Yesterday I posted about four books/audiobooks I have enjoyed over the past three months. Today I’m finishing up the list. Here are four more good or great recent reads:
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanson
The publicist running the Harper Perennial (@HarperPerennial) twitter account sent me a paperback review copy of this book. I’m just starting to get into reading more fantasy fiction and Beth Fish Reads raved about it. It was a few months before I picked it up to read it, but then I couldn’t put it down. It tells the story of Kelsey, a young women who has been hidden from the rest of her world because she is the daughter of the past Queen and her life is in danger. Her adventure begins when she is picked up by her mother’s guard to meet her destiny as the rightful Queen of the Tearling. This book was fascinating from beginning to end. I loved this brutal and invigorating book so much that I immediately picked up the second book in this series, The Invastion of the Tearling, in audio. I listened to it over Thanksgiving. While I love Davina Porter very much and her performance was fantastic, I didn’t like the second book in the series nearly as much. That being said, I have a feeling that it’s building up to a fantastic conclusion. I’m eagerly awaiting The Fate of the Tearling, which is due out in November of 2016.
The Clasp by Sloane Crosley
This audiobook, about the lives of three disallusioned adults nearing their 30s, was a fantastic listen. Narrator David Pittu did a fantastic job with all three main characters, Victor, Nathaniel, and Kezia. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his work on The Marriage Plot and was surprised once again at how well he can make an entire world come alive. I need to listen to him more often. I thought that Crosley captured very well the way in which the exuberance and invincibility of the college graduate fades and rusts as the reality of life and work sets in and a new breed of the young and hip take over. This can be an especially hard transition if you are prone to comparing yourself to others. All three characters had interesting backstories with varying levels of superficiality. Victor’s story was for me the darkest and I thought Nathaniel’s was a good balance to it. There are some really funny moments in this novel, but what I took away with me is the toll of always looking back on what was as opposed to looking forward to whatever the future may hold. I found myself wanting to hug each of these characters and tell them that it gets better.
I was sent a review copy of this audiobook from Macmillan Audio.
Médicis Daughter by Sophia Perinot
There is just something about reading well written historical fiction. It just makes me happy inside. This was true for me as I read Médicis Daughter. I accepted a review copy of this book and went into it knowing nothing about Queen Catherine or her court and I was drawn in from the first page. Reading about Margot and her struggles was an interesting experience. While I knew that nothing good would come of it, I enjoyed seeing her happy when she was intoxicated with young love to the point of recklessness. I feared for her when she refused to become the woman her brother wanted her to be. For her, those missteps she made along the way were important in building her character and making her strong. It was a pleasure watching her metamorphosis as she gained experience at court and with her mother and brothers, who were raised not unlike gods and pitted against each other by the conniving Catherine. Perinot wrote a compelling book that immediately sent me off to do my own research on Margot and read about the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, a very ugly day in Catholic history. Now I need to go back and read The Sister Queens. I am hoping there is much more to come from Perinot.
The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro
I really enjoyed The Art Forger, so when I heard that Shapiro had written a second novel, I wanted to read it. As Xe Sands narrated the audiobook, I picked up a copy from Audible and started listening just before my Christmas break began. Despite all of the hustle and bustle surrounding the holiday, I finished this audiobook in just a matter of days. Despite the fact that I’ve read so much fiction in the past dealing with WWII, this novel brought some fresh perspective. Until reading this book I was unaware of the WPA program instituted by FDR. That in and of itself was fascinating. Then, given the current situation with Serbian refugees, reading about Alizée Benoit and her struggles to save Jewish relatives in Europe made this novel relevant to the world I find myself living in today. Perhaps the best part of this experience for me was listening to Sands’ performance. I’ve always enjoyed the audiobooks she’s narrated, but I found myself reflecting after each listen on how much she’s honed her craft and made it her own.