Monday, December 18, 2017

2017 : The Year of Audio Books

I could rightfully refer to 2017 by a lot of different names--not all very complimentary. But for my purposes here I will dub it the Year of the Audio Books. I recently became a huge fan of listening to audio books. They saved my sanity as I did way more than usual driving alone and then spent hours alone. I like to have something on in the background as I work and I discovered that audio books have become the perfect companion. Listening to audio books also gave me the opportunity to read books that I missed when they came out or that have been on my list for years. I've starred a few of the books that were my favorite.

***** I missed reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng when it came out but I didn't miss all the rave reviews and so I immediately added it to my to-read list. It was great on audio. The narrator captured the pain and anguish the family felt when their beloved daughter goes missing. It's a meaningful novel about how little we often understand about the people we love the most.

It's on all the lists of "Books You Should Read" and so when it was offered as an Audible Daily Deal, I bought it and listened to Brave New World. I'm glad I finally became acquainted with the story but I must admit it wasn't necessarily my favorite.

Ever since Devil in the White City, I'm going to get my hands on and read everything Erik Larson writes. I read a horribly boring book about Lusitania a few years ago and I was anxious to get a better take on the tragedy. Erik Larson delivered with  Dead Wake. He focuses on the events and people on Lusiania but also the history and psychology of the German men in the UBoat.

I was never going to read Go Set A Watchman after following all the controversy surrounding it's publication. However, I very much enjoyed Reese Witherspoon's narration and found myself appreciating a different view of Scout and the others in Maycomb, Alabama.

***** I listened to The Lake House by Kate Morton while I did the final cleaning of my former house. Rand was at work. The kids were in school. The house was essentially empty and The Lake House kept me company. Kate Morton's atmospheric and long mysteries are some of my favorites and I was delighted to find that I enjoyed listening to them as much.

***** Lisa See is another favorite author and I was enraptured from the very first paragraph of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I very much enjoyed learning more about the Akha in the remote Yunnan village. The novel is thrilling and sentimental as a mother and daughter search for each other across continents and cultures.

Almost two years ago, I bought a physical copy of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow but Rand wanted to read it with me. After reading the first chapter aloud on a road trip, I bought the audio version. We listened to six hours on that trip and then we put it aside. We never had time for both of us to listen. Finally this year, I finished it by myself and filled Rand in on the highlights. My kids and I are huge fans of the musical and the kids wanted to know what parts were "true" and what was made up. I could finally answer all their questions.

Faithful Jane Eyre enthusiasts might not love the liberties Curtis Sittenfeld takes with the beloved classic Pride and Prejudice but I rather enjoyed her modern adaptation. Filled with spunky characters, humorous entanglements and some surprises, Eligible was an enjoyable update.

The coolest thing about Girl is Disguise is that it is based on a true story of the first lady Pinkerton detective. Sometimes, it seems more like a biography than a story but I really enjoyed learning more about the fascinating life of Kate Warne from author Greer Macallister.

***** I love Kate Morton mysteries. They lend themselves well to audio too and even though they're long, they're just so good. I listened to The Secret Keeper this summer while on a long road trip with just me and my kids. I just couldn't do a "kid" book and stay awake as the sole driver. My fourteen year old daughter loved it. It's clean enough that I didn't really have to worry the kids would be exposed to anything.

Amy. Amy. Amy. I'm a fan of Amy Tan. But The Valley of Amazement missed it big. Maybe it was that the audio made it even more stark, but the sex details were way too much.

***** The Stand was my first real experience with Stephen King's books (I've seen several of the movies based on his books). The audio version was 48 hours long. I was completely entertained and freaked out by the entire novel. King is brilliant.

I was totally immersed in the characters of Kavalier and Clay and their foray into comic books. The character development is fabulous. It kind of got slow for awhile in the middle and I may have fallen asleep a time or two, but overall I really liked this book.

***** The narrator's accent added so much to the bleak Icelandic atmosphere and desolation of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I really loved this melancholy and thoughtful novel.

***** Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng tells the stories behind the windows in the boring suburban neighborhood. The family appears perfect but their individual lives are a mess of lies and troubles. I've definitely become a fan of Celeste Ng's storytelling.

***** I've had the book on my shelf for a few years and had every intention of reading it. Now, that the movie is coming out, I wanted to read Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express even more. Of course, my copy is in a box in storage. So I listened to one of the many audio versions of the famous mystery. It was really entertaining and Dan Stevens was a wonderful narrator.

I've had a copy of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon on my shelf for so many years. Now, it's packed away in a box. So when it was the Audible Daily Deal, I bought it. The narration was wonderful and I really enjoyed this story of an autistic boy and the mystery surrounding the dead dog. Christopher is an unforgettable literary character.

I knew A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was going to be depressing but I had no idea just how depressing it really was. It's over 32 hours of depressing. But I couldn't stop listening. Couldn't stop hoping that somehow his life would get better.

***** 11/22/63 by Stephen King was absolutely fascinating. I'm a sucker for a good time travel story. Overall, I enjoyed the audio version. However, the narrator is so bad at accents and especially bad at voicing women. About half way through the audio, I bought a physical copy of the book. I ended up finishing with audio but I might read the ending again.

***** It's possible that I loved My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier as much as love Rebecca. Atmospheric and mysterious, the narration is fabulous. The main character is so dumb sometimes but you can't help cheering for him.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Winner of the Anne of Green Gables Giveaway

The Winner of the Anne of Green Gables giveaway is...

Wendy Daniels

Congratulations! Please contact me by Monday, December 11th with your information.