Audiobook Review | “Once Upon A Time in Venice” by Monique Roy, narrated by Kevin E. Green A Middle Grade Chapter Book about family, Italian heritage and the bonds between a grandson and his grandfather.

Posted Sunday, 5 August, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of [2016] during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Once Upon A Time in Venice” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions in exchange for an honest review. This complimentary copy I received is part of the ‘Adopt an Audiobook’ programme where reviewers are given a 90 day window to listen and review the book. I was given a soft deadline where I could post my ruminative thoughts at an hour which worked for me on the day the review was due which in this instance is the 25th of July or at any point ahead of the 25th if I finished the audiobook sooner. This differs from a blog tour which has a more set schedule of posting. The audiobooks are offered to ‘adopt’ for review consideration and are given to readers to gauge their opinions, impressions and insight into how the audiobook is resonating with listeners. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

I am posting my review slightly overdue as the weeks leading up to the 25th as well as until the start of August were especially unkind for listening considering how many lightning storms I was trying to dodge just to stay connected! I decided to post this review the first week of August to allow myself enough time to finalise my thoughts on behalf of the story.

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Why this particular story impressed me and why I wanted to listen to it:

As I had forementioned previously on my last adopted audiobook review from Audiobookworm Promotions, I am shifting my reading life to be bent more towards listening to audiobooks than reading stories in print, as a purposeful quest to see if I can offset the repetitiveness of my chronic migraines, which have plagued me quite heavily this year.

I wanted to find a few audiobooks off the Adoption page as a way ‘back’ into reading, as I originally was going to listen to these stories during #Audiobookmonth which was in June. I hadn’t realised then how hard it would be to reclaim my reading life after my Spring migraines, which unfortunately didn’t just delay my listening hours with these audiobooks but with all books in general – which thankfully I restored back into my during the month of July!

This particular story felt like the kind of story I would love as it is set in Italy (I love Italian stories!) for starters and it is about the love shared between a grandson and a his grandfather. I grew up in a close knit family having two sets of grandparents and a great-grandmother, so right away, I had memories of my own bubbling to the surface which were reasons enough to want to listen to the story Ms Roy had written.

Secondly, I do not oft get to listen to Children’s Lit on audiobook – as generally speaking, the titles my library chooses to focus on are Adult Fiction. This gave me a chance to hear a story for Middle Grade listeners but through the course of my own listening, I realised this story is meant for all readers, of all ages! It is a timeless story about multi-generational families, the love that binds us to our heritage and how in the end, love can both shield us, protect us and enable us to have the courage to face the tomorrows we never felt we had the strength to meet.

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Audiobook Review | “Once Upon A Time in Venice” by Monique Roy, narrated by Kevin E. Green A Middle Grade Chapter Book about family, Italian heritage and the bonds between a grandson and his grandfather.Once Upon A Time in Venice
by Monique Roy
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Kevin E. Green

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Short Story or Novella

Places to find the book:

Find on Book Browse


Published by Self Published

on 1st August, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 1 hours, 27 minutes (unabridged)

Self-Published Audiobook

Monique Roy | Site | @MonWriter1

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my review of once upon a time in Venice:

Samuel and his grandfather both find themselves unable to sleep, meeting together at a curious hour of the night startled to realise neither of them could focus on sleeping. The grandfather was thankful to find a particular album, where a long-lost letter slipped out as they were trying to look inside it. As we entreat into Grandpa Leo’s memories and those of his father, we find out about how this family had connections to WWII – the somber realities of how Jewish families living in Venice were afflicted by the harsh knowledge they could have been found and their lives forever changed if they had been.

This is a family whose strength and belief in each other strengthened through time – including how there was a humbled wish for the family to continue forward in America, far away from Italy, which I knew was a humbled prayer for most who survived the last great war. The heritage of Italians are starting to retreat from contemporary America, where you start to notice a lot of people are not as accepting of Italian foods or Italian heritage as they once were a few decades in the past as there is a shift in ancestral heritages of late; of which lines of ancestry are more accepted and which ones seem to be starting to be put aside, forgotten or temporarily placed on ‘hold’ from memory.

I appreciated the dichotomy of change between the Venice of ‘now’ and the Venice of ‘yesterday’ as viewed by Grandpa Leo – of how this great city was forever changing and due to how it was changing, the perceptions of the city were being lost with those changes. Similar to how you can notice the chances in how people perceive Italians today or at least, those who appreciate Italian culture and foods.

