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Code Name: Johnny Walker: The Extraordinary Story of the Iraqi Who Risked Everything to Fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs

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This would have been a magical 200 page book instead it was a 378 page Oh Get On With It book. I actually think we could have skipped Grandma Roman all together and not lost a thing. I also didn’t need to know every little thing Bonaventure could hear it was plenty when he told his dad I heard a worm blink today and such, the author could have just added a few of the big ones into his conversations with William and it would have been plenty.BUT…I loved Bonaventure he was an amazing little boy and if the author had went with less is more this probably would have been a 5 star book but as it is it will be much less than that. I also enjoyed Trinidad and wish there would have been a little more of her. As I said above I think this book could have done with major editing and I think if they would have concentrated on the people living in the house (including Trinidad) and skipped Adelaide all together it would have tightened up the story and made me care more. There were parts of this book that shined for me but by far the majority of it didn’t, I’d say if you like lots of descriptions and pretty prose you may like this book as for me it fell flat.2 ½ stars
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy

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This was an interesting look into the Triangle Fire and the political repercussions. It goes into a lot about the strikes of garment workers and did get a little political. The fascinating part is all the laws that were put into place because of this fire, laws we take for granted in the present day.This is a juvenile non-fiction that may get a little boring in the middle for the younger kids, but I enjoyed the story and even if you are an adult I think you will like this one.
The Next Time You See Me: A Novel

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The Next Time You See Me By, Holly Goddard Jones narrated by, Cassandra CampbellSusanna’s sister Ronnie has gone missing but since she’s kind of the town bad girl no one but Susanna seems to care which gets Susanna wondering if the life she has is the life she wants. Then there is her students Emily & Christopher, Emily is a shy girl from the wrong side of the tracks and Christopher little rich boy with attitude…Ugh Christopher is such a little puke and I don’t understand how Emily can even think of being friends with him. Emily truly needs some serious counseling between her insecurities, self esteem, being bullied and what happened in the woods I hope her parents will get her some help!Then there is Wyatt a 55 year old overweight factory worker, I liked Wyatt I also felt sorry for him, I felt he’d been bullied his whole life, pretty sure the night at the bar wasn’t the first time he’s been bullied he fell for it all too easily. Thought it was sweet that he and Sara got together and was rooting for them both to find love.The prayer service for Ronnie made me wonder how often those are done; a prayer for a missing person who wasn’t well liked and didn’t attend church. I agree with Susanna that it all just felt wrong but I can understand that she was feeling like finally people were starting to take her sisters disappearance seriously.This book was very hard to put down it has bullying of kids and adults, a missing person, a murder, old loves returning and some very, very flawed people but it comes together in a fabulous story. I don’t want to give any spoilers but there was a certain storyline that I hoped would be a red herring and am amazed that the author made me feel bad for a murderer but I was emotionally invested and it was a great twist well an emotional twist for me. All these different characters with nary a thing in common all find themselves thrown into the drama of Ronnie’s disappearance some in ways that will leave you shaking your head in wonder.Cassandra Campbell’s narration was wonderful as always she truly brought these characters to life and there was a wide variety of characters in the book from teens to older men. Every character has a voice of their own with her wonderful sense of subtlety that makes her such a great narrator. This is a great story I highly recommend this book especially on audio!4 StarsI received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review.
Mary Coin

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Mary Coin by Marisa Silver narrated by, Eva Kaminsky, Alison Fraser, Mark SislerWhen I first heard of this book I thought it was going to be right up my alley because I have always loved old photographs and we all know this amazing photograph and I love reading about the 30’s , but it turned out a bit more boring than I thought it would be, I was expecting a deeper story of these two very different women and what their lives were like and it would have been a better book if it had only been about the 2 women; I did not understand the inclusion of Walker Dodge’s storyline until the very end of the book and by then I didn’t really care about him or his story. I felt this storyline took away from getting to know more about Vera. Or maybe we needed less Vera and more about Mary Coin and her family. Not sure something was just off with the way these stories flowed together.There are parts I liked, I think Mary Coin was a much more interesting character than Vera, who was so self centered, well maybe I should say career orientated, when she is an old woman and she is taking pictures of her son and he looks at her and says it’s too late for that now mom which was a huge ah-ha moment into her life because we don’t get to actually see much of her life in between taking the photo and when she is elderly. I felt we didn’t really get to know Vera as much as we should have and more about the impact of this photo on her life we get a skimming of information about Vera’s life but not very in depth. Mary Coin however we learn about her life and how it was tough but her children turned out well even though she was still the woman in that picture with the heartbreak in her eyes. I wish this had been more, a meatier story, maybe, it just felt like we skimmed the surface of these women and wish there had been more about them and more about the time. Most books about the depression and this time in history it is like the time period is a character and I didn’t get that in this book.I did enjoy these three new to me narrators Eva Kaminsky, Alison Fraser, Mark Sisler, they all did a good job with their respective characters the women had to sound young and aged and both pulled it off successfully, Mark has a nice voice he reminded me a bit of Kirby Heybourne I enjoyed his pacing and timbre of his voice. I would listen to any/all of these narrators again.Alright I didn’t hate this book there are parts I liked but wished for a meatier story. Maybe if Walker’s story hadn’t felt so separate from the others if the connections had been made sooner maybe I would have liked his story more. This isn’t a bad book but don’t expect an epic story about woman during the depression because you won’t get it. Not bad just not as good as I was expecting. I liked Mary’s story and if the book had concentrated on her I think it would have been better.3 StarsI received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and Penguin Audio for a fair and honest review.
Neil Gaiman: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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What to say about this hauntingly beautiful totally unique book, I loved it, I even rewound it twice just so it didn’t end and if I would have had the time I would have started it from the beginning as soon as I finished.Such a neat story, Neil is one of those writers that can take your breath away with a phrase or beautiful imagery. Although this story has fantastical/magical realism, it still feels like it could be a true story because you believe every word.Of course I listened to this on audio, it’s narrated by, Neil himself so that was a no-brainer choice, because I could listen to Neil read the phonebook and be mesmerized.I know this is a sorry excuse for a review but every time I try to explain how good this was I can’t put a sentence together, maybe when I do a re-listen one day I will expand upon this review but for now all I can say is read this book and read it now! (On audio is the best!)5 Stars
The Giver (Essential Modern Classics)

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The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois Lowry, Ron RifkinBack in 2009 I read this book, it was my first dystopian so I wasn’t a huge fan of it, I liked it but not as much as I did this time. I still don’t think it is the strongest dystopian out there but it is still an important one. I feel like this is a quiet dystopian because of its utopian feel, the world works for them there isn’t a big uprising, no running, chasing trying to find answers by a whole crowd of people it is just Jonah after being given the memories that he sees things differently. This is the most fascinating thing to me these memories of the world before, but before what, and what about those planes? Do people outside of their community adhere to these same rules? They must not if they have airplanes…Is there color outside of their little part of the world? So many questions I never felt were answered to my satisfaction.I wish this book had been longer I wish it explained things more, I understand this is written for younger readers but I feel like they would have questions too, as I do. But maybe that is the beauty of the book, it makes you think, makes you wonder and makes you question because if no one asks questions than a world like this is possible. I’m not sure how a world of color becomes black and white (or beige) and how this whole memory thing happens and that somehow if the memories are not accepted by “the host” then they go back to the people.I have not read the rest of the books in this quartet, but I plan to, I am hoping some of my questions will be answered. I did like this book but maybe not as much as some but I did give it a half star more than I gave it the last time I read it.I listened to it on audio for my re-read narrated by, Ron Rifkin who was ok but not great , there were a lot of mouth noises, tongue clicks and such and he sounded too old for Jonah and his other voices weren’t up to par. I believe a narrator like Kirby Heyborne or Nick Poedehl would have truly brought this book to life for me. Oh and the mood music I could have done without, it was supposed to be atmospheric I’m sure but it didn’t work for me. This is one book I would say read in paper and skip this audio.3 ½ Stars
Amity & Sorrow: A Novel

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I requested this book because the cover and description grabbed me, I loved the premise of the book but the execution of said premise didn’t go very well in my opinion.Amaranth and her daughters Amity & Sorrow are on the run from their cult leader/preacher/god complex husband/father, when they crash their car they are eventually taken in by a farmer who has already taken in a young boy named Dirt and is trying to take care of his invalid father.Amity & Sorrow are some very disturbed girls and will need a lifetime of counseling. I did not like anyone in this book; they were all flawed some way more than others. I like books with flawed characters but these were beyond the norm. I know I should give more of a reason but if you decide to read it I don’t want to spoil anything for you but know that there are some very tough issues in this book that I felt were not handled well at all.I came close to DNFing this book but wanted to see what happened but was very disappointed. The ending of this made me sick to my stomach and made me mad that I kept reading!This book just didn’t do it for me, I see others really enjoyed it but this is not one I will be recommending to anyone.2 starsI received this book from netgalley & the publisher for a fair and honest review.
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century

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I had heard the story of these murders a few years ago and was shocked that one of the murderers grew up to become author Anne Perry. I watched a couple interviews with Perry on youtube she is being interviewed by fellow author Ian Rankin and it felt to me like Anne Perry still didn’t show much remorse. In the interview with Rankin she still seems so cold and when she said she helped but makes it sound like she did nothing but be by her friends side, but court and medical examiner documents say Mrs. Parker was held by the throat while beaten so did she hold her by the throat or hit her? According to this book she hit her while Pauline held her throat. But the fact that she is now an accomplished author isn’t what this book is about; this book is about the crime itself and is told in detail from court documents, the girls’ diaries and personal interviews of people who were there at the time. The murder itself is horrific it wasn’t a crime of passion, spur of the moment type of murder this was downright pre-meditated murder, they brought the brick along with them that they used to kill Pauline’s mother, they planned exactly where they would walk to not be seen, planned how to get her mother to bend over so they could hit her. They wanted it to look like an accident but unlike on TV one blow doesn’t always kill, so they hit her over and over and over again, and then ran for help like innocents. Honestly these two may have gotten away with it if one blow would have killed her because at the time no one could fathom a 15 year old girl killing her mother.The relationship between these girls I believe was a lesbian one and I am NOT saying that is what made them killers, but I think it did play a part because of how taboo these feelings were in 1954. I thought this book also went down a blaming the parents path, Juliet’s mother wasn’t maternal at all and Juliet was sent away for the majority of her childhood and I don’t think ever got much love from her mother and her father was a pat on the head as he is passing through a room type of man. I also didn’t think that Pauline’s mother was so bad I think the Hulme’s used her as scapegoat when they said that Pauline could not accompany them when they left NZ. At times especially during and after the trial I couldn’t help thinking why did they choose Pauline’s mother and not Juliet’s ...that’s harsh I know but there it is. I think these girls had some kind of mental illness maybe not the ones that Dr.Medlicott tried and re-tried to pin on these girls but there was some form of mental illness or at least diminished capacity that led these 2 girls into this almost dream world where they were all that mattered and their imaginings could come true if certain people were out of the way, which is another good thing about them being caught so quickly , if they had gotten away with it and still been kept apart who would have died next?These girls each ended up doing about 5 years in prison and I guess when you are 15 at the time of sentencing that is a long time, neither went out and murdered anyone else they each went their separate ways and as I said Juliet became Anne Perry, Pauline Parker tried to become a nun but was turned down but ended up living a very solitary life in the service of others and seems to have spent her life making amends for her crime.This was a fascinating book about a horrific crime, I did find at first all the different names these girls called each other was a little confusing and was glad when the author went back to calling them the names they went by and not the pet names. But I think if you are interested in true crime books give this one a go. I wish there had been picture of the girls when they were younger or at trial it always makes it more "real" in a non-fiction.4 StarsI received this book from Edelwiess & the publisher for a fair and honest review.
Hush Money: A Mystery

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This was a new to me author and narrator and only picked it up because it is nominated for an Audie award in the mystery category.When the book started I thought ok it’s a legal thriller, then we have a death of a horse and all that goes along with the hoity toity horse crowd, then we have a murder and some medical mystery so this is hard to categorize. I enjoyed the main character lawyer Jack MacTaggert he was somewhat cynical, and has a dry sense of humor. I see there is a second book coming out and I will be picking it up because I did enjoy this character.You don’t have to be a horse person to enjoy this book but if you enjoy Dick Francis give this one a try. I am curious where Jack will end up going from here because the events at the end of this book left a few questions hanging out there.Dan Butler’s narration was good but I’m honestly not sure if it was award worthy. He had a few different characterizations but they weren’t always consistent, but his narration of the main character was well done and I felt he captured Jack’s snarky humor very well. I would listen to other narrations by Dan Butler.Not sure what else to add… this was a solid mystery and a good start to a new series that I will probably continue to read.3 ½ Stars
Calling Me Home

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Calling Me Home: A Novel by Julie Kibler Narrated by, Bahni Turpin & Lorna RaverThis is such a great story! But be careful where you read it and have tissues ready especially towards the end, I happened to be driving at the end of this one!I fell in love with both of these characters Miss Isabelle and Dorrie were true friends even though such different people. Dorrie is an African American single mother and hairdresser who has been doing 89 year old Isabelle’s hair for over a year and they have grown close but when Isabelle asks Dorrie to drive her from Texas to Ohio for a funeral, Dorrie jumps at the chance to get away from her own troubles for awhile and help the old lady out.This book is told in alternating chapters by Dorrie and Isabelle, Dorrie dealing with her own problems at home in the present day and Isabelle telling the story of her life; that when she was 17 in Kentucky in the 1930’s she fell in love with a black man and the consequences that occurred due to her actions. Isabelle’s story is so heartbreaking but beautiful and the friendship that grows between these two women is one of the best friendships out there. I adored this book and couldn’t put it down I didn’t want to stop listening I needed to know how the story played out because with each bombshell Isabella would drop you could see so many ways the story could go and most of them had very dire consequences.I received the ebook galley of this book from netgalley then I heard that it was going to be narrated by, Bahni Turpin & Lorna Raver so of course I waited for the audiobook and I am so glad I did. These two are perfect for the characters Bahni as Dorrie and Lorna as Isabelle bring the emotion of this book bubbling to surface in waves of emotion that will make you feel everything these characters are going through. Loran Raver’s telling of Isabelle’s story is at times pure raw emotion that conveys so beautifully the heartbreak of her long life and Bahni Turpin’s Dorrie is smart yet has this soft vulnerable side that Turpin brings to life without flaw.I highly recommend this book on audio with these two narrators how can you go wrong! This is one the best books I’ve read this year. If you like southern fiction and beautiful friendship stories give this book a try you won’t be disappointed!5 stars
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