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

Feb 052018
 

Best Day Ever: A Psychological Thriller, Kaira Rouda

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Narrated by Graham Halstead & Amy McFadden

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 7 hours and 56 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 19, 2017

“As I opened the door and stepped into the humid night, her scream followed me out. But I knew there was still love for me in her heart….

“I’m unforgettable.”

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys, and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them, and doubts start to arise. How perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his secret plans for their weekend at the cottage?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the best-selling vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

Thoughts
It had been a while since I’ve read a thriller so when I kept seeing glowing reviews of this book I decided I’d give it a listen. Oh how glad I am that I did!

Paul Strom is successful, he’s handsome, he’s a good husband & father. At the beginning of the book, about 5 minutes, I liked him, he seemed to love his family and be thoughtful. But then he kept talking.  And the more he talked the more I discovered that he’s the biggest narcissist I’ve ever ran across in my years of reading.

As they ride in the car to their lake house, little arguments start and I can tell something is going to happen to make this not the best day ever. And boy does it. I don’t want to give to much away and spoil it for anyone who wants to give the book a try, so I won’t say much more. I think anything else will be “tmi” since the book was all about the “bad” parts of the day.

Paul narrates the whole book from his viewpoint. I kept wanting to hear Nia’s side but she didn’t get a voice until the end.

I wish the book had been longer. I want to know what the future brought for Paul, Nia, and the boys. We got a little info about Nia and the boys future, but I wanted to know what the future held for Paul.

Both narrators did a great job, especially Paul. He WAS the character.

I could not stop listening to this audiobook. It’s definitely going on my list of favorites for 2018.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Feb 012018
 

The Last Ballad cover art

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
Narrated by Karen WhiteElizabeth Wiley

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 14 hours and 6 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Harper Audio
Audible.com Release Date: October 3, 2017

Twelve times a week, 28-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. Two in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill’s owners – the newly arrived Goldberg brothers – white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May’s best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for 72 hours of work each week, it’s the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.

When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county’s biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement – a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town – indeed all that she loves.

Seventy-five years later, Ella May’s daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929.

Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early 20th-century America – and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers.

THOUGHTS
I went back and forth about whether to listen to this book or not, and I’m really glad I decided to give it a try. I liked the story from the beginning and stayed hooked until the end.

I liked Ella May. She lived and worked alongside her neighbors and friends, many of whom were African Americans, not very heard of during that time, and wanted what was best for them. She was only 28 yrs. old, but was raising four children, mainly alone, because her husband came and went as he pleased.

I liked most all the characters in the book, especially Hampton Haywood and Katherine McAdam. I didn’t like the mill owners and the other “nefarious forces”. Because of them, many people were hurt or killed.

I liked the alternating voices. The book is based on true facts and it is a very important part of our history.

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and now I want to read his other books.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Jan 192018
 

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Narrated by Amanda Prowse
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 31 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: August 22, 2017

Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina’s life of luxury quickly disappears and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate – and the sister – she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed – her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Stirring and empowering, this novel from bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this tale of one woman’s loss and love.

THOUGHTS
The book is sad and I felt for Nina and her boys. I can’t imagine having that kind of lifestyle and then losing it within a few days.

I liked Nina. She didn’t know how she was going to take care of her family, but she figured it out while trying to make sure her boys were ok. I liked her youngest son Declan. I thought for his young age he handled things really well. Conner on the other hand did not. And even though I understood, I still wanted Nina to handle him differently. She just took all his crap. She didn’t tell him the truth at the beginning. She let him blame her and talk awful to her. Thankfully he let the anger go towards the end of the book.

I liked this book a lot. It was nice seeing Nina and her boys go from such a great life, to an awful life, and then finding peace with their new, comfortable life.

The author did a great job with the narration. It was easy to listen to.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Jan 042018
 

Unashamed

Unashamed by Lecrae Moore

Narrated by: Lecrae Moore
Length: 4 hrs and 17 mins
Unabridged
Release date: 05-03-16
Language: English
Publisher: Christianaudio

If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.

