Book Reviews · Recommendations

From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

From Cradle to Stage:
Stories from Mothers who Raised Rock Stars
By: Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Book Cover

Published: April 2017
Published by: Hachette
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoir

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Written by Virginia Grohl, the mother of Dave Grohl—former Nirvana drummer and current frontman for the Foo Fighters—From Cradle to Stage shares stories and exclusive photos featuring mothers of rock icons, the icons themselves, and their Behind the Music-style relationships

While the Grohl family had always been musical-the family sang together on long car trips, harmonizing to Motown and David Bowie-Virginia never expected her son to become a musician, let alone a rock star. But when she saw him perform in front of thousands of screaming fans for the first time, she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. And as Virginia watched her son’s star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children’s fame? Did they worry about their children’s livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children’s passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour?

Virginia decided to seek out other rock star mothers to ask these questions, and so began a two-year odyssey in which she interviewed such women as Verna Griffin, Dr. Dre’s mother; Marianne Stipe, Michael Stipe of REM’s mother; Janis Winehouse, Amy Winehouse’s mother; Patsy Noah, Adam Levine’s mother; Donna Haim, mother of the Haim sisters; Hester Diamond, Mike D of The Beastie Boys’ mother.

With exclusive family photographs and a foreword by Dave Grohl, From Cradle to Stage will appeal to mothers and rock fans everywhere.

My Thoughts

While you may not know who Virginia Hanlon Grohl is by name, you will most likely know her son Dave Grohl, as one of the most influential musicians of the past 30 years. In her book From Cradle to Stage, she takes readers along as she learns about the familial and maternal influences behind some of the most successful musicians. Along with these stories are vignettes about her son, the early years of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.

I admit that I decided to listen to this audio book specifically to learn more about the lead singer of one of my favourite rock bands; Foo Fighters. I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed all the chapters, ranging from those I was familiar with to the ones I had never heard of before.

Chapters I especially found intriguing were that of; Bev Lambert (mom of Miranda Lambert) and Mary Weinrib (mother of Geddy Lee).

Aside from learning about how these musicians got their start, readers and listeners will see the importance of a strong support system behind big dreams. As a mother this only makes me even more eager to help and support my own child to cultivate his strengths and talents.

Virginia Hanlon Grohl also stresses the importance of funding arts programs in schools and how the lack of this education can negatively impact the success of some children.

I highly recommend From Cradle to Stage to music lovers and mothers alike.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

The Winter Sister
By: Megan Collins
Narrated by: Rebekkah Ross

Book Cover

Published: February 2019
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5

Note: I was sent a copy of Megan Collins The Winter Garden, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This is my review of the audio book.

Synopsis

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?

My Thoughts

Megan Collins debut novel follows a woman who reluctantly returns to her hometown to care for her ailing mother, meanwhile the death of her older sister, years before still haunts and riddles her with grief. Can she get to the bottom of what really happened on that winter night?

The relationships in this book were as cold as its title. The way the characters spoke to each other was terrible and set an uncomfortable tone to all their interactions. The narrator especially did a great job of portraying the mother as a miserable and unfeeling person.

I enjoyed the pacing of this novel and while I did like the mystery, I didn’t find it as thrilling or suspenseful as I anticipated.

Although I was able to predict the outcome, it was a good read that I would recommend to fans of the genre.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

A Royal Pain (Her Royal Spyness 2) by Rhys Bowen

A Royal Pain
(Her Royal Spyness, 2)
By: Rhys Bowen
Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren

Book Cover

Published: July 2008
Published by: Berkley
Format Read: Paperback, Audio Book, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

It’s 1930s London, and Lady Georgiana — thirty-fourth in line to the throne — has a lot on her plate, but little in her cupboards, in this national bestseller…

Baked beans and boiled eggs. That’s what my houseguest, the Bavarian princess, will have to eat if I don’t get help posthaste. The Queen of England has requested I entertain said princess, placing her in the playboy prince’s path, in hopes he might finally marry.

But queens never consider money, of which I have little. And which is why I moonlight as a maid-in-disguise. My plans:
1) Clean house in manner of palace.
2) Blackmail brother, Binky, into sending a few quid.
3) Unteach Princess Hanni English from gangster movies — lest she address the queen as “old broad.”
4) Keep eye on princess at parties, where she drinks like a fish.

Then there’s the matter of the body in the bookshop and Hanni’s unwitting involvement with the communist party. It’s enough to drive a girl mad…

My Thoughts

Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series follows 34th in line to the British throne; the fictional Lady Georgiana. She may be of royal relation, but like the majority of the world during the 1930’s she is struggling to make ends meet and live up to her social standing. In this second installment of the series, Lady Georgiana is tasked by the Queen to host a young Princess from Bavaria, in hope that she will win the heart of the Prince. Tie in a Communist plot, high society and three deaths, then you have A Royal Pain.

I had so much fun reading this novel. The situations Lady Georgiana gets herself in are always entertaining. The addition of an American gangster film loving Princess Hanni was hilarious.

I alternated between reading a paperback and listening to the audiobook. Katherine Kellgren’s narration of Lady Georgiana reminded me of Lady Mary Crowley from Downton Abbey, only less snooty and with a better sense of humor.

I highly recommend A Royal Pain and the Royal Spyness series to fans of humorous historical mysteries.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman

The Lieutenant’s Nurse
By: Sara Ackerman
Narrated by: Lauren Ezzo

Book Cover

Published: March 2019
Published by: Harlequin Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I was sent a copy of Sara Ackerman’s The Lieutenant’s Nurse, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. However I wasn’t able to read the eBook, so this is my review of the Audiobook.

