Romeo and Juliet: A Novel by David Hewson, narrated by Richard Armitage


Exclusively written for Audible, only available in audio

“I think Romeo and Juliet is the greatest, most tragic love story ever told. What David Hewson did with this script is so exciting to me. I really love the fact that he followed avenues that Shakespeare suggested but didn’t necessarily detail in depth. If you want to immerse yourself in a warm bath of Garganega and the heat of Verona and hear a brilliant story about a young woman who is challenging the restraints of her time, listen to this audiobook, which has romance, poetry, politics, and humor to spare.”(Narrator Richard Armitage)

It’s a story you think you know: the age-old tale of “star-cross’d lovers”; two families at war; a romance, so pure and absolute, fated for a tragic end. It’s a story so thoroughly embedded in our culture, and so frequently retold. Yet, nothing captures the spark, the possibility, and the surprise of Shakespeare’s work quite like this….

In Romeo and Juliet: A Novel, author David Hewson reworks and expands on the classic story so that it becomes something richer, something new and entirely its own. Much more than a simple love story, it is a brilliant examination of young versus old, hope against despair, and, for Juliet, the search for individual identity at a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel.

An original production commissioned by Audible, Romeo and Juliet: A Novel marks the second pairing of David Hewson and actor Richard Armitage, whose previous partnership resulted in Audible’s 2014 Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel. Hewson’s talent for writing for audio is undeniable, and he finds his perfect vocal foil in Armitage, an actor of immense range and absorbing intensity. Together, they bring you a familiar story told in a surprising way – with an ending you might not expect.

Bonus: Audiobook includes an afterword written and narrated by David Hewson.

I am not a big fan of Romeo and Juliet. I got this audiobook because Richard Armitage is the narrator. Since Valentine’s Day is in February I made this my V-month listen.

It took a while for me to get into the story because I am not a fan of this classic tale, but once I did get into it I really enjoyed it.

Something I learned in the Author’s Note at the end is that Shakespeare didn’t come up with the story originally . The tale of Romeo and Juliet already existed in the form of a few Italian romances that were an inspiration for Shakespeare. I liked this new take on the story. I really loved the time setting and the little hints thrown in about the Renaissance, like Da Vinci. I also really liked the modern, intelligent and independent version of Juliet in this new version.

I had forgotten how many famous lines came from R&J. It was much easier to understand in novel form. The prose is very pretty.

Richard’s narration is excellent. He has a great range of different voices for the characters, and his voice is just downright sexy. Oh my goodness gracious, the wedding night scene. With the honey and that verse…that was steamy. *Unfolds a fan.*

In the end I’m glad I pushed through and gave this a chance. It turned out to be a version of Romeo and Juliet that I enjoyed.

Overall: 3 out of 5 Poisons
Performance: 5 out of 5 Poisons
Story: 4 out of 5 Poisons

Some of my favorite quotes:

Chapter 9: A husband betrayed was a cuckold. A woman treated the same way was a wife.

Chapter 31: Rash acts may spur rash consequences.

Chapter 49: The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.


Top Ten Tuesday February 18: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

February 18: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover (submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)

These books left me with a hangover either because they were intense, thought-provoking, or heart-wrenching.

1) Dark Age by Pierce Brown
2) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
3) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
4) The Fountains of Silence  by Ruta Sepetys
5) The Starless Sea by  Erin Morgenstern
6) The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
7) The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
8) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
9) NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
10) The Shining by Stephen King
11) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


The Color Purple is a classic. With over a million copies sold in the UK alone, it is hailed as one of the all-time ‘greats’ of literature, inspiring generations of readers.

Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

To expand my library beyond my usual go-to genres, two years ago I started dedicating October to horror novels. This year I am adding to that expansion during Black History month. I started with The Color Purple. Friends have been recommending the movie to me and I wanted to listen to the audiobook first.

The Color Purple is a true American classic novel. It has heart and beauty but also does not shy away from the ugly truth of abuse and violence. I loved the discussions about religion, philosophy, history, culture, race and classism. It really makes you think and consider those issues.

I loved the letters between Celie and Nettie. Those were some of my favorite parts. All the relationships between the characters were well developed, but the one between Celie and Nettie was so bitter sweet. My heart would ache for them.

One thing I was confused about though was

Continue reading

Rapid Fire Book Tag

This looks like fun! I saw this on Purple Manatees.  It was created by GirlReading. 

E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical books. It is easier on the eyes. Though when it comes to big books, 500 pages or more, I prefer to commute with the e-book or audiobook. I can’t carry all that weight. Also I do like e-books for there search feature.

Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback for commuting. Hardback for autographed copies of series I love that don’t leave my book shelves.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

In store. I like touching the book and flipping through. I also can check it for damages.  Often when I have bought online it comes with some cover damage and that is so annoying.

