I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out – True Stories Of Becoming A Nurse by Lee Gutkind, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

i wasnt strong like this before, lee gutking, tavia gilbert book journey

A collection of true narratives from nurses and their careers.  From their first birth, to their first death – to what they deal with as well as what they see on a day-to-day basis.  Stories that are at times life changing, overstepping boundaries with an AIDS patient, and the nurse who was the only one who showed up at the funeral of one of her patients.



So this particular listen is both right up my alley – and not.  I do enjoy a good non fiction read.  At the same time I knew this one would be a bit touchy for me on a personal level and I was nervous going into this listen.  While there were moments that hit a little too close to home, this audio was not only doable – but interesting.

This book of short personal stories of these nurses is both enlightening and heartbreaking.  Yes there were moments for me that were harder to listen to than others.  I suspect that would be the case for many in such a read.  When talking about the different things that nurses do and the types of patients they encounter, I suspect it is easy to touch the reader/listener personally in many ways.

Adding to the mix is of course the narration of Tania Gilbert, who I have enjoyed listening to many times and this book was no exception.  Her diversity in the stories is once again a powerful performance and a narrator I always smile abut when I see her name on audio books I wish to listen to.

My overall thoughts are that this is an interesting listen and while I am probably not the best audience for this, I am still glad I had a chance to experience it and get a little insight to what it is really like to live out your career as a nurse.


Tavia Gilbert, narrator of I Wasn’t Strong Like This Before is nominated for an Audie Award. armchairaudies-300x300



  • Written by: Lee Gutkind
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release Date:08-04-15
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio


Level Up. Beyond The Turning Of The Page

audio meme

About once a year, I get on my audio soap box.  If you read me here, you already know I LOVE audio books.  When I discovered audio books in 2010, I was amazed that I had found a way to enjoy books beyond the turning of the page.  If you are into real books or your E-Reader, what I want to share here is that this is another way to EXPERIENCE books that will (I promise) take you to the next level.

One thing we can agree on before we get started….. we all love to read.  We enjoy engaging in a well written story.  We can close our eyes and picture our favorite reading spot…. a cozy chair, on the porch in the sun, in the evening curled up on the couch, outside on a swing, a park bench, leaning against a tree….

I get that.  I am that.  Often… I love to be on the back deck in the summer with ice tea and a great read.  But for me.. life does not stop so I can read a book.  Lets try this visual:

3a - Copy

So many books…. so little time right?

So let’s get started.

We just covered the WHY and WHEN you should listen to audio….


HOW To Listen To Audio.11

Audio books may give you a visual of old school audio tapes…..  and uhhh….. no.  Fast forward to something a little more current.  Hip and happening…..

Audio books come in CD format.  Perfect for your car and in your home.  They also can be downloaded off your computer to ITUNES or even directly to your phone (my personal favorite).  With an auxiliary cord, you can easily hook your phone up to your vehicles radio and listen to it within your car.

11My personal favorite is on my phone because my phone is usually everywhere I am.  I picked up an external speaker at Wal-Mart (found at most stores that has electronics).  This allows your phone to connect with the speaker and amplify the sound.  This way I can set the speaker and phone on my kitchen counter and work my way around the area without having to carry my phone with me to hear it.  External speakers range any where from $9.99 to $89.99.  I paid $14.98 for mine three years ago and it still works wonderfully.  No need to go fancy. 🙂

For traveling purposes, such as walking the dog, traveling on a plane or mowing the lawn, ear buds come into play.  These too can be picked up at most stores that carry electronics for fairly reasonable.


WHERE To Find Great Audio Books.confused-smiley

Audiobooks can be purchased in CD format at most stores that carry books.  You can also pick them up on line off Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…  For downloading audio to your device of choice, there are several options.

Audible.com:  This is the one I use and have used for 5 years.  Audible lets you choose up to two audio books a month at a greatly reduced price from what you would purchase audio in the stores.  I am on the two credits per month program and pay $22.95 per month.  Many audio books, especially new and popular titles go for anywhere between $25 and $50 an audio book so this is a great reduction.  As a new customer, you receive your first audio book free – just go on and pick one. Another thing I love about Audible is that if you are listening to a book that you do not find to your liking, go into your account and ask to return it.  No questions asked they will give you your credit back!  They also have wonderful sales where you can pick titles up for $4.95 each, as well a daily special where one audio book will be $2.95.  No contract, quit any time.

