Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Title: Me Before You
Author(s): Jojo Moyes
Narrator(s): Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott & Owen Lindsay
Series: Me Before You, book #1
Length: 14 hrs 40 mins
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: December 31, 2012
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

I honestly never intended to read this novel. I usually avoid novels that are going to make me overly emotional, and as I'd heard that this book in particular would lead to ugly crying, I planned to pass on it forever. And then I saw the movie trailer last week. And though it did sound like a rather sad story, it also looked adorably sweet.

Because I saw the trailer and the actors who portrayed Will and Lou, I couldn't envision them as anyone else as I listened to the audiobook, but that was quite alright with me since I happen to love Sam Claflin. ;0) The audiobook is narrated by several talented folks, including Steven Crossley, who also happened to narrate another fave of mine, A Darker Shade of Magic. I giggled and laughed my way through a large percentage of this audiobook, but ultimately, I did not cry.

Maybe because I spent the weekend away from this book, the ending affected me less than I expected. Rather than being overcome with grief at what I knew was coming -- as expected last week when I turned off the audio at 90% done so that I wouldn't be sobbing in my car on my way home from work -- I actually felt rather comforted by this book's ending. I'm not one of those people who requires a Happily Ever After to enjoy a novel, though.

That said, I still don't know if I can bring myself to read After You. I haven't even looked up the synopsis because I liked what Me Before You stood for -- the understanding I gained from it -- and I'm not sure I'd want to see what happens after, other than what the epilogue divulged.

About the author:

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001, she became a full time novelist.

Moyes' novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Find Jojo:

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Title: A Curious Beginning
Author(s): Deanna Raybourn
Narrator(s): Angele Masters
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery, book #1
Length: 10 hrs 51 mins
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: September 3, 2015
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Remember how much I loved Love, Lies & Spies? This novel is like that book on steroids. Both books feature a somewhat improper heroine chasing insects (Juliana's hobby was researching ladybugs, while Veronica prefers hunting butterflies), but that is where the similarities end.

Veronica Speedwell is a twenty-something "spinster" who enjoys the occasional dalliance with a young man...just as long as he is not an Englishman. She is a woman of the world, having traveled extensively in her profession as a lepidopterist. When her plans to continue such travels are thwarted, she digs in her heels and busies herself trying to determine who and why someone would be after her, a relative nobody.

I started listening to this audiobook on Friday when I couldn't bring myself to finish the last 10% of Me Before You, and then I didn't want to stop listening. So, I downloaded the ebook from my library and alternated reading and listening as opportunities to do so presented themselves over the weekend. The story flows beautifully, whichever way you choose to experience it, but I very much enjoyed Angele Masters' narrative style. She made Veronica sound every bit as quick-witted and sharp-tongued as she is shown to be in the story, and Stoker came off just as gruff and roguish as expected.

Veronica is feisty and headstrong, making her a veritable match for the enigmatic Stoker. They are thrust in each other's path by a mutual acquaintance, and they are hesitant to trust one another in the beginning. But slowly, they come to terms with their forced partnership and become something akin to allies. All of their questions concerning Veronica's parentage and who killed their shared friend will be answered in due time, but this story presents some of the best twists along the way. And that reveal is a doozy.

A Curious Beginning is not romance-centric but the novel does feature a heroine who is not intimidated by her own sexuality. And although Veronica does seem to have an aversion to Englishmen, I foresee more than a mere dalliance with one Mr. Stoker in her future, one of the many reasons I'm looking forward to future books. ;0)

About the author:

A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist. Deanna makes her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

Find Deanna:

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