Audio Review: Whispers

*Originally published 2016/01/26

23846081WHISPERS Written by Lisa Jackson

Narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan

1996 (reissued Oct 2015), 416 Pages (16 Hours and 15 Minutes) Kensington Books

Genre: romance, mystery, suspense


★★

Miranda, Claire and Tessa have been summoned to their family home in Lake Arrowhead, Oregon where their father announces he is running for governor, and needs their cooperation.  Their father also hires an investigator to rifle through their family secrets to see what will hurt his campaign.  Kane Moran, now a reporter, has returned home to also expose family the candidate’s secrets and what find out what really happened sixteen years ago.

Sixteen years ago – eldest daughter, Miranda is love with Hunter and is pregnant with his baby; Claire is in love with Harley and they are engaged to be married; and Tessa has given her virginity to Weston who wants to sleep with all three of the sisters, especially Miranda.  Kendall is also in love with Harley, and is in cahoots with Weston to get Harley back.  Paige, Weston and Harley’s sister, wants Harley to marry Kendall so she can have Kendall in her life.  Their parents are all having affairs with one another and not for love.  Then one night everything blows up when Harley is found dead and the three sisters were in a car accident – all on the same night.

Then we come back to the present (1996) where things s-l-o-w-l-y unfolds just how you think it would.  And, somehow the characters come together in a forced way to tie up loose ends.

This was one of those novels where I did not like a single character.  They were all selfish in their own way and not characters I would root for.  I did come to feel for Miranda and Tessa as their characters did grow and redeemed themselves (in my opinion).  They had the capacity to be strong heroines to carry the novel on their own.  I did not like Claire – or like how she turned out or find that she did anything to change my opinion on her.  And, of course, she is the heroine.  The one everyone wants to love or hate.  She has this big secret and every time the person she is keeping it from comes around, she ALWAYS has to mention that she has this secret from them, that they will hate her, and that she can’t believe they haven’t already figured it out. She also has a love interest (the hero who I also don’t care for) where the “romance” seems to pop out of nowhere, as the chemistry between them is not really there.  We hear they are in love but don’t really see it.  I enjoyed the narrator as she kept a good pace for a long drawn out story.  I felt like there was too much going on and we were in the past too much.  I didn’t think we needed whole back story as it gave away the killer right away.  I felt for this reason their wasn’t much suspense.  This book just didn’t keep my interest.  I did finish it just because I was willing to stay with the story for the author’s sake, and then got to a point where I had to finish or admit great defeat.

Book Club November 2012: The Last Time I Saw You

*Originally published in 2015/09/24

51so7tcskyl-_sx320_bo1204203200_THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU Written by Elizabeth Berg (Read by the Author)

2010, 241 Pages (Random House)

Genre: contemporary fiction, humour

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Divorced and defeated Dorothy cannot wait wait for the 40th high school reunion as she longs to finally sleep with Pete Decker. If she can get the most popular guy maybe her life won’t be so sad. Her ex-husband has already found someone new and her grown daughter is getting married with no input from Dorothy. Mary Alice is still single and back living in her childhood home and helping her senior neighbour, Einer and his caretaker. She longs to go back and show them how far she has come – not that she was ever really bothered being herself – she may even try and seduce Pete Decker. 7012055Einer demands to be her escort in case any of them try anything. The still handsome Pete Decker has just slept with his wife, Nora (separated) cheating on his mistress. This has cleared his brain and he now knows he wants his childhood sweetheart Nora back – but she has moved on. The reunion becomes his obsession in that he hopes it will remind Nora of the good times and bring her back to him. Lester the once nerdy student is now a vet in the next town over and a widower of many years. He is bullied into going to his reunion by his receptionist who insists he needs a woman ASAP. Finally there is Candy Sullivan – beauty queen, the object of lust for men and envy of women. She has gotten bad news about her health and realized that she missed out on having kids for the sake of her husband who isn’t even really there. She feels alone and lonely and realizes that it has always been like that. One night will rock these 5 characters life and for once seen beyond their 17 year old eyes.

