Friday Morning Bookclub

September 12, 2016

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Audio Book?? The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Everyone dreams. Some of us remember our dreams, others do not. But what happens when your dreams seem so real that you no longer are sure what is real and what is the result of an overactive imagination?

the-bookseller-pic

When Kitty opened her eyes and looked around the sage green bedroom, she had no idea where she was. The last thing she remembered was painting her bedroom a sunny yellow. This bedroom had beautiful coordinating bedding, nothing like the mismatched sheets and blankets she was accustomed to. Surely this was a dream and if she closed her eyes she would soon find herself in some other imaginary place.

But the gentle touch of a hand on her shoulder and the sound of a strange male voice told her otherwise. Someone was waking her up. Someone was calling her Katharyn.”Get up Katharyn love, your daughter needs you.”

Her daughter? Kitty Miller did not have any children. Nor was she married. But this was only a dream, and a pleasant dream at that. Why not go along? What choice did she have? She got up and walked down the hall to find her imaginary daughter, a daughter named Missy who apparently needed her. In real life Kitty did not know the first thing about taking care of a child, but in this dream world Katharyn knew exactly what to do. In this dream world she was called Mommy.

And then as quickly as it began, the dream was over. Kitty was back in her sunny yellow room. But unlike her typical dreams, this had felt real and she liked this dream world of hers. What was not to like? The Katharyn of her dreams had a beautiful house, a loving husband and children. She had everything 38 year old Kitty had ever wanted.

But when the dreams began to return and time after time, Kitty found herself living in this alternative life, it became even more confusing. Was she Kitty, or was she Katharyn? Did she own a book store or was she a stay at home mother with a handsome husband and children. Neither Kitty or Katharyn’s lives were perfect. Neither were without their heartbreaks and challenges. Could she choose which life was real? And if so which would you choose?

The Bookseller will keep you guessing until the last moment. It is a thoroughly entertaining read and a wonderful audio book!

Do you listen to audio books? Are there any you would like to recommend?

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November 22, 2014

Another Great Audio Book: The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg

The Hidden ChildHow is it possible that I have never heard of Camilla Lackberg? It was just by chance that I picked up The Hidden Child while browsing the shelves of playaways at my local library. The story sounded intriguing and I was not disappointed.

Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstom are a modern-day couple. Erica, a crime writer is working on a new book and her husband Patrik, a homicide detective is on paternity leave. It is his turn to take some time off from work to care for the couples one year old daughter Maja.

Playing Mr. Mom does not come naturally to Patrik and although he means well, he does not always make the best decisions when it comes to caring for Maja. Who could blame Erica for being slightly perturbed to find out that Patrik and Maja had taken a little detour during their afternoon walk to visit the scene of a murder?

As it turned out this was not just some random murder. Not only did Erica know the victim, she had recently met with him at the very place he had been murdered, seeking his advice. His name was Erik and he was a retired history teacher and an expert on WWII Nazi memorabilia. When Erica had found a Nazi medal wrapped in a blood stained baby outfit as well as an incomplete set of diaries in her mother’s attic she was left with many questions and it was Erik she had gone to for answers. Perhaps if she knew more about the medal and who it had belonged to she would have a better understanding as to her mothers past and why she had always been such a cold unloving person. Now days later Erik was dead, and Erica was no closer to learning the truth.

The story alternates back and forth between present day Sweden and 1940’s Sweden. Chapter by chapter, piece by piece we learn about all of the people who played a part in Erica’s mother’s past and about the secret that would ultimately come back to haunt each of them. A secret that would lead to murder.

The Hidden Child is the fifth book in Camilla Lackberg’s Fjallbacka detective series. It is an exciting, suspenseful story and an excellent audio book. I look forward to listening to the rest of the series and this time I am going to start with number 1:The Ice Princess!

A four omelet audio book!

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedström, #5) – Goodreads

Have you listened to any good audio books lately? If so, I would love to hear about them!

September 11, 2014

The Paris Architect………..In Three Words!

