audiobook

An Open Book: Beach Reads, Teach Reads

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

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Dying for Revenge by Dr. Barbara Golder

An Open Book Linkup: Dying for Revenge (murder mystery)

This book rubbed the salt in the wound of what’s wrong with our culture today, publishing and otherwise.  Here we have a slick but gritty, sharp-edged murder mystery better than most secular crime novels I’ve read, but just because the main character side-eyes liberal culture and is struggling with/considering/reconsidering Catholicism, it’s going to be looked over.  It really shouldn’t be.  Don’t YOU people pass it by, anyway.

Okay, now that I have that off my chest, Dying for Revenge is the first book in a (hopefully well-populated!) series focusing on the work and struggles of Dr. Jane Wallace, a medical examiner and lawyer who has faced crime in her own past and come to hide from it in the mountains and canyons of Colorado.  I finished it in the space of three days and would have taken less time if I could read in the car without getting car sick.  Part cozy, part police procedural, part woman-in-peril (though Jane is so no-nonsense, that when the actual peril comes, I was almost blindsided), and with an enticing, mature, exile-from-The-Troubles, will-they-won’t-they-can-they? love interest in Eoin Connor, Dying for Revenge kept me on the edge of my seat in every possible way.  The climax was perhaps the most surprising–and surprisingly satisfying–part of the plot.  In the end, it’s just as much a mystery to solve as a progression of soul for the main character.  Look for more about this here on June 5, if you’re not already convinced to buy Dying for Revenge.

From Grief to Grace by Jeannie Ewing

An Open Book Linkup: From Grief to Grace by Jeannie Ewing (non-fiction, self-help)We all grieve in some way, because it’s a fallen world: we all need to cope with things not going according to plan, in ways both big and small.  From Grief to Grace is a manual on how to navigate that pain, from simple disappointment to world-changing heartbreak.  Ewing does not focus merely on death-related grief but on any kind of soul-pain that knocks us down to depths we’d much rather not visit.  Instead of looking at grief as something to just “get through,” she gives us tools and the gift of her own personal experiences with grief, so that we can see our own suffering not as something to fear but as rungs on a ladder to God.  How a book like this manages to be both practical and spiritually weighty is a testament to the author’s skill.

At the Crossroad by Amy M. Bennett

An Open Book Linkup: At the Crossroad by Amy M. Bennett (Black Horse Campground Mystery #4, cozy mystery, suspense)I am so excited to read this next book in The Black Horse Campground Mysteries.  I can’t rightly say that I’ve read this and can give a review yet, but it is loaded onto my Kindle and it’s what I plan to have in my waiting and recovery rooms while I’m in the hospital for tomorrow’s gallbladder eviction (in fact, if I can steal a moment today to start reading, I most surely will).  Amy Bennett has the dual gift of writing with a tender touch and a light heart.  Each book is filled with characters facing believable struggles and everyday events but turned in an extraordinary way.  The plot of each book keeps you guessing until the absolute very very very last minute.  In this latest installment, we’ll get to see which direction the love UST triangle takes.  I love JD, but I think I might be Team Rick?  Maybe.  Maybe?  Maybe.  I mean, a man who bakes is pretty difficult to resist…

This month’s audiobooks:

Anne of Avonlea (narr. Mary Sarah) by L. M. Montgomery

An Open Book Linkup: Anne of Avonlea (classics, audiobook)I’d read Anne of Green Gables in college for kicks and giggles but never read any of the other books, so this was a first for me as well as for my children… and husband.  We listened to part of it on the way home from a Memorial Day road trip, and he said it made the trip go a lot faster than it would have otherwise.  We even giggled together over Davy Keith’s mischief, the tragedy of the blue hall, and I think hubby laughed louder than I did over a certain package being obediently yet quite reluctantly tossed into the school woodstove.  So far I still like the first installment of this series best, but Avonlea is still well worth visiting, even in this perhaps more episodic tale.  The narration on this one is nice but seems to have less wonder and perhaps too much whimsy, and the different voices of the characters were barely distinct from one another.  All in all, though, it was a well-done production, and I’m glad we got to enjoy it.

Anne of the Island (narr. Barbara Caruso) by L. M. Montgomery

An Open Book Linkup: Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery, narrated by Nancy Caruso (classics, YA, audiobook)This version has my favorite narrator of the three Anne books we’ve listened to so far as a family.  Caruso’s voice has a timeless quality, and she gives each character a different voice but manages to avoid making any one of them a caricature.  The story itself was typical, delightful Anne, again more episodic than narrative as Green Gables is.  The narration in this production, however, really made it work for me best of the three Anne books we’ve heard.

Have you read/heard any of these yourself?  

What did you read this month?  

Don’t forget to linkup your reviews with Carolyn Astfalk!

An Open Book: May the Fourth Be Bookish

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

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Ugh.  I know, I know.  That post title is pathetic, but I’m running on fumes here.  What kind of fumes? The kind that broke me enough to give in to… audiobooks.  Audiobooks have been around longer than books, actually, because hello? Storytelling around the fire while digesting the freshly roasted mammoth meat?

I, however, just never got into audiobooks, because:

  1. I can get to the end of the story so much faster in my head.  Why would I wait around for someone else to read it for me?
  2. All my time available for audiobook listening, if I could get past that first issue, is spent in the car with kids, and you can’t listen to grown-up audiobooks if you have little pitchers and their big, giant ears in the backseat.

Why did it never occur to me that it’s not just contemporary pulp on audiobook but literary classics as well?

So that library trip when I stumbled upon this on our weekly trip to the library:

The Adventures of Odysseus by Hugh Lupton & Daniel Morden, Illustrated by Cristina Balit

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This was my very first audiobook, and since it wasn’t packaged as an audiobook, I was cleverly tricked into picking it up.  I didn’t even see the CDs in the front and back of the gorgeously illustrated covers until we were in the car and headed for our next task.  The Odyssey was one of my favorite reading assignments from college, and I was pretty sure there wasn’t anything completely untoward for both shifts of kid to hear (I’m more comfortable with kids learning of the horrors of war than the seduction of the flesh, frankly).  I was not disappointed in this version: there’s nothing immodest, and the retelling of the tale does not skip over the violent parts (Polyphemus and Scylla aren’t tidied up, for instance).  The narrators never use syrupy voices-for-the-kiddies.  I loved hearing Second Shift cheer when Odysseus sent the arrow through the axe handles.  All in all, I highly recommend this version.  Everyone can listen to the story while those who aren’t driving and can’t even read yet can appreciate the gorgeous, stylized illustrations.

Once we’d enjoyed that, I tried thinking back to literary classics I’d tried to get First Shift to read but which they’d eschewed because they prefer non-fiction so blastedly strongly.  The first one that came to mind was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

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I’ve struggled to get my older kids to read fiction, because their interests are limited, and they don’t see the point in fiction.  Even if they never, ever enjoy fiction (sniffle!), fiction-reading is still a part of learning how to be human–seeing how characters face conflict and deal with it, for good or ill.  Then there’s the ability to follow along with literary allusions without getting lost.  Both of those tasks can be conquered adequately (perhaps not well, but adequately) through audiobooks–force-fed to unwilling brains while on long car rides.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of those books that my kids just did not want to read but that we enjoyed listening to (maybe not as much as the next one, but more on that in a bit).  Narrator Jim Dale handled the ridiculousness with the exact right amount of wryness but still kept it whimsical.  I enjoyed this version immensely, moreso than I ever enjoyed the text version or any movie version (Sorry, Mr. Carroll).

Lastly, a book I read only once in my college years: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.

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The story, as always, is wonderful: the tale of an unwanted orphan who finds family in the most unlikely pair of brother and sister Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.  The example of a flighty but well-meaning girl who gets into particularly feminine adventures, who in turn learns from each hilarious mistake she makes, is a precious example I really wanted to share with my three young ladies.  Hearing the story now as a parent myself was that much more poignant than it had been when I was a childless college student, struggling to pass her own exams and such.  I love how much of a family story this is, with appeal across the ages.

As for this production in particular, the editing in this one could use some smoothing out, and I think the narrator went a little too far on the wry side and not far enough on the wonderment side.  That said, we had a great time listening to this one.  Second Shift loved it as much as I did; as Cordelia Chase would say, “Overidentify much?”

Adding audiobooks to our homeschooling has already been such a boon.  First Shift has phenomenal reading skills, but they shy away from personal stories; Second Shift loves fiction but struggles mightily with reading.  Audiobooks have given us the opportunity to share literature with each other, discuss it, talk about conflict and description and language.  I can’t believe I’ve let us miss out on this rich resource for so long.

In the time I’ve had to read books rather than listen to them, I’ve started in on From Grief to GraceFrom Grief to Grace coming out next month by Jeannie Ewing.

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I’ve also read another Chime Travelers book by Lisa Hendey, but that one won’t be out until Christmas, so look for a review in, say, November.

Do you have reluctant readers?  How do you tackle their challenges?  Do you use audiobooks?  What are some of your favorites?  And don’t forget to link up with Carolyn!