Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann Narrated by, Diane Piron Gelman

A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann Narrated by, Diane Piron Gelman
PUBLISHER : Libby Fischer Hellmann
LENGTH: 9 hrs and 29 mins

A Fascinating look at a time of turmoil in Iran with the fall of the Shah & the rise of the Ayatollah. This book felt very well researched and wasn’t a slam on an entire country or religion. We meet a young couple in love in America, Nouri  and Anna they are young and in love Nouri is Iranian but this makes no difference to Anna in fact she is looking forward to the day they make their home in Iran. However Iran is in the beginning stages of upheaval and when the Shah falls everything in Nouri & Anna’s life changes too and definitely not for the better.

I found this story fascinating in how fast people’s allegiances and loyalty and personalities changed with the revolution and how many different reasons for the changes. Anne married a sweet man in Nouri who was involved in human rights activism while he was studying in the US and even after they had gotten to Iran he seemed to still hold the same beliefs until after the fall of the Shah and Nouri is arrested he comes back a very different man and Anna’s whole life changes.

I don’t want to give too much away about what happens between Nouri and Anna but let’s say he becomes a different man than she married. The unrest in Iran is fascinating the way the people flip-flopped on what It was they wanted from their country it makes me wonder how different the middle east and Iran in particular would be now if the ones that wanted to embrace the modern and give the rights to everyone had won this particular battle.

The narration by Diane Piron Gelman was very well done her accents weren’t over done and as far as I could tell she did a good job at speaking Farsi and French when called for. I was impressed with her narration as a whole and would listen to her again.

In the author’s afterword she talks about interviewing many Iranian Americans for this story and I felt like this rang true to what I know of this time period. One thing the author said in the afterword is she is a crime writer and needed a crime but I kind of felt like the crimes were on the people of Iran although the crime did add the ending and fit well in the story.

If you are at all interesting in this time period or setting or just a fan of historical fiction I would highly recommend this book.

4 Stars

I received this book from the author & the Audiobookjukebox for a fair and honest review

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sweet Tea & Jesus Shoes By,Various Authors narrated by, Lee Ann Howlett

Sweet Tea & Jesus Shoes By Sandra Chastain, Deborah Smith, Donna Ball, Virginia Ellis, Debra Dixon, Nancy Knight Narrated By Lee Ann Howlett
Length: 4 hrs and 27 mins

This was a cute collection of southern short stories; is it odd that my favorites are the ones about funerals and death. Each story is a unique look at a day in the life of a southern family.

I’m sorry, if I had read this in paper I would have had the name of each story and a little something about each one but since I listened on audio I’ll just have to wing it. My favorites were Nola’s Ashes and the Aunt Betsey’s funeral story, also the one about Grandma telling a story made me giggle hard! Also the Outhouse story had some funny moments too.

Lee Ann’s narration took a little bit to get used to but I ended up enjoying it very much, I felt at times she was channeling Lorna Raver, she has a similar husky note to her voice that serves Lorna so well. Although some characters may have sounded older than they were written, I was still very happy with the narration. This was my first book narrated by Lee Ann but I would listen to her again.

If you are a southern fiction fan I would recommend these short stories.

3 ½  Stars

I received this audiobook from the Audiobookjukebox and the narrator/publisher for a fair and honest review. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Storyteller By, Jodi Picoult narrated by, 5 great narrators

The Storyteller By, Jodi Picoult
Narrated By , Jennifer Ikeda as Anya, Mozhan Marno as Sage, Fred Berman as Leo, Edoardo Ballerini as Josef, Suzanne Toren as Minka
18 hrs and 13 mins

I need to admit some things right off the bat here, this is my first Jodi Picoult book, because I have honestly always lumped her in with Sparks, Steel and Roberts and I now feel I have been unfair in this assumption. This book was a very well written story, I’ve heard it is very different from her other books, however this has made me curious enough to read something else by this author. Okay, now that I’m done with that, on with my thoughts on the book.

I liked the character of Sage, scarred inside and out from a car accident, she keeps to herself, works nights so she doesn’t have to see other people or more so no one sees her. Her boyfriend is a married man and I think she likes this safe no commitments relationship because she never has to go out in public together. She attends a grief counseling group where she meets an old man named Josef they strike up a friendship until Josef comes clean with her and tells her of his horrendous past and asks her to do the unthinkable and so begins the moral dilemma that is the premise of this book.

The different views/stories were very interesting and very well done it was really interesting to hear Minka & Josef’s different views of the holocaust , Minka’s story broke my heart as well it should but she had a couple decent people help her out even though they were employed by the Nazi’s they still saved her life a couple times. Also Anya’s story about the Wampir (sp.audio) was almost eerie considering what Minka lived after she started writing this story.

