Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie – Audiobook Review

Close My Eyes by Sophie Mckenzie, narrated by Marisa Calin
Published in audio by Macmillan Audio, published in print by St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Gone Girl meets Before I Go to Sleep in Sophie McKenzie’s Close My Eyes, a riveting psychological thriller about a grieving mother who finds out years after her daughter’s death that her child may still be alive

When Geniver Loxley lost her daughter at birth eight years ago, her world stopped… and never fully started again. Mothers with strollers still make her flinch; her love of writing has turned into a half-hearted teaching career; and she and her husband, Art, have slipped into the kind of rut that seems inescapable.

But then a stranger shows up on their doorstep, telling Gen the very thing she’s always wanted to hear: that her daughter Beth was not stillborn, but was taken away as a healthy infant and is still out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. It’s insane, unbelievable. But why would anyone make that up? A fissure suddenly opens up in Gen’s carefully reconstructed life, letting in a flood of unanswerable questions. Where is Beth now? Why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or is it something more sinister? And who can she trust to help her?

Thoughts on the story:

So, when you read the description of Close My Eyes, or perhaps even more so after you read it and meditate on what exactly happens, it seems sort of far-fetched. There are a lot of moving pieces here and they could easy be ridiculous. McKenzie does a good job keeping everything together and more or less believable – at least while you’re caught up in her story. And she does keep you caught up. I was particularly invested in the relationship between Gen and Art and how much he appears to be gaslighting her. My increasing frustration and fury at Art served to pull me completely into Gen’s story.

Thoughts on the audio production:

It took me some time to get used to Calin’s narration, something about her voice or accent grated on my nerves a bit. However, as I got lost in McKenzie’s story, I also managed to fall into Calin’s narration. She gets the emotion of Gen down very well, making for an emotionally authentic listen.

Overall:

Recommended.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks 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.

Hey guys, I don’t have an audiobook review this week, so I changed the date on this one to today and you can leave this week’s reviews here, too.

 

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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler – Book Review

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan

Depending on whose account you read, Zelda was either F. Scott Fitzgerald’s muse or the thing that ruined his life and his writing career. What often gets lost in the discussion is the fact that Zelda was a smart woman and a talented writer in her own right. Therese Anne Fowler’s Z remedies all of this. Z joins Zelda’s story before she ever meets Scott and covers her life through their often rocky marriage through Zelda’s institutionalization and Scott’s death.

I loved this book from page one. Fowler’s writing is lovely, and seems to bring the essence of Zelda roaring to life. My favorite thing about it, though, may have been Zelda’s antipathy towards Hemingway. I do not personally have a high opinion of the man (or his writing, to be honest), so Zelda’s smack talk made me feel vindicated in my opinions of him. Fowler’s Hemingway is delightfully mean and vindictive, with a side of manipulative that ensnares her Scott Fitzgerald.

Of course, a novel cannot be carried on hatred of Hemingway alone. Luckily even for those of you who adore Hemingway, Z is a vividly imagined novel about one of the most fascinating women of the early 20th century. Very highly 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 Good House by Ann Leary – Audiobook Review

The Good House by Ann Leary, narrated by Mary Beth Hurt
Published in audio by St. Martin’s Press, published in print by Macmillan Audio, both imprints of Macmillan.

Synopsis:

Hildy Goode is a big fish in the little bond of her small New England town. She’s an incredibly successful real estate agent and, as such, is one of the most most successful business women in the area. Well, all this was true until a few years ago, when Hildy’s daughters sent her to rehab. Now that Hildy is on the wagon (at least, sort 0f), much of the rest of her life seems to be falling off. Her business isn’t what it once was, and she feels distant from her neighbors, these people she has known her whole life.

What Hildy needs is someone who doesn’t who doesn’t know her past, and she finds that someone in Rebecca, a woman who is new in town. Rebecca is just as lonely and isolated as Hildy, but her friendship may not be as beneficial as Hildy imagines it will be.

