Dec 312018
 

Hidden Secrets by Carolyn Brown
Narrated by Shannon McManus

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 6 hours and 44 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: January 9, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B01N9OOXCJ

Kim Brewster’s ill-fated marriage was annulled so quickly that she thought she could keep the whole thing a secret…until she found out she was pregnant. But before her confession can blow a hole in the seemingly perfect lives of the Brewster women, her great-grandmother, Hannah, drops a bomb of her own. She’s selling her hotel and moving to a farm in Oklahoma—and all the Brewsters are coming with her. Kim is sure her grandmother, Karen, and mother, Sue, won’t go along with the plan, but Hannah can be very convincing. Soon the women are working the farm, selling their wares from a roadside stand, and finally feeling like a family.

And as the Brewster women’s lives take shape in ways they never expected, Kim may have found another shot at love. Luke thought he’d washed his hands of women, but when he stops by the vegetable stand and meets Kim, he’s instantly smitten. To find love, though, they’ll both have to dig past their hidden secrets.

Thoughts
I love books about family, especially if it’s about the females in a family. This book had a great grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter.

The relationships of these women were good but grew as the book progressed. By the end their bond was as close as it could be and was unbreakable.

The story-line moved along at a good pace and there were a lot of surprises. The narration was very good, especially considering how many female voices there were.

This is a story about the bond women have through thick and thin, and how you can reach the happiness you desire no matter your age.

I loved this book!

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Dec 172018
 

The Nöel Diary

The Nöel Diary by Richard Paul Evans
Narrated by Richard Paul Evans

Audio CD
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (November 7, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1508238219
ISBN-13: 978-1508238218

In this new holiday-themed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Mistletoe Promise and The Walk, a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost twenty years—not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

Thoughts
I love Richard Paul Evans books and this is no exception. The author narrated and did a great job. I liked that he used his regular voice even for the females and just stated “Rachel (or whichever woman was talking) said”, etc. It was so much better than a male trying to speak in a female sounding voice, or vice versa. It rarely works well.

I enjoyed all the characters, even the ones who only showed up once or twice. Evans is a wonderful story teller! The book has an even flow and I never got bored or tired of listening to it.

This is book #1 in a three book series, of which #2 is also available now.

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook
Monthly Motif
2018 Christmas Spirit Challenge

Dec 102018
 

The Christmas Forest by Rebecca Boxall
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham, Henrietta Meire, & Nico Evers-Swindell

In this festive novella by the author of Christmas at the Vicarage, will Enid follow her heart or her head?

Since the tragic loss of her parents, Enid has lived alone in a coastal cottage in Jersey. But this year someone new has come into her life: Fred, who truly gets her, and who knows how to make her happy. The only problem is that Enid has Asperger’s and doesn’t like to leave her comfort zone – and Fred lives in Australia.

Like Enid, Fred has survived heartbreak and is searching for a way to start again. Could a stranger on the other side of the world really bring new meaning to his life, or is he just setting himself up for another fall?

When Fred invites Enid to Australia for Christmas, her vivacious sister Bess begs her to take a risk for the first time ever. But Enid’s whole life is structured around familiarity. As the festive season approaches, she has a decision to make: play it safe, or embark on a momentous journey into the unknown?

Thoughts
I enjoyed this book, it was a great story that kept my attention from the start. But, I really wouldn’t call this book a “festive novella” as the description states. Yes, it takes place around Christmas time but the only mention of Christmas is a few times when a Christmas play is mentioned (which is where the title comes from because the play is called The Christmas Forest, when Enid asks Fred to stay for Christmas, and buying or giving of a few Christmas presents.

Still, like I said, the story is good and I’m glad I read it. I just wish that it would have been more “Christmassy.

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook
2018 Christmas Spirit Challenge

Nov 292018
 

Raymie Nightingale by [DiCamillo, Kate]

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Narrated by Jenna Lamia

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 4 hours and 25 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Listening Library (Audio)
Audible.com Release Date: April 12, 2016

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship – and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Thoughts
This book is geared toward middle school readers but I enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me of being a child and the friends I had.

