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

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. !

She has a book coming out later this year titled Sometime I Kill. I will definitely be getting a copy.

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.

Jun 252018
 

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Narrated by Joan Walker

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 9 hours and 18 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: May 3, 2016
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B01D3AQO8U

From the bestselling author of the “charming debut” (People) A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.

But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.

As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.

Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?

Zany and full-of-heart, Britt-Marie Was Here is a novel about love and second chances, and about the unexpected friendships we make that teach us who we really are and the things we are capable of doing.

Thoughts
I first got to know Britt-Marie in Backman’s book My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. She and her granddaughter Elsa, were such great characters that I’ll ever forget them and they will definitely be among my all time favorites.

Oh how I love Britt-Marie. She is such a great character you have to understand. She’s a cleaning machine and a stickler for “proper” things like never sitting a cup on a table etc. without using a coaster.

Britt-Marie is 63 yrs. old and leaves her husband. She finds work in a little tiny ghost of a town named Borg and does things that she never thought in a million years she would do. The people grow to love her and she them. The characters are endearing, the story is both funny and sad, and is one I won’t soon forget.

The narrator also narrated A Man Called Ove & My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry.   She did an amazing job in all 3 books and made the stories come alive.

I loved this book and would recommend any of Fredrick Backman’s  books. I read Beartown and now can’t wait to read Us Against You (Beartown #2). If Backman can write a book about hockey and make me love it, he has to be an amazing author.

Jun 212018
 

The Upside of Falling Down

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane
Narrated by Alana Kerr Collins

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 7 hours and 47 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: January 30, 2018

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

Thoughts
I saw this book and thought it sounded really good, and the fact that it takes place in Ireland was a huge bonus!

This book starts out good and gets better with every chapter. I loved Clementine, or Jane as she was known in her new life, and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be in a foreign country and know nothing about who you were other than the facts that the hospital staff/news said, and the realization that you were the only survivor of a plane crash that your boyfriend had been on too.

I don’t know what I’d do in her situation, but I enjoyed reading about her journey, the friends she made and the way she handled things. Her new life was interesting and I loved all the characters. Well, I grew to love  Kieran’s sister, but her character was so quirky that I liked her from the beginning,  even if I didn’t like the way she treated Jane.

There were a few surprises that I figured out before the author lets you in on them, but it didn’t detract from the story one bit.  I loved the references to Ireland and the ending was really great.

This is a really good book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a feel good book with a bit of sadness/mystery, and anyone who loves reading books set in Ireland.

The narrator did a great job!

Jun 082018
 

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by Joan Walker

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 11 hours and 2 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: June 16, 2015

Thoughts
Elsa is seven years old going on 30. She’s “different”. The kids at school bully her so she has no friends there. Her grandmother is her best friend, she loves her deeply and spends most of her time with her. She loves Harry Potter and Wikipedia.

I couldn’t love Elsa and her grandmother more. I was literally laughing out loud listening to all the things they did and the conversations they had. I usually don’t like fairy tale-ish stories, but I liked hearing about The Land Of Almost Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. I liked the Monster & the Wurse? (not sure about the spelling because I listened to the audiobook).  All the characters were perfect for this book.

When Granny dies, she leaves Elsa with a bunch of letters that she wants her to deliver to a few people so she can tell them she’s sorry for things she did or said to them. Through these letters Elsa discovers things about her grandmother that she never knew. She also learns how the people who live in their building are connected. There was a surprise at the end that I wasn’t expecting.

This book had my attention from the first paragraph to the last.  So much went on and I loved every minute of it. I was sad when it ended.

I can’t wait to read Britt-Marie Was Here.

 

May 172018
 

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Narrated by: Holter Graham

Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 09-11-07
Language: English
Publisher: Hachette Audio

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Nicholas Sparks turns his unrivaled talents to a tale about love found and lost, and the choices we hope we’ll never have to make.

Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life – boating, swimming , and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies — he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door.

Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, THE CHOICE ultimately confronts us with the most heart-wrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

Thoughts
Here’s another one I forgot to review. I really need to stop this!

After seeing the movie (link to review) I knew I’d read the book but it took me a while. My only excuse is “so many books”. I decided to listen to the audio version of the book and I’m really glad I did. The narrator did a great job.

Like the movie, the book made me laugh, cry, and feel a lot of other emotions. Of course the book was a little different than the movie, but pretty much the same. It has interesting characters that I loved, lots of interesting situations,  good friends, two adorable dogs and just an overall really good book.

