May 292020
 

Break Shot: My First 21 Years by James Taylor

Narrated by: James Taylor
Length: 1 hr and 33 mins
Performance
Release date: 01-31-20
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Original

“I’m James Taylor and I’m a professional autobiographer,” says the celebrated folk singer at the start of this tender audio memoir. Through decades of music by one of the best-selling musicians of all time, who created classics like “Fire and Rain” and “Carolina in My Mind,” James Taylor has doled out his history in the poetry of his work. Taylor says his early life is, “the source of many of my songs,” and Break Shot is a tour of his first 21 years in rich, new detail. Praised by Forbes magazine as going “beyond the spoken word,” Break Shot combines storytelling, music and performance to create a one-of-a-kind listening experience. Longtime fans will savor a crop of musical gems, including an unreleased recording of the beloved hymn “Jerusalem,” selections from his newest release American Standard, as well as new original scoring by Taylor specially recorded for Break Shot and more from the Grammy Award-winning artist.

Recorded in his home studio, The Barn in western Massachusetts, Taylor tells the deeply personal story of his youth, which is entwined with the story of his family. What started as an idyllic tight unit soon became a family sent to different emotional corners—like a break shot in the game of pool, he says, when you slam the cue ball into the fifteen other balls and they all go flying off. By the time Taylor released his breakout second album in 1970, Sweet Baby James, he had seen the disintegration of his parents’ marriage and his family crumble in the aftermath. He had committed himself twice to a psychiatric hospital, battled depression, a heroin addiction, suffered a relapse, and traveled far away from the wood smoke and moonshine of the North Carolina landscapes in which he came of age. Despite it all, he was also on the cusp of superstardom and on his way to bringing light and joy to millions. He was 21.

Journey with James Taylor to a time before he became a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts—and a beloved voice to millions.

Thoughts
I’ve always liked James Taylor’s songs. They are very mellow and calming. I knew nothing about him other than his music so when I saw this Audible Original I knew I wanted to listen to it.

A few things I learned were… he came from a well to do family, he wasn’t as squeaky clean as I thought he was, he had 3 brothers and a sister and that many of  Taylor family members suffered from alcoholism and depression.

This was a short book at just over an hour and a half, but it was packed with information and I was glued to the story.

Taylor narrated the book himself and did a good job.

I think fans and non fans of James Taylor will enjoy this.

May 072020
 

Feels Like Falling audiobook cover art

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Narrated by: Kelsey Navarro, Amanda Ronconi
Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 04-28-20
Language: English
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy. Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her extremist husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger, Diana Harrington, fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a worn-out Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience. With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn. But when her first love returns, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans — and for a new generation of readers.

Thoughts
This is my first book by this author, and I loved it. I loved the friendships between Gray, Diana, and Marcy and how the three women had such a solid bond. Gray and Marcy were friends for years, then Gray and Diana meet at the perfect time, in a not so perfect way. All three women ended up being more like sisters and I loved that! I’ve had a friend like that since I was young and so I connected with them right away.

Then Gray’s sister Quinn is introduced. I absolutely loved Gray, Marcy and Diana. But to me, Quinn was the most interesting character, even though she had the least amount of time in the book. I loved how she grew as a person and sister.

The men in the book were great characters too although it took a very long time for me to change my mind about Greg.

I also enjoyed learning about the relationship between Diana and her brother. Very touching! But Diana and Frank’s relationship? Now that was an amazing story inside of an amazing story!

I loved the descriptions of  Cape Carolina! It sounds like my kind of place.

The narration was perfect. Both Kelsey Navarro and Amanda Ronconi did an excellent job.

This was a book that I didn’t want to end. I can’t recommend it enough!

Apr 302020
 

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane audiobook cover art

The Lonely Heart Of Maybell Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy

By: Kate O’Shaughnessy
Narrated by: Catherine Taber
Length: 6 hrs and 35 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 03-03-20
Language: English
Publisher: Listening Library

This sparkling middle-grade debut is a classic-in-the-making!

Maybelle Lane is looking for her father, but on the road to Nashville she finds so much more: courage, brains, heart – and true friends.

Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane collects sounds. She records the Louisiana crickets chirping, Momma strumming her guitar, their broken trailer door squeaking. But the crown jewel of her collection is a sound she didn’t collect herself: an old recording of her daddy’s warm-sunshine laugh, saved on an old phone’s voicemail. It’s the only thing she has of his, and the only thing she knows about him.

Until the day she hears that laugh – his laugh – pouring out of the car radio. Going against Momma’s wishes, Maybelle starts listening to her radio DJ daddy’s new show, drinking in every word like a plant leaning toward the sun. When he announces he’ll be the judge of a singing contest in Nashville, she signs up. What better way to meet than to stand before him and sing with all her heart?

But the road to Nashville is bumpy. Her starch-stiff neighbor Mrs. Boggs offers to drive her in her RV. And a bully of a boy from the trailer park hitches a ride, too. These are not the people May would have chosen to help her, but it turns out they’re searching for things as well. And the journey will mold them into the best kind of family – the kind you choose for yourself.

Includes an original song introduced by the author.

Thoughts
I can’t emphasize how much I loved this book! I loved Maybelle (May), her friend Tommy, teacher Mrs. Boggs (Alice), and May’s mom Gemma! They were all interesting characters and I connected with each of them at some point in the book. I fell in love with poor Pickles, the badly mistreated, disabled dog that they ended up stealing so that he could be loved and taken care of the way he should be.

I loved that May recorded sounds! I take a lot of photos but think collecting sounds is a great way to hang on to great memories too and wish I had thought of that years ago. I may just buy me a recorder! I loved that May had the courage to do something that she was terrified of doing!

I loved that the book took place during a road trip in an RV! I love road trips and would love to go on one in an RV again!

This book is packed full of non stop adventure that made the listening time speed by. I’m really surprised so much happened in a 6 1/2 hour long book because it didn’t seemed rushed at all.

There was a nice mix of happy and sad, and May seemed older than her 11 years in her reactions to the bad that happened, and so did Tommy.

The relationships between May, Tommy, and Mrs. Boggs (Alice) grew over the time they spent together and I was glad when May realized Tommy wasn’t the bully she thought he was,  and when Mrs. Boggs started loosening up.

This book will be in my top favorites for this year! I ‘d love for there to be a sequel!

This book was the first I’ve read by this author, and it definitely makes me want to read more by her.

Catherine Taber did a great job with the narration!

Apr 282020
 

Our Harlem: Seven Days of Cooking, Music and Soul at the Red Rooster by Marcus Samuelsson

Narrated by: Marcus Samuelsson
Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
Original Recording Audiobook
Release date: 06-27-19

To hear Ethiopian and Swedish chef, TV personality, and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson cook with special guests at the Red Rooster restaurant is to make an audio pilgrimage to Harlem. Listeners will get to know the iconic neighborhood, Marcus’s home, through its food, its history, and—most importantly—its people. Special guests join Marcus each day of the week to cook, to laugh, and to share their stories, including Melba Wilson, Jelani Cobb, Bevy Smith, and Kevin Young, to name a few. Our Harlem transports listeners to the hub of African American culture.

Join us when Marcus recreates the short ribs he made at the Red Rooster for President Obama’s fundraiser there, and when author Jelani Cobb discusses the lasting significance of the first African American President. Listen to Marcus explore the African and Southern roots of his favorite ingredients with food historian Jessica Harris, and make fried chicken with Harlem’s very own Charles Gabriel. And venture out in El Barrio to La Marqueta with Marcus and Harlem native Aurora Flores.

Writers Isabel Wilkerson and Nicholas Lemann ponder the Great Migration, and how it brought Southern food (think shrimp and grits), new voters, and amazing creative talent to Harlem. Dapper Dan, legendary taste-maker, opines about Harlem style. And musicians who play at Ginny’s, Red Rooster’s supper club, provide the rhythms that pulse through the neighborhood—from El Barrio Night’s Latin beats to Sunday’s teenage gospel choir.

A PDF of the recipes from The Red Rooster Cookbook that are featured in Our Harlem and reimagined in this audio can be found here.

Thoughts
I’ve been a fan of Marcus Samuelsson for a long time so I was very happy to see this audio and to learn it also had a PDF of the recipes.

