Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: One More Day by Kelly Simmons (Blog Tour)


 
Title: One More Day
Author: Kelly  Simmons (Author Website) (Facebook)
Genre: Literature/Fiction
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark (February 2, 2016)
Length:  320 pages
Source:  Netgalley.com

ABOUT THE BOOK: (from Goodreads.com)
Don't look away

No one wants to be the mother whose child disappears. It's unthinkable, the stuff of nightmares. But when she turns her back to pay a parking meter, Carrie Morgan becomes that mother. Ben is gone, and more than a year later, it's clear that he is never coming back.

Until he does...for just twenty-four hours, before once again vanishing from his crib without a trace. Rumors start to circulate through Carrie's small town. Whispers that she's seeing things. That her alibi doesn't quite add up.

Her husband and friends start to think she's crazy. The police start to think she's guilty. As the investigation heats up, Carrie must decide what to share, and why. Because the crime is about to be solved... and her secret revealed.


BOOK TRAILER:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  (from Author’s website)
Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and creative advertising director who started writing fiction over fifteen years ago, while studying creative writing and screenwriting at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her critically acclaimed novels {STANDING STILL, THE BIRD HOUSE and ONE MORE DAY} she is developing a TV series and has been writing a memoir for what seems like her entire life.

MY REVIEW:   When reading the description of One more Day by Kelly Simmons,  I was drawn to the book.  I don't know why I am drawn to child abduction stories as they are my worst nightmare and could not imagine living through such an experience regarding my sons.  Haven't we all wished for just One More Day with a loved one? Carrie and John  Morgan were granted that wish, just one more day with their child who had been abducted 15 months earlier.  After the one day, their son Ben is missing again.  The reader then embarks on a suspenseful, fast paced journey to discover what happened to Ben?

I love books that you think are going one way and you find yourself heading in a different direction.    The story is more about the characters and psychology of grief and how people each handle it differently.   I found the character's emotions well portrayed and strong.  I understood Carrie's past, it's effect on the present, her pain and confusion.

One More Day by Kelly Simmons is psychological suspense about parenthood, family, relationships, loyalty, faith, and hidden secrets with a paranormal twist. While other reviewers disliked the twist, I enjoy a book that takes me on a different journey than I was expecting. 

MY RATING: 4/5 - One More Day by Kelly Simmons is a fast paced story about my worst nightmare,  a lost child.  This is a story you need to come to with an open mind.  I read One More Day in nearly one sitting.  Even though I questioned some elements of the story, I just had to find out what happens.  I will admit, that at one point in the story I got actual goosebumps.  That has never happened to me when reading a book.

I don't want to give too much of the storyline away, but there is a twist which left me wondering was this paranormal or a psychological reaction to grief, guilt and stress.   One More Day is definitely worth the experience and read.  Make sure you set some time aside to read One More Day as once you start, it is hard to put down.  Yes, my house and family were neglect until I could finish.  

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

One More Day by Kelly Simmons is available in book stores in paperback as of February 2nd, or you can enter the book giveaway below from the publisher for a chance to win a copy of One More Day by Kelly Simmons.

 
GIVEAWAY



 
One More Day by Kelly Simmons was also reviewed by Ashley LaMar,  The Three R's Blog, and Brilliant Bookshelf.  

Happy Reading!



**Disclosure – One More Day by Kelly Simmons was received from NetGalley.com reviewer program and Sourcebooks in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: February 2016

We are enjoying a snow day here in White Bear Lake.   What better time to share some books that have caught my eye.   These books will be available in February.  Maybe even get on the waitlist at the library for these upcoming titles.

As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on upcoming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.  So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title due to my lack of time!!  

Here are some books which will be available in bookstores in February 2016, that caught my eye!

I have read Missing Pieces and One More Day and will be posting reviews soon.  I recommend them both.   One More Day actually gave me chills at one point, that has never happened to me when reading a book.

   

 
 

Happy Reading!



*Note – if you would like to keep up with book reviews on Reading in White Bear Lake, please take a moment to like us on facebook!   If you are interested in my other loves: cooking, menu planning, organizing and my family check out our other blog, Living in White Bear Lake.   Living in White Bear Lake can also be found on facebook.
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer

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Title: The Children’s Crusade

Author: Ann Packer
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Narrators: Cotter Smith, Frederick Weller, Thomas Sadoski, Marin Ireland and Santino Fontana

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio Unabridged edition (April , 2015)

Length:  12 CDs

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)

From the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of The Dive From Clausen's Pier, a sweeping, masterful new novel that explores the secrets and desires, the remnant wounds and saving graces of one California family, over the course of five decades.