Thoughts on the story:

Hildy and I are in very different places in our lives, and initially I had a difficult time connecting with her. She comes across – particularly in audio with Mary Beth Hurt’s narration – as brash and not a little acerbic. As the story progresses, however, it becomes increasingly clear that Hildy’s tough exterior is a protective shell around a very vulnerable interior. Once it became clear just how broken Hildy really is, it becomes much easier to empathize with her and I found myself more and more absorbed by Leary’s very realistic story and characters.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Mary Beth Hurt captures Hildy absolutely perfectly. She becomes Hildy so much that during the period where I found Hildy prickly and so disliked her, I found that Hurt’s narration to be exacerbating the issue, as she amplifies the personality Leary creates for Hildy. As Hildy becomes more vulnerable to the listener, however, Hurt reflects that as well. It is a really masterful performance from someone who clearly really understands the journey of the character to whom she is giving voice.

For more, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

In less able hands, I might have ended up abandoning a book like The Good House, because, on the surface, it does not appear as if it would really speak to me. However, both Leary and Hurt imbue the book with so much heart and reality that I ended up incredibly impressed by their work. Recommended.

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

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.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks 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.

 

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Frankenstein by Ludworst Bemonster – Saturday Story Spotlight

Welcome to Saturday Story Spotlight, my feature where I discuss books my husband and I are reading with our children. These are books that they, we, or all of us particularly enjoy.

Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody by Ludworst Bemonster (Rick Walton and Nathan Hale)
Published by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan

I doubt I am alone in this, but when I was young I simply adored Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeleine. In Frankenstein, Rick Walton and Nathan Hale – writing under the pseudonym Ludworst Bemonster – parodies the beloved childhood classic to monstrous effect. Their main character, as you might expect, is a little Frankenstein, although instead of the littlest of them, he is the ugliest one.

The first portion of Frankenstein is particularly clever. Bemonster has a good ear for the rhyme and meter of the original Madeleine and the story is cute. The monsters’s teacher Miss Devel wakes one night, certain that something is quite wrong and finds that Frankenstein has, quite literally, lost his head.

Frankenstein has some really great ‘spooky’ vocabulary. Things are grotesque and gory, full of shrieks and howls and groans, the monsters torment Miss Devel. The plot loses a bit of steam at the end, though, particularly after what should be the end of the book. There are two more pages of illustration that are so anti-climatic that they nearly ruin the entire book.

Of course, that is all from an adult’s point of view. Daniel, who is now three years old and has never read Madeleine, thoroughly enjoys Frankenstein. He has pronounced it his “favorite,” seemingly due to the good cadence and rhyme, as well as the cutely spooky illustrations.

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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Skating on the Edge by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

Skating on the Edge by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan

This is the third book in the Rebecca Robbins series. I have previously reviewed the first two books, Skating Around the Law and Skating Over the Line.

Somehow, Rebecca Robbins has found herself roped into sitting in the dunk tank at Indian Falls’s Native American Days celebration. Or, at least she got roped into agreeing to it. When her grandfather’s Elvis act goes awry, Rebecca gets one of the local roller derby gals, Sherlene-n-Mean, to substitute for her. It all seems innocent enough, until Sherlene dies in the dunk tank from an electric shock; one that may just have been meant for Rebecca.

In Skating on the Edge, Charbonneau keeps the Rebecca Robbins series fresh with the addition of the rink’s new roller derby girls as fairly major characters. These additions keep Charbonneau from having to bump off the entire town of Indian Falls, and because the girls are a cohesive unit, there is an increased feeling of urgency to figure out what is going on once Rebecca gets involved with them.

As is typical with Charbonneau’s books, Skating on the Edge is a smart, funny mystery. It could certainly be read on its own, but if you haven’t read the first two books in this series yet you should do yourself a favor and pick them up.

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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