The audio is narrated by Marcus and includes a variety of  guests. It was fun to listen to their conversations and discover what foods they loved, and I loved learning so many interesting facts about Harlem. Their banter was friendly and funny and made the time go by quickly.

I’ve never heard of or tried some of the spices/foods they mentioned and that was another nice thing about the book. It opened my eyes to new things and now I have a few new to me spices, cheese etc. on my list to try.

I really liked this audio and think any foodie or Marcus lover will too.

My only complaint is that sometimes the background music was too loud.

Here is one of the recipes I want to try when it’s safe to go to the store and pick up the ingredients myself. Every time I order groceries online they make substitutions if they’re out of the item I want,  and I want to make this with the exact items listed.

PEANUT-BACON PORK CHOPS

FOR THE PEANUT-BACON SAUCE
½ pound bacon, chopped
½ cup roasted peanuts
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup juice from Pickled Cucumbers
and Radishes or pickled gherkins,
plus 1 tablespoon chopped pickled
cucumber or pickled gherkins
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the bacon and peanuts in a skillet over medium heat until
the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. Use a
slotted spoon to transfer the bacon and peanuts to a bowl. Pour off
all but about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Add the shallots,
garlic, and mustard seeds and cook, stirring, until the shallots have
softened, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the wine and bring it to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the
brown stuff in the skillet. Add the chicken broth, pickle juice, and
thyme and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to mediumlow and cook at a simmer until reduced by two thirds, about 25
minutes. Stir in the chopped pickle, peanut butter, butter, and the
bacon and peanuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep Warm

FOR THE PORK CHOPS
Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Jerk Sauce
4 (12-ounce) center-cut pork
chops (1 ½ inches thick)

While working on the sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with
the jerk sauce. Rub over both sides of the pork chops.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a cast-iron skillet over
medium heat. Add the pork chops and cook until they reach an
internal temperature of 140°F, 6 to 7 minutes per side.

3. Let the chops rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before serving
with the sauce.

 

Apr 132020
 

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told to Me) Story

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb

Bess Kalb, Emmy-nominated TV writer and New Yorker contributor, saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force–irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then, at ninety, Bobby died. But in this debut memoir, Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life.

Recounting both family lore and family secrets, Bobby brings us four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them. There’s Bobby’s mother, who traveled solo from Belarus to America in the 1880s to escape the pogroms, and Bess’s mother, a 1970s rebel who always fought against convention. Then there’s Bess, who grew up in New York and entered the rough-and-tumble world of L.A. television. Her grandma Bobby was with her all the way–she was the light of Bess’s childhood and her fiercest supporter, giving Bess unequivocal love, even if sometimes of the toughest kind.

In Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, Bobby reminds Bess of the experiences they shared, and she delivers–in phone calls, texts, and unforgettable heart-to-hearts brought vividly to the page–her signature wisdom:

If the earth is cracking behind you, you put one foot in front of the other.
Never. Buy. Fake. Anything.
I swear on your life every word of this is true.

With humor and poignancy, Bess Kalb gives us proof of the special bond that can skip a generation and endure beyond death. This book is a feat of extraordinary ventriloquism and imagination by a remarkably talented writer.

Thoughts
This was a touching, emotional, funny book! I loved the relationship between Bess and her Grandma Bobbie. I don’t remember either of my grandmothers, they died when I was really young, but this is what I hope my relationship with them would have been like!

The book is based on their talks, phone calls, and texts. It made me laugh out loud and made me tear up, but mainly it made me miss my grandmothers even more than I always have.

The book is rated 4.8. Both women and men have rated this book 5★.  A lot of them read it in one sitting.

I think you should read it.

Apr 022020
 

With the Fire on High audiobook cover art

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Narrated by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-07-19
Language: English
Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Thoughts
I loved the story, the characters, the food, and flow of this book. Emoni had a lot to deal with in her life, but she was level headed, knew what she wanted, and trudged ahead to make sure she reached her goals so that she could give her daughter “Baby Girl” everything she needed. I loved the relationship between her and her abuela. Both of my grandmothers passed away when I was really young and I don’t remember them, so those parts of the book were very touching to me.

