Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Audiobooks I’ve Been Enjoying…

I’m embarrassed to say that I am way way WAY behind in blogging about the audiobooks I’ve been listening to during the commute from Hades. I purchase most of my audiobooks via Audible/Amazon (links to Amazon where I am an Associate and where you can read more about them).

A while ago I listened to THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead and narrated by Bahni Turpin. Let’s be honest, everyone was reading this and I heard nothing but amazing reviews. It was well written but I found it too violently disturbing and graphic. Not sure what I was expecting from a novel on slavery, but I did struggle to get through this one.

THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT by Kate DiCamillo, read by Juliet Stevenson, was one I got for the kids. This was a sweet, solid story.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple and narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite was a novel that I’ve been avoiding because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. Boy was I wrong. I loved this story and the characters! It was a great listen and I’m so happy I finally got to it. I thought it would be depressing but it wasn’t.

HILLBILLY ELEGY written and read by JD Vance was one for our work book club. To be honest, I feared this non-fiction read would be boring. Not at all! This was a relatively short listen (about 7 hours) and I loved it! It was incredibly interesting, and having it read in Mr. Vance’s voice made it even more compelling. I have no hillbilly background, but this story speaks to more than one area of the US. It’s a commentary on social class and economic status and how these things separate us and how difficult it is for someone to pull themself from poverty. Fascinating and well done!

I followed ELEGY with MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by Elena Ferrante, read by Hilary Huber. Where has this series been all my life? This was an incredibly gritty look (book one of a series) at a life growing up outside of Naples. I loved it as that’s where my heritage is – culture, family values, and faith were main players in guiding these folks lives, and I can’t wait to get the next novel in this series.

Nothing helps the commute from Hades than something suspenseful, so I got a deal on SK Tremayne’s THE FIRE CHILD, read by Imogen Church. Suspenseful and fun, this one kept me entertained while fighting Boston traffic.

I received a free copy from the publicist of Amity Allen’s POISON MY PRETTY, the first in the cozy witch mystery series (read by Rachel Fulginiti). This was a great cozy read, following a mystery, a beauty pageant, and a young woman who is part witch. I look forward to hearing about (no pun intended!) more books in the series!

I was SO excited to get LINCOLN IN THE BARDO (read by a whole host of people) because I heard this was the best thing since — well — The Underground Railroad. All I can ask is: what is happening in this story? I was so confused. Perhaps it’s one you should not listen to in traffic? Who were all those people? I feel like I should have had an introduction to whatever was going on well before I purchased it. I DNF’ed it.

Slightly less confusing, but still confusing, was INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins, read by Laura Aikman et al. I loved Girl on the Train and I expected more of the same. Well, it was and it wasn’t. Again – confusing while commuting as I was asking myself who all these people were. While I eventually “got it”, I had to work at it, which is hard to do in traffic, so I think this one is better read.

Finally, I’ve ended this week on the high of an incredible read: Lisa See’s THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE, read by Ruthie Ann Miles et al. I love everything Lisa See has ever written and this historical fiction piece following a young woman in China and the baby she gives up for adoption was just sublime.

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Audible Find: THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena ~ Read by Kirsten Potter

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What??

This was one of those “can’t stop listening to this roller coaster ride of a story” experiences for me last week. I had purchased this audiobook with my monthly credit.

Read it! Listen to it! Get it!

If you like those suspenseful books like “Girl on a Train” or “Gone Girl” or “Behind Closed Doors” -things like that, this is one for you!

Overview via Amazon:

How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even yourself?

People are capable of almost anything….

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors – a twisty roller-coaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives.

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets – secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family, a chilling tale of decepti

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Audiobooks! For my Ears – for the past few months…

I’ve been totally remiss in documenting my audiobooks for y’all, so I wanted to do a big post on all the great stuff I’ve been listening to.

First I have to say: where would I be without Audible? I am a total convert. I’ll be honest. I did NOT want to spend the money to be an Audible subscriber, but, as someone who commutes now about 12+ hours a week (plus weekend fun!), I am hooked on books and get the most bang for my buck by digitally downloading books through Audible. I also buy them cheaply through their Daily Deal. And I still get CD’s to listen to from the library, because I love my local library.

So – here are some of the things I’ve been listening to (with blurbs from Amazon):

THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis Read by Katherine Kellgren

Audie Award Nominee, Solo Narration – Female, 2013

Audie Award Nominee, Best Thriller/Suspense Category, 2013

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is trying to live a quiet life. The last thing her husband wants is for her to go running off on another dangerous mission to help illegal refugees. But when Nina’s estranged friend, Karin, leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, and begs her to take care of its contents, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous case yet.

