Review: Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With MeBe Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore Frank! I was not sure how I would feel about this book, but I can honestly say I would read it all over again.

Spoilers ahead:

Frank is a nine-almost-ten year old little red head son of famous recluse writer M.M. (Mimi) Banning. He would rather dress in a morning suit from the 1940s, complete with cuff-links, and top hat or fez. He is a richly intelligent boy, who is obsessed with entertainment facts of the golden age of Hollywood and radio. It did not take but a couple of chapters to realize that Frank must certainly be high-functioning autistic (Asperger’s), based on his speech, intelligence, and single-focused interests. When twenty-four year old Alice is hired by Mimi’s agent to be her personal assistant, she travels from New York to Los Angeles taking up residence with the writer and her son. Frank warms up to her, after a dire warning from Mimi not to touch Frank without his permission, and under no circumstances touch any of his things, or else meltdowns would occur. While Mimi is holed up in her office writing her latest overdue novel, Alice and Frank take on LA in a magnanimous way. The duo soon learn much about each other, their likes and dislikes, and their coping mechanisms. The more the story unfolded, the more I saw my autistic nephew in Frank. There are moments of hilarity, moments of tenderness, and moments of heartbreak. Each moment shaped the until Frank and Alice became such endearing characters that I will cherish having met.

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Review: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I was skeptical at first, when it started out reading as a narrative of a grumpy old man. However, it quickly became a humorous, touching story about a man who had lost everything and everyone he had loved in life. Ove soon discovered love can be found in the strangest of places: a bedraggled feral cat, new neighbors, helping those in need in various ways. At every turn, Ove’s desire to die was curtailed by the needs of his new “family” in hilarious ways. I laughed. I cried. I have to read the physical copy of this book because I loved the audiobook so much. I recommend this to everyone, regardless of your genre of choice. Go read it now!

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Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Stars Over Sunset BoulevardStars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

I selected this book based on my recent reading of “All the Stars in the Heavens” by Adriana Trigiani. Set in the same golden era of Hollywood as Trigiani’s book, Meissner delivers an equally captivating story of two friends who go through the trials of working the secretary pool at a studio during the filming of Gone With The Wind. This is a tale of tried and true friendships that go through the testing of love, financial hardships, war, etc. It shows us how the choices we make have repercussions years after the decision has been made. While there were some slow parts, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Violet and Audrey’s friendship through the years.

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Review: The Bone Labyrinth

The Bone Labyrinth (Sigma Force, #11)The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge Rollins fan for his ability to take a snippet out of a news story and turn it into masterfully crafted novel. While I’m a fan of the Sigma Force characters, it was mainly Kowalski that earned a place in my heart for fictional characters due to his relationship with Bacco (sp?) the gorilla. Tough as nails Kowalski is brought into a case to become a sign language translator for Bacco, and as man and beast bond, it is a relationship that warms and encourages those who enjoy relationships between humans and animals. I choose to listen to the audiobook version of this since I have been trying to get around to it forever. However, the narrator, while great at enunciating accents and the individuality of the characters throughout the story, he otherwise possessed a rather monotone voice that honestly put me to sleep a few times. I probably won’t read another Rollins book via audiobook for this reason, and the fact that so many details get lost in the listening that would otherwise be the point of focus in the written word. Regardless, I enjoyed The Bone Labyrinth!

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Review: America’s First Daughter

America's First DaughterAmerica’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Jeffersonian era comes to life in this exhaustive fictional narrative told from the point of view of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter. You will learn firsthand accounts of the tension-filled times when Jefferson was running for his life trying to keep his family safe during the Revolution to the streets and ballrooms of Paris when he became a diplomat, to his lifelong love affair with Sally Hemings. Using actual letters that Jefferson, Patsy, and other family and friends wrote during their lives, Dray constructs a shocking narrative that unfolds from one page to the next. I had no idea how paramount of a figure Jefferson was after the birth of our nation and the role that his daughter played during that time. One of my favorite historical fiction novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

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Review: All the Stars in the Heavens

All the Stars in the HeavensAll the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of old Hollywood, the likes of Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, and the like, you will love this. This is primarily the story of star-crossed lovers Loretta Young and Clark Gable starting in 1934 and detailing their lives through his death. However, this is also a tale of the friendship and undying loyalty of Alda Ducci and Loretta Young, that spans decades. You will laugh, you will tear up. This story brings old Hollywood to life in ways that I have never experienced before. The characters come to life and become dear friends as you read. You definitely won’t regret reading this book.

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Review: Boneshaker

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

If you like alternate histories, this is the book for you. Airships, zombies, Civil War soldiers, the Seattle underground. What’s not to love? Set nearly two decades after the Civil War was supposed to have ended, the War is still raging on. This takes place in Seattle, Washington, where a major catastrophic event has altered the city’s air supply, resulting in a wall being constructed to keep the horrific effects within the area the event took place. I don’t want to reveal too much, because it is a major part of the novel. However, with the audiobook version, Wil Wheaton is one of the narrators, and he truly brings life to the story. I won’t lie – every time I heard his voice, I got the image of Sheldon Cooper yelling “Wheatonnnnnnn!” While I loved the basis of the story, the alternate history, I could not make a connection with Briar – her character just fell flat. Zeke was a bit more lively, as were the minor characters in the story. I definitely want to know how the story continues. Hopefully Briar takes on more form and develops more.

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