Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Audiobook Review: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune book cover and review
TJ Klune's take on the afterlife in Under the Whispering Door is creative and entertaining.

Wallace is a pretty nasty person. He's a lawyer who only thinks of himself and the bottom line. He has alienated any family or friends he ever had. When he finds himself dead, he simply cannot believe it. He is met by a reaper, who escorts him to a tea shop which is a waypoint between life and death.

Hugo, the owner of the tea shop, and the reaper, May, are there to help Wallace (and others) accept their new state and transition to the afterlife (which is through the Whispering Door on the fourth floor.)

Other residents of the tea shop include Hugo's grandfather and his dog who both are dead, but for some reason have never gone through the door.

The setting and story are very creative and stories of others who have passed through the tea shop, as well as "live" customers, add to the entertainment.  And the budding romance between Hugo and Wallace adds the romantic element.

Kirt Graves is the audiobook narrator and is absolutely perfect for this story.

It isn't sad, and the ending provides more happiness than is maybe deserved. Under the Whispering Door will make you think about death in a different way.

Published by Tor, 2021, Macmillan Audio
Audiobook obtained from Cloud Library
 384 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Book Review: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Mad Honey by Picoult and Boylan book cover and review
I usually don't bother to even read the blurb if I see Jodi Picoult's name, and Mad Honey is no exception. As usual, an excellent choice.

The moms, Olivia and Ava, have both had rough relationships and broken marriages. For different reasons, they end up in a small town in New Hampshire.

Olivia's son, Asher, and Ava's daughter, Lily end up in a relationship. When Lily ends up dead, Asher is accused of murder.

That's the short story, but of course, there is much more. Asher's father was abusive and Olivia watches his every move wondering if Asher will show violent tendencies. She has doubts about his innocence.

Lily was born Liam, and maybe that's a spoiler, but if you know Jennifer Finney Boylan, it's not that much of a spoiler. So did Asher know she was trans? Is that why he killed her?

Picoult writes from the perspective of Olivia and Boylan writes Lily's part. The writing is seamless, and I didn't even realize that fact until I read the afterward. Lily's story gave me such a new perspective on gender identity. That was a big takeaway from Mad Honey for me. Another takeaway is a lot about beekeeping, which is Olivia's occupation. Fascinating. And, as a side note, Queen Elizabeth II died while I was reading Mad Honey, and I read an article about how the Queen's beekeeper had to tell the bees that she died. (You'll get it when you read the book.)

The story is gripping and it's been so long since I read a book during which I decided to give up doing something else to read. Lately, it's been the other way around. Mad Honey is a great love story, a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and a family story.  I loved it and highly recommend it.

Published by Ballentine, October 4, 2022
eARC obtained from NetGalley
464 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Book Review: Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins

Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins book cover and review
Although meandering and detailed, the writing in Properties of Thirst was so enjoyable that this became a memorable reading experience.

Because of the detailed and nuanced story, I thought I would first provide a list of characters, but I decided it was even easier to just give you the description in the Amazon blurb.

Rockwell “Rocky” Rhodes has spent years fiercely protecting his California ranch from the LA Water Corporation. It is here where he and his beloved wife Lou raised their twins, Sunny and Stryker, and it is here where Rocky has mourned Lou in the years since her death.

As Sunny and Stryker reach the cusp of adulthood, the country teeters on the brink of war. Stryker decides to join the fight, deploying to Pearl Harbor not long before the bombs strike. Soon, Rocky and his family find themselves facing yet another incomprehensible tragedy.

Rocky is determined to protect his remaining family and the land where they’ve loved and lost so much. But when the government decides to build a Japanese-American internment camp next to the ranch, Rocky realizes that the land faces even bigger threats than the LA watermen he’s battled for years. Complicating matters is the fact that the idealistic Department of the Interior man assigned to build the camp, who only begins to understand the horror of his task after it may be too late, becomes infatuated with Sunny and entangled with the Rhodes family.

As I said before, the writing makes the setting and characters come alive. While it is set during WWII, and the story is affected by the war, there is much more to it. It is really a story of family, romance, and the connection we have to our land.

It took me a while to get through the 550 pages. While it didn't really call to me to be read, whenever I did pick it up, it was immersive. So yes, I would recommend Properties of Thirst to those who enjoy a meandering, beautifully written historical story of love and family. You book club folks should consider Properties of Thirst.

Published by Simon & Schuster, August 2, 2022
eBook obtained from Edelweiss+
544 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Thursday, September 8, 2022

Audiobook Review: Razorblade Tears, by S. A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby book cover and review 
Razorblade Tears deserves all the accolades it has received. I was enthralled by this book.

Usually, I talk about the narration at the end of the review, but the audio version made such a difference in my enjoyment. The narrator, Adam Lazarre-White, made the voices so distinct. The accents added authenticity but didn't make the narration difficult to understand. I highly recommend the audio version.

The story is a difficult one -- so to use "enjoy" seems a bit strange when experiencing such an uncomfortable tale. Two married gay men (one is white, the other black) are brutally murdered. Their fathers - who hadn't been able to accept their sons' way of life -- decide to find the killers after the police give up on solving the case.

Both of the fathers have spent time in prison and had been violent offenders. One of them, Ike, had given up this past life and made a name for himself by owning a successful landscaping company. The other, Billy Lee, doesn't have much left so has nothing to lose.

Both of these men feel the need to avenge the deaths of their sons to prove their love since they didn't do a very good job of showing it while they were alive.

There is quite a bit of violence as they tear their way through the awful people who would commit such a heinous crime. It is interesting to see how these men, from such different belief systems, come together and even become friends as they mete out their vengeance.

The characters are interesting, the writing is compelling, and the pace is excellent. I would highly recommend Razorblade Tears, especially the audio version. But don't take my word for it. Everyone else seems to love this book too.

Published by Flatiron Books, 2021, MacMillan Audio
Audiobook obtained from libro.fm
336 pages

Rating: 5/5

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