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Friday, March 24, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward @BlackstoneAudio

TITLE: Distress Signals
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
A debut thriller that channels Gone Girl, from the newest writer to watch, Catherine Ryan Howard.

The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads "I'm sorry - S" sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground.

MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook for voluntary review consideration.

Whoa, I totally didn’t see that coming! What an ending! Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!

I was a bit hesitant when I read that in the synopsis that this psychological thriller featured cruise ship disappearances, because I worried that it might be too similar to The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (which I read earlier this year and loved). While both stories are set on cruise ships, the stories are very different. I loved them both! I always wanted to take a cruise one day, but now I’m not so sure!

I love how the author told this story from three points-of-view:

  • Adam: He is 30 years old and lives with his girlfriend, Sarah. While he pursues his dream of writing screenplays and waiting for that big day to come when he finally sells a script, Sarah works full-time to support them with nary a complaint. She leaves Ireland to go to Barcelona on a business trip. When Sarah fails to be on the return flight and Adam is unable to reach her, he gets worried.
  • Corinne: She is an older woman in her 60s, working aboard a cruise ship. However, it appears that her job is merely a front for what she is really up to, which is that she is looking for someone.
  • Romain: His mother always compared him to his younger brother, Jean, saying that she wished that he could be more like him. In her eyes, Jean could do no wrong. Romain lives for the weekends, when his dad comes home from working in the city. While Jean is Mama’s favourite, Romain is Papa’s. 

Howard totally hooked me from the first chapter, and I loved how the plots and sub-plots became tangled together. The story moves quickly, and I found myself swept up into the drama. If you enjoy plot twists, you are going to love this one! I can’t wait to see what Howard writes next.

Some books are ideally suited to audio, and this is one of them. The narrators gave an exceptional performance, especially Alan Smyth who portrayed Adam. His narration alone kept me on the edge of my seat because of the fear, desperation, and tension in his voice. He had me riveted. Both Bronson Pinchot and Suzanne Toren were wonderful as well, but Smyth stole the show! He made me wish that my work commute was longer. For me, this audiobook was unputdownable! Here’s a sample of the narration:



MY RATING:
5 stars!! It was superb, and I just loved it and will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely put it on your TBR if you enjoy psychological thrillers or mysteries.

This book qualifies as:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Cold Summer by Gwen Cole @GwenCole_ @skyponypress


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:


TITLE: Cold Summer
AUTHOR: Gwen Cole
PUBLISHER: Sky Pony Press
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: May 2, 2017
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 256 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Time Travel
ISBN: 
9781510707665
Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.

Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

This one sounds intriguing. I want to know why he keeps going back to the WWII time period. Can't he jump anywhere else?? I guess I'll have to wait to find out!


What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Read The Whole Day Away #TopTenTuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Top Ten Twelve Books That Will Make You Read The Whole Day Away

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
(Kingmaker Chronicles, Book #1)


Pax by Sara Pennypacker
2016 National Book Award Nominee for Young People's Literature


Unbroken (YA Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware


A Magical Christmas by Heather Graham


The Exorcist (40th Anniversary Edition) by William Peter Blatty


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne


The Beast by J.R. Ward
(Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #14)


Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden
(Dead Wrong, Book #1)


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
(Harry Potter, Book #1)


Written in Red by Anne Bishop
(The Others, Book #1)


Shadow's Claim by Kresley Cole
(The Dacians, Book #1)


So, what books made you want to read the day away? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm reading: 

Something from my TBR mountain.

TITLE: Compulsion
AUTHORS: Heidi Ayarbe
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PUBLICATION DATE: May 3, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
ISBN: 9780061993862
Today has to be perfect.
Magic.
I look at the clock.
10:14 AM.

Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.

I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready."

Saturday will be the third state soccer champion­ship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can't lose because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It's the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake's prison, because sustaining it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.

Jake's convinced the magic will be permanent after Saturday, the perfect day, when every prime has converged. Once the game is over, he won't have to rely on his sister to concoct excuses for his odd rituals. His dad will stop treating him like he is some freak. Maybe he'll even make a friend other than Luc.

But what if the magic doesn't stay?

What if the numbers never leave?

Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this breathtaking and courageous novel.


Something from my bookshelf. This is my vintage 1970 edition, which I've kept from my childhood! I'm reading it aloud to my daughter, and our plan is to make our way through the whole series. This is a re-read for me, but I honestly don't remember a thing about it! It read it when I was young.

SERIES: Oz, Book #2
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1970 (first published 1904)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 192 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy
ISBN: 0590085654

"You'll never bother me again," says Mombi the witch, "once you drink this magic brew."

"What'll it do?" cries poor Tip.

"It will turn you into a marble statue!"

Tip's heart beats wildly.

Can a mere boy escape from a witch's evil power?

But this is Oz -- the marvelous, magical land where anything can happen!


I'm listening to:

Something from my review pile.

AUTHOR: Amanda Bouchet
NARRATORS: Mia Barron
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books
PUBLICATION DATE: January 3, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance
She's destined to destroy the world...

"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

But not if she can help it

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.


I just finished:


TITLE: The Shack
AUTHORS: Wm. Paul Young
PUBLISHER: Windblown Media
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1, 2007
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 252 pages
GENRE: Christian Fiction
ISBN: 9780964729230
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!


PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 42 mins
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller
A debut thriller that channels Gone Girl, from the newest writer to watch, Catherine Ryan Howard.

The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads "I'm sorry - S" sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground.


AUTHOR: Eve O. Schaub
NARRATORS: Callie Beaulieu
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2017
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 58 mins
GENRE: Nonfiction, Autobiography/Memoir
ISBN: 9781515901761
Eve has a problem with clutter. Too much stuff and too easily acquired, it confronts her in every corner and on every surface in her house. When she pledges to tackle the worst offender, her horror of a "hell room", she anticipates finally being able to throw away all of the unnecessary things she can't bring herself to part with: her fifth-grade report card, dried-up art supplies, an old vinyl raincoat. But what Eve discovers isn't just old CDs and outdated clothing, but a fierce desire within herself to hold on to her identity. Our things represent our memories, our history, a million tiny reference points in our lives. If we throw our stuff in the trash, where does that leave us? And if we don't...how do we know what's really important? Everyone has their own hell room, and Eve's battle with her clutter, along with her eventual self-clarity, encourages everyone to dig into their past to declutter their future. Year of No Clutter is a deeply inspiring - and frequently hilarious - examination of why we keep stuff in the first place, and how to let it all go.


What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stacking The Shelves and Sunday Post

This meme is hosted by Tynga over at Team Tynga's Reviews, which she describes as follows:

"Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!"


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


Yup, we're sