The Wise Women by Gina Sorell, Stacey Glemboski (Narrator)

Published April 5th 2022 by HarperAudio

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Popular advice columnist Wendy Wise has been advising the women who write to her seeking help for four decades, but has been let go as her advice is out of date and the magazine want more modern columnists. Her two daughters are dealing with their own issues. Clementine is a working mother of a six-year-old boy, who just found out that she does not own the house she is living in and because her husband Steve secretly funneled their money into his flailing start-up, they are about to be evicted. Meanwhile, her sister Barb has overextended herself at her architecture firm after loaning Clementine money and reunited with her cheating girlfriend. She is in trouble in her professional life and personal life, but still trying to take care of Clementine. When Wendy gets the feeling her girls need her, she hops on a plane to save the day. Clementine and Barb have a lot of unresolved issues from their childhood and need to work through lots of problems to become a family again.

This story is told through each of the Wise women’s points of view. As we learned about the past, we learned how Wendy developed her advice, although it might have worked for her, it definitely wasn’t universal. We learn why Barb is so protective of Clementine as well as the reasons behind Clementine’s actions and behaviour. Each of them are vulnerable, down to earth, and realistic. I loved following each of these women as they resolved their own issues while supporting each other. The story starts a bit slow, but as I got into it, I found the pace picked up and I quickly became immersed in the life of these women. There was a storyline dealing with gentrification of older neighborhoods that I learned from. Tearing down older buildings and putting up new, expensive condo buildings, forcing businesses and people out who lived there for years blended well with the stories of Clementine and Barb. There was humour, heartbreaking moments and breakthroughs throughout. I loved seeing these women come to terms with their history and work together for a family future. Other themes include ageism, motherhood, family, trust and classism. The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Stacey Glemboski. Her warm voice has great narrative appeal as she gives each of the characters their own voice with expression and tone. I enjoyed her performance and found listening to this book an enjoyable experience.

The Family She Never Met by Caridad Piñeiro, Frankie Corzo (Narrator)

Published February 1st 2022 by Sourcebooks Casablanca, March 8th 2022 by Dreamscape Media

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jessica Russo grew up in New York with her parents and her father’s large, Italian family. She knew nothing about her mother’s Cuban family except that her mother was estranged from them. When her abuela who she’s never met sends her right-hand man, Luis, to offer Jessica the chance to come to Miami and meet her estranged family, she can’t help but say yes, even as she knows her mother will be hurt. The family she meets, especially her Cuban grandmother is nothing like what she was expecting. The family is wealthy, philanthropic and loving. She spends time getting to know them and her family history. As she begins to understand all that happened, she is determined to heal the rift and bring her mother back into her family.

The Family She Never Met blends women’s fiction, family drama, and historical fiction together nicely. I found the characters to be well developed as we get to know them as Jessica does. Learning about some of the issues and reasons to migrate from Cuba was part of the story, but I would have liked to learn more. That yearning to return that I have read about in other books was also there. With another plot of a romantic relationship, we got to know Jessica as she went on a journey of discovery as well. Themes of migration, family estrangement, mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness and new beginnings are all part of this story. It is heartbreaking at times, but also has hope, healing and resilience. I liked that Caridad Piñeiro used her own Cuban family history as the background for writing this book, to leave her children with her family’s history. The audiobook was extremely well done with Frankie Corzo bringing this story to life. Her expression, voices and tone were excellent and added much to my enjoyment of this story. I will definitely look for more books she narrated. If you enjoy multi-generational stories, then I recommend this one to you.

The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella, Fiona Hardingham (Narrator)

Published October 12th 2021 by Random House Audio, The Dial Press

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Over two years ago, Effie’s parents got divorced. Shortly afterwards, her father took up with Krista a much younger woman who Effie called a gold digger. She has been estranged from her father since. Now, they have sold the family home and Effie is devastated. When Krista decides to throw a party to say goodbye to the house, Effie’s siblings, Bean & Gus, are invited, but she is not. When her father asks Krista if she invited Effie, she sends her an anti-invitation that Effie shares with her sister, but refuses to attend. Sneaking into the house to retrieve a treasure that she hid in the house, she overhears many conversations that opens her eyes to secrets and issues that have been going on in the family. Can they finally open up and be honest with one another to become a real family once again.

This was a fun story, just what I expect from Sophie Kinsella, but with some serious issues. Effie was not a very likeable character as this story begins. I thought she was selfish and self-centered, but as the story went on, I began to like her more. We learn a lot about things that happened to make her so cynical. Sophie Kinsella is wonderful about taking a theme and making it humorous. This book does that, with the actions and situations that occur while Effie is sneaking around the house during the party. Effie of course is a quintessential Kinsella character and while she’s a bit immature and bubbleheaded she is what makes this book! There is also a bit of romance, with Effie coming face to face with her ex that she never got over. As she learns more and more about her family, being a fly on the wall, Effie rethinks everything she’s thought she knew about her family, and confronts with everyone to see everything from wider vision. With a family feud, secrets, miscommunication, relationships, and romance, The Party Crasher is a story of hope and reconciliation. Being a huge Sophie Kinsella fan, I enjoyed this story, but it was a bit different from other books she has written, but I still recommend this one. Fiona Hardingham does a nice job with the narration of this audiobook.