Friday, August 26, 2016

The Hopefuls; Jennifer Close

The Hopefuls; Jennifer Close
Knopf / Random House Audio
(Narrator - Jorjeana Marie is fantastic)

The Hopefuls is a delightful story that examines marriage, friendship, ambition, loyalty and jealously. The story is told from the POV of Beth Kelly, a young wife who once was an editor for Vanity Fair in New York City.   

Beth gives up her dreams to follow her husband Matt to Washington, DC so her can pursue his own political aspirations.  Settling in is difficult for Beth but, she and Matt become fast friends with another young couple from Texas. Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillion. Jimmy's a charismatic, Whitehouse staffer and his wife "Ash" is a sweet Southern Belle.  As the friendship blossoms the foursome seems inseparable.  Just as Beth begins to feel a little more comfortable in DC, with a job for a social website, Matt begins to feels his job at a standstill while Jimmy's seems to be on the way up.

Set after the O'Bama's take office in 2008, as a reader I felt I was getting the inside scoop into the political circles and protocol of how people in Washington behave. I loved the descriptions of everything around DC and the way the author skillfully made a dialogue driven novel so much fun.  The author's own husband worked on President O'Bama's presidential campaign which is probably another reason the happenings seemed so realistic.  The audiobook, narrated by Jorjeana Marie was fantastic. The characters were enjoyable, I especially loved the Southern Belle, Ash.

If you love audiobooks and a story that will make you smile. Be sure to try this one.

4.5/5 stars
(audio download from Publisher)

Homegoing; Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing; Yaa Gyasi
Knopf - 2016

Effia and Esi are half-sisters born in different villages in 18th century Ghana. Their lives couldn't be more different. Effia is married off to an Englishman and she lives a comfortable life in Cape Coast Castle.  Little does Effia know but, her half-sister Esi is imprisoned, along with other young girls in the dungeon of the castle where she lives.  The conditions in the dungeon are horrendous as is the fate of these young girls.  It is the height of the slave trade and, they are to be sold off as slaves and shipped to American where their lives will not be much better.

The story is told in separate threads that follow the descendants of these half-sisters.  It's a story that covers some 300 years of history and two continents.  Each chapter tells the experiences of a new family member and a particular point in time.  There is a lineage chart to refer to which keeps the story easy to follow despite the 300 year period.

The writing is wonderful, the characters beautifully developed, each with a unique and distinct voice. The novel is well researched and yes, there is violence, heartbreak and loss throughout the generations. The novel almost felt like a series of interlinked short stories which were beautifully tied together and led to an extremely satisfying ending.  Yaa Gyasi is definitely a debut novelist to watch for. This is a must read for literary fiction lovers.

4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - They Left Us Everything: a memoir; Plum Johnson

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. (I love a good memoir and think this one will hit the spot, I'm enjoying the writing style).

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir; Plum Johnson
G.P. Putnam & Sons - 2016

Never Mind the Dog

"The night before I turn sixty-three, I'm looking in the mirror, pulling my sagging jawline up to my ears, listening to voice mails on speakerphone. Three are from Mum:

'Happy birthday m'darlin!'
Promise you'll drive out first thing tomorrow!
Damn this machine! Call me!'

Mum is ninety-three, and these are her messages just since dinner.  Nineteen years, one month, and twenty-six days of eldercare have brought me to my knees.  But first thing next morning, I crawl to my car, hack at the ice on my windshield, and slump into the front seat with the heater cranked up."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

(2) Books that Wowed Me and a few New Books

 Just finished (2) amazing books that I highly recommend. I hope to work on reviews this week but, for now here is a bit of info from the overview of the Amazon website.

Homegoing; Yaa Gyasi - (Knopf)  2016
(Overview) The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

  • Beautiful writing; memorable story;  debut author 

(Thomas Dunne Books) 2016

(Overview) A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.
As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.
  • Heart-breaking coming of age story; uncomfortable to read at times but addictive; debut author