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review 2020-02-21 18:42
The Giver of Stars
The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

This was an excellent audio to listen to. I couldn’t understand why I was able to get the audio right off the shelf at the library while the list to obtain the physical book was miles long. Although there were a lot of discs, the novel went quickly. Before reading this novel, I wondered if this book was going to be like The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek that I had previously read and loved, since they sounded similar in nature. What I found after I read this book was, although they were similar, it was the women in each story that made the two books different.  


I really enjoyed Margery in this story.  This woman had some spit fire in her. I loved her spunk from the minute I heard her speak. I wondered if somewhere, down the road in my listening of these discs, if something would backfire and she would pay for her outspoken personality.  Afterall, considering where she was, this time in history, and her being a woman, she really was an outstanding individual. Margery was her own person; she wasn’t concerned about what others thought or said.  Margery did what she thought needed to done.  I loved how Margery encouraged the women who supported the library and how she brought all the women together.


As the women brought the books to their patrons who lived out on the mountains, they were bringing more than just books to them.  I could feel the love, compassion, and companionship that their visits provided as I listened to the author’s words.  


As the women gathered for their “library meetings,” a big grin came across my face as I wondered exactly what they would be discussing today. No topic was dismissed as their meetings became more personal and entertaining each time they met.  Was it actually an official meeting or a girl’s night out, back at the meeting house as they met and chatted?  


I was delighted as to how much these women had grown during these 11 discs.  When they first came together, they thought of this as only a job but as I put in each disc, what this position became, was much more.  This became one of those books where I didn’t want it to end.


This book wasn’t all about women either.  Relationships both sweet and sour entered the picture from the sounds coming from the next room, to crushes, to the way individuals began to soften around the edges when certain others were around.  Some men also voiced their opinion about the library and about the women working in it.  You can imagine how that went down.


It was an entertaining and fast novel to listen to and I highly recommend it.

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review 2019-10-28 14:17
A Stronger Installment in the Me Before You Series
Still Me - Jojo Moyes

So I was not a real fan of the last book. I thought there was a lot going on there. I think moving Louisa to New York was a good idea. She gets to grow as a character which I don't think she would have if Moyes had left her in England in her new romance with Sam. And we get some new characters that I loved reading about. I have to say though the main reason I didn't give this five stars is that I had a hard time with the character of Sam. He didn't need to be anything like Will, but he wasn't a great boyfriend. I just am glad that the book actually ended with growth for him as well. That said, there are some serious plot holes going on in this book which made me wonder if a fourth book is planned. Otherwise it's just a weird way to end this series. 


"Still Me" follows Louisa (Lou) Clark as she moves to New York for a new job that her friend Nathan has helped her land. Lou is going to work for the Gopnik family as a personal assistant to the second Mrs. Gopnik, Agnes. Lou is at first overwhelmed at New York, but finds herself changing more and more as she gets to see a side of New York many people don't get to see. She also finds herself becoming friends with Agnes and wanting to do what she can to help her maneuver her new role as Mrs. Gopnik, the second. If that's not enough Lou is trying to stay in touch with Sam and keep their romance going. And then she runs into a man that could be Will Traynor's twin, Joshua Ryan which has her wondering about what her life with Will could have been if he hadn't committed suicide. 


So Lou was great in this one. She really doesn't back down from what she wants with regards to her romantic relationships and eventually her professional life. I think she was a bit slow on the uptake on some things, but I was glad to see her not just going along to get along which is what she did in the last two books in my opinion. She repeatedly asks Sam to write to her and she is focused on trying to hold their relationship together while also being an assistant to Agnes. I thought that Lou was pretty foolish about the whole Joshua thing, but then again I thought she was being foolish about the pressures related to long distance dating when one doesn't have an unlimited expense account to fly back and forth to England. The best part of the book for me was dealing with Lou and her relationship with an older woman in the building she works/lives in with the Gopnik's. I do want to say though that I hope that Moyes if she does revisit this character stops letting Lou get overly involved in those she works for lives. It's not healthy and this book showed she learned very little after dealing with Will and his family. Lou tends to get walked on and I don't see it as her being loyal, she just seems like a sucker after a while. 


Sam I thought was being an asshat for most of the book. I don't want to spoil, but honestly you could see the way things were going and I just didn't even get why Lou was so into him. He was beige on a good day. Then Moyes started to develop/build up Sam towards the middle and definitely the end and I liked the character again. I just think that Sam was pretty much ignored for too long in the first part of the book to get a sense of him. 

The character of Joshua was not a surprise at all. 


I loved the reveal about Lou's sister's relationship and what Will's daughter was up to as well. 

I have to say I was disappointed with Nathan. He was barely in this book it seemed until he was and it was good to see he was still a solid friend with Lou. 


The writing was really good and we get everything via Lou's perspective. We also get her sadness, about Will, though she does seem to be past it for the most part. Not like in the last book when she was knee deep in depression. 


The flow really worked and we get to see Lou for a whole year in New York and starting on a very exciting chapter of her life in the end.

The setting of New York was good in this one. We get to see how the wealthy live, but also those who are not wealthy. I liked the whole side plot with the doorman and his wife and his wife's efforts to save a library. 


I know a lot of readers loathed this ending though and I get why. However, I have to say it makes sense based on the character of Lou we have gotten for three books. That said, there's a lot of weird plot holes going on (no spoilers) and I do wonder if Moyes did that to leave things open to a possible fourth book. I don't know if her other books have been as popular as this series, so maybe she wanted to leave herself an out if she felt the need to return to this series in a few years. 

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review 2019-09-26 12:31
Historical fiction where sisterhood wins the day. Highly Recommended
The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

Thanks to Penguin UK-Michael Joseph and NetGalley for an advanced readers copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

Jojo Moyes was a name familiar to me (from bestseller lists, movie adaptations, bookshops…) but she was one of the authors I knew by name but hadn’t yet read. When I saw this book on offer at NetGalley and read the description and the fact that it was based on a real historical scheme, the 1930s Horseback Librarians of Kentucky, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to familiarise myself with her writing. As a book lover, I am always fond of stories about books and libraries, and the historical angle was a bonus for me. The Horseback Librarians of Kentucky was one of the projects set up by the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a New Deal Agency established as an attempt to provide work for victims of the Great Depression. In this case, women who could ride (horses, mules…) set up the equivalent of a mobile library, and offered books and reading materials to their neighbours, reaching even those who lived deep in the mountains, too far and too busy to regularly visit the town. In an area as beautiful as it was poor (and it seems it still remains fairly poor and under resourced), the levels of literacy were minimal, and the librarians went beyond the simple delivering of books, becoming a lifeline to many of the families they regularly visited. Although I had read about the WPA and some of their projects, I wasn’t familiar with this one, and it does make for a fascinating setting to the story.

Moyes usually writes contemporary fiction (with more than a touch of romance), so this novel breaks new ground. As I haven’t read any of her previous novels, I cannot make comparisons, but I had a great time reading this novel, which combines an easy and fluid writing style (with some wonderful descriptions of the Kentucky mountains), strong and compelling characters, especially the librarians, with a plot full of adventures, sad and joyful events, romance, and even a possible murder. This is a tale of sisterhood, of women fighting against all odds (society’s prejudices, difficult conditions, nature, illness, domestic violence, evil…), of the power of books, and of a time and a place that are far from us and yet familiar (unfortunately, some things haven’t changed that much).

What did I like, in particular? Many things. I am not an expert on Kentucky or on the historical period, so you must take this with a pinch of salt, but I loved the atmosphere and the period feel. I enjoyed the description of the feelings of the women as they rode their routes, particularly because by telling the story from the point of view of two of the women, Margery, who’s lived there all her life, and Alice, just arrived from England and totally unfamiliar with the area and the lifestyle, we get the familiarity and the newness, and learn that the heartfelt experience goes beyond being comfortable and at home. The mountains have an effect on these women, and at a point when Alice’s life is collapsing around her, give her the strength to go on. Both, the beauty of untamed nature and the comfort of literature, help give meaning to the lives of the protagonists and those who come in contact with them. Of course, not everybody appreciates those, and, in fact, the true villains of the story are people (mostly men, but not only, and I’m not going to reveal the plot in detail) who don’t care for literature and don’t respect nature. (There is an environmental aspect to the story as well, the coalmining industry caring little for the workers or the land if it got in the way of the profit margin).

