Jul 182017
 

And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz

Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 6 hrs and 25 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:05-02-17
Publisher: Listening Library

 
Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in!

Unfortunately, Nora’s mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter – and her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed. Nora couldn’t feel more unsupported by her mother, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, the women are as disconnected as they’ve ever been. But seconds after saying good-bye to Alice at the airport terminal, Nora hears a voice call out: “Wait! Stop! I’m coming with you!”

And…they’re off.

Thoughts
I enjoyed getting to know Nora, her mom Alice, and the other characters. I enjoyed the story and following along with them as they toured Europe, especially Ireland.

What I didn’t enjoy was the relationship between Nora and Alice. Nora wanted to be on her own, feeling grown up. Numerous times she screamed at her mother “this was supposed to be MY trip.” The relationship between them was awful. I felt bad for Nora since it was indeed supposed to be her trip, but I felt worse for her mom since she was going through a very hard time in her life and just wanted to get away for a while, and Nora was always mad and/or yelling at her.

There were a few times here and there when they did get along pretty good, but the whole tantrum throwing Nora did got on my nerves.

The book was narrated by Lauren Fortgang who did an good job with the voices, although I thought she made Alice’s voice a bit too hoity toity. I have the audiobook The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry which is narrated by Lauren Fortgang, and am looking forward to hearing how she does with the narration.

Overall, I’m glad I listened to this book, which is the author’s debut novel. I would like to read more from her.

Jul 072017
 

Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by Marin Ireland

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 13 hours and 11 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 25, 2017

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, comes a poignant, charming novel about a forgotten town fractured by scandal, and the amateur hockey team that might just change everything.

Winning a junior ice hockey championship might not mean a lot to the average person, but it means everything to the residents of Beartown, a community slowly being eaten alive by unemployment and the surrounding wilderness. A victory like this would draw national attention to the ailing town: it could attract government funding and an influx of talented athletes who would choose Beartown over the big nearby cities. A victory like this would certainly mean everything to Amat, a short, scrawny teenager who is treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice; to Kevin, a star player just on the cusp of securing his golden future in the NHL; and to Peter, their dedicated general manager whose own professional hockey career ended in tragedy.

At first, it seems like the team might have a shot at fulfilling the dreams of their entire town. But one night at a drunken celebration following a key win, something happens between Kevin and the general manager’s daughter—and the next day everything seems to have changed. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. With so much riding on the success of the team, the line between loyalty and betrayal becomes difficult to discern. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

Fredrik Backman knows that we are forever shaped by the places we call home, and in this emotionally powerful, sweetly insightful story, he explores what can happen when we carry the heavy weight of other people’s dreams on our shoulders.

Thoughts
At first I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this book very much because it was about a hockey team, but I decided to read it anyway because of how much I loved A Man Called Ove. I was surprised that I ended up enjoying it so much. The story grew on me and I fell in love with the town, the hockey team, and mostly the characters.

The book starts out with such a bang that I didn’t want to stop listening. I wanted to find out what happened, and to whom.  It was fully explained toward the end of the book, and what I thought had happened really had a completely different ending. Then there was another part that left me with a question that was never answered. So, I’m hoping there is another book that will explain it. I usually don’t like books that leave something unknown, but this time I’m ok. I’m left wanting more, but ok.  I do hope there is a Beartown 2 that will tell me what I’m wanting to know.

I’m not a fan of cussing but since this was a book with a bunch of teenagers, mostly boys, I expected some. I did think some of the language was a bit harsh, but that’s just me.

I thought the author did a great job with the characters. The teens were just like the kids who might live in your hometown, same with the parents.

I thought Marin Ireland did a fantastic job with narration.

There was a lot of emotions spilling out of this story, and I felt them all. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Jul 032017
 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Narrated by James Langton

Audio CD: 1 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Audio and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged edition (May 3, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1504739663
ISBN-13: 978-1504739665

In this poignant and curiously charming debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met — a journey that leads him to find hope, healing, and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

Thoughts
I loved this book from the first paragraph to the last and didn’t want to stop reading for even one minute! I fell in love with Arthur, and just wanted to give him a hug, many times throughout the book. He loved his wife so much, and wanted to know about her life before him, even if he was going to find out things he didn’t want to know.

Since she passed away, Arthur mostly stayed inside his house, so the idea of him taking off and traveling to so many places alone, was exciting to read about. He was very brave, more so than I might be at that age.

The story was very touching, the characters fun to read, and the adventure was engrossing.

This is the first book for me by this author, but after listening to this I got the audio version of Rise And Shine Benedict Stone and want to get to it soon.

Jun 262017
 

Faithful

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 27 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: November 1, 2016

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a road map.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

Thoughts
I have been wanting to read a book by Alice Hoffman for a while. When I saw this book available on one of my audio apps, I decided to listen to it.

The main character is Shelby, a broken girl who feels responsible for the accident that changed her best friend Helene’s life forever. She loves Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, her friends. Sounds a bit like me! She feels responsible for what happened to Helene, even though it wasn’t really her fault. She isn’t afraid to be herself, and although she seems to be tough, she’s not.

I absolutely loved this book! Shelby was a fantastic character and I loved following along on her journey as she falls in and out of love, became the person she wanted to be, and finally ends up exactly where she wants to be.

There’s so much more to this book, it was fantastic. I would definitely recommend this book.

The book was narrated by Amber Tamblyn, who did an awesome job.

Jun 092017
 

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by Kimberly Farr

Listening Length: 8 hours and 25 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 25, 2017

“As I was writing My Name Is Lucy Barton,” Strout says, “it came to me that all the characters Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories—of course!—and so the unfolding of their lives became tremendously important to me.”

Here, among others, are the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” now adults: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. Tommy, the janitor at the local high school, has his faith tested in an encounter with an emotionally isolated man he has come to help; a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD discovers unexpected solace in the company of a lonely innkeeper; and Lucy Barton’s sister, Vicky, struggling with feelings of abandonment and jealousy, nonetheless comes to Lucy’s aid, ratifying the deepest bonds of family.

With the stylistic brilliance and subtle power that distinguish the work of this great writer, Elizabeth Strout has created another transcendent work of fiction, with characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned.

My Thoughts
I think I liked this even better than I did My Name Is Lucy Barton. I loved the way the stories connected one to the other. I liked being introduced to these new characters and their stories.

One of my favorite characters was Tommy. I thought his story was really interesting and liked that he had such a good heart. I like that Strout used not so familiar names, and that her characters were so real, emotional, and vulnerable.

I’ve read a lot of reviews of this book where people said that they thought there were too many characters. I usually don’t like a lot of different characters either, and if the book had been one continuous story I might have had a hard time following along. But since it was a book of short stories that didn’t bother me. When one story ended, it was like going on to another book. I wish I could explain it better, but the point is it didn’t bother me at all.

Kimberly Farr did a great job with the narration. It was very easy to listen to.

I’ve loved both books that I’ve read by this author, and now I’ve added Olive Kitteridge to my “to read list”.

May 252017
 


Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas
Narrated by Maggi-Meg Reed
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 33 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 14, 2009

Hennie Comfort is eighty-six and has lived in the mountains of Middle Swan, Colorado, since before it was Colorado. Nit Spindle is just seventeen and newly married. She and her husband have just moved to the high country in search of work. It’s 1936 and the depression has ravaged the country and Nit and her husband have suffered greatly. Hennie notices the young woman loitering near the old sign outside of her house that promises “Prayers For Sale.” Hennie doesn’t sell prayers, never has, but there’s something about the young woman that she’s drawn to.

What I Thought
I’ve had this book in print since it was published. I put it on my tbr shelf thinking I’d get to it soon, but like so many of my books, I never started it. Why why why do I wait so long to read/listen to books that I really really want to read? I guess there are so many books out there that I just get sidetracked.

A week or so ago I saw the audio of Prayers For Sale was available through Overdrive.  Since I’ve recently gotten addicted to audiobooks, I added it to my list and as soon as I finished the book I was listening to, I started it.

Let me tell you, I LOVED this book! I loved the story, the characters, and the way it made me feel while listening to it. The story took me on a trip to 1936 Middle Swan, Colorado. Hennie Comfort, who is 86 years young, has lived there since before it was known as Colorado. Hennie is in great shape for her age and can climb those mountains as good if not better than her friend Nit Spindle who is 17.

The two women meet when Nit stops by to see Hennie after seeing a “Prayers For Sale” sign outside her house. The two bond over quilting and a tragedy they both had gone through.

Nit starts to think of Hennie as a mother figure and Hennie is very fond of Nit. The two enjoy their quilting group, talking about life over cups of coffee, and their walks to town or up the mountains.

The book gave me many emotions. It had me happy, sad, and even worried how things would turn out. The characters seemed real as did the situations. I loved the writing and the way the people talked. I loved everything about it.

 I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audio of this book because not only is the book one of the best books I’ve ever read (and I am not a fan of historical fiction), but also because of the narration. It is narrated by Maggi-Meg Reed. I’ve always been very picky when it comes to narrators, but I loved her voice and she’s now one of my favorite narrators. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author, and from this narrator.

The ending surprised me so much. I never in a million years would have thought that it would end that way.

I loved this book from the beginning to the end, and will more likely than not listen to it again sometime. I definitely recommend this book!

Apr 272017
 

Room by Emma Donoghue
Narrated by: Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 10 hours and 52 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 13, 2010

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

What I Thought:
Wow! This book kept me in it’s grasp from start to finish. I didn’t want to stop listening for a minute.

I can’t imagine being held captive like that. For Ma, the horror was being in Room. To Jack, it was all he knew. Ma made sure he had as normal a childhood as he could. Teaching him, making sure he got excersise, playing games, watching tv. But she wanted to get them out of there. When she planned their escape, I was scared for Jack. I didn’t know if he could do it. But he did! Then I wondered if he’d be able to lead the police to Room, and he did!

They were finally free, but that’s when the truth hit Jack. Everything he thought was only in tv or Room, was actually out in the world too. And there was so much more out there. He saw and felt the sun for the first time. He talked to someone other than Ma for the first time. He saw a real dog, tree, cars….

This book was amazing. I thought it ended too abrubtly, and was wanting more. I wanted to know how Ma and Jack did in the following years. Still, I loved this book. It was so sad, but had a few funny parts. It shows that there is always hope. There was one part concerning Ma that shocked me. I still struggle with it. If you haven’t read this book, you’re missing a good one. I’m glad I listened to the audio version. All the narrators did a great job.

I loved ROOM!

Mar 282017
 

12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

Written by: Solomon Northup
Narrated by: Louis Gossett, Jr.
Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:09-06-13
Publisher: Audible Studios

Hugh Quarshie reads the extraordinary autobiography of Solomon Northup. His harrowing true story, first published in 1853, was a key factor in the national debate over slavery prior to the American Civil War, significantly changing public opinion on the topic of abolition. It tells the horrifying tale of Solomon Northup, an educated, free black man living with his wife and children in New York State, whose life takes an appalling turn when he is kidnapped, drugged and sold into slavery.

Shipped to New Orleans, he endures the life of a slave in Louisiana’s isolated plantation country. For twelve long years, he endures the unimaginable brutality and inhumanity of daily life, while keeping his dignity intact and dreaming of one day returning home to the arms of his family.

Twelve Years a Slave is soon to be a major motion picture, starring Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.

What I Thought:
This was very hard to listen to. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to someone to be born into slavery. But imagine being born free, and then as a married adult with children, being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Some of the things Solomon and the other slaves had to endure at the hands of their master, and that they were forced to do to other slaves, were so horrible that I literally cringed. This was the first time I heard of a slave owner forcing a slave to harm another slave. What Solomon was forced to do to a female slave was shocking. No, it wasn’t sexual.

I can’t wrap my head around how someone could treat another human being that way.

I teared up many times during this book, especially when Solomon was finally rescued. I’m sure there were parts in the book that told of some of good times the slaves had, but honestly I don’t remember any specific thing. The torture the slaves endured is what I remember.

The audiobook I read was narrated by Louis Gossett, Jr. and I thought he did a good job, but his voice was so deep that at times the last word or two of a sentence was hard to understand.

This book will stay with me for a very long time.

Feb 272017
 

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A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Narrated by: Vikas Adam
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:06-12-14
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: Hope.

What I Thought:
Wow! This book had me from the first paragraph. It would be scary enough to be left in a place you’re not really familiar with, but on top of that his brother never comes back to get him. He can’t tell anyone anything that will help them find his family, and then he sets out on a journey that was scary for me as a reader, so I can’t even imagine what it was like for Saroo at the age of 5. Finally, after one horrible experience after another, Saroo is taken to a place where people help him find a family that wants to adopt him. Now, although he’s safe with people who care for him, he still has memories of his mom, brothers and sister, and wonders how they are, if they are looking for him, and if he’ll ever see them again.