I really enjoyed reading about the trip to Spain. I would have loved to have taken a trip like that when I was in school. The relationship with her boyfriend Malichi was just what it should have been, but now I’m wondering what happened to them after the book ended.

I loved how the family recipes connected Emoni, her abuela, and her aunt. The one thing I wish is that all of the recipes would have had ingredient amounts.

This is a great book and I recommend it to anyone who likes family/women relationships or culinary themed fiction books.

The author did a great job with the narration!

Here is one of the recipes in the book:
Part 3: The Bittersweet
Emoni, When The World Tries To Break You, Break Beer Bread With Those You Love
Serves Your Strength When You Feel Alone

Ingredients:
3 double scoops of flour
4 thumbs of white sugar
1/2 stick of melted butter
2 bottles of beer
a sprinkle of Sage
a sprinkle of Island Oregano

Directions:
1: Preheat oven to 400°
Mix all ingredients except herbs until it’s a smooth mixture
Mix Sage and Island Oregano into the batter

2:
Spread the mixture into a greased bread pan
Spread some more butter over the top

3:
Bake the bread for the entirety of Bad Bunny’s last album

Mar 112020
 

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho
Book 2
by Linda Weaver Clarke
Narrated by Carolyn Kashner

Length: 6 hrs and 33 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: March 26, 2018
Language: English
Publisher: Red Mountain Shadows Publishing

In this inspirational historical romance, Edith is a nurse and has gone home to assist her cousin who is “with child.” Edith has wonderful qualities but never gives a man a second chance because her expectations are so high. However, all that changes when a mysterious stranger starts writing to her. For the first time, she gets to know a man’s inner soul before making any harsh judgments.

Whoever he is, this man is a mystery and the best thing that has ever happened to her. The question that puzzles her is whether or not he’s as wonderful in person as he is in his letters.

Thoughts
This is the second book in the series, and this time we meet Edith, a nurse, who has gone back home to help with her cousin Melinda’s pregnancy and birth.  Melinda and her husband Gilbert are from book 1 in this series, as is Jenny, Gilbert’s daughter and Melinda’s step daughter.

I loved the first book so I thought I might like the rest of the books in the series. I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but I loved the first 2 books in the series, so I will be listening to the rest.

I loved the “secret admirer” aspect of the book and spent most of the book trying to figure out which man he was. There was one part that threw me off a bit but I kept reading and pretty much had figured it out by the time he was revealed, which didn’t take away from the book at all.

This book was a nice short read (listen) and I liked it from the beginning to the end. It had a bit of everything, friendships, first loves, humor, and even a few situations that were a bit tense.

As I said above, I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but this series is changing my mind.

Highly recommended whether you’re a fan of historical fiction or not.

Audiobook Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge Month-by-Month

Feb 282020
 

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Narrated by: Gary Sinise

Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 02-12-19
Language: English
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose – or so it seemed.

Within a few years, Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half-million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Thoughts
I’ve been a fan of Gary Sinise for a lot of years. I love his acting, how much he’s done for vets, his band (Lt. Dan Band),  and after listening to this book I like him even more.

The book is full of so many stories about his life from childhood through adulthood. I learned about things that he and his wife have gone through in their marriage and as parents, and so much more. He has led a very interesting life full of ups and downs, and if you read this you’ll find out what an amazing man, husband, and father he is. I knew quite a bit about what he’s done but this book is full of things that I had no clue about.

I loved this book and recommend it whether you are a fan of Gary’s or not.

Audiobook Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge Month-by-Month

Feb 132020
 

Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life

Forever and Ever, Amen:
A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life by Randy Travis
Ken Abraham – contributor

Narrated by: Rory Feek
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-14-19

Narrated by: Rory Feek
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-14-19

The long-awaited, deeply personal story of one of American music’s greatest icons, a remarkable tale of the utmost heights of fame and success, the deepest lows of life’s sorrows, and a miraculous return from the brink of death – told as only Randy Travis can.

Beloved around the world, Randy Travis has sold more than 25 million albums in both country and gospel genres and is considered one of the finest performers of his generation, admired by superstars across the musical landscape, from Garth Brooks to Mick Jagger.

From a working-class background in North Carolina to a job as a cook and club singer in Nashville to his “overnight success” with his smash 1986 album Storms of Life – which launched the neotraditional movement in country music – Randy’s first three decades are a true rags-to-riches story.

But in 2009, this seemingly charmed life began a downward spiral. His marriage dissolved, he discovered that his finances had unraveled, and his struggles with anger led to alcohol abuse, public embarrassment, and even police arrest in 2012.

Then, just as he was putting his life back together, Randy suffered a devastating viral cardiomyopathy that led to a massive stroke he was not expected to survive. Yet he not only survived but also learned to walk again and in 2016 accepted his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame by singing the hymn that explains his life today: “Amazing Grace.”

Filled with never-before-told stories, Forever and Ever, Amen is a riveting tale of unfathomable success, great joy, deep pain, and redemption that can come only from above.

Dive into Randy’s story with photos available in the audiobook companion PDF download.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Thoughts
I enjoyed this audiobook so much. I learned about Randy’s childhood, his teen years, how he got started in the music industry, and more. It was all very interesting.

I  really only listened to classic rock up until the time I met my husband in the late 80’s. He liked all genres of music so I got used to listening to a lot of different music. Soon I was a fan of many different country stars, including Randy Travis.

There were parts of this book that were funny, but also a lot of sad things.  I learned so much about his life, and I’m sure there are many people who would learn a lot about him too.

I liked hearing about his career and the people he met, many famous names! I was sad to learn that his first manager/wife (Lib) controlled almost everything in his life, including who he spent his spare time with and his finances, and that she took so much from him. I liked her in the beginning of the book but then her true colors came out. I don’t think she was/is a person any of us would want to have in our lives. Read/listen to the book and I think you’ll agree.

Randy’s life was filled with super highs and super lows, and it breaks my heart to learn that Lib took such advantage of him. It was implied in the book that she was the one who took almost every penny he ever made, and I couldn’t think of anyone else who would have done it since the book stated she was the one person in control of everything. She also took most all of his belongings without his knowledge when she left because of their divorce. Thankfully, he found happiness with his second wife Mary.

He was always a trusting, kind person, and he has been taken advantage of, and that is so sad to me. Randy is a Christian, who has done un-Christian like things, which is true of a lot of Christians. But I’m glad that both his faith and wife Mary got him through the massive stroke and coma that almost took his life.

This was read by Rory Feek and he did a great job!

Audiobook Challenge

Nonfiction Challenge: Memoir

Jan 312020
 

Recipe for a Perfect Wife audiobook cover art

Recipe For A Perfect Housewife by Karma Brown

Narrated by: Jorjeana Marie, Mozhan Marnò
Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-31-19
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Audio

When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home’s basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner – 1950’s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages, Nellie left clues about her life – including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.

Soon, Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister – even dangerous – side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.

Thoughts
WOW… but first let me say I LOVED this book!
I loved that it took place in the 1950’s and again in the 2000’s.
I loved that the two stories took place in the same house.
I loved that Nellie’s story influenced what happened in Alice’s story.
I loved all the 1950’s recipes.
I loved that the recipe book was Nellie’s mother, then Nellie’s, and then Alice’s.
I loved the ending!

This book was a bit scary/freaky, it was part love story & part out of love story, a few of the characters were manipulative, but they were all a great addition to the story. The pace was steady and it kept me interested. I didn’t want to stop listening so I could find out what was going to happen next.

I’ve read some reviews where people didn’t like one of the story lines, but I thought both were very good. The author did a great job of linking them together, and the narrators did a great job!

This was my first book by this author but I plan on reading more from her.

Some of the recipes in the book had “special” ingredients like rose petals etc., but I decided to make the  Tuna Casserole. My mom made this when I was growing up and I made it when my kids were growing up, but we used noodles too. We never used potato chips.

