The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

Book Description:

Published: November 8, 2011

Format: Audio

Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fischer and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong. A choice made in desperate haste sets off a chain of misunderstandings that will divide the sisters and reverberate through three generations of women.

What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful, Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities that are shaped by unspeakable secrets. As the sisters have daughters and granddaughters of their own, they discover that both love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.

Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s powerful debut novel illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.

Review –

A single tragic event shapes four generations of American women in this heart-wrenching debut and had me screaming in my mind for the sisters to have a “do-over”. 

What is meant to be an escape from an evil step-father by Mabel and Wallace, Bertie misconstrues as the betrayal of a lifetime. There is so much miscommunication in this story that I was breathless sometimes for a minute or more waiting to hear what unnecessary dreadful event would befall the sisters. 

I won’t say what happens but suffice it to say that ending is devastating  and left me sad and shaken .

Lesson: Talk your problems out to the people closest to you or you could lose them forever.

Excellent read !

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Book Description:

Published: June 23, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Review –

“When a young librarian comes into possession of the diary of a traveling circus from more than 200 years ago, he decides the book may hold clues to a family mystery he needs to solve to save his sister’s life.

Narrator Simon and his younger sister, Enola, grew up in an 18th-century house on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound. Taking after her mother, a former circus performer who drowned herself when Simon was 7, Enola travels with a carnival as a tarot card reader. Simon is still living in their dangerously dilapidated family home when, out of the blue on one June day, he receives a book from an antiquarian bookseller, who had noticed Simon’s grandmother’s name inside. Soon Simon discovers a frightening pattern among his female ancestors, all unnaturally good swimmers, all drowning as young women on July 24. If this “coincidence” sounds a bit far-fetched, it sets the bar for the novel’s credibility. Swyler intercuts Simon’s present drama—intensifying research into the diary’s history, loss of his job at the local library, incipient but already rocky love affair with fellow librarian Alice, return home of Enola, irretrievable collapse of the family manse—with the romantic tragedy of Amos, a traveling circus performer, and Evangeline, an aquatic performer with a guilty secret. Born in the 1780s and abandoned by his parents, Amos is mute when he joins a traveling troupe to perform a disappearing act as a “Wild Boy.” The fortune-teller takes him under her wing, teaching him to read the future. But despite her warnings, he falls for the dangerously mysterious Evangeline. She has his baby girl, and the havoc that follows leads straight to the curse that Simon, a whiny loser, is frantic to solve before someone else dies. A bit fey, even as romantic whimsy.

For die-hard mermaid-fiction lovers only.” Kirkus Review

I disagree with Kirkus’s last catty remark, the book was a joy to read and the description of the house falling apart was so real I felt I was there and anyone enjoying an epic, all-encompassing will love this book.

Five stars, and I love the cover!

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Book Description:

Published: October 20, 2015

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

Review –

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This was a very long audio book, over twenty-one hours, but the narrators did a magnificent job of telling the story that the hours flew by.

I was completely caught up in this epic tale of the Edevane family and a suspected kidnapping, guilt, young love, and secrets kept for decades.

The story bounces back and forth primarily between 1933, the year Theo, an eleven month baby, disappears and 2003, when Sadie Sparrow, a disgraced police officer, takes on the Edevane cold case. We do learn of the history of the Edevane family and their beloved estate, Loeanneth, in the Cornish countryside, through the eyes of the grandparents of the three Edevane girls, Deborah, Alice and Clemmie. All is not as it appears to be and secrets are kept between the sisters for several decades, finally coming to light to reveal the piece needed for Sadie to solve the “crime”. Totally did not see the twist coming. Fantastic writing!

Love this book and look forward to listening or reading more by this author.

Five stars *****

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010: You don’t have to be a fan of vampire fiction to be enthralled by The Passage, Justin Cronin‘s blazing new novel. Cronin is a remarkable storyteller (just ask adoring fans of his award-winning Mary and O’Neil), whose gorgeous writing brings depth and vitality to this ambitious epic about a virus that nearly destroys the world, and a six-year-old girl who holds the key to bringing it back. The Passage takes readers on a journey from the early days of the virus to the aftermath of the destruction, where packs of hungry infected scour the razed, charred cities looking for food, and the survivors eke out a bleak, brutal existence shadowed by fear. Cronin doesn’t shy away from identifying his “virals” as vampires. But, these are not sexy, angsty vampires (you won’t be seeing “Team Babcock” t-shirts any time soon), and they are not old-school, evil Nosferatus, either. These are a creation all Cronin’s own–hairless, insectile, glow-in-the-dark mutations who are inextricably linked to their makers and the one girl who could destroy them all. A huge departure from Cronin’s first two novels, The Passage is a grand mashup of literary and supernatural, a stunning beginning to a trilogy that is sure to dazzle readers of both genres. —Daphne Durham

 

A few hours ago I finished The Passage by Justin Cronin and I’m still a little numb.  I can see why it’s been called the “buzz book of  the Summer” or the “must read book of the Summer” because it has it all, events happening in the present, past and future, character descriptions so vivid you feel you “know” them, familiar locations and structures known to all and used in an unfamiliar way. It has love, heart-break,sadness, joy, panic, devastation, murder, gore,elation, the loss of all hope, deserts, plains, snow covered mountians and the ruins of Las Vegas. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough( or push the next page button since I was reading this on my Kindle) and the more I read the fastest I wanted to go until I was about 80% through the book and then I wanted to slow down and not get to the end too soon- I wanted to make it last.  When I did get to the very end I literally “gasped”(like Bella does at the end of New Moon, the movie), I couldn’t believe it and I still don’t and that’s why I’m a bit numb.  I’m going to go back and re-read the last few pages and see if I  get a different reaction, but I don’t think I will and that’s okay because it means Justin Cronin has done his job in making The Passage a book I will never forget.