Audiobook Review, Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, can we talk about the cover? This book kept popping up on social media everywhere, and every time, it stuck in my head because of that gorgeous cover. It is so simple, but beautiful and eye catching.

So what is The Immortalists about? In the 1960’s the Gold children hear about a woman who can tell fortunes. She’s said to be able to tell you the date you will die. So when all four of them pay the woman a visit, they get the answers they came looking for, but will they like what they hear? The story that unfolds is about each of the children’s journeys through life, leading up to their deaths. At times perhaps a bit depressing, it explores the line between our decisions and our fate. And challenges the way we live our lives. Would we live differently if we knew when we were going to die? Would we play it safe or make the most of our days?

I thought the idea behind this book was extraordinary. I enjoyed the philosophical elements and the overall message Chloe Benjamin was trying to portray. I loved the character development as well and really connected with several of the characters as the book went on.

I did struggle slightly with the format. It is really four separate stories that end up tying together. But, they are told in succession. So I would get really invested in one character or story, it would end, and I would have to get my brain back in gear to connect with the next character in line. It ended up working for me, but that is my one slightly gripe.

All in all, this was a fantastic novel and explored a lot of really interesting content. I found it thought provoking, but not at the expense of entertainment.

I would recommend it one to anybody looking for something with deeper and perhaps a little darker subject matter. It’s a quick read but you may find it somewhat emotionally draining.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books I’ve heard about everywhere but never got around to reading…. until now. With the upcoming release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s next book, Daily Jones and the Six (which I can’t wait to review), I figured I would read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo first.

Evelyn Hugo is a Hollywood icon. Now in old age, she is a symbol of “Old Hollywood.” Over the years she has starred in countless movies, has been tagged the party girl, and has been married seven times. An easy target, the press has loved to write about her life over the years. But now Evelyn Hugo contacts young Monique, a pretty junior reporter at a magazine, and invites her to do a “tell all” of her life. The catch. It won’t be published until her death. But she will spill every detail that the public doesn’t know about her life.

I am hesitant to give away any more than that because a huge part of the story involves a couple plot twists that I absolutely didn’t see coming. Suffice it to say, Evelyn Hugo has a secret or two, and she’s ready to tell the world who she really is.

I loved the old Hollywood vibe of this book. I felt like I was transported back to the elegant 1950s and walked this journey with Evelyn. I will say I was very invested in the story of Evelyn’s past. When the story flipped back to the present, I wasn’t as excited (until the end of course… then the present story line all comes together). There were times when I felt like the story dragged a bit or became slow in the middle, and I had to push through to garner a little excitement. But Reid always delivered. Just when there was a lull in the action, something exciting happened to draw me back in.

The ending was completely unexpected with a true plot twist. Not that I’m the resident expert in plot twists, but nowadays you can see most of them coming. The twist in this book was expertly executed and I think it would be difficult for anybody to really unearth it before its reveal.

The audiobook was done very well, flipping between the voices of Evelyn (present), Evelyn (past) and Monique. The narrator definitely held my attention.

For those of you looking for something unexpected, this book is for you. It breaks boundaries and tells a bold story. If I could tell you more without ruining the surprise I would, but you will just have to read it for yourself to see!

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Mystery

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watch out because Delia Owens is in the building! That’s the way to release a debut novel!

What a powerhouse of a book! Let me begin with a quote:

“Well, we better hide way out there where the crawdads sing. I pity any foster parents who take you on.” Tate’s whole face smiled.
“What d’ya mean, where the crawdads sing? Ma used to say that.” Kya remembered Ma always encouraging her to explore the marsh: “Go as far as you can—way out yonder where the crawdads sing.”
“Just means far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters.”
– Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

When a young girl is abandoned by her family to survive alone in the marsh of North Carolina, she must learn to live off the land. Cooking, making money, keeping a house, educating herself, learning how to interact with people. In the marsh she lives as an outcast from the local townspeople who refer to her as The Marsh Girl, and leave her to fend for herself. The story follows her life as she grows from a seven year old girl scared and abandoned into an intelligent and successful biologist.