Two-time Grammy winning rap artist, Lecrae, learned this lesson through more than his share of adversity—childhood abuse, drugs and alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. Now as a chart-topping industry anomaly, he has learned to ignore the haters and make peace with his craft. The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics, shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully models how to be Christian in a secular age.

This is the story of one man’s journey to faith and freedom.

THOUGHTS
I’ve never been a fan of  hip-hop and had never heard of Lecrae Moore before seeing this book. To be honest, I never really gave Christian hip-hop a chance because of the few times I’ve heard secular hip-hop. Don’t like it at all. But, I’d be more open to listening to Christian hip-hop after listening to this audiobook.  Each chapter began with a sample of one of his songs. Because of the messages  in them, I think I may enjoy it.

Anyway…Wow! What a great testimony! Lecrae had a tough life and had to grow up way faster than he should have. He finally got the life he wanted, but it was a long hard battle, sometimes he hindered himself.

Whether you like Christian hip hop or not, this is an interesting book. It’s short, but his story is huge! And even if I never become a fan of Christian hip-hop, I am a fan of Lecrae Moore!

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Dec 302017
 

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Narrated by Kate Rudd

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 7 hours and 12 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Listening Library
Audible.com Release Date: October 10, 2017

It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward.

Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.

Thoughts
Aza has mental health issues including OCD and anxiety and can’t stop thinking about getting C Diff. That’s a big part of this book.

Aja and her BFF Daisy are investigating the disappearance of Russell Pickett, the father of Davis, one of Aza’s friend from a few years before. There is a huge cash reward to anyone who calls the police with a clue that leads to him.

I liked Aza, Daisy, Davis, & Mychal. I felt so bad for Davis’s younger brother.

There is a lot that happens. Good things and bad things, and it all makes this a fascinating book. The whole story about the tuatara was great, even though some of it left me shaking my head.

The book is narrated by Kate Rudd who did such an amazing job with all the different characters, even the men. I really don’t know how she did it, but they all had their own unique voice.

The ending came sooner than I was expecting, but it left me satisfied. I would love a sequel to this book.

Dec 292017
 

Bare Bones: I'm Not Lonely If You're Reading This Book

Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This Book by Bobby Bones

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 6 hours and 28 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: May 17, 2016

A touching, funny, heart-wrenching, and triumphant memoir from one of the biggest names in radio, the host of The Bobby Bones Show, one of the most listened-to drive time morning radio shows in the nation.

Growing up poor in Mountain Pine, Arkansas, with a young, addicted mom, Bobby Estell fell in love with country music. Abandoned by his father at the age of five, Bobby saw the radio as his way out—a dream that came true in college when he went on air at the Henderson State University campus station broadcasting as Bobby Bones, while simultaneously starting The Bobby Bones Show at 105.9 KLAZ. Bobby’s passions were pop, country music, and comedy, and he blended the three to become a tastemaker in the country music industry, heard by millions daily. Bobby broke the format of standard country radio, mixing country and pop with entertainment news and information, and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the business, including Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, and Jason Aldean.

Yet despite the glamour, fame, and money, Bobby has never forgotten his roots, the mom and grandmother who raised him, the work ethic he embraced which saved him and encouraged him to explore the world, and the good values that shaped him. In this funny, poignant memoir told in Bobby’s distinctive patter, he takes fans on a tour of his road to radio. Bobby doesn’t shy away from the curves he continues to navigate—including his obsessive-compulsive disorder—on his journey to find the happiness of a healthy family.

Funny and tender, raw and honest, Bare Bones is pure Bobby Bones—surprising, entertaining, inspiring, and authentic.

Thoughts
I had never heard of Bobby Bones before seeing this book, but it sounded good so I decided to get it in print and audiobook.

The book is very interesting, he tells the story of what his childhood was like, and how he fought his way to making it big. He had a lot of struggles and the odds were against him, but he made it. BIG time.

He almost sabbatogged himself a few times, but things always worked out in the end.

