Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly Narrated By Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, Kathrin Kana

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly Narrated By Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, Kathrin Kana

Available in house and from Library2Go in both Ebook and Audiobook

 Synopsis from Good Reads:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Susie’s Review of the Audiobook

This book is fabulous and I highly recommend the audio version to truly bring these women to life!

I have read a lot of books on concentration camps and have even visited a few but this was a learning experience for me I had never heard of the Ravensbruck Rabbits, you hear so much about Mengele’s experiments on twins but I never knew about the experiments these women went through in Ravenbruck.

As with any book on concentration camps this one is heartbreaking; however there is so much hope in this book because a large part of the book is about the survivors and the after effects that there is hope and hope’s name is Caroline Ferriday.  She truly saved these women years of pain by getting them to the US and getting them surgery to fix the atrocious things that were done to them.

 I enjoyed the different storylines told by Caroline, Kasia one of the survivors and Herta one of the doctors at the camp which was an interesting storyline because you just couldn’t like her no matter if she felt bad for what she was doing or not. I also enjoyed the addition of Kasia’s sister Suzanna (sp audio) who is a doctor and also a survivor of Ravenbruck.

CAROLINE, read by Cassandra Campbell…KASIA, read by Kathleen Gati….HERTA, read by Kathrin Kana the narration on this book was so fantastic I can’t even come up with enough words to tell you to listen to the audio version of this book. These 3 narrators brought these women to life for me and I believe enhanced my enjoyment of this book.

I could go on and on about this book and I think this will be in my top books of the year this year. So I’ll just say if you enjoy historical fiction or WWII fiction you need to read this book!

5 Stars

The Authors website

A little background on Caroline Ferriday

Author Elizabeth Wein has a comprehensive page about the Ravensbruck Rabbits

Thursday, March 17, 2016

America's First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

America's First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie narrated by, Cassandra Campbell

Available in house and on Library2Go in Ebook and Audiobook

Synopsis from Goodreads: In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.
It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.
Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

This is a review of the Audiobook

I learned so much about this family and the time period from this book, I enjoyed the excerpts from actual letters it added such an authenticity to this fiction novel. As to the time period first and foremost there are slaves, and secondly the women are such second hand citizens, even though Thomas Jefferson did treat his daughters better than some. The abuse towards women was horrifying, that it was just commonplace made it worse to me. You could be hanged for stealing a horse but beating up your wife or mother in law or daughter was fine.

 Of course we all know about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings relationship and I do feel like that’s what it was, I think Sally truly helped the Jefferson out of his deepest despair and I believe he was grateful for that. It did make me mad that he didn’t free her and their children upon his death. I think that is the least he could have done for all she went through.

I really like Martha’s husband Tom at first but boy oh boy as this book went on he became just like his own father. This woman had 11 children in an age where a lot of women died in childbirth including her own mother and her sister. But the alternative to not doing your wifely duties was to have your husband bed a slave so I guess if you wanted to keep your husband you just kept popping out babies.

The hardships and losses she went through were tough but they made her a very tough woman and I was very impressed with her.

I was also fascinated with the fact that the women were much more “political” than their husbands they were the ones that got the right people to the right dinners and parties and advanced their men’s careers, but of course got no credit for it

Cassandra's narration was fabulous will be surprised if this doesn't get an earphones award and possibly a Audie nomination next year so very well done! I enjoyed that Patsy’s (Martha) voice aged with her and became stronger as she became sure of herself. So well done! This book was 23 hours and I was never bored or distracted and was sad when it ended.

We read this for book club and there were some that felt the Paris section in the beginning was a little romancey but don’t let that put you of, she’s a young girl at the start and this section sets up events later in the book and also shows the lengths she will go for her father.

I see these two authors are writing another book together and I look forward to reading it! I highly recommend this book and even higher recommend it on audio!

4 ½ Stars

Interview/podcast with the authors

Thomas Jefferson’s letters here

A lot of good info on the family and Monticello

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

 Crown Publishing- click to see a clip from one of Sue’s interviews

This book is an absolute must read; especially if you are a person who thinks it must be the parents fault when a child does this kind of horrible act. She makes no excuses and lays bare her grief and guilt for all to see but in laying it all out there is healing and at least some understanding of what was happening in her child, the signs she missed the things she would have done different but hindsight is 20/20 and can any of us say we would have done anything differently.