I was not quite prepared for such a startling announcement by Grandpa Leo’s doctor, in regards to the grandfather’s health – not just for what it entailed but because knowing this was a shorter story, I wasn’t sure how the author would treat both the diagnosis and the purpose behind introducing us to both Samuel and his grandfather. What I found, thankfully was a cadence of joy, memory and hours of purpose spent by the grandfather to make the last bits of his life count towards giving further meaning to his present by honouring both his past and his limited future.

As Grandpa Leo chose to take Samuel to Venice, Italy, as soon as we disembarked from the plane, we could feel the transition to Italy, as we soon met Leo’s Cousin Anthony whose voice was strongly hinting of an Italian whose English was broken but resplendent with pride for his city. Listening to Anthony you saw another layer to Venice, building on the brief introduction Grandpa Leo had given to Samuel when the album had been discovered prior to their trip. Whilst in-flight, Grandpa Leo had chosen to depart life lessons to Samuel through the art of playing poker, as another way to connect with the young boy and in an attempt by the grandfather to instill what he could to the boy about the proper way of maturing into a man with the hours he had left to be with him.

I loved when Cousin Anthony asked if Samuel would love pasta – it was a quintessential dish all Italians and non-Italians love to eat in abundance, as there are so many different ways to dress a pasta dish! I was thankful this was the first meal Samuel had in Italy, as there are differences between the foods cooked Italian in America and the actual Italian meals you would find in Italy!

As we start to move through Venice, the impressiveness to the architecture and the most well-known landmarks (including the Basilica) are on full display. It’s the kind of walkabout in Venice you would expect to experience yourself, including the regalia of the gondolas. We are given passages of Italian histories, focused on how Venice was an infamous port city as well as continuing to build on what Grandpa Leo had imparted himself, there is a considerable number of passages dedicated to introducing a younger reader to why Venice is a city a boy like Samuel could feel honoured to be connected to through his grandfather. It also gave you an entry-way of talking about your own ancestral histories – talking about which countries your own family members emigrated from and how those cultural and food histories were still being kept inside your own family.

Most of the time in Venice was spent with Grandpa Leo’s family, except for when Leo had the unexpected pleasure of finding Isabella. Grandpa Leo was able to take Samuel to the places which made the most to him, whilst giving him a cross-section of reality of what Venice went through during the last world war. Grandpa Leo had an ease about him to give the long-lost histories of this beautiful city which Cousin Anthony happily complimented well with his own stories which deepened the understanding Samuel was receiving. Cousin Anthony also had current news about the plight of Venice and the reasons why this water clogged city still faces many hurdles as a city controlled by and crippled by the water which surrounds it.

This is a tender-hearted coming-of age story, about how a grandfather wants to bolster the courage of his grandson to be able to face the challenges which affect of us whilst we’re alive. A very important random encounter with a kind gentleman named Josef has a crucial message to impart to Samuel whilst he’s visiting Venice will resonate with him four years after the trip – as there is a bit of a shift forward in time at the very end of the story. This is important for different reasons – both the message and the momentum of the story.

I truly was taken in emotionally by this audiobook – somewhere along the route of the story, I could relate to the purpose of it’s heart – of wanting to connect and reconnect to our loved ones as much as we can whilst their alive but also, to have pieces of them with us after they have gone into the next chapter of where life meets death and death meets everlasting life. It is the kind of story which sneaks up on your emotions, where you find tears are at the ready within the very last minutes and seconds of where the narrator is about to conclude this tale and of where your heart isn’t fully ready to ‘let go’ of Grandpa Leo and Samuel.

Content Note:

I purposefully have been avoiding stories of terminal illnesses for quite a lot of years as the story-lines affect me to where I find my sensitive heart can’t shift through the difficult texts – however, this story surprised me for not focusing on the illness itself but rather on how to circumvent a limited time left to live and how you can spend those hours to the best of your ability to mean something to someone who means the world to you. In this, I had a heart of gratitude to the author!

on the writing style of monique roy:

What Ms Roy was able to accomplish in such a short expanse of a story is quite remarkable – as there are a lot of dramatic bits to Once Upon A Time in Venice – one of the beautiful inclusive elements are the grandfather’s memories, of where we get to listen to his soliloquy about Italy and Venice. We get a feeling for the Italy he’s left behind, the Italy he hopes to reconnect with before his hours are lost and the Italy he wishes Samuel to become acquainted with as his proper inheritance of his Italian heritage. This is a story about heritage, familial connections and the innate reasons why we try to hold onto our ancestral fusions of time, setting and place through the foods we eat, the memories we share and the hopes we conceive for our children and grandchildren’s futures.

I loved how Ms Roy etched out such a strong foundation of Italian life inside this story – from the traditional foods talked about being eaten when her characters travelled to Venice, to the way in which she allowed the mannerisms of their Italian relatives to speak and converse with their American relatives – everything she included provided a firm understanding how the importance of understanding our heritage and how sometimes what we inherit can be traced back to our origins. Whilst other times, unearthing a heritage we hadn’t known as much about originally might prove to be self-affirming lateron – of seeing the pieces of our ancestral heritage as a guide towards understanding who came before us and how the connections of life are timeless, ever changing and remain familiar despite the distances in time or place to where we are in our own lives.

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specifically in regards to the audiobook:

As I am relatively new to reviewing audiobooks and listening to them with a greater frequency than of the past, I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is my first time hearing the narration of Kevin E. Green

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

The grandson, Samuel: Mr Green sorted out how to lower his voice to saw the immaturity of a younger boy but also, the heartfulness of attention of a grandson who loved his grandfather. The boy Samuel was and the young man Samuel was becoming is reflected in how the narrator approached voicing his character. I found it an insightful way to approach this character and loved watching the transitions in Samuel.

Grandpa Leo: His voice is graven and has a lint to it to showcase his age but there is a somberness in his voice throughout most of the story, hinting towards his health affliction as well as his conflicting emotions. You fall in love listening to Grandpa Leo and of falling in step with his mission – for what he wants to give his grandson but also, on many levels what he gives us as the unexpected third party who feels as connected to his legacy as Samuel.

Secondary Characters:

  • The Doctor: Although briefly heard and seen, his voice felt independent of Samuel and Grandpa Leo.
  • Cousin Anthony: Anthony was voiced with a thick Italian accent and gave you the strong impression we were in Venice and were outside our country of origin. The way he was voiced gave a firm grounding of ‘place’ and ‘setting’ to where we could feel the connection Grandpa Leo was trying to impart to Samuel. Rightfully so, his English was broken and bespoke of his proud Italian heritage coming through his words.
  • Isabella: Her voice felt like there was a slight regret hitched inside it which fit well with the direction of her part being inserted at just the right moment for Grandpa Leo to become reunited with her.
  • Josef: The kind gentleman Samuel met in the Jewish district of Venice.

There weren’t too many secondary characters or other persons coming in and out of the story-line, as this is a story which has a self-directed purpose to be focused solely on the grandfather and the grandson. It made sense this would have a limited cast and therefore, a limited world-view from other characters who could enlarge its ‘space’. This was an intrapersonal journey where a grandson and grandfather needed to tuck close and stay connected to each other in order to gain the most from it.

How the Novel sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

I felt this was a narrative piece – as it felt like a story we might have picked up ourselves to read with the honour of being able to ‘hear’ it instead.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

I actually appreciated how this was narrated and think if I were to read it in print, I would lose something I had gained in the audiobook.

In closing, would I seek out another Kevin E. Green audiobook?

Yes, I would because he connected to me emotionally and it is one of the few times I can honestly say I felt tears welling in my eyes. The first time this happened was listening to the Kay Hunter series, where Alison Campbell left me emotionally shattered. For that, I am in full gratitude to them both as finding an emotional thread of connection to an audiobook is as wicked good as finding one in a print edition!

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 This audiobook review is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

Adopt an Audiobook badge provided by Audiobookworm Promotions

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{SOURCES: Whilst signing up for adopting audiobooks through Audiobookworm Promotions, I sought permission to use the cover art & the book synopsis of the audiobooks I would be adopting to use on my reviews. I was given permission by Audiobookworm Promotions to use these materials. Therefore, the cover art for “Once Upon A Time in Venice” is being used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Audiobook Review Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 5 August, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Children's Literature, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cookery, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Early Reader | Chapter Books, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Foodie Fiction, Indie Author, Italy, Juvenile Fiction, Literature for Boys, Middle Grade Novel, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity

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