Oct 052019
 

The Lido by Libby Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 252019
 

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug 072019
 

Summer of '69

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Narrated by Erin Bennett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I highly recommed this book!

Jul 112019
 

Have You Seen Luis Velez?

Have You Seen Luis Valez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narrated by Michael Crouch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jul 102019
 

Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer Holmes

Narrated by Becca Battoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yes, I would recommend it!

Jun 282019
 

Postcards From A Stranger by Imogen Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 262019
 

I'm Fine and Neither Are You

I’m Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 232019
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 182019
 

Melinda and the Wild West: The Award Winning Original Version

Melinda And The Wild West by Linda Weaver Clarke
A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho #1
Narrated by Carolyn Kashner

In 1896 Melinda Gamble a very elegant, very naïve young woman from Boston decides to give up her life of monotonous comfort for the turbulent uncertainty of the still untamed Wild West. Driven by her intense desire to make a difference in the world, Melinda takes a job as a schoolteacher in the small town of Paris, Idaho, where she comes face-to-face with a frightening bank robber, a vicious grizzly bear, and an intense blizzard that leaves her clinging to her life. But it is a ruggedly handsome and very mysterious stranger who challenges Melinda with the one thing for which she was least prepared love.

Thoughts
I usually don’t read books set in this time period but I’m a fan of this author so when she offered a copy for a reveiw, I decided to listen to it. It’s the first in this series, and I loved it.

The story is about Melinda, who moves to Idaho (to become a teacher) which is nothing like her home in Boston. She encounters all kinds of hardships and is a bit out of her element, but she conquers her fears and begins to feel like this is the life she is meant to live.

There is adventure, scary moments, excitement, and love. Melinda has a student named Jenny whose mother died years ago. She was well taken care of by her father but her previous teacher and her fellow students mistreated her.  Melinda changes that.

The narration was great. I really enjoyed this book and will start the 2nd book in the series soon.

Thanks to the author for this review book!

Apr 122019
 

Audiobook Image

Always by Sarah Jio
Narrated by Brittany Pressley

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 52 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: February 7, 2017
Language: English, English
ASIN: B01MT8Z7YV

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt “right.” But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Thoughts
This book was wonderful! The story started with a twist and kept the excitement going until the end. I liked all the characters. One of them started out on my “dont like” list but by the end of the book he was taken off and joined the others. I had his character all wrong.

The story seemed so real and I loved seeing what was going to happen between the characters next. I loved the ending, it was what I was hoping for.

The narration was great, Brittany’s voice made it an easy listen.

A small amount of the reviews for this book were negative, but l am among those who loved it and it will probably be going on my top 10 books of 2019 list.

Apr 052019
 

Never Let You Go

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
Narrated by Rachel Fulginiti

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 11 hours and 56 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Audible.com Release Date: March 14, 2017

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Thoughts
I loved the authors first three books (5* ratings for me) and when I saw this one I thought it sounded really good so got the audio.

While I did enjoy the book, it just didn’t grab me like the other 3 Stevens books that I’ve read. The story was good, the characters good, the narration good, but something was lacking. It just wasn’t as  white knuckle as the others. It had some suspense, but it was much tamer in this story. Still, I did enjoy it so I’d give it a 4*.

Mar 282019
 

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden

Listening Length: 8 hours and 24 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: October 1, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B074TTKX3C

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Thoughts
This was a good book and it kept me listening to find out what happened to Anna. The author did a good job of making a few of the characters seem like they could be the quilty one so it was hard to figure out who actually did it. When I thought I had it all figured out, I found out I was wrong. It ended up being one of the characters I had never even suspected.

The book switches back and forth with a few different POV’s and I liked that aspect of it. The story takes place in England which I didn’t know until I started listening. The narrator did a great job.

The book is full of suspicions, regret, guilt, fear.  And finally, closure.

Mar 092019
 


Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie
Narrated by Kate Marcin

Audible AudiobookListening Length: 7 hours and 38 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com
Release Date: December 1, 2018

Forgive and forget? In this twisty thriller of psychological suspense, the past and present collide for two sisters who survived a tragedy – and must now survive the truth behind it.