Because inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive. Nina’s natural instinct is to rescue the boy, but she knows the situation is risky. Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is hunting him down. When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy’s are in jeopardy, too.

**This was a great story that I  got as a “deal”. Loved the narration. The plot kept me listening. And it’s the first in a series!

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman Read by George Newbern

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.

**Hard to say why I loved this so much, but it reminded me of “Storied Life…”. Such a lovely story of a life well lived. Made me cry. I heard there’s a movie in the works. The narrator had the perfect voice quality for this novel, too.

FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella Read by Gemma Whelan

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts 14-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

**LOVED this one- made my daughter listen to it, too. Then I asked our school librarian to get it for the middle school. The accent of the narrator was perfect.

PAX by Sara Pennypacker Read by Michael Curran-Dorsano

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather’s house 300 miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be – with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own….

From best-selling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the essential truths that define us and the devastating costs of war.Pax is destined to become a beloved classic.

**So — I got this as it was listed in one of my GoodReads groups as a potential Newbery winner. I have to say, while well-written, it just didn’t do much for me. I found it slow and my mind wandered while listening. I am thinking that I’m not a good candidate for books told from animals’ points of view.

SUMMIT LAKE by Charlie Donlea Read by Shannon McManus

“A gem of a mystery, fast-paced and suspenseful.”–Catherine Coulter, # 1 New York Timesbestselling author

Set in a small, picturesque North Carolina town, Charlie Donlea’s suspenseful debut novel tells the haunting story of a murdered law school student, the reporter assigned to her story—and the intimate connection that comes when the living walk in the footsteps of the dead.

“No suspects.  No persons of interest.  Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next.”

Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place, with charming stilt houses dotted along the pristine water. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student, was brutally murdered in one of those houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was hard-working, accomplished, and ambitious. Now, while the town reels with grief and shocked residents gather to share their theories, the police are baffled.

At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper, pushing on despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life—and the secrets she was keeping—the more convinced she becomes that learning the truth about Becca could be the key to overcoming her own dark past…

Advance Praise for Summit Lake

“An exciting debut, with all the right touches, captivating from the first page to the last.  There’s a bright future ahead for this newcomer to the thriller genre — definitely a talent to watch.”–Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

“Gripping! This one kept me up late into the night.”–Nancy Bush, New York Times bestselling author

“A swift, outstanding debut. Summit Lake engrossed me then knocked me cold. Charlie Donlea is a superb storyteller sure to damage the best seller lists.”–Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author

Summit Lake makes a small town come alive through the lens of madness, misunderstandings, betrayal, and a pile of the kind of secrets that makes a mystery of a life so hard to untangle from its death. The pages fly by, zinging through the twists and revelations, all the way to the shattering conclusion.”–Jamie Mason

“A brilliant, haunting thriller in which The Lovely Bones meets The Silence of the Lambs—with a bit of Twin Peaks thrown in for good measure! Charlie Donlea weaves a unique, spellbinding tale about a bond between two fascinating women—one living, one dead. Full of unexpected twists and turns, Summit Lake is an irresistible page-turner.”–Kevin O’Brien, New York Timesbestselling author

“Grabs you from the very start and doesn’t let go! This gripping thriller keeps you at the edge of your seat and gasping in all the right places. Donlea spins a perfectly crafted story of two women, both victims of violent crime, searching for justice, redemption and ultimately—peace. You won’t be able to put this book down until you’ve uncovered all the secrets hidden inside the picturesque town of Summit Lake.”–Emily Bleeker

**I liked this one! Though I had it all figured out, I still liked the twists and turns. Great narration, too.

THE WONDER by Emma Donoghue Read by Kate Lock

*The latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room*

ACCLAIM FOR THE WONDER: “Deliciously gothic…. Dark and vivid, with complicated characters, this is a novel that lodges itself deep” (USA Today, 3/4 stars);“Heartbreaking and transcendent” (New York Times); A fable as lean and discomfiting as Anna’s dwindling body…. Donoghue keeps us riveted” (Chicago Tribune);“Donoghue poses powerful questions about faith and belief” (Newsday)

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

**So — I’m on chapter 12 of 17 of this one and it’s slow going. The story barely moves and there is a lot of character speculation and ruminating and not much action. I’m hoping things will suddenly pick up. And I hate to be less than positive but the narration is quite troubling to me. The reader’s regular voice is lovely – very BBC – and I wish she had read the entire book just in her regular voice. Instead she does all these voices and accents and it’s – well, let’s just say it doesn’t work for me. I often can’t understand her and the accent seems to travel all over Ireland to Scotland to Northern England (I have a thing for accents since I do theater). Perhaps this book would be a better choice to read? Regardless, I still have a couple of hours left so perhaps there will be a rousing ending? One can hope.
I must also put in a plug for NUMBER THE STARS which I’m reading with the fifth graders. Lois Lowry’s story of a young girl in WWII Copenhagen is unforgettable and the kids have loved it. Blair Brown’s narration is soothing and beautiful. All the kids agree: she’s a great reader!
I love using audiobooks in class to reinforce/build comprehension. The kids really enjoy it, too.
What are YOU listening to today?
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For my ears: ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

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So I’m totally late to the party on this one. I found it on sale on Audible and remembered that I had always meant to read it.

What a great book! I know it’s about teens, but I know that adults would love and appreciate it, too. I look forward to my daughter reading this book so we can discuss it together.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Audie Award Finalist, Teens, 2014

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.

So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be, she says, we’re 16.

What about Romeo and Juliet?

Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.

Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be.

Set over the course of one school year, in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

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This is a sensitively written, multi-layered, insightful story that is not to be missed. I listened to mine as I commuted, and it was ably done in two voices:Rebecca Loman and Sunhil Malhotra.

If you missed this when it came out in 2013, don’t miss it any longer! Look for it at a bookstore or library near you – or online!

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For my Ears: THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman

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I was currently reading an ARC of THE VELVET HOURS and enjoying it, so I got THE LOST WIFE, also by Alyson Richman, to listen to in the car.

Here’s an overview via GoodReads:

A rapturous novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Rhythm of Memory and The Last Van Gogh. In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there’s an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers…

Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.

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I loved this story, which moved back and forth through time — from the present, to pre-WWII, to post-WWII, to the present. Josef and Lenka are separated by circumstances in the war, and both think the other is dead. Yet throughout their lives they never forget each other.

A lovely and touching story, it is read in two voices (George Guidall for Josef and Suzanne Toren for Lenka), and made me wonder: “Could something like this really happen?” Apparently yes, as in the afterword Ms. Richman states that reading about a reunited couple who thought the other was dead in WWII gave her the idea for this story.

Recommended for those who like the WWII genre – in audio or paper!

I got mine via Audible with my monthly credit.

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A few for my ears….

As you know, I spend a lot of time commuting.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed some really good audiobooks through my Audible account.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger was a mixed mystery/coming of age story that was really well-written. Here’s the description from Amazon:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
WINNER OF THE 2014 DILYS AWARD
A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2013

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

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I really enjoyed this book — it kept me listening right up unto the end. I particularly loved the main character and his reminiscences of this fateful summer of his youth. It is read by Rich Orlow – who did a fantastic job – and runs 11 hours.

 

Another fantastic book was Z by Therese Anne Fowler. This is historical fiction about Zelda Fitzgerald. Here’s the Amazon overview:

“Picture a late-May morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume – same as I would wear that evening….”

Thus begins the story of beautiful, reckless, 17-year-old Zelda Sayre on the day she meets Lieutenant Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald at a country club dance. Fitzgerald isn’t rich or settled; no one knows his people; and he wants, of all things, to be a writer in New York. No matter how wildly in love they may be, Zelda’s father firmly opposes the match. But when Scott finally sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda defies her parents to board a train to New York and marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Life is a sudden whirl of glamour and excitement: Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel – and his beautiful, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, trades in her provincial finery for daring dresses, and plunges into the endless party that welcomes the darlings of the literary world to New York, then Paris and the French Riviera. It is the Jazz Age, when everything seems new and possible – except that dazzling success does not always last.

Surrounded by a thrilling array of magnificent hosts and mercurial geniuses – including Sara and Gerald Murphy, Gertrude Stein, and the great and terrible Ernest Hemingway – Zelda and Scott find the future both grander and stranger than they could have ever imagined.

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I LOVED this book so much! Zelda’s story is so tragic yet you can’t look away.

The narrator, Jenna Lamia, was AMAZING and I can still hear her voice in my head (in a good way!). It runs approximately 12 1/2 hours.

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I also listened to the novel: THE BOYS IN THE BOAT, by Daniel James Brown, about the Washington college crew team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Here’s the Amazon overview:

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together – a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boatis an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

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What a great story! I love a feel-good athletic underdog story!!

This 14 1/2 hour book was read by Edward Herrmann. He did a fine job, but his voice reminded me of the voiceover from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when I was a kid. To be honest, I would have loved a bit more pep.

 

Currently I am listening to THE LINCOLN LETTER by William Martin. I love his books! In this one Peter Fallon is looking for a lost diary of President Lincoln.

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What have YOU been listening to lately?

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Audiobook Review: THE EDGE OF LOST by Kristina McMorris

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If you follow me regularly, you might remember that back in December I was part of a Historical Fiction Book Blast for THE EDGE OF LOST by Kristina McMorris. The book sounded so good I put it on my TBR list!

Here’s the overview:

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

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There’s a lot going on in this novel — from Ireland to coming to America to NYC to Alcatraz. Shan/Tommy goes from being a poor child immigrant with no family, to being part of an Italian clan, to trying to make a solid adult existence for himself, to ending up in Alcatraz. I enjoyed reading his journey along the way. Ms. McMorris’s writing kept me engaged and I felt connected to Shan, especially when things were not going his way! While I would have loved even more scenes/details about his life in Alcatraz (Alcatraz was my 5th grade field trip!), the book is already over 300 pages, so I am guessing that she needed to keep it trim.

With themes of forgiveness, self-fulfillment, and the undying bonds of family, THE EDGE OF LOST is a great read and one that lovers of historical fiction will enjoy.

The Audiobook is just under 11 hours and is read by Charlie Thurston. He did an amazing job because this book has Irish accents, New York accents, “gangster accents” (if you know what I mean), Italian accents, and voices that are male, female, and child. It must have been a task to do it and do it well!

I purchased mine from Audible.

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Audiobook Review: CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese

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So — since I’m probably the only person who hasn’t read this book, I put it on my “must get” list to purchase from Audible. I actually started this book when it came out several years ago, but couldn’t stay with it. I thought perhaps an audio version would be easier for me, especially since it had been so long I could not remember what it was about and why I didn’t stay with it.

This novel is the lifelong story of twins boys, Shiva and Marion, born to an English doctor and a young Indian nun. Their mother dies in childbirth and their father wants nothing to do with them, so they are raised by a pair of doctors who take the boys in and grow to love them (and each other). The story traces the boys’ development, growing up amid political turmoil in Ethiopia, falling in love with the same young woman (Genet – their childhood playmate), and making lives for themselves as physicians.

So here’s the thing — I wanted SO MUCH to like this story. It’s extremely well written, it has constant and universal themes in it of family, love, and sacrifice. Plus, EVERYONE I know has loved this book. Loved it. But I have to be honest – this book made me miserable. I found the almost gruesomely vivid medical details to be too much for me (driving to school one day I had to turn it off as I was going to throw up). I loved the part when the boys were young, but then some things occurred that involved Genet and I found them extremely disturbing. I was very troubled by the story and its outcomes. Yes, it’s  an incredible work, but it left me in tears and haunted (not in a good way) by the characters. What can I say? I read to escape and I enjoy positive and uplifting feelings and endings. I’m extremely sensitive.This book genuinely made me miserable, so I was happy to finish it.

I’d love to hear from others who read it and their experience!

The Audiobook was a lengthy 24 hours and was ably read by Sunil Malhotra.

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Oh my Ears! What I’ve Been Listening to in the Car…Part One

The crazy commute continues, and while I love my NPR and the Broadway channel, Audible is keeping me sane. I have to say, though, that I often miss things because I have (wait for it —- ) concentrate on driving! I don’t “rewind” or whatever you’d call it digitally simply because I need to focus on driving, not fiddle with my audio player. However, if the choice is listen or not get a book at all, then I’m definitely up for listening!

In this last stretch I listened to six books – one was an Audible gift for the holidays while the rest I either got with my monthly credit or purchased because I couldn’t wait until the end of the month.

After All the Stars in the Heavens (reviewed earlier and separately), I purchased WONDER by R. J. Palacios. Yes, I know I am the LAST PERSON IN THE WORLD to get to this book, but it never seems to be in at the library. Well, it was worth the wait and the $9.99 I paid for it because this book (which you’ve probably all read already) is a gem. WONDER tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a fifth grader who has always been schooled at home because of his physical differences (which are facial). It’s a year in Auggie’s life as he integrates into school and navigates the social scene. I loved this story! When I first heard the main narrator (Diana Steele for Auggie) I thought it was Paula Poundstone trying to sound like a little kid, but eventually it grew on me and I decided it was just perfect. I can still hear that voice in my head!

Next I received a free download from Audible also a holiday treat – the short story of THE CHIMES by Charles Dickens. Wow – this was a miserable and depressing story. I guess Dickens published three stories about Christmas with THE CHIMES coming after A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Anyways — while superbly written, the story centered on this poor, hapless man named Toby “Trotty” Veck whose whole happy life is just a big illusion because everyone’s really dead. Whew — Merry Christmas!

Anyway – after that pick-me-up, I got the NEW Agatha Raisin by MC Beaton – DISHING THE DIRT. I couldn’t wait for it so I bought it for myself as a treat. Agatha is dealing with a new gal in town – a therapist – who not only seems to know a lot about people (including about Agatha’s past), but she uses it to her own devices. That said, she promptly ends up dead (the therapist that is) and Agatha needs to figure out who dunnit! This story was ably read by Alison Larkin.

Over the actual week of Christmas I listened to THE TIME BETWEEN, which I got on sale. It is by Karen White and I really like her stories. Understandably though, close to Christmas is not a good time for listening as there are many crazy people on the roads (or at least there are around here/Boston). This is a story of family and relationships, sisters and secrets. It takes place in the South, which many of Ms. White’s stories do. It was really good and had my fave themes of redemption and forgiveness in it. It had more than one narrator/voice for the women portrayed and all were very good and appropriate: Jennifer Ikeda, Barbara Rosenblat, and Angela Goethals. I may go back and listen to it again.

Well this ends Part One! Part Deux will be coming — featuring a YA novel I really wanted and loved called Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski and Isabel Allende’s new novel: The Japanese Lover.

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Oh My Ears! What I’ve Been Listening to in the Car…

 

With my new commute (Boston area traffic!!), I’ve become a devotee of Audible and audiobooks which I purchase via Amazon.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to in the car each morning (well,along with NPR):

FALL OF GIANTS by Ken Follett — This is SUPER long (over 30 hours) and I’m still listening to it. If this was a book (um – it is) it would be 1,000 pages! It’s the first in the Century trilogy and normally I love, love, love these sweeping sagas that are multi-generational and trace a family line through the years (a la Edward Rutherfurd). It focuses on several storylines that apparently converge and take place around the time of WWI. Have to be honest here — while listening to it I found it had a lot of sex and violence. I just couldn’t always stay focused; but of course that might have been the traffic…

THE STORMCHASERS by Jenna Blum — How did Jenna Blum have a book out that I did not know about? I loved her “THOSE WHO SAVED US” and her short story in GRAND CENTRAL. This was totally different for her – twins Charles and Karena haven’t seen each other in years, not since Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder, disappeared in his quest as a storm chaser. Karena is determined to find him now and her path takes her into the subculture of storm chasing. This was interesting and compelling and heart breaking – all at once. Jenna Blum does a great job of painting a picture of what life is like with a family member who suffers from mental illness. Charles’ bipolar comes with psychotic episodes and is especially frightening. I liked this novel, but I didn’t love it as I found it depressing. The narration sometimes bothered me when the narrator used what I call a “voiceover voice” – when you pitch your voice slightly higher and lift your soft palate, if you know what I mean.

THE BONES OF PARIS by Laurie R. King — I love Laurie King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books and I thought I’d love this one. It was a sometimes gritty mystery about missing young women in Paris during the Jazz Age and an intrepid detective’s search for them. It was very well-written, but a bit too harsh sexually for my tastes (I don’t like to grimace while driving). Definitely not a cozy, but well-plotted and interesting. I loved the narrator’s voice (Jefferson Mays). Oddly enough it had characters in it that I was reading about in another book (Mann Ray and Lee Miller from THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN).

NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah – I just finished this one. I loved Kristin Hannah’s THE NIGHTINGALE, so I wanted to read another by her. This was great and I couldn’t stop listening (which is good because if you know Boston traffic, I had plenty of time to sit and listen). In this novel, twins Mia and Zack befriend new girl Lexi and the three become inseparable. The twins’ mother, Jude, welcomes Lexi into their home, though she has a definite plan for her children. Then, senior year, events happen that will change forever the lives of all of them. This book has some of my favorite themes of self-forgiveness and reconciliation in it. I really enjoyed it and Kathleen McInerney’s narration.

ECHO – by Pam Munoz Ryan – I’m listening to it now! It’s a children’s fantasy story. There’s music mixed in, too.

With my next Audible credit, I will purchase ALL THE STARS IN HEAVEN by my gal Adriana — love her books!

What are YOU listening to these days?

 

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