Filed under: Audio books,Historical Fiction,In Three Words,The Paris Wife — susanbright @ 6:14 am

arch - CopyLucien Bernard, a talented young architect doesn’t hate Jews, he is just indifferent to them and their plight.  So when he is offered  a commission to design a hiding place in a posh apartment for a wealthy Jewish man, he is appalled. It was suicide! Why would he put his life in danger for a Jew? But as Lucien looked around the apartment, his head began to spin with ideas. He could do this, he could out smart the Gestapo! Truth be told, he could really use the money, This was a challenge he could not refuse…just this once!

The Paris Architect takes place in 1942 Paris. I chose to listen to this month’s book, and The Paris Architect is a RIVETING AUDIO BOOK!

Here is what some of our readers have to say:

What a concept

Disturbing and Captivating!

Fast informative read

Great historical fiction

Good versus Evil

Outsmarting the gestapo

Thought provoking, informative

Interesting, Intriguing, heartwarming

How would you describe The Paris Architect…..In Only Three Words?

April 6, 2014

Playaways Are The Best! The Silent Wife By A.S.A Harrison…Another Entertaining Audio Book!

silentPlayaways have become my best friend. They accompany me wherever I go. They are a multi tasker’s dream. Life has been hectic lately and by the time I settle down in the evening I have been too tired to pick up a book. No matter how busy or how tired I am there is always time to listen to a book and playaways make it so easy to do. Do I sound like an advertisement?

The Silent Wife is a “he said, she said” book. In this case the titles of the chapters alternate between Him and Her. Him is 40 some year old Todd, Her is 40 some year old Jodi.

The couple met  twenty years earlier in a most unusual way. In fact the first words out of Todd’s mouth after his car clipped the side of Jodi’s rented van was “You crazy bitch”. Perhaps that was an omen as to what was to be, but the couple began to date, fell in love and although they never officially married had been living together ever since. Jodi, a therapist was content with her life. She knew that Todd had been unfaithful at times, but was willing to over look it. She enjoyed getting up in the morning, walking their golden retriever and preparing gourmet meals for Todd. Things were not perfect but Jodi was ok with that. But when Todd falls in love with a younger woman and Jodi’s whole life as she knows it is threatened, Jodi is driven to do things even she did not know she as capable of.

At only 8 hours,The Silent Wife will not disappoint. Somewhat like a short, less convoluted  Gone Girl, The Silent Wife is a quick, fun thriller. Perfect for those who need to be doing something as they go about their day.

A 3 omelet book

March 27, 2014

Touch & Go By Lisa Gardner…..Sheer Entertainment!

Touch And Go was just what I needed. Exciting from beginning to end!

touch Although Libby and Justin Denbes appeared to have it all, their marriage was in trouble. Justin had been having an affair with a younger woman and Libby knew all about it. Libby, the product of a broken marriage wanted more for her teen age daughter and was willing to try to forgive and work things out. It was date night, and after a somewhat awkward dinner the couple returned to their beautiful home in a prestigious Boston neighborhood to find their house unlocked and unarmed. Had their daughter Ashlyn forgotten to put the alarm on again,something she had been warned about numerous times? Unfortunately it was something much more sinister.

When investigator Tess Leone arrived at the Denbes’ home she found signs of a struggle, taser confetti and a pool of vomit. What she didn’t find were the Denbes. How could an entire family disappear and why? Was it something to do with Justin’s multi million dollar company or was it something much more personal?

The dynamics of the Denbes’ family was fascinating as every one of them had secrets, and Tess Leone  had an interesting background as well. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy a good old fashion mystery. Touch and Go was exciting, full of twists and turns and kept me guessing  up until the very end.

The audio book was read by Elizabeth Rodgers, and although I found the Boston/ northern accents a little strange (what do I know). I quickly adapted to them.  The 15 hours flew by and I plan to head to the library as soon as possible to pick up another playaway. I hate to be without one!

A 4 Omelet audio book!

 

March 17, 2014

The Obituary Writer…A Very Entertaining Audio Book!

owWhile browsing the shelves of playaways at the library for a familiar sounding title, The Obituary Writer caught my attention. I had never heard of it, but with a title like that I had to check it out and I am glad that I did.  It was everything I look for in an audio book. It was a manageable length, only 8 hours, not too complicated so it was perfect for listening to as I went about my daily chores and most importantly it was entertaining.

