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review 2017-11-29 23:32
Everything I Never Told You
Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng,Cassandra Campbell

This book was amazing. I was absolutely captivated the whole time.
Not often have I listened to a book that has prompted me turn up the speed as high as I can possibly stand it because I need to have it all absorbed NOW. This was one of those rare exceptions (seriously, it's maybe happened twice before and last time it was the finale to the Lunar Chronicles).

With a title like this, I knew the story was going to be a sad book about someone leaving some kind of way but I just couldn't help myself. I didn't even bother reading the synopsis, I had  to know. I do have trigger type issues with stories about kids dying, but my ability to persist tends to depend on either the direct actions of the parents that contributed or ill or misrepresentative treatment of the mourning process. I didn't have to worry about that here.

The book did an amazing job of walking the reader through some of the different ways that people mourn, it is not about some easy recovery and people getting on with their lives after a family tragedy. The story itself is about the mourning and recovery process for each family member, wallowing in all the sticky and depressing parts, wallowing in the guilt. It walks us through their inner lives as they go through it all.

I won't  try to defend all of their actions, people are reliably irrational during such times and do things that are out of character. Whether or not we can expect people to think or act rationally while dealing with death is questionable at best. In some stories it works, but those are usually stories where the remaining characters are still under whatever strain or stress that killed the first. This is not that kind of story. Everything was fine, or so the rest of the family thought.

Then they find out that Lydia had died. Due to the circumstances of her death, each family member, in their own way and time, has to take a look at the events leading up to her death and question their amount of fault or responsibility. The problem is that they only have questions. There can be no concrete answers for them. They have to come up with some answer that works for them and try their best to carry on. Part of the problem is that it isn't just about Lydia and her death. When something like this happens so unexpectedly, the remaining family members have no choice but to look at the family and the way that it works and realize that it doesn't work. It hadn't been working. But what could or should they do about it? But figuring that out would require the kind of rationality that isn't immediately available to a grieving family.

During the whole book, I had to wonder if this was going to be a story about a splintering or a family coming together. These things go both ways in life and in stories and Ng's treatment of her characters was realistic enough to make me wonder. I won't spoil it either. I'll just say that each of her characters are incredibly well rounded, even Lydia. We get to know plenty of options for each family member and I was satisfied with the way it did end.

The audiobook was read by Cassandra Campbell, who does an amazing job with it. I listened to the streaming version available through Amazon Channels on Audible. For me, the book satisfies Letter E for my Litsy A to Z Challenge.

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review 2017-08-25 19:55
Souljacker by Yasmine Galenorn
Souljacker: A Lily Bound Novel - Yasmine Galenorn,Cassandra Campbell

Lily is a succubus who staves off the hunger and makes her living by running a sex salon. The book opens when she discovers one her best werewolf clients dead in a bed, drained of blood and missing a hunk of flesh. 

The vamps in this book are not of this ilk.



They are mean, they are hungry and some of them are batshit crazy. These vampires are monsters, just as it should be. Sadly, they do not make much of an appearance. There are a few dead bodies here and there but we don’t get to spend any time in their heads. Such a missed opportunity. I love being in a madman’s head, if only for a short time.

Because of the dead guy in her bed, Lily’s life is turned upside down and inside out. She loses her livelihood, is targeted by a madman and an angry widow bent on revenge and she’s getting dangerously hungry for some chi and sexy time. When she realizes her best friends are also in danger, they enlist the help of a chaos demon who is a most excellent PI and handily enough, very good at the sexy times.



This started out as a whole lot of murderous and sexy fun but somewhere along the way it lost me. It became dull. Nothing much happened for chapters on end. There was much talk about sigils and security and blah, blah, blah. At this point, I even began to start longing for one of these guys to pop in and woo somebody to death just so something would happen.



Really the only thing keeping me reading was the sexy chaos demon. I kept waiting for him to create some major, you know, chaos but I may have to wait until the next book for that happen. It wasn’t even what I’d call a paranormal romance because there was no romance development here either.

