Audiobook Review: How the Light Gets In


Ms. Penny has truly blessed us with her masterpiece in How The Light Gets In. And that should sum it all up right there – honestly, this was an incredible read. However, you cannot “start” reading these Inspector Gamache series with this one. This one is so deep into the past story of Gamache and his right-hand man, Beauvoir that starting the series here would not allow you the full appreciation of their story and of this instalment in the series. But, I get away from my gushing about this instalment in the Inspector Gamache series. Not only does this one receive my enthusiastic accolades for the story, but again, for the incredible and amazing narration of it by Ralph Cosham. He has taken the beautiful and poetic prose of Ms. Penny and brought it to such life you feel as though you are watching it unfold on the big screen.

On the cover of the audiobook case are these words of absolute truth and wisdom “Not enough praise can be accorded Ralph Cosham, who has served as the reader for all the audiobooks in this series. His voice is simply magnificent.” – Star-Ledger (but said about The Beautiful Mystery).

Ralph Cosham is pure genius in his narration. He IS Chief Inspector Gamache and he continues to share his gift by bringing to life all the personalities involved, not just Gamache. He will leave you laughing and crying and revelling in his expertise. Indeed, there is one highly charged and emotional moment between Gamache and Beauvoir where I had tears streaming down my face (and I hide no shame in sharing that!). Part of this story takes us back to the community of Three Pines and we are blessedly graced with the presence of Ruth, the acerbic and drunken old poet. Oh how Cosham can read Ruth! He’s even given Ruth’s pet duck an incredible and hilarious voice! He’s embodied the caustic voice of Ruth into the duck’s quack. It’s brilliant.

However, in order to narrate this story, it had to be created by Louise Penny. And wow, is this one fantastic. I absolutely loved, loved, loved how she weaved events that are significant in Canadian folklore into an expert whodunit. I was completely giddy when she started to spin a tale that gave us a fictitious Dionne quintuplet story, as well as the intricate care she took to shine light on an issue between police brutality and cruelty in the Native communities. She also tackles the corruption of the construction industry in Montreal. All of this is woven so seamlessly into this incredible story that also still leaves you guessing to the end.

Not only is the above storyline fantastic, she also continues to shape, mold, and give loving attention to her characters. Three Pines remains a place I want to run to, hide away and just sit and spend my time in. I want to sit in the bookstore or café and have a conversation with Gamache and the friends in Three Pines. In How the Light Gets In, we continue to discover the tortured and fractured relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir. We are also left breathlessly wondering if this will mark the end of Gamache’s career. Is the corruption he is becoming so painfully close to unveiling going to mark the end of Gamache himself? It is an edge-of-your-seat mystery all the way along.

It was an audiobook/novel I never wanted to hear end. 5 glowing stars. I’m certain this will be a story I read again in the future. I just want to wrap my arms around it once more and never let it go.

And, many thanks to Audiobook Jukebox and MacMillan Audio for the pleasure of the audiobook. This was read for the Solid Gold Reviewers program.

Here’s a fantastically worded synopsis, taken from Goodreads:

The stunning, ingenious and sinister new novel in the internationally bestselling Inspector Gamache series.


As a fierce, unrelenting winter grips Quebec, shadows are closing in on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department and hostile forces are lining up against him.


When Gamache receives a message about a mysterious case in Three Pines, he is compelled to investigate — a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world has vanished.


As he begins to shed light on the investigation, he is drawn into a web of murder, lies and unimaginable corruption at the heart of the city. Facing his most challenging, and personal, case to date, can Gamache save the reputation of the Sûreté, those he holds dear and himself?

Evocative, gripping and atmospheric, this magnificent work of crime fiction from international bestselling author Louise Penny will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Audiobook Review: A Hundred Summers

16158535Loved it! It’s the perfect summer read! I can see this one being enjoyed on those hot steamy beaches this summer.  Is it “women’s contemporary” (seems to be the nouveau word for chick-lit) – with a heavy hit of romance? Well, yes, but I think what enhanced this one was the narration by Kathleen McInerney. It made it all so good and one where you wanted to keep driving around to continue listening to Lily’s story!  Thank you so very much to Audiobook Jukebox and Penguin Audio for granting us the advanced copy of this audiobook.

And while I may have been encouraged to drink Whiskey Sours when reading Tigers in Red Weather last summer, A Hundred Summers is tempting me to mail off a Surgeon General’s warning about cigarette smoking to the cast and characters! WOW, is there ever a lot of smoking going on in here! (I’m a little surprised to not see the packs next to the two on the cover to your left, or that these two women don’t have them resting easily between their fingers. 🙂 )

The storyline flips back and forth between 1931 (New York) and 1938 (Seaview, Rhode Island). 1931 is the time period when Lily Dane is at college with her glamorous, refined and sophisticated socialite friend Budgie. Lily and Budgie have been friends since childhood and have spent every summer together at their family’s vacation homes at Seaview on Rhode Island. Lily is definitely the practical, less refined friend, with her flyaway curls and unsophisticated or naive mannerisms. Lily is the “good girl”, the “strong and steady girl” and definitely not “that kind of girl.”

A Hundred Summers opens in the 1931 timeframe and Budgie is quickly racing her and Lily to Dartmouth to watch her latest boyfriend Graham Pendleton, the golden haired, blue-eyed Adonis, play football. But Lily quickly only has eyes for the tall, dark, broad and extremely handsome quarterback. Budgie is quick to wrinkle her nose at this outcome, as Nick Greenwald is Jewish. Budgie laughingly tells Lily to get her kicks, sure, but do not ever bring this boy home to your parents!

However, Nick and Lily fall crazy and madly in love. Throughout this time, Nick is always ever crticial of Budgie and warns Lily often that she is nothing like her, and please don’t ever become a person like Budgie. Lily’s introduction to Nick to the Dane household unfortunately is also met with extreme heartbreak. Her father orders Lily to never speak to this Greenwald boy ever again. Yet, they disobey and attempt to run off to elope….

Williams alternates the chapters between 1931 New York and 1938 Seaview. The chapters that occur at Seaview are current day when it’s 1938. Here, Lily is again the narrator of her story and we find her summering again like she has every summer at the family cottage on Seaview. She has with her a 6 year old girl affectionately called Kiki. Kiki refers to Lily as her sister and everyone treats that with a wink, wink, nudge, nudge with the common thought being what Kiki’s true parentage is. The truth regarding Kiki’s paternity is slowly unveiled and is not the common story people think it is.

The shocking and gossipy feature of this year’s Seaview community is that Budgie is returning to her family’s summer retreat, after many, many neglect filled summers. The kicker is that she is returning as Mrs. Nickleson (Budgie) Greenwald. Budgie and Lily have not spoken in many years and Lily has only read of the marriage to Nick Greenwald in the society pages. She is filled with grief and the community of Seaview is disgusted only with the news that Budgie is bringing a Jew to the resort. Or is that the true and real reason as it is the one that Lily believes it to be.

So, the reader does not know exactly how these events have transpired in the years between 1931 and 1938, instead we are treated (yes, definitely treated, as the way the story unfolds keeps you glued in place) to alternating chapters that take us back to 1931 to the passionate and love-struck couple Lily and Nick. Their romance unfolds and is filled with great and undying love for one another. The reader has NO idea or is given any indication during this time as to what happens between Nick and Lily, or why Budgie has now married him and Lily remains alone. It all slowly reveals itself in the end.

There are a few storylines to follow here. The other is that all does not seem to be well with Budgie. She is very adept at trying to hide what is going on behind closed doors. She’s putting on a grand affair of things. Why has she returned to Seaview after all these years of being away? Is it true that she has married a Greenwald because her family has been left penniless? WHY is she married to Nick Greenwald? How the heck did that happen? We are seriously treated to a slow and steady reveal.

Was it going to end in a somewhat predictable manner? Or will you be able to surmise the outcome? Perhaps, but no matter – it’s an excellent story all along the way. You may guess, but seriously, the joy of this story is definitely in the way Ms. Williams has taken her time to slowly and chronologically reveal it all. Just loved every moment of it! It all comes to a great end with gales of wind, rain and hurricane force of shattering truths.