I also fell for the characters. Margery is magnetic from the beginning: a woman whose father was violent, an abuser and an alcoholic, with a reputation that has tainted her as well; she is determined to live life her own way, help others, and not let anybody tell her what to do (and that includes the man she loves, who is rather nice). Although the novel is written in the third person, we see many of the events from her point of view, and although she is a woman who guards her emotions tightly and does not scare easy, she is put to the test, suffers a great deal, and she softens a bit and becomes more willing to give up some of her independence in exchange for a life richer in relationships and connections by the end of the story. Alice, on the other hand, starts as a naïve newcomer, with little common sense, that makes rushed decisions and believes in fairy tales. She thinks Bennett, her husband, is the charming prince who’s come to rescue her from an uncaring family, but she soon discovers she has changed a prison for another. Her transformation is, in some ways, the complete opposite to that of Margery. She becomes more independent, learns to care less about appearances and opinions, and discovers what is truly important for her.

 In a way, the librarians provide a catalogue of different models of womanhood and also of diversity (we have a woman who lives alone with her male relatives, smokes, drinks and is outspoken; a young girl with a limp due to polio who lives under the shadow of her mother; an African American woman who gave up on her dreams to look after her brother, and who is the only trained librarian; and a widow from the mountains, saved by the power of books and by her relationship with other women), and although there are male characters —both, enablers, like Fred and Sven, and out and out enemies— these are not as well defined or important to the story (well, they set things in motion, but they are not at the heart of the story). I was quite curious about Bennett, Alice’s husband, whom I found a bit of a puzzle (he does not understand his wife, for sure, but he is not intentionally bad, and I was never sure he really knew himself), and would have liked to know more about the women whose points of view we were not privy to, but I enjoyed getting to know them all and sharing in their adventures. (Oh, and I loved the ending, that offers interesting glimpses into some of the characters we don’t hear so much about).

And yes, adventures there are aplenty. I’ve seen this book described as an epic, and it is not a bad word. There are floods, a murder trial, stories of corruption and shady business deals, bigotry and scandal, a couple of books that play important parts (a little blue book, and, one of my favourite reads as a young girl, Little Women, and its role made me smile), recipes, libraries, births, deaths, confrontations, violence (not extreme), and romance (no erotica or explicit sex scenes). This being a very conservative (and in some ways isolated society), the examples of what was considered acceptable male and female behaviour might seem old-fashioned even for the time, but, as the #MeToo movement has reminded us, some things are slow to change.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Well, no, but people need to be aware that this is a light read, a melodrama, and although it provides an inspirational tale of sisterhood, it does not offer an in-depth analysis of the ills of the society at the time. The villains, are presented as bad individuals, pure evil, and we learn nothing about them other than they are bad.  Although many other important topics are hinted at and appear in the background, this is the story of this particular individuals, and not a full depiction of the historical period, but it is a great yarn and very enjoyable.

The author provides information on her note to the reader about the historical background and how she became interested in the story, and I’ve read some reviews highlighting the existence of other books on the topic, that I wouldn’t mind reading either. For me, this book brings to light an interesting episode of American history and of women’s history, creating a fascinating narrative that illustrates the lives of women in the Kentucky Mountains in the 1930s, with characters that I got to care for, suffer and rejoice with. Yes, I did shed the odd tear. And I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys historical fiction, women’s fiction, and to Moyes’s fans. This might be a departure from her usual writing, but, at least for me, it’s a welcome one.


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review 2019-07-04 15:15
Still Me ★★★★☆
Still Me: A Novel - Jojo Moyes

I enjoyed this sweet and inspiring, if a bit obvious, story much more than the first two in the trilogy. Our heroine has grown over the series, and although still making some pretty stupid decisions that made me want to slap her, by the end of the book has a wonderful a-ha moment that is very satisfying. Plus, there's a pug. 