It’s been twenty years since Cara’s boyfriend died in a horrible accident and her sister, Anna, went to prison. The tragedy has become a local legend, but Cara has moved past her grief to have a successful career and a happy family. Pity about Anna. Recently released from incarceration, she’s struggling with addiction, guilt, and shame – a shattered life. Cara’s forgiveness seems to be the only thing that helps her pick up the pieces.

But as Anna pulls herself together, her memories of that night on the bridge start to come into focus. And few of them match her sister’s.

As past secrets unfold and nothing is what it seems anymore, Anna desperately searches for the truth. But what if Cara doesn’t want her to find it?

Thoughts
I’ve had this book on my Kindle for a while and when I saw Cheryl @ CMash Reads post a review of it and read how much she loved it, I decided to start it as soon as I finished the book that I was listening to at the time.

I loved this book. It was interesting from the first paragraph when Cara is an adult, 20 years after the accident. It then switches to the past, before the accident. I was glued to the story, and with every surprise I was more and more hooked.

The characters where very well written, they acted the way most teens would act in those situations. The journey to find out what really happened that night was one surprise after another and so much happened throughout the book that I was excited find out what was going to happen next.

This is a book that I won’t forget for a very long time. Lots of twists and surprises and an ending I did not see coming.

The narrator did a great job and I’d love to listen to more from her.

Feb 082019
 

Nell and Lady by Ashley Farley
Narrated by Shannon McManus

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 18, 2018

A heart-stirring novel of family and forgiveness from bestselling author Ashley Farley.

In her grand home in Charleston, Willa Bellemore raised two girls during the tumultuous 1970s. One was her daughter, Lady. The other was Lady’s best friend, Nell – adopted after the sudden, heartbreaking death of her mother, the Bellemores’ beloved maid. Willa showered Nell with love and support, all the while ignoring the disdainful whispers of her neighbors. After all, they were family. Nell and Lady were sisters at heart – sisters who vowed to never let anything come between them.

Then, on the night of Lady’s sixteenth birthday, something went terribly wrong, sparking painful secrets and bitter resentments that went unspoken for three decades.

Now Willa is dying, and Lady and Nell – each with a teenager of her own – are brought together after all these years. It’s Willa’s last wish. The time has come to confront what happened on that fateful night. But it may take a tragic twist of fate to reconcile the past and come to terms with the true meaning of family.

Thoughts
Wow, I’m on a roll this year with books that have characters that react very different than I would and/or keep secrets that tear relationships apart. But again, the story was good enough to make the book a hit with me.

Nell & Lady were very different, but they were best friends from an early age. Something happens one day that tears that friendship apart which is sad, and if they had just been honest with each other about what happened the friction could been avoided. Guess it wouldn’t have made such an interesting story though.

This book is full of good times and bad times, family love and a few surprises. I really liked the ending. If you like tense moments, suprises, and reading how a broken family finds it’s way to healing, check this book out.

The narrator did a great job!

Jan 312019
 

Trail of Broken Wings audiobook cover art

Trail of Broken Wings
By: Sejal Badani
Narrated by: Karen Peakes
Length: 12 hrs and 48 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-01-15
Language: English
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father – the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence – remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

Thoughts
I absolutely loved the book The Storyteller’s Secret  by this author so I decided to listen to this one too, which is her first book.

This is a semi hard review for me to write because I liked the story but the reactions of the charachers in almost every situation aggravated me. They avoided telling each other their true thoughts and acted like everything was fine when it most definitely wasn’t, they did things behind each other’s backs and kept secrets that would have probably made things better between them.

I don’t want to go into much detail of the story and give spoilers, but this family was messed up and a lot happens in the book.

Like I said, the story was good and kept me anxious to know how it would all turn out but I wanted to shake the sisters and their mother most of the way through the book.

Even though I struggled with the attitudes of the characters, I enjoyed the story and am glad I read it. I would read more from this author.

Dec 312018
 

Hidden Secrets by Carolyn Brown
Narrated by Shannon McManus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved this book!

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Dec 172018
 

The Nöel Diary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 102018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook
2018 Christmas Spirit Challenge

Nov 292018
 

Raymie Nightingale by [DiCamillo, Kate]

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Narrated by Jenna Lamia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counts toward the following challenge:
Audiobook

Nov 262018
 

The Storyteller's Secret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook

Monthly Motif