Friday Morning Bookclub

October 24, 2012

Ransom River By Meg Gardiner….I Sure Didn’t See That Coming!

Filed under: Audio books,Ransom River — susanbright @ 12:40 pm
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Rory Mackenzie had good reason for leaving Ransom River, California. Unfortunately when the non profit organization she was working for lost its funding and she was out of money, she had no choice but to return to the town she grew up in, only to find a jury summons awaiting.

Rory was juror #7 and in a town where nothing ever happened, this was a high-profile case. A murder trial. Two officers were accused of shooting  and killing a 16-year-old intruder who just happened to be the son of Gregor Mirkovic, a powerful man with his own connections to the crime world.

As the jury watched a video of the shooting caught on tape by a neighbor’s security camera, the courtroom door swung open and in came two masked men, dressed in green fatigues and carrying guns. Everyone was ordered to the ground, all cell phones were collected and they bolted the door behind them. These men meant business and it was clear that people were going to get hurt. As Rory and several others were singled out and taken hostage, Rory’s thoughts went to Seth Colder, her ex boy friend who was an ex cop and the main reason she left Ransom River in the first place.

Fortunately Rory does make it out of this dangerous situation, however she quickly realizes that in the police’s mind she is not a victim. They actually believe that she is an accomplish. Video tapes from inside the court room show that she was not randomly selected as a hostage. Was she the target of a kidnapping gone bad? Why would anyone want her? Could this actually have something to do with something she and Seth had witnessed when they were only 9 years old?

Ransom River is a fast paced read with lots of twists and turns and yes, one major….I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING MOMENT. If you enjoy mysteries, this is a quick, entertaining read. I enjoyed listening to it in Playaway form as I went about my daily activities.

I don’t know what I did before my library started carrying Playaways! Any other Playaway lovers out there?

Meg Gardiner – Welcome to the official site of thriller novelist Meg

September 27, 2012

Missing By Shelley Shepard Gray

I guess I should have read the tiny writing on the cover of the Playaway box BEFORE I started listening to this book.  Although you practically need a magnifying glass to read it, it clearly says The Secrets of Crittenden County Book 1. Yes, there are two more books and I guess I will have to read all three if I want to know what happened to the missing, or in this case dead boy.

Missing takes place in a small Amish Community in Kentucky. The missing boy is Perry Borntrager, and until his body turns up at the bottom of an abandoned well, it was assumed that he had no longer wanted to be Amish and had simply run away.  This people could understand, but a murder in Crittenden County?  Now that was shocking!

The town Sheriff, Mose Kramer had been raised in an Amish family in Crittenden County himself, but had left the community to study Criminal Justice at The University of Cincinnati. When he was offered a job in his home town he was happy to accept the offer. He soon discovered, however that there were “complications in becoming sheriff in a town you grew up in.”  He knew too much and people were just not willing to answer his questions. He was getting no where in his investigation of the Borntrager murder. Thinking that the towns people may be more willing to spill the beans to an outsider, he recruits his friend Luke to help with the investigation.

Luke could understand Mose’s frustration as he too felt that people knew more than they were willing to divulge. Everyone had secrets, but who had the key to solving the murder? First there was Abby Anderson, one of the three “Englishers” who discovered Perry’s body. Abby didn’t know why she was with these girls in the first place when she should have been in school at the time. She never felt like she quite fit in anywhere. Then there was Lydia Plank, Perry’s  Amish ex- sweetheart. What was the real reason for their break up?  And Walker Anderson, an Englisher who at one time was Perry’s best friend, although at the time of Perry’s disappearance they were no longer on speaking terms.

Missing is a mystery with a little romance thrown in and is an entertaining audio book. Each chapter opens with a quote about Perry, which I think is a nice touch. Although by the end of the book people were definitely starting to open up and secrets were revealed I still have no idea what happened to Perry.  Book two is titled The Search and book three Found. The good news is that all three have been published. The bad news is that I have to read (or listen to) all three to find out “who dunnit!”.

September 5, 2012

The Island By Elin Hilderbrand

Filed under: Audio books,The Island — susanbright @ 10:08 am
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Tuckernuck is a small island off the coast of Nantucket. The island has no grocery stores or stores of any kind for that matter. It is a quiet island with beautiful beaches and most of all solitude. Birdie Cousins’ family had owned a house on Tuckernuck for generations. It was a simple cottage with no phones, no televisions, minimal electricity and no hot water. It was built in 1935. The furniture was old and the beds creaky. For Birdie, it was the perfect get away.

Every year Birdie and Grant would pack up their daughters and off they would go to Tuckernuck. But times had changed and no one had stayed in the house on Tuckernuck for thirteen years. Birdie and Grant were divorced and Chess and Tate were all grown up. In fact, Chess was getting married to a wonderful young man and Birdie was busy planning the festivities. It was going to be a beautiful affair complete with a “floating island” in the back yard pool.

