The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudcyz Lupescu – Audiobook Review

The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu, narrated by Xe Sands
Published in audio by Iambik Audio, published in print by Wolfsword Press

Synopsis:

From Iambik Audio:

In Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, Nadya Lysenko has built her life on a foundation of secrets. When she was sixteen, Nadya snuck out of her house in Western Ukraine to meet a fortuneteller in the woods. She never expected it to be the last time she would see her family. Decades later, Nadya continues to be haunted by the death of her parents and sisters. The myths and magic of her childhood are still a part of her reality: dreams unite friends across time and space, house spirits misplace keys and glasses, and a fortuneteller’s cards predict the future. Nadya’s beloved dead insist on being heard through dreams and whispers in the night. They want the truth to come out. Nadya needs to face her past and confront the secrets she buried. Too often the women of history have been silenced, but their stories have power-to reveal, to teach, and to transform. This is one such story.

Thoughts on the story:

Lupescu weaves together Nadya’s past and present in an almost seamless manner. It was fascinating seeing how her choices in the past affected her life in the present. The Silence of Trees was given additional depth by the addition of Ukrainian traditions, folklore, and superstition. These details make Nadya’s life and family come vividly to life.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Sands’s narration generally takes me a bit of time to get used to, because she has a much breathier style than most narrators I tend to listen to. Her sentences tend to drift off a bit, forcing the listener to really pay attention. I can see this bothering some people, but if you listen long enough to get the full force of emotion she puts into her narration you are likely to be hooked. Sands also does an amazing job with the different voices and accents in The Silence of Trees.

Overall:

The Silence of Trees is a multilayered story with equally complex narration. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Iambik Audiobooks

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: 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 Bungalow by Sarah Jio – Book Review

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin

Anne Calloway is newly engaged, but still unready to really settle down. Her fiance is staid and predictable, and Anne needs one last adventure in her life. When her best friend signs up to go to serve as a World War II Army nurse, Anne decides to join her in her South Pacific posting.

The nurses are unsurprisingly popular with the soldiers  on Bora-Bora, and Anne is no exception. Although she has plans to be nothing but faithful to her fiance, the more time she spends with a soldier named Westry, the more their friendship – and eventually a romance – blossom.

Jio excels writing books that carry the reader away with both plot and setting. Anne and Westry are engaging characters, and their relationship is transporting, especially with Jio’s lush descriptions of Bora-Bora.

A lovely book to warm your heart on a cold winter day.

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 Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer – Book Review

The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

When art critic Daniel Lichtmann’s wife is found dead next to the equally lifeless body of an artist – one with whom Daniel had a somewhat antagonistic relationship, no less – it seems that Daniel’s life, too, is over. Depressed at the thought that Aleksandra, who was actually Daniel’s second wife, had had such an intimate affair with Benjamin Wind that she even died with him in a supposed suicide, Daniel is all but unable to function, and seems on the verge of losing his job. One might think that Daniel would at least be glad that Benjamin, the man who stole his wife, is dead or, if he is upset, that he might be upset at his inability to take his own revenge. Instead, Daniel almost mourns for the man as he does for his wife. It is lucky that he does so, though, because at Benjamin’s funeral Daniel meets a man claiming to be Benjamin’s grandfather. This man, Max, turns on its head everything that Daniel thought he knew about Benjamin and his relationship with Aleksandra by introducing Daniel to the secret past of Benjamin’s family.

To be completely honest, I was a bit concerned starting The Marriage Artist. Suicide, lust, and infidelity in the art world just didn’t seem like an appealing premise at the time I picked it up, but I also couldn’t put it off because the BOOK CLUB discussion was looming. What I found, though, was a haunting story of love, marriage, and the ever-present influence of the past. Daniel’s story is told in parallel with that of Josef Pick, a Viennese Jew whose story begins in the years before World War II, and who is famous for his creation of marriage contracts. Either of the stories might have been overwhelming on their own, for both are filled with longing and heartbreak, but the way they are woven together prevents either one from becoming overly depressing and builds anticipation for both stories.

The Marriage Artist is a masterful example of a dual time period narrative. The stories work together beautifully, each enhancing the other. In addition, Winer takes what could have been a depressing or unappealing story and set of characters, and works them together in such a way that they hold the reader’s interest with ease. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher for BOOK CLUB.
* 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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Sarah’s Key – Upcoming Film & Giveaway

Nearly three years ago I reviewed a very interesting piece of dual time period modern day/WWII historical fiction called Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Overall I enjoyed it, although I was a bit put off by some of the modern storyline, it was a bit fluffy at times and felt incongruous with the historical storyline. The historical storyline, however, I found completely poignant and heartbreaking, I still catch myself thinking about it from time to time.

Now Sarah’s Key is going to be a movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas (website | trailer). It follows American journalist Julia Jarmond whose article for a piece on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942 in France completely upends her entire world. I’m not even going to tell you about the historical part of the storyline, because I think it is best if you experience the specifics for yourself, if they are anything like the book (which they appear to be). I predict lots and lots of crying. I’m very interested to see what they do with this adaptation, if perhaps the chick lit feel of the modern day storyline will be toned down a little, which I think would only improve the story as a whole.

The movie studio producing Sarah’s Key, The Weinstein Company (twitter | facebook), is offering one lucky reader a copy of the novel as well as a movie poster. This giveaway is open internationally. Please enter on the form below by 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 21st.

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The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene – Book Review

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene
Published by Berkley Trade, an imprint of Penguin

Claire Harris Stone is a spoiled, oversexed socialite. Or, at least that is what the world sees, until a man from her past shows up at one of her husband’s parties. Her wealthy husband believed he was marrying a pedigreed woman who would bring him prestige, not the daughter of a pig farmer skilled at playacting. Convinced that her husband will make her disappear at his earliest possible convenience, now that she represents probably embarrassment for him, Claire gets papers from an old friend and hops a boat for Paris. Except it is 1940, and the Paris Claire finds is not the one she expected to find. After an old fling fails to take her in, Claire finds work she loves in a flower shop.

Even a simple job at a flower shop isn’t so simple, though, when your city is overrun by Nazis. Since she entered France without valid papers, she is unable to get the papers required by the Nazis, and thus can’t work, travel, or even buy food legally. When her lack of papers becomes a danger for her friends in the flower shop, Claire turns to acquaintances in the Resistance for false papers. In return, however, she must perform missions for them, spying on the Nazis in the hotels where she delivers flowers.

The Last Time I Saw Paris is an incredibly engaging read. It is one of those books where you blink and suddenly you’ve read 20 pages. Sheene’s prose certainly deserves much of the credit for this, but the real highlight of the book is Claire. She seems like such a potentially obnoxious heroine early on, although even then the you admire her strength and persistence, but her growth as a character and a person hits the perfect note. She is redeemed from her former, selfish self, but in a gradual way that seems perfectly realistic given her circumstances.

Readers looking specifically for the romance angle might be a bit let down, as that relationship is somewhat underdeveloped  as compared to Claire’s personal growth. One can see how a love would develop between asset and handler, so it isn’t entirely unbelievable, but neither is it particularly well fleshed out. However, the rest of the book is so well-drawn that, unless the romance angle is your sole reason for reading, most readers will fail to be disappointed.

Claire is a product of her time, as well as an extremely strong and capable woman. Her story fascinates and captivates, drawing the reader in and keeping the page turning. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Author’s publicist.
* 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.