The Obituary Writer reads like two different stories about two different women from two different eras, and although I had no idea how the stories were related, it all came together in the end.

Claire and Peter appeared to be the perfect couple. They shared a beautiful daughter and were expecting a baby. But there was a problem. Both Claire and Peter suspected that Peter was not the father of the child Claire was carrying. Yes, Claire had fallen in love with a man she had met while campaigning for John F. Kennedy. A married man who unlike her husband took her serious and actually listened to her. Although the affair had come to a screeching halt after Peter had walked in on the couple in bed Claire could not stop thinking about  Miles. Peter expected Claire to just go back to being the dutiful wife he had married, leaving Claire with the difficult decision as to what to do with her marriage. Could Claire leave her husband and risk losing her daughter in the process?

Vivian Lowe was famous for the obituaries she wrote.  These were not the typical obituaries people were used to reading, especially in 1919. Vivian’s obits did not just list the pertinent facts such as age, career  and children. Vivian knew how to listen to people as they described their loved one and the obituaries she wrote managed to capture the true essence of the deceased person. Vivian understood grief and perhaps that was why she was so good at what she did. She had lost the love of her life and had been searching for him ever since he left her apartment the morning of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, never to be seen again. Thirteen years had passed, yet Vivian still could not accept the fact that her David was dead. His body was never found and she couldn’t help but imagine him walking around San Francisco in a state of amnesia.

The Obituary Writer alternates back and forth between these two captivating love stories. The stories of two women from two different eras, both dealing with grief and loss, both looking for love. Listening to Claire talk about the Kennedy’s and trying to guess what color Jackie would wear to her next appearance  added some welcomed levity to her story. The end caught me totally by surprise, although that may be because I wasn’t even trying to figure out the ending or the connection between Claire and Vivian, I was just going for the ride, listening to this engaging novel beautifully read by Tavia Gilbert.

A 4 omelet audio book

The Obituary Writer: A Novel: Ann Hood: 9780393081428:

February 24, 2014

The Good House By Ann Leary…..More Than Just An Entertaining Audio Book!

Filed under: Audio books,Book Recomendations,The Good House — susanbright @ 9:10 pm
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the gooid housI can’t help it. I am a multi-tasker. It is a curse. I have a difficult time doing one thing at a time. The invention of the play away was designed just for people like me. It makes it possible to “read” a book while doing necessary everyday tasks, and sometimes with a good audio book, like The Good House, I find myself looking for things to do around the house just so I have an excuse to keep “reading”.

Hildy Good is a successful small town realtor. In fact she is one of the most successful business woman in Wendover, Massachusetts, a town she has lived in her entire life. Hildy knows how to read people. “Alcoholics, hoarders, binge eaters……”. One look at their house tells her all she needs to know. “I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist after a year of sessions”, she boasts.

Unfortunately, Hildy is also an alcoholic.  So she likes a drink once in a while? She never drinks before 5 and most nights only has a few glasses of wine. In fact, she actually drives better when she is drunk and as for that DWI, she barely tapped the car. So she had misjudged the distance? Could happen to anyone. Yes, Hildy has an answer for everything. She is clearly in denial. Even after an intervention (an inquisition according to Hildy) orchestrated by her daughters and a 28 day program in Minnesota, Hildy reverts  back to her old habits. Afterall, “Is a blackout really a blackout if no one is there to see it?”

Hildy Good is an “old Townie” and knows all of the colorful residents of Wendover, There is Rebecca McAllister, the young pretty girl married to one of the riches men in new England. It was Hildy that sold the McAllister’s their multi million dollar house. Hildy could tell that Rebecca was depressed just by the type of flowers she planted in front of the house.  Peter Newbold, the local shrink has an office right above Hildy’s and she has known him from the time he was a little boy, and Frank Getchell, a local contractor and Hildy go way back. They have a history.  Everyone in town has secrets and Hildy is good at keeping them, but how long can she keep her drinking a secret and her life from unraveling?