Bill Blair finds the land by accident, three wooded acres in a rustic community south of San Francisco. The year is 1954, long before anyone will call this area Silicon Valley. Struck by a vision of the family he has yet to create, Bill buys the property on a whim. In Penny Greenway he finds a suitable wife, a woman whose yearning attitude toward life seems compelling and answerable, and they marry and have four children. Yet Penny is a mercurial housewife, at a time when women chafed at the conventions imposed on them. She finds salvation in art, but the cost is high.

Thirty years later, the three oldest Blair children, adults now and still living near the family home, are disrupted by the return of the youngest, whose sudden presence and all-too-familiar troubles force a reckoning with who they are, separately and together, and set off a struggle over the family's future. One by one, the siblings take turns telling the story--Robert, a doctor like their father; Rebecca, a psychiatrist; Ryan, a schoolteacher; and James, the malcontent, the problem child, the only one who hasn't settled down-their narratives interwoven with portraits of the family at crucial points in their history.

About the Author:  (from author website)

Ann Packer

Ann Packer was born in Stanford, California, in 1959, and grew up near Stanford University, where her parents were professors. She attended Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Michener-Copernicus Society, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She is the acclaimed author of two collections of short fiction, Swim Back to Me and Mendocino and Other Stories, and two bestselling novels, Songs Without Words and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, which received the Kate Chopin Literary Award, among many other prizes and honors. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and in the O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies, and her novels have been published around the world.

Ann returned to her native Bay Area in 1995. She lives in San Carlos with her family.

About the Narrators:

Cotter Smith -  is an American actor of stage, film, and television. As an audiobook narrator, he has won two Earphones Awards and was a finalist in 1997 for the prestigious Audie Award. Audiobooks also include:  Millionaire Next Door, Millionaire Mind, Citizen Soldiers and Victors by Stephen E Ambrose.

Frederick Weller - Frederick Weller's films include Four Lane Highway, The Shape of Things, When Will I Be Loved, Coyote Ugly, Basquiat and Armageddon. Television series include In Plain Sight (debut USA), The Jury, Law & Order: SVU & Criminal Intent, Pastor's Wife, and Missing Persons. On Broadway he starred in Seascape, Glengarry Glen Ross, Take Me Out, The Rehearsal, and Six Degrees of Separation. Audiobooks also include: Twisted by Jeffery Deaver, Nocturne by Jeffery Deaver and Blind Fall by Christopher Rice.

Thomas Sadoski - Thomas Sadoski was born on 1st July 1976 in Bethany, Connecticut. In 1980 he moved with his family to College Station, Texas. He has been in numerous plays Off-Broadway, and many regional theatres including the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Made his Broadway debut in 2004 playing Mary-Louise Parker's husband in the critically acclaimed production of "Reckless". Audiobooks also include: Mile 81 by Stephen King.

Marin Ireland - Marin Ireland is an actress, known for
Side Effects (2013), I Am Legend (2007) and Revolutionary Road (2008). Audiobooks also include: XO by Jeffery Deaver

Santino Fontana - Santino Fontana is an actor, known for
Frozen (2013), Frozen Fever (2015) and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014). Audiobooks also include: You by Caroline Kepnes and The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman.

My Review: The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer is a family drama spanning from 1950 to present day.  Bill Blair is a pediatrician and veteran of war.   Bill  meets Penny and they marry.  Penny has dreams of her family, 3 children would be perfect.  The first child born is Robert than Rebecca and Ryan, the three R’s, perfect.   Later James is born and Penny is unhappy about this, three children was the plan.  James is a rambunctious little boy and just too much for Penny.   She withdraws  from parenting him and the other children and Bill and the older children really parent James.  This really shows the impact that childhood experiences can have on someone into adulthood.  James always feels like the odd man out, not an “R” name. 

Children’s Crusade is really a coming of age story of a family.  A real family drama with complicated relationships.  There is a strong character story of each individual.  You really feel like you understand the characters, except for Penny.  Penny is very self-centered and removed from her family physically and emotionally.   I would have like to know more about her thought process regarding her decisions.  With Penny being the exception I felt like I knew the characters equally, but didn’t like them equally.  