JoJo Moyes writes the kind of romances that I like to read: it's as much about relationships of all kinds (including the MC's relationship to self) as it is about the boy-meets-girl-HEA, and the sex scenes are mostly fade-to-black instead of throbbing organs and heaving bosoms.


Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. Anna Acton's narration was pretty good, although her American accents were pretty generic and a little uneven. 

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review 2019-03-30 13:21
Banale Story, platte Charaktere & atemberaubende Landschaften
Nächte, in denen Sturm aufzieht - Argon Verlag,Jojo Moyes,Luise Helm

Lizzie Cullen lebt mit ihrer Tochter an der Küste von Australien. Sie schlägt sich im ländlichen Silver Bay mit Bootsausflügen zu Walen und Delphinen durch. Die atemberaubende Landschaft, der dörfliche Zusammenhalt und das raue Meer sind ihre Gefilde. Aber der dunkle Schatten ihrer Vergangenheit in Kombination mit dem blendend gut aussehenden Mike Dormer bringen ihr beschauliches Leben in Gefahr.

"Nächte, in denen Sturm aufzieht" hat mich wegen des Schauplatzes Australien und natürlich aufgrund der Autorin Jojo Moyes gereizt. Jojo Moyes kann gute Geschichten erzählen, und bei ihr habe ich mich immer wohlgefühlt.

Leider ist die Handlung von diesem Roman extrem banal. Der schicke Londoner Mike Dormer reist für seine Firma nach Australien, weil er sich die Ortschaft Silver Bay genauer anschauen muss. Die Gegend kommt für ein geschäftliches Projekt in Frage, und seine Aufgabe ist es, Risiken und Chancen einzuschätzen.

Mike ist von seinem Job und den Erwartungen an sein Leben getrieben. In London verbringt er den ganzen Tag im Büro, schlägt sich mit seiner Verlobten - die in der gleichen Firma im Marketing ist - und der anstehenden Hochzeit herum. Er merkt gar nicht, dass in seinem Leben etwas fehlt. Richtig! Bis er auf Lizzie Cullen in Silver Bay trifft.

Lizzie Cullen hat sich an der Küste von Australien regelrecht verschanzt, weil sie eine schreckliche Vergangenheit quält. Gemeinsam mit Töchterchen Hannah wohnt sie im Hotel ihrer Tante - diese wird Haifisch-Lady genannt - wo sie Touristen per Boot zu Walen und Delphinen kutschiert.

Ich will jetzt nicht spoilern, aber ich denke, die Handlung liegt auf der Hand. Die Konflikte spielen auf persönlicher Ebene zwischen Mike und Lizzie und auf wirtschaftlicher Ebene zwischen Mikes Firma und der ländlichen Unberührtheit von Silver Bay. 

Grob gesagt, will ein Großkonzern die Gegend ordentlich aufpolieren, und die hiesige Bevölkerung spreizt sich mit Körper-Einsatz dagegen. Buhmann dahinter ist natürlich der blendend-schöne Mike, weil er seine Arbeit getan hat, und die Gegend für Investitionen frei gibt. 

Dazu kommen noch Lizzies tragisches Geheimnis, die Verstrickung, die sich aus Mikes Verlobung ergibt, eingehende Sinneswandel und inspirierende Landschaftsbeschreibungen - die jedenfalls wunderbar zu hören sind.

Ich möchte den Roman keinesfalls schlecht reden, weil es für zwischendurch wirklich eine nette Geschichte ist. Allerdings bin ich von Jojo Moyes andere Kaliber gewöhnt, und bin von diesem banalen Plott mit seinen platten Figuren schon enttäuscht.

Absolut begeistert bin ich von den Hintergrundinformationen zu Australien, Walen und Delphinen. Jojo Moyes baut Fakten und interessante Details gekonnt in die Handlung ein. Sie verleiht ihrer Story Mehrwert, und weiß, wie sie den Leser mit Beschreibungen der atemberaubenden Landschaft bei Laune halten kann.

Im Endeffekt ist „Nächte, in denen Sturm aufzieht“ eine nette Geschichte für zwischendurch, die zwar einfallslos aber dank des Schauplatzes Australiens inklusive Wale und Delphine annehmbar ist.

Source: zeit-fuer-neue-genres.blogspot.com
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