Trilogies or Series?

Oooo, depends. I more often prefer trilogies. Three and done.  But, if it’s anything as good as Harry Potter then series.

Heroes or Villains?

Why not both? Can’t have one without the other. It also just depends on how well developed they are.

A book you want everyone to read?

Red Rising (saga) by Pierce Brown. The world needs more Howlers.

Recommend an underrated book?

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

Tunnel Vision by Keith Lowe

The Lightless trilogy by C.A. Higgins

The last book you finished?

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro.

The Last Book You Bought?

Dune by Frank Herbert and The Secret History by Donna Tart on Audible.

Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Not sure. I only use actual bookmarks. Maybe a capped pen?

Used Books: Yes or No?

I don’t often buy them but I am not opposed as long as they are in good condition.

Top Three Favorite Genres?

Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Historical Fiction.

Borrow or Buy?

I more often buy but if I am iffy and want to save money then I borrow.

Characters or Plot?

Characters. When a plot is good but I feel nothing for the characters then the book becomes DNF. There have been times that I thought a plot could use some work but liked the characters and so I continued.

Long or Short Books?

Depends on many factors. Is it a series or a standalone? Is the writing excellent or mediocre?

Long or Short Chapters?

Short, definitely. I need to take breaks to rest my eyes.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry?

I cry a lot.  I wish I could find more books that make me laugh.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional.  I need an escape from our world.

Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Hell yes! I am trying to gradually move towards listening to mostly audiobooks.

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Who doesn’t? The cover grabs my attention and if the story sounds interesting then I read it.

Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

TV all the way.  With movies too many details are omitted and there is less time for character development. That’s less so with TV.   I think only short stories should be adapted into movies. Books should become a TV series.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Series or Standalones?







Top Ten Tuesday February 4: Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

February 4: Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads

I am basing this on the ratings on Goodreads and my anticipation to read them.

1) The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
2) Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
3) Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
4) City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
5) Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips.
6) The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
7) Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire 1) by Michael J. Sullivan
8) Master and Apprentice (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel) by Claudia Gray
9) The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
10) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro


The acclaimed and beloved author of Hourglass now gives us a new memoir about identity, paternity, and family secrets—a real-time exploration of the staggering discovery she recently made about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden story of her own life.

What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in—a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

Timely and unforgettable, Dani Shapiro’s memoir is a gripping, gut-wrenching exploration of genealogy, paternity, and love.


I was not familiar with Dani Shapiro or her writing prior to listening to this memoir. The first I heard about it was when listening to an episode of Audicted in November: Ep. 26: Family Stories: Our Favorite Listens of Kinship. It sounded really interesting and the editors at Audible mentioned that with many DNA testing sites now there is a rise in stories from people who find out their father or/and mother is not their father or/and mother.

I, for one, am fascinated by these stories. I think there is a primal instinct that we need to know who we came from. It’s why shows like Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? are so popular.

I listened at 1.0x and still sped through it. I learned a lot about the beginnings of fertility treatments and I also learned a lot about Jewish laws and practices.

What I often do when I finish a book is read other reviews, and what I found was that a lot of people were saying that she was making too much out of nothing and they didn’t understand her trauma. That her father was still her father and genetics don’t change that.

I agree with that. Especially when couples adopt or use egg or sperm donors. What I think made it traumatic for her was first – the secrecy. Second, was that she had a complicated relationship with her mom, who was a pathological narcissist with a borderline personality disorder. She also said her mother would have fits of rage and that she was at times scared of her.

It sounded like her relationship to her father and her father’s family was very close. It seemed that there were pictures of only his family and ancestors all over their home. Dani’s dad was a religious man and she learned about the Jewish faith from him. So yes, while Dani is still Jewish because her mother is Jewish, it sounded like her mother was not the reason she was brought up to be Orthodox Jewish. So when she is trying to come to grasps with the Jewish laws that say her father was not her father and she was an abomination, I understand why she was having such a difficult and traumatic time trying to come to terms with the truth.

Going back to the secrecy, there is the feeling of being lied to for one’s entire life. Did they know and kept it a secret? Were her parents ignorant of the donor? Or were they subconsciously keeping themselves in denial. I can understand how those questions would eat away at someone. Never knowing the answer is frustrating.

My favorite quote is in Chapter 49: “It would be easy to fantasize that this would have been better. But we can never know what lies at the end of the path not taken. Other difficulties, other heartaches, other complexities would certainly have emerged. But at least we would have been a family traversing them together.”

I really loved when she got to meet her biological dad and the slow build of their relationship. I am a total sucker for those stories, and then I cry. Which is why if I find myself suck into an episode of Long Lost Family, I better have the tissues with me.

4.5 out of 5 DNA Strands.