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In my post last week I mentioned that I’d have audiobook reviews to share this week and I made it! Things are crazy in my life right now. In my work life, about half of the students in my school are headed into a hybrid model and the other half will be staying online for the rest of the year. That means the make up of ALL our classes are changing. Monday will be like a first day of school…in March. It’s crazy, but I’m happy to be one of the teachers who will continue teaching online. On the home front, I’m in the early stages of a remodel and am spending ridiculous lengths of time checking out things online, ordering samples, getting estimates. Needless to say, my reading/listening time has been impacted, but these three audiobooks were each so good that I flew through them. Even better, they’re ALL debuts, so there are three new authors to keep an eye out for!
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (debut)
Narrator: Danielle Vitalis
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Length: 288 pages (8 hrs. 41 min.)
Thoughts: I knew very little about HOW THE ONE-ARMED SISTER SWEEPS HER HOUSE before listening to it, but I did know that with a title like that it had to be engaging and boy was I right. Debut author Cherie Jones tells the story of Lala, a hair-braider and new mother from Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, a lovely spot for tourists, but not as much for locals. Lala finds herself married to Adan, a petty criminal (and maybe more) who also happens to have a violent streak that Lala regularly sees up close and personal. (Leaving me to mention that there might be triggers for some, including physical and sexual violence.)
To a lesser degree, this is also the story of Mrs. Whalen, a new widow, trying to find her footing. Jones weaves together the stories of these two women giving the reader a feel for much more than the tourist side of the island. The story started right out on disturbing notes, but was done so well, that the more I listened the more my heart broke for Lala, and the more I wanted her to find a different path. Narrator Danielle Vitalis did a beautiful job with this book, easily slipping into the different points of view and adding that gentle flare to distinguish each of the characters. How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is a book I can highly recommend, and on audio? Even better! Grade: A-
Note: I received a copy of this audiobook from Little, Brown and Company (via Libro.fm) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano (debut)
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Publisher: Minotaur Books (Macmillan Audio)
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Length: 368 pages (9 hrs. 59 min.)
Thoughts: I’f you’re looking for something light and fun, I’ve got the book for you! Initially, I had no real plans to read FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT by Elle Cosimano, but then I saw it popping up all over Bookstagram. I’d been on the hunt for an audiobook that would be fun, engaging, and easy to listen to. I got all that and more with Finlay.
As many of you know, I have a problem with thrillers and have been on a thriller “diet” this year. I’m glad I broke my own rules with this story of a newly single mom who gets in over her head through a misunderstanding. That mistaken impression has her and her nanny ending up as paid assassins. Now I know, that sounds like just the sort of over-the-top plot line that I most dislike in thrillers. Yet, Cosimano made it all believable enough to keep it fun and I only rolled my eyes a couple times. Now 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 the mark of a great thriller from me! Narrator Angela Dawe was fabulous, making me listen to “just one more chapter” over and over again. If you’re on the hunt for a fun, light-hearted thriller, look no further. You’ve found it in Finlay Donovan Is Killing It. Grade: B+
Thoughts: Over the last year, my nonfiction reading has been way down and 2021 has been holding to that trend. Despite my lack of quantity, the quality of the nonfiction I’ve read in the last year has been very high, another trend that continued with my first nonfiction of 2021, BETWEEN TWO KINGDOMS by Suleika Jaouad. At age 22, Suleika was a recent college graduate who had just landed a job in Paris and was embarking on a brand new relationship when her symptoms began. First, an infuriating itching sensation, followed by unrelenting exhaustion to the point of collapse. Her Paris doctors sent Suleika home to New York where she was quickly diagnosed with a particularly devastating form of leukemia.
Between Two Kingdoms is Jaouad’s four-year long fight for her life, through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, countless hospitalizations and a bone-marrow transplant. It’s also the story of what comes after all that. How does one learn to live again? Suleika Jaouad chronicled much of her journey through cancer in a New York Times column, but this book is much more than that. It is an up close and personal look at what this level of illness does to the patient, her family, her love, her friendships, everything. It goes beyond the disease and into the toll taken on one’s life, not just during the disease, but after, too. I appreciated that Jaouad didn’t end her story with a clean bill of health because even with that, she had much to learn and even more to overcome. I listened to the author tell her own story, making it an even more powerful experience and one I highly recommend. Between Two Kingdoms is most definitely a memoir done right! Grade: B+