Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney – #Audiobook Review – #literaryfiction – #readingirelandmonth21

Normal People by Sally Rooney

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Literature & Fiction

Book Blurb:

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship, and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t. 

My Review:

OMG, I HOPE that Marianne and Connell are NOT “normal” people.

The storyline begins while they are still in school in a small town in West Ireland. And then for the next four years, the plot revolves around each with their own POV, going to college in Dublin, meeting other people, discovering new talents or the lack thereof, and maturing, except in their relationship.

Normal People by Sally RooneyBoth knew they had a strong connection early on. But Connell hails from the other side of the tracks. He strongly feels his inferior place in her life—she is a daughter from a wealthy, entitled family. While he is the product of a poor mother who loves and supports him, her family is detached, dysfunctional. They each carry their upbringing on their shoulders. It weighs on them. But each time their lives cross, that mutual powerful attraction between them begins where it left off.

Then they go their separate ways again, each to new lovers or experiences, unsatisfying, incomplete, and, what do you know? Their lives cross again—and again—and still they deny the full disclosure of their feelings toward each other.

The plot explores the sharp divide between classes, bullying, dysfunctional families, self-esteem, and the baggage of childhood—left open ended.

Obvious from the beginning they love each other.

So GET OVER IT!

As the reader progresses through each meet up and hopes they’ll finally have that last, final, heart-to-heart going between them, the time wasted comes ever more sharply into focus.

Two intelligent adults. And the clock is ticking. Each get-together lacking that all too important communication. Tomorrow is not promised.

It’s downright depressing.

I didn’t realize I was in the conclusion until the whole story ended. There was no plot really, not necessary to tie anything up, it just ended. No change, no closure—there never was going to be one. What was the point? It’s one of those books that just left me—meh.

Book Details:

Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B07PC2K62C
Listening Length: 7 hrs 34 mins
Narrator: Aoife McMahon
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Normal People [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three Stars three stars

Sally Rooney - authorThe Author: SALLY ROONEY was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017, she is the author of Conversations with Friends and the editor of the Irish literary journal The Stinging Fly.

Aoife McMahan - narratorThe Narrator: Aoife McMahon was born in 1973 in Clare, Ireland. She is known for her work on Random Passage (2002), Broken (2017) and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013).

©2021 V Williams

One by One by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview – Thriller & Suspense

“Her scent trails after her like an oil slick.” 

Book Blurb:

One by One by Ruth WareGetting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

My Review:

Faithful to the end, when I reviewed The Turn of the Key I promised to read another of Ms Ware’s books. She is currently running #2 in the hit parade for psychological literary fiction on Amazon. She is an international bestselling author. I feel like a spawning salmon who’s decided she’s had enough of jumping fish ladders and wants to retreat back to the Pacific.

One by One by Ruth WareI’ve read perhaps three other novels recently with roughly the same premise, albeit slightly different settings. In One by One, a group of tech execs arrive at an exclusive French Ski Chalet to do a little bonding, some brainstorming, and decision-making on company direction. Of course it’s roughly divided equally with the tipping vote in the hands of a former employee, Liz, a mousy little thing who becomes one of the two POVs.

They are to go skiing, even in the face of a very nasty French winter snowstorm, and it sounds very Squaw Valley worthy. The tension is palpable. When the avalanche occurs, it’s a douzy, wreaking havoc on the chalet, cutting them off from services and utilities. And when they count noses, realize one of them didn’t make it down the mountain back to the chalet in time.

There are two resort workers, the chef Danny, and Erin the other POV who is the resort guest interface. Each chapter is headed according to their Snoop stats, but I’ve yet to discern a real value gleaned from those facts. Certainly sounds like a more invasive personal information source than Facebook but I’m still scratching my head over why I’d care what anyone else is currently listening to.

The tech company personnel are mainly entitled brats of wealthy families who turn demeaning eyes to both Danny and Erin. No way you’d really care what happens to them and when nine becomes eight becomes seven—do you really care? For that matter, I couldn’t rustle up a sympathetic bone for Liz the mouse either. Erin is okay and I’d extend her a hearty hoo rah, but I won’t be shedding a sympathetic tear. And the language? The novel would be half as long if it weren’t for four letter words.

The narrations of Liz and Erin tend to overlap just a tad where one leaves off and the other takes up the storyline. The killer becomes a bit obvious. The conclusion ramps up the tension but adds disbelief to the superhuman feats of Erin. Whoa! She did what with what? And then the novel inexplicably continues. I thought it finished! Wasn’t that the end? It was for me.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance, uncorrected reader’s proof of this book from publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ASIN : B084G9Z5C3

Print Length: 383 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Ruth Ware - authorThe Author: Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. She lives on the south coast of England, with her family.

Visit http://www.ruthware.com to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @RuthWareWriter

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun #BlogTour #BookReview

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina Raydun on the Sage’s Blog Tours.

Good Morning, Bellingham

Book Blurb

When Peta goes missing, a two-decade-old secret threatens to rip at the seams and come out in the open. Relationships are tested as one dysfunctional family comes together in search of their daughter, sister, and wife. What they find instead will change each one of them forever.

My Review

Good Morning, Bellingham by Marina RaydunLocated in the beautiful northwest of Washington, Peta Knudsen is the beloved weather girl on the local small-town TV station of Bellingham. She is married to Peter, also a celebrity of the same station. Peta is the mother of a baby girl, Gwenny, and has gone missing–completely, totally missing. Gone.