Raymie is a fun character who is loyal to her friends and whatever they want to do, or need her to do. Even if she’s afraid. The three girls go on a few adventures, get into some trouble, rescue a a few critters, and learn that no matter what hard blows life gives you, things will be eventually be ok.

This was a fun book that was very cute, often funny, and always entertaining. It’s a short one at only 4 1/2 hours, but a lot happens in that time.

I loved the narration and was glad I decided to listen instead of read. There were quite a few instances where hearing a voice made it so much better.

Would recommend this to anyone who loves to read, or listen 🙂

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Nov 262018
 

The Storyteller's Secret

The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani
Narrated by Siiri Scott

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 13 hours and 21 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 1, 2018

Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past.

Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation. Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.

Thoughts
I’m so glad I decided to read (listen) to this book! It was a Prime First Reads and none of them really grabbed me, but this book sounded different and I thought I’d enjoy it more than the others, so I choose it.

The story is about love, loss, family secrets, heartbreak, healing, and life changing friendships. It’s also about so much more.

The descriptions of India were so vivid that I could see myself there, and to me that makes a huge difference in a book, especially when it’s about a far away place that I’ve never been.

The writing was terrific, the story flowed smoothly, the narration was wonderful, the characters were interesting . I didn’t want to stop reading. This was a great story that grabbed my attention from the first paragraph and I thought it got better and better as it went on. There were a few times that the story made me gasp, either from shock or sadness.

I was satisfied with the way the book ended, but would also have liked it to keep going.

I definitely recommend this book. I loved it so much that I’ve already gotten a copy of her first book, Trail Of Broken Wings.

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook

Monthly Motif

Nov 192018
 

40396471

In Pieces by Sally Field
Narrated y Sally Field

Listening Length: 10 hours and 41 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 18, 2018

In this intimate, haunting literary memoir, an American icon tells her story for the first time and in her own gorgeous words about a challenging and lonely childhood, the craft that helped her find her voice, and a powerful emotional legacy that shaped her journey as a daughter and a mother.

One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades, beginning with her first television role at the age of seventeen. From Gidget’s sweet-faced girl next door to the dazzling complexity of Sybil to the Academy Award-worthy ferocity and depth of Norma Rae and Mary Todd Lincoln, Field has stunned audiences time and time again with her artistic range and emotional acuity. Yet there is one character who always remained hidden: the shy and anxious little girl within.

With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind the scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships-including, most importantly, her complicated love for her own mother.

Powerful and unforgettable, In Pieces is an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century.

Thoughts
I finished this book about 2 weeks ago and have been trying to decide whether to write a review or not because of what I thought of the book.

I’ve been a fan of Sally Field practically my whole life. I loved Gidget and The Flying Nun and then watched her in most everything else she ever starred in.

When she was on talk shows etc. she always seemed so happy and that’s what popped into my head every time I thought about her.

So… I was really looking forward to this book.  I knew that the book was going to be sad at times but thought it would also make me smile or laugh. It didn’t.  I stopped listening to it a few times because it was so depressing, and then I’d start it again hoping I’d get a teeny tiny bit of sunshine, but that didn’t happen.

As for the narration, for most of the book she sounded whiny. It wasn’t the voice I’ve heard all these years.

I’ll never think Sally Field is a happy person again, which is so very sad.

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction
Monthly Motif

Nov 072018
 

Our House by Louise Candlish
Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden, Elliot Hill
Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 08-07-18
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Audio

There’s nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it’s her house. And she didn’t sell it.

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared, and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

Thoughts
This is another 4⋆ for me. I can’t fathom what Fiona was going through. First there was the confusion of someone else moving into her house. Then there was the realization that her husband had all their belongings removed from the house and that HE actually sold it to the new owners. The book was one surprise after another with a lot of twists and shocking moments.

I had just resigned myself to everything that had happened and was thinking everything would be ok with Fiona, and then Bram’s last entry took me by surprise and shocked me so much my jaw dropped, and I knew it was not over for her. I’m really hoping there is a follow up book.

