Apr 212021
 
The Diary

The Diary by Eileen Goudge

When the two grown daughters of Elizabeth Marshall discover an old diary of their mother’s in the attic, it comes as a shock to learn that the true love of Elizabeth’s life was not their father. But is all as it seems?
That’s the mystery the two daughters must unravel as they stay up late reading the words penned by Elizabeth so long ago. Their mother can’t provide the answers: After a massive stroke, she lies mute and near death in a nursing home. Only the pages of her diary can provide clues to what really happened.

Thoughts
When Sara and Emily’s mother has a massive stroke and is not expected to live, they go to their mothers house to sort through things and get it ready to sell.

As they are going through her stuff they are surprised to find a diary that their mom kept when she was in high school. As they start reading they are shocked to find out that their mom, who was dating their dad, was also seeing a boy named A.J. who they had never heard about.

Both Bob and A.J. wanted to marry Elizabeth. Bob was the star athlete and A.J. was the bad boy. Nobody in town knew she was seeing A.J. until a tragedy struck a nearby farm. Everyone in town was shocked to learn about Elizabeth and A.J., especially Bob. A.J. ends up leaving town for a while and Bob ends up going into the service. Everyone in town starts giving Elizabeth the cold shoulder and she feels alone, and she still has to decide who to marry.

She makes her decision and they have a great life with their daughters.

Then… Elizabeth dies and what happens at her funeral literally made my jaw drop. I couldn’t continue reading for quite a while. I just sat there thinking about what I had just read, in shock.

The ending of this book was the most shocking ending of any book I’ve ever read. It was an amazing end to a very good book! It will be at the top of my favorite books of 2021, and in my list of my all time favorite books.

If you like books that will give you bug eyes at the end, read this book.

 Posted by at 12:13 PM
Apr 122021
 
Love, Clancy: A Dog's Letters Home

Love, Clancy: A Dog’s Letters Home by Richard Glover

The new audiobook from the best-selling author of Flesh Wounds, heartfelt and hilarious, Love, Clancy is an audiobook for anyone who has ever tried to imagine what their dog was thinking.

Human beings often write about their dogs, but the dogs don’t usually get a right of reply. In Love, Clancy, Richard Glover has collated the letters sent by Clancy to his parents in the bush. They are full of the young dog’s musings about the oddities of human behaviour, life in the big city and his own attempts to fit in.

You’ll meet Clancy as a puppy, making his first attempt to train his humans, then see him grow into a mature activist, demanding more attention be paid to a dog’s view of the world. Along the way, there are adventures aplenty, involving robotic vacuum cleaners, songs about cheese, trips to the country, stolen legs of ham – all told with a dog’s deep wisdom when it comes to what’s important in life.

Thoughts
This book was an adorable twist on most books about a dog, in that Clancy was writing letters to his mom and dad. Yes, you read that right. The dog was writing letters!

I lost track of the number of times I laughed out loud while listening to this. Clancy’s view on humans, the things they do, and the “things” in the world are hilarious. While I was listening to this book I often wondered what my dog was thinking about the things going on in our house, about her 2 cat sisters, about me, and all the noises from outside that make her tilt her head and/or run to me or under my desk. I know a lot of times she’s wondering what that noise was. She definitely doesn’t like loud noises and neither do my cats.

This book is fun from the beginning to the end. It’s a book I will listen to again, and maybe again. It was the “made you laugh” book I was wanting due to all the bad goings on for the last year.

Now I’m wondering how long it will take me to teach my dog to write.

The book is narrated by the author and he did a great job!

 Posted by at 2:10 PM
Mar 252021
 

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop: A Novel

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg (Author, Narrator)

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop with his mother, Ruth, church-going and proper, and his aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its fun and famous fried green tomatoes. And as Bud often said of his childhood to his daughter, Ruthie, “How lucky can you get?” But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and Whistle Stop became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time. Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see what has become of his beloved Whistle Stop. In so doing, he discovers new friends, as well as surprises about Idgie’s life, about Ninny Threadgoode and other beloved Fannie Flagg characters, and about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, that change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you really go home again?

Thoughts
I recently read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg and I loved it, so when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it also.