Travis and Gabby had a great relationship, and then a great love for each other, and I was engrossed with the book as much as I was with the movie.

If you like Nicholas Sparks but haven’t read this book or watched the movie, I recommend you do both. It’s not a sappy book, it’s about two people who fall deeply in love with each other, and what happens after a tragic accident.

This will be on my top 10 favorite books of 2018.

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook

May 032018
 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry #1)
by Rachel Joyce

Narrated by Jim Broadbent

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 9 hours and 57 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: July 24, 2012
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B008OCRSHE

A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise – and utterly irresistible – storyteller.

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him – allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.

Thoughts
I don’t know what it is about “older” characters, but I just love them, and Harold Fry was no exception. I liked him from the very beginning of the book and liked him more and more as the book went on.

I loved that even at his age he decided to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge  to Berwick-upon-Tweed, in hopes of saving Queenie, a co-worker he hadn’t seen in 20 years.

I loved the character of Harold. I liked his attitude and his determination. And I liked how Maureen came around and ended up supporting him in this venture.

There was a part in the book that left me with my mouth hanging open, shocked at what was revealed. I love books that do that,  and this was a huge shock.

There were a lot of characters in the book but it was easy to keep them straight.  Most of them I liked, but some of them did things that made me mad and/or feel bad for Harold. I wanted to yell at them and say “shame on you”!

I loved the ending of the book, it made the whole walk worth every step.

I really loved this book and now want to read the second Harold Fry book, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. It goes deeper into the relationship of Harold and Queenie, and the letter that she didn’t send.

I started reading the print version of this book and then switched to audio after only a few chapters.

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

Apr 252018
 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Narrated by Ruby Dee

Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.

This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.

Originally published in 1937 and long out of print, the book was reissued in 1975 and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel in American fiction.

Thoughts
This book was on my tbr list for a really long time. I finally decided to move it up because the Monthly Motif read for April is “Read Locally” and this book takes place in Eatonville, Florida which is not that far from where I live.

I didn’t know whether I’d like this book or not, but I loved it. The characters were so interesting that I was engrossed in the book right from the start. I loved Janie and her need to be who she was no matter what anyone thought. She was a strong woman who had a tough life. But then she met Tea Cake and things changed. He was a good man and he loved her. They had a good life together even with the few bumps along the way.

I was familiar with all the places in Florida that were talked about in the book. It takes place in Eatonville (the first all black incorporated town in the United States) and Lake Okeechobee. I’ve been to both and their surrounding towns.  It was interesting to learn some things that I didn’t know.

This book is full of heartbreak, laughter, thrills, and surprises. I am 100% glad I chose this book to read. It’s narrated by Ruby Dee who did a fantastic job. She brought the characters to life with a voice that was full of every emotion the characters had.

If you haven’t read this, or even if you have, I suggest the audio.  5 ★

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Apr 182018
 

The Memory of Butterflies by Grace Greene
Narrated by Brittany Pressley

To keep a devastating family secret from being revealed, a young mother’s desperate lies could end up destroying everything, and everyone, she loves. The Memory of Butterflies is a poignant story of family and forgiveness – of knowing when to let go and when to hold each other close.

Hannah Cooper’s daughter is leaving for college soon. The change is bittersweet. A single mother since the age of eighteen, Hannah isn’t eager to confront the pain of being alone, but she’s determined not to let her own hang-ups keep Ellen from the future she deserves. As Ellen’s high school graduation approaches, Hannah decides it’s time to return to her roots in Cooper’s Hollow along Virginia’s beautiful and rustic Cub Creek.

With the help of longtime friend Roger Westray, Hannah devotes her energies to building a new house on the site of the old family home, destroyed in a fire more than a decade ago. But Hannah’s entire adult life has revolved around one very big secret. And her new beginning comes with unanticipated risks that will cost her far more than she could have imagined – perhaps more than she can survive.

When a confrontation forces Hannah to expose her secret, the truth may destroy her beloved daughter. Hannah is prepared to sacrifice everything to protect her family, but can their lives and their bond withstand the seismic shift that’s coming?

Thoughts
Oh my goodness was this book good! So many surprises and secrets that I couldn’t listen to it fast enough.

All of the characters were well written and I liked getting to know them. The story took one twist and then another and kept surprising me. I felt a lot of different emotions while listening to this book. Some parts were sad, some were touching, and some were shocking.

One of the twists in the book made it a whole lot more interesting than what I was expecting to happen, so I’m glad the author took it in that direction.

I liked the ending, but would love for the story to continue with a  book #2.

