Jul 182017
 

And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz

Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 6 hrs and 25 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:05-02-17
Publisher: Listening Library

 
Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch? Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in!

Unfortunately, Nora’s mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip. She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter – and her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed. Nora couldn’t feel more unsupported by her mother, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, the women are as disconnected as they’ve ever been. But seconds after saying good-bye to Alice at the airport terminal, Nora hears a voice call out: “Wait! Stop! I’m coming with you!”

And…they’re off.

Thoughts
I enjoyed getting to know Nora, her mom Alice, and the other characters. I enjoyed the story and following along with them as they toured Europe, especially Ireland.

What I didn’t enjoy was the relationship between Nora and Alice. Nora wanted to be on her own, feeling grown up. Numerous times she screamed at her mother “this was supposed to be MY trip.” The relationship between them was awful. I felt bad for Nora since it was indeed supposed to be her trip, but I felt worse for her mom since she was going through a very hard time in her life and just wanted to get away for a while, and Nora was always mad and/or yelling at her.

There were a few times here and there when they did get along pretty good, but the whole tantrum throwing Nora did got on my nerves.

The book was narrated by Lauren Fortgang who did an good job with the voices, although I thought she made Alice’s voice a bit too hoity toity. I have the audiobook The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry which is narrated by Lauren Fortgang, and am looking forward to hearing how she does with the narration.

Overall, I’m glad I listened to this book, which is the author’s debut novel. I would like to read more from her.

Jul 082017
 

Goldy's Kitchen Cookbook: Cooking, Writing, Family, Life

Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook: Cooking, Writing, Family, Life
by Diane Mott Davidson

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbook (September 22, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062194046
ISBN-13: 978-0062194046

The beloved New York Times bestselling culinary mystery writer delivers a cookbook packed with more than 160 mouthwatering recipes and charming anecdotes about her writing and cooking life.

Diane Mott Davidson is the author of seventeen bestselling mysteries featuring caterer/sleuth Goldy Schulz, a woman who “took the lemon that life had given her and made not just lemonade but Lemon Chicken, Lemon Bars, Lemon Cookies and Lemon Meringue Pie.” Each Goldy novel includes recipes for scrumptious dishes from the adored character’s kitchen. Now, Davidson has collected these treasured recipes and some brand-new dishes in one volume for the first time.

Here are recipes for Appetizers and Soups, Eggs and Cheese, Salads and Starches, Meat, Poultry, and Fish, Breads, Desserts, and finally Low-Carb Recipes (how Davidson lost thirty pounds and kept them off). Most of the dishes came from “playing around with dishes tasted in restaurants.” Others are family favorites, some came from friends, and a few are “happy accidents.” At last, fans can enjoy delicious fare such as Bacon-Wrapped Artichokes with Dijon Cream Sauce, Diamond Lovers’ Hot Crab Dip, Sweethearts’ Swedish Meatballs in Burgundy Sauce, André’s Coq au Vin, Ice-Capped Gingersnaps, Damson-in-Distress Plum Tart, and Dad’s Bread.

Part memoir, part writing manual, part cookbook, Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook combines the author’s gift for storytelling with her skills in the kitchen. She introduces the recipes with stories about how she came to create them, anecdotes from her experiences as a writer and home cook, and includes her joy at receiving a fan letter from the legendary French Chef herself, Julia Child.

Full of irresistible food, Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook is a must-have book for Davidson fans, food lovers, and cooks everywhere.

Thoughts
I saw this book posted on someone’s blog, sorry but I can’t remember who it was, and decided to read it. I haven’t read the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery Series (17 books), but I have a few hardcover copies of some of them and may read them in the future.

The book is full of great sounding recipes, and stories about her life. I enjoyed reading about her life, her books, and learning how she came up with these recipes.

The Contents are:
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Appetizers & Soup or How Do I Look? (And other stories About Food and Appearance)
Eggs and Cheese or My Agent Is Still A Vegetarian
Spuds, Salads, Etc. or My Editor Is Also A Vegtarian
Meat, Poultry, And Fish or The Heart Of The Matter
Breads or This Is Not Your Low-Carb Chapter
Desserts or This Is Not Your Low-Carb Chapter, Either
Enfin! Low-Carb Recipes or How I Lost Tiirty Pounds And Kept It Off
Epilogue
Index

My favorite stories were that her dad eased his stress by baking bread, and about a blizzard her family went through in 2003 where they lost electricity for a week. I could related to that. Although I don’t ever remember losing electricity from a blizzard when I lived in Ohio, we have lost electricity many many times since I’ve moved to Florida. Sometimes from lightening, sometimes from a hurricane. A few times we were without power for a few weeks. It’s not fun!

I’m a steak lover, and it just so happened that the recipe that went along with the blizzard story is Love Me Tender Grilled Steaks from The Whole Enchilade, book 17 in the series. I haven’t made the steaks yet, but I will as soon as I get to town and buy the steaks.

Love Me Tender Grilled Steaks
4 filet mignon steaks (6oz. each,1 1/2 – 2 inches thick & prime grade if possible)
1/4 cup garlic oil
Kosher salt and freshly grownd black pepper

Allow the beef to come to room temperature
Preheat oven to 350° and have meat thermometer ready
Pat steaks on both sides with paper towels until they are thoroughly dry
Heat an ovenproof grill panon the stovetop over high heat
Lay the steaks in the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high
Sprinkle the steaks lightly with salt and pepper
Cook for one minute and turn off heat
Using tongs, flip the steaks and remove the pan from the heat
Insert a meat thermometer into one steak, place the grill pan in the oven
Cook until the thermometer reads 125° (for medium rare)
Remove the pan from the oven & loosely cover the steaks with foil
Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to everyone whether you read her Goldy series or not. There are some very interesting stories and the recipes sound good with not too many ingredients, or time to make them.

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Jul 072017
 

Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by Marin Ireland

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 13 hours and 11 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 25, 2017

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, comes a poignant, charming novel about a forgotten town fractured by scandal, and the amateur hockey team that might just change everything.

Winning a junior ice hockey championship might not mean a lot to the average person, but it means everything to the residents of Beartown, a community slowly being eaten alive by unemployment and the surrounding wilderness. A victory like this would draw national attention to the ailing town: it could attract government funding and an influx of talented athletes who would choose Beartown over the big nearby cities. A victory like this would certainly mean everything to Amat, a short, scrawny teenager who is treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice; to Kevin, a star player just on the cusp of securing his golden future in the NHL; and to Peter, their dedicated general manager whose own professional hockey career ended in tragedy.

At first, it seems like the team might have a shot at fulfilling the dreams of their entire town. But one night at a drunken celebration following a key win, something happens between Kevin and the general manager’s daughter—and the next day everything seems to have changed. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. With so much riding on the success of the team, the line between loyalty and betrayal becomes difficult to discern. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

Fredrik Backman knows that we are forever shaped by the places we call home, and in this emotionally powerful, sweetly insightful story, he explores what can happen when we carry the heavy weight of other people’s dreams on our shoulders.

Thoughts
At first I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this book very much because it was about a hockey team, but I decided to read it anyway because of how much I loved A Man Called Ove. I was surprised that I ended up enjoying it so much. The story grew on me and I fell in love with the town, the hockey team, and mostly the characters.

The book starts out with such a bang that I didn’t want to stop listening. I wanted to find out what happened, and to whom.  It was fully explained toward the end of the book, and what I thought had happened really had a completely different ending. Then there was another part that left me with a question that was never answered. So, I’m hoping there is another book that will explain it. I usually don’t like books that leave something unknown, but this time I’m ok. I’m left wanting more, but ok.  I do hope there is a Beartown 2 that will tell me what I’m wanting to know.

I’m not a fan of cussing but since this was a book with a bunch of teenagers, mostly boys, I expected some. I did think some of the language was a bit harsh, but that’s just me.

I thought the author did a great job with the characters. The teens were just like the kids who might live in your hometown, same with the parents.

I thought Marin Ireland did a fantastic job with narration.

There was a lot of emotions spilling out of this story, and I felt them all. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Jul 032017
 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Narrated by James Langton

Audio CD: 1 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Audio and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged edition (May 3, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1504739663
ISBN-13: 978-1504739665

In this poignant and curiously charming debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met — a journey that leads him to find hope, healing, and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

Thoughts
I loved this book from the first paragraph to the last and didn’t want to stop reading for even one minute! I fell in love with Arthur, and just wanted to give him a hug, many times throughout the book. He loved his wife so much, and wanted to know about her life before him, even if he was going to find out things he didn’t want to know.

Since she passed away, Arthur mostly stayed inside his house, so the idea of him taking off and traveling to so many places alone, was exciting to read about. He was very brave, more so than I might be at that age.

The story was very touching, the characters fun to read, and the adventure was engrossing.

This is the first book for me by this author, but after listening to this I got the audio version of Rise And Shine Benedict Stone and want to get to it soon.

Jun 282017
 

The Buffer Zone Diet: It's Not Just What You Eat, It's When You Eat. Harness Your Hidden Fuel for a Slimmer and Healthier You!

The Buffer Zone Diet by Fred Cuellar

WHAT’S YOUR LIFE WORTH?
When you’re drowning, the last thing you do before you go unconscious is take a breath. The carbon dioxide rises so much in your blood it overpowers the last few molecules of oxygen in your body. You reach your breaking point, then you inhale. I inhaled food my whole life and I reached my breaking point in my battle with weight loss.

Right at the moment I was ready to give up, I had some last thoughts:

What if there were things I believed that weren’t true? What if calories in and calories out had exceptions? What if we don’t all metabolize food the same? Why can’t we successfully lose weight and keep it off? I had to find out – my life depended on it. In my quest to break my weight loss code, the Buffer Zone is the space where I found my truth.

Important Sections include:
Top Ten Lies we’ve been told about our diet

Tips for distinguishing between emotional hunger and physical hunger

How to create nutrient-dense meals to keep physical hunger at bay

Science between weight loss and weight gain

Five distinct blueprints for designing the new and healthiest you

Strategies for breaking through weight loss plateaus

The Four Laws of Weight Management

And most importantly, the formula that regulates weight for the human body!

 

Thoughts
I enjoyed this book and think the author knows his stuff. This is an overview of what the author learned doing his own search to be healthier. I agree with a lot of what he say. There is no one plan for all of us to follow, instead he gives information on food, nutrition, and exercise.

What Cuellar means by “Buffer Zone” is the “space between the meals”. He says it takes ten hours of no eating before your body primarily switches to body fat to run your body.

Some of his wording was a bit hard to follow, and I had to go back over it a few times to “get it”. Taking notes would have helped I think.

I don’t know if I’ll follow this way of eating, but I’m still glad I read the book.

Thanks to Rebecca at The Cadence Group for this review copy

Jun 262017
 

Faithful

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 27 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: November 1, 2016

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a road map.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

Thoughts
I have been wanting to read a book by Alice Hoffman for a while. When I saw this book available on one of my audio apps, I decided to listen to it.

The main character is Shelby, a broken girl who feels responsible for the accident that changed her best friend Helene’s life forever. She loves Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, her friends. Sounds a bit like me! She feels responsible for what happened to Helene, even though it wasn’t really her fault. She isn’t afraid to be herself, and although she seems to be tough, she’s not.

I absolutely loved this book! Shelby was a fantastic character and I loved following along on her journey as she falls in and out of love, became the person she wanted to be, and finally ends up exactly where she wants to be.

There’s so much more to this book, it was fantastic. I would definitely recommend this book.

The book was narrated by Amber Tamblyn, who did an awesome job.

Jun 152017
 

The Broken Road

The Broken Road (Broken Road #1) by Richard Paul Evans

Series: The Broken Road Series
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 2, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1501111647
ISBN-13: 978-1501111648

Chicago celebrity, Charles James can’t shake the nightmare that wakes him each night. He sees himself walking down a long, broken highway the sides of which are lit in flames. Where is he going? Why is he walking? What is the wailing he hears around him?

By day, he wonders why he’s so haunted and unhappy when he has all he ever wanted-fame, fans and fortune and the lavish lifestyle it affords him. Coming from a childhood of poverty and pain, this is what he’s dreamed of. But now, at the pinnacle of his career, he’s started to wonder if he’s wanted the wrong things. His wealth has come legally, but questionably, from the power of his personality, seducing people out of their hard-earned money. When he learns that one of his customers has committed suicide because of financial ruin, Charles is shaken. The cracks in his façade start to break down spurring him to question everything: his choices, his relationships, his future and the type of man he’s become.

Then a twist of fate changes everything. Charles is granted something very remarkable: a second chance. The question is: What will he do with it?

The Broken Road is the first book in a much-anticipated new trilogy by beloved storyteller Richard Paul Evans. It is an engrossing, contemplative story of redemption and grace and the power of second chances. It is an epic journey you won’t soon forget.

