Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Book Review: A Good Day for Chardonnay, by Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones book cover and review
I finished A Good Day for Chardonnay a few weeks ago and just realized I never wrote anything about it. Not because I didn't enjoy it. I chose something light to read because I was going on vacation, and never read any of it! (Should have known there would be no time for reading with the grandkids around.)

Sunshine is a police chief in a small town in New Mexico. You would think it would be quiet and peaceful, but no. There's a big bar fight. Sunny's daughter thinks she has discovered the identity of an old serial killer. And Sunny's unsolved abduction when she was a teen is coming back to haunt her. Levi Ravinder has always been a suspect for that, but Sunny is so attracted to him, she doesn't think that's possible.

While the subject matter might sound tense, A Good Day for Chardonnay is really light with touches of humor and some steamy romance. The side characters add a lot to the light atmosphere.

A Good Day for Chardonnay is the second book in the Sunny series, and I probably missed some backstory, but I didn't really notice that. This isn't my usual type of book, but it was a nice entertaining diversion for a change.

Published by St. Martin's Press, 2021
Copy obtained from Edelweiss+
416 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, August 29, 2022

Audio Book Review: The Diamond Eye, by Kate Quinn

The Diamond Eye, by Kate Quinn book cover and review After thoroughly enjoying The Rose Code, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to listen to The Diamond Eye. I was not disappointed.

Quinn has the ability to take a little-known aspect of WWII and make it so compelling. In The Diamond Eye, she tells the story of a Russian woman sniper, Mila Pavlichenko, who is a real-life historical figure. 

I enjoyed the first part of The Diamond Eye the most. The part where Mila is learning to shoot, joining the Russian army, and killing over 300 German Nazis. Later, Mila becomes a propaganda tool for Russia, traveling to the United States and meeting President Roosavelt and becoming friends with Eleanor. The story involves a plot to kill the president, which Mila becomes involved in. While this adds much tension to the story, I found it a bit far-fetched (although very entertaining.)

So I really enjoyed the entire book, but I guess I thought there was more truth to the first part. However, when I read the end piece where Quinn describes where she got her information (a lot from Mila's memoir, Lady Death,) I realized that there is a lot of truth, even in the last part of the novel.

The audio version of The Diamond Eye is excellent. The reader, Saskia Maarleveld, has an accent, but it is very easy to understand and adds to the story. The voices are distinct, but not overly done. 

If you enjoyed The Rose Code, you shouldn't miss The Diamond Eye. If you are at all interested in WWII fiction, both of these books are must reads. Quinn is a master storyteller, and I intend to keep her on my list of favorite authors.

Published by William Morrow, March 29, 2022, HarperAudio
Audiobook obtained from the library
448 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Monday, August 15, 2022

DNF Thoughts: Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead book cover and review
Do you ever push through a book because you think you are supposed to like it? That was my experience with Harlem Shuffle.

Harlem Shuffle is entertainingly written and easy to read. Part of the problem is that I started this book a year ago and read about half of it and quit. I decided it was a "right book, wrong time" issue. I really wanted to know what happened to Carney. I recently returned from a relaxing camping trip, where I decided I could easily power through the remainder of the book. Nope. After reading another 10%, I called it quits for good.

For one thing, it had been too long and I no longer remembered why I wanted to know what happened to Carney. I've been looking for an adjective to describe the wonderful prose, and I've come up with "meandering." No matter how good the writing, I just couldn't stand the pace. The minute details of every situation and character. The backstories, etc.

I really liked Nickel Boys. That's why I was supposed to like Harlem Shuffle. But this just wasn't the book for me.

Published by Doubleday, September 2021
eARC obtained from NetGalley
188/336  pages

Rating: DNF

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Monday, August 1, 2022

Audiobook Review: Blood Sugar, by Sascha Rothchild

Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild book cover and review
I found the premise of Blood Sugar to be interesting and unique.

Ruby has killed three people, beginning when she was just five years old. We begin the story when she is being interrogated by a police detective about the fact that she, in her 30-some years, has been present at the tragic deaths of four different people.

In fact, she was more than present. As the interrogation goes on, we go back in time and hear Ruby's side of the story. All the people she killed deserved it. Ruby isn't a psychopath. She is a therapist with a successful practice. And she is happily married. But when her diabetic husband dies in his sleep, the detective begins to look at Ruby. So now she must defend herself, against the police and public opinion, from the one death for which she wasn't responsible.

Ruby is such an interesting character and I loved the way the story was told. She's really a murderer you can get behind and root for! I really enjoyed the book but felt the ending fizzled a bit. It wasn't very dramatic or surprising; although it was satisfying.

Allyson Ryan is the narrator and if I'm totally honest, she wasn't my favorite. She has this high-pitched lilting voice that I found a bit annoying at times. But not enough to quit, and it probably wouldn't stop me from listening to another book she narrates.

All-in-all, I recommend Blood Sugar if you are interested in a different kind of serial killer. There's no blood or gore, and it is interesting to be found rooting for her to get away with her crimes.

Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, April 19, 2022, Penguin Audio
Audiobook obtained from libro.fm
336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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