Just, gone.

After Peter sounds the alarm, the family, extended family, and everyone in town rally in search, discover her last known location, and go from there. The POV splits with each telling, in detail, their relationship with the missing woman. As the story progresses (besides her husband), her mother, sister, sister’s boyfriend, therapist, therapist’s son, and even the therapist’s ex-husband weigh in on their relationship and with each new connection, a darker and yet deeper story emerges.

It becomes obvious very quickly that Peta was an extremely troubled young woman, skilled in hiding her emotions on camera, she nonetheless had a childhood and mother that left her scarred (hence the therapist). The birth of her daughter forces an awakening and insight into her mother. Most are well-developed characters and it doesn’t take long before you can divide those in her life that you’d find extremely unpleasant (hint: her mother), as well as those whose own background and well-hidden secrets create an abundance of tension of their own. It is apparently the accidental discovery of one of the long-held secrets that set her off on the ill-conceived mission resulting in her disappearance.

The novel begins rather slow and generally weaves between the characters, working through some deeply held convictions that formed the lives, personalities, and emotional relationship to each. Connections gradually become revealed as the book progresses through the obvious conclusion. Each has become intellectual and psychological toys by the author who manipulates each member successfully to create an intense domestic noir narrative delving into the psyche of family members in the midst of crisis.

“…what if having to fight for something this hard means you weren’t meant to have it to begin with?”

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Book Details

Genre: Women’s Literature Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction

  • ISBN-10:0578559862
  • ISBN-13:978-0578559865
  • ASIN: B07WD1T3WB

Publish Date: September 9, 2019
Print Length: 292 pages

About the Author

Marina Raydun - authorMarina Raydun‘s published works of fiction include a compilation of novellas One
Year in Berlin/Foreign Bride, a suspense novel entitled Joe After Maya, as well as a two-
part series, Effortless. Born in the former Soviet Union, Marina grew up in Brooklyn,
NY. She holds a J.D. from New York Law School and a B.A. in history from Pace
University. She is an avid music fan, a cat lover, and an enthusiastic learner of
American Sign Language. Whenever she is not writing, Marina enjoys spending time
with her family, catching up on Netflix, and baking. Sage's Blog Tours

Thank you for visiting my stop on the book tour and thanks to Sage at Sage’s Blog Tours for the promotional materials and digital download for this profound women’s fiction novel!

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – a #BookReview

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareTitle: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Psychological Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

  • ISBN-10:1787300447
  • ISBN-13:978-1787300446
  • ASIN: B07HPCRC7Q

Print Length: 352 pages

Publication Date: Happy Release Day! August 6, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Turn of the Key

Book Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fifth novel.

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth WareMy Review:

I was truly excited to be approved for this digital download, with the hype, and what appeared to be an exceptional thriller. But as with many these days, perhaps I’ve been taught to expect knock-down, heart-pounding prose, complete with audible gasps and groans from the reader–me. This one wasn’t it.

The blurb tells most of what you’ll read–Rowan Caine stumbles across a want ad searching for something else and conspires to win the live-in nanny position with well to do architects in the remote Scottish Highlands. They completely rehabbed a Victorian outfitting it as a “smart” home and you know what kind of a technology nightmare that conjures. There are four girls with the oldest, a teen, away at school, and two girls five and eight and a baby (who is apparently not yet walking?) at eighteen months. The parents welcome her into the house, hand her a lengthy digest of instructions and immediately skip off to a big doin’s expecting to be gone at least a week. Hmmm…

Told in first person, Rowan attempts a letter to an attorney she is hoping she can get to defend her (no clue where that money will come from!). She apparently has a court-appointed attorney and you know you get what you pay for. Rowan is in jail on a murder charge and the entire book is supposed to be her letter to the attorney. She says over and over again she didn’t do it. Uh huh.

But Rowan begins to wrestle with the technology immediately, ghost stories, things that go bump in the night, and little things gone missing almost right away. The two middle girls are a nightmare just by themselves. And watch out when the teenager comes home! In the meantime, we are introduced to Jack, the all-around handyman (gotta have the romance touch), and Jean, the erstwhile housekeeper. (NOT a live-in.)

First, I had a problem with Rowan, slinging around words you shouldn’t utter in the presence of those three little ones. She seems to have a short-fuse, lack of sleep, and little patience or aptitude although an experienced nanny. There are interesting tidbits about the smart features, the lack of real landscaping, the poison garden (now THAT’S creepy), and way too many minute details which make up her teeth-grinding life in the Heatherbrae House.

It begins interestingly enough then settles in on a slow account of what happened, or didn’t, that landed her in the slammer. It’s not particularly fast-paced but does present NTK (need to know). So you keep reading. Red herrings slide in, some of which constitute TMI (TOO much information), twists, and fleshing but I really couldn’t invest in Rowan and wasn’t big on Jack. Then the reveals. Oh man…Rowan’s main reveal…it’s a groaner and the last little reveal? (Expected) The conclusion fell short of wrapping up all the questions created to provide tension. I wasn’t thrilled.

I received this digital download through the publisher and NetGalley and appreciate the introduction to this author and her writing style. I’m sure Ruth Ware fans will more fully enjoy and I’ll entertain a second to compare.

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Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars Three point Five of Five Stars

Ruth Ware - authorThe Author: Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs Westaway have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times, and she is published in more than 40 languages. She lives on the south coast of England, with her family.

Visit http://www.ruthware.com to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @RuthWareWriter

©2019 V Williams Blog author