The audio book of Children’s Crusade was performed by a cast of narrators, which allowed for great distinction between the characters.   I really felt the different voices fit the characters well and were easily distinguishable.  The pace of the narration went well this the story and plot.  Listening to Children’s Crusade did not have a huge impact on me…I wasn’t driving around the block to listen to more.  This had more to do with the actual story than the narration. 

My Rating: 3/5 – liked it- Children’s Crusade had me wishing for more throughout the book.  When was something of significance  going to happen??   I struggle with stories that don’t have a real pivotal point in the story.  The family overall, left me wondering how Bill could let this situation continue.  He often said “children need care”, but that was something his children were missing, at least from their mother.  This had a lasting effect on the children, especially James.  Good reminder that our actions as parents stay with our children much longer than we think. 

Children’s Crusade is really a character study of the Blair family.  Children’s Crusade is a family drama which touches on the themes such as healing, hope, innocence and forgiveness.   In all honestly, if this wasn’t a review book, I would have most likely not finished the book. 

The other item that was difficult for me was the ending of Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer, I was very disappointed in the ending.  It didn’t feel like much of an ending, I felt that as a reader I was left wishing for more once again. 

This was not the first book I have read by Ann Packer. My book group read The Dive from Clausen’s Pier which I enjoyed.  So don’t let this review discourage your from giving Ann Packer a try.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer was also reviewed on the following blogs:  BookChatterWest Metro Mommy Reads, and Adventures with Words.

**Disclosure – Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Simon & Schuster Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Posted by Jen C at 7:45 AM 0 comments

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Liar’s Bench by Kim Michele Richardson

liars bench

Title: Liar’s Bench

Author: Kim Michele Richardson
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
(Website)

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (April 28, 2015)

Length:  8 hours 59 minutes

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)

In 1972, on Mudas Summers' seventeenth birthday, her beloved Mama, Ella, is found hanging from the rafters of their home. Most people in Peckinpaw, Kentucky, assume that Ella's no-good husband did the deed. Others think Ella grew tired of his abuse and did it herself. Muddy is determined to find out for sure either way, especially once she finds strange papers hidden amongst her mama's possessions.

But Peckinpaw keeps its secrets buried deep. Muddy's almost-more-than-friend, Bobby Marshall, knows that better than most. Though he passes for white, one of his ancestors was Frannie Crow, a slave hanged a century ago on nearby Hark Hill Plantation. Adorning the town square is a seat built from Frannie's gallows. A tribute, a relic--and a caution--it's known as Liar's Bench. Now, the answers Muddy seeks soon lead back to Hark Hill, to hatred and corruption that have echoed through the years--and lies she must be brave enough to confront at last.

Kim Michele Richardson's lush, beautifully written debut is set against a Southern backdrop passing uneasily from bigotry and brutality to hope. With its compelling mystery and complex yet relatable heroine, Liar's Bench is a story of first love, raw courage, and truths that won't be denied

About the Author:  (from author website)

Kim RichardsonKim Michele Richardson resides in the rolling hills of Kentucky where she is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence. She is also the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable Child. Liar’s Bench is her first novel. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post and is busy working on her next novel, God Pretty in the Tobacco Field.

About the Narrator:

jojeana marie

   Jorjeana Marie is a quirky comedienne, actress, voice over actress and narrator for a number of large publishers.   She is very talented in portraying voices of children, monsters, creatures and animal characterizations.   

My Review: Liar’s Bench, a debut novel by Kim Michelle Richardson, is set in the south in the early 1970’s. A time of change that is slow to happen in some parts of the south, such as Peckinpaw, Kentucky..  Mudas  “Muddy” Summers parents are divorced due to her father’s infidelity. Mudas lives with her father who is the town prosecutor.   Muddy’s mom, Ella is married to Tommy.  On Muddy’s 17th birthday, her mother is found hung from the rafters of the home she shares with Tommy.  

Mudas does not believe her mother committed suicide.  She sets off with her friend, Bobby Marshall, who happens to be Afro-American,  to find out what really happened to her mother, Ella.  Sadly, the town is not ready for a mix race friendship and this cause problems for Bobby and Mudas.  Ella worked for Mr McGee, who is a bit of a unsavory character.  He is a racist and corrupt on many levels. Mudas thinks he might have something to due with her mother’s death as she was his bookkeeper. 