Thoughts
In this book we learn about Charles’s childhood and teen years, and how that leads him to become the celebrity he was. Due to an unforeseen circumstance, Charles decides to ditch his life and start walking Route 66 and see where the walk leads him.

I loved this book! Every chapter, every new subject, was so interesting I didn’t want to stop listening. It was so good I tried listening to it in bed before falling asleep. There were a few nights I fell asleep before turning it off. Then the next morning I’d have to backtrack until I found a place that I remembered listening too.

Charles doesn’t seem very nice at first, but the more you read, the more likable he seems and I grew to care for him. He still had his moments, but I still liked him.

I love they way Evans writes. Every book makes you feel “in” the story. If you haven’t read a book by him, I wish you would. His books have adventure, highs and lows of life, and have a way of drawing you in so that you want more and then more.

The book is narrated by the author, and he did a great job! His voice is very easy to listen to and I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audiobook instead of reading the print book.

The characters in this book had their own story to tell, and I enjoyed all of them. I can tell I’m going to love this series and can’t wait for book 2 to come out.

Jun 092017
 

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by Kimberly Farr

Listening Length: 8 hours and 25 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 25, 2017

“As I was writing My Name Is Lucy Barton,” Strout says, “it came to me that all the characters Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories—of course!—and so the unfolding of their lives became tremendously important to me.”

Here, among others, are the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” now adults: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. Tommy, the janitor at the local high school, has his faith tested in an encounter with an emotionally isolated man he has come to help; a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD discovers unexpected solace in the company of a lonely innkeeper; and Lucy Barton’s sister, Vicky, struggling with feelings of abandonment and jealousy, nonetheless comes to Lucy’s aid, ratifying the deepest bonds of family.

With the stylistic brilliance and subtle power that distinguish the work of this great writer, Elizabeth Strout has created another transcendent work of fiction, with characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned.

My Thoughts
I think I liked this even better than I did My Name Is Lucy Barton. I loved the way the stories connected one to the other. I liked being introduced to these new characters and their stories.

One of my favorite characters was Tommy. I thought his story was really interesting and liked that he had such a good heart. I like that Strout used not so familiar names, and that her characters were so real, emotional, and vulnerable.

I’ve read a lot of reviews of this book where people said that they thought there were too many characters. I usually don’t like a lot of different characters either, and if the book had been one continuous story I might have had a hard time following along. But since it was a book of short stories that didn’t bother me. When one story ended, it was like going on to another book. I wish I could explain it better, but the point is it didn’t bother me at all.

Kimberly Farr did a great job with the narration. It was very easy to listen to.

I’ve loved both books that I’ve read by this author, and now I’ve added Olive Kitteridge to my “to read list”.

Jun 052017
 

Sweet Tea Tuesdays by Ashley Farley

File Size: 5050 KB
Print Length: 306 pages
Publisher: Leisure Time Books (May 3, 2017)
Publication Date: May 3, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B06XJZ21JN

From the author of the bestselling Sweeney Sisters Series comes a novel of friendship, family, and hope.

Three best friends met every Tuesday for twenty-six years. And then they stopped.

When new next-door neighbors Georgia, Midge, and Lula first assembled on Georgia’s porch in Charleston for sweet tea, they couldn’t have known their gathering was the beginning of a treasured tradition. For twenty-six years they have met on Tuesdays at four o’clock, watching the seasons change and their children grow up, supporting each other in good times and in bad. With their ambitions as different as their personalities, these best friends anticipate many more years of tea time. And then, one Tuesday, Georgia shares news that brings their long-standing social hour to an abrupt halt. And that’s only the beginning as unraveling secrets threaten to alter their friendship forever.

Thoughts
This book is about one of my favorite reading subjects…friends. I love the friendship that these women have and that they meet every Tuesday for so many years. They support each other, share things that they wouldn’t share with anyone else, but there are also secrets they keep. There are many emotions including happiness, sadness, shock, forgiveness, and humor.

The 3 main characters are like people you know in real life, and each are easy to like. This book is a joy to read.

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read, but I do have a few others on my Kindle. I plan to get to them soon.

 

Amazon

 

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you’ve read the last word, then she’s done her job.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two young adult children. While she’s lived in Richmond, Virginia for the past 21 years, part of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry where she grew up. Through the eyes of her characters, she’s able to experience the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kind-hearted folks with lazy drawls that make the area so unique.

 

May 252017
 


Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas
Narrated by Maggi-Meg Reed
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 33 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 14, 2009

Hennie Comfort is eighty-six and has lived in the mountains of Middle Swan, Colorado, since before it was Colorado. Nit Spindle is just seventeen and newly married. She and her husband have just moved to the high country in search of work. It’s 1936 and the depression has ravaged the country and Nit and her husband have suffered greatly. Hennie notices the young woman loitering near the old sign outside of her house that promises “Prayers For Sale.” Hennie doesn’t sell prayers, never has, but there’s something about the young woman that she’s drawn to.

What I Thought
I’ve had this book in print since it was published. I put it on my tbr shelf thinking I’d get to it soon, but like so many of my books, I never started it. Why why why do I wait so long to read/listen to books that I really really want to read? I guess there are so many books out there that I just get sidetracked.

A week or so ago I saw the audio of Prayers For Sale was available through Overdrive.  Since I’ve recently gotten addicted to audiobooks, I added it to my list and as soon as I finished the book I was listening to, I started it.

Let me tell you, I LOVED this book! I loved the story, the characters, and the way it made me feel while listening to it. The story took me on a trip to 1936 Middle Swan, Colorado. Hennie Comfort, who is 86 years young, has lived there since before it was known as Colorado. Hennie is in great shape for her age and can climb those mountains as good if not better than her friend Nit Spindle who is 17.

The two women meet when Nit stops by to see Hennie after seeing a “Prayers For Sale” sign outside her house. The two bond over quilting and a tragedy they both had gone through.

Nit starts to think of Hennie as a mother figure and Hennie is very fond of Nit. The two enjoy their quilting group, talking about life over cups of coffee, and their walks to town or up the mountains.

The book gave me many emotions. It had me happy, sad, and even worried how things would turn out. The characters seemed real as did the situations. I loved the writing and the way the people talked. I loved everything about it.

 I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audio of this book because not only is the book one of the best books I’ve ever read (and I am not a fan of historical fiction), but also because of the narration. It is narrated by Maggi-Meg Reed. I’ve always been very picky when it comes to narrators, but I loved her voice and she’s now one of my favorite narrators. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author, and from this narrator.

The ending surprised me so much. I never in a million years would have thought that it would end that way.

I loved this book from the beginning to the end, and will more likely than not listen to it again sometime. I definitely recommend this book!

May 092017
 

Novel Destinations,  2nd Edition

Hardcover: 392 pages
Publisher: National Geographic; 2 edition (May 2, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426217803
ISBN-13: 978-1426217807

Follow in the footsteps of much-loved authors, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen, and many more. For vacationers who crave meaningful trips and unusual locales, cue National Geographic’s Novel Destinations—a guide for bibliophiles to more than 500 literary sites across the United States and Europe. Check into Hemingway’s favorite hotel in Sun Valley, or stroll about Bath’s Royal Crescent while entertaining fantasies of Lizzie Bennett and her Mr. Darcy. The fully revised second edition includes all of the previous sites—with updated locations—plus color images and an expanded section on all things Brontë. The book begins with thematic chapters covering author houses and museums, literary festivals and walking tours. Then, in-depth explorations of authors and places take readers roaming Franz Kafka’s Prague, James Joyce’s Dublin, Louisa May Alcott’s New England, and other locales. Peppered with great reading suggestions and little-known tales of literary gossip, Novel Destinations is a unique travel guide, an attractive gift book, and the ultimate bibliophile’s delight.

What I Thought
Like Novel Destinations #1, I loved this book. Included in the book are
Read ‘Em And See: Author Houses And Museums
Novel Dispatches: Writers At Home And Abroad
Literary Festivals, Tours, And More
Booked Up: Literary Places To Drink, Kine, And Doze
Journey Between The Pages

Two of the sections that I wold love to check out in person are Booked Up and Literary Festivals, Tours, And More. There are quite a few places near enough to me that I could visit, and one of the places I really want to check out is Hemmingway Days in Key West, Florida. It’s held annually in July.

How cool would it be to take a trip to all of your favorite literary destinations? This book, as well as the first one, are a book/travel lovers dream. I will keep both books where I can pull them off the shelf from time to time and check out all the places I’d love to go. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get to see a few of them in person.

About The Author
Shannon McKenna Schmidt is also the co-author with Joni Rendon of Writers Between the Covers: The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads. After traveling full-time in the U.S. and abroad for seven years, she is once again living in Hoboken, New Jersey. For literary travel news and tales from the road, visit www.NovelDestinations.com.

 

 

 

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Apr 272017
 

Room by Emma Donoghue
Narrated by: Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 10 hours and 52 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 13, 2010

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

What I Thought:
Wow! This book kept me in it’s grasp from start to finish. I didn’t want to stop listening for a minute.

I can’t imagine being held captive like that. For Ma, the horror was being in Room. To Jack, it was all he knew. Ma made sure he had as normal a childhood as he could. Teaching him, making sure he got excersise, playing games, watching tv. But she wanted to get them out of there. When she planned their escape, I was scared for Jack. I didn’t know if he could do it. But he did! Then I wondered if he’d be able to lead the police to Room, and he did!

They were finally free, but that’s when the truth hit Jack. Everything he thought was only in tv or Room, was actually out in the world too. And there was so much more out there. He saw and felt the sun for the first time. He talked to someone other than Ma for the first time. He saw a real dog, tree, cars….

This book was amazing. I thought it ended too abrubtly, and was wanting more. I wanted to know how Ma and Jack did in the following years. Still, I loved this book. It was so sad, but had a few funny parts. It shows that there is always hope. There was one part concerning Ma that shocked me. I still struggle with it. If you haven’t read this book, you’re missing a good one. I’m glad I listened to the audio version. All the narrators did a great job.

I loved ROOM!

Apr 112017
 

Ashes by Steven Manchester

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life and death has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other s company. It s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he s left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, ASHES puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

What I Thought:
This is the third book I’ve read by this author and like the other two, I loved it.

The story is sad because of the way the boys were raised, but there is is humor too. Also, a meeting that Jason and Tom had with someone brought a change to the story. I loved that part! The meeting brought a warmth to the book and a new way of looking at things for both Jason and Tom.

I love stories about relationships and this book was full of them. Jason and Tom were great characters. They both had flaws and issues of their own, as well as a badly marred relationship, but being stuck in a car together for days could have only turned out one of two ways, and I’m glad it turned out the way it did.

A quick read, and a very good book!

Mar 282017
 

12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

Written by: Solomon Northup
Narrated by: Louis Gossett, Jr.
Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:09-06-13
Publisher: Audible Studios

Hugh Quarshie reads the extraordinary autobiography of Solomon Northup. His harrowing true story, first published in 1853, was a key factor in the national debate over slavery prior to the American Civil War, significantly changing public opinion on the topic of abolition. It tells the horrifying tale of Solomon Northup, an educated, free black man living with his wife and children in New York State, whose life takes an appalling turn when he is kidnapped, drugged and sold into slavery.

Shipped to New Orleans, he endures the life of a slave in Louisiana’s isolated plantation country. For twelve long years, he endures the unimaginable brutality and inhumanity of daily life, while keeping his dignity intact and dreaming of one day returning home to the arms of his family.

Twelve Years a Slave is soon to be a major motion picture, starring Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.

What I Thought:
This was very hard to listen to. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to someone to be born into slavery. But imagine being born free, and then as a married adult with children, being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Some of the things Solomon and the other slaves had to endure at the hands of their master, and that they were forced to do to other slaves, were so horrible that I literally cringed. This was the first time I heard of a slave owner forcing a slave to harm another slave. What Solomon was forced to do to a female slave was shocking. No, it wasn’t sexual.

I can’t wrap my head around how someone could treat another human being that way.

I teared up many times during this book, especially when Solomon was finally rescued. I’m sure there were parts in the book that told of some of good times the slaves had, but honestly I don’t remember any specific thing. The torture the slaves endured is what I remember.

The audiobook I read was narrated by Louis Gossett, Jr. and I thought he did a good job, but his voice was so deep that at times the last word or two of a sentence was hard to understand.

This book will stay with me for a very long time.

Feb 272017
 

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A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Narrated by: Vikas Adam
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:06-12-14
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: Hope.

What I Thought:
Wow! This book had me from the first paragraph. It would be scary enough to be left in a place you’re not really familiar with, but on top of that his brother never comes back to get him. He can’t tell anyone anything that will help them find his family, and then he sets out on a journey that was scary for me as a reader, so I can’t even imagine what it was like for Saroo at the age of 5. Finally, after one horrible experience after another, Saroo is taken to a place where people help him find a family that wants to adopt him. Now, although he’s safe with people who care for him, he still has memories of his mom, brothers and sister, and wonders how they are, if they are looking for him, and if he’ll ever see them again.

Although he adjusts really well with his new family, those thoughts never leave him and he starts another journey to see if he can find them. Finally, he does and takes a trip back to India and sees his birth mom and siblings.

This is one of those books that I didn’t want to stop listening to for even a minute. I clung to every word, wanting to hear what happened next.

The book is narrated by Vikas Adam, and he did a great job. Very easy to listen too.

I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie The Lion (hopefully tomorrow) based on the book. If you haven’t read this yet, I 100% recommend it!

Feb 232017
 

The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy.

The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy. by Tom Rinaldi

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (September 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594206775
ISBN-13: 978-1594206771

What would you do in the last hour of your life?

The story of Welles Crowther, whose actions on 9/11 offer a lasting lesson on character, calling and courage

One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day, and just about every day to come; it became a fixture and his signature.

A standout athlete growing up in Upper Nyack, NY, Welles was also a volunteer at the local fire department, along with his father. He cherished the necessity and the camaraderie, the meaning of the role. Fresh from college, he took a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, but the dream of becoming a firefighter with the FDNY remained.

When the Twin Towers fell, Welles’s parents had no idea what happened to him. In the unbearable days that followed, they came to accept that he would never come home. But the mystery of his final hours persisted. Eight months after the attacks, however, Welles’s mother read a news account from several survivors, badly hurt on the 78th floor of the South Tower, who said they and others had been led to safety by a stranger, carrying a woman on his back, down nearly twenty flights of stairs. After leading them down, the young man turned around. “I’m going back up,” was all he said.

The survivors didn’t know his name, but despite the smoke and panic, one of them remembered a single detail clearly: the man was wearing a red bandanna.

Tom Rinaldi’s The Red Bandanna is about a fearless choice, about a crucible of terror and the indomitable spirit to answer it. Examining one decision in the gravest situation, it celebrates the difference one life can make.

What I Thought:
I was really excited to read this book but the first half wasn’t what I was expecting. It told of Welles life, from school, his friends, his family, things he did growing up, just about every aspect of his life leading up to 911. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in his life’s story, I just thought it gave too many details.

Then it got to the morning of 911 and what happened, told by the people that were in the tower with him, and survived, because of him.

The images that the words put in your head are horrendous. I can not even imagine being in that situation. And for him to have the state of mind to do whatever he could to lead as many people as he could to safety is amazing. He could have gotten out many times over, but he stayed and directed them to safety.

I won’t go into the details of what everyone went through, but I can tell you that Welles was a true hero, over and over, that day.

This is one book that will stay with me for a very long time.

Feb 092017
 

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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Written by: Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 4 hrs and 12 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:01-12-16
Publisher: Random House Audio

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

What I Thought:
Lucy hasn’t had the best life. Her childhood was spent being so poor that they barely had enough food, didn’t have indoor plumbing for a long while, and she was picked on at school, mostly because of the clothes she wore.

What she did have was gentle heart and a lot of love for her family, her two daughters, and for writing. She also said many times throughout the book about the people she had met, that she loved “her” “him”, “them”. She was very grateful for the people who showed her any kindness.

The book is about Lucy’s life, told in a random order, whatever she thinks of at the time. Still, there’s an even flow to the story.

I thought the conversations between Lucy and her mom were a bit strange at times. I can’t imagine having a relationship like that with my mom.

The narrator did a great job with each characters. I thought it was interesting tha there were characters with the last name Nicely. It’s a very unusual name, and is my mother’s maiden name.

This is the first time I’ve tried a Strout book, but I plan on reading/listening to more from her. I enjoyed learning about Lucy, she felt like a friend telling me her life’s story.

The ending came quite abruptly though, I would have liked more.

Feb 072017
 

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50 States 5000 Ideas by National Geographic

This richly illustrated book from the travel experts at National Geographic showcases the best travel experiences in every state, from the obvious to the unexpected. Sites include national parks, beaches, hotels, Civil War battlefields, dude ranches, out-of-the-way museums, and more. You’ll discover the world’s longest yard sale in Tennessee, swamp tours in Louisiana, dinosaur trails in Colorado, America’s oldest street in NYC, and the best spot to watch for sea otters on the central California coast. Each entry provides detailed travel information as well as fascinating facts about each state that will help fuel your wanderlust and ensure the best vacation possible. In addition to 50 states in the U.S., the book includes a section on the Canadian provinces and territories.