I loved that there was a woman and a man narrating the book. I’m not a huge fan of a woman trying to sound like a man or a man trying to sound like a woman. It made listening to the audio a lot more enjoyable. Both narrators did a great job.

I loved this book!

 

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook

 

Oct 242018
 

Whiskey in a Teacup

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
Narrated by Reese Witherspoon
Listening Length: 2 hours and 50 minutes
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: September 18, 201

Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.

Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids—not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair (in these pages, you will learn Reese’s fail-proof, only slightly insane hot-roller technique). Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favorite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.

It’s easy to bring a little bit of Reese’s world into your home, no matter where you live. After all, there’s a southern side to every place in the world, right?

Thoughts
I had seen this book posted about by a few bloggers and since I’ve been a Witherspoon fan for many years, I decided to get a copy.

I enjoyed getting to know Reese as she is in her personal life. She talks a lot about her grandmother Dorothea and the love she feels for her is apparent. She also talks some about her husband and kids, and it all was very interesting.

Reese tells us how she uses hot rollers for her hair, her family traditions, decorating for holidays, how she loves throwing parties, about food, and more, and I learned quite a few things about her.

Her narration is easy to listen to, and a few times she was very funny. I enjoyed listening to this book very much.

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction

Oct 222018
 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Listening Length: 12 hours and 12 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Audible.com Release Date: August 14, 2018

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Thoughts
I LOVED this audiobook!!! Kya was an amazing person as a child and I was so impressed with her survival skills. I don’t know if I could have managed as well as she did. I loved following her through her childhood into her teens and then into adulthood. The way the town felt about her had me shaking my head. Thankfully she had Jumpin’ and his wife to look after her.

Kia loved her marsh and learned as much about it as she could, which was pretty much everything.  I enjoyed learning about it too. I was surprised at how smart she was even though she had never gone to school. She just loved learning and became quite knowledgeable about her part of the world.

So many things happened in this book and I was glued to the story. The book was sometimes very sad, sometimes happy, shocked me a few times, and during part of the book I was trying to figure a few things out. Some I did, some I didn’t.

Loved the story
Loved the characters
Loved the dialect
Loved the narration

If you haven’t read/listened to this, why not? Another book that’s going on my “Best Of 2018” list!

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Oct 122018
 

Wish Me Home audiobook cover art

Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt
Narrated by Kate Rudd

Listening Length: 9 hours and 9 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: March 21, 2017

A hungry, stray dog is the last thing Cara Butter needs. Stranded in Georgia with only her backpack and a few dwindling dollars, she already has too much baggage. Like her twin sister, Hana, who has broken Cara’s heart one too many times. After a lifetime of family troubles, and bouncing from one foster home to another, Cara decides to leave it all behind and strike out alone—on foot.

Cara sets off to Florida to see the home of her literary hero, Ernest Hemingway, accompanied only by Hemi, the stray dog who proves to be the perfect travel companion. But the harrowing trip takes unexpected turns as strangers become friends who make her question everything, and Cara finds that as the journey unfolds, so does her life—in ways she could never imagine.

Thoughts
Cara and her twin Hana have had a rough life. After something terrible happens, she leaves Georgia for Key West with little money and just a backpack. Not far from home her car breaks down so she takes off on foot. She runs into a stray dog whose paws are hurt and decides to keep him with her to tend to his injuries and then find him a forever home. In the meantime, she decides she has to name him so she doesn’t have to call him “dog”. She decides on Hemi because she loves Hemingway.  She meets a few people who cause her some trouble, but also a few who take her in for a bit and show her that not everyone in the world is bad.

She finally makes it to Key West and that is where her life starts to change for the better.

This book was so good right from the start. The characters were interesting, the different situations Cara found herself in sounded real and the ending was great, but left a few things open. I’m hoping that means there is a book #2 on the way.

The narrator did a great job and made the book very easy to listen to. This is another book that will make it on my top 10 favorites this year.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Oct 042018
 

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Cast of Narrators:
N’Jameh Camara, as Haley
Jose Carrera, as Tiago
Dean Flanagan, as Ashton
Angel Romero, as Esteban
Toshi Widoff-Woodson, as Holly
Mikelle Wright-Matos, as Amari
and also featuring the author, Jacqueline Woodson, as Ms. Laverne

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Thoughts
A teacher, M. Laverne, tells six kids that they are to meet in a classroom once a week to talk. No adults and no subject is off limits, as long as they respect each other.

The kids, Esteban, Tiago, Holly, Amari, Ashton and Haley are a diverse group who don’t really know each other. Slowly they start to bond as they talk and learn about each other. Through discussions about losing someone you love, family members who are in prison, the idea someone could be deported, and death, they become very close and are surprised to find out their lives are very alike in some ways.

The title refers to the idea that we should harbor each other in times of need, and as the book progressed, these kids became a safe harbor for each other. TI love that they made a pact to meet back in that classroom in 20 years.

The book is narrated by multiple people including the author, all who did a great job.

I loved this book and think it should be required reading for elementary school.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Sep 242018
 

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

Narrated by LeVar Burton

Fred Rogers (1928-2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.

The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.

Thoughts
I loved this book. I learned so much about Fred Rogers that I didn’t know, from his childhood all the way to his death.

I always thought he was an amazing man, but after listening to the audiobook I know he was so much more. The book is very detailed and you will learn how he turned a simple idea into a mega hit.

He cared for everyone and wanted the best for them. Not just his friends & family. Everyone! He made each child feel special, that they mattered, and he truly cared for them.

Rogers was the same soft spoken & loving man in real life that he was on tv. He was an inspiration to many people, especially a huge number of children. The world is a sadder place without him in it.

The book is narrated by LeVar Burton who did a great job.

If you are a fan or not, I urge you to read or listen to this book.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction

Sep 072018
 

The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown
Narrated by Brittany Pressley

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: February 27, 2018

A bittersweet inheritance reunites three estranged sisters in a novel of family, trust, and forgiveness from New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown.

When they were growing up, Dana, Harper, and Tawny thought of themselves as “sometimes sisters.” They connected only during the summer month they’d all spend at their grandmother’s rustic lakeside resort in north Texas. But secrets started building, and ten years have passed since they’ve all been together-in fact, they’ve rarely spoken, and it broke their grandmother’s heart.

Now she’s gone, leaving Annie’s Place to her granddaughters-twelve cabins, a small house, a café, a convenience store, and a lot of family memories. It’s where Dana, Harper, and Tawny once shared so many good times. They’ve returned, sharing only hidden regrets, a guarded mistrust, and haunting guilt. But now, in this healing summer place, the secrets that once drove them apart could bring them back together-especially when they discover that their grandmother may have been hiding something, too…

To overcome the past and find future happiness, these “sometimes sisters” have one more chance to realize they are always family.

Thoughts
I’ve loved every book by this author that I’ve read and this is added to the list. I loved all the characters, especially Zed. He was such a good man and loving “uncle” to the girls.

I loved the lakeside resort  that had cabins, a small house, a café, a convenience store. I live at a lake when I was young and down the road there was a place that reminds me of this book.

The sisters haven’t always gotten along but they are all loyal to family and the more time the girls spend at Annie’s Place, the more they start to realize how much they love and need each other, and the healing begins.

This is a book that I couldn’t wait to get back to, and did as often as I could. It was a bit sad but also full of happy times and made me laugh here and there.

I really loved this book and so glad I listened to it. The narrator did a great job with the voices and each one was distinct.

I highly recommend this book.

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Aug 302018
 

The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Narrated by Julia Whelan

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

Thoughts
There are quite a few “what?” moments in this book that made me stop and think. There was one surprise that really shocked me and a few others along the way that kept me guessing as to what the truth was. I had Richard’s sister figured out quickly but Vanessa & Nelly and even Richard weren’t at all who I thought they were in the beginning.

Then there came the big surprise at the end that I did not see coming at all. It was huge but made perfect sense. It couldn’t have ended better!

The narrator did a great job with all the voices and I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version.

