If Jack’s In Love by Stephen Wetta – Book Review

If Jack’s In Love by Stephen Wetta
Published by Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint of Penguin

If there’s anything worse than being a 12-year old boy, it is being a brilliant 12-year old boy born into the family that the whole town shuns. Oh, and even worse than that is having your brother suspected in the disappearance of one of the town’s most popular young men, who just happens to be the older brother of the girl you have a crush on. Actually, life as Jack Witcher is just sort of crummy in general.

If Jack’s In Love is a wonderful coming-of-age story. Jack is a compelling young man with a very interesting voice. His character was consistent with that of a 12-year old, without falling into the trap of being particularly obnoxious in an effort on Wetta’s part to prove that Jack is indeed 12.

The storyline Wetta has created is very interesting, looking at the incidents between Jack’s brother Stan and the missing boy, wondering whether or not Stan really did something dire and irreversible. The real heart of the story, however, is Jack and his reactions to the world around him, his fight to be accepted without giving up who he is at heart.

There is much discussion these days about what constitutes a young adult book, and what an adult book. Many people would likely classify If Jack’s In Love immediately as young adult, due to the age of its main character. It seems, however, that Wetta is coming at this from a distinctly more adult point of view, while still staying true to Jack. Although there is certainly cross-over appeal for teenagers, If Jack’s In Love is a bildungsroman written for an adult audience – and a good one, at that.

Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson – Audiobook Review

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, narrated by Kristine Ryan and Gerianne Raphael
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Harper, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

A whirlwind romance takes sensible Eve from her life in London doing French translations of boring, mundane things such as contracts to a lovely if somewhat decrepit old house in the South of France with a loving but secretive man named Dom. As summer fades, so too does the perfect live Eve imagined that the two of them were living together. She begins to question what happened in Dom’s first marriage that has made him the way he is today, and to feel a chill in the house around her that leads her to wonder if their lovely Genevriers is haunted.

As Eve’s story unfolds, so too does a story of her house’s recent past, centered around Benedicte, a young girl who once lived in Genevriers with her troubled family.

Thoughts on the story:

Initially the story of The Lantern unfolds slowly, it is well past the halfway mark before the reader has any idea what is meant by the title or how the stories of the two women will intersect. Luckily, the slower plot has Lawrenson’s lovely writing to fall back on. Aside from seducing the reader with beautiful language, Lawrenson is taking the first half of the book to fully develop Eve and Benedicte’s characters, as well as the secondary characters around them, giving the reader a stake in their lives when the tension begins to build in the second half the novel. And build it does. By the time I reached the halfway mark, I hesitated to leave the story, so drawn in was I; Lawrenson does a wonderful job building both investment and interest. And although I won’t spoil the ending, I will say that I found the wrap-up and explanations particularly satisfying.

Thoughts on the audio production:

As tends to be the case with books produced by Harper Audio, the audio production – and particularly the narration – was wonderfully done in The Lantern. Both Ryan and Raphael are talented narrators, but I was particularly impressed by Ryan. The character she was portraying, Eve, was a French-educated American women who at the beginning of the novel had been living in London for years, but who moved early in the book to the south of France. Certainly a narrator could have decided to work with only one or two of these linguistic heritages, but Ryan had me wondering if she had the exact same background as her character. At the base of her speech was a standard American accent, but there was a definite British inflection, with a French accent that rose and fell, depending on what exactly she was saying. It was absolutely perfectly done, more than just believable, she completely lived into her character.

Overall:

Although there is somewhat of a slow start, sticking with The Lantern is a decision that pays off completely. I am confident that Lawrenson’s lovely book would stand up quite well in print, but Ryan and Raphael’s masterful narration adds an extra degree of wonder that is well-worth experiencing.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com:

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: .
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Tethered by Amy MacKinnon – Book Review

Tethered by Amy MacKinnon
Published by Broadway, an imprint of Random House

Three years ago, a young, unidentified girl was found sexually abused and dead, another body for Clara to prepare. Clara, who survived her own childhood only by the grace of a God she no longer believes in. The one place Clara was able to find solace as a child was in the funeral home where her mother’s wake was held, although she still had to hold herself at a remove from those around her to function, touching only the dead. When a young girl named Trecie begins hanging around the funeral home Clara’s first reaction is annoyance, which is quickly replaced by worry, when it becomes apparent that Trecie may be involved with the same people who murdered Precious Doe.

Tethered has some hallmarks of a mystery: the main character becomes involved to a certain degree with a law enforcement officer and tries to solve a crime before someone else gets hurt. What Amy MacKinnon has done with Tethered, though is so much more. She has created a beautiful literary and psychological novel with the interest value of an extremely compelling mystery. Clara’s character is particularly interesting. Her own childhood abuse gives her a rich, complicated persona, which lends depth to the storyline. Equally deep and deliciously complicated is MacKinnon’s writing.