I started with the audio and didn’t ever start the print because I loved listening to Bobby. He did a great job with the narration. It was like listening to him talking to his friends.

I am now a huge fan of Bobby Bones. If you aren’t familiar with him (I can’t be the only person to never hear of him before can I?) check him out on the radio or pick up a copy of this book. It’s very interesting and he holds nothing back. A few times he gives a little tmi, but he’s very funny. Loved this book!

Dec 172017
 

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Narrated by Christina Moore
Newbery Honor Book

Listening Length: 54 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Recorded Books
Audible.com Release Date: October 22, 2008

Never out of print since its 1944 publication, this tender story offers readers of all ages a timeless message of compassion and understanding. At its heart is Wanda Petronski, an immigrant girl in an American school, who is ridiculed for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. When she tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, she unwittingly triggers a game of teasing that eventually ends in a lesson for all.

In restoring the reproduction of Louis Slobodkin’s artwork, this new edition recaptures the original vivid color. And to celebrate the book’s enhanced beauty, Helena Estes, the daughter of the author, has written a new letter to readers about the true story behind The Hundred Dresses.

Thoughts
I didn’t remember ever hearing about this before seeing it online, but have since learned that it was required reading in many elementary schools.

The book is really short, but it’s full of lessons every child should learn, like bullying or making fun of someone is not acceptable, and that if you see/hear anyone bullying someone you should say stand up for that person.

It also shows that even if you don’t believe what someone says, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It may not be exactly the way it sounds, but still it could be true.

The book also shows how important forgiving someone is. It makes you feel so much better than holding a grudge.

I loved this book and think it should be required reading for young children. Most adults will probably love it too.

Dec 142017
 

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines

Narrated by: Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines, Melinda Paul, Rachel Agee, Gabe Wicks
Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
Unabridged
Release date: 10-17-17
Language: English
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

The funny and talented Chip Gaines is well known to millions of people as a TV star, renovation expert, bestselling author, husband to Joanna, and father of four in Waco, Texas. But long before the world took notice, Chip was a serial entrepreneur who was always ready for the next challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out as planned. Whether it was buying a neighborhood laundromat or talking a bank into a loan for some equipment to start a lawn-mowing service, Chip always knew that the most important thing was to take that first step.

Now a #1 New York Times bestselling book, Capital Gaines offers readers a ringside seat as Chip relives some of his craziest antics and the lessons learned along the way. His mentors taught him to never give up and his family showed him what it meant to always have a positive attitude despite your circumstances. Throw in a natural daredevil personality and a willingness to do (or eat!) just about anything, and you have the life and daily activity of Chip Gaines.

Capital Gaines is the perfect book for anyone looking to succeed not only in business but more importantly in life.

Thoughts
I’ve watched Fixer Upper for a years and love not only the show but Chip and Joanna and their relationship. Chip never fails to make me lol and I enjoy the banter between the two of them. I also love the way they transform a so so house into a beautiful place to call home.

As soon as I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. I learned a lot about Chip that I didn’t know. I learned about his childhood, that he owned a few businesses when he was young, and his love for family and friends, and so much more.

He takes you on a very interesting journey of his life and I enjoyed every minute of it. Whether you are a Chip fan or not, this book is so worth reading/listening to, a 5★.

 

Dec 012017
 

Talking as Fast as I Can cover art

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

Narrated by: Lauren Graham
Length: 4 hrs and 38 mins
Unabridged
Release date: 11-29-16

In her first work of nonfiction, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood recounts her experiences on Gilmore Girls – the first and second times – and shares stories about life, love, and working in Hollywood. This collection of essays is written in the intimate, hilarious, and down-to-earth voice that made her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, a New York Times best seller.
“This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling working years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. You probably think I’m talking about my incredible achievement as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! as a Langley High School junior, a performance my dad called ‘you’re so much taller than the other kids.’ But no! I’m talking about Lorelai Gilmore, who, back in 2008, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick.”

Thoughts
I love Lauren Graham and I enjoyed Someday, Someday, Maybe. So when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read (listen) to it.

I learned a lot about the author that I didn’t know. One of those things was that she lived on a houseboat for a time while she was growing up. This resonated with me because my husband and I came really close to buying a houseboat when our kids were young. But in the end we decided not to because they didn’t want to leave their friends and live on the water. I know, what was wrong with them?

Lauren talks a lot about her years on Gilmore Girls, the show, the relationships with her co-workers, the emotions of everyone when the show was ending etc.  And of course those stories were my favorite part of the book. I also loved hearing the stories of her growing up, the years of trying to make it as an actor, and her dating life.

The book is very funny of course, and she gives the reader bits of advice that you may or may not take, but will enjoy hearing either way.

This is a short book and it is well worth the time. It’s interesting, funny, and informative.

The author narrated the book and I thought she did a good job, but at times I found her a bit over the top. But of course, that’s Lauren Graham.

Nov 272017
 

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

Narrated by the author

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 3 hours and 13 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: January 17, 2017
Language: English
ASIN: B01N63906B

Embrace Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.

Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge—pronounced Hoo-ga—is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.”

Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day.

The Little Book of Hygge introduces you to this cornerstone of Danish life, and offers advice and ideas on incorporating it into your own life, such as:
Get comfy. Take a break.
Be here now. Turn off the phones.
Turn down the lights. Bring out the candles.
Build relationships. Spend time with your tribe.
Give yourself a break from the demands of healthy living. Cake is most definitely Hygge.
Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.
From picking the right lighting to organizing a Hygge get-together to dressing hygge, Wiking shows you how to experience more joy and contentment the Danish way.

Thoughts
I first saw this book when JoAnn reviewed it, and I thought I’d like learning more about Hygge. I put a hold on it at my library but was #6 in line and didn’t want to wait so I bought the audio version.

I really enjoyed this short book. I learned that I’ve been living a Hygge life for most of my life. How do I Hygge? Every day I curl up on the sofa and cover up with a soft throw, I light candles, the rooms of my house are barely lit when there’s no company. I  spend as much time as I can with family, just talking or playing games, mainly just enjoying each other’s company. I love walks on the beach, along the river, or at the park. Riding the nearby trials on my bike. Burning incense, adult coloring books, romantic movies or listening to soft music. I bet there are ways you Hygge too, you just didn’t know it.

I really enjoyed listening to this book, the author did a really good job of narrating it.

I recommend this book to everyone. We all need Hygge in our lives.

Nov 162017
 

Nourished by Lia Huber

Listening Length: 7 hours and 24 minutes
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Language: English
ASIN: B076DSKKCY

A noted entrepreneur, food writer, and recipe developer serves up an evocative adventure story abouther quest to find healing, meaning, and a place at the table.

Hunger comes to us in many forms, writes Lia Huber–we long to be satisfied not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Nourished invites readers on Huber’s world-roaming search to find the necessary ingredients to nurture all three.
She begins her quest with an Anthony Bourdain moment in a Guatemalan village: she’s slipping fresh vegetables into a communal pot of soup she’s cooking up for chronically undernourished children. Village grannies look on disapprovingly… until the kids come back for more.
From there, Huber takes readers to the Greek island of Corfu, where she learns the joys of simple food and the power of unconditional love; to a Costa Rican jungle house (by way of an 8,000-mile road trip), where she finds hope and healing; and finally to California’s wine country, where she steps into the person she was meant to be and discovers her calling to nourish others.

Thoughts
I loved this book. It took me on a journey to Guatemala, Corfu, Costa Rica, and California, following along with Lia and then with her husband Christopher. It was like listening to two stories. One centered around the customs and people in the places they traveled, and the other centered around Lia and her relationships, food, and life.

The recipes were mostly ones that sounded more complicated than I like, and foods I’ve never tried, but I would like to make a few of them sometime.

I’m glad I listened to the book instead of read it. The author is the narrator and she brings a lot of emotion into the telling of it. I’d give this book a 5 ★