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Greetings from my surreal world to yours! I’m sure many of you are practicing social distancing during this month that has seen extremes worthy of an apocalyptic novel. The one constant in my life has been my books, both read and heard, so without further commentary on these interesting times, I present the audio picks for March.
I must say when I read the book description for When She Returned by Lucinda Berry, I was expecting more of a “how a brainwashed woman who just escaped from a cult reintegrates herself into society” type book. There is an element of that, but the book is more about the relationships between the characters both before and after Kate Bennett abandons her husband and daughter to join a cult. When She Returns comes with mixed reviews and many of those that are mostly negative cite the abruptness of the ending. So . . . the book is not a journal with each day recorded until the listener knows exacting how it all turns out. The author’s last words are not really the end of the story, but they are where Ms. Berry chooses to stop. Sometimes it’s fun to reach your own conclusions! 4 stars to the author and 5 stars for narrators Coleen Marlo, Lauren Ezzo, and Amy McFadden for their excellent performance of the alternating POVs.
Flash by Tim Tigner is one of those books that trembles precariously close to the 3 Star ledge but is held back effectively by one of my favorite narrators, Dick Hill. This tangled tale is about Troy and Emmy who find themselves locked in the trunk of a car with a dead cop having no knowledge of each other, no knowledge of how they got there, and, in fact, no knowledge of anything for the last several years. The storyline is not so much whodunit as “what happened.” There is an unscrupulous lawyer and there is a doctor with no license both of whom are making a fortune with a drug that erases memory. Just think of the possibilities! The lawyer is being blackmailed by a Mafia boss while the ex-doctor is being leaned on by the lawyer and poor Troy and Emmy are just trying to keep themselves out of jail! 5 Stars to Mr. Hill and 4 Stars to the author who manages to give the bad guys what they deserve and tie a HEA bow around the whole package!
There is so much going on in Last Day by Luanne Rice, it’s hard to believe the author got it all into a 12 hour and 19 minutes listen! There is murder most foul of a mother and her unborn child, not so secret infidelity by a man who doesn’t even bother to hide his mistress and their baby, a serial rapist, art theft, strong women who live life on their own terms, wealthy teenagers running amok, and the author ends it all with a sweet animal story! I’m giving this book 4.5 Stars because there is no question that it is well-narrated by Nicol Zanzarella and so well-written by the author that I had no trouble following all the complex goings-on and their relevance to the storyline. A very nice twist of the whodunit variety almost resulted in this book’s displacing my favorite listen for the month . . . but not quite.
I knew before I finished When We Believed in Mermaids that no matter what else I listened to during the month of March, it was going to be my 5 Star favorite. Sometimes you luck into that rare book that isn’t going to have an equal for quite some time. This one runs the emotional gamut so be forewarned. Josie Bianchi died 15 years ago, so how can it be that her sister Kit sees not a doppelgänger, but Josie herself on TV? If you’re thinking this should be a cause for celebration, you would be wrong. Author Barbara O’Neal will break your heart as her characters tell this tale of how many different ways life can go wrong. I don’t think it would be considered a spoiler to say there is a HEA, but you are going to work for it just as the characters do. Narrators Sarah Naughton and Katherine Littrell give a touching performance of the story of sisters Kit and Josie as they leave anger and resentment behind on their way to the kind of forgiveness that only comes with true reconciliation of past and present.