Downpour.com is another site much like Audible, however they do not have DRM (which honestly I knew little about until I read the linked article.  I have not spent a lot of time on this site yet, but I will. Definitely one worth checking out.


WHAT To Listen To

Ahhhh….. one of my favorite topics…. what to listen to on audio?  Most sites will allow you to listen to a sample of the audio book.  I highly recommend you do this.  Not all audio is treated alike.  Narration is so important and while you can read here or on other sites about favorite narrators….  you really need to hear for yourself and choose what you like.  A good narration (IMO) lets you lose yourself in the book.  You don’t hear someone reading, instead you become part of the story.  You don’t hear a change in character voices, instead you hear a discussion.  And when you are really really lucky – you fall in love with the narration and…. you stalk the narrator.  You look for books that this narrator has narrated.  That’s when you know you have it bad.  I have done it.

I can give you a short list here of some of my favorites…. but definitely look around and see what other reviewers are talking about in audio books.  I have picked many audio books on my own, but I have picked just as many or perhaps even more on someone elses raving.


A few of my top picksfavorites-yellow-star-icon-29360

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Narrated by Wil Wheaton (soon to be a movie!)

11-22-63 by Stephen King Narrated by Craig Wasson (do not write this off because it is a King book.  It is, and it isn’t!)

The Residence by Kate Anderson Brower Narrated by Karen White (This is such a great listen and so informative)

The Martian by Andy Weir Narrated by R.C. Bray  (From the very first sentence I was all….. oh yeah.  This is going to be fun)

YOU by Caroline Kepnes narrated by Santino Fontana  (oh my word!  The narration and Joe….. WOW!)

Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain Narrated by Susan Bennett

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty Narrated by Caroline Lee  (Oh I fell in love with this story and this narrator!  I also enjoyed Big Little lies with the same narrator!  It’s like narrator crack!)

All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

All The Summer Girls, Meg Donohue, Book Journey

Kate Harrington, Vanessa Warren, and Dani Lowenstein were inseparable in their youth.  Then one summer choices that were made, a loss of a beloved friend and brother, and secrets separate the girls.

Now 8 years later, Kate is newly (and surprisingly) dumped by her fiance.  Vanessa loves her life as a stay at home mom but recent circumstances have her thinking about the guy she left behind so many years ago and wondering if she made the right choice.  Dani has a passion for writing but her old party habits of drugs and alcohol make holding down a day job near impossible.

When Kate calls the old friends together for an emergency “forget about him”  weekend at her fathers beach house in Avalon, Vanessa and Dani jump at the chance to reunite and escape their own worlds for a while.  Yet can the girls return to the setting of their unraveling?  Can the secrets that have been hidden all these years remain buried?  Sometimes those you think you know so well you find out you really don’t know at all.




Yes, yes, it is another book with three women looking out over the water… much like the last book I listened to.  I admit it, the covers call to me… they speak of friendships and I like reading about friendships.

All The Summer Girls is a book with teeth.  While at first sight you may think that this is another light beach read that is good but will not really stick you beyond the last page, but I have to say that is not the case.  All The Summer Girls surprised me – a few twists caught me off guard and I was impressed with what I did not see coming.

I listened to this book on audio and enjoyed narrator Heather Henderson’s voice for the book.  A good quick listen/read with a story line that impressed me.


One funny happening while listening to the audio that I have to share….  there is a part where the girls go out and are dancing.  A guy approaches Kate and when she introduces herself I thought he responded, “I’m gay.”  When listening I thought, oh good, he is just looking for someone to dance with then.  A couple of chapters later when he comes up again, I catch it this time… his name is Gabe.  😳  That one is on me.  😉




  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 27 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Audible.com Release Date: May 21, 2013


Best Audio Book of 2014 Blog Hop!

Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop 600x407

When Felicity at The Geeky Bloggers Book Blog mentioned she was helping to host an audio book hop, I had to get involved.  If you read my here – you know I love me some audio!  Of course, then I went ona 17 day trip to Australia and New Zealand and forgot all about it. 😳

My bad and I am late posting this.

Here are a few of my favorites of 2014 AND at the end of this post… a giveaway as well as info to the other blogs participating.


1Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Listening Length: 8 hours and 6 minutes

High school student Jam Gallahue is still recovering from the tragic loss of her boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield, the adorable exchange student from Britain. It has been over a year since Reeve died and Jam is still stuck in her thoughts of kissing him in the library, or watching a funny movie together.  Her depression and inability to move on is so deep, her parents feel they have no choice when they send her to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in Vermont for youth of similar struggles.

Jam is selected along with four other students to be in a class called Special Topics.  An English class that turns out to be all about the works of Sylvia Plath.  When the teacher hands each of the students a beautiful leather bond journal and encourages them to try to write something in them once or twice a week, Jam is certain that she will NOT be writing in a journal.

Yet one evening, Jam does decide to try to write a few lines in the book and when she does she finds herself whisked away, back to a time when she is with Reeve once again.  While she fears she may be dreaming, his arms around her are all to real and when she comes back to the present, she finds she has written 5 pages in the journal.  What is even more odd, Jam discovers that the other students in the Special Topics class had similar experiences, each going back to a time when things were right before their personal tragedy happened; and each coming back to find that 5 pages in their journal have been filled.

As the group begins to meet outside of class time to discuss their secret; they all wonder what will happen when they get to the end of the journal… and will that close the door to the past even if they are not ready to let go?

Gush Thoughts:  It is YA meets a little magical “what if” and toss in Sylvia Plath for a mix of fun and mystery and well… LOVED IT!




1The Martian by Andy Weir

Listening Length:  10 hours and 53 minutes

Mark Watney was part of an epic win for mankind.  He was one of a group of astronauts that were the first to land on the planet Mars.  Congratulations were short-lived when a dust storm comes up flinging the crew about like sheets of paper.  Mark was struck hard by debris and the team makes an emergency evacuation of Mars feeling certain that Mark is dead.

But Mark is not dead.

He is however left on a planet with no way to communicate to earth that he is alive, and left with a hab that will possibly keep him alive for a month or so, a tent that was left behind, a land rover that may or may nor work and no plans for another team to come to Mars for about 4 years.

Mark is screwed.

For his own sanity he starts a log of what he is doing with his time and how he is making do with what he has for someone many years from now to find and hopefully learn from…. or at least know how Mark lived his last days… or how he died…


Gush thoughts:  This one had me from the first sentence.  Loved the narration and Mark’s “Macgyver” type dealings with his unique situation.  If you missed this one you will want to go back and listen!  Trust me 🙂




1We Were Liars by E Lockhart

Listening Length:  6 hours and 27 minutes

Tall, blond Cadance Sinclair Eastman is the apple of her grandfather Harris’ eye as the oldest granddaughter. The Sinclair family come from money and each summer the Aunts (Cadance’s mother and her two sisters) gather with their children off a private Island in Massachusetts owned by Harris.  The children, or really teens (all around 15) fondly refer to themselves as “The Liars” and consist of Cadance, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat, who is a friend of the family. 

During that 15th summer, Cadance finds she has a crush of Gat; and really – he on her as well.  It is a summer of new love until an accident leave Cadance with a concussion and no memory as to what happened.  She misses the next summer at the Island but returns her 17th year still knowing little of what happened.  Her cousins had not responded to her emails over the past year, and even Gat seems to have been avoiding her; no one wanting to tell her the details of what happened those two summers ago as her doctor has said it was best if she remembered on her own. 

As Cadance slowly begins to remember snippets of what happened she starts to piece together a horrible truth.

Gush thoughts:  OOH!  Twisty turny and honestly blew my mind in the end (yes that is a good thing!)




1Delicious by Ruth Reichl

Listening Length:  12 hours and 58 minutes

Billie Breslin is excited when she lands a job at Delicious, the cream of the crop magazine of New York.  She is young and feels unqualified to be playing in the big league, but Billie has something that is rare, she has a refined palate that can identify even the toughest of ingredients within a dish. While Billie loves to be a part of the behind the scenes of the magazine, even with much prompting she has no desire to actually cook for reasons she chooses not to say.  Then suddenly, while it looks as though all of Billie’s dreams are coming true, the magazine is shut down, leaving long-term employees stunned and Billie in shock as her dreams seem to tumble broken to the ground.