The Good House is more than just a quick, entertaining novel. It also is an insightful look into the world of an alcoholic, written by someone who knows what they are talking about. The author, Ann Leary is a recovering alcoholic.

“The challenge for me as the writer was to write a book, in the first person, from the point of view of an alcoholic in complete denial,” says Leary.

Interview with Ann Leary, author of the novel, “The Good House”

The Good House: A Novel: Ann Leary: 9781250043030: Amazon 

August 7, 2013

2 Weeks and 2 Batteries Later…I Finished Listening To The White Queen By Philippa Gregory

whiteThe White Queen is the story of Elizabeth Woodville of the House of Lancaster. 27-year-old Elizabeth and her two young sons were back living with her parents after her husband Sir John Grey was killed in battle.  She had lost all her properties to her dead husband’s family and was determined to meet the Yorkist King Edward IV and ask for his help in reclaiming what once belonged to her. With her two sons in tow, Elizabeth waited by the side of the road for the king and his men to ride by. The 22-year-old  king could not help but notice the young girl. and this was the beginning of a beautiful yet tragic love story.

He is looking at me and I at him, and it is so quiet that I can hear a thrush in the branches of the oak above me. How he sings. My god, it sings like a ripple of glory, like joy made into sound.

King Henry and Elizabeth started their life together with a secret wedding ceremony. Even Elizabeth’s own father could know nothing of their marriage. Not only had the king married without the permission of Lord Warwick, he had married a commoner. There were many people who were not going to be happy with his choice of a wife. Eventually the world would know and he would take her to court, he assured her. When Elizabeth’s brother found out about the secret marriage he called her a whore. He was convinced that it was not real and that once again, this handsome king had taken advantage of a beautiful woman. and this time the woman was his own sister. Elizabeth loved the king and knew that he loved her also. One day he would come for her and eventually that day came.

Elizabeth became the Queen of England and with the help of her mother, she did whatever was necessary to secure her position as well as the position of her family members. She could trust no one, especially the kings own brothers. Brother against brother. Cousin against cousin.

Although The White Queen is based on historical facts, it has more fiction in it than Gregory’s previous books.  Because it dates further back in time than the others there were many gaps which she had to fill in and times when Gregory had to choose from different versions of the story. There are also several different theories as to what really happened to King Henry and Queen Elizabeth’s two sons, Prince Richard and Prince Edward.

The White Queen is the first book in the Cousins’ War Series. Although it is historical fiction, it reads like a mystery.  I had no idea what was going to happen next. I broke my own rule when I picked up this playaway at the library and I am glad that I did. I try to avoid audio books over 12 hours long, but when I saw this one I couldn’t resist.  I always enjoy Philippa Gregory’s books. In fact The Other Boleyn Girl is still one of my all time favorites. The narrator of The White Queen was wonderful and I loved listening to her beautiful voice. It seemed to fit Elizabeth perfectly. Although the book was a little long and dragged a bit at times, I enjoyed it and look forward to reading The White Princess to see what happens to The White Queen’s daughter.

I cannot tell you how excited I was when I saw that The White Queen was made into a television series and better yet… it starts in just 3 days! August 10th….. Mark your calendars!

Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV, of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward’s throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children. In The White Queen Philippa Gregory brilliantly evokes the life of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the survival of her family,

Read more at: http://www.philippagregory.com/books/the-white-queen
Source: Philippa Gregory

Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV, of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward’s throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children. In The White Queen Philippa Gregory brilliantly evokes the life of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the survival of her family,Read more at: http://www.philippagregory.com/books/the-white-queen
Source: Philippa Gregory

http://www.starz.com/originals/thewhitequeen

February 17, 2013

Good Enough To Listen to TWICE! Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit

I first read Fahrenheit 451 years ago. Was it in junior high school? High school? I really can’t remember when I read it, but when I saw the audio book sitting on the shelf of the library, I was intrigued. This dystopian novel was definitely worth a second read and it turns out it was also worth a third! Yes, as soon as I finished listening to it, I went back to the beginning and listened to it again.

For those of you who have never read Fahrenheit 451, or like me forgot more about the book than you remembered, Fahrenheit 451, written in 1953 is about a futuristic society where books are outlawed and people spend their days watching stories which make little sense on large wall to wall screens.  Between watching these “parlor walls”, listening to the radio via seashell ear radios, and driving 100 plus miles an hour looking at the 200 foot long bill boards little time was left to actually think about anything meaningful. It was all about “being happy” and knowledge was actually a bad thing, after all it made people feel superior.

Guy Montag was a fireman, as was his father and his grandfather. His job was not to put out fires as houses were now fire proofed, but to burn down houses found with books as well as to destroy the books themselves.  Montag never gave this any thought until he meets Clarisse McClellan, a strange 17-year-old girl who enjoys walking in the rain, picking dandelions and asking questions, something no one ever did. A series of events occur including a fire call gone wrong and Montag begins to question everything he once believed to be true. He realizes that he can’t even remember how he met his wife Mildred, a shell of a woman who watches the parlor walls all day and actually considers the characters in the shows her family. Suddenly his life begins to spin out of control.

Fahrenheit 451 may have been written 60 some years ago, but it is still a powerful, thought-provoking book. The televisions in my house are not quite as large as the wall to wall parlor walls described in Bradbury’s book, but they certainly have gotten much larger in recent years. And come to think of it, I can often be seen around town with little buds in my ears listening to my stories (via audio books). Yes, Fahrenheit 451 certainly has me thinking!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Reviews, Discussion Goodreads

Next on my “to reread” list… Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

November 29, 2012

And Only One Lifeboat Went Back To Pick Up The People Left Drowning In The Water! The Dressmaker By Kate Alcott

Tess Collins wanted out. Out of a life of servitude. She was tired of doing laundry, making beds and waiting on people.  She was a seamstress, not a maid and she was ready to prove it! There was a huge ship sailing for New York and Tess was determined to be on it. Surely she could get a job on the ship and once in New York she would start a new life.

Unfortunately Tess was too late and there were no more jobs on the ship, but Tess would not accept defeat and fate was on her side when the famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon’s personal maid failed to show up. Tess was hired to accompany the  Duff Gordon’s on the voyage. This was a dream come true. Yes, she was still just a maid, but she would be working with Lady Duff Gordon!

Madame Gordon as she insisted on being called was not an easy person to please but Tess would do anything to make this work. When she was not waiting on Madame, Tess was free to explore the Titanic and was amazed to see how the rich and famous lived. She loved the beautiful clothing and the delicate china. She even managed to attract the attention of Jack Bremerton, a wealthy Chicago business man as well as Jim Bonney, a young sailor, both whom would plan an important part in her future.

Unfortunately, on the fourth night of the voyage tragedy struck. The unimaginable had happened. The amazing ship had hit an iceberg and chaos erupted.  Lady Duff Gordon, and her husband Cosmo escaped on life boat #1 with Tess’ sailor friend Jim Bonney, and Tess escaped on  lifeboat #6 with Margaret Brown. And all of this happens in the first 50 pages of the book.

Once in New York, Tess was taken under Madame’s wing. Finally she could have everything she ever dreamed of, but at what cost? Why was Lady Duff Gordon’s lifeboat more than half empty and what part did Jim Bonney play in the decision to launch with so few people aboard?  Why was Tess’s lifeboat the only one that even bothered to try to pick up the survivors?

The Dressmaker is a thoroughly entertaining story and is beautifully read by Susan Duerden. The book focuses on what happened after the sinking of the Titanic. According to the author’s notes,  the testimonies were taken directly from the transcripts of the U.S. Senate hearings.  Although Tess Collins was a fictional character many of the other characters were not. Lady Duff Gordon and her husband really did escape on a life boat with only 12 people on it, when it could have held up to 50 people. Margaret Brown (The Unsinkable Molly Brown), is considered a hero for insisting that her lifeboat return to pick up survivors. Although it was an easy read and could have gone into more detail, I still managed to learn quite a bit about the sinking of the Titanic and the hearings that followed which resulted in legislation requiring sufficient lifeboats on today’s ships. Of course, I may be one of the few that never saw the movie The Titanic!

 Amazon.com: The Dressmaker: A Novel (9780385535588): Kate

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