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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The White Princess by Philippa Gregory – Mini Book Review

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
Published by Touchstone Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Hey guys, I don’t really have time to write much this week, but The White Princess came out a week ago already and I wanted to give you some quick thoughts. This is a continuation of Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series (I previously reviewed the following other books in the series: The White Queen, The Red Queen, The Lady of the Rivers, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, and the nonfiction companion Women of the Cousins’ War). In this book she focuses on the eldest daughter of Edward IV, the wife of Henry Tudor (Henry VII), and the mother of Henry VIII, Elizabeth of York. If you want more information about what is contained in the story, you can see the feature I wrote about it for the SheKnows Book Lounge.

A couple thoughts:

  • Gregory’s Elizabeth was in love with her uncle, Richard III and, in fact, even carried on a love affair with him (before this book begins, obviously, since he is dead by the opening pages). This is not outside the realm of possibility, since there were rumors at the time he was planning to marry her. However, I thought we were reminded of this fact just a little too often at the beginning of the book, where seemingly every mention of Richard was followed by something along the lines of “my lover.” Luckily that went away before too long, particularly as Elizabeth began to find her way in her marriage to Henry Tudor.
  • What makes The White Princess really special is the level of conflict Gregory introduces that is internal to Elizabeth. She finds herself stuck initially between her mother (and her missing or dead brothers who should have inherited the throne) and her husband. This may not seem like such a conundrum as she didn’t exactly marry for love, but once she has a son who is set to inherit the throne from her husband, Elizabeth’s life becomes much more difficult. There are so many rebellions and pretenders to the throne around and Elizabeth has to work out for herself where her loyalties truly lie. Although this is a major theme, each time it is presented in a new enough way that it doesn’t seem redundant, just ever more heartbreaking for Elizabeth.

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

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The Water Witch by Juliet Dark – Mini Book Review

The Water Witch by Juliet Dark
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

This is the second book in the Fairwick Chronicles series. I have previously reviewed the first book, The Demon Lover. This review may contain spoilers for The Demon Lover.

From the publisher:

After casting out a dark spirit, Callie McFay, a professor of gothic literature, has at last restored a semblance of calm to her rambling Victorian house. But in the nearby thicket of the honeysuckle forest, and in the currents of the rushing Undine stream, more trouble is stirring. . . .

The enchanted town of Fairwick’s dazzling mix of mythical creatures has come under siege from the Grove: a sinister group of witches determined to banish the fey back to their ancestral land. With factions turning on one another, all are cruelly forced to take sides. Callie’s grandmother, a prominent Grove member, demands her granddaughter’s compliance, but half-witch/half-fey Callie can hardly betray her friends and colleagues at the college. To stave off disaster, Callie enlists Duncan Laird, an alluring seductive academic who cultivates her vast magical potential, but to what end? Deeply conflicted, Callie struggles to save her beloved Fairwick, dangerously pushing her extraordinary powers to the limit—risking all, even the needs of her own passionate heart.

I don’t really have ALL THE THINGS to say about The Water Witch, it is definitely the second book in a trilogy, more bridge than anything else. The events of The Water Witch pick up right after those in The Demon Lover and, honestly, not a whole lot of new stuff happens for much of the book and, when things do start happening, they seem to be more a set up for the third book than anything else.

That being said, The Water Witch is still totally engaging and if its purpose is to make me want to read the third book in the series, coming out in September, then it did its job well. Recommended.

For more information, check out the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher, via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant – Audiobook Review

Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family – in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia – in order to succeed.

Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest – though increasingly unstable – weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli’s The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.

Thoughts on the story:

The Borgias rival the Tudors as one of the most dramatic families of the European Renaissance. Dunant approaches the family with a very literary and somewhat reserved bent. In the early pages of Blood and Beauty I worried that I would have a difficult time getting into the book because Dunant keeps the reader very distant from her characters. I need not have worried, though. Dunant tells the story of the Borgias beautifully and with such reality and tension that even knowing the history and where all of their lives were headed, I was completely rapt.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Edoardo Ballerini. You guys. He’s fabulous. Like, he’s just really fabulous. I’ve got a serious audio crush on him now. Every part of his performance is masterful.

Overall:

Amazing. The book, the audio edition, all of it. Read it or, even better, listen.

For more information, 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.

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Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis – Audiobook Review

Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Knopf, both imprints of Random House

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. While the thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire, the British were dispatching the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic to crush the rebellion in the cradle. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them. In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other.

Thoughts on the story:

I am seriously impressed by Revolutionary Summer. It is a relatively brief book, just about seven hours in audio, but Ellis conveys a lot of information – including much that is glossed over in most accounts – in a very clear manner. He intertwines both the political and the military happenings of that summer, showing readers how they interrelate and influence one another. It is well-organized and informative, really a top-notch history.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Rudnicki has a wonderfully resonant voice and presents Revolutionary Summer clearly, adding just the right amount of audible interest.

Overall:

A wonderful audiobook and a wonderful look at American history. A great listen for 4th of July weekend.

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.

 

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