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Aug 172018
 

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Ginny Tapley Takemori – translator
Nancy Wu – Narrator

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 3 hours and 21 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Audible.com Release Date: June 12, 2018
Thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukara has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of a national convenience store chain Smile Mart, she realizes instantly that she has found her purpose in life. Delighted to be able to exist in a place where the rules of social interaction are crystal clear (many are laid out line by line in the stores manual), Keiko does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and mode of speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a normal person excellently, more or less. Keiko is the perfect employee, never late, always worrying about how to maximize sales, brilliantly conscientious and highly energetic. Managers come and go but Keiko remains at the store for eighteen years. Its almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy in her life, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, pressure her to settle down with a man and to find a proper profession. Eventually, she is pushed to make a huge change. The static world of Keiko is upended but will it be for the better? A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and an extraordinary world, Convenience Store Woman is both an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.

Thoughts
I first saw this book when Kathy posted her thoughts on it. It sounded different than anything I’ve ever read and she enjoyed it so I thought I’d give it a try.

I loved Keiko. She grew up knowing she was different than other people and felt like she didn’t fit in, even at a young age. When she graduated high school she started working at a convenience store and finally found her place in the world. The routine, order, & sounds of the store made her feel comfortable and capable.  She was the perfect convenience store worker.

The characters are fun to get to know, especially Shiraha, the man she meets at the store who is more of an outcast than she ever thought she was. He has a low opinion of just about everyone, especially women . But Keiko and Shiraha start a relationship of sorts, and that was when her family finally eased up on worrying about her. After all, she was almost 40 yrs. old and had never had a boyfriend. Things were not quite what they thought though.

It was fun learning that cashiers in Japan talk differently to their customers than cashiers in the U.S. One of the things they say is “Your receipt, sir. Thank you for your custom!”. I also liked learning that they greet customers by saying “Irasshaimase”, which means “welcome” or “come in”.

This is a really short read (or in my case, listen) and I definitely enjoyed it. It’s a great choice if you’re in the mood for something different or a quick read.

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Aug 092018
 

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Narrated by Stephanie Racine

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 9 hours and 27 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible.com Release Date: March 13, 2018

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

I’m in a coma.
My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from 20 years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller audiobook asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Thoughts
Oh. My. Goodness.

This book is told in 3 different time settings.
Now– when Amber wakes up in the hospital, not knowing how she ended up there. She can hear everything that’s being said & feel everything. She can feel on the inside and outside. She can feel when people touch her or when they administer a bag of medicine etc.
Then– the events leading up to her being admitted to the hospital.
Diary entries– from 1992 when she was a child.

I can’t imagine being in a coma. Hearing everything that’s being said but not being about to speak. She would scream at them, trying to make them hear her but they couldn’t. She was trapped inside her body, having no say in any conversation about her or what was being done to her.

I’ve only recently started reading mystery/thrillers again and the last few I’ve read (listened to) have been amazing. This is my favorite. Just when you think you have everything figured out, there’s another twist that shocks you again. There’s one twist/surprise after another and it kept me so engrossed that I would stay awake at night even when I had to work the next day. I literally couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Each twist was shocking. So much so that I had to put the book on pause so that I could think about what just happened. But there was one majorly huge twist where I had to stop for about 10 minutes and try to wrap my head around what I’d just heard. Even after I thought I got it all figured out, I was still in shock and kept thinking about it, trying to make sure I got it right.  It was  a big shock!

I’ve read some reviews of this book where people say it was too confusing and the ending didn’t make sense. I agree. But if you take the time like I did and try to decipher what happened, it makes so much sense. This is the most cleverly written book I’ve ever read.

This is the authors first book, which surprised me. You’d think she’s been writing for many years. If review sites had a 10 star rating, that’s what I’d give this book!

The book is narrated by Stephanie Racine who did a terrific job!

The author’s website says the book is soon to be a tv series. I sure hope it’s available in the U.S. !

I will definitely be getting a copies of her future books.

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Aug 082018
 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Listening Length: 3 hours and 55 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Listening Library
Audible.com Release Date: August 28, 2014
Language: English
ASIN: B00MI249D2

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Thoughts
I’ve wanted to read this book for a few years and since the August Monthly Motif book theme is “Award Winners”, I chose this book.

