Category Archives: audio review

Buried Memories by Irene Pence

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Texas 1985.  Police were led to believe that Fire Department Captain Jimmy Don Beets’ body was on the property of his wife, 48-year-old Betty Lou Beets.  Their search led to them finding the man’s body inside the wishing well carefully covered in a sleeping bag.  While tips and intuition paid off in this case… the police were in for a surprise.

Further down in the well, they found the body of Betty Lou’s fourth husband, who was claimed to have left her years before without a word and without his truck, Doyle Wayne Barker.

Now the police had a chilling realization.  The soft-spoken, petite blond woman who was adored by so many, was not who she portrayed herself to be.  In fact as they dug deeper into her past they found out a few things that apparently had missed their attention:

  • She had tried to run over her third husband with a car.
  • She had shot her second husband in the back (claiming self-defense)

While husbands two and three survived the outrageous attempts on their lives, as they now knew…. all were not so lucky.

Betty Lou Beets was sentenced to die by lethal injection and in February of 2000, she was the second woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War.

 

 

 

I do have diverse tastes in my reading… and yes, for whatever reason I am drawn to the occasional true crime.  As in this case, often I have never heard about the crime prior to reading the book or listening to it on audio.  I am not someone who enjoys watching the news and I rarely take time to read the newspaper…. maybe that is why I am in the dark about many of these things.  I choose not to watch the news because I find so much about the state of our world to be sad and I can not put that on me day after day without becoming sad myself… yet occasionally, as in this story – I want to know what in the world happened and what in the world would cause someone to do what they did.  (Apparently I can take my true world crimes only in small doses and in my timing…. go figure. )

 

Buried Memories is narrated by George Newbern.  He has the ideal voice and tone for such a read.  The true story takes you back through Betty’s life as a young mom, and details about where she would meet her future husbands and what she looked for in a husband.  Betty’s formula was definitely premeditated.  She became known as the Texas Black Widow.  More heartbreaking, is the way she involved her son and daughter in her doings…  in one case, having her adult daughter come over and help her move the body.

A strange and powerful retelling of Betty’s horrifying crimes without being graphic or gory (two things that would have been deal breakers for me).

Readers of True Crime would appreciate this retelling of Betty’s troubled life and the psyche that led her to become the woman she was.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 15 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 16, 2014

 

 

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

1caaLauren Elliott dreams of being a bride but Todd, her boyfriend of many years avoids the subject like it is the plague.  When Lauren’s younger sister who is already married announces she is pregnant Lauren feels even more strongly that it is time to make moves towards what makes her happy, and that may very well mean moving on without Todd.

BethAnne Scranton is the happiest she has ever been in her life with her second husband Max.  He is everything a husband is supposed to be (caring, loving, passionate, a friend and companion) and everything her first husband was not.  The only thing not perfect is the fact that Max’s business is so far away he maintains a separate household and that seems to make BethAnne’s ex think there is room to wiggle back into her life.

Lydia Goetz owns the local yarn store called ‘A Good Yarn’.  She worries about her store and how to think of unique ways to bring in business… it seems however someone is secretly helping her with that.  Baskets of yarn and needles are showing up around the town with a message to knit a scarf and bring it into A Good Yarn where it will be donated to someone in need.  The yarn is all coming from Lydia’s shop… but who?  And why?  Although Lydia is not complaining as her business door is opening more and more to new customers.

How will these women’s lives intertwine?  Who’s relationships will survive the bumps? 

 

 

A long time ago I had dabbled in the Debbie Macomber series, Cedar Cove.  I loved how each book was a street address and you learned about the people who lived at that address and their association with the others in the town.  Then the next book would be a different address and from that person’s perspective in the same town.  Really, it is a brilliant series.  As my reading expanded, Debbie Macomber and Cedar Cove were put aside for other books, and I never did find my way back to Cedar Cove, or for that matter, to Debbie Macomber.

Until now.

On a whim…. this book, Blossom Street Brides sounded kind of light and fun, and just the right audio length to hold my attention during the beautiful summer drives.  And… I was right.

Blossom Street Brides is a sweet read centered around three women and their relationships with spouses, boyfriends, and children.  While romance reading has never been a “go to” genre for me, Macomber never lays it on thiick so I am able to enjoy her smooth style of an engaging storyline.  There are a couple of happenings in the book that made the independent woman in me think “oh come on!”, but over all putting reality aside, I found enjoyment in the read.

Going into this book, I did not realize it was part of a series until I finished it, but I never felt I was missing any previous information.  I listened to this one on audio with Cassandra Campbell as the narrator and I enjoyed it.

Fans of Macomber will enjoy this fun look into the three women’s lives.

 

  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: March 25, 2014

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Molly Ayer knows the Foster Care System all too well.  She has been a part of it for most of her life bouncing from one home to another.  Now at seventeen years old she is required to do community service for a petty theft crime.  She is required to go through an elderly woman’s attic and clean up, toss out, and organize the cluttered dusty boxes.  An undertaking that on sight appears impossible, especially since the widowed old woman Vivian, does not seem to keen on parting with her things.

As Molly explores the attic and what is inside the boxes, she discovers that Vivian too was part of a much earlier foster system called the Orphan Train. The Train would take children from stop to stop where families could come to the train and choose children to go home with them… that system unfortunately, worked about as well as some of it does still today. As Molly and Vivian spend their days together in the attic they learn of each others experiences with the foster care system, some good..and some bad.  Some times it was your wits and your desire to survive that pulled you through.

Both women find out that they have a lot more in common than one would ever guess by looking at them.

 

 

Orphan Train was our book club selection for August.  We chose this book because we won the books for our group from Harper Collins – woo hoo!!!!!!!!  AND the author Christina Baker Kline will be speaking in our town on August 12th, as it happens, our regular Tuesday that we hold our book club on.

Orphan Train turned out to be a delight.  As I had loaned my copy of the book out to a friend, I did not have one in my possession so I decided to try it on audio.  I had heard it was an excellent listen and that turned out to be true.  Narrator Suzanne Toren was perfect for this book.

I went into this book with little knowledge of what it was about other than the Orphan Train (*spoiler alert… it’s the title! ;)  )  I had not read any reviews of the book so even the format of going from Molly’s story to Vivian’s was a surprise and a pleasant one at that.

I enjoyed the storyline and the knowledge I picked up along the way regarding the Orphan Train.  It is a subject I hope to learn more about and I am hopeful that next week Christina Baker Kline will talk more about her research.

Historical Fiction fans will enjoy this read.

I will talk more about the Bookies Book Club thoughts on the book as well as the Author Event next week.

 

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 2, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

The One Safe Place, Tania Unsworth, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Twelve year old Devin is ill prepared for what to do when his Grandpa suddenly passes away.  They lived on a farm, one of the precious few left in the dystopian type world of despair, drought, and destruction.  When Devin leaves the farm to go and find help in the direction that his Grandpa had always told him to go in the case of needing help, he instead finds wild kids of his own age without the skills or the care that he was nurtured in.

When Devin and a new friend Kit, hear about the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood, a place that is said to be filled with others their age, lots of food and great accommodations, they hurry on to find this place that sounds too good to be true.   As the old adage says…. if something sounds too good to be true…

it probably is.

 

 

I was impressed with this Middle Grade (MG) style audio book.  The One Safe Place gives a modern and possibly creepier feel to the old Hansel and Gretel story… and as I write this I think this is more like a dystopian version of that story – obviously with a modern twist that helps it hold its own.

I enjoyed this audio of a strange world of survival at any cost.  I also like that instead of the usual YA (16-20) characters that are often found in this type of read, they targeted it to a younger group who I think will really enjoy the feel of the book aimed at the MG readers.  Nicely played Tania Unsworth.

Mark Turetsky was the narrator for this book and I think that may be my only unfortunate take away is that the narration felt as though someone was reading to me.  I personally like to fall inside an audio book, forgetting about the narration and immersing in the world the author has created.  The fact that I found myself thinking of the narration while listening to this book shows that did not happen.  Narration was pleasant, do not get me wrong, and I know that it is certainly a skill that I do not have, but that is my take away.

Middle Grade listeners and readers will enjoy this perfect level of age appropriate creepy.

 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Talk about your hot messes.

When the Pirriwee Public Schools Annual Trivia Night ends, no one who was there will ever be the same.  People are hurt.  Some have broken bones… and one parent is dead.

Second marriage Madelaine Mackenzie is 40 years old.  She has the clothes, the style, and the attitude.  By all appearances she can hold her own but deep down inside she hurts when her teenage daughter prefers her remarried fathers company to Mackenzie’s.

Celeste is by anyone’s description; beautiful.  She is the type of woman that most of us would not want to stand too close to for fear of being compared and found wanting. She has two adorable twin boys and what seems to be the perfect marriage to Perry… but behind closed doors it is becoming more and more apparent that things are not as perfect as one would think.

Jane is the fairly new in town single mom to the sweet boy Ziggy.  She is working hard to fit in with the other women, but holds tight to keeping the secret of Ziggy’s father a closed conversation.

As the police start their investigation of the happenings at the Trivia Night that Madelaine, Celeste and Jane all attended, they find out a lot more than they had initially anticipated. What started out looking like an accident… may have been cold blooded murder.

 

 

SQQQQUUUEEEEE!  Let’s just get that out of the way now.  This book is totally SSSQQQUUUEEEE worthy!  I LOVED it.  I have listened to all of Liane Moriarty’s books on audio and get a thrill every time. Narrator Caroline Lee (who also narrated The Husband’s Secret) is PERFECT for this style of book.  Her distinct voices between the characters and her amazing animated ways made this a true delight to listen to and I did not want to stop!

Fantastic story line, wonderful three dimensional characters and all mixed in with an important topic made this listen a huge WIN.  Do not miss out on this one – in book or audio it is sure to be fantastic!  I wish Author Liane Moriarty could write faster, I am already jonesing for her next book. :)

 

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Jenny Hubbard, And We Stay, Sheila DeChantal, Book Jouurney

Emily Beam is in a Boarding School for girls in Massachusetts.  It is probably due to the fact that her once boyfriend Paul came into the school with a stolen gun and threatened Emily and then took his own life.  It is probably due to the pregnancy.

Now Emily, left with the guilt of ending the relationship and the anger for feeling guilty.  She is not quick to make friends with her dark personality but soon finds that a couple of the girls just won’t shake off so easy.  While Emily is not sharing her tragic story with anyone, it slowly comes out in her writing and her poetry.  As Emily seeks for solace in the  once home of Emily Dickinson that is open for tours just down the street from the boarding school… together it seems the two Emily’s – one in flesh and one in spirit heal together in this strange and uncertain world.

 

 

I chose this book initially for two reasons.  One, I love that Emily Dickinson is part of the story and that they put the home that she wrote in close to where Emily Beam stays.  Two, I adore this cover… a cover like this – could go many directions but I see a closed off, angry and uncertain girl who at the same time is trying hard to look like she is holding it all together.

I can not say I loved this book.  The topics are heavy from teen pregnancy, to suicide, to abortion.  I listened to this book on audio and at a little under 6 hours, it just felt too heavy for my liking.  Emily was not a character I felt for, most of the characters fell flat, to the point that other than the main character and the boyfriend Paul, I could not name another character int he book right now if I needed to.

This book may be a better fit for young adults, but I question if even they too would find it heavy and not of the quality and engagement of much on today’s YA reads. The book had potential but never quite found it.

Narration by Erin Spenser was very good.

 

 

  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 53 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Listening Library
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 8, 2014

 

I Don’t Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer

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You may recognize her from being the best friend in the movie 13 Going On 30.  She was also a friend in 27 Dresses.  She had a supporting role in What Women Want, Carrie, Playing For Keeps, The Descendants, The Wedding Planner.   She has had tv show appearances such as Modern Family, ER, House MD, My Name Is Earl, CSI Miami, Two and a Half Men, and more… so much more.

Judy Greer is always in the role of best friend, co-worker, the neighbor… the walk on part.  While you may recognize her from something… Judy Greer laughs at the fact that she is often unable to place, and often, identified incorrectly.

From fun moments (or… not so fun moments) at the Oscars, wardrobe malfunctions, a famous actor giving her father a Harley Davidson, behind the scenes and more.

 

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Many of the movies that Judy Greer has been in I have seen.  While I recognize her and enjoy the parts that she plays, I admittedly, could not have told you her name.

Until now.

Judy Greer’s memoir, I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From, is like sitting with a friend you have not seen in a while and catching up on what is going on in their life.  It is light and funny. I listened to this one on audio, narrated by Judy herself, which was fun, and really added to the “sitting and catching up with a friend” feeling.  The audio is fairly short, but for this it works… much like hanging out with that friend – you do not want them to ramble on and on about themselves to the point that you do not want to see them for a while. ;)  That does not happen here.  Judy leaves you with just enough that you are still friends once her book is over and you look forward to whatever you will see her in next, so you can say - “That, is Judy Greer.  She is funny and versatile, you need to read her book.”

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  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 31 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 8, 2014

 

The One and Only by Emily Giffin

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Thirty-three year old Shea Rigsby lives and breathes football in Walker Texas, and had been a super fan all of her life.  She grew up in this very town alongside her best friend Lucy Carr, whose father was the Head Coach for the Walker Team, and whose mother Connie was good friends with Shea’s mom.

When tragedy hits the Carr family, Shea finds her world turning upside down.  She starts to wonder about the feelings she is having for a man…. a man who just happens to be the father of her best friend.

 

 

I have read and enjoyed author Emily Giffin’s fun style of writing in the past.  Her characters are usually light and fun, and you know what fun you are in for with her books.

