Feb 282020
 

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Narrated by: Gary Sinise

Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 02-12-19
Language: English
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose – or so it seemed.

Within a few years, Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half-million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Thoughts
I’ve been a fan of Gary Sinise for a lot of years. I love his acting, how much he’s done for vets, his band (Lt. Dan Band),  and after listening to this book I like him even more.

The book is full of so many stories about his life from childhood through adulthood. I learned about things that he and his wife have gone through in their marriage and as parents, and so much more. He has led a very interesting life full of ups and downs, and if you read this you’ll find out what an amazing man, husband, and father he is. I knew quite a bit about what he’s done but this book is full of things that I had no clue about.

I loved this book and recommend it whether you are a fan of Gary’s or not.

Audiobook Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge Month-by-Month

Feb 132020
 

Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life

Forever and Ever, Amen:
A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life by Randy Travis
Ken Abraham – contributor

Narrated by: Rory Feek
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-14-19

Narrated by: Rory Feek
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-14-19

The long-awaited, deeply personal story of one of American music’s greatest icons, a remarkable tale of the utmost heights of fame and success, the deepest lows of life’s sorrows, and a miraculous return from the brink of death – told as only Randy Travis can.

Beloved around the world, Randy Travis has sold more than 25 million albums in both country and gospel genres and is considered one of the finest performers of his generation, admired by superstars across the musical landscape, from Garth Brooks to Mick Jagger.

From a working-class background in North Carolina to a job as a cook and club singer in Nashville to his “overnight success” with his smash 1986 album Storms of Life – which launched the neotraditional movement in country music – Randy’s first three decades are a true rags-to-riches story.

But in 2009, this seemingly charmed life began a downward spiral. His marriage dissolved, he discovered that his finances had unraveled, and his struggles with anger led to alcohol abuse, public embarrassment, and even police arrest in 2012.

Then, just as he was putting his life back together, Randy suffered a devastating viral cardiomyopathy that led to a massive stroke he was not expected to survive. Yet he not only survived but also learned to walk again and in 2016 accepted his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame by singing the hymn that explains his life today: “Amazing Grace.”

Filled with never-before-told stories, Forever and Ever, Amen is a riveting tale of unfathomable success, great joy, deep pain, and redemption that can come only from above.

Dive into Randy’s story with photos available in the audiobook companion PDF download.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Thoughts
I enjoyed this audiobook so much. I learned about Randy’s childhood, his teen years, how he got started in the music industry, and more. It was all very interesting.

I  really only listened to classic rock up until the time I met my husband in the late 80’s. He liked all genres of music so I got used to listening to a lot of different music. Soon I was a fan of many different country stars, including Randy Travis.

There were parts of this book that were funny, but also a lot of sad things.  I learned so much about his life, and I’m sure there are many people who would learn a lot about him too.

I liked hearing about his career and the people he met, many famous names! I was sad to learn that his first manager/wife (Lib) controlled almost everything in his life, including who he spent his spare time with and his finances, and that she took so much from him. I liked her in the beginning of the book but then her true colors came out. I don’t think she was/is a person any of us would want to have in our lives. Read/listen to the book and I think you’ll agree.

Randy’s life was filled with super highs and super lows, and it breaks my heart to learn that Lib took such advantage of him. It was implied in the book that she was the one who took almost every penny he ever made, and I couldn’t think of anyone else who would have done it since the book stated she was the one person in control of everything. She also took most all of his belongings without his knowledge when she left because of their divorce. Thankfully, he found happiness with his second wife Mary.

He was always a trusting, kind person, and he has been taken advantage of, and that is so sad to me. Randy is a Christian, who has done un-Christian like things, which is true of a lot of Christians. But I’m glad that both his faith and wife Mary got him through the massive stroke and coma that almost took his life.

This was read by Rory Feek and he did a great job!

Audiobook Challenge

Nonfiction Challenge: Memoir

Feb 102020
 

Doggy Defenders: Willow the Therapy Dog by National Geographic Kids

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Lexile Measure: 500 (What’s this?)
Series: Doggy Defenders
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (August 13, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426334478
ISBN-13: 978-1426334474

Calling Paw Patrol fans and all dog lovers! Follow the real-life adventures of dogs with jobs as they help their communities and save the day.

In this endearing read-aloud picture book, readers meet helping hound Willow, and follow her as she spends an exciting day at work. Gorgeous photography brings to life the true stories of sweet Willow’s role as a therapy dog in Washington, D.C. Simple, lyrical text lets readers journey along as Willow visits patients at a hospital, helps children read at a library pajama party, and brings smiles to people who need them. Young readers will fall for this witty and daring tale of heroism, along with aww-worthy photographs. Good dog, Willow!

Thoughts
I love dogs! This book in the Doggy Defenders series, is geared toward kids aged 4-8 years but adults will love it too.

Megan adopted Willow from a rescue organization. Willow was a former racing Greyhound, who then becomes a therapy dog, visiting hospital patients, schools, veterans, and libraries. She comforts all she comes in contact with, and is a big hit with everyone who meets her.

I love that the book has many great photos to help tell Willow’s story. You can see the joy on peoples faces when Willow, and the other therapy dogs, are near.

This was a great book for all ages! I love that Willow was adopted, I love that she was trained to be a therapy dog, and I love that she gave happiness and comfort to so many people.

I highly recommend this book to children and adults. It is a short read but is a feel good book that will brighten your day.

I enjoyed this book so much that I plan on reading the other books in the series.

2020 Non-Fiction Challenge

Jan 312020
 

Recipe for a Perfect Wife audiobook cover art

Recipe For A Perfect Housewife by Karma Brown

Narrated by: Jorjeana Marie, Mozhan Marnò
Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-31-19
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Audio

When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home’s basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner – 1950’s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages, Nellie left clues about her life – including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.

Soon, Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister – even dangerous – side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.

Thoughts
WOW… but first let me say I LOVED this book!
I loved that it took place in the 1950’s and again in the 2000’s.
I loved that the two stories took place in the same house.
I loved that Nellie’s story influenced what happened in Alice’s story.
I loved all the 1950’s recipes.
I loved that the recipe book was Nellie’s mother, then Nellie’s, and then Alice’s.
I loved the ending!

This book was a bit scary/freaky, it was part love story & part out of love story, a few of the characters were manipulative, but they were all a great addition to the story. The pace was steady and it kept me interested. I didn’t want to stop listening so I could find out what was going to happen next.

I’ve read some reviews where people didn’t like one of the story lines, but I thought both were very good. The author did a great job of linking them together, and the narrators did a great job!

This was my first book by this author but I plan on reading more from her.

Some of the recipes in the book had “special” ingredients like rose petals etc., but I decided to make the  Tuna Casserole. My mom made this when I was growing up and I made it when my kids were growing up, but we used noodles too. We never used potato chips.

Chapter 24
Nellie

July 30, 1956

Tuna Casserole
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2- 7 oz. cans tuna, drained
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
2 cups cooked peas
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup crushed potato chips

In a casserole dish blend mushroom soup and milk
Stir in tuna, sliced eggs, cooked peas, salt, & pepper
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes
Top with potato chips and bake 5 minutes longer

Foodies Read

Audiobook 

Weekend Cooking

Jan 152020
 

It’s Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 3 hours and 5 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Original recording
Publisher: Audible Original
Audible.com Release Date: August 1, 2019
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07TXLSL83

Close your eyes and get ready to see the world in a new and more positive way. As a child in Toronto, Molly Burke was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and became completely sightless as a teenager. Now an award-winning YouTube star and global Influencer, Molly shares what it’s like to be a purple-haired, pink-obsessed fashion and makeup lover in a seeing world. She speaks with authenticity and candor about how she tackles the preconceived notions we have around blindness; Molly has made it her mission to make us see her – and ourselves- in a wholly empowering way. Learn about her struggles with bullying and anxiety, her quest for inclusivity, how she built a successful Influencer business (with more than 1.8 million followers), and what it’s really like to travel with the true star of this audio, her service dog, Gallop.

Thoughts
I had never heard of Molly Burke before seeing this Audible Original. After listening to it I subscribed to her YouTube channel.

Molly tells us what it was like loosing her site from a young age and up to the time she wrote the book. I learned alot about what it would be like to loose your site slowly, after years of being able to see. She is brutaly honest about many things, and talks about her fears, accomplishments, family, friends and what it was like to be bullied for being blind. That part upset me a lot. Bullying is just plan wrong in any circumstance, but especially so when the person is disabled in any way.

I really enjoyed listening to Molly talk about her service dogs, her love for them was evident in her voice. She talked about how people can make it so hard for someone who depends on a service dog, and what is ok and not ok to do when you see someone with a service dog.

I enjoyed listening to this audiobook, the author did a great job with the narration. I would recommend it to everyone.

2020 Diversity Challenge

2020 Non-Fiction Challenge: Medical Issue

2020 Audiobook Challenge

Jan 092020
 

Regretting You audiobook cover art

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Narrated by: Tanya Eby, Lauren Ezzo
Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-10-19
Language: English
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

Thoughts
This book had my feelings all over the place. At first I was thinking “this book is so good! I love Morgan, Chris, Jenny, Jonah and Clara”. Then I was thinking “Morgan and Clara are so aggravating. What in the world is wrong with them?”

Then slowly, things happened that made me like them again. And I loved Johna, Miller and his gramps all the way through the book.

This is a book that took me on a roller coaster of feelings. I laughed with them, cried with them, and felt their pain. And in the end I loved them again.

The two narrators did a great job!

This is the first book I’ve read by Hoover, but I plan on reading more from her. This book was outstanding!

2020 Reading Challenge Month-by-Month

2020 Audiobook Challenge