Thursday, July 10, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Title:  The Lady of the Rivers

Author:  Philippa Gregory

Narrator:  Bianca Amato

Unabridged Length:  19 hrs, 11 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website: 
Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.

My Review:   
I have been listening to this series of books on audio, and let me tell you, I am so glad that I have chosen this method.  Amata has done most of the narrating in the series so far and she doesn't fail to nail the characters every time!  You get a glimpse of Jacquetta in previous installments so it was interesting to see things from her point of view this time.

When Jacquetta is just a young girl, one of her aunts sees a special gift in her.  A mysterious gift that has been attained by many females in the family.  Jacquetta will spend years learning to harness her powers to help herself and her entire family.  Although the book touched on this subject it wasn't overwhelming as it really was a small but important element of the story.  It did help to clarify events from the previous installments though.

From the previous books I had labeled Jacquetta to be a heartless and cruel woman, but this novel proved her to be the exact opposite.  She was a passionate woman who would do anything to protect those she loves.  And the love she declared for her mate was proved countless times, with the many children they had together.  

Although this is part of a series, I think this book would also be fine as a stand alone novel.  I did enjoy this audiobook, but it probably is my least favorite so far, but maybe that's because Jacquetta is my least favorite character!  With themes of love, family, and war, you may enjoy this book just as much, if not more, than I did.  I recommend this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from the local library to read for my own entertainment.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mailbox Monday-July 7

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Here is what showed up at my door:

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie Helene Bertino

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman

I was so excited to open my package and find the Cat's Pajamas in it!  Something about this book is calling my name.  A Wedding in Provence was a total surprise to me as I didn't request it.  I have to admit that I am a cover judger and this one looks like it may be too sappy for me...we will see!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Audiobook Review: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Title:  Shotgun Lovesongs

Author:  Nickolas Butler

Narrators:  Scott Shepherd, Ari Fliakos, Holter Graham, Scott Sowers, Maggie Hoffman

Unabridged Length:  9 hrs, 59 mn.

Here is a summary from the publisher's website:

Welcome to Little Wing.

It’s a place like hundreds of others, nothing special, really. But for four friendsall born and raised in this small Wisconsin townit is home. And now they are men, coming into their own, or struggling to do so.

One of them never left, still working the family farm that has been tilled for generations. But others felt the need to move on, with varying degrees of success. One trades commodities, another took to the rodeo circuit, and one of them even hit it big as a rock star. And then there’s Beth, a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives.

Now all four are brought together for a wedding. Little Wing seems even smaller than before. While lifelong bonds are still strong, there are stressesbetween the friends, between husbands and wives. There will be heartbreak, but there will also be hope, healing, even heroism as these memorable people learn the true meaning of adult friendship and love.

Seldom has the American heartland been so richly and accurately portrayed. Though the town may have changed, the one thing that hasn’t is the beauty of the Wisconsin farmland, the lure of which, in Nickolas Butler’s hands, emerges as a vibrant character in the story. Shotgun Lovesongs is that rare work of fiction that evokes a specific time and place yet movingly describes the universal human condition. It is, in short, a truly remarkable audiobooka novel that once listened to will never be forgotten.

My Review:
How could I pass up the opportunity to listen to this audiobook after living in Northern Wisconsin for most of my life?  I just couldn't!  I've always enjoyed reading books that take place close to where I live and Shotgun Lovesongs delivered.  Butler did a wonderful job of creating a fictional town containing the things that make our little piece of the world special.  From Friday fish fry, shopping trips to  Duluth, to commuting to Minneapolis for the airport, Butler didn't miss a beat.

The story is told from various viewpoints and each character had a different narrator.  Our main characters all grew up together in Little Wing, and although a few left the small town early in their lives, they all find themselves building their lives back where they started.  Beth and Hank married and work on a farm, Kip married a woman from Chicago and moved back to Little Wing to restore the old mill, Leland is a rock star who spends time in the town recuperating between gigs, while Ronny may be the most loved character of all-having to give up the rodeo circuit after sustaining too many injuries.

The book opens as the town is getting ready to attend Kip's wedding.  Kip doesn't spare any expense for his wedding and it is apparent that he has let the powerful persona he developed in Chicago take over.  His attitude did not come across well to his home-town friends, setting a tension that would separate Kip from the rest of the group throughout the novel.

Leland and Hank were best friends since they were kids, but with Ronny's injuries Leland always took the initiative to take Ronny under his wing.  Whether it was paying for Ronny's medical bills or not indulging in alcohol at bachelor parties, Leland did whatever he needed to do to help Ronny feel like he belonged.

A couple of our characters hold a secret from years before, and once it is revealed friendships will never be the same.  I think all of the narrators did a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life for me.  My ONLY complaint about the audiobook was the choice of narrator for Leland.  Although I enjoyed his narration, the voice just did not fit the character for me.  Obviously this was a very small distraction for me as I absolutely loved the book otherwise.  With themes of love, secrets, and forgiveness, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.