Synopsis

November, 1941. She’s never even seen the ocean before, but Eva Cassidy has her reasons for making the crossing to Hawaii, and they run a lot deeper than escaping a harsh Michigan winter. Newly enlisted as an Army Corps nurse, Eva is stunned by the splendor she experiences aboard the steamship SS Lurline; even more so by Lt. Clark Spencer, a man she is drawn to but who clearly has secrets of his own. But Eva’s past—and the future she’s trying to create—means that she’s not free to follow her heart. Clark is a navy intelligence officer, and he warns her that the United States won’t be able to hold off joining the war for long, but nothing can prepare them for the surprise attack that will change the world they know.
In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Eva and her fellow nurses band together for the immense duty of keeping the American wounded alive. And the danger that finds Eva threatens everything she holds dear. Amid the chaos and heartbreak, Eva will have to decide whom to trust and how far she will go to protect those she loves.
Set in the vibrant tropical surroundings of the Pacific, The Lieutenant’s Nurse is an evocative, emotional WWII story of love, friendship and the resilient spirit of the heroic nurses of Pearl Harbor.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Army Corps nurse Eva Cassidy is eager to get away from a difficult situation in her home state of Michigan and embarks on a journey to her assigned station in Hawaii. While aboard the S.S. Lurline, she befriends a Lt. Spencer and becomes accidentally privy to some classified information. However, it isn’t long after they arrive in paradise that the unimaginable happens; Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese.

I have been looking for a historical fiction set in Pearl Harbor for quite some time. When I read the synopsis for The Lieutenants Nurse, I jumped at the change to add it to my TBR list.

Not only was the island setting absolutely beautiful, but I really enjoyed Eva’s trip aboard the steamship as well.

Although I didn’t have any particular issued with the narration of this novel, at times my interest in listening to it waned and I found myself wishing I could turn to a physical copy or eBook version to read.

My final impression of The Lieutenants Nurse was that it was interesting and at times fast paced. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction with romance.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half
By: Brit Bennett

Narrated by: Shayna Small

Book Cover

Published: June 2020
Published by: Penguin Audio

Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half follows the lives of The Vignes twins and the opposite paths they follow. Their stories present a comparison of a lower class African American women to that of her sister who passes as white and lives a privileged life among with her wealthy husband. Readers follow a timeline that spans the 1950’s to the early 1990’s.

I was drawn to this book as I was very interested in the descriptions of society from these two different situations. If I had to use a word to describe The Vanishing Half, I would say that it is a quite read. The events (especially those that were more traumatic) were told in a way that made them seem less shocking and more mater-of-fact. I think that some readers might be turned off by this style of writing. However I thought that Brit Bennett’s use of metaphors showed her talent as an author, beautifully.

Shayna Small’s narration of the characters felt authentic and did justice to the story. Although I thought the ending was abrupt, I would reccommend Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half to those interested in diverse historical fiction. I would also advise caution to those who may be sensitive to such trigger warnings as domestic abuse.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Quick Thoughts on Recent Short Listens

Today I am going to share some quick thoughts on two of my most recent short stories that I listened to in audiobook format.

Tinaca Jones
By: Matt Boren
Narrated by: Retta

Book Cover

Published: January 2020
Published by: Audible Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Audio Book, Humor

Rating: 2/5

Quick Thoughts: Told in interview format, cashier and entrepreneur-to-be Tinaca Jones discovers that her identity has been stolen by a women seeking fame. This short Audible Original chronicles Tinaca’s humorous testimony. Although it had some laugh out loud moments, and I enjoyed the pop culture references, I did find it to be quite long winded. Still, I think that there is an audience for this audiobook, and I would recommend listening to it.

100 Ways to Motivate Yourself
By: Steve Chandler

Book Cover

Published: January 2006
Published by: HighBridge Company
Format Read: Audiobook, Libby App
Genre: Self-help, Non-fiction

Rating: 3/5

Quick Thoughts: We can all use some extra motivation from time to time. This is especially true for me as I can be quite the procrastinator. Steve Chandler, offers 100 ways to motivate yourself .Several tips I found to be of interest and I enjoyed the quotes that were included, especially the story about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the importance of creating a vision of yourself and then living your life accordingly. One specific tip that has helped me to be more productive was, aside from writing a to-do list, also make a list of your accomplishments. Although I found this book to be helpful, I found the narration to be less than captivating and would therefore recommend reading a physical copy.

Books Hauls · TBR

Spring 2021 Audiobook Haul Pt. 1


Wow I really need to keep up with sharing my audio book hauls. I love having an audible account and definitely think that it is worth the cost for a subscription. Here is part 1 of the full length audio books I have recently added to my library.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

Good Luck With That
By: Kristan Higgins
Narrated by: Xe Sands, Lori Gardner & Suzy Jackson

Book Cover

Published: August 2018
Published by: Audible Audio
Format Read: Audiobook. Audible App
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, in her newest novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.
A novel of compassion and insight, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

This 5 star read was one of the most relatable books I have read in a long time. I loved the bond the three women forged and how they supported each other during their individual life tribulations. Some readers may find that the characters constant obsession with their weight is repetitive, but I felt that it was accurately portrayed. Their lifelong struggle had consumed every aspect of their lives and was only compounded by stigmas towards body images in popular culture and those around them who only added fuel to the fire. I appreciate how the author explored, not only the physical issues that come with being overweight, but the psychological aspects that contribute to obesity as well. This contemporary fiction tells a heartwarming story with an empowering message; be yourself!

I enjoyed the narration and thought that the voice actors did an excellent job of depicting the individual personalities of the three friends.

I would highly recommend Kristin Higgins Good Luck with That to those who may struggle with their body image and are in need of a pick-me-up. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.