This book continues the Fried Green Tomatoes book and I may be in the minority here, but I really think I liked this book more. I loved learning how Stump’s (Buddy Jr.) life was as an adult, and about his daughter Ruth. This book answered all the questions I had when I finished the first book. I was so excited to see what would happen next and I was never disappointed.

There was a surprising twist of new friendships that added so much to the story, and a few more “predicaments” that added a bit of excitement. I totally loved this book!

I plan on reading another Flagg book soon!

 Posted by at 1:47 PM
Jan 302021
 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flag

Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women – of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth – who back in the ’30s ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present – for Evelyn and for us – will never be quite the same again….

Thoughts
I watched the movie many years ago and loved it, and the book has been on my list to read for a long time . I don’t know why it took me so long to read (listen) to it.

I loved this book! The characters were well written, the story was very good. I didn’t want to stop listening to it.

I loved the characters Idgie, Ruth, Mrs. Threadgoode, Evelyn, Sipsey, and the rest of the characters. Well, not so much Frank Bennett.

I liked The Weems Weekly, it reminded me of a small town newspaper back in the 70’s. Even though the books jumps back and forth from year to year, it was easy to keep track. There wasn’t one “story” that I didn’t enjoy.

Fannie Flagg did a great job with this book and now I plan on watching the movie again tonight. There were a few parts in the book that were sad but others were laugh out loud funny.

The narrator was Lorna Raver and she did a fantastic job with all the voices!

I loved this book so much that when I finished it I bought a copy of  The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop and want to get a copy of Fannie Flagg’s Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook.

This book will probably be going on my top 10 favorite books of 2021 list.

 Posted by at 5:52 PM
Jan 182021
 

The House on the Water By cover art

The House On The Water by Margot Hunt
Narrated by: Taylor Schilling
Series: Audible Original Stories
Length: 2 hrs and 47 mins
Original Recording Audiobook
Release date: 12-03-20
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Originals
Categories: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thriller & Suspense

Every year, Caroline Reed takes a trip with her best friend, Esme Lamont. They’re usually accompanied by their spouses—but this year, everything’s changed. Esme has just gone through a bitter divorce, and Caroline is wondering if her own marriage is reaching its breaking point, as she and her husband John cope with the discovery that their nineteen-year-old son has been abusing drugs. Still, the inseparable duo books a week-long stay at a beach-front home in Shoreham, Florida, inviting Esme’s brother, Nick, and his new husband, Ford, in hopes that the additional guests will help lighten the mood.

After a blissful first night in the vacation home, tragedy strikes, and one of the houseguests is found dead. While it’s assumed at first to be a horrific accident, it quickly becomes clear that there’s something more sinister at play, and over the course of this fast-paced, deeply chilling novella, the potential motives of each guest are revealed—until a shocking conclusion is reached.

Thoughts
This audiobook is not quite 3 hours but it is very faced paced and packed full of a very good murder mystery!

Getting to know these characters was fun and I liked all of them until close to the end. Then I learned some things about about a few of the that made me put them on the suspect list. One by one I thought about what each of them had to gain by the murder, and then made my choice.

I was wrong.

This is a very good thriller that will keep you guessing. It seemed like a full size novel to me, not  like a Novella, and I very enjoyed it very much.

I would definitely read more from this author

Taylor Schilling did a great job with the narration

 Posted by at 2:13 PM
Jan 122021
 

Neighbors

Neighbors by Danielle Steel

Meredith White was one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces. But a personal tragedy cut her acting career short and alienated her from her family. For the last 15 years, Meredith has been living alone in San Francisco with two trusted caretakers. Then, on a muggy late summer day, a massive earthquake strikes Northern California, plunging the Bay Area into chaos. Without a moment’s hesitation, Meredith invites her stunned and shaken neighbors into her mostly undamaged home as the recovery begins.

These people did not even realize that movie star Meredith White was living on their street. Now, they are sharing her mansion, as well as their most closely kept secrets. Without the walls and privacy of their own homes, one by one, new relationships are forged. For every neighbor, there is a story, from the doctor whose wife and children fear him, to the beautiful young woman dating a dishonorable man, to the aspiring writer caring for a famous blind musician.

In the heart of the crisis, Meredith finds herself venturing back into the world. And thanks to the suspicions and dogged detective work of a disaster relief volunteer, a former military officer named Charles, a shocking truth about her own world is exposed. Suddenly Meredith sees her isolation, her estranged family, and even her acting career in a whole new light.

Filled with powerful human dramas, Neighbors is a penetrating look at how our world can be upended in a moment. In a novel of unforgettable characters and stunning twists, acts of love and courage become the most powerful forces of all.

Thoughts
This book was just what I needed to get out of the reading slump I’d been in for most of 2020.

In the 70’s & 80’s I bought every book by Steel as soon as it was published.  Same with Stephen King. Then for some reason I just stopped, and I have no clue why. I’ve read a few Kings in the last few years but not Steele. Then one day last month I saw this book. It lit a fire in me again. So I preordered a copy and patiently waited for it. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

There are quite a few characters in the book but it wasn’t hard to keep track of them. I loved getting to know their personalities. Some I loved, others I either liked or didn’t. One in particular made my temper flare up. But all of them made for a very interesting book.

I loved how these strangers came together because of a terribly destructive earthquake and tall but a few formed life long friendships and love. I loved that a broken relationship was healed, and a few were righted.

There are a few tough parts in the book but it’s worth reading through them because there are so many feel good and happy parts.

This was a 5* book from Steel and I can’t wait to read another one from her.

 Posted by at 3:01 PM
Nov 192020
 

Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community

Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community
by Lady Gaga, Born This Way Foundation Reporters
Narrated by: Alex Aide, Aysha Mahmood, Connor Long, Cynthia Germanotta,
Hanna Atkinson, Lady Gaga, Mitu Yilma, Shadille Estepan
Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 09-22-20
Language: English
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners

For Lady Gaga, kindness is the driving force behind everything she says and does.

The quiet power of kindness can change the way we view one another, our communities, and even ourselves. She embodies this mission, and through her work, brings more kindness into our world every single day.

Lady Gaga has always believed in the importance of being yourself, being kind to yourself, and being kind to others, no matter who they are or where they come from. With that sentiment in mind, she and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, founded Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world a kinder and braver place. Through the years, they’ve collected stories of kindness, bravery and resilience from young people all over the world, proving that kindness truly is the universal language. And now, we invite you to listen to these stories and follow along as each and every young author finds their voice just as Lady Gaga has found hers.

Within these chapters, you’ll meet young changemakers who found their inner strength, who prevailed in the face of bullies, who started their own social movements, who decided to break through the mental health stigma and share how they felt, who created safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, and who have embraced kindness with every fiber of their being by helping others without the expectation of anything in return.

In one story, you’ll hear about a young person with an autoimmune disease, who after being bullied at school, learned how to practice self-love and started an organization with the mission of educating others about the importance of self-love, too; and in another story, you’ll meet a young person who decided to start a movement to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraged others to talk about their feelings openly and honestly, a reminder that kindness and mental wellness go hand in hand.

Not only were we moved by these individual acts of kindness, but we were also touched by the many stories of organizations, neighborhoods, and entire communities that fully dedicated themselves to helping those in need and found new, innovative ways to make our world a kinder and braver place.

Individually and collectively, these stories prove that kindness not only saves lives but builds community. Kindness is inclusion, it is pride, it is empathy, it is compassion, it is self-respect and it is the guiding light to love. Kindness is always transformational, and its never-ending ripples result in even more kind acts that can change our lives, our communities, and our world.

Thoughts
This book is very inspirational. It shows that we all should and can be kind, love each other, and most importantly, be accepting of others who are different than we are.

The stories vary but they all have show that no matter what difficulties you are going through, it can get better. All of the people in the book overcame whatever it was that they were going through. Sometimes life is hard and some of the people you meet can be cruel, but there is hope that you will find exactly what and who you need to feel accepted and loved, and have a fulfilled life.

The stories are very touching and gave me all the feels. It made me stop and think. It made me want to say and do more when I meet people that are struggling with something, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. We all have at one time or another needed, or will need, emotional support or acceptance, and hopefully we found someone who helped us through it. We should pay that forward.

Lady Gaga is an amazing person. Just how amazing she is (and her mom is) shows through this book.