The one and Only is a different style for Emily Giffin.  At least, I should say, from what I have read of her books.  The One and Only dealt with a topic that I personally struggled with, and no, I don’t mean football.  ;)

I had a hard time connecting with the book and the characters.  As a protagonist, I never connected with Shea, there was not much to her beyond football.  I don’t mind football books, but I never felt a connection to Shea or any of the characters for that matter.

The book is a fair read and I did finish it as I was curious about how it all would end. I listened to it on audio.  The narrator, Sophia Willingham was a great voice for the story and I enjoyed her narration.

 

 

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (May 20, 2014)
  • Length: 15 hrs and 2 mins

 

 

 

 

The Third Plate by Dan Barber

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Living in the age of more creates some unique opportunities.  While we are enjoying going out and eating larger than ever portions with meals that fill platter size plates and every fast food joint now not just offering you up the fries, but also asking you if you want to SUPER SIZE that, or more sneakily, “what size would you like?”

Mmmmmmm…

choices.

Do you know how hard it is it so stay “I will take the small” at that point?

Beyond the quite obvious obesity problem parts of the world is having there are other things to consider as well….

supply and demand.

The number of chicken, cows, pigs, and fish to sustain our every growing need to have it available at restaurants and at the local markets is not only staggering, but in this reviewers opinion… disgusting.  As Author and Chef Dan Barber says, that we are being fed (literally) a false promise of the future of food.

The First Plate is the classic meal most of us grew up with; the prime focus being on a large piece of meat, with very little vegetables on the side.  The farm to table movement reflects the current, and second plate where we are becoming more conscious of what we are putting into our mouths.  Looking for more local and organically grown choices, however as Dan points out in his book, is not long-term sustainable.

The Third Plate is based on a system featuring vegetables and grains and working with what the local farmers have at different seasons.

 

At the restaurant I serve a parsnip steak that was soil-aged for 14 months. We roast it like a steak, carve it like a steak and serve it with a rich bordelaise sauce made from beef bones. We flip the classic arrangement on its side. The anatomy of the first or second plate is there, but in keeping with what our landscape can provide. ~ Dan Barber

 

Dan Barber feels there is a healthy way to make this a win for our bodies, the farmers, and make it delicious.

 

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I am fascinated by foodie books.  I love to read about restaurants, cooking, chefs, and new ways to do things.  When I stumbled across The Third Plate while looking for my next audio I was intrigued.  We have local friends who gave up meat 2 years ago using the logic that some day, it will not be offered to us anyway as truly the world can not keep up n the ever-growing population and the ever-growing demand.

Seriously, kudos to them… but I am not ready for that day to come.  Sheila loves chicken!

Author Dan Barber is not proposing a non meat society, what he is offering up in The Third Plate is a radical change on how we look at the dinner plate.  His unique way of looking at the plate and how we can use local resources is fascinating.  He proposes how each area of the world uses the resources the land gives them to create delicious meals and support local growth and support.

I wish I took better notes when listening to this audio.  There are so many interesting facts as Dan visits sheep farmers, fisheries, and more.  The numbers are staggering… the supplies required to complete the demand are almost heartbreaking to me.  What people have learned about how a goose dies affects the taste of the meat is amazing.

This is one I will need to purchase the book because I hope to refer to this one time and again.  I was truly fascinated with everything I learned.  While at points it felt drug out in audio format, I imagine the book would not give the same feel.

Recommended for those who love foodie books like me, people interested in trying new things, and healthy eaters.  Dan Barbers thinking makes a lot of sense to me.

 

I am linking this post up to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

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Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews, Save The Date, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Cara Kryzik is the owner of a Savannah flower shop called Bloom.  She truly loves her job but with her father on her case for the money he loaned her to start her business, a landlord that will not return her calls when things in her store are not working, a walk in flower cooler that is unreliable, irate mother of brides, and an assistant who is acting stranger and stranger….

what is going to be her breaking point?

When a good-looking guy steals her dog, Cara does not have time to deal with him and manage her flowers for the upcoming weddings… and when this cool drink of water shows up at the wedding Cara is working, she can not believe his gall.  Is he following her???

While Cara is working out the kinks of her own life living event to event knowing that she is one cancelled wedding away from calling it quits… Jack the dog thief has other plans.

 

 

 

Save the date was another fun romp of a read by Mark Kay Andrews.  I enjoyed the protagonist who could not catch a break and the cast of characters that surrounded her flower shop.  I could imagine this as a fun movie.

Looking for a great summer read or in my case, listen?  Do not hesitate to add Save The Date to your list.  Narrator Kathleen Mcinerney does a wonderful job managing a cast of southern fun voices!

 

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 47 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 3, 2014

 

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