What I Thought
I love going on day trips, I love traveling, and I love this book! I learned a few new things about each state.

The book brought back a lot of memories from when I lived in California and Ohio.

Here are a few of them:
California: I’ve seen the lettuce fields in Salinas and even though the photo in the book is amazing, they are even more beautiful in person.

I lived in Monterey and 17 Mile Drive is a beautiful place to spend the day.

Ohio: Cedar Point. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been there. It was one of the world’s first theme parks, and I loved going there as a child.

I loved spending days swimming and boating at Lake Erie. Lots of childhood memories from there.

The book mentioned the Cincinnati Zoo, but not the Columbus Zoo, which I thought was strange. Not that the Cincinnati Zoo isn’t amazing, it is, but my favorite is the Columbus Zoo.

Florida: Disney World, Sea World, Legoland, not to mention all the amazing beaches. Everglades National Park. I haven’t been to the Keys, but have wanted to go for years.

Places I put on my Bucket List after reading this book:
(Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, and Arizona were already on it)
New England States, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana…to name a few.

There are beautiful photos scattered throughout the book, and each state has plenty of places to see and things to do. There are also  a few sections each for each state called Little Known Facts, State Of The Art, Local Flavor, Road Trips, Capitalism, Tourism Information, Festivals, Hidden Treasures.

I love this book and will keep it where I can pick it up and scan through it from time to time. It will come in handy whenever I travel, even while traveling in my own state. It would make a great gift for anyone who loves to travel, or wants to travel.

About The Author
During three decades as an editor, writer, and photographer, Joe Yogerst has lived and worked on four continents—Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. His writing has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Islands magazine, The New York Times (Paris), and numerous National Geographic books. During that time, he has won four Lowell Thomas Awards, including one for Long Road South, his National Geographic book about driving the Pan American Highway from Texas to Argentina.

Purchase Links

National Geographic Store | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

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Feb 062017
 

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Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café  by Max Lucado

with Candace Lee , Eric Newman
Narrated by: Ben Holland
Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-03-15
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

What I Thought
I was excited to listen to this book. I liked the blurb and thought it would be an uplifting story, and it was. I liked all the characters, especially Manny. He sure added a lot to the story, and I grew very fond of him and his quirkiness.

While I liked Chelsea, she jumped to conclusions a bit too quickly for me, especially about her husband. Everything is not what it seems, which she found out.

The narrator was good, but it seemed that he took a big deep breath at the beginning of most sentence, and listening to that over and over kind of got on my nerves. He did, however, do a terrific job with all the different voices.

This was a quick listen, just a bit over 5 1/2 hours. I liked that it was a good clean book with a positive message. I really enjoyed this book.

Jan 262017
 

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-05-14
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell.’ But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

What I Thought
I started this audio book a few months ago but didn’t finish it. Then I started it again, and again I didn’t finish it. To be honest, Ove got on my nerves. I thought he was a grumbling grouch. I decided to give it one more try since I kept seeing so many 5 star reviews for it. This time, finally, Ove’s gruff personality didn’t seem so annoying. I actually started liking him. I laughed more than a few times at some of the things he said and thought. I especially thought the names he gave everyone were funny…the lanky one, the pregnant one, white shirt etc.

Poor Ove can’t stand things that are not what he thinks they should be. It truly angers him. He says “right is right and wrong is wrong” quite often throughout the book. And he can’t trust anyone who doesn’t drive a Saub, among other things.

I loved learning about Sonia, I liked her a lot. I felt bad for Ove because I know what it feels like to lose your spouse.

There a quite a few characters in the book, all personable except for two (not counting Ove), and I enjoyed each one of them. I loved all the different stories from Ove & Sonia’s past, and how Ove’s relationships with the other characters grew into something that surprised everyone who lived in his neighborhood. I was surprised too. I  learned that there was a kind soul behind all that gruffness. I loved how Ove fought so hard for the right thing concerning the people he cared about, just because “it’s the right thing to do”.

I’m so glad I gave this audio book another chance. It made me laugh a lot, and even made my eyes leak a few times.

This was the first book I’ve listened to that is narrated by George Newbern. I’m very picky about narrator’s, but I thought he did an amazing job with all the voices. He made the book very easy to listen to.

Although it took me a few times to start enjoying the book, (I don’t think I gave it enough time the first two times I started it), I ended up loving it, and I even ended up loving Ove.

I highly recommend this, both print and audio.