I wasn’t put off by the little romance story of Leo and Sage it’s no surprise you can see it coming a mile away so this isn’t a spoiler, it made Sage more relatable actually. I liked Leo’s diatribe while he was on his blind date it was a well crafted soap box speech that everyone should hear. There is a reveal at the end that I had figured out pretty early on and was a bit saddened that we didn’t get to see the reactions of the main people involved (Sorry if that sentence makes no sense, trying not to have spoilers, come back when you read the book and let me know if it makes more sense then!).

The male narration was beautifully done Edoardo Ballerini as Josef was fantastic and completely believable and Fred Berman as Leo reminded me a bit of Scott Brick ( I am a fan so that is a compliment), however the voices of Jennifer Ikeda as Anya and Mozhan Marno as Sage sounded very similar at first until Suzanne Toren as Minka started telling her story then I could finally hear a clear definition of Anya’s story. I am glad they said who was narrating which part at the beginning because I would have guessed Minka was Jennifer & Anya was Suzanne. All in all I would highly recommend this on audio.

And one discrepancy I noticed was when they went to the hotel and were watching TCM and were saying the words to Philadelphia Story they said it went from the movie to a commercial, TCM doesn’t have commercials. Being a huge TCM fan this one bothered me but I may be the only person who noticed it.

I would highly recommend this book to all as a great story and well crafted historical fiction.

4 Stars

Monday, August 5, 2013

Songs of Willow Frost by, Jamie Ford

Songs of Willow Frost by, Jamie Ford

I don't usually put a synopsis but I wanted to with this book:
Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery.

My Review:

As with Ford’s last book this is a bittersweet story that will give you such major feels. William is such a sweet kid, you can't help but love him and I just wanted to give him a hug. There are 2 characters that will stay with you long after you are finished and they are William and Charlotte, these two kids are so precious and so damaged by circumstance they will break your heart but they will also fill your heart with such feelings.

Willow/Liu Song is a memorable character too but although I did feel sorry for her, I didn’t have the same feelings for her as I did for William. Her story is a sad one but some of that sadness comes from the choices she makes, Yes, I know bad things happened to her and I know she had no choice in those matters but I think her later choices are the ones she felt the most guilt for and in some ways rightfully so. Yes, I know it is a different time and prejudices being what they were made things all the harder for her as a single/unwed Chinese mother in the 1920’s so I understand she did the best she could being so young and having no family to depend on. Ok, I am not going to say anymore you will need to make your own decision about how you feel about Willow.

I liked the alternating chapters as Willow tells William the story of his life before the orphanage and seeing it through his eyes as the story unfolds, as sparks of memory he had forgotten are reignited.  

How come it is so hard for me to write a coherent review of a book I loved? This book made me feel so much, it is beautifully written; Jamie Ford has a great talent for taking a sad/bittersweet story and telling it in a way that you are not depressed when you are done with the book. There were a few times I had to put it down for a few moments, one moment especially and when you read the book you will know exactly which one I am talking about. But it just made the story more beautiful, and heartbreaking.

This is an amazing story, I for one absolutely loved it and I hope you will too. Beautifully, heartrending and heartbreaking but a story that will stay with you long after you are finished, I have such a book hangover from this book that I have not been able to start a new book yet, and for me that is a sure sign of a great book.

5 Stars

I received this book from the Librarything Early reviewer program (also was accepted for it from netgalley but never got it downloaded) 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley narrated by, Katherine Kellgren

Susanna Kearsley has a unique talent of bringing together so many genres seamlessly into one book, this book has historical fiction, magical realism and romance with none being overwhelming. We travel from the present day to Jacobite Scotland and Catherine’s Russia in psychic flashbacks. Nicola has unique ability, she can touch an object and see its history and when a woman brings in a wooden firebird she sees a girl named Anna when she touches it and must figure out who she is and where the firebird comes from, which leads her from Scotland to St. Petersburg, but she isn’t traveling alone she asks friend and ex-flame Rob to accompany her because his gift is even stronger than hers, his is more seeing spirits of the past and he sees the future too. But is Rob only doing it out of kindness and friendship or does he want more than that.

We “meet” Anna at Slains castle in Scotland where she finds out things about herself and her past that send her off to find her real family, this path takes her to France and Russia. I don’t want to give too much of this story away because the way it builds to the climax of Anna’s story is written so beautifully that I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. But she meets some amazing people and she doesn’t go through any real hard times because it seems like there is always someone there to look out for her, but I liked her spunk and her spirit.

I truly enjoyed this book and have found a new swoon worthy crush in Rob, I enjoyed he and Nicola’s relationship as it grew into something more (and if you follow my reviews you know I’m not one for too much romance). I think my favorite scene was when he drives her to the airport. (Yes that is all I am going to say you’ll have to read the book to see what I am talking about) ;)

Katy Kellgren never ceases to amaze me with her amazing capacity for accents and varied voices both male and female. She makes it sound like there are way more than one person narrating because each and every character has their own unique voice and accent. I will always choose a book in audio if she is narrating.

I will read anything his author writes she has such a beautiful way of phrasing and such a talent at mixing the genre’s and time periods.

4 ½ Stars