#cemeteryroad #gregiles #scottbrick #thelostvintage #annmah #saskiamaarleveld #royalholiday #jasmineguillory #janinaedwards #theflightgirls #noellesalazar #xesand
July has been an interesting month, to say the least! The Covid-19 Pandemic continues and our nation is enduring various levels of “shutdown.” In the midst of the concern about the virus, there is domestic upheaval reminiscent of the ’60s which I lived through and hoped to never see again. As if those two things aren’t stressful enough, we have entered hurricane season with a vengeance. Hanna has already made landfall and Isaias may not be far behind! The light in the storm of life is authors continue to write, narrators continue to perform, and we continue to listen. The best of July includes a light-hearted romance, two historical offerings with WW2 backdrops, and an epic novel of disaster, deceit, and retribution.
The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar is a wonderful story that would have been appropriate for Women’s History Month. Because we are living in an age where women are on equal footing with men in many ways, it is hard to imagine a time when a woman would not be gladly accepted into the military service as a flyer. The Flight Girls is told from the perspective of the courageous women who had flying in their blood to such an extent they would serve as civilian contractors just to be able to pursue their love of flying. Skillfully performed by Xe Sands, this book will give listeners a 4 Star history lesson rich with details about the women who served in the only capacity allowed them during WW2. As a bonus, there is a touching love story between two people who are meant to be together whether they want to be or not.
Just in case you’ve ever wondered what I listen to when I need relief from the world of the psychotic, Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory is an excellent example. All of Ms. Guillory’s books are great escapes that will restore your faith in love and people who are mostly normal. This book is Book #4 in a series and it is a standalone although you will recognize some of the characters if you have read other books by Ms. Guillory. There is just enough connection to make you feel part of the world that started with The Wedding Date and continues with a romance between older characters that will assure you it’s never too late to fall in love! Add an excellent performance by Janina Edwards and you have the perfect little 4 Star getaway from the stress of everyday life.
The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah is another WW2-flavored story. Set against the backdrop of the vineyards of France, it tells about one family’s heroic efforts to survive and keep their heritage intact. Kate is a young woman whose ambition is to be a certified wine expert and what better way to prepare for a test she has already failed twice than to visit her family’s vineyard in Burgundy. A group cleaning of an old cellar unearths not only vintage bottles of wine but evidence of a mystery that has remained hidden since WW2. There is a compelling storyline with complex characters. Unfortunately, the narration is a disappointment because I’ve had such good experiences with Saskia Maarleveld in the past. But don’t give up listening! Even the less than authentic accents don’t spoil the touching surprise ending to this 4 Star listen.
There is only one word to describe Cemetery Road by Greg Iles and that is “Epic.” It was hard for me to believe that a book with almost 24 hours of listening time only covers a few days in real-time. Thanks to the very effective use of flashbacks, listeners have all the historical information needed to understand the characters and the relationships, but the heart of the story takes place in less than a week. From the war-torn country of Iraq to the banks of the Mississippi River, the drama and the dialogue are so detailed, the cast and location will become your world as you listen. You will feel the intensity of the interactions between the characters as Scott Brick turns in his 5 Star performance of this gut-wrenching tale of family tragedy and betrayal and friendship gone terribly awry. 5 Stars to Mr. Iles for my best of the Best of July