I’ve often thought there’s something reptilian about Mike’s eyes. No, not the coldness, it’s more about the layers. There’s a certain ambiguous quality to them. Like an alligator before it slips underwater, hiding its intent beneath the transparent shield that covers the cornea, allowing the animal to see as it protects itself from harm. It’s the same with Mike.

Tethered is a beautiful, occasionally painful novel and an absolutely compelling read. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Trespass by Rose Tremain – Audiobook Review

Trespass by Rose Tremain, narrated by Juliet Stevenson
Published in audio by AudioGo, published in print by W. W. Norton & Co

Synopsis:

We know the ways that our pasts, flaws, and foibles change the courses of our own lives, but perhaps we think little about the ways in which they can influence, and even devastate the lives of others, even when our paths cross only tangentially. Such is the case when two pairs of siblings, both with painful and damaging pasts happen to have their lives intersect in the south of France. Veronica and her lover, Kitty, have been living in Cévennes for years, but their simple domestic life of painting and gardening is disrupted when Veronica’s brother Anthony, who is having financial troubles in England, comes down to stay. When he decides he would like to relocate to France, tensions get even higher. Equally fraught is the relationship between Audrun and Aramon, natives of France. Their childhood was, shall we say, less than ideal after the death of their mother, and their interactions grow even more tense after Aramon declares his intention to sell their family home. With Anthony looking to buy and Aramon to sell, it is only to be expected that their paths should cross, but the results of that crossing are decidedly atypical.

Thoughts on the story:

Although not exactly a mystery, Tremain tells a suspenseful yet character-driven story in “Trespass.” We know from the opening scene that something terrible has happened, although what exactly that is will only slowly become apparent over the course of the book. It is a complex tale, but not overly so. The pacing, plotting, and prose were all extremely well handled, but the real highlight of the book was the character development. Not a single one of the characters in “Trespass” was a particularly likable human being. They were selfish, self-involved, rude, snobby, and occasionally abusive. In such a psychological, character-driven novel such as this, that can be quite a problem. However, they were so realistically and tragically flawed, that their petty incivilities failed to be a turn-off. Instead, the reader is drawn into their story to find out exactly what bad thing happened, and why.

Thoughts on the audio production:

At the beginning of “Trespass,” I had a bit of a hard time keeping all of the characters straight in audio, because Tremain included a number of relatively short scenes with each of them. I must say, I really wasn’t sure what was going on – actually, I’m not sure I would have been with print, either – but it didn’t matter one bit, because of Juliet Stevenson’s amazing narration. For more, see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

Fascinating and suspenseful, “Trespass” is a masterful psychological novel, although not one for those easily offended by sex and dysfunction.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: AudioFile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor – Audiobook Review

 

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor, narrated by John Telfer
Published in audio by AudioGo

Synopsis:

For reasons that will quickly become apparent in the next section, I am going to use the publisher’s description for this one:

1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge: they say Jerusalem is haunted by Mrs. Whichcote’s ghost. Frank Oldershaw claims he saw her in the garden, where she drowned. Now he’s under the care of a physician. Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation and restore him to health, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts, an attack on the existence of ghostly phenomena. But his powers of reason have other challenges. Dreams of his dead wife and Elinor, the Master’s wife, haunt him. At the heart of it all is the mystery of what happened to Sylvia Whichcote in the claustrophobic confines of Jerusalem.

Thoughts on the story:

I had an incredibly difficult time following this story, unfortunately. There are an awful lot of threads, which do all eventually come together quite nicely, but I happened to listen to this during a time when I was sick for the better part of six weeks, foggy-brained and unable to concentrate, also unable to listen consistently. It seemed to be a very well put together story, certainly well-written, but it was more complex than my more addled brain could handle.

Thoughts on the audio production:

John Telfer was a fantastic choice to narrate The Anatomy of Ghosts. Even when my brain was fuzzy on the actual intricacies of the plot, it was quite happily enjoying Telfer’s wonderful narration. Audibly distinguishing between a large group of upper-class British men seems a difficult task, but one Telfer performed admirably. With another narrator I would have been even more totally lost than I was, but Telfer gave me a hint of what I was supposed to be following and kept me happy with his gorgeous voice even when I had no idea what was going on.

Overall:

Everyone else seemed to love this book and Telfer’s narration is fabulous, so don’t let my foggy-brained failure dissuade you, but give it a try in either print or audio. When you do, though, make sure you are able to give it adequate time and attention.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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