Audiobook Review: My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc. on April 7, 2015 (originally published October 19, 2011)

Series: The Neapolitan Novels, #1

Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction

Format & Length: audiobook, 12:38:45

Source: library

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A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila, who represent the story of a nation and the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets, the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow – and as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge – Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

With My Brilliant Friend, the first in a series, Ferrante proves herself to be one of Italy’s greatest storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted pause-resister, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations – a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new listeners to her work.

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Book Review: Justice Gone, by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone, by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Published by  Roundfire Books on Feburary 22, 2019

Series: Dr. Tessa Thorpe, #1

Genre(s): fiction, thriller

Format & Length: e-book, 336

Source: author

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When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

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Book Review: Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand, by Michael Ban

Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand, by Michael Ban

Elai nelson and the Storm on the Sand by Michael Ban

Published by  Michael Ban Books on October 28, 2018

Series: Fire on the Clouds Trilogy, #2

Genre(s): fiction, adventure, fantasy, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 426

Source: author

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So, you think you had a bad day? Let me tell you about mine. My parents got murdered. The ones from Earth who’d adopted me as a kid, as well as the ones I was born to, on another planet. I was chased and almost killed by assassins. I crossed an inter-dimensional portal and found myself on a strange new world. I met some dwarves with the worst dress sense I’d ever seen. I found out that it was somehow my job to save the world from some great evil. And I almost got killed by assassins, again. Yes, that was my Monday. How was yours?

It’s hard enough being a teenager. It’s insanely hard for a teenager who spent most of his time with a keyboard and a mouse to suddenly have to handle a sword and fight monsters. While having a crush on a couple of really beautiful girls who are way, way out of my league. And don’t even get me started about the ships. Great big sailing ships, smelly fishing boats, flying ships. Been there, done that, fell off a couple of them. Did I tell you that I was put in command of a small army? Yes, I was, and I promptly messed it all up. Lots of people died because of me. So now you know, teenagers don’t make great army generals.

But, after all that, I’ve been given a chance to redeem myself. To try to fix things. The big horde of monsters that I got my ass kicked by the last time? They’re still around, and meaner than ever. But I’ve been given a second try to stop them, and I’m sure as heck not going to waste it. Deserts, rivers, flying monsters, thieves, assassins, vicious bankers. None of that’s going to stand in my way. I’m going to finish the job, even if it’s just me and my trusty talking sword.

Elai Nelson and the Storm on the Sand is the second book in a young adult fantasy trilogy, charting the hilarious and whimsical journey of a 16-year old city kid, as he journeys through a mystical realm and battles enemies, humans and monsters alike, with his smarts, his courage, and a backpack full of toys. The first book, Elai Nelson and the Prophecy of the Child, is available on Amazon and other merchants.

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Mini Reviews: The Mentalist Series, by Kenechi Udogu

Mini Reviews: The Mentalist Series, by Kenechi Udogu

For this set of mini reviews, I’m going to talk about The Mentalist series, which consists of a trilogy and prequel. This isn’t a direct comparison by any means, but this paranormal YA romance series had vibes that reminded me of Twilight. If that and the blurb below sounds like your thing, read on for my thoughts on each of these books!

*Thanks to the author for providing copies of this editions in exchange for an honest review.

For Gemma Green’s first time, things should have been straightforward. Find your subject, hold their gaze and push a thought into their head to save them from future disaster – Aversion complete. A pretty simple process given that the subject was to have no recollection of the experience. But Russ Tanner doesn’t seem to want to forget. In fact the more she tries to avoid him, the more he pushes to get to know her. Gemma knows she has a problem but is she facing the side effects of a failed Aversion or has the school’s tennis champ really fallen for her?

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Book Review: Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Published by Penguin Classics on November 6, 2008 (first published December 1847)

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, classics

Format & Length: hardcover, 353

Source: purchased

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In a house haunted by memories, the past is everywhere … As darkness falls, a man caught in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to betrayal and terrible revenge – and continues to torment those in the present. How love can transgress authority, convention, even death.

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Audiobook Review: All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

Published by Random House Audio on June 26, 2018

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, women’s fiction

Format & Length: audiobook, 10:29:57

Source: library

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Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in–and her overprotective father doesn’t help–but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together–all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

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Audiobook Review: Cross Her Heart, by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart, by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Published by HarperAudio on September 4, 2018

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, mystery, thriller

Format & Length: audiobook, 10:23:41

Source: library

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The New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes returns with a twisty, hair-raising psychological thriller about a single mom, her daughter, and her best friend, the secrets they hide, and the danger they can’t escape.

Lisa lives a very quiet life. A single mother nearing forty, she devotes herself to raising her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ava. Wary of men, Lisa doesn’t speak of her past or Ava’s absent father. Her best friend Marilyn wishes she would open up more and maybe finally go on a date—with the sexy new client who’s obviously keen—but Marilyn has problems of her own.

Ava is getting tired of her overprotective mother. She wants to live like a normal teenager—chill with friends, go to swim practice, study for exams, have a boyfriend. Her mom would freak if she knew that Ava’s already got someone special, someone who makes her feel sophisticated—and wanted.

Lisa has spent a long time looking over her shoulder, but lately she’s been especially uneasy. Small things from the past have begun to appear in the present, feeding her anxiety. As her life begins to unravel, Lisa knows that the only way she can protect herself and her daughter is to face her fears. Yet courage won’t be enough. She’ll need help from the only person she can trust—Marilyn. Between them they have to save Ava, and to do that, they have to be honest with each other. Truly honest. Marilyn did promise she’d do anything to help.

But a long time ago, Lisa made a promise too. Then she broke her word. And that betrayal hasn’t been forgotten—or forgiven.

Now, someone is going to make her pay for her sin.

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Book Review: The Night Sister, by Jennifer McMahon

The Night Sister, by Jennifer McMahon

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Published by Doubleday on August 4, 2015

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, horror, mystery, paranormal

Format & Length: e-book, 336

Source: purchased

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The latest novel from New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.

Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever.

Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock’s next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

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Book Review: Still Life, by Louise Penny

Still Life, by Louise Penny

Still Life by Louise Penny

Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks on May 1, 2007 (first published 2005)

Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1

Genre(s): fiction, crime, mystery

Format & Length: paperback, 293

Source: purchased

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Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with power, ingenuity, and charm.

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Audiobook Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Published by Hachette Audio on October 20, 2016

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1

Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction, mystery, young adult

Format & Length: audiobook, 09:26:50

Source: library

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Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

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