This book is so powerful I could not put it down, I couldn't help but feel her pain in every word, Sue & Tom were good parents but Dylan was adept at hiding from them what he didn't want them to see. Think for a minute what you hid from your parents when you were a teen…..
It also wasn't just from his parents that he hid this other side of himself , his friends were just as shocked and he had been let out early of a diversion program because they thought he had learned his lesson and probably wouldn't commit another crime and they are professionals there is also his school counselor who read a violent story he had written and didn't see anything to be alarmed about, and as Sue says but she was his mother and she should have seen the signs but he was very good at hiding his inner turmoil there is no guarantees that if she had gotten him help if it would have changed anything. Also from everything I've seen and read including this book I believe Dylan would have committed suicide by himself and not gone on the rampage he did without Eric Harris, no I am not putting all the blame on Eric I am just saying they fed off of each other Eric was more murderous while Dylan was suicidal.

My heart breaks for the grief and hatred she has endured, as she says yes her son was a murderer but he was still the baby she bore and the sweet boy she raised, that is who she mourns, not the stranger who walked into Columbine school that April morning.

As she wrote in her journal on the day she saw the horrible “basement tapes”
Page 125

Page 133

I learned so much about how a suicidal mind works and how so many times the signs are so subtle that it is hard to distinguish between something to be worried about and just normal teenage angst. Not every troubled person acts out some suffer in silence.

I think every High School Counselor, Suicide Prevention Groups, Teachers, and Parents, well really just anyone who deals with young people should read this book, Sue Klebold searched for answers and what she found is truly frightening her child hid so much pain from her and that is heartbreaking. She never stops apologizing to the victims and their families and no matter how much they blame her I honestly don’t think anyone could blame her as much as she blames herself.

So the next time there is a school shooting, please be kinder to the parent of that child.

5 Stars

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Dressmaker's War by Mary Chamberlain narrated by, Susan Duerden

The Dressmaker's War by Mary Chamberlain narrated by, Susan Duerden
Soon to be available in house.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Spanning the intense years of war, The Dressmaker's War is a dramatic tale of love, conflict, betrayal and survival. It is the compelling story of one young woman’s resolve to endure and of the choices she must make at every turn – choices which will contain truths she must confront.
London, spring 1939. Eighteen-year-old Ada Vaughan, a beautiful and ambitious seamstress, has just started work for a modiste in Dover Street. A career in couture is hers for the taking – she has the skill and the drive – if only she can break free from the dreariness of family life in Lambeth.
A chance meeting with the enigmatic Stanislaus von Lieben catapults Ada into a world of glamour and romance. When he suggests a trip to Paris, Ada is blind to all the warnings of war on the continent: this is her chance for a new start.
Anticipation turns to despair when war is declared and the two are trapped in France. After the Nazis invade, Stanislaus abandons her. Ada is taken prisoner and forced to survive the only way she knows how: by being a dressmaker. It is a decision which will haunt her during the war and its devastating aftermath.

My Review of the audiobook:

This book hooked me right away and I had a very hard time putting it down. This was a different war story as the majority of the book is set after the war is over and it is an English woman who was a prisoner in Dachau, she was not in the camp she was in the commandant’s house but she was a prisoner none the less.

Yes, there were times when Ada’s choices made you want to grab her and shake her but then you think of how young she was when Stanislaus took her to Paris and then what she went through in Dachau, I’m sure stunted her growth. Even after all she went through she was still so naïve. But I truly think she still only wanted someone to love her and that is why she fell for these men that were definitely not good for her. And you have to remember this was a different time for women even though this isn’t that long ago women were still the weaker sex and could still be lied about and to easily by men. And when you are a young girl just out of captivity with nowhere to go and no one to turn to you are an easy mark for these slime balls.

Susan Duerden’s narration was as always wonderful and added to my enjoyment of this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the ending gutted me, I would definitely read more from this author.

4 ½ Stars  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Back To Christmas by Dennis Canfield

Back To Christmas by Dennis Canfield

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Twelve-year old Amanda Krumwerth has just two days to save her dysfunctional family from going onto Santa's Permanent Naughty List. Marmel the elf, head of Santa's Department for Labeling People Naughty or Nice, would like nothing better than to see her fail; he's told Amanda there is no hope for her family, and no evidence of love in her family either. Can she prove him wrong? Find out in this story about an unhappy elf, an unpleasant family, and the magic of Christmas.

My Review:
This book was so cute! A great Christmas story, that I can see being made into a movie.

Marmel, head labeling elf he is in charge of labeling the naughty and nice and he is in a tizzy because Santa changed the rules and now no one is on the naughty list but Marmel has found a whole family (The Krumwerth’s) that he thinks should be on the permanent naughty list, no more chances they are just bad, bad, bad, at least according to Marmel. However Santa wants to give them a chance to redeem themselves, much to Marmel’s chagrin. According to the rules Marmel must inform the family they are in danger of being on the naughty list forever, so he heads to the house and informs teenaged Amanda of the family’s fate. We also get to see Santa’s brother RC (Reverse Claus) who lives on the South Pole and wears green and has green and white candy canes, which I will never look at without thinking of RC again!