Chapter 24
Nellie

July 30, 1956

Tuna Casserole
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2- 7 oz. cans tuna, drained
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
2 cups cooked peas
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup crushed potato chips

In a casserole dish blend mushroom soup and milk
Stir in tuna, sliced eggs, cooked peas, salt, & pepper
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes
Top with potato chips and bake 5 minutes longer

Foodies Read

Audiobook 

Weekend Cooking

Jan 152020
 

It’s Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 3 hours and 5 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Original recording
Publisher: Audible Original
Audible.com Release Date: August 1, 2019
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07TXLSL83

Close your eyes and get ready to see the world in a new and more positive way. As a child in Toronto, Molly Burke was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and became completely sightless as a teenager. Now an award-winning YouTube star and global Influencer, Molly shares what it’s like to be a purple-haired, pink-obsessed fashion and makeup lover in a seeing world. She speaks with authenticity and candor about how she tackles the preconceived notions we have around blindness; Molly has made it her mission to make us see her – and ourselves- in a wholly empowering way. Learn about her struggles with bullying and anxiety, her quest for inclusivity, how she built a successful Influencer business (with more than 1.8 million followers), and what it’s really like to travel with the true star of this audio, her service dog, Gallop.

Thoughts
I had never heard of Molly Burke before seeing this Audible Original. After listening to it I subscribed to her YouTube channel.

Molly tells us what it was like loosing her site from a young age and up to the time she wrote the book. I learned alot about what it would be like to loose your site slowly, after years of being able to see. She is brutaly honest about many things, and talks about her fears, accomplishments, family, friends and what it was like to be bullied for being blind. That part upset me a lot. Bullying is just plan wrong in any circumstance, but especially so when the person is disabled in any way.

I really enjoyed listening to Molly talk about her service dogs, her love for them was evident in her voice. She talked about how people can make it so hard for someone who depends on a service dog, and what is ok and not ok to do when you see someone with a service dog.

I enjoyed listening to this audiobook, the author did a great job with the narration. I would recommend it to everyone.

2020 Diversity Challenge

2020 Non-Fiction Challenge: Medical Issue

2020 Audiobook Challenge

Jan 092020
 

Regretting You audiobook cover art

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Narrated by: Tanya Eby, Lauren Ezzo
Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-10-19
Language: English
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

Thoughts
This book had my feelings all over the place. At first I was thinking “this book is so good! I love Morgan, Chris, Jenny, Jonah and Clara”. Then I was thinking “Morgan and Clara are so aggravating. What in the world is wrong with them?”

Then slowly, things happened that made me like them again. And I loved Johna, Miller and his gramps all the way through the book.

This is a book that took me on a roller coaster of feelings. I laughed with them, cried with them, and felt their pain. And in the end I loved them again.

The two narrators did a great job!

This is the first book I’ve read by Hoover, but I plan on reading more from her. This book was outstanding!

2020 Reading Challenge Month-by-Month

2020 Audiobook Challenge

 

Oct 052019
 

The Lido by Libby Page

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 9 hours and 18 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: July 10, 2018

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her 86-year-old subject – and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a 26-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an 86-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history – with the help of a charming photographer – she pieces together a portrait of the pool and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations – an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

Thoughts
I’ve had this book on my list for a while. I don’t know why it took me so long to get to it but I’m so glad I decided to move it to the top of my list.

I loved Rosemary! She is 86 and a widow who swims at the Lido every day and has been going there since it opened when she was a child. I loved learning about her life and her love for her husband George and their life together, and her love for the Lido.

Kate was a great character also. She is 26-year-old, works for a newspaper and suffers from anxiety, but with the help of Rosemary, the Lido,  and a man she starts having a relationship with (can’t remember his name), she finally starts living a “normal” life.

Together these two women, with the help of the community, set out to stop the Lido from being demolished and turned into an apartment complex.

This is a fantastic book that will be going on my “favorite” list for this year. The characters were full of love for their community, each other, and doing whatever it took to save the Lido. It was an awesome story that will stay with me for a very long time and I have a feeling I’ll be listening, or reading, it again.

This is the first book by Libby Page . I will be keeping an eye out for her next book, The 24-Hour Café which is scheduled to be released January 23rd in the UK, and hopefully soon after in the U.S.

Sep 252019
 

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Narrated by Christopher Welch

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 6 hours and 56 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: May 13, 2008

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition. He sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side.

Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.

