Friday, October 29, 2021
Game On - Janet Evanovich
Thursday, October 28, 2021
No One Will Miss Her - Kat Rosenfield
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
April in Spain - John Banville
Friday, October 22, 2021
The Christmas Dress - Courtney Cole
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Hunting by Stars - Cherie Dimaline
Monday, October 18, 2021
Our Class - Chris Hedges
Friday, October 15, 2021
A Season for Second Chances - Jenny Bayliss
Thursday, October 14, 2021
The Wish - Nicholas Sparks
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Christmas by the Book - Anne Marie Ryan
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Death at Greenway - Lori Rader-Day
Death at Greenway is Lori Rader-Day's latest book.
WWII books are all the rage right now. Rader-Day has come up with a unique and different take on this genre.
I was immediately intrigued when I read this descriptor from Harper Audio: "...a captivating suspense novel about nurses during World War II who come to Agatha Christie’s holiday estate to care for evacuated children, but when a body is discovered nearby, the idyllic setting becomes host to a deadly mystery."
I know what you're thinking - and of course I had to know. Christie did own a home called Greenway. And yes, children from London were evacuated to Greenway. There were two nurses to look after the children - and here's where Rader-Day makes the story her own. (Note that Christie's involvement in this book is very minor)
Bridey made a horrible mistake in her former hospital setting and has been terminated from her nurse trainee program. She is determined to make this posting a success, so she may reapply. But she hasn't shared that information with her employers. The other nurse is Gigi and she seems as lackadaisical as Bridey is devoted. She too seems to be harboring secrets.
They're an odd pairing and Bridey is fascinated by Gigi. As a listener, I had my suspicions about her. Rader-Day slowly ekes out details about each woman's life, weaving a wide net that slowly grows smaller. When a body washes up on the shore near the house, it's deemed a murder, not a war casualty. And suspicions grow...
Rader-Day tells the story from not just Bridey and Gigi, but also from others living in the house - the nurses' employers, the Arbothnots, the butler and his wife and even one of the children. There are other village residents that make appearances and there was more than one I was suspicious of as well. The atmosphere is worthy of a Christie book, even more as we hear from those different points of view.
The mystery of the dead body is only one facet of a multi-layered story. Rader-Day provides lots of twists and turns on the way to the final chapters. And while I had guessed correctly at some of the outcomes, I was happily surprised by the others. Subplots include searching for a sense of self, relationships and friendships.
I chose to listen to Death at Greenway. The reader was Moira Quirk and she was an excellent choice. She created the perfect voices for each character and it was very easy to identify who was speaking. Bridey's starts off somewhat hesitant and unsure, but grows as the book progresses and she becomes more confident. Gigi's voice had a rich accent, dripping with ennui. When Gigi wants or needs something or someone, she uses her voice and her words to manipulate situations and people - and Quirk does a great job of bringing that to life. Quirk infuses each voice with lots of inflection. The voice for Mr. Arbuthnot, a self centered blowhard, is spot on. Mrs. Arbuthnot's supercilious tones aptly capture her high self regard. Quirk's speed of speaking is just right, she's easy to understand, has a lovely accent and enunciates clearly. I'm always amazed who a conversation is carried out between two or more characters by one reader. Quirk never misses and I would swear I was listening to more than one person. Quirk interpreted Rader-Day's work very well and turned in an excellent performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Death at Greenway.
Monday, October 11, 2021
The Party Crasher - Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella's newest book is The Party Crasher.
This latest is a stand alone. And it's also the perfect read for a dreary, rainy day.
Kinsella always creates a lovable lead character. In this case, its Effie. Now, she is an adult, but when you find out your parents are divorcing and everything you remember about your childhood may not be true, and your cherished family home is up for sale, well, it's devastating. How can her brother and sister be so accepting of their father's new girlfriend Krista? When Krista decides to throw one last party at Greenoaks, Effie doesn't receive an invitation. But, that's not going to stop her from attending....
And this is how it begins - Effie sneaks onto the grounds, into the house, hides in cupboards, attics and most spectacularly - underneath the dining room table. I totally remember hiding under a table as a youngster, hidden by a long tablecloth! I laughed out loud so many times while reading The Party Crasher.
So, with all the creeping about, Effie hears her own name being mentioned - more than once. Her clandestine skulking offers up a different picture than she had painted for herself. Or does it?
At it's heart, The Party Crasher is all about families and friends - the good, the bad and the ugly. Kinsella explores those relationships with humor, candor and wit. Indeed, I'm sure each reader will find something or someone that they can identify with. And it wouldn't be a Kinsella novel without some romance! There's a lovely will they, won't they storyline that is written just right.
The Party Crasher was perfect escapist, laugh out loud, heartwarming read sprinkled with some truths we can all identify with. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Party Crasher.
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Sleepless - Romy Hausmann
The premise? From Flatiron Books:
"It's been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she's wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven--free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja's boss--kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can't seem to refuse.
The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer..."
Sleepless opens with a letter - the sender or recipient are not named. The letters continue throughout the book offering up a look at the past of the writer. I always enjoy epistolary entries in a book.
The time frames of Sleepless goes back and forth from chapter to chapter. Nadja's entries always have her name, but the other timeframes are identified only by date. A myriad of players populate these chapters.
I found it impossible to connect with the lead character Nadja. I felt like I should because of her past, but she makes impossibly foolish decisions over and over again. There's another character called Nelly who appears at the beginning of the book in a past timeframe. Her I liked. As the book progressed I wondered how her story and Nadja would connect by the end of the book. But that connection ended up being only marginal and I questioned her even being in the book. Same goes for her counterpart Paul. He too only has a tangential connection with the main plot. Without saying too much, the epilogue was an odd add-on.
I liked Hausmann's premise, but felt the execution was lacking for me. The jumping timelines, the twists that defied belief and the disjointed feeling overall. I really had higher hopes for Sleepless based on Dear Child. I'm sorry to say this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. See what others thought on Goodreads.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
The Neighbor's Secret - L. Alison Heller
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Time Will Tell - Barry Lyga
Monday, October 4, 2021
Last Girl Ghosted - Lisa Unger
"She met him through a dating app." That little sentence opens up a wealth of directions for a book to go...
Wren seems to have it all - and on the surface she does. When she meets Adam she thinks she's found the one. Until the day he leaves her with one last text and disappears. She's been ghosted. Instead of saying good riddance, Wren is determined to find him. Someone else is also looking for Adam - a private investigator looking for Adam's last girlfriend as she's gone missing...
I liked the premise, liked Wren, liked the PI and the possibilities Unger's plot held. Wren has a secret in her past and I really wanted to know what it was. She revealed it to Adam right before he left, but the reader has no idea what it is. Roughly halfway through the book Unger takes us back to Wren's childhood and we relive her past. Unger has come up with a background that also offers up lots of possibilities.
As the book heads towards the final pages and resolution, that initial 'I'm behind you Wren' feeling started to dissipate for me. She made some choices that I had a hard time with and honestly couldn't believe anyone would make. The ending was a bit too much and tied up a bit too pretty for me.
Unger is a talented writer and I will be picking up her next book. Last Girl Ghosted was good, but not great for this reader.