I was surprised to learn that the author was born in Columbus, Ohio which is where I grew up.  I was also surprised that the author could remember so much from her childhood, especially her younger years.

The book was very interesting and gave me a great picture of her family and her life growing up. I’m a big fan of family time in books and this book was full of that. I was happy to know that she accomplished what she wanted in her life as a child. Not many of us can say that.

This was a really short read but it was full of good memories and I enjoyed it a lot. I would definitely recommend it.

I enjoyed listening to the author’s narration. She did a great job!

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook
Non-Fiction
Monthly Motif

Aug 022018
 

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center

Narrated by: Therese Plummer

Listening Length: 10 hours and 36 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible.com Release Date: May 15, 2018

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment. In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity and who sees her like no one has seen her before.

Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

Thoughts
This is another book that will be going on my 2018 favorites list. I love the way the story is written, the way things unfold, and all of the characters.  I did end up wanting to tell one of the characters off a few times, but in the end everything worked out.

I loved the way Margaret handled what she was dealt. I loved that her parents were so supportive, I loved that her sister Kit decided to go back home and help Margaret through this tough time. And I loved Ian. He was gruff and all business without a sense of humor with his patients, but soon he softened up just a tiny bit and you could tell there was a good guy  in there hiding.

I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone. I will say this is a really good book and I couldn’t listen to it fast enough. There were a lot of ups and downs and some really funny parts and some really sad parts. The ending was fantastic!

The narrator did a great job with the voices, especially Ian’s.

So glad I listened to this!

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Jul 192018
 

Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narrated by: Laural Merlington
Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 06-19-18
Language: English
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

Thoughts
This is a feel good book although there are a few sad moments. It’s about an older women finding herself before it’s too late, like it was for her best friend Alice. Her journey leads her to a piece of heaven out in the country which is out of her comfort zone since she lived her whole life in NYC. She meets some wonderful people and a few not so wonderful people. Her son Lance finds her and tries to talk her into going back to her life in the city but she won’t do it. So they end up working together to find their way to the relationship they both want.

There are a few times this book made me laugh out loud.

I loved every minute of this book. The narrator did a great job with the voices. My favorite voice was the little girl named Willa. The narrator did such a great job with her voice. She sounded adorable!

This story has a great message: YOLO. Don’t spend your life thinking about what you want to do when you retire. Live your life NOW.

Another message is that family isn’t only the relatives you have, family can be the people you meet in your life that you choose, or choose you, as part of their family.

Love this author!

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Monthly Motif

 

Jun 292018
 

Half a Heart by Karen McQuestion
Narrated by Emily Durante

Listening Length: 7 hours and 41 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: March 13, 2018
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B079J5TKRG

From bestselling author Karen McQuestion comes a moving novel about broken hearts…and what it takes to put them back together again.

At nine years of age, Logan Weber knows the routine. Keep quiet, make the food last, and don’t ever cause trouble. He’ll do what it takes to evade the rages of his troubled, violent father. Even though he’s only a child, Logan already knows too much—has seen too much.

So when the opportunity presents itself, Logan runs. He has no idea where his journey will lead, or that the grandmother he’s been told is dead is desperately searching for him.

Alone with no home of his own, Logan looks for a safe place to hide. Relying on his instincts and the kindness of strangers, the boy manages to touch the lives of everyone he meets. But his innocent heart cannot survive in the adult world without the most basic human need of all: love.

Thoughts
This is the first time I’ve read this author, and I loved this book! It starts out with us learning that 9 yr. old Logan has a horrible home life. Something horrendous happened and because of the shock of it, he no longer talks. His father is very abusive and he really has no friends.

One day after an incident caused his father to again become enraged at him, Logan decides to run. What happens from there kept me glued to the story. One thing after another happened and lots of white knuckle moments.

The narrator did a good job with the voices, but Logan’s father’s voice grated on my nerves just a tiny bit. To be fair, I think it would be hard for any woman to do a man’s voice that sounded full of as much rage as Logan’s father had.

This is a very good book! I loved this story and it will stick with me for a long time. I also plan on reading more from this author.