I enjoyed the Krumwerth family too they used to have fun on Christmas but have somehow forgotten their Christmas spirit, but they aren’t the only ones Marmel seems to be having a problem with this himself and for and Elf that is a very bad thing to happen.

The story is told by Marmel & Amanda in alternating chapters as you see how they try to get their Christmas Spirit back. I enjoyed the family stuff and know what it is like when Christmas becomes more of a chore than the fun and family it is supposed to be. I also enjoyed the scenes in the South Pole and hope maybe RC will get his own book one of these days!

I truly enjoyed this book and can so see it as movie **Hello Hollywood… Do You Hear Me?**

I highly recommend this fun book!

4 ½ Stars

Friday, August 21, 2015

Black-Eyed Susans by, Julia Heaberlin

Black-Eyed Susans by, Julia Heaberlin
Available in-house in hardcover and coming soon to Library2Go

I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.
I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.
The lucky one.
As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.
Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories—and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue.
What they don’t know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a  fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.
Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden

My Review:
Wow this book was so hard to put down. I did not even come close to figuring out who the monster was; she put in just enough red herrings to keep me guessing all the way to the reveal.
For the longest time I wondered if Lydia was imaginary, maybe one of the Susan’s.

This book is told from 2 perspectives Tessa present day and Tessie in 1995 still trying to come to grips with almost dying and being prepared for the trial of the man she is told did this to her. They are the same person yet not. These jumps in time made for an interesting way to tell the story of what happened to Tessa. Especially since she only remembers what happened just before she was taken and waking up in a grave with the other Susan’s. Who did this to her and what happens in between is just blackness but they told her the man Terrell did it and he was put on death row for the crime  , but did he? Now she's not sure.

Bringing this entire thing up again is really tough on Tessa especially since she has a teenage daughter of her own now and she doesn't want her daughter dragged down by this, but there is a man on death row that might be innocent and his execution is coming up fast. Tessa already lives with so much survivors’ guilt that she's not sure she can handle the guilt of her part of sending an innocent man to his death.

The forensics were a huge part of this book and you can tell the author did a lot of research for these parts which made this story feel like true crime, I believed it all.

I was so absorbed in this book and as I said it was so hard to put down I needed to know just as Tessa needed to know, what happened to her, who did this to her? The journey to get there was filled with sometimes manic decisions on Tessa's part but you could understand where she was coming from, she wouldn't be able to live with Terrell’s death on her conscience.

This book was amazing so well written; I don’t want to give too much away so I will just say…
 Read This Book Now!

5 Stars

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Truth According to Us by, Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us by, Annie Barrows narrated by, Ann Marie Lee & Tara Sands (and various)

Available in-house in hardcover and on Library2Go in Ebook& Audiobook

From the Author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

My Review of the audiobook:
It’s funny I never even read the description for this book I just knew I wanted to read it because I loved her Guernsey book so much, so imagine my surprise when this book was not set in Britain but in the American south, I know authors don’t write about the same place all the time but I guess I assumed the authors of Guernsey were British. I also didn’t realize the author writes the children’s series Ivy & Bean, so now that I’ve admitted to being a bad librarian I will get on with my review of this fabulous book.

Layla Beck a senator’s daughter is being taught a lesson and is sent away by her father to work for the WPA, a writer’s project that is part of the New Deal, she is sent to write a history of the town of Macedonia, West Virginia. She ends up in a rooming house run by Jottie Romeyn who lives there with her nieces Willa and Bird and their divorced father Felix.

Between Layla’s research for her book and Willa’s snooping no secret is safe in this small town and those secrets will affect everyone at the Romeyn boarding house and beyond. When Layla starts falling for Felix, Willa gets involved because she wants her parents to get back together and no one is good enough for her father, but is Felix as good of a man as these two think he is?

The characters in this book are at times eccentric and some are sad and lonely ( Jottie) but she keeps that sadness bottled up so everyone thinks she is just fine and when you come to understand the reasons for that sadness you will wonder why she let it go on as long as she did. But, family loyalty is important to the Romeyn’s even though some members of the family are holding back important details of the night that changed their entire life it seemed like the right thing to do. Ah, but secrets have a way of wiggling to the surface and when these secrets come to light this family will never be the same.

I really enjoyed this story and the characters and will read anything this author puts to paper!

Read by Ann Marie Lee, Tara Sands, and Julia Whelan, with additional readings by Cassandra Campbell, Danny Campbell, Mark Deakins, Kimberly Farr, Kirby Heyborne, Lincoln Hoppe, Paul Michael, Linda Montana, and Arthur Morey. The narration was very well done with the main narrators being Ann Marie Lee and Tara Sands who both did a fantastic job at bringing this book to life. The other narrators read letters and histories which I found interesting and thought it added credence to the letters.

I highly recommend this one on audio.

5 Stars