Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchet


Author: Ann Patchet Title: Bel Canto Narrator: Anna Fields Publication Info: Blackstone Audiobooks, 2001. Summary/Review: This novel is set in an unnamed Latin American nation that lures a powerful Japanese business man to a birthday party in his honor with an intimate performance by his favorite operatic soprano.  A group of revolutionaries attacks the mansion and takes…

Book Review: We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Author: Kaitlyn Greenidge Title: We Love You, Charlie Freeman Publication Info: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016 Summary/Review: This book is difficult to describe in a few sentences.  The Freeman family moves from Dorchester to a rural town in Western Massachusetts where they will live in an apartment at the Toneybee Research Institute…

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


Author: Harper Lee Title: Go Set a Watchman Publication Info: New York, NY : Harper, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2015] Books By the Same Author: To Kill A Mockingbird Summary/Review: This book is controversial for two reasons.  First, it’s questionable whether Lee ever wanted it published and possible she was exploited in her infirmity and old age….

Book Review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill


Author: Jenny Offill Title: Dept. of Speculation Narrator: Jenny Offill Publication Info: Holland, OH : Dreamscape Media, LLC, [2014] Summary/Review: This work is an experimental novel about a writer in Brooklyn, her marriage, and parenthood.  It’s written in a series of short chapters and vignettes.  Sometimes it feels like the narrator is going on about little things,…

Book Review: Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville


Author: Eliza Granville Title: Gretel and the Dark Narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Stefan Rudnicki Publication Info: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2014) Summary/Review: Deeply rooted in Grimm’s fairy tales, this novel tells two stories. One set in 1899 Vienna is about a woman given the name “Lillie” who claims to be a robot and is brought to psychologist Dr Josef Breuer…

Book Review: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving


Author: John Irving Title: Last Night in Twisted River Narrator: Arthur Morey Publication Info: Random House Audio (2009) Summary/Review: Previously read by the same author: A Prayer for Owen Meany The World According to Garp The Hotel New Hampshire The Fourth Hand Another sprawling, epic novel by John Irving.  I haven’t read one in a long time….

Book Review: The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Norway Author: Linn Ullmann Title:The Cold Song Translator: Barbara Haveland Publication Info: New York : Other Press, c2011 Summary/Review: This novel is a story about a family at seaside summer home and the young woman Milla who comes to work as their nanny, but goes missing and is…

Book Reviews: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


Author: Ruta Sepetys Title: Between Shades of Gray Narrator:Emily Klein Publication Info: Penguin Audio (2011) Summary/Review: This novel set in the World War II-era depicts the oppression of Lithuanian partisans through the eyes of 15-year-old Lina.  A promising young artists, Lina and her mother and brother are rounded up by the NKVD with other women, children, the…

Book Review: Airman by Eoin Colfer


Author: Eoin Colfer Title: Airman Narrator: John Keating Publication Info: [New York] : Listening Library, 2007. Books I’ve Previously Read by the Same Author: Artemis Fowl The Arctic Incident The Eternity Code The Opal Deception The Lost Colony Plugged Summary/Review: Irish author Eoin Colfer, creator of the Artemis Fowl series, spins a classic adventure story set in the…

Book Review: The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke


Author: Brock Clarke Title: The Happiest People in the World Publication Info: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014. ISBN: 9781616201111 Books previously read by same author: An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke Summary/Review: A Danish cartoonist, at risk for drawing cartons offensive to Muslims, is moved by the…

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


Author: Robin Sloan Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Narrator: Ari Fliakos Publication Info: Macmillan Audio (2012) Summary/Review: A young man named Clay is out-of-work in San Francisco and ends up taking a job at a bizarre book store with an eccentric owner.  It turns out to be a front of a shadowy organization and Clay’s favorite fantasy book series is a…

Book Review: Jerusalem by Gonçalo Tavares


Around the World for a Good Book Selection for Portugal Author: Gonçalo Tavares Title:Jerusalem Translator: Anna Kushner Publication Info: Champaign [Ill.] : Dalkey Archive Press, c2009 ISBN: 9781564785558 Summary/Review: This novel brings together several characters in one place for one event and then jumps back to show vignettes of each character’s life, building up to what all…

Book Review: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis


Author: Ayana Mathis Title: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie Narrators: Adam Lazarre-White, Bahni Turpin, and Adenrele Ojo Publication Info: Books on Tape, 2012 Summary/Review: This somber novel tells the stories of a woman named Hattie who migrates from Georgia to Philadelphia in the 1920s, and her subsequent life and that of her children.  The novel is a…

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Colombia Author: Gabriel García Márquez Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude Translator: Gregory Rabassa Narrator: John Lee Publication Info: Blackstone Audio (2014) (originally published 1967) ISBN: 9781482939682 Other books read by the same author: Love in the Time of Cholera Summary/Review: I always find it difficult…

Book Review: The Man of Feeling by Javier Marias


Around the World for a Good Book selection for Spain Author: Javier Marias Translator: Margaret Jull Costa Title: The Man of Feeling Publication Info: New Directions (2003) ISBN: 0811215318 Summary/Review: This short meditative book is narrated from the perspective of a young opera singer who travels across Europe for performances.  On one of his journeys he shares a…

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowel


Author: Rainbow Rowel Title: Eleanor & Park Publication Info: New York : Listening Library, 2013. Summary/Review: This novel set in Omaha in 1986 tells of the young love of the 16 year old protagonists Eleanor and Park.  Eleanor lives in poverty with her mother’s abusive boyfriend making an ordinary teenage life impossible.  Park is half-Korean and likes…

Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri


Author: Jhumpa Lahiri Title: The Lowland Publication Info: Knopf (2013) ISBN: 9780385367431 Summary/Review: Lahiri’s novel, like many of her works, deals with Indian expatriates assimilating to life in the United States and coming to terms with their past in India.  The Lowland tells the story of two brothers Subhash and Udayan.  While Subash leaves for America to study in Rhode Island,…

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Author: Markus Zusak Title:  The Book Thief Publication Info:   [New York, N.Y.] : Listening Library, 2006. ISBN: 9780739348345 Summary/Review:  This novel balances the line between heartwarming and heartbreaking, inevitably falling to the later, but never without giving up hope.  Boldly, Zusak has the book narrated by Death who proves to be sympathetic to humanity and tired of…

Book Review: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud


Author: Claire Messud Title: The Woman Upstairs Publication Info: 2013: Books on Tape ISBN: 9780307913630 Summary/Review: Messud’s “Woman Upstairs” is her take on the character without an identity such as Ellison’s Invisible Man or The Mad Woman in the Attic, but in this case the nice woman who no one takes notice of.   Nora is a school…

Book Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain


Author: Ben Fountain Title: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Publication Info:   HarperCollins (2012) ISBN: 9780060885618     Summary/Review:   This review should be called “Liam Sullivan’s Long Summertime Read” because it took me months to complete reading.  The slothfulness of the read should reflect more on the reader than the novel, and in fact the intricate level of detail in…