Although he adjusts really well with his new family, those thoughts never leave him and he starts another journey to see if he can find them. Finally, he does and takes a trip back to India and sees his birth mom and siblings.

This is one of those books that I didn’t want to stop listening to for even a minute. I clung to every word, wanting to hear what happened next.

The book is narrated by Vikas Adam, and he did a great job. Very easy to listen too.

I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie The Lion (hopefully tomorrow) based on the book. If you haven’t read this yet, I 100% recommend it!

Feb 092017
 

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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Written by: Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 4 hrs and 12 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:01-12-16
Publisher: Random House Audio

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

What I Thought:
Lucy hasn’t had the best life. Her childhood was spent being so poor that they barely had enough food, didn’t have indoor plumbing for a long while, and she was picked on at school, mostly because of the clothes she wore.

What she did have was gentle heart and a lot of love for her family, her two daughters, and for writing. She also said many times throughout the book about the people she had met, that she loved “her” “him”, “them”. She was very grateful for the people who showed her any kindness.

The book is about Lucy’s life, told in a random order, whatever she thinks of at the time. Still, there’s an even flow to the story.

I thought the conversations between Lucy and her mom were a bit strange at times. I can’t imagine having a relationship like that with my mom.

The narrator did a great job with each characters. I thought it was interesting tha there were characters with the last name Nicely. It’s a very unusual name, and is my mother’s maiden name.

This is the first time I’ve tried a Strout book, but I plan on reading/listening to more from her. I enjoyed learning about Lucy, she felt like a friend telling me her life’s story.

The ending came quite abruptly though, I would have liked more.

Feb 062017
 

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Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café  by Max Lucado

with Candace Lee , Eric Newman
Narrated by: Ben Holland
Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-03-15
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

What I Thought
I was excited to listen to this book. I liked the blurb and thought it would be an uplifting story, and it was. I liked all the characters, especially Manny. He sure added a lot to the story, and I grew very fond of him and his quirkiness.

While I liked Chelsea, she jumped to conclusions a bit too quickly for me, especially about her husband. Everything is not what it seems, which she found out.

The narrator was good, but it seemed that he took a big deep breath at the beginning of most sentence, and listening to that over and over kind of got on my nerves. He did, however, do a terrific job with all the different voices.

This was a quick listen, just a bit over 5 1/2 hours. I liked that it was a good clean book with a positive message. I really enjoyed this book.

Jan 262017
 

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-05-14
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell.’ But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

What I Thought
I started this audio book a few months ago but didn’t finish it. Then I started it again, and again I didn’t finish it. To be honest, Ove got on my nerves. I thought he was a grumbling grouch. I decided to give it one more try since I kept seeing so many 5 star reviews for it. This time, finally, Ove’s gruff personality didn’t seem so annoying. I actually started liking him. I laughed more than a few times at some of the things he said and thought. I especially thought the names he gave everyone were funny…the lanky one, the pregnant one, white shirt etc.

Poor Ove can’t stand things that are not what he thinks they should be. It truly angers him. He says “right is right and wrong is wrong” quite often throughout the book. And he can’t trust anyone who doesn’t drive a Saub, among other things.

I loved learning about Sonia, I liked her a lot. I felt bad for Ove because I know what it feels like to lose your spouse.

There a quite a few characters in the book, all personable except for two (not counting Ove), and I enjoyed each one of them. I loved all the different stories from Ove & Sonia’s past, and how Ove’s relationships with the other characters grew into something that surprised everyone who lived in his neighborhood. I was surprised too. I  learned that there was a kind soul behind all that gruffness. I loved how Ove fought so hard for the right thing concerning the people he cared about, just because “it’s the right thing to do”.

I’m so glad I gave this audio book another chance. It made me laugh a lot, and even made my eyes leak a few times.

This was the first book I’ve listened to that is narrated by George Newbern. I’m very picky about narrator’s, but I thought he did an amazing job with all the voices. He made the book very easy to listen to.