6a00e398219280883300e54f3fe1fa8834-800wiI listened to this novel on audio – read by the author and LOVED IT!!! Berg is a great reader as well as author. She has a great depth of emotion and humour. I loved the characters even when I strong disliked them as people – that is what makes them so realistic – they are flawed and no one is better than another. I’m in my 30s and I could totally understand the characters’ emotions whether male or female. I still love berg’s writing.

Book Club September: 2015

*Originally published 2015/09/11

August turned out to be a very busy month for the five of us so we decided to meet after Labour Day weekend.  The book selected was Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Robinson had been on my list for a bit so I was excited to delve into this novel.

11741HOUSEKEEPING Written by Marilynne Robinson

 1981; 219 Pages (Picador/ Faber and Faber)

Genre: literature, fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

The story is about Ruth and her sister, Lucille – told from Ruth’s point of view.  She shares with us how they are first abandoned by their father and then their mother, Helen, takes her own life leaving them in the care of their maternal grandmother.  She is a good influence on the girls but soon dies. Their grandmother’s two sister-in-laws moved into the home to take care of the girls. They are unsure of how to raise the girls but were still competent.  Once Sylvie, Helen’s sister, returns home upon hearing about her mother’s death she takes over the girls’ care.  Sylvie has never led a stable life and instead of giving the girls stability she brings chaos that cause Ruth and Lucille to question their future quicker than some others. The title “Housekeeping” describes the novel well…but will leave you to read the novel to find out why 😉

6a00e398219280883300e54f3fe1fa8834-800wiRobinson is great with words and has this ability to convey to readers just what loss means to Ruth.  I enjoyed this story but at times the details are too immense and not relevant to the book.  I found that this book would have been a tighter piece of prose as a short story or more concentrated vignettes  tied together as a book.  I am glad I read this novel and will definitely try another novel but this is not a reread for me.  This is a good novel to try if you enjoy a good writing and don’t mind a little more detail than needed.

Book Club 2013: Double Review

*Originally published in 2014

Lauren B. Davis has been on my TBR (to be read) list since 2005 after picking up a copy The Stubborn Season on sale at a local grocery story of all places.  The cover drew me in and the depression era story line sounded intriguing.  Sadly, it took me eight years to read Davis and that has been my loss for sure.

For our November book club selection we decided to try Davis’s novel, Our Daily Bread – published in 2011.  I started this novel knowing only that it has been described as “backwoods noir”.  And, the result…

our-daily-breadOUR DAILY BREAD Written by Lauren B. Davis

2011; 257 Pages (Harper Collins)

Genre: canadiana, fiction, suspense, noir,

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

Inspired by true events – In Davis’s haunting story we meet Albert Erskine, a smart 21 year old who sells weed to make money.  He and his family are shunned by the town of Gideon and are called the “Mountain People”.  Living among his clan, Albert has seen and been through many horrors and it has caused him to become more frustrated and angry.

Soon Albert becomes a mentor to a young boy in town names Bobby Evans. Bobby and his family also do not fit in among the religious town people. His father, Tom is well-liked but is ridiculed for his younger wife’s unfaithfulness. Ivy, his sister, is brilliant but bullied by girls in her class. Her only friend is Dorothy, the 60-something widow who owns the antique shop. Dorothy sees the righteousness attitude in her peers and tries to stay away from them.

As we get to know these characters that are considered the “others” in Gideon Davis also shows what can happen when we let some people int our life.

After dinner one night I sat down to start Our Daily Bread, hoping that I could finish the novel in the next few days, in time for my book cub meeting. The next time I came up for air was when the novel finished. The way Davis grabs you from the beginning with her characters and plot is amazing. Even if you cannot relate to the characters personally you can empathize and feel for them. These are not good or bad people but normal people with every day flaws. I found myself attached to all the characters – loving and hating them or their actions.

The story, even if it was not based on true events, still lingers in my mind and I think about it time to time. It was a book we all liked in my book club and it provided us with a great conversation. I recommend this novel to everyone who appreciates an absorbing novel and loves words.

We all loved the book so much we decided to read another one the following month…

17284524THE EMPTY ROOM Written by Lauren B. Davis

2013, 314 Pages

Genre: canadiana, fiction, addiction

 Rating: ★★★★

Colleen wakes up hungover and only has flashes of the night before. As the day progresses her addiction to alcohol comes to the forefront. Colleen thinks back of her family and how drinking and other drugs were the ruination of many of her relative by drinking themselves to suicide, accidents, etc.  As people bring her drinking to her attention this only causes Colleen to get defensive and retreat. At the end of the day will Colleen admit her problem and seek help?

