Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wrapping Up 2013: Three Mini-Reviews

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy
by David Nasaw
narrated by  Malcolm Hillgartner
Penguin Audio, 2012
31 hours
source: review copy from publisher

This is the best biography I've read in a long time and a nonfiction favorite of 2013. Joseph P. Kennedy was an exceptional man whose life intersected most major events of the 20th century. He was an outspoken (often to a fault), independent thinker who possessed extraordinary business and leadership skills, along with a strong sense of family, religion, and public service. Learning about Joe's life provides a foundation for understanding the entire Kennedy family.

The Patriarch  is a truly outstanding audio production. In addition to Kennedy's own Bostonian accent, Malcolm Hillgartner's wide variety of voices, including FDR, Churchill, and others brings this book to life. I loved every moment.

My rating:

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
by Julia Strachey
Persephone Classics, 2009
originally published 1932
119 pages
source: personal copy

Motivation: Classics Club Spin

I knew before beginning that this book was best approached as a series of vignettes and that made all the difference in my reading experience. The action takes place over the course of a single day - Dolly's wedding day. Friends and relatives gather at her home, head off to church, and eventually return after the ceremony.  Emotions always run high on a wedding day and in this darkly funny tale, much seems exaggerated. There is nothing especially memorable about this novella, but it  was pleasant way to spend a few hours nonetheless. The beautiful Classics Edition cover added to my enjoyment, too. I have yet to be disappointed by a Persephone title.

My rating:

Tell the Wolves I'm Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt
Random House, 2012
367 pages
source: borrowed from the library

Told from the perspective of a 15 year old girl, this stunning novel takes us back to that scary time in the 1980's when AIDS deaths were sky-rocketing and our understanding of the disease was in its infancy. June's beloved uncle dies early in the book, and as the family copes with his death, she forges a relationship with his partner  - a man whose existence she knew nothing about during her uncle's lifetime. Brunt nails the voice of a teenage girl, but I wouldn't necessarily call this a YA novel. Book clubs will find plenty to discuss with this title.  It's hard to believe this is a debut novel, I can't wait to see what Brunt writes next.

My rating:


  1. I've got The Patriarch but have put it off because it's so long. It sounds like I need to dig it out!

    1. Kathy - The Patriarch may be my longest audiobook yet!

  2. I got The Patriarch on audio but it was chunky and didn't know if it was worth loading. I'll pull it out and get busy! And I completely agree with Wolves. It was an incredible debut, so heartbreaking but hopeful.

    1. Sandy - I just loved The Patriarch audio and Malcolm Hillgartner is my new favorite nonfiction narrator!

  3. Glad u enjoyed Tell the Wolves I'm Home - I loved it as well.

    1. Diane - Cant wait to see what her next topic will be!

  4. Why haven't I read Tell the Wolves I'm Home yet? Sigh! I really do want to get to it

  5. I want to read both of those 5 star reads!

  6. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is on my list too. I have it in print and in audio. Must.Get.To.It.


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