There was an engaging story of Lily’s enchanted cat. If the rest of the book had been as interesting as the cat’s backstory I would’ve gobbled this book up. But as written, most of the characters were a little flat and not fleshed out nearly enough for me. There was no emotion, very little action and there wasn’t even any humor. It was all just a bit too tepid for my liking. I tried another of this author’s books years ago, Witchling I believe it was, and I didn’t like that one very much either so maybe it’s me and my atrocious taste again. 

Ah well, I may pick up book two because I do realize this book was the first in a series and much setup needed doing. Hopefully it has more sizzle and less fizzle than this one.

Narration Notes: This audiobook was read competently by Cassandra Campbell who she gives each character their own distinctive voice, none of them cringy, and I always appreciate that because I’m sure it’s not easy. 

I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media. Thanks Tantor!

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review 2017-07-12 14:14
Eligible (and Prejudice)
Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice - Curtis Sittenfeld,Cassandra Campbell

 

 

In this modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice,  the way people know that Chip Bingley, an ER doctor "in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” is that two years before, he appeared on a Bacheloresque dating show called Eligible (without selecting either of the two female contestants who made it to the final episode).  The Bennet family in this version of P & P reside in a ramshackle Tudor home in Cincinatti, Ohio, and of course Mrs. Bennet is convinced that Dr. Bingley will be just right for one of her daughters.  Jane Bennet, who will be turning 40 in the fall, is a yoga instructor who has been attempting to become pregnant via donor sperm and artificial insemination.  Liz, age 38, is a writer for a magazine called Mascara.  Both Liz and Jane live in NYC, but they fly out to their ancestral home when their father has a health scare.  The youngest three daughters have never left the nest.  Mary, age 30, is a misanthrope working on her third online master's degree.  Lydia and Kitty, both in their 20s, work service jobs on and off, but put most of their energy into their Crossfit workouts.

 

Readers of Jane Austen's original will know the broad strokes of the plotlines, but Curtis Sittenfeld changes things up enough to keep the narrative fresh.  There is, of course, a Fitzwilliam Darcy, in this case a neurosurgeon, who must overcome his pride while Liz Bennet makes a journey to get past her own prejudice.  

 

This book was a "staff pick" chosen for week two of the Albany Public Library summer-reading program.  Onto week three (non-fiction)!

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review 2017-05-10 12:20
The Book of Summer
The Book of Summer: A Novel - Michelle Gable

By: Michelle Gable 

ISBN: 9781250070623

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Publication Date: 5/9/2017 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

Storyteller, Michelle Gable returns following I’ll See You in Paris and A Paris Apartment with her latest Nantucket summer charmer (her best yet): THE BOOK OF SUMMER — a multi-generational story of family, home, the courage of tenacious women and the special memories of Cliff House.

Rich in history and character, a scandalous, emotional, and witty tale of family and saving a home. The past, loss and loves, and all the lives which connect. A perfect mix of historic and contemporary.

Based on the real-life erosion of the Sankaty Bluff in Siasconset –known as Sconset—the easternmost spot on Nantucket Island, Gable was inspired by an article in Vanity Fair (very intriguing) about the grand homes, passed down between generations now falling into the sea.

Though the Cliff House bears the fictitious address of Baxter Road, it is based on Bluff House, formerly located at 87 Baxter Road.

The quintessential Nantucket manor known as Cliff House is near falling into the ocean.

However, town shaker Cissy Codman, owner of the home is determined to remain in the house, using every trick she has to keep up the fight to save her family home. She plans on going down the ship.

Cissy is a force to be reckoned with and determined to get the local government behind her to either move the house or continue with the erosion prevention efforts.

Her daughter has been sent from San Francisco, California by her father to ensure her mom moves out of the house before she dies left in the house.

Bess Codman, a physician is undergoing a messy divorce from a complete jerk (Brandon), plus she is pregnant (unplanned) and runs into her ex-high school boyfriend, Evan Mahew.

While tasked with the job of packing up her mom, Bess discovers the “Book of Summer.” A guest book filled with recollections of friends' and family's stay at the house. Entries in the book are highlighted throughout the novel, with difficulties and challenges faced by other residents.

