some good lines too and I enjoyed the back and forth between Lizzy & Diesel.

Audio production; As always Lorelei  King does a fantastic job at the narration and I think all of Janet Evanovich’s books are better on audio thanks to Lorelei’s wonderful narration what she brings to the books is just the right amount of humor in her voice , comedic timing and great characterizations.

All in all a fun book that was just what I needed to lighten my mood for a fun story and great narration this gets 4 stars.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox, narrated by,Rosalyn Landor

Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by

The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C.W. Gortner

I have read a lot of books about the Tudors and The Romanovs but have never delved into Spanish Royalty so this book was extra fascinating to me. This book was so well written I really enjoyed it and as I have said I love a historical fiction book that’s makes me want to do more research. I also plan on reading Gortner’s The Last Queen about Isabella’s daughter Juana.

I found this book so fascinating and I learned much about Spanish Royalty and how Spain was united. It was also fascinating to learn about Catherine of Aragon’s mother since I have read so much Tudor historical fiction. This was my first book by, C.W. Gortner and will not be my last I plan on reading everything he has written because his writing is fabulous he kept me interested from beginning to end, this book never got dull and held me rapt it was hard to put down.

I know this is Historical Fiction and Mr. Gortner has said he took a few liberties but I really want to think that Isabel didn’t want to enforce the Spanish Inquisition I liked her I thought she was an amazingly strong woman especially considering her mother was a little well, crazy, maybe today she would be manic or bi-polar and be on meds but at that time in history there was no such thing. I liked the fact that she chose her own husband (even though there were a few liberties taken with their story) I thought they made a great power couple their styles of rule complemented each other very well.

With the hints we got in this book about Juana’s personality I am going to go right into reading The Last Queen while this one is fresh in my mind.

4 ½ Stars