“Ask Again, Yes” by Mary Beth Keane (audiobook)

“Ask Again, Yes” by Mary Beth Keane (audiobook)

This book is a sweeping tale of two generations of two families deeply intertwined. Kind and steady Francis Gleeson (an Irish immigrant) joins the NYPD and marries Lena (a New Yorker born and bred) and moves to the suburbs. Brian Stanhope, another NYPD cop moves in next door with his beautiful and troubled wife, Anne (also an Irish immigrant). These two couples start their families side by side, but their lives become inextricably combined, while simultaneously blowing apart.

Okay, when I say sweeping, I mean sweeping; and not just because it takes place over a 30-year span, this novel explores so many themes I’m still processing what I heard several days later. It tackles themes of family, abuse, mental illness, addiction, resilience, home, forgiveness, love, and redemption.

And even though the themes are heavy, it was written with such deftness that you don’t feel weighed down by the weight. Because, at the heart of it all, there is hope.

The characters are complicated, and flawed, and even in their brokenness, you love them. I grieved with them, I rejoiced with them, and I hoped with them.

Clearly I loved this book… I was late for work twice last week (Okay, I make my own schedule, but I was late for when I wanted to start work) because I got lost in the narration of this book, I didn’t want to stop listening.

5/5 stars


“The House on Fripp Island” by Rebecca Kauffman

“The House on Fripp Island” by Rebecca Kauffman

*I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway

I liked this story. I liked the characters. The story follows two families: the mothers grew up together, but ended up leading drastically different lives. One of unhappy wealth and privilege, the other stressful, but overall happy in the grips of poverty… not living on the streets poverty, but working hard but still being on the brink poverty.

These two drastically different families come together to share a vacation for one week, when tragedy strikes, and someone dies. The description of the book would have you believe that the novel is about the aftermath of this tragedy and how each member copes, but that’s not really true. 85% of the book is spent on the vacation; the remaining 15% deals with the aftermath. And it doesn’t do it justice.

This novel had such promise. I wanted to know more about the killer. I wanted more on how the families coped after the murder. I wanted to hear their inner dialogue. I wanted to know how they processed through everything, but the author just glides through it so quickly.


“The Deal of a Lifetime” by Fredrik Backman

“The Deal of a Lifetime” by Fredrik Backman

Oh my heart.

I love modern Swedish literature, and I love Fredrik Backman. And he did not disappoint with this novella. This story is heartbreaking and beautiful. It gets to the essence of family, and disappointment, and love, and sacrifice, and legacy.

There’s a simplicity in Backman’s writing; a compactness in conveying emotion without an excess of words. And there is a lot of emotion packed into this short story.

I haven’t returned it to the library, because I think I will read it again before I do.


“The Cousins” By Karen M. McManus

“The Cousins” By Karen M. McManus

Are you looking for a deep and artful look at family, trauma, and the power of redemption? This is not the book for you. If you’re looking to be entertained for a few hours over a little mystery, then you’ve come to the right place.

There’s something not quite right on Gull Cove Island, and three estranged cousins are going to figure it out. If you’re like me you’ll have it mostly figured out within a few pages of the cousins’ arrival on the island, and you’ll spend most of the book shaking your head at them not figuring it out. There was one surprise that I didn’t actually see coming, but it happens early on in the story, so you don’t have to stick around forever for it.

The writing is adequate, the characters are only mostly one dimensional, and the “mystery” is not that mysterious. But I wasn’t bored reading it.

Is this my new bar? I wasn’t bored? Where’s a good meme to describe how I’m feeling when I need it?


“Nine Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her” by Brion T. McClanahan

“Nine Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her” by Brion T. McClanahan

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. I don’t read a lot of political books, and it’s been awhile since I’ve been into history books. But I’m attempting to expand my horizons. The title led me to believe it would be more dynamic than it was.

The title of the book really should be 11 Presidents that Screwed Up America, since one chapter, that I thought was supposed to be on Barrack Obama, also included George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

But I digress. The author claims that adherence to the Constitution of the United States should be the ultimate metric we use to judge the success of a President. If a President enacts policy (even a truly moral policy) but does so in a way that circumvents the Constitution, then he has harmed the United States as a Republic. Basically, the ends do not justify the means.

So all kinds of Presidents end up on his bad list. This isn’t a Republican vs. Democrat argument. This is a constitutional vs. non-constitutional argument: Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Barrack Obama (with a shout-out to Clinton, and both Bushes) all, in the authors estimation, trampled on the constitution. It doesn’t matter if they also did good things, they hurt the office of the Presidency by expanding it’s powers beyond what is given in the Constitution.

The book is BORING! I was so bored. But, there was tidbits of interesting information. The author does a good job of explaining exactly what each President did to violate the constitution, and how it laid the groundwork for further abuses by the office of the president. I think it helped me better understand how the founders intended for the three branches of the government to work together.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The writing is adequate. The information is good. The subject matter is so boring.


“The Heir Affair” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

“The Heir Affair” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

When I checked this book out at the library, I did not realize that it was a sequel. It can, more or less, stand alone, but there is definite character development that you miss out on by skipping that first installment. All that said, I liked it enough to want to go back and read the first one.

Highbrow literature this is not, but if you like a good melodrama/soap opera-y romp; this is definitely the book for you.

The story is engaging. The writing is sufficient; the dialogue flows well; the characters are lively. There is romance, but thankfully it stops short of being salacious.

So, about the story. The novel follows the story of Rebecca “Bex” and her prince of England husband, “Nick.” The novel starts with Nick and Bex hiding out in Scotland shortly after their wedding. Why are they hiding out? If you had read the first novel you likely would have known why, but you find out later in this novel that they are hiding out from a scandal that broke during their wedding. It follows them through several years as they navigate their roles as royals and as husband and wife.

I’m a sucker for melodrama, so I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading the first installment… and if there are ever any more installments, I look forward to those as well.

4/5 stars because I enjoyed it, and I would read additional installments.