I’m trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I’ve been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don’t really need a full review. But, I’d still like to give them some space here on the blog, so instead, I’m offering mini-reviews of the books that won’t get full-page space here.
This month’s books include two fiction and one non-fiction. All of them were listened to on audio. That is the best way for me to read books for my own enjoyment. Plus, I like to always have an audiobook going, so I pretty much just let my library holds dictate which one I will listen to next.
My current reads are SISTER CITY, WHISPER OF THE LOTUS, LAUNDRY LOVE, and I’m listening to THE GHOST MAP. I’m also still reading HERE SHE IS and ATOMIC HABITS. These are ones that I can set aside and then come back to for a chapter or two at a time.
A Story of Justice and Redemption
By: Bryan Stevenson
Narrated by: Bryan Stevenson
Published: October 21, 2014
Publisher: One World
Format: Audiobook – Google Play purchase
This was our book club read last month. I chose to listen on audio because I knew I could read it faster that way as I had a busy month ahead. Plus I had a trip with a four-hour drive each way that allowed me time to listen in big chunks. I really don’t know what else I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It enraged me, saddened me, shocked me, and even warmed my heart. I’m so thankful the author persevered through the hate, the obstacles, the racism, and the financial woes to continue to fight for these men. Their stories were eye-opening to me.
My favorite part of the story was when Stevenson and one of the prison guards had a conversation where the guard humbled himself, opened up about his own past, and thanked Stevenson for his work. I also watched the movie, which was good…but, as I always say, the book was way better. The movie didn’t focus on every story, which it couldn’t due to time, but did focus on Walter’s ridiculous arrest and years on death row. I was just absolutely floored by the social injustices that took place in Walter’s case. Stevenson narrates the audio version which makes the book even more powerful than it already is. If you haven’t read it yet, do so now!
WE MUST BE BRAVE
By: Frances Liardet
Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle and Juliet Mills
Published: February 26, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Audiobook – Library loan
I wanted to love this book, but it just didn’t wow me as I had hoped. There were parts of the story I really enjoyed, but there were more parts that were a bit of a slog. At over 450 pages, I think this book could have used some more concise editing…especially towards the end. In the last two sections, I just wanted to know what was going to happen, and adding more details and characters to the story just wasn’t what I was wanting. I see the point of adding another character, but it just dragged a bit in the details for me.
Even though this is a WWII story, the war is mostly in the background. The war is the reason for many of the events in the characters’ lives, but the war isn’t happening in their backyard, per se. This is much more of a character-driven story than one about WWII.
There were some really lovely and heart-breaking moments involving Ellen and I loved her as a character. She had to make some life-changing choices and I’m not sure what I would have done in those situations. Those who love foster child stories will find much to love in Ellen and be able to empathize with her.
I started this one on audio and had to finish in physical form since my Libby loan ran out. It’s over a 16 hour listen and so plan for that if you are choosing audio. The narrators did a fine job and I enjoyed the audio version. Entwistle narrated THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE and I love her narration style.
THE WINTER WITCH
Shadow Chronicles #1
By: Paula Brackston
Narrated by: Marisa Calin
Published: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Fiction/Historical Romance/Historical Fantasy
Format: Audiobook – library loan
This is totally out of my regular reading comfort zone. I rarely read romance or fantasy but it came recommended to me by my aunt who is a prolific reader. She recommended it because it is set in Wales and that is where my mom’s family originated. Since it describes the scenery in such detail, she thought I might like it, as well as the story of a young woman who is arranged to be married to a drover (one who leads cattle and sheep). This is set during the 1800s which is also a timeframe I usually avoid. I try to stay in the 1900s and later. But, surprisingly I did mostly enjoy this fantastical, magical story of a young woman, Morgana, growing both in her marriage and as she learns to use her mystical abilities to save her husband Cai’s farm and their livelihood.
Paula Brackston appears to be a popular author in the genre of historical fantasy. This particular book is the first in a series, which so far includes three books. But, I think they all mostly stand alone. There wasn’t a cliff-hanger or anything at the end of this one and the future books mention characters I am not familiar with.
What also made Morgana’s story unique wasn’t just her mystical abilities but that she was also mute. She hadn’t spoken since her dad died. As she learns of evil in their community, she is unable to properly and quickly warn her husband. The author’s description of scents that overcame Morgana was quite realistic and vivid and the beautiful landscape she drew in my mind made the hills and valleys of Wales beautiful no matter what season. There was a nice build-up to the droving trip and the expected demise that would befall them on the trip. There also was a realistic feel to the relationship that slowly grew between Morgana and Cai, and I appreciated the author leaving out most of the intimate details. Even though I won’t be adding more historical fantasy to my reading queue, I am glad I read this one.
Marisa Calin narrated one of my favorite books, THE GOWN, and I enjoyed her narration here too.
What good things have you been reading? I’ve also read books that I reviewed for publishers. Check them out, HERE.
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