Thoughts
Anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs. I really can’t believe I missed this book when it was released, or since.

I absolutely loved Enzo and Denny! I loved that Enzo could understand what humans were saying and that although he could talk in his head, he couldn’t make the words come out of his mouth.

The story starts when Enzo is just a puppy and follows him throughout his life. The bond between him and Denny was so touching, and later when Eve and Zoe came along the relationships with them were too.

Enzo only wants the best for his people and does everything he can to help them. His favorite thing other than eating of course is speeding along the track with Denny.

I don’t want to give much away, but Enzo knows things that he wishes he could tell them, and he does what he can to protect them when they need it.

There was one part of the book when things looked very sad/bad for Denny, but with the light bulb moment of  someone also trying to help Denny, Enzo saves the day. That part was amazing, and I wish it was an actual thing.

This book sent me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, I had all the feels listening to this.

I didn’t see the movie when it came out because I wanted to read the book first, but now I need to find a copy!

If you haven’t read this yet, just do it! I’m sorry I waited so long.

Aug 072019
 

Summer of '69

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Narrated by Erin Bennett

Audio CD
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (June 18, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1549119370
ISBN-13: 978-1549119378

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket. But like so much else in America, nothing is the same: Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests and determined to be independent, takes a summer job on Martha’s Vineyard. Only-son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother and her worried mother, each of them hiding a troubling secret. As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie and her family experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country.

In her first historical novel, rich with the details of an era that shaped both a nation and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again earns her title as queen of the summer novel.

Thoughts
I loved everything about this book. It takes place in Nantucket and a lot of it is centered at the beach. I loved most of the characters but there were two that I wanted to shake from time to time.

The book is about a family who gets along really well. Even though they all love Grandmother Exalta, she is known for putting a damper on things.

I loved how they genuinely cared for each other and the book brought back a lot of emotions from my own childhood.  Jessie and Tiger reminded me of me and my twin brother. We were 11 yrs. old in ’69 and we got along really good from the time we were infants. Another thing that was similar was that Rick went into the Marines not long after high school. We had 3 older sisters and this book took me back in time to many good memories of growing up with my sisters and brother.

The book has a lot of references to 1969 like Woodstock, the moon landing, the Vietnam war, and the incident at Chappaquiddick in which Ted Kennedy’s car went over the the side of the  bridge  and 28 yr. old Mary Jo Kopechne died. I remember all of those things.

This book made me feel all kinds of emotions. I was engrossed in it from the beginning to the end and was sorry when it was over. I wanted more.

Hilerbrand did a great job with this book, especially since it was her first historical fiction. I listened to the audio cd version of the book and really enjoyed the narration.  Erin Bennett has a voice that is very easy to listen to.

I highly recommed this book!

Jul 112019
 

Have You Seen Luis Velez?

Have You Seen Luis Valez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narrated by Michael Crouch

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 11 hours and 30 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: May 21, 2019

Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to.

Thoughts
I know I say “I loved this book” a lot. I really do love books so it’s unusual for me to find a book that I don’t love. So for this book, I’ll say I triple loved it! It is a great story of a teenager with a heart of gold. He is everything a mother wishes for her child to be. He is like my children. They also are very caring people.

I loved listening to how the friendship between Raymond and Mildred came about and how it grew with time. They both added so much to each other’s lives and made them so much better! From the beginning I was hoping they would become close friends and “save” each other.

So much happened in this book and I couldn’t wait to get back to listening so I could find out what was going to happen next. I felt like I knew these people and was sad when the book ended. It touched me deeply and I know I’ll listen to it again. I’m hoping there is a “book 2” so I can find out what happened to everyone after the book ended.

I’ve loved every book by Catherine Ryan Hyde that I’ve read, but this one is on the top of my favorites. The narrator did a great job too!

This audiobook is free with Kindle Unlimited so why not give it a try? If you do, I hope you love it as much as I did.

I’d rate this a 10★ and it will definitely be on my most favorite books ever & my favorites list for 2019.

 

Jul 102019
 

Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer Holmes

Narrated by Becca Battoe

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 3 hours and 47 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Listening Library
Audible.com Release Date: May 11, 2010

Life isn’t like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple.

