Tag: 4.5 stars

Audiobook Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here
Author: Jodi Picoult

Published:  November 30, 2021
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 9-16, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

A deeply moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit in a moment of crisis.

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. The whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

Jessica’s Review:

I have read some novels that deal with Covid, but Wish You Were Here brings it to a whole different level with the intensity and reality that we still face with this disease two years later.  I had heard that Wish dealt with Covid, but I was not prepared for this level of it! I did enjoy the novel but it is just to real too soon, especially since we are not out of the woods with this disease yet.

We have Diana and Finn. Diana works in the art auction world and Finn is a surgical resident. Diana is working with a Yoko Ono type woman whose partner was killed many years ago like John Lennon was. There is a famous painting that she is debating on selling at auction just before Covid reaches New York City where part of the novel is based. 

Finn and Diana have planned a holiday to the Galapagos Islands.  But then Covid happens and Finn has to stay working at the hospital.  Together they decide she should still go and does. And OMG, my feelings about this! They know what’s coming but still decide for Diana to go?  When she lands on the island it is starting to shut down and yet she decides to still stay! I wanted to just strangle her: who would go overseas when things are starting to go crazy in the world!?!?   And things go crazy for Diana: no luggage, her hotel is closed, its just a worst-case scenario for her, and she is stuck half a world away from home until who knows when!  And there is not really Wi-Fi- so she can’t really communicate with Finn.  But Diana is taken in by some locals and she comes to learn about and see the island not from the tourist side, but from the native side.

And then we have a side story of Diana’s mother and dementia. This brings a whole other level to Covid for Diana. 

Yes, I had issues with Diana and her decisions she makes. And then Picoult takes the novel in a direction I did not expect or would have thought possible!  It was a shocking moment.

Picoult definitely did her research and brings the reader into Finn’s world of working in the hospital in the height of the pandemic.  It was just too much reality in a fictional novel for me. I enjoyed the novel, but for me it is too soon. 

I am conflicted with this one.  I feel it should have 5 stars, but it had too much real-life intensity when reading is for pleasure, so it was too much for me.  It is an extremely powerful novel that makes you think about what we are still going through, and not sure when we may get ‘back to normal’ or if we have to adjust to what may end up being our ‘new normal’.  It also gave me a new appreciation for those front-line workers who are in the medical field.  You hear about it on the news, but Wish gives you a whole new perspective and realization of what those workers have been going through for just over two years now. I also liked how we discover the Galapagos islands with Diana.  We learn about the beauty of it and the people, history, and culture.  Through Picoult’s descriptions I felt I was on the islands with Diana. 

Be sure to read the author’s note to give you more perspective on Picoult’s research and reasoning for writing this novel. 

I listened to the audiobook version which was narrated by Marin Ireland. She did a fabulous job narrating as she always does. 

Wish You Were Here is recommended, but take heed and be cautious if you chose to read it. Be prepared for what you might be about to read.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

In An Instant
Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Published: March 1, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 7-11, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars     

Book Description: 

Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.

Jessica’s Review:

 At unexpected times in an instant life as you know it can change forever.  In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn shows us this through our narrator Finn, who tragically dies in a camper accident.  We see the aftermath of the accident and the others struggle for survival. Finn is also a viewer to the aftermath as she is stuck between our living world and the afterlife. 

This is a very hard and emotional read with the struggles everyone goes through in the aftermath of the accident. We have many characters who are imperfect and each person’s decisions affect everyone. There is one particular character you cannot feel anything for except for anger and more with the decision he makes. 

In An Instant is a perfectly paced novel as we agonize the repercussions of the actions of others with Finn.  After everything is said and done will Finn and the survivors be able to move on in either life or death?  This is the struggle of the characters and their varying degrees of grief that they are going through.

Prepare yourself for an intensely draining emotional read.  I did find the author’s note on Goodreads which unfortunately was not in the audiobook version that I listened to.  The author’s note gives even more depth to her life event that happened when she was a child herself.  

Prepare yourself when you go to read this one. It will stay with you as you think about life, death, grief, and moving on.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Audiobook Review: Buried by Sian B. Claven

Buried
Author: Sian B. Claven

Narrator: Chris Slone
Published:  October 15, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 10-11, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

Home is where the heart is … or the hatred.

You can feel the love and care someone puts into their home just by walking into it. Equally, you can feel the hatred and malice when you step into a home where dark deeds have been done.

Alex and his team of so-called paranormal investigators are given the opportunity of a lifetime when they are able to film inside one of the most haunted, and cursed, locations in their area.

The Jackson Mansion.

The thing that makes this mansion truly unique is that it is built completely underground. Determined to uncover the dark secrets of the mansion’s past, and prove himself a notable investigator, Alex doesn’t care what it takes. The mansion, however, has other ideas, as well as some rather restless occupants.

Jessica’s Review:

Kim has previously read  Buried and her review is here.

This is my first full length novella from Claven and WHOA!!! Until this one, I have only read two of her short stories, and I cannot wait to read more from her! I have had Buried on my kindle for a while, but was kindly sent an audiobook version from the author to listen to.

Claven can truly write horror!  Buried take the ‘haunted house’ trope and amplifies it by 1000!  I did not know what was going to happen next as I listened to this novella or anticipated how it would end.  I recall my mouth dropping a few times as I listened, and had to make an effort to concentrate on driving as I listened and was fully involved in the story. I had recently been involved in an accident where deer were involved and the car that hit me ran, so I didn’t need a repeat accident in my new-to-me car! (Please note that all 4 deer and myself were fine, my poor little Saab was not so lucky). 

Please note that Claven will not be for everyone.  Her writing is very dark, twisted, depraved, and also unique! There were a couple of erotica parts in Buried which I could have done without, which gives my rating of 4.5 stars. I would say this novel would be for 18+ due to the contents involved. 

As previously mentioned, I was sent the audiobook version from Claven.  Honestly, it took a little while for me to get used to the narrator’s voice. At first, I did not really like his voice as for me his voice had a bit too much of a ‘southern twang’ to it, but after a while I was able get past that and ended up enjoying the narration as Slone really performed!  

Please note that Claven is from South Africa so some vernacular in the novel is from her country.  I have read books from other authors in South Africa, so this did not stick out for me. 

Reader discretion is advised before you pick up Buried. If you can handle it, you will be in for a wild ride of not knowing what to expect!  Buried is far from your typical haunted house novel and those out to discredit ghosts!

Buried is recommended!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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