When Billie is asked to stay on as the sole employee of Delicious to continue to respond to letters to uphold the Delicious guarantee (if any recipe is not to your satisfaction you will be refunded the cost of your ingredients), she reluctantly agrees as she has no other immediate plans.  While exploring the abandoned Delicious library before it goes on the market, she discovers a series of letters hidden in a secret room off the buildings library.  These letters dating back to WWII, written by Lucy Swan, an intelligent 12-year-old open up a part of Billie that she did not know existed, and may finally help her to release the secret she has held on to tightly for way too long.

Gush thoughts:  Oh my!  This story is BRILLIANT!  I also learned after seeing Ruth Reichl in New York this past June that it is not all fiction.  Good stuff!  Seriously try this audio!!!



1The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

Listening Length:  11 hours and 39 minutes

Riley MacPherson was only two years only when her older teenage sister Lisa committed suicide.  Although Riley was too young to really remember Lisa, who was on her way to Julliard as a very gifted musician, Riley does know this was about the time her family fell apart.  Her mother battled with depression and eventually cancer takes her from them.  Her father acts as though nothing has happened at all and refuses to discuss it.  Riley’s older brother Danny begins to pull away from the family and continues to be estranged even into his adult life.

Riley, now in her 20’s returns to her childhood home after her father’s passing to take care of the family properties.  Through encounters with different local people and finding in her father’s home – evidence leads to the fact that Lisa may not have committed suicide after all…

and if that is true….

What happened?  And where is she now?  Is she alive?

Gush thoughts:  What an amazing listen!  What an amazing author!  This audio sent me on a binge of other audio by this author.  Fantastic!!!


These are the 5 audio books I am putting forward for this post.  If you love audio these are do not miss listens.  If you are new to audio or skeptical… these listens can turn you into an audio book listener.  AND before you non audio peeps tell me how you can not focus or do not have time for audio let me give you a few suggestions of when is a great time to listen:

  • while cooking or cleaning
  • while scrapbooking or working on other projects (painting, knitting, crocheting)
  • while mowing the lawn
  • while in your car



For my giveaway – I am giving away an Audiobook of your choice from Audible or a $15 Amazon gift card that I hope you will use towards an audio book 🙂

To enter – leave a comment here telling me either of an audio book you have really enjoyed and would recommend, or tell me which of these audio books appeals most to you. 

For an additional entry, please sign up to receive my posts by email (link is on right sidebar).  If you already receive my posts by email let me know in a comment and it will be a free entry. 

I will choose a winner using random.org and announce the winner on Tuesday January 27th


Trips and projects can be much more enjoyable when listening to audio. Here is a list of others on this hop for more great audio and giveaways:

1. Hot Listens 20. Ashley @ Wholly Books
2. Jennifer @ The Book Nympho 21. Alysia @My Little Pocketbooks
3. The Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog 22. Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun
4. Book Journey 23. Kym @ Tea and a Book
5. Kathryn – Book Date 24. Eargasms Audiobook Reviews
6. Marcela aka The Bookaholic Cat 25. Urban Girl Reader
7. Jonetta (Ejaygirl) 26. Kate @ MidnightBookGirl
8. Holly @ ListenUp Audiobooks 27. Bookswagger
9. The Reading Date 28. Books,Chocolate and Lipgloss
10. Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings 29. Lisa @ Captivated Reader
11. Cat @ Addicted 2 Heroines 30. Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
12. Mary Matthews 31. LilyElement
13. Tanya @ Rantings of a Reading Addict 32. Angy
14. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed 33. The Ladies @ CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
15. Rainy Day Ramblings 34. Nice Girls Don’t Read Naughty Books
16. Diana @ Book of Secrets 35. Grace @ My Book Snack
17. Judy @ Musings and Ramblings 36. Holly @ ListenUp Audiobooks
18. Tabitha @ Not Yet Read 37. Liza @ Classy Cat Books
19. Literate Houswife