She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of ragtag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls will love.

Thoughts
The age range for this book is 8-12, but I think that’s off. I’m way older (way way way older) than 12 and I LOVED this book, as I think most people above 8 would.

It’s a cute book about a girl named Turtle who is sent to stay with an aunt and cousins whom she doesn’t really know, and how the summer unfolds. At first Turtle isn’t welcomed by her cousins, but they slowly accept her and they all become best friends.

It’s a really cute story and I enjoyed every minute of it. There are some very funny parts, but also some that are scary and/or sad. It’s only about 4 hours long so it’s a good choice for when you have a few free hours. I listened to it on my way to and from work.

The book is narrated by Becca Battoe who did an awesome job!

And yes, I would recommend it!

Jun 282019
 

Postcards From A Stranger by Imogen Clark

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 10 hours and 11 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: August 7, 2018
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07F94Q1YP

A secret lies buried at the heart of her family—but it can’t stay hidden forever.

When Cara stumbles across a stash of old postcards in the attic, their contents make her question everything she thought she knew.

The story she pieces together is confusing and unsettling, and appears to have been patched over with lies. But who can tell her the truth? With her father sinking into Alzheimer’s and her brother reluctant to help, it seems Cara will never find the answers to her questions. One thing is clear, though: someone knows more than they’re letting on.

Torn between loyalty to her family and dread of what she might find, Cara digs into the early years of her parents’ troubled marriage, hunting down long-lost relatives who might help unravel the mystery. But the picture that begins to emerge is not at all the one she’d expected—because as she soon discovers, lies have a habit of multiplying . . .

Thoughts
Cara is still living in her childhood home, taking care of her father who has Alzheimer’s. One day she goes into the attic, a room her father forbid her and her brother to ever go into. In a box she finds some postcards which shocks her to her core and she realizes that everything she thought she knew about her parents is a lie.

Later, she finds out that what she thought the postcards meant was not the truth at all and she is completely shocked all over again.

She goes on a mission (alone because her brother doesn’t want to help her) to find out the details of what happened and  is shocked a few more times.

I loved that the author added so many surprises! The book first made me feel so sorry for Cara, and then I felt very happy for her at the end.

Thie twists and turns in this book kept me listening as often as I could!

Jun 262019
 

I'm Fine and Neither Are You

I’m Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagan

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 2 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 1, 2019

Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career.

Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she comes up with a radical proposal for Sanjay: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty.

What seems like a smart idea quickly spirals out of control, revealing new rifts and even deeper secrets. As Penelope stares down the possible implosion of her marriage, she must ask herself: When it comes to love, is honesty really the best policy?

Thoughts
Even though the synopsis is a bit misleading, I liked this book from start to finish.

The relationships between the two woman and their husband shows that when it comes to your friends, what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears can be misleading.

The two couples have real problems and struggles and it surprised me when I found out what was going on with Jenny. I liked that Penelope decided to make changes to hopfully improve her marriage, and I thought the author did a great job with the whole story. I enjoyed this book and I really liked the ending. And the title? I LOVE it!

The book is narrated by Amy McFadden who did a great job.

May 232019
 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Philip Gabriel (Translator)
Ray Porter (Narrator)

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 4 hours and 23 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Audible.com Release Date: July 29, 2008
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B001DEWH9E

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon. Settings range from Tokyo, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a cornucopia of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of having seen his race times improve and then fall back.

Thoughts
This was the first book by this author that I’ve read and I’m so glad I decided to try it. It let me into his life and where his mind goes when he’s running. This was a short book at almost 4 1/2 hours, but it seems like a much longer audio (in a good way) because of all the information and descriptions that make you feel as if you are there with him. He travels to a few different places/races and I loved going with him to all of them.

I’m not a runner or a writer, but I loved this book. It lets you into the mindset of Murakami when he’s on a run or writing. It shows how dedicated to both he is. It made me feel like I could do more than I ever thought I could, if I just make up my mind, 100%, to do it.

I’m very glad I listened to. this book. I haven’t quite decided which of his books I’ll choose next, but I will choose one. I may even re-listen to this one in the future. It has a very positive message, with some humor thrown in.