There is a love story component. There is a murder. There is a trial. This book has it all.

And that ending! It blew me away.

I felt so bad for Kya while I was reading this book. It was like the poor girl couldn’t catch a break. I just wanted to be her friend and tell her it was going to be okay.

Delia Owens’ writing reminded me of Kristin Hannah is a big way, and considering Hannah is my favorite author, that is a huge compliment. She was able to capture the same essence that makes Hannah’s writing impeccable. I felt like I was reading a movie. The scenery and characters were so vivid, and the story flowed elegantly. It was wonderful.

I usually devour books, reading most books in a day or two. However, there was something special about this one. I didn’t want it to end and forced myself to read it slowly so that I could savor it. I’m so glad I took my time because it was magnificent. I cannot wait to see what Delia Owens has up her sleeve next.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Romance

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in HavanaNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Havana, oh-na-na! Half of my heart is in Havana, oh-na-na.

Ok, I’ll stop.

But seriously, this book oozed Cuba! I could see the colorful building and old antique cars. But, I could also feel the heartbreak and struggle of the Cuban people at the hands of an oppressive government.

This book is about the past and the present. It’s 1958 and Elisa Perez, the daughter of a sugar baron, lives the life of a debutante. Her family has money and her father’s business is supported by Batista, the US-backed Cuban president who suspended the 1940 Constitution and turned the country into anything but a democracy. When Elisa falls in love with Pablo, a Castro supporter and rebel, her life is about to get very complicated. Meanwhile, Miami 2017. Elisa Perez passes away and her granddaughter, Marisol, is tasked with spreading her ashes in Cuba. It will be Marisol’s first trip to Cuba, the land of her ancestors and her heritage. But, will she dig up some skeletons from the past?

First of all, I feel like I didn’t get a thorough history lesson in Cuba and the Cold War in high school. This book was pretty eye opening. For a fictional book, I learned a ton about Fidel Castro’s rise to power, and the promises that were made the Cuban people that never materialized. Let me tell you something, if there is ever a time when you’re questioning your life in America, you need to read this book. The worst day in America sounds better than the best day in Cuba. Freedom is something that we take for granted.

Chanel Cleeton’s writing was beautiful. I loved the character development. I felt a connection to both the people and the place. There was good tension throughout the book that kept me engaged and wanting to know more. In fact, I can’t wait for the sequel, When We Left Cuba, which is expected to be out in April 2019.

It should also be mentioned that this book was one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks, which are always fantastic.

Finally, this audiobook was done extremely well. Loved the multiple narrators that were part of the story. They had a little hint of a Cuban accent that just took me there. Loved it.

Can’t recommend this book enough. I think it’s such an important piece of history to understand that isn’t talked about enough.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for your next great WWII historical fiction, here it is. This book was recommended to me by a friend based on how much I loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and it did not disappoint.

I honestly don’t want to give away what this book is about because it will completely ruin the ending, but suffice it to say that there is a piece of WWII history that I’m guaranteeing most people have never heard which is represented by this book. Told through the perspectives of four fictional characters, this book is based on true events.

I loved the ultra-short chapters because it made for an extremely quick listen. And from an audiobook perspective, having each of the four characters portrayed by a different narrator made the experience feel more authentic and real.

I don’t pretend to be a WWII history buff, and this book definitely had elements which I found somewhat confusing just because I didn’t have the appropriate background knowledge. There was a lot of discussion of various countries and their ties to the war (Lithuania, Poland, Prussia, Yugoslavia, etc.) and prior to this book I didn’t have a good knowledge of how the people of those countries were affected. But, the author did a good job of explaining enough that I could follow. (Also, there is an Author’s Note at the end that helps clear some things up so just stick around for that).

Overall, the characters were done very well. I felt a connection with each of them and understood the motivation behind their actions. I found myself rooting for (most of) them along the way.

If you’re looking for a good historical fiction that is on the shorter side and isn’t too bogged down with historical detail, this is a superb read. Highly recommended.

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