I was impressed with the way Davis was able to make Colleen’s life and alcoholism work within a day. We were able to see Colleen’s past through flashbacks and interactions with her mother, father and lovers. I like that the chapters were broken up into smaller sections so that the flashbacks were able to flow better. While Colleen is not an overly sympathetic character you still want to follow her story and want her to get sober. The secondary characters help the tension in the story and give Colleen further dimension. I am sold on Davis’s novels! The Empty Room is definitely worth a read

Lauren B. Davis’s website

Lauren was born in Montreal but lived in France for ten years from 1994-2004.  She and her husband, Ron, moved to Princeton in 2004, where they now live with their dog, Bailey, known as the Rescuepoo.

Book Club:An Old-Fashioned Girl

*Originally published 2015/09/09

an old-fashioned girl.jpgAN OLD-FASHION GIRL Written by Louisa May Alcott

1869; 288 Pages (Puffin Classics Edition)

Genre: children, classic, fiction

Rating: ★★★

Polly is invited to stay with wealthy friends in Boston and finds herself to be an old-fashioned country girl. She is not worldly about parties, boys or acting like she has money.  She would prefer to help her elders, read books and spend her time with hobbies.   Polly seems to be helping each of the Shaws more than receiving their patronage.

I LOVE Little Women so was excited to read another book by Alcott but I found this one to lack the heart and story of Little Women. An Old-Fashioned Girl I think is more simplistic and fluffy. You never get to really know Polly like you do the characters in Little Women and the storyline does not have much climax.  It is a fair book and if I read it as a child maybe I would have liked it a lot more.

We read this for our face to face book club and on the whole we found it a bit too simplistic and a bit dull.

BOOK CLUB Review: July 2015

*Originally published 2015/07/28

6a00e398219280883300e54f3fe1fa8834-800wi

Image: Pinterest

This evening at our book club meeting we discussed Toni Morrison’s novel, Home. This short book gave us a lot to talk about – the book, the author and the previous writings of Ms. Morrison.  I have read two other novels by this author, The Bluest Eye and Beloved one I loved and the other left me confused and uninterested.  I was excited when I chose this from our members’ tbr (to be read) list. I have had this need to like Toni Morrison’s writing.

 

home_toni_morrison_novelHome Written by Toni Morrison

2102; 147 Pages (Knopf)

Genre: historical fiction, literary


Rating: ★★1/2 

I was interested in Home as it was set around a Korean War veteran, Frank – a war we never hear much about nor about the effects on veterans – returning home after watching his friends and comrades die leaves him angry, confused and anxious.  As we follow him making his journey home we meet his sister, who gains a job with a doctor that leaves her on death’s door, and having Frank come to her rescue.  Morrison explores many themes -racism, violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and eugenics, to name a few -which I was totally interested in but I felt shafted a bit as she did not delve into details.  There was so much I wanted to know and only caught glimpses.  Her writing felt a bit like excerpts from a novel than a short novel.  Unlike Alice Monroe, I found Morrison was not able to pack a lot into a sentence or two.  And, also unlike Hemingway her quick-straight-to-the-point style fell flat.  While I would not read this book again, nor recommend it (and will probably not keep my copy of the ebook) I cannot say, “I wish I never read this piece.”  Toni Morrison captured my curiosity and interest in looking up some of the historical points in this book and craving to read more about some of the themes she gave an unsatisfying explanation of in Home. It also has me wondering about her back list of books – Sula, Mercy, Tar Baby and Song of Solomon – and makes me want to like majority of her writing.

17307196-_uy200_As for other members of book club – S. enjoyed the short piece and felt satisfy with what Morrison had written though she can understand the points others’ made.  K. who has read a few of Morrison’s novels was disappointed with this book as it didn’t hold up to her usual standards (and had similar views as mine).  H. felt like something was missing and some parts were not explained well.  Overall, we would all give Morrison another shot.  When asked K. and I recommended The Bluest Eye if you wanted to give Morrison a try.

Have you read Home?  What were your thoughts?