Although it took me a few times to start enjoying the book, (I don’t think I gave it enough time the first two times I started it), I ended up loving it, and I even ended up loving Ove.

I highly recommend this, both print and audio.

Jan 012017
 

As you can see, I tried audiobooks in 2014 but didn’t really enjoy them.
Then I decided to try them again in 2017 and fell in love with them.

2017
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café by Max Lucado
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup
Room by Emma Donoghue
Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook by Diane Mott Davidson
And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz

2014 :
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
What’s So Funny by Tim Conway
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
The History Lover’s Cookbook by Roxe Ann Peacock
Can You Hear The Music? by Sandra Farris
Maisy And The Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum
Bones In Her Pocket by Kathy Reichs

Aug 032014
 

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The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Narrator: Gary Farmer
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 12 hours and 39 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: October 2, 2012
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B009KEZ2Y6

In the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe sets out to get some answers of his own. The quest takes him first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning. Louise Erdrich’s novel embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.

Thoughts
This story highlights how a terrible attack on someone not only highly effects that person, but also their family and friends. This is such a sad story, but one that also has some humor thrown in, and is very thought provoking.

The idea of your mom having such a horrible thing happen to her, and then she locks herself in her room, and you may never see the person who did this punished for it…what a heavy weight on Joe’s shoulders. He felt a mix of emotions, loss as his mother shut herself away from him, anger that his father, who was a judge on the reservation, couldn’t seem to bring the guilty to justice.  And so, he wanted to get revenge himself. I loved the relationships between Joe, Cappy, Angus and Jake. I’m glad he had someone to help him through this tough time.

The author did such a great job with the story line and characters that I had to keep reminding myself that this was a work of fiction. What happens in this book can and does happen, and you get a glimpse of Native American traditions and laws which added to the non fiction feel.

Excellent book, although the ending wasn’t what I wanted.

I listened to this on my iPod and thought the narrator did a great job.

Jul 302014
 

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What’s So Funny by Tim Conway
Jane Scovell (Author, Narrator), Carol Burnett (Author, Narrator), Dick Hill (Narrator)

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: October 30, 2013
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B00GBCFR40

Six-time Emmy Award–winning funnyman Tim Conway, best known for his characters on The Carol Burnett Show, offers a straight-shooting and hilarious memoir about his life on stage and off as an actor and comedian.

In television history, few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There’s nothing in the world that Tim Conway would rather do than entertain—and in his first-ever memoir, What’s So Funny?, that’s exactly what he does. From his pranks in small Ohio classrooms to his perfor­mances on national television and movies, Tim has been cracking people up for more than seventy years. Long regarded as one of the funniest come­dians around, Tim also boasts an inspiring rags-to-riches story.

What’s So Funny? captures Tim’s journey from life as an only child raised by loving but outra­geous parents in small-town Ohio during the Great Depression, to his tour of duty in the Army—which would become training for his later role in McHale’s Navy—to his ascent as a national star and household name. By tracing his early path, this book reveals the origins of many of Tim’s unforgettable characters—from Mr. Tudball and the Oldest Man to Mickey Hart to everyone’s favorite, Dorf.

What’s So Funny? shares the hilarious accounts of the glory days of The Carol Burnett Show and his famous partnerships with entertainment greats like Harvey Korman, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Vicki Lawrence, Bob Newhart, and of course, Carol Burnett. As a bonus, readers will enjoy never-before-shared stories of hilarious behind-the-scenes antics on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show.

Thoughts
I’ve loved Tim Conway since the first time I saw him, and watching him on the Carol Burnett show made me laugh until my jaw and sides hurt. If you saw the show where he walked down the wall instead of the stairs, or where he was talking about an elephant, you know what I mean. When I was in middle school, one of my teachers told us she went to school with him in Willoughby , Ohio (not far from where I lived) and that he was just as funny even as child.

This book lets us into the life and thoughts of this man, who in my opinion is one of the funniest people, and best comedic actors, ever! I know about his childhood and his unusual parents who he calls by their first names, Sophie and Dan. They were very different from my parents, and did quirky, even strange things. There was a part in the audio where he talked about his mom not likeing a certain family in the neighborhood, so whenever they saw the family coming up the driveway, they’d shut the curtains and hide under the kitcen table! Another thing that stuck out in my mind was when he was going to New York, and his dad told him to go see his sister who he hadn’t seen for years (after they came to the U.S. from Ireland, they lost contact) and when Tim got to her apartment she wouldn’t open the door, so he talked to her very shortly through the door and then he left. This was after he was famous even. But she said she didn’t watch tv so didn’t really know who he was. All I can figure is that she was older and lived alone in New York so was leery that he was even who he said he was, and too afraid to open the door to a strange man.