The other story line in Liar’s Bench is set in the past about 100 years is about a slave,Frannie Crow who was unjustly hung by her master at the nearby planation.  Bobby Marshall is a descendent of Frannie Crow. Liar’s Bench, which is in the center of town and is important to the  story, was built from the Frannie’s gallows.

The audiobook of Liar’s Bench was narrated by Jorjeana Marie.  This is the first time I have listened to this particular narrator. I think Jorjeana Marie is a new favorite!   She does an amazing portrayal of characters who are children.  I had to actually research to she if she was an adult.  Love her voice!  I have since  selected two more audiobooks based on her being the narrator.  She does a nice job of differentiating the voices and the differences in gender.  I particularly was  drawn to the voice of Muddy.   Jorjeana Marie does an excellent job in portraying the more suspenseful parts of the story.   You can really feel the suspense. 

Kim Michelle Richardson delivers a very good debut novel with Liar’s Bench.  There was one point in the story where Muddy and Bobby are being chased by McGee and his men, that really bugged me.   They are being chased and they all of a sudden think, they can just stop and investigate a graveyard.   While, the graveyard was important to the plot, it  seemed unrealistic to me to stop running at that particular point in the story.    If someone is chasing me….I am going to run and run until I find help!

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it-  Liar’s Bench by Kim  Michele Richardson is a debut novel that is well worth the read/listen.  I would really  recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by Jorjeana Marie.  She is a very talented and interesting narrator, which really added to the Liar’s Bench experience.   I found myself needing to walk an extra mile just to hear a bit more of Liar’s Bench, a very enjoyable story and narration.   Even with her initial indecision, I really liked Muddy as a character.  By the end of the story she redeems herself in my eyes.  The ending was sufficiently suspenseful and satisfying.

Liar’s Bench is a mystery, but also a coming of age story.  Other themes in Liar’s Bench include racism, racial tension, secrets, corruption and racial and gender inequality.  The tension is palpable at times in regards to the racial bigotry and brutality of that sad time in history. 

Check out Audio of Liar’s Bench by Kim Michele Richardson, unabridged version released April, 2015 by Blackstone Audio, I think you will really enjoy the it! 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Liar’s Bench was also reviewed on the following blogs:  Southern Literary Review, Beth’s Book Nook Blog, Historical Novel SocietySally’s Creative CornerBibliophile by the Sea,

**Disclosure – Liar’s Bench was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

 

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Title: Speaking in Bones

Author: Kathy Reichs
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction: Thriller & Suspense

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group– Bantam Dell – 7/21/15

Length:  320 pages

Source: Net Galley

About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)

For every case Temperance Brennan has solved, there remain innumerable unidentified bodies in her lab. Information on some of these is available online, where amateur sleuths sometimes take a stab at solving cases. One day, Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing persons report on an eighteen-year-old named Cora Teague. Since the bones in her lab do seem to match Cora’s medical records, Tempe looks into the case, returning to the spot where the bones were originally found. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby. When she then learns that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon with significance for a local cult, Tempe’s suspicious turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory thrown into question when Hazel herself turns up dead. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-change proposal, Tempe races to solve the murders before the body count climbs further.

About the Author:  (from author website)

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only eighty-two forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

My Review: Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs is one book in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reich.  Kathy Reich is a new author to me.  Though Speaking in Bones is part for the Temperance Brennan  series, I read it as a stand alone book and found it very intriguing. There might have been some small connections between characters I may have missed due to not reading previous books, but they were not obvious to me.  So definitely can be read as a stand alone book.   Speaking in Bones is a forensic thriller, which is very well researched.  Considering the author is a forensic anthropologist, it is no surprise how well researched the books is.

The characters in Speaking with Bones are very compelling.  I am actually wanting to read previous books so I can get to know Temperance Brennan better.  She is an interesting character. Being the main character in all the books, there are many details about her that may have added to my reading of Speaking in Bones.  Another character that was interesting is Hazel “Lucky” Strike.  Who knew there is a community of amateur sleuths online that spend their time researching missing people and unidentified remains in hopes of finding a match and bringing the remains home to their family.  Hazel believe the remains she has found are that of Cora Teague an missing persons who disappeared at the age of 18.  Cora comes from a very religious community, almost zealots of sorts, they never reported her as missing. They said she ran away with a man…such wicked ways in their minds. 

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it- I read Speaking Bones in a little over a day while camping in the middle of a State Park in Minnesota.  An ideal setting to read a psychological thriller, when you have to walk to the satellite toilet alone in the middle of the night.  I was very intrigued by the story and found it hard to put down.   The pace of the story was very good and kept you on the edge of your seats.   Temperance tends to make some bad decisions in the story, which puts her in dangerous situations and heights the intensity of the story.   I found myself liking the determination and character of Temperance very early in the story.  Temperance and I definitely need to get to know each other better.  

In Speaking in Bones, Kathy Reich tells a story of religious zealous, obsession and murder with a bit of psychological twist. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Speaking in Bones was also reviewed on the following blogs: A Thrill A Week, The Bookbag, and So, I Read This Book Today.

**Disclosure – Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs was received from netgalley.com and Random House Publishing Group– Bantam Dell in exchange for a fair review.

Review: Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

BlackDog Summer

Title: Black Dog Summer

Author: Miranda Sherry
(
Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction: Thriller & Suspense

Narrator: Jilly Bond 

Publisher:  Highbridge Audio. 2/18/15

Length:  9.5 hrs • 8 CDs

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the facade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

About the Author:  (from author website)

MIranda

Miranda Sherry was seven when she began writing stories. A few decades, numerous strange jobs (including puppeteer, bartender and musician), and many manuscripts later, her latest work, Black Dog Summer, is being published by Head of Zeus.
Her first novel, Days Like Glass, was shortlisted for the EU Literary Award in South Africa in 2005.
Miranda currently lives in Johannesburg with her sort-of-husband and two weird cats.


About the Narrator: 

jillybond

Jilly Bond studied English & Drama at Bristol University and graduated with a 2:1. After four years working in production for BBC Television,she trained as an actor at Drama Studio London.
She has performed in theatres all over the British Isles & Germany, in plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde, Coward, as well as Ayckbourn, Pinter, Willy Russell, Neil Simon and numerous new writers. Jilly Bond  worked extensively on radio (including the role of Bridget in The Archers) and recorded hundreds of unabridged audiobooks (some award-winning); appearing on television in series such as Doctors, Judge John Deed, Alistair McGowan's Big Impression, Comedy Nation & Channel 4's cult hit As If. 


My Review: 
Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is a riveting story told from the point of view of Sally, who was violently killed on a farm South Africa.   The farm was an peaceful animal sanctuary.  Sally and her daughter Gigi lived on the farm with others.   Sally, her sister Adele and Adele’s husband, Liam have a complicated past that has significantly effect their relationship.  Sally and Adele have been estranged for a number of years.    Gigi, Sally’s daughter survives the attack which take her mother’s life.   Gigi is understandably traumatized.  After being released from the hospital, she goes to like with her Aunt and Uncle, Adele and LIam, and their children.

Sally is stuck between the here and now, and the afterlife. She is able to see threads and if she follows them she is able to connect with various family members connect to each thread.    She is able to see what is going on in her daughter’s life.   Adele and Liam’s neighbor, Lesedi is a South African Sangoma.   The only person Sally is consistently able to interact with is Lesedi. 

Part of the story is told from the point of view of Bryony.  I found Bryony to be a very intuitive girl for her age. 

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it-  Jilly Bond’s narration of the story, Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is riveting.   You are immediately drawn into the story and care for the characters.  Jilly is very good at building suspense with the pace of her narration.   There is a scene between Gigi and her younger cousin, Bryony toward the end of the story that had a real effect on me.   I actually  had chills and found myself holding my breathe listening to this scene, something that has never happened to me before.   That is some great narration to be able to evoke such a physical reaction from the reader.

I enjoyed the point of view from which the book was written.  I enjoyed being able to hear the story through Sally’s voice and observations.  I really felt her frustration as she was only able to watch and not change the course of events in a meaningful way.  I loved the idea of the brightly colored thread connected to each person.  The threads represent the complexities of family relationships and how our stories are interwoven.  Black Dog Summer is about the complexities of family and our relationship and how a death can affect those relationships. 

Black Dog Summer, a debut novel by Miranda Sherry is a very emotional book.   If you enjoy family drama, complex relationships with a hint of supernatural, you will love Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

 

Black Dog Summer was also reviewed on the following blogs: Literary TreatsWorn Pages and InkThe Bookbag, My Dog-eared Purpose and Not Now Darling. 