5*

 Posted by at 1:03 PM
Nov 102020
 

The Man on the Mountaintop by Susan Trott
Narrated by: Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Clare Corbett, Rachel Atkins,
Jeff Harding, David Thorpe
Length: 5 hrs and 45 mins
Performance
Release date: 11-09-17
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Originals

Thoughts
This book was just what I needed when I needed a break from 2020. The story had a calming effect on me and I loved getting to know the Holy Man named Joe and the others at the hermitage and in the town below.

In the summer, thousands of people trek up the mountain single file to get to the hermitage so that they can see and talk to the Holy Man for just a minute or two. He always knows what to say and makes such a huge impact on them that some of them climb that mountain over and over.

There was quite a bit more to the story, including when a long time friend of Joe’s comes to visit him and brings her husband and children. I don’t want to give away too much but believe me, this story was so interesting. It made me laugh and even shed a few tears. I listened to it every chance I got, even while trying to fall asleep. I will probably listen to it again in the future.

One of the messages I loved the most was that the people in your life are the most valuable thing you’ll ever have.

I love that there were 4 narrators and all of them did a great job.

 Posted by at 3:24 PM
Oct 132020
 

Anxious People By cover art

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Narrated by: Marin Ireland
Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
Release date: 09-08-20

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunts down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an 87-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them – the bank robber included – desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope – the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.

Thoughts
This is a very kooky book. and I absolutely loved it! The characters are all dealing with personal issues and that was a big part of the book and a big part of what made it so interesting.

The story is about a robber who tries to rob a cashless bank. And then it gets weirder. When he finds out he’s not getting any money, he runs out of the bank and into an apartment building where he takes a group of people, who are viewing one of the apartments during an open house, hostage.  One couple is expecting a baby, another is an older married couple who flip houses. There is also a bank executive, an elderly widow, and a man who is only wearing the head of a rabbit costume and his underwear. The police who investigate the crime and interview the hostages are father and son, who are also dealing with their own issues.

I love every Backman book I’ve read, and I think this one may be my favorite. It kept me guessing who the robber was and every time I was wrong. When I finally found out who it was, I was shocked.

This is a very good book that makes you want to keep reading and makes you keep guessing. It had a little bit of everything, it was sad at times, funny, quirky, and had very interesting characters.

If you haven’t read this yet, you should give it a try. I loved it! I’d give it a 10*

 Posted by at 4:18 PM
Sep 212020
 

Side Trip By cover art
Side Trip by Kerry Lonsdale
Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin, Sarah Naughton
Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
Release date: 07-07-20

An unforgettable and breathtaking novel of love, loss, and the unexpected routes that life takes from Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Kerry Lonsdale.

With her deceased sister’s Route 66 bucket list in hand, California girl Joy Evers sets out on a cross-country road trip to meet up with her fiancé, checking off the bullets along the way.

Singer-songwriter Dylan Westfield has a serious case of wanderlust and a broken-down car. Stuck at a diner between LA and Flagstaff, he meets Joy, his complete opposite. She’s energetic. He’s moody. She’s by the book. He’s spontaneous. She believes in love at first sight. He thinks love is a complicated mess. But Joy has a brand-new convertible.

They strike a deal. She’ll drive him to New York. He’ll pay for gas. Only three rules apply: no exchanging of last names; what happens on the road, stays on the road; and if one of them wants to take a side trip, they both must agree.

A heart-stirring love story that spans a decade, Side Trip explores what-if. What if Joy and Dylan had exchanged last names? What if he’d told her she made him believe love was worth the risk? And what if they hadn’t made that second deal when they couldn’t say goodbye?

Thoughts
I love road trips so this book really appealed to me, and I loved every minute of it… almost. I loved the way Joy and Dylan interacted with each other. I loved that their first encounter was a road trip and that if one of them thought of a “side trip” they wanted to take, they would have to see if the other person agreed to it, and of course they did. The side trips were the most interesting parts of the book for me.

The ending was really sad and I paused to think things through before listening to the last little bit. And here is where the book took a dive, in my opinion. There was another alternate ending which was the complete opposite of the first one. Even though I enjoyed the book up until the end, I didn’t enjoy the dual endings at all.

 Posted by at 2:29 PM