I could go on and on, but think you should either read the book or listen to the audio version for yourself. It is a LOL audio that I plan on listening to from time to time, whenever I need a feel good listen or a laugh.

Highly recommended!

Jun 262014
 

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 58 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible.com Release Date: March 11, 2014

Welcome to Little Wing.

It’s a place like hundreds of others, nothing special, really. But for four friends—all born and raised in this small Wisconsin town—it is home. And now they are men, coming into their own or struggling to do so.

One of them never left, still working the family farm that has been tilled for generations. But others felt the need to move on, with varying degrees of success. One trades commodities, another took to the rodeo circuit, and one of them even hit it big as a rock star. And then there’s Beth, a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives.

Now all four are brought together for a wedding. Little Wing seems even smaller than before. While lifelong bonds are still strong, there are stresses—among the friends, between husbands and wives. There will be heartbreak, but there will also be hope, healing, even heroism as these memorable people learn the true meaning of adult friendship and love.

Seldom has the American heartland been so richly and accurately portrayed. Though the town may have changed, the one thing that hasn’t is the beauty of the Wisconsin farmland, the lure of which, in Nickolas Butler’s hands, emerges as a vibrant character in the story. Shotgun Lovesongs is that rare work of fiction that evokes a specific time and place yet movingly describes the universal human condition. It is, in short, a truly remarkable book—a novel that once read will never be forgotten.

Thoughts
This is a story centered around a few friends who were raised in a small town, went their own ways and then come back together for a wedding. I lived in a small town for a few years as a teen, so I could relate somewhat to this story. I’ve known a Kip, a Ronny, a Leland, a Hank and a Beth. I know that the author nailed the people and life of a small town.

It’s told by alternating characters, which I thought would be strange, but didn’t take away from the story at all. The story moves at a steady pace, then slows for a teeny bit, and then picks up again. Even through the slow part, I never lost interest.

The characters were well written and I enjoyed them all, as well as every aspect of their relationships…the good and the bad parts. The book made me feel so many different emotions. The characters portrayed love, sorrow, happiness, hope and disappointment.

This is a really good book that will be in my head for a while. It brought back so many good memories of living in a small town and I was so drawn to what was going on and to the characters that I was sad when I was finished. I hope the author has plans to bring these characters back in a future book. Either way, I look forward to more from Nickolas Butler.

I listened to the audio cd version of this book, which had multiple narrators. Since I’m so picky when it comes to narrators, I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to handle listening to this. I was pleasantly surprised. None of the voices grated on my nerves or made me want to turn it off.  The author did good on choosing all the narrators, and now I have some more names to add to my listenable list!

Jun 212014
 

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The History Lover’s Cookbook by Roxe Ann Peacock
Narrated by Dave Wright

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 5 hours and 2 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Roxe Anne Peacock
Audible.com Release Date: May 8, 2014
Language: English
ASIN: B00KC3CL0M
Over 150 full-color photos inspired by nineteenth century recipes, anecdotes, and the Civil War

History Lover’s Cookbook will transport readers through the Battle of First Bull Run/Manassas to April 9, 1865, where General Robert E. Lee stood under an apple tree to dispatch his surrender to General Grant. Do you know what he was eating when he surrendered?

Prepare a picnic of lemonade, raspberry shrub, mint julep, fried chicken, ham sandwiches, potato salad with boiled dressing, cold slaw, soda biscuits and quince marmalade to observe one of the many Civil War re-enactments throughout the United States.

Enjoy eating tea cakes while viewing more than 150 full-color photos of replica Civil War items, re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln, Generals Custer, Lee and Grant, foods and recipes inspired by the nineteenth century.

Share in the Union’s Thanksgiving holiday by preparing recipes from the chapter, Siege at Petersburg.

Find out what General Grant ate every morning with his breakfast.

Roxe Anne Peacock brings the nineteenth century and Civil War era to life through the wonderful photography depicted throughout the book.

Thoughts
This book interested me at first because I wanted to see what kinds of recipes people made in the nineteeth century. The book has so many that I’d like to try, most of them sound really good. Some were a little more complex than others, but all seem to be easily do-able.

In school I loved history class, but it’s been so many years since I was in school, and I haven’t been interested in reading about history since, so I really thought that part of the book would be somewhat boring to me. Man, was I wrong! What kept me interested far more than I would have imagined was the history and miscellaneous info. I was so engrossed while listening to those sections that it surprised me. I learned things about different battles, I loved learning that Custer went to West Point. For some reason that fact really surprised me.

Did you know that in the U.S., blackberries usually peak during June in the South and July in the north. I didn’t. I thought they peaked during the same month. I also learned that the medicinal plants have been used to treat a variety of ailments like dysentery, sore throat, gout, venomous snake bites and other illnesses. Another thing that I found very interesting was that coffee was scarce so some popular substitutes were roasted acorns, okra that were browned, dried sweat potatoes and carrots, wheat berries, barley, beans, beats, bran, cornmeal, cotton seeds, dandelions, peas, persimmons, rice, rye sorghum molasses, and watermelon seeds. Wow, I’d like to know how those substitues compared to the real thing.

I learned that Hardtack was a simple cracker or biscuit made only from flour and water. The only hardtack I’ve ever heard of was a hardtack candy.

There were notes and tidbits included throughout to give a little more interesting information on something that had been covered.

Since I listened to the audible.com version, I’m glad I also had the had the ebook version so that I could see the photos. There were many of them…food, items they used back then, battle re-enactments etc.

Also included in the ebook version was a Measurements & Substitutions Coversions. A few examples are:
1 jigger = 3 tablesoons
1 pony = 2 tablesppons
1 small pinch = 1/16 teaspoon
Indian meal = cornmeal
Gem = muffin or cupcake

The audio was narrated by Dave Wright and I thought he did an excellent job! His voice was smooth and calming. He talked at a pace that was slow enough for you to hear every word clearly, but not slow enough that you got impatient listening to him.

Roxe Anne Peacock did an execellent job with this book, you can tell she put a lot of time into research.

I love love love this book and would recommend it to anyone, whether they’re a history lover or cookbook lover, or both!

This is one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read and know I’ll be going back to it over and over.

Here is the first recipe I want to try:
Potato Salad
10 large red potatoes (8 cups cooked)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Boiled Salad Dressing (recipe below)

Wash the potatoes in cold water; drain.
Place then in a large stockpot with enough cold water to cover them.
Cook the potatoes on medium heat until fork tender but before the skins burst.
Cool the potatoes by running cold water over them in a colander.
Peel the slightly cooled skins off the potatoes.
Dice the cooked potatoes into one-half inch cubes.
Place the chopped onions into the bottom of a large bowl.
Put the diced potatoes on thop of the onions.
Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups prepared Boiled Salad Dreesing to the potato salad.
Mix well to incorporate.
Serve immediately or refridgerate.
Best if eaten the same day.

Boiled Salad Dressing
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

Whisk the vinegar, water, sugar, dry mustard, salt and peppers in a medium saucepan until smooth.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer; whisking continuously.
Add the heavy cream and unsalted butter; continue whisking until the butter has melted.
In a large bowl, have ready 4 slightly beaten egg yolks.
Slowly stir in small amounts of the hot vinegar until it is incorporated into the egg yolks.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Heat the mixture on medium-low and continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Do not boil.
Transfer the Boiled Salad Dressing to a large bowl and cool uncovered until the dressing is room temperature.
Refrigerate covered if you are not incorporating the dressing into a recipe immediately.

This dressing is great for potato salad, chicken salad, lettuce salads and cold slaw.

Note: The common size of an egg in the nineteenth century was medium; now it is large

Tidbit: In the nineteenth century, recipes were known as receipts.