 

**Disclosure – Black Dog Summer by  Miranda Sherry was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and HighBridge Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Other Side of Midnight – Simone St James

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Title: Other Side Of  Midnight

Author: Simone St. James
 
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction/Historical

Narrator: Mary Jane Wells 

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, 04/07/15

Length:  10.0 hrs • 8 CDs

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

About the Author:  (from author website)

StJamesForweb400-200x300Simone St. James is a lifelong reader of ghost stories and other spooky reads, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she discovered two wonderful genres: romances and old, classic gothics.

Wishing she could read something that combined the three, with a 1920’s setting thrown in as well (and having written two full novels that were rightfully rejected everywhere and will forever live under the bed), she wrote THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, which was the book she really wished to read. An agent’s representation and a publishing contract soon followed, and she has been happily writing in her chosen, made-up genre ever since. THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE won two of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® awards, as well as Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Book.

Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to become a full-time writer. She lives just outside Toronto with her husband and an elderly cat who is probably sleeping as we speak. When not writing, Simone can be found traveling, cooking, staying active and healthy, gardening badly, and reading, reading, reading. Among her favorite authors (besides the geeky history and research books she loves) are Mary Stewart, Daphne duMaurier, Deanna Raybourn, Susanna Kearsley, Jacqueline Winspear, Victoria Holt, Kate Morton, George R. R. Martin, and Stephen King. How’s that for a mix? She is also rather addicted to Sherlock on the BBC.

About the Narrator: 

MJW-8Mary Jane Wells, British actress, writer and voiceover artist.

She trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and then did theatre for 12 years in the UK and Europe. She first came to the US with French classic, The Red Balloon at the Mark Taper some years ago. She returned later that year with a solo show, Martha for the Annenberg Centre, toured to the Kennedy centre and the New Victory on Broadway, and the International showcase in Philidelphia where she won the Victor Award.

She lives in LA and have been shooting, writing and voiceovering in London and Los Angeles. She is the voice of the TV commercial campaigns for Puma Mobium, Jet 2, Sunny Finance, LinkedIn and Eharmony, and the audiobooks which have been sourced as the inspiration behind Downton Abbey.

 

 

My Review:  From the get go, Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James  had me with the engaging story line and the wonderful narration by Mary Jane Wells.   I do not believe I have listened to a book narrated by Mary Jane Wells, but glad I have discovered her.  A very engaging narrator who really performs with great emotion!

Other Side of Midnight is set in 1925 in London following World War I.   Gloria Sutter and Ellie Winter are women with true psychic powers. After the War there were plenty of charlatans playing on peoples desperate need to communicate with their lost loved ones.     Psychics, séances and spirit communication were common as death and grieve were plentiful after WWI; too many, sons, husbands and lovers lost to the war.

Gloria Sutter is murdered during one of her séances.  She left a message to be delivered to Ellie Winter, to “Find Her”, in the spirit world.  Communication with the dead was not something Ellie did anymore, she found lost things for people. Ellie investigates the under belly of the psychic world to find clues to Gloria’s murder.   She is accompanied by James Hawley an investigator wishing to debunk the psychics. 

All characters were very well developed. I was especially impressed by the development of the secondary characters.  I felt I had a good understanding of each very unique character.  They each added to the story line in their own way. I also really like the details put into the description of Ellie’s psychic powers and what it must have felt to be her.  

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it-  If you are a huge fan of historical fiction as I am, you will enjoy Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James.  Set in 1925, in London, following WWI is such a emotionally charged time in history.    Add to that the mystery,suspense and romance,  you have one very engaging story!  I mostly listen to audio books while walking and I can tell you I got some extra miles in at the end of this book!  The twists a the end were very suspenseful.  I found the end convenient, but very satisfying.

If you are in the mood for a eerie historical mystery with a hint of romance and suspense, checkout Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James.  If you love an engaging and emotional narrative,check out the audio book narrated by Mary Jane Wells. 

 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Other Side of Midnight was also reviewed on the following blogs: Smart Bitches, Trashy BooksThe Literary Hoarders; Bookarahma; and Miss Bates Reads Romances.   

 

**Disclosure – Other side of Midnight by Simone St James was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.