Friday Morning Bookclub

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.

November 3, 2011

Sing You Home By Jodi Picoult: A Special Kind Of Audio Experience!

Filed under: Book Recomendations,Jodi Picoult,Sing You Home — susanbright @ 10:24 am
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 The one thing I can say about Jodi Picoult is that she knows how to pick a topic and write a thought-provoking book and Sing You Home is no exception.  The story grabbed me from the very beginning and to add to the listening experience Picoult has included original songs which correspond to each chapter.  The lyrics are written by Picoult herself and sang by Ellen Wilber. Not only are the songs beautiful to listen to, but the lyrics  do a wonderful job of reflecting the main character’s feelings, adding tremendously to the whole Sing You Home experience.  I looked forward to each new chapter and each new song.

Zoe and Max Baxter had been trying to have a baby for  10 years. They had tried everything, exhausting their funds with expensive medical procedures. Finally Zoe was pregnant! At seven month’s they were cautiously allowing themselves to get excited, when tragedy strikes and Zoe loses her baby… and her husband. Max decided that he cannot take it anymore and leaves.

The trouble with beginnings is that they have to end
Never thought I’d be the girl who said remember when
You leave your ring on the pillow……….

Zoe, a music therapist copes with her loss by throwing herself into her work helping sick patients through music. When Vanessa, a school guidance counselor asks Zoe to work with Lucy, a troubled teen, Zoe agrees and not only finds herself involved with helping  Lucy but also finds herself spending more and more time with Vanessa.  Before she realizes what is happening Zoe finds herself falling in love with Vanessa. Meanwhile, her ex, Max, a recovering alcoholic has found god and becomes involved in the Eternal Glory Church, which does not look kindly on Gay relationships.

We wouldn’t have a future
If I never had a past
You may not be my first love
But you’re gonna be my last.

Gay rights were something that Picoult had thought about writing for quite some time, but ironically it was while she was writing Sing You Home that her own 17-year-old son came out and told her that he was gay. Sing You Home was definitely thought- provoking  and once I started listening to it, I couldn’t stop.  The story was gripping and there is so much more I could say, however I do not want to give anything away! I listened to the Playaway Sing You Home, wherever I went! I would highly recommend the audio version and wonder if I would have enjoyed it as much had I read the book. I probably would not have even listened to the CD with the beautiful songs.  The narrators were wonderful and the music was the icing on the cake!

October 29, 2011

One For The Money By Janet Evanovich

Filed under: Book Recomendations,Janet Enanovich,One For The Money — susanbright @ 10:35 am
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For years I have been hearing about Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series but had never picked one up. Since I am still in my mystery phase, I decided to give one a try and picked up One For The Money. the first in the series, which was  published way back in 1994. I decided to go the audio route and this one turned out to be a mere 3 discs… a very quick listen!

When Stephanie Plum lost her job as a lingerie buyer she was desperate! She was out of money, lost her car, was forced to sell her furniture and was in danger of losing her apartment. To make matters worse she was finding herself eating dinner at her parents home more and more just to get a free meal.

When Stephanie seeks out her Uncle Vinnie, a bail bondsman in hopes of getting a filing job, she manages to walk away with a much more interesting job title… an “apprehension agent” also known as a bounty hunter. How hard could it be! She was desperate and all she had to do was bring in Joe Morelli, a former cop, accused of murder and she would be TEN THOUSAND dollars richer! It just happened that Stephanie and Morelli had a history. Not only was he a former classmate but he was also the first “boy”  Stephanie had a sexual encounter with at the age of 16.

At times One For The Money was  laugh out loud funny and yes it was entertaining. One For The Money was read by actress Lori Petty who also starred in A League Of her Own and Free Willy.  At first I found the voice annoying ,but quickly got used to it and began to associate the voice with the character of Stephanie Plum.  I was surprised when I noticed that the second book Two For The Dough was read by a different actress. I am definitely going to give Two For The Dough and Stephanie’s new voice a try.

Are there any Stephanie Plum fans out there?

October 13, 2011

Do You Remember “The Snakes”?

Filed under: James Patterson,Literary Tidbits — susanbright @ 9:21 am
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 It is all coming back to me. The reason I STOPPED reading James Patterson’s books! 

I read about Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series on one of the book blogs I follow.  It was actually listed under best mystery series, so I decided to do it right and start with the first book, Sworn To Silence. The Protagonist, Kate Burkholder grew up in a Amish family in the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio.  Unlike most of the people she grew up with, Kate chose to leave the Amish community, only to return years later as the new Chief of Police.

I popped in the first disk and began to listen. The prologue tells of a 21-year-old girl, arms bound, hoarse from screaming, lying naked on a cold concrete floor, waiting for “the monster’s return”.   I resisted the urge to turn it off. After all, it got such good reviews and I hadn’t even gotten to chapter one!  Next she started to talk about the knife the monster used on her, and then the electrical prod. I should have turned it off right then and there, but no, surely it would get better. One more disk, I told myself. At the beginning of disk 2, when  the coroner uttered the words “lubricated condom”, I pushed the stop button for good. I don’t care how good the mystery series was, it was not for me.

I was reminded of why I stopped reading James Patterson’s books so many years ago. There was a time when I couldn’t wait to read one of Patterson’s Alex Cross books. Then I read Kiss The Girls. Although it has to have been at least 15 years since I read that book, I will never forget the horrible snake scene.  I cannot believe that anyone who read Kiss The Girls, could ever forget that scene where a young women was tied up, sexually molested and tortured using snakes among other things.  I was haunted by that book for years. I avoided murder mysteries and turned to historical fiction, biographies and romances. Anything but gruesome murder mysteries.

James Patterson’s book, Kiss the Girls was a best seller and was made into a movie. Perhaps Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series is equally as good, but I for one am not about to find out! Do you remember the snake scene?

October 4, 2011

Ice Cold By Tess Gerritsen

Filed under: Audio books,Book Recomendations,Ice Cold — susanbright @ 11:51 am
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I have been in a mystery mood and have been listening to one after another. This time I picked up Ice Cold, a Rizzoli & Isles novel. Maura Isles is a Boston medical examiner and is in a  serious relationship with Daniel, who just happens to be a Catholic Priest. Although Maura is deeply in love with Daniel, she is tired of sneaking around and is constantly questioning whether their relationship has a future.

While attending a Medical Examiner’s conference in Wyoming, Maura is approached by Doug, an old college friend. Maura and Doug catch up over a casual dinner and when Doug invites her to join him, along with his 13-year-old daughter and another couple on a spur of the moment ski trip, Maura says yes. For once in her life she is going to be spontaneous and Maura leaves with the group without telling her  boy friend the Priest where she is going. After all, the last time she called him, he was too busy to talk to her as he was at a church meeting.

Equipped with a GPS and a map the group still managed to find themselves lost and stranded on a snow-covered road  with no cell phone service. Knowing that they had to find shelter or they will freeze they set out to find someplace to spend the night. How relieved they were to come upon Kingdom Come, a small village with twelve identical houses! The Village appeared to be abandoned and they were surprised to find the front door of the first house they approached unlocked.  Although there was no electricity, they were able to light a fire in the fireplace and there was ample food in the pantry.

While exploring the houses in the village, they begin to notice one strange thing after another. Why were all of the front doors unlocked and the windows open in the middle of winter? What would make a family leave their house so quickly that they would leave their dinners on the table and their pets alone to die? Who was the man in the framed picture which hung on a wall in every house and most of all, where did all the people go?

When Maura did not arrive home on her scheduled flight and Daniel realized that he had not talked to her in days, he was concerned and contacted her good friend Jane Rizzoli, a homicide detective. Something was terribly wrong. Together Daniel and Jane, along with Jane’s husband Gabriel Dean, a FBI agent  headed to Wyoming, determined to find out what had happened to their friend.

Ice Cold is the 8th book in the Rizzoli & Isles series. This action packed book was entertaining and full of twists and turns. Once I started listening to it, I was hooked! It was a great audio book and the Playaway made it so convenient that I was able to take it with me wherever I went   If you are looking for sheer entertainment check out Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles novels!

I had no idea that Rizzili and Isles was also a tv series! Has anyone seen it? Is it as good as the books?

October 1, 2011

Playaways Are The Best!

Filed under: Audio books,Literary Tidbits — susanbright @ 10:48 am
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I have been enjoying listening to audio books for a while now. In fact, I can’t bear to get in the car without one.  I never even turn on my car radio anymore. Now I am really in trouble! Someone introduced me to Playaways! These little contraptions, which are available at the public library are a great invention. Pop in a battery, plug in your own head phones and you are ready to go. They are so easy to use and do not go back to the beginning of the book every time you push stop (which is so frustrating!)  as so many of the portable CD players I have tried do.

 Now I can listen to my book all day long! I stick the Playaway which is smaller than my cell phone in my pocket and  I am hands free.  Yesterday, while preparing dinner, I listened to my book.  While making my bed and straightening up, I listened to my book. On the drive to the store, I listened to my book. I was tempted to take it in with me to the grocery store, but decided that perhaps that was going a little too far. It is bad enough when you see people walking around the grocery store, ear piece in place talking into their invisible phone. I can only imagine what people would think of me walking around the store wearing my little pink ear buds as I do my shopping.

I think I may be  out of control, but this story is just so exciting  that I don’t want to turn it off.   I sure wish that I had picked up a couple more Playaways!  There are so many good ones to choose from. You have got to give one a try!

September 19, 2011

Room By Emma Donoghue

Filed under: Audio books,Book Recomendations,Room — susanbright @ 9:31 am
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Room was one of those books that I actually resisted reading for quite some time. I did not think that I wanted to read a book about a child  who was locked up in a 11 x 11 room. The thought was just too troublesome. When I saw the audio book sitting on the shelf in the library I decided to give it a try.This was an amazing audio  book and I question whether I would have felt the same had I been reading it.

 Room is told from 5-year-old Jack’s perspective. The story is read by four different people who did a wonderful job of bringing the story to life.  Jack’s mother had  been kidnapped by “old Nick” at the age of 19 and locked in the windowless room for the past 7 years.  Jack was born in the 11 x 11 Room and it was all that he knew.  Old Nick was the “bringer”. He brought food and took away the trash. At night, Ma would put Jack to sleep inside ‘wardrobe” so he could not see or be seen by Old Nick. Here he would lie awake waiting for the beep beep which would signal  that Old Nick had arrived. Each night he would listen to Old Nick climb into his mother’s bed and count the squeaks of the bed as well as the teeth in his mouth as he tried to fall asleep or as Jack would say “turn off”. The next morning Jack would wake up in Ma’s bed and Old Nick would be gone.

During the day Ma would keep Jack busy making toys out of toilet paper rolls or snakes out of egg shells. They would read the same books over and over again. Everyday they would climb on top of the table, beneath the sky light and scream as loud as they could. To Jack this was a game and he had no idea that they were being held captive and that his mother had never given up hope that someday they would be heard and rescued.

 Room was Jack’s whole world and he had no idea that there was anyone or anything outside of his world. Everything he saw on tv was pretend. Ice cream was pretend, after all he saw it on tv but had never tasted it. Ma was an amazing mother and tried her best to make a life for the two of them under these horrific circumstances until she realized that she was running out of time.

Once I started listening to this story, I did not want to stop. I did not find it upsetting as I had expected, instead I found it to be an intriguing read. Imagine never having seen the outside. never having seen the sun or the grass. Never having seen another child or tasted an ice cream cone.  Room was a thought-provoking story and would be  an excellent selection for any book  club. I recommend giving the audio book a try!

August 24, 2011

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt By Beth Hoffman

Filed under: Book Recomendations,Saving CeeCee Honeycutt,The Help — susanbright @ 2:30 pm
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 The other day I ran into the library to pick up an audio book. I was going to be doing a lot driving  so why not get a book in! I only had a few minutes so I headed directly to the new audio book section and looked for a familiar title. I thought that I had remembered reading something about  Saving CeeCee Honeycutt so without even reading the back, I grabbed it and proceeded to the self check out. I had no idea what it was about. I later realized that the book I was actually thinking of  was The Secret Life of Ceecee Wilkes, a very different book! At least I had the Ceecee part!  I am not sure if I would have picked this book had I known what it was about however it was a heart warming story. Laugh out loud funny at times and sad at others.

Twelve year old Cecilia Rose (CeeCee) is wise beyond her years.  Unfortunately her mother suffered from mental illness and it often fell upon CeeCee to take care of her. It was not unusual to spot CeeCee’s mothers parading around town in a prom dress and tiara which she had purchased at the local Good Will Store. Although the year was 1967 and she lived in Ohio, in her mother’s mind it was 1951 and she was still the Vidalia Onion Queen of Georgia.  She was an unhappy, troubled soul and although she loved CeeCee very much she was in no condition to be a mother. Poor CeeCee never knew what to expect from her mother and was constantly embarrassed by her mother’s actions. CeeCee’s father was rarely home and the only one she had to turn to was  Ms. O’Dell, a sweet elderly neighbor.

When CeeCee’s mother is hit and killed by an ice cream truck one day on the way back from the Goodwill Store, CeeCee is sent to live with her Great Aunt Tootie in Savannah. Tootie is a cheerful, loving southern lady  and according to the author is actually based on her Great Aunt Mildred.  Tootie’s African-American cook/housekeeper Oletta Jones who has worked for her for years is tough on the outside yet warm and kind on the inside. Together Tootie and Oletta strive to give CeeCee the love and security she so desperately needed and to help her cope with the loss of her mother. 

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was a touching story about mothers and daughters, as well as friendship and love. It  also tackles the more serious topics of mental illness and racism. The story is told in the words of CeeCee although it is hard to imagine a twelve-year-old being quite  this insightful. I enjoyed listening to the southern accents, however after listening to all of the controversy over the dialect  in The Help and all of the concern as to the stereotypical characters in The Help,  I can’t ” help” but wonder if this is more of the same.

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