Weekend Cooking

Jun 072014
 

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Can You Hear The Music? by Sandra Farris

Narrated by Steven Cooper
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 7 hours and 57 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Sandra G. Farris
Audible.com Release Date: July 2, 2013
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B00DR0AK5K

The year 1919 ended in tragedy for young Corey James. Her life is shattered when a car crash kills her beloved parents and she is forced to live with relatives she has never seen before. Her aunt is verbally and physically abusive until Corey has no recourse but to run away. Disguised as a boy and, with the help of an old hobo, she begins a journey that takes her on a series of adventures, both perilous and heartwarming. As they ride the rails together, Andy Curruthers helps restore Corey’s self-esteem, teaches her about life, and helps form the woman she becomes.

Thoughts
I fell in love with Corey right from the start. She went through so much in her short life. First she looses both parents and then was abused by the people who were supposed to care for her. Finally she’d had enough and ran away. And nothing was going to stop her. I loved Corey’s spunk and determination. Once she set her mind to do something, she’d let little interfere with it getting it done.

This is a wonderful book about her journey to freedom and the people she met along the way. It’s sad, it’s uplifting, it’s a whole lot of emotion packed in a great story, and boy were there lots of interesting characters! And I loved that she took her dog Muffin with her. I wouldn’t have left my dog either.

Sandra Farris did an amazing job writing this book. She also did a great job of choosing a narrator. Steven Cooper did a great job with all the voices.

I would recommend this audio book to anyone, no matter if you’re male or female, young or old(er).

Apr 052014
 

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Maisy And The Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum
Narrated by Reba Buhr
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Elizabeth Woodrum
Audible.com Release Date: November 6, 2013
Language: English
ASIN: B00GHA4SUK

Dive into Maisy’s world of mystery and lollipops!

Maisy Sawyer is not your average fourth grade student. She is a detective with a special skill for solving mysteries. She loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. When a thief known as The Black Boot steals the school’s mascots and her lollipops, Maisy sets out to solve the case. Can she help return the mice to their home in the science lab? Will she ever see her beloved lollipops again? Find out in the first book in The Maisy Files series.

Thoughts
This is such a fun book. Even though it’s a book for children, I think it’s perfect for adults who want a quick fun read. I loved it.

The story starts off interesting and stays that way till the end. It even has some laugh out loud moments. Maisey is such a great character. She’s smart, has good intuition and is a great detective. I was wondering how she’d ever find out who stole the mice and her lollipops since there were so little clues, but being the awesome detective she is, she did figure it out. I also liked the other characters. They were all cute as could be. I love that Maisey thought her 11 pound dog Reesie was a fierce protector.

I listened to this on my iPod and Reba Buhr was the narrater. She did a wonderful job. She gave each character their own specific voice and it was a pleasure to listen to. And that’s saying a lot from me because I’m hard to please when it comes to narration.

I would recommend this book, and especially the audio version, to anyone young or old(er). I can’t wait for volumn 2 of The Maisy Files!

 

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Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children’s books. If you’d like to share a post related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please visit Booking Mama.

Mar 112014
 

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Bones In Her Pocket by Kathy Reichs
Series: Temperance Brennan
Audio CD
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (December 3, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442369167
ISBN-13: 978-1442369160

When a fly-covered canvas bag floats to the surface of North Carolina’s Mountain Island Lake, forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is called to the scene. Animal remains? Or could this be related to bone fragments from a human male found nearby?

To Tempe’s surprise, the decomposed body indicates the person was a female young adult. The profile fits the description of a missing graduate student named Edith Blankenship. Was Blankenship murdered? If so, why?

Blankenship’s body turned up on an artist colony where an eco-radical named Herman Blount has been squatting. Blount has posted online rants threatening to blow up a power station he says is polluting the area. Is Blount capable of violence?

Blankenship was a loner, but she proved a dedicated advocate for birds at UNC–Charlotte and the Carolina Raptor Center. Did Blankenship’s passion lead her into danger? Alongside Detective “Skinny” Slidell, Tempe puts life on hold until she discovers the truth behind Blankenship’s death. But Tempe’s own passion for crime solving will lead her into danger of her own.

Bones in Her Pocket is an exhilarating new installment in the Temperance Brennan series.

Thoughts
I don’t watch the tv series Bones, so I didn’t start this knowing anything about it. I loved the story line, but did have a hard time hearing about the puppies. I also felt the story could have been stretched out a little longer so that you wouldn’t find out what was going on so quickly. The characters were very well developed for such a short book and I thought Linda Emond did a great job of narrating.

This was a short one, only a few hours, but it was interesting and well worth the time I spent listening to it.