The narration of this audio is done by Kathleen McInerney. WONDERFUL narration!  Now, this is a female narrator that knows how to speak male voices! Splendid! What a treat for the ears! What a treat as well when she would do the snobby, old money voice of Mrs. Hubert of Seaview and of dear old Aunt Julie.  She perfectly rendered the elitist and super-perfect girl voice of Budgie, the sweet and innocent voice of Lily and listening to Nick’s voice as well as any other male voice was just wonderful. Absolutely not one irritating or forced male sound in range. Awesome.

For all of that, I could forgive a few of the things that nibbled at my patience a touch:

  1. the squeaky child voice of Kiki;
  2. the excessive amount of smoking going on!;
  3. all the descriptive details of sex;
  4. the excessive fascination with breasts. Honestly. We hear often of Budgie’s breasts, how small, how plump they become and how brown or pink the nipples are (Budgie’s breasts are described often as apricot-like). But more than anything it is the exposing, kissing, licking and suckling of Lily’s breasts. Girl! She didn’t keep those under wraps for anyone! 🙂

However, it was definitely a winner of an audiobook and one where I wanted to just keep driving around in circles to continue listening. It comes to a very satisfying finish and again, I can totally see this one being devoured by readers on the beach this summer. 4 stars for a wonderful narration of a great story.

Audiobook Review: City of Women

Absolutely astonishing! Even more extraordinary is the pure listening pleasure offered by this audiobook. I strongly encourage you to listen to this in audio! The City of Women is a fantastic & fabulous story superbly narrated by Suzanne Bertish. She fills this exceptionally well-written story with all the added passion, excitement, suspense and intrigue right up to that final, breathtaking and heartbreaking CD!

The only regret about listening to the audiobook in the car was that so many of those many number of exceptionally poignant or breathtaking words could not be ear-marked to write in here. Gillham’s writing honestly took my breath away many times! However, my sincere thanks once again to Audiobook Jukebox and Penguin Audio for providing a copy of the audiobook, as it was definitely one of the very best I’ve listened to this year! I wouldn’t trade listening to this book for anything! You’ll just have to grab a copy yourself to experience his wonderful writing.

The City of Women centres around Sigrid Schröder, whose husband has gone to the front to fight at the height of WWII and whom must remain in Berlin, now the city of women as over 300,000 men have perished or off fighting Hitler’s war.

Gillham has divinely captured the varied personalities of the women Sigrid lives and interacts with daily, in her job and in her apartment building. From the fiercely disagreeable bitch of a mother-in-law, to the women that dare to speak out against Hitler to the women that then denounce those that have spoken out. All of this in one small building. Sigrid is not quite sure as to where she fits in this new world order- not quite the “good German woman” that her employer or mother-in-law feel she should be, but still not quite the woman silly enough to draw attention to herself for disobeying any of the many rules now governing every aspect of life in Berlin.

This synopsis from Goodreads explains very well the storyline of The City of Women: But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.

But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets.

A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit.  A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions.  And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.

Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two. (Goodreads)

There is one young girl in Sigrid’s building that disappears and keeps odd hours, and basically does everything but what she is employed to do. Sigrid notices that instead of minding the many children, she is coming and going and frustrating her employer with her unexplained absences. Sigrid takes it upon herself to follow Erika one evening and discovers something that will awaken a new identity in Sigrid. She also discovers a heartfelt and strong kinship with Erika, risking much to assist her and keep her alive.

Sigrid immerses herself in this pulse-pounding, life-threatening and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful underground world of extraordinary women that are risking their lives to hide Jews, political dissidents and undesireables. Although the risk is so great, Sigrid fully comes alive and becomes an indispensible and instrumental participant in these clandestine assignments. The intrigue, daring and suspense will keep you glued to this story!

The story of some extraordinary citizens coming to the rescue of Jews during WWII is definitely not a new one, but Gillham has finely brought our attention to these remarkable women that risked so much when they made their choice to do what they felt was right and just. Definitely a 5 star read for me. It’s also up there on the favourites list!

In somewhat related news, I came across this article this morning about the book Soldaten. It contains many transcripts from German POWs detailing their knowledge of the mass killing of Jews. It sounds like a chilling read.