Audiobook Review, Holiday, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club, Romance

One Day in December by Josie Silver

One Day in DecemberOne Day in December by Josie Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick for December, y’all! I love my girl Reese and try to read all of her book club picks because I’ve never met a pick I didn’t like. And One Day in December is no exception.

This book in several words… cute, charming, Hallmark-esque, perhaps a tad cheesy, and heartwarming.

So what’s this book about? Girl on bus sees boy on street and it is love at first sight. Bus drives away and girl spends the next year of her life pining over stranger we shall refer to as “bus boy.” I know… I know… super unrealistic but bear with me. Girl gets introduced to best friend’s new boyfriend. And you guessed it! Bus boy. Girl and boy spend years in angsty (dare I say slightly depressing) turmoil waiting for their lives to align so they can finally be together.

Funny that the author, Josie Silver, should mentioned the movie The Holiday at the beginning of this book because it was similar in nature. The main character reminded me of Kate Winslet and her slightly sad, depressing life until Prince Charming (Jack Black) walks in. And it continues to be a little sad and depressing until she finally gets her fairy tale ending.

I will say this book wasn’t super mind blowing in its content. It’s a simple holiday romance novel that I could see being made into a made-for-Netflix movie one day. But it was a super quick read and perfect reading for the holidays.

Reese strikes again! Definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a nice wintery, holiday romance.

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Mystery, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club

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, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club, 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, General Fiction (Adult), Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Little Fires Everywhere is a book I’ve seen off and on for many months now in various Facebook groups and forums. People rave about it. So I put it on the wait list at the library. I finally got it after a couple months of patient waiting, and it was great!

Celeste Ng writes the tale of a few suburban families, the way their lives are interconnected, and the dynamics/relationships among the various characters. The Richardsons are a typical upper middle class family – Mom, Dad, and four kids. Mia Warren is a struggling artist who totes her daughter, Pearl, around the country, living with very little possessions. When the Warrens move to Shaker Heights, they rent Mrs. Richardson’s cozy duplex, and Pearl finds herself befriending the Richardson children. The McCulloughs also live in the neighborhood and have struggled for years to have children, until a baby is left at the fire station and their dreams come true. These three families will find their lives tied together in web of complication.

This story was so simple but wonderful at the same time. It felt like a real life story free of embellishment and exaggeration. I felt like it easily could have been nonfiction given how realistic and genuine the characters felt. They each had their own personality that shined through. I felt particularly connected to the stories of the children, and felt that their struggles throughout high school and their teenage years were very believable.

The ending didn’t make me feel very good to be honest, but it was bittersweet and fitting. This is my first Celeste Ng novel and it won’t be the last.

If you’re looking for an easy read that’s simple but lovely, this is the book for you.

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Audiobook Review, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club, Thriller

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Something in the WaterSomething in the Water by Catherine Steadman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great, quick beach read! And one of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks!

Erin and Mark have the honeymoon of a lifetime on the paradise island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia. They arrive as the Four Seasons to a beautiful hotel suite and five star service. With adventure in mind, they go scuba diving in the middle of the ocean and suddenly find themselves surrounded by thousands of pages of soggy, blank pieces of paper. But paper isn’t all they will stumble upon. When they pull a mysterious duffel bag out of the water, they know that something unusual has happened in the treacherous ocean waters. But things get stranger when they finally open the duffel bag and find the secrets hidden within. Their lives will never be the same.

Full of mystery, greed, betrayal, secrets, cover ups, lies, and desperation, Something in the Water was one of the quickest audiobooks I’ve listened to in a while. Catherine Steadman was able to walk that fine line of weaving a complex tale that keeps the reader engaged while keeping the story relatively simple with little chance for confusion. Sometimes thrillers can have a tendency to get very convoluted in an attempt to throw the reader off track, but this story was able to stay pretty even-keeled and still pack a powerful punch at the end. I very much enjoyed the twist at the end.

I will say my one complaint was that the book wrapped up very quickly and there were pieces of the story that felt somewhat unresolved. But that’s a very small gripe for a story that was wonderful overall.

From an audiobook perspective, it was narrated by the author herself, and she did a great job. There were several phone calls that took place throughout the course of the narrative, and one of the things I found interesting during the audio was that the telephone calls were edited in such a way that they had a techno/electronic quality which made them sound like they were really happening via a phone. It was something I hadn’t heard previously on an audibook and I enjoyed the added touch.

Overall, anybody who likes books in the vein of Ruth Ware or J.P. Delaney would enjoy this book. It is very quick paced and an easy read. Would highly recommend.

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