Friday, February 25, 2022

Audiobook Review: The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner book cover and review
It's been so long since I've read a book that I love as much as The Nature of Fragile Things. It just punches all the right buttons for me.

It takes place in the early 1900s, and Sophie, an immigrant from Ireland, is miserable in her tenement in New York City. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride and heads to San Francisco to marry a man with a young daughter who she has never met.

The man, Martin, is kind but distant. He doesn't seem to want to have a close relationship with Sophie but provides well for her and his 5-year-old daughter, Kat. Kat doesn't speak since her mother died from tuberculosis, but she is easy for Sophie to love.

Martin travels a lot for his work selling insurance. Sophie is a bit lonely in her large house and tries to make friends with a neighbor lady and her young son, but since Sophie is obviously lower class, it doesn't go well. Everything explodes when a young woman comes to Sophie's door looking for her husband who apparently works with Martin.

I'll not go any farther with the plot, but here is what I loved. 

  • The characters are sympathetic, and I easily became attached
  • The setting is so vivid, it puts you in San Francisco in the 1900s
  • The description of the 1906 earthquake and its aftermath. It felt real, and I learned much
  • The depiction of tuberculosis and how it was treated and kept from spreading
  • One of the evilest bad guys I've ever read. Chilling.
Also, the narrator, Alana Kerr Collins, had the most beautiful Irish brogue that made it easier to listen to and really added to the story.

The huge coincidence at the end, although far-fetched, just put the icing on the cake. I'm partial to historical fiction, but The Nature of Fragile Things had so much more. The story hooked me right away, and I couldn't stop listening. Highly recommended.

Published by Berkley, 2021, audio by Penguin
Audiobook obtained from the library
384 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Book Review: Mickey7 by Edward Ashton

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton book cover and review
I'm not sure what drew me to this title, but I haven't read much science fiction lately, and I really enjoyed Mickey7.

Mickey is an "expendable." He's on a long journey to colonize a new planet. He's expendable because if he dies, they have a copy of his DNA, complete with memories, so that he can be regenerated.  This is really helpful for dangerous missions, but dying isn't fun.

The seventh version of Mickey is on one of those missions and is left for dead. But he manages to return to the bubble where they are trying to survive on a most inhospitable planet. When he returns to his bunk, there is Mickey8, fresh out of the regenerator.

This is a problem for several reasons. If anyone finds out, they will both be thrown into the regenerator. Everyone is on survival rations, and now the two Mickeys have to share. And, the most obvious problem, in my opinion, is how are they supposed to get around and do their duties on the ship? This was the biggest flaw in the plot. They are both out of their room at the same time. One on duty, one doing something else. They don't know each other's experiences. Seven has a wrist injury, and 8 doesn't even seem to care to fake it. Neither of them is very careful or concerned enough. Of course, they are going to be discovered, but how soon?

The premise of the expendables is interesting. They are loathed by some as an abomination, and therefore much discriminated against. The terraforming on this ice-covered planet is going badly. Food is scarce. The wormlike native creatures are beginning to attack. Will Mickey save the day?

Mickey7 is exciting, if a bit far-fetched, and kept my interest. It has been compared to The Martian, and even if it doesn't live up to the comparison, it is entertaining. And it's going to be a movie starring Robert Pattinson. If you like the terraforming, survival, overcoming the natives type of sci-fi, you'll like Mickey7. 

Published by St. Martin's, February 15, 2022
eARC obtained from NetGalley and Edelweiss+
304 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Audiobook Review: The Four WInds, by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah book cover and review
The Four Winds was a mesmerizing book about the Dust Bowl, once it got going.

The characters were amazing, the setting -- well -- unbelievable. The Four Winds puts you in the middle of the dust bowl, but also in California, where thousands of people went to find work during The Depression. As you can imagine, it didn't work out well for them.

It's one of those "I can't believe this happened in the USA" stories. And they keep bringing up that point as they are living through the horrors. You get an interesting take on Communism and the Red Scare, as these "Communists" tried to unionize the workers to help them get a living wage. I mean, they literally could not survive on what they were paid, even when the men, women, and children were all picking. The huge growers would cut wages on a whim. They had their own company stores where people could get credit, and of course, they could never get out from under the debt.

Elsa was an amazingly strong woman and no one could not become attached to her and her family. My only complaint is that the beginning was slow. There was too much time spent on Elsa's childhood and life with her parents. I get that her background makes her who she is, but I still thought it went on too long. So the message is:  don't give up. This is a minor complaint, and it is well worth the effort to get through that part. I also would have rather had a different outcome for Elsa. That's all I'll say.

I would recommend The Fours Winds to anyone. The audio version is excellent, although my listening kept getting interrupted by audiobooks that I had on hold at the library. (You only get them for three weeks.) So when another one became available, I borrowed The Four Winds book from my sister and read the last 60 pages.

Published by St. Martin's, 2021. Audio by Macmillan
Audiobook purchased from
464 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday, February 7, 2022

Book Review: A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins book cover and review
I just never really got invested in A Slow Fire Burning. I guess I was expecting another Girl on the Train.

Very quickly: There is a murder and several people could be responsible.  The mom, the dad, the crazy neighbor lady, the one-night-stand. They are all mostly awful, except for one, so I didn't really care much about who ended up the culprit.

There are several perspectives, and the characters are well depicted, so I didn't have trouble keeping them separate. The writing is good, and the story moves fairly quickly. 

I had no trouble finishing and enjoyed A Slow Fire Burning, but I never had that heart-pounding, compelling desire to know who did it.

Here's a link to the blurb if you are interested. 

Published by Riverhead, August 31, 2021
Copy obtained from NetGalley
320 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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