Jun 27, 2017

Book Review: The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES is a debut novel that follows the lives of two Army wives living in an expat community in Jordan where their husbands are stationed.  One of the women is used to the rules and regulations the Army brings with it.  She also understands how dangerous living in the Middle East can be for Americans. The other is new to this world, is a bit naive and has a free spirit that causes constant friction between the two unlikely friends.

All of Cassie's warnings fall on deaf ears until an incident occurs and Margaret sets out on her own under an innocent pretense. leaving Cassie behind to watch over Margaret's toddler until she returns. While waiting Cassie finds Margaret's journal and against better judgement starts reading. What she learns about Margaret's life since arriving in Jordan frightens Cassie and as more time passes, she is more sure  than ever that something terrible has happened.

My Thoughts:

The plot of this debut is not complicated, but the locale and the cultural themes makes it very interesting and extremely relevant to out times. Americans soldiers being stationed in the Middle East, sometimes with their families in tow, can be complicated and dangerous  especially with tensions running high. This brings an unquestionable authenticity to this novel.  Most of the story takes place in one day with flashes in time as the journal is read and memories being called out. It's a clever way to tell the story, but admittedly, it was a bit frustrating to me because I wanted to stay in the present and find out what was happening. There are other layers to the story as well: jealousy, secrets, and marital discord.

I found the characters in this book to be genuine and believable, though I connected more with Cassie because, like her, I'm a rule follower and I'm also not a parent, not by my own choice.

The bottom line:  I think this is a impressive debut about a subject that hasn't been over-saturated.  It was realistic, current and the layout was well thought out. Siobhan Fallon is an accomplished writer and award-winner for her short stories. She has actually lived in Jordan and currently resides in Abu Dhabi, which explains the authenticity in her writing. And one final observation, I think the title is perfectly accurate.  

Author: Siobhan Fallon
Publisher: GP Putnam's Sons
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA)
Publish Date: June 27, 2017
Length: 333 pp
Source: Publisher

Jun 12, 2017

Audio Review: The Whistler by John Grisham

As with all my reviews, there are NO SPOILERS included

I always considered myself a dedicated John Grisham fan even though I did taper off from reading a few of his books in the late 2000's. But I picked up again with SYCAMORE ROW which was released the summer of 2013. (Has it really been 4 years?!) As you probably know, that book was a very rare sequel to his breakthrough novel, A TIME TO KILL. That is what ultimately led me to read Grisham again and I'm glad because I really enjoyed getting back into his writing. It made me realize how much I missed it. So when THE WHISTLER came out, I didn't hesitate. Like SYCAMORE ROW, I also chose the audio version.

THE WHISTLER takes place in the Florida Panhandle, which is a change for Grisham, as most of his settings are in Mississippi.  At the core of the story is judicial corruption. Lacy Stoltz is an investigator with the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct, or the BJC. She is not a cop, but a lawyer and it is her job to look into complaints filed and see if there is grounds to investigate. Lacy and her partner meet with a man going by an alias and tells them he has evidence of a judge that is 'in bed' with a developer, known to be a part of the Coast Mafia, that built a resort and casino on Native American land and are now helping themselves to money generated by the casino. An investigation is underway and it promises to be a case like no other.  But like all mafias, these people will do anything to keep from being caught. Lacy understands from the start how dangerous this investigation could get, and when someone close to her is murdered, she is more determined than ever to bring all of the culprits to justice.


ON THE STORY:  As I began listening, there was a bit of confusion with getting all of the players straight in my mind. There were aliases being used and so many details that set the stage. I really had to pay attention to make sure I had everything right in my mind. Once I did that, the story wasn't hard to follow at all. It was classic Grisham all the way through and I enjoyed it.  That being said, this book didn't exactly have me on the edge of my seat like others have done. It was a good story, totally believable and realistic, just not the heart-pounding stuff I love from him. For that reason, I'm glad I chose the audiobook. If I were actually reading, it may have felt a little slow in places. I did think that writing a story involving casinos on Native American land was a great idea and very current to our times. I had seen an interview with Grisham where he explained he didn't have a cause he was fighting for with this book, that he wrote it for the pleasure of writing. But I feel like there is truth to this story.

I liked the character of Lacy and fell in with her immediately. All of the the characters were portrayed realistically, even the ones I didn't like. I actually wouldn't mind seeing Lacy Stoltz show up in future books. I think the BJC and it's employees could be a great backdrop for possible future stories.

ON THE AUDIO PERFORMANCE:  The narration was done by Cassandra Campbell and this is the first book I've heard her do. She did a great job and I liked the way she kept a smooth, steady pace. I will definitely put her on my list of preferred narrators as I listen to more and more audiobooks as my sight worsens.


On Goodreads, I gave this book 4 stars. If I were to get more specific, I would say it's on the lower end of that score. The narration helped me to decide on the final rating. Speaking as a Grisham fan, I'm glad I read the book even though it didn't grip me like some of his others. I do plan also to read his new book, CAMINO ISLAND. I will end with saying that though this was far from my favorite Grisham novel, I still enjoyed it and if anyone asked me, I would recommend it, but also let them know I didn't find it overly compelling.

THE WHISTLER by John Grisham
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Audiobook Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: October 2016
Length: 13 Hrs 10 Mins

Jun 11, 2017

The Sunday Salon: I'm Still Here!

I feel like I've made more than one comebacks in the last year, but here I am again! Happy Sunday and Happy Summer as well! It's been four months since I last posted on the blog but it's been a busy time for sure. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've relocated to Columbus, Ohio and I'm all settled in and as of this past week, I'm back online with my antiquated computer, thanks to my brilliant cousin, Shawn. It feels so nice to be up and running again. Though I haven't been on the blog, I have been reading and listening to audios. Here's what I have in store in the coming weeks on the blog..

I will have my review of John Grisham's THE WHISTLER. I listened to this one and I really enjoyed it once I got all of the characters straight. I'll be posting my thoughts in the coming days. I also will be featuring a new release in a week or so of a new book called THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES by Siobhan Fallon.  This was an interesting book that is very current, topically, because it centers around two wives stationed in Jordan with thei Armyr husbands. Cultural differences are front and center in this novel. I don't want to say too much more, but look for my review on June 27th, its release date.

I'm currently listening to the latest release from Jeffrey Archer and his Clifton Chronicles Series.  Through the last seven years readers have followed Harry Clifton and his family since the 1920's. I'm not finished yet, but right now we are in 1985. It has been an wonderful journey with politics, espionage, humor and suspense to name a few.  THIS WAS A MAN is the seventh and final installment. I plan to have that review in the coming weeks as well.

I also will be sharing thoughts on some other books I've read that are not newly published, but are very good reads. In the last months I've been doing more pleasure reading than newly published review books. I hope you will come back and see what I've had on my book shelves.

I'm so thankful to be settled here in Columbus, the place where I was born and spent my young years. I'm near my mom's side of the family and I love spending time with them. I'm looking forward to a great summer filled with lots of fun and books. Please come back and visit often!