Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Humor, Mystery

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’m a little bit late to the party on this one since it published in 2012 but I’ve been wanting to read it for a while so I was excited when I was able to get ahold of it from the library.

If you’re looking for something fun, quirky, unique, different, and in its own wheelhouse, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is the perfect choice.

Bernadette’s daughter Bee wants to go on a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette is still adjusting to living the life she never wanted in Seattle, Washington and may be on the verge of a mental breakdown. And when Bernadette disappears, Bee is forced to weave together clues to where her mother has gone.

Told in the form of emails, letters, memos, transcripts, the format was ultimately the best and worst thing about this book. I am always a sucker for authors who write in a unique format other than strictly prose. I love the level of creativity. And I think I would have enjoyed this book’s format a lot more if I had read it rather than listened to the audio. Because on audio it did become a tad hard to follow.

But, that being said, the narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite, was one of the most fabulous narrators I’ve ever heard. She totally did the characters justice in voice, personality, and spirit. So even though the format made the audio version challenging, the narrator made up for it in storytelling.

At times, I did struggle to understand how all the pieces of the story fit together and flowed. And while it did come together in the end, there were portions of the book where I found myself zoning out because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. That being said, I think if I were to read it again, I would probably appreciate it much more than the first time around.

Ultimately, although my numeric rating is on the lower side, I would still highly recommend reading this book just for the experience. It’s a gem.

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner

Drawing HomeDrawing Home by Jamie Brenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jamie Brenner never fails to deliver a fabulous summer read perfect for poolside lounging. Last year I read her book The Husband Hour and adored it. When I saw early praise for Drawing Home was super excited to read it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an advanced copy for review but I put myself immediately on the library’s waitlist for the audiobook once it published.

When a prestigious and rich artist suddenly passes away in a small town and leaves all his assets to a young girl to whom he’d been giving drawing lessons, everybody is confused. Her mom. His long time friend. And when the young girl’s absentee father shows up after years of neglect, everybody is suspicious of his motives. Drawning Home is a complex look at family dynamics with a small town summer feel.

I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the inheritance and why it was bestowed on the young girl. I kept trying to guess why the artist would have given her such a substantial gift upon his death, and I’ll tell you right now that I guessed wrong.

The multiple characters’ story lines kept the story interesting and the relationships they all developed to each other was probably my favorite part of the book.

I don’t think I liked this one quite as much as The Husband Hour. Not that there was anything wrong with this story, I just really adored the former. If you’re looking for a great beach read, Jamie Brenner is usually a safe bet. I would highly recommend this one.

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Audiobook Review, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club, Romance

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The ProposalThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve seen Jasmine Guillory’s book covers all over social media. From The Proposal to The Wedding Date and The Wedding Party, the playful cover art has been grabbing my attention. The Proposal was a Reese Witherspoon pick from a few months back that finally dropped onto my shelf from the library after a while of waiting.

Nik and her boyfriend go to a Dodgers baseball game where he (after 5 months of dating) proceeds to propose to her on the scoreboard in front of thousands of fans. She is mortified and embarrassingly declines his proposal. FYI – this is not a spoiler…. all of this happens in the first chapter of the book. After her BF stomps away, Carlos and his sister (strangers and fellow Dodger watchers) feel awful for Nik as everybody stares in her direction and decide to save her. Cue the “meet cute” because the rest of the story is essentially a love story between Nik and Carlos after their unconventional meeting.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book is that it was a love story that involved persons of color, which I have found is somewhat rare (at least in the books that I have read lately). So I liked that Jasmine Guillory incorporated characters of multiple races and also tied in cultural elements from their backgrounds as well. It was a nice change of pace and added some flavor.

The story overall is pretty simple. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. There is some climactic tension and a satisfying ending. So it’s not anything mind blowing in terms of the content itself. But it’s a light, easy, and fast read, which would be good for somebody who’s just coming off of a dark or heavy book and needs some reprieve.

Cute. Fun. Flirty. Romantic. All in all, a perfect feel-good romance for the summer.

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The CactusThe Cactus by Sarah Haywood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

June 2019’s Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick!

I always love a good Reese pick, so I was excited to get my hands on The Cactus so quickly from the library this month.

It’s tough to say what this book is about. It is so reminiscent of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine that I was mildly distracted by the similarities. There is a woman who is a little uptight and quirky who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. Having never thought she would have children, she begins this adventure of discovery in her own quirky way. And she may find love along the way as well.

I think I enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant as a character a bit more than the main character from this book. And I didn’t enjoy the subject matter quite as much here either. Overall, it was just okay for me. It was a perfectly fine book but didn’t wow me.

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of these quirky characters that seem to be on trend right now so I’m probably not the best audience for this book. If you absolutely loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or even , you would probably enjoy this one.

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Audiobook Review, Memoir/Biography, Nonfiction, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding HomeFrom Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

From Scratch came recommended by Reese’s Book Club. I always read her recommendations and usually resonate with them, but this one wasn’t my favorite. This book is advertised as “A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home” but I would add “Loss and Death” to that list. Given the lovely photo on the cover, I was expecting something uplifting and romantic. But, this book was far more depressing than I was anticipating.

Tembi Locke tells the story of her and her husband (who died from cancer), their journey to overcome racial and cultural barriers, their struggle with illness and death, and her quest to move on.

I will say that Tembi Locke can write beautifully. I felt like I was in Sicily and her descriptions made me feel like I was in her world. The writing was wonderfully executed. Where I struggled was in the structure of the book (or lack thereof). There wasn’t really a defined beginning, middle, or end to the story. It skipped all over the place from past to present with random stories peppered in between. And the lack of a defined literary path made it difficult for me to connect with the story or the characters.

I enjoyed the first half more than the second. Tembi’s descriptions of her husband’s struggle with cancer and his ultimate death were heartbreaking and I felt for her. But after his death, the story kind of dragged on and felt a bit repetitive in places.

I know a ton of people have really loved this book. And I will admit that while I do read memoirs, they’re never the genre that I gravitate to naturally. So if you’re a fan of memoir, you may absolutely love this one. If you pick it up, I would highly recommend listening on audio as Tembi’s narration is superb.

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