Three books that I enjoyed for various reasons. They were all uplifting, but very different from one another. I did read/listens with two of them and added three new narrators to my list of ones to listen to.
When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord, Jesse Vilinsky (Narrator)
Published January 4th 2022 by Macmillan Young Listeners, Wednesday Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I absolutely love Mama Mia: the music, the movie, the broadway show, so when I was told about this book being a searching for mom, Mama Mia story, I grabbed it. Millie Price dreams of being on Broadway and has worked hard towards that dream. It has not been easy, her dad is an introvert who would rather hang out at home, Oliver, the stage manager at her school seems to be against her and then there are her Millie moods (the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm her). She has been accepted at a well known drama school for her precollege year, but her father is reluctant to let her go. When she accidentally reads her dad’s journal from 2003, she decides it is time to find her mom, maybe she will support her dreams. Her BFF and neighbor Teddy is a tech nerd who can find any information in few seconds. The three women mentioned in the journal who could be the possible mother candidates of Millie are Beth: a social worker, mother of Chloe who is a year younger than Millie, Steph: an executive assistant of a famous Broadway agent and a struggling actress and finally Farrah: a talented dance teacher. In order to meet them, Millie finds herself at an interview for an intern position of the very famous Broadway manager. She ends up competing for the position with her long time nemesis Oliver. They’re both chosen to be temporary assistants for two weeks and given some tasks to complete. The one with the best performance will get the permanent position.
This was a fun story. I loved reading about all the competitions and things that happen between Millie and Oliver. They have such a love/hate relationship, but as it develops into friendship and more, I was rooting for them. The various ways that Millie meets her three possible moms was interesting. There were times that she shone and others where she bumbled. She is so relatable, that everyone she met befriended her. It was also great to see how Teddy and Millie helped awkward Chloe come out of her shell. As she got to know the women, she also learned more about herself and Oliver. Her relationship with her dad and her aunt were wonderful but they had some problems that summer with her behaviour and secrets. I did love Millie. Her moods, dreams and insecurities were so realistic and made her relatable. Emma Lord does a fantastic job of mixing cutesy-YA Romance, with some serious family issues. It was fun, witty, fast paced and sweet, but had substance dealing with a young woman who wanted to know more about her mother, but was worried about upsetting her father, so afraid to ask. She was coming into her own and had to find her place. I did a read/listen with this story, the audiobook narrated by Jesse Vilinsky, a new narrator to me. Her narration was well done. The voices seemed effortless, with each given a distinctive voice. Both Millie’s emotions and Oliver’s low voice were comfortable to listen to. Emotion flows through her voice, as she portrayed Millie’s bigger-than-life dramatic personality. I will not hesitate to listen to this narrator again. So, which woman is her mother? You will have to read this one to find out.
The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson, Nathalie Pownall (Narrator)
Published August 31st 2021 by Penguin Audio, Berkley Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
June Jones works in the library in the same village she grew up in. She is not married, not dating and is pretty much a homebody. She is shy and reclusive and would rather spend time reading than going out and meeting people. When the local council starts talking about possibly closing the library, June doesn’t know what to do. She can’t get involved with the group trying to save the library or she will lose her job, so what can she do? Working in the background with an eccentric yet dedicated group of locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. On the personal front, June’s school friend Alex Chen returns to the village to help his father in the restaurant while he recovers from an accident. Alex has feelings for June, but she doesn’t realize that he sees her as more than a friend. Can they save the library?
This is a story that highlights the importance of libraries, especially in small communities. As the story unfolds, we meet characters who share what the library means to them besides just checking out books. As with any small community, there is only so much money to be had, so how can the villagers show that the Chalcot Library needs to remain open. With a sit-in, a campaign to take out the maximum number of books possible on everyone’s card, and some sleuthing to find out what is really behind the closure and sale of the building, the group will not go down without a fight. I loved the characters. Of course, June and Alex were wonderful and so cute together, but I also loved Stanley Phelps, the dapper older gentleman who visits the library daily and is waiting when they open. This is not a romance, it is a story about community, friendship, libraries and books, finding your voice and place, working together, taking risks and sharing your life with others. I enjoyed this heartwarming story and really enjoyed the ending. The audiobook was narrated by Nathalie Pownall, and I was happy with her performance. She used expression and tone to add emotion to the story and her voices were nicely done. I recommend this one to those who enjoy books about libraries, books, small communities and friendship.
The Golden Girls’ Getaway by Judy Leigh, Phyllida Nash (Narrator)
Published December 7th 2021 by Boldwood Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s been a long and lonely year for neighbours Vivienne, Mary and Gwen. All ladies of a ‘certain age’, their lockdown experience has left them feeling isolated and alone. They have retired or lost their jobs and are feeling a bit expendable. Gwen comes up with a plan. She borrows a motor home from a gentleman who has feeling for her and made some unappreciated advances. Three friends head off on the road out of London, away from their worries and isolation. Vivienne (popular soap actor), Mary (retired nurse), and Gwen (retired opera singer) are all mature women in their 70s and 80s. Even though they live in the same building, they don’t know each other very well. As they travel, they meet some wonderful people, have fantastic experiences, take some chances and become best of friends. They all get a new lease on life and discover things about themselves that allow them to see life as a wonderful time, once again.
I always enjoy Judy Leigh’s stories of friendship and new beginnings that star mature characters, usually always women. Being retired, there were times I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, and with the book being set with Covid as a backdrop, I definitely identified with the characters. I love the premise and the characters. Each character’s personality shines as these women set out on a spontaneous adventure in a motor home. They meet some colorful characters and challenge and support each other along the way. I love how each character finds an opportunity to show their talents and shine. This was an enjoyable and entertaining story and I sure hope I will have the same willingness to try new things, set off on adventures and take risks like these three did when I am over 70. If you enjoy an uplifting story with mature characters, humour and friendship, then I recommend you pick this one up. I did a read/listen (more listen) and enjoyed the narration by Phyllida Nash. Considering how many audiobooks I listen to, I was surprised to come upon another new narrator to me. She did a great job with the story. She has an engaging voice, that had distinct and natural-sounding characters and had great pacing. I feel her performance added to my enjoyment of this story.