Birdie knew that this could be her last time to have some real quality time with her daughter and came up with a brilliant idea… a few weeks on Tuckernuck Island. Just the two of them. Birdie was thrilled when Chess accepted her invitation and for the first time in years called their caretaker on the Island. There was quite a bit of work to be done if they were going to be able to stay in the long neglected house.

Nothing could have prepared Birdie for the late night call she received from Chess. The wedding was off… explanations…. Chess just DID NOT want to marry Michael. She was not in love. As if that wasn’t enough, only a few days later they received more devastating news. If there ever was a time that Chess needed her family, this was it.

Not only did Birdie invite her eldest daughter Tate,  but she also invited her own sister India to join the group. India had suffered a loss in her life and Birdie thought that of all people perhaps she could help Chess with whatever she was going through. Off the four women went to the quaint island of Tuckernuck.

The Island is told through the voices of the four woman. Slowly secrets are revealed and the pieces all fall into place. If you are looking for one more beach read, The island could be just the thing. Another entertaining book by Elin Hilderbrand.

July 22, 2012

Death Match By Lincoln Child

Filed under: Audio books,Death Match — susanbright @ 10:22 am
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Who needs, Harmony or JDate, when there is Eden? Eden’s sophisticated hi tech computer Liza did all the work for you.  Yes, the computer had a name! For $25,000. Liza would find your perfect match. Guaranteed! No scrolling through pictures, no emailing back and forth and no painful first dates.  Sure, you had to endure a thorough physical, as well as psychological examination, answer a multitude of personal questions, but who wouldn’t do that in order to find their soul mate?

Lewis and Lindsay Thorpe were one of Eden’s many success stories.  The Thorpes were actually a special Eden match. They were one of the supercouples, couples that matched on every single criteria.  They were the first supercouple in the history of the high-tech dating service and they were approaching their one year anniversary. Lewis and Lindsey had a beautiful baby and couldn’t have been any happier.

Eden followed their couples and was proud of their success rate, so when the Thorpes were found dead in their living room, an apparent suicide, alarms went off in their corporate office. What could possibly have caused this perfectly matched couple to take their own lives? Eden must find out quickly and without any negative publicity. Christopher Lash, a  forensic psychologist was the perfect person to get to the bottom of these mysterious deaths. Of course Lash was still looking for his perfect match and had his own questionable past which only added to the intrigue.

Undercover as a potential Eden client, Lash undergoes the same testing as the Thorpes, and every other Eden candidate.  Lash is introduced to Richard Silver, the friendly yet reclusive genius behind Eden and even meets Liza,  who looks nothing like Lash was expecting. How could one little computer accomplish such an amazing task? And more importantly, what else could Liza do?

Unfortunately the mystery escalates quickly when a second supercouple is found dead as they too reach their one year anniversary. Death Match is a fast paced story with lots of twists and turns. Nothing earth shattering, not too complex, just pure entertainment.  Although the ending is predictable it was an enjoyable audio book.  Just what I was hoping for.

June 26, 2012

Then Came You By Jennifer Weiner

Jules’ life had not been as easy as most of her fellow Princeton classmates would think. Her father a respected teacher had a drinking problem and lost everything when he was found guilty of driving under the influence, his job and his wife. Jules knew that he did not have the money for the intensive rehab therapy he so desperately needed so when the opportunity arose to earn $20,000, she was more than a little tempted. Who knew you could earn that much money as an egg donor?

Annie loved Frank and her two boys but she wanted more out of life. She had married her high school  sweetheart and wasted no time in getting pregnant. If only she had money she could buy nice clothing, take her family on a vacation or even go back to school. When she read that surrogate mothers made $50,000, she thought she had found the answer.  Not only would she make enough money to change her family’s lives, but she could help make another family’s dreams come true.  But how would she get Frank to agree?  Little by little she would make it happen.

India finally had everything she had ever wanted. She had nabbed a rich older husband and although she had initially went after Marcus because of his money, she had actually fallen in love with him. He didn’t know about her sordid past or the fact that she was actually 43, not 38 as she had told him, but none of that seemed to matter anymore.  If only they could have a baby, her future would be secure. Maybe then Marcus’s spoiled children, especially Bettina would leave her alone.

Twenty something Bettina was convinced that her father’s young bride was after one thing. His money. Everything on India looked fake. Her nose, her hair color, her breasts. Bettina was determined to find out the truth and save her father as well as her inheritance.

Then Came You is the story of these four women and the baby that brings all of them together. Although it is definitely Chic Lit it actually brings up some interesting issues. More and more women are putting off having babies until their thirties and forties and are encountering difficulties getting pregnant. We hear the words egg donors, sperm donors, artificial insemination and surrogate thrown around all of the time. There are all kinds of families today. So what makes a parent? Is it the one who donates the egg, the one who donates the sperm, the one who carries the baby or the one who tucks her in at night? Things are not as simple as they once were and the legal ramifications are staggering.

