Friday Morning Bookclub

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:

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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

January 23, 2012

Three Books At One Time? No Problem!

Filed under: Audio books,Literary Tidbits — susanbright @ 9:59 am
Tags: , ,

Whoever designed the first Playaway was a genius. These preloaded audio digital players make listening to a book effortless and there are so many of them available at the library. When I travel, I always make sure I have a good book, a Playaway and my fully loaded Kindle. That way I can read/listen to a book no matter where I am or what I am doing. Walking the dog? I can listen to my playaway. On an airplane? I can read my Kindle! Whoops, the pilot just announced that “anything with an on/off switch must be turned off”.  I open my good old fashion book. I have all bases covered!

Three books at one time? No problem! One heavy duty non-fiction, one  spellbinding mystery and one science fiction which rivals The Hunger Games. The perfect combo! I  bet you can guess what I will be reviewing next! Anyone else out there that likes to read more than one book at a time? Tell me I am not alone!

December 31, 2011

Audio Books: How Important Is The Narrator?

Filed under: Audio books — susanbright @ 11:18 am
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I love listening to audio books, but every once in a while I find one that I cannot get into. Recently I was listening to an audio book and realized that the reason it wasn’t working for me was that I found the narrator’s voice extremely monotonous. I thought back to another audio book in which I felt the same way and would you believe that when I did a little bit of research, I discovered that they were both read by the same person. I could not stand her voice!  It seemed to just drone on ..blah, blah, blah! For the record this particular narrator received rave reviews, so I guess it’s just me. Would I have felt differently had I read the book as opposed to listen to it?

How important a part do you think the narrator plays in how much you enjoy an audio book?

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