From 2013 and the start of World War II, we hear from Ruby Packard, Bess’s grandmother, an idealistic young bride in 1939, just before the United States enters WWII and Bess.

Bess does not understand her mom Cissy’s obsession with this house; however, the more she reads she comes to understand similarities of present and past. The stubborn women who chained themselves to complex men like the house. Bess begins to understand the unspoken expectations placed on Cissy, being the only child in a troubled home.

Loss is a part of life. Giving everything she had. A costly venture, "saving a bluff." The geo-tubes.

From family drama, lies, secrets, scandals, abortions, gays, alcoholism, betrayal, abuse, infidelity, hookers, divorce, marriage, and more – loss and love, mixed with tons of fun and humor and surprises (loved the part about the pecker-hilarious) and commentary and views from blogger— Corbie Tarbox, the Island ACKtion blog.

Loved Cissy! I related to her on some many levels. What a great cast of characters, from past and present. What is not to love about Nantucket? Have had many hotel clients over the years, and almost moved there full time to run a hotel. Always a good excuse to visit.

Michelle transports you to this charming coastal town by the sea, with an engaging story, resonating with the early writings of Erin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer (which I loved), before they changed, over the past few years.

The past and present were nicely done with many connections with highly charged topics. A perfect beach read and an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussion. Can you imagine losing your house to facts beyond your control?

Gable keeps getting better and better. I enjoyed reading the book; however when I discovered Cassandra Campbell was narrating the audiobook, had to pre-order. Love Cassandra Campbell (my favorite narrator).

She was exceptional and a perfect fit for THE BOOK OF SUMMER. Engaging, absorbing, and entertaining! The audio experience, actually bumped up my review another star, making this a 5-star reading experience.

Highly recommend the book and the audio. Love the subject material with the erosion problem which I am very familiar with highly relatable issues— residing in a coastal area.

Here in Palm Beach, (Breakers Hotel), as well as the Southern area of Palm Beach (Phipps Ocean Park and Beach), the continued erosion along the project area threatens upland structures & recreational beaches. The sand placement and groin & mitigation construction cost millions and designed to last only three years. Very costly, temporary and ongoing environmental issues.

Fans of Mary Alice Monroe, Dorothea Benton Frank, Joanne DeMaio, and Hazel Gaynor will enjoy THE BOOK OF SUMMER.

A special thank you to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/The-Book-of-Summer
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review 2017-05-01 02:22
Lost Landscape
The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age - Joyce Carol Oates,Cassandra Campbell

 

 

Although I have read quite a few of Joyce Carol Oates's works, since she is so prolific, I think I've just barely scraped the surface.  One of the things I admire about her is her eclecticism.  She doesn't confine herself to any one genre nor fall back on any sort of a formula.

 

Probably the first book of hers that I read was Them.  I recall it was on my parents' bookshelf.  My dad was in her graduating class at Syracuse University, and he used to tell me with some pride that he and she were both on the school paper, The Daily Orange.  While I was a PhD student in the 1990s, she gave a talk at my university, and I was lucky to be chosen to attend the post-talk dinner.  She couldn't have been a more gracious dinner companion.  And no, she didn't remember my dad, but I didn't necessarily expect her to!

 

I enjoyed this memoir, and it made me realize how little I knew about Oates's personal life.  One of the things I enjoyed was the afterword, in which she makes a distinction between "memoir" and "autobiography" and explains which elements and details she had changed in order to protect the privacy of some of the people she wrote about.  She also described some of the people and events she did not include and explained why she made that choice.  Ever the teacher, she teaches her readers about the text they have just read.

 

The narrator of the audiobook has a very pleasant voice, though it often struck me how unlike the author's voice it is.  Like the word "demure."  I recall at the talk she gave at my university, Oates sharing with incredulity that people are always expecting her to be demure.  And her pronunciation of the word, in her Western New York accent, sounds quite different from the narrator's rendition.  Still a good reading, though.

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