Then came You is a quick, easy, entertaining  read! I always enjoy when an audio book is read by several different people. Each of the women in Then Came You are read by a different narrator making it easy to keep the characters straight. I don’t want to give anything away but…..once in a while it is nice to listen to a happily ever after book!

June 15, 2012

The Red Queen By Phillipa Gregory

The Red Queen was a page turner up to the very last page, or in this case the very last battle. This is the story of Margaret Beaufort, the Grandmother of Henry VIII. By the age of 5, Margaret believed that she was a “special child in the sight of God.” Margaret was obsessed with the stories she had heard about Joan of Arc and felt that like Joan she was born for greatness. By the age of 10, she knew that she wanted to be a nun and proud that she had saints’ knees.

“Saints’ knees, praise God, I have saints’ knees. I have prayed so much, and on such hard floors, that the skin of my knees is becoming hard, like the callous on the fingers of an English long bowman.”

At the age of twelve Margaret was married off to Edmund Tudor, a man twice her age. Edmund paid little attention to his young bride and wanted Margaret for only one thing, he needed an heir.  Eventually Margaret gave birth to a son, but unfortunately Edmund did not live to see the birth of his child. Although Margaret was told by her brother-in-law Jasper to name the boy Edmund, after his father, Margaret had another name in mind. She named her son Henry, a name fit for a king and was determined to do whatever was necessary to put Henry on the throne as the rightful Lancaster heir.

Margaret was not a likeable character. She was a plotter. In fact she was the ultimate manipulator. She was quick to justify her actions, no matter who was hurt or even killed in the process as in her mind it was “God’s will”.

Once again Phillipa Gregory has managed to bring history to life in the most entertaining way. The Red Queen follows Margaret as she navigates through life in an attempt to see her son crowned as the King of England. Although I have read several of Gregory’s books (the Other Boleyn Girl being one of my favorites), this is the first time I listened to one. It was like listening to a show on Masterpiece Theatre. I found The Red Queen thoroughly entertaining, but have to admit that I had to do a bit of rewinding from time to time as the story covered quite a bit of time and there were a lot of names to keep straight. This is one disadvantage of audio books and one of the reasons I tend to listen to easy, uncomplicated books!  The Red Queen is book two in the Cousin’s War Series. Book one, The White Queen, centers on Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV. If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy the many books by Phillipa Gregory.

June 13, 2012

Confessions Of An Audio Book Junkie!

Filed under: Audio books — susanbright @ 9:24 pm

As you probably know, I am an audio book junkie. I cannot get enough of them. I go into withdraw if I do not have one to listen to. Driving in my car without one is torture. I keep my playaway next to my bed in case I can’t sleep. My husband has gotten used to rolling over in bed and seeing the tiny purple ear bud in my ear. (I actually only use one at night as my other ear is buried in my pillow!) Emptying the dishwasher goes so much quicker when listening to a book, as does cooking, bed making, laundry, knitting, drafting….I could go on and on! I even listen to my audio book while blow drying my hair. Fortunately I am a good multi tasker and have yet to mess up a recipe because of my audio book addiction.

There is nothing more entertaining than a good audio book!  Have you listened to any lately? Are there any other audio book addicts out there? What is the strangest thing you have ever done while listening to an audio book?

May 26, 2012

Silver Girl By Elin Hilderbrand: Another Thoroughly Entertaining Audio Book!

Filed under: Audio books,Silver Girl — susanbright @ 11:48 am
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I had never even heard the term Ponzi scheme until the news broke about Bernie Madoff, and have since given little thought to Madoff’s wife Ruth. Where is she today? Did her friends stick by her or just simply disappear? Did she or didn’t she know what her infamous husband was doing?

Elin Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl may not be a terribly original story, but it certainly is an engaging, entertaining one. Meredith Martin Delinn has it all. She lives with her husband Freddie in a Park Avenue Penthouse. She vacations in Palm Springs, travels the world and thinks nothing of going into a store and dropping thousands of dollars at a time. Her husband adores her and people are just begging her to talk her husband into investing their money. Sound familiar? Everything is wonderful, until the day Freddie is accused of cheating his rich investors out of billions of dollars and sentenced to 100+ years in prison. Meredith loses everything. Her friends turn her back on her and she can’t even get an appointment at the hair salon she has been going to for years. To make matters worse Meredith’s sons are also being investigated so she is not allowed to contact them. She has no one.

There is only one person Meredith can think of to call, her childhood friend Connie O’Brien and even that was not a sure bet. Meredith and Connie had barely spoken in  several years, partly because Connie had let Meredith know exactly what she thought of Freddie. When Meredith calls Connie, no questions are asked and Connie picks her up and whisks her away to the O’Brien summer home in Nantucket. Connie is not without her own set of issues. She is still recovering from the death of her husband Wolf and because of something that happened at Wolf’s funeral, her daughter Ashlyn was not speaking to her.

Even the wig and sunglasses Connie bought Meredith to wear were not enough to keep Meredith from being recognized and Nantucket seemed to be full of people burned by Freddie. If it were up to Meredith, she would never even leave the house. She was terrified and with good reason. Someone was out there angry enough to vandalize her safe haven. Why wouldn’t anyone believe that she was a victim too, that she had no idea what her husband was doing? How could she have been so blind to the things that were going on right before her eyes? How was she going to prove her innocence?

Silver Girl is a story about love, friendship and forgiveness. What would you do for an old friend? Who would you turn to when the unthinkable happens? Friendship goes two ways and in many ways Connie needed saving as much as Meredith. I loved listening as Meredith and Connie’s stories unfolded. Silver Girl is Chic Lit at it’s best. A thoroughly entertaining audio book read by Janet Metzger and Marianne Fraulo. How can I not give it 4 omelets?

May 23, 2012

The Story Of Beautiful Girl By Rachel Simon: A Wonderful Audio Book!

I absolutely loved this audio book. Once I started listening to it, I did not want to stop. Fortunately I was listening to it on a playaway so I could take it with me wherever I went.  I listened to it in the car, I listened to it as I cooked. I went to sleep listening to it and when I woke up, after first rewinding it to the last part I remembered before drifting off to sleep, I continued listening to it. The Story of A Beautiful Girl is a beautiful, yet heart wrenching story and a wonderful audio book.

When Martha, a retired school teacher living alone on a farm in rural Pennsylvania hears a knock on her door one rainy night she can’t imagine who it could be. Cautiously she opened the door only to find a young couple, soaking wet. The woman was wrapped in several grey blankets, the man wrapped in large paper business signs. The woman was white, the man black. They look scared and it appears to her as if they were running from something. Against her better judgement, Martha invites the couple in and is surprised to see that the young women is holding a new-born baby. and that the man is deaf. Martha barely has time to find dry clothing for the couple and prepare some food for them when she hears banging on her front door. Officials from the School for the Incurable and Feeble-minded were at her door looking for the two runaways. Fortunately, when the men stormed the house, the baby was quietly sleeping upstairs and the young man manages to escape out the living room window. Before they dragged the young girl off, she manages to whisper two words in Martha’s ear “hide her”.

What will Martha do? Will she honor the wishes of Lynnie, the young mentally challenged girl? And what will happen to Lynnie once she is returned to the “special school”  And Homan, or #42 as he was referred to in the institution, will they find him? How will he survive?  What will become of baby Julia?  Will this family ever be reunited? The Story of Beautiful Girl spans over 40 years, and alternates back and forth between Martha, Lynnie and Homan. We learn how Lynnie, born to a wealthy family and Homan end up in such a horrific place. It gives frightening  insight into how the mentally handicapped were treated in years past. It is a beautiful story of love and survival, and yes I cried a tear or two (something I rarely do while reading). The audio book  was beautifully read by Kate Reading whose voice brought to life the voices of these brave people.

On a scale of 1-5, I would give the audio book, The Story of Beautiful Girl  4 1/2 Omelets.

February 17, 2012

Falling Together…… Better Than Any Sleeping Pill!

Filed under: Audio books,Falling Together — susanbright @ 7:48 pm

Falling Together is about three college friends, Pen, short for Penelope, Cat short for Catalina and Will. The trio met in the most unusual way. Pen just happened to walk into the bathroom only to find Cat in the midst of a seizure.  As anyone would probably do in this circumstance, Pen opened the door and grabbed the first person she saw, Will!  Pen, Cat and Will were the best of friends from then on. They had a special relationship and were inseparable through out their college years.

When Cat got married and moved away, the trio decided that it was an all or nothing relationship, and decided not to keep in touch after graduation. In fact they went so far as to make a pact not to keep tabs on one another and they each went their own way. When 6 years later Pen and Will both got the same urgent email from Cat, asking them to meet her at a reunion, insisting that she needed them, neither of them could say no. Unfortunately the reunion was not at all what they had hoped for and Pen and Will, left with more questions than answers, embark on a trip across the world to find the answers they so desperately needed.

Falling Together is a light, entertaining book with few surprises or aha moments. Yes, it is a  nice story about friendship, but it could have been so much more.  I tend to listen to Playaways at night,  however every time I put the tiny ear buds in my ears and pushed the play button I fell asleep!  The soothing, melodious voice of the reader was better than any sleeping pill I ever tried!

2 1/2 Omelets!

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