The book was narrated by Brittany Pressley who did an awesome job. I would like listening to more of her narrations, as well as more books by this author.

So glad I decided to get a copy of this book.

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook

Apr 012018
 

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
‎Narrated by Sile Bermingham

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 13 hours and 23 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: March 1, 2011

Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone.

Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles.

But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.

Thoughts
So So So good! I loved it!

The story was good from the beginning, but got even better and better as it went along. Noel was told by a terminally ill girl that she was pregnant and that he was the father. She wanted him to raise the baby when she was born since she would not be there to do it herself. He had a drinking problem but turned his life around to be the best dad to Frankie that he could be. He slipped a few times but he had a great  support system who was always there when he needed them. So many people loved Noel and Frankie, and they gave a lot of their free time to making sure they were ok.

The characters were all different kinds of people, and each one brought their own style to the story, making it very interesting. I liked all of them and wish everyone could have people like this in their lives.

Moira was in a different category. She didn’t treat people very well, was very opinionated, and thought Frankie would be better off with someone other than Noel. She was always snooping and prying, trying to find someone or something that could make that happen. It was her fault Noel fell of the wagon. I didn’t like her much, although later in the book you find out why she thinks and acts the way she does. It made me dislike her less, but it still wasn’t a good enough reason for how she treated people, especially Noel.

The book had a few sad parts but mostly it was upbeat. I really enjoyed this on audio as the narrator did a great job. Binchy is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Mar 282018
 

The Tour: A Trip Through Ireland by Jean Grainger
Narrated by Patrick Moy

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 54 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Audible Studios
Audible.com Release Date: December 19, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B076T93S2H

A charming Irish bus driver. A group of disparate American tourists. One life changing week. Take a tour you’ll never forget as you navigate the stunning vistas of gorgeous Ireland along with the hearts and minds of a cast of characters who will live with you long after you’ve finished this audiobook.

During a routine tour of Ireland, tour guide Conor O’Shea finds himself on a journey of his own through the lives of his hilarious companions as together they navigate both the Irish countryside and the secrets of their individual lives.

A Wall Street banker, a divorcee, a musician, a cop, and a professor all enter Ireland with something on their minds, and throughout their journey with Conor as their guide, they each begin to show something of themselves against the spectacular backdrop of Ireland.

As colourful and turbulent as the wild Atlantic coast, The Tour offers more than just a look at one of the world’s most beautiful places, but contrasts Ireland’s open skyways and idyllic views against the secret lives of the individual. Witty, informative, and with a touch of romance, The Tour offers a unique look at the lives of others amidst the Emerald Isle.

One reviewer just said, ‘book a flight, if Ireland is anything like she describes, I need to be there’. Another claimed, ‘up all night to finish, I laughed, I cried, I didn’t want it to end’.

Can you afford to miss the trip of a lifetime?

Thoughts
I loved this audio! LOVED it! It took me on a trip that I would love to take in real life. The tour guide Conor O’Shea is a blessing to all on his tours. No matter what you need, he can make it happen.

This tour was a mixed group of people from America. There was someone who dressed strange and had strange hair, another who was timid. There was a rich person and a person who was poor, and a gold digger and a bully, to name a few.

All of them made for a great cast of characters. The story was told in a way so that I could keep track of who was who and I loved hearing what they were up to next.

The book was about 10 hours long but it didn’t seem that long because I was so wrapped up in the story. It went from one great story with great characters to another and they all came together at different times throughout the book and I loved it from the beginning to the end. This is book #1 in a 3 book series and I’ve already bought the other 2 audio’s.  The book is narrated by Patrick Moy who did an amazing job.

If you like books set in Ireland, pick up the The Conor O’Shea Series. It’s a great book!

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

Mar 012018
 

Nomadland audiobook cover art

Nomadland
Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
By: Jessica Bruder
Narrated by: Karen White
Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
Unabridged
Release date: 09-26-17
Language: English
Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the wilderness campgrounds of California to an Amazon warehouse in Texas, people who once might have kicked back to enjoy their sunset years are hard at work. Underwater on mortgages or finding that Social Security comes up short, they’re hitting the road in astonishing numbers, forming a new community of nomads: RV and van-dwelling migrant laborers, or “workampers”.

Building on her groundbreaking Harper’s cover story, “The End of Retirement”, which brought attention to these formerly settled members of the middle class, Jessica Bruder follows one such RVer, Linda, between physically taxing seasonal jobs and reunions of her new van-dweller family, or “vanily”. Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of both the economy’s dark underbelly and the extraordinary resilience, creativity, and hope of these hardworking, quintessential Americans – many of them single women – who have traded rootedness for the dream of a better life.

Thoughts
I tried reading this book and just couldn’t get into it so I decided to try listening to the audio and that worked. I was hooked from the beginning and loved learning about this alternate lifestyle.

I’ve always thought it would be so neat to travel the country in an RV, camper, or travel van. I still think it would be, but now I know it’s not a great way to live for most people who must work also.

Most of these nomads were older, and I was really shocked by how some companies treat these people. It’s really hard work which is hard on the body, really long hours, and doesn’t pay much. One of the men in the book walked about 18 miles a day for his job. WOW!

I think if you had a small monthly income and would be ok with a less intense and/or part time job it would be a great way to live. But most of these people need full time.

Karen White did a great job of narrating this book.

This was a very good book. Makes me want to  listen to more like it.

I think the print would work for most people, but I’m on an audiobook kick this year (which is really surprising) and only a few print books have kept my attention. I usually have to switch to audio and then I’m ok with the book.

 

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction
Monthly Motif

Feb 212018
 

Why I Hate Green Beans cover art

Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray
Narrated by Lincee Ray

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 57 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audible.com Release Date: February 9, 2018
Language: English

If there is one thing Lincee Ray has learned over the years, it’s that the majority of women on the planet struggle with insecurities. Our skinny jeans mock us. Our just-trying-to-help mothers are just driving us crazy. Our social media feeds taunt us with everyone else’s picture-perfect lives. It’s enough to send you on a gummy-bear bender while binge-watching Friends reruns and not showering for a week. Lincee knows. She’s been there. Right there, in fact. Gummy bears and all.

For every woman who’s ever wondered if she’s unlovable, uninteresting, or unattractive, Lincee offers her particular brand of hilarious (and hard-hitting) self-reflection. Like a true friend, she shows us that the fastest way to happiness is to embrace ourselves in all our imperfection, trust that God knew what he was doing when he made us, and maybe go buy a new tube of mascara.

Walk alongside Lincee as she discovers that her identity is not found in her job, her relationship status, her bank account, or her social circle. It’s found in Christ.

Thoughts
Lincee Ray is hilarious! I can’t even tell you how many times I laughed out loud while listening to this.

Lincee tells it all, from her family and childhood to her college years, marriage, divorce, and life after that.

Lincee is a good daughter, sister, aunt, friend. The stories she shares in this book are funny, heartwarming, and at times a bit more personal than I think I’d be willing to share.

I loved listening to her talk about her faith, which by the way is not preachy at all. It’s just her thoughts about the God she loves and relies on.

If you like a quick read that will brighten your day, pick up a copy of this book. I suggest the audiobook. Lincee brings an element to the book that I doubt you could get from the printed book.

I had never heard of Lincee before seeing this book. By the way I love the title (even though I love green beans). I am now a Lincee a fan. I follow her blog, and also her podcast on the Podcast app on my iPhone, but you can use another app or read it on her blog.

I highly recommend this book!

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction

Feb 102018
 

Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica, Laurie Gwen Shapiro

The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica
by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Narrated by Jacques Roy

Listening Length: 6 hours and 28 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: January 16, 2018
Language: English
ASIN: B078462RYY

The spectacular true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over, and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? This was the moon landing before the 1960s. Everyone wanted to join the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage.

The night before the expedition’s flagship launched, Billy Gawronski – a skinny, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business – jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.

Could he get away with it?

From the grimy streets of New York’s Lower East Side to the rowdy dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a gutsy young stowaway who became an international celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your-bootstraps age.

THOUGHTS
This book was not what I thought it would be. I love true life adventure stories and was very excited to listen to The Stowaway. I wanted to go along with Billy to Antarctica, and experience all he did. Sadly, the book did not give me that. I  thought the book started out good. We learned about Billy, his parents, and his attempt to stowaway on the trip to Antarctica. We were told how he did this, how he was discovered, and then most of the book was focused more on other people and facts leading up to, during, and after the trip to Antarctica.

You can tell the author did a lot of research, and it was all interesting, it just wasn’t what I thought the book would be about. I wanted to take a trip to Antarctica. I barely got that from the book.

The narrator spoke in a dull monotone.  I easily could have fallen asleep, but I listened while driving so I didn’t. Only once or twice while he was repeating what a character in the book said did his voice come alive.

If you go into this book knowing that doesn’t give much of Billy’s personal experience, it may be a better fit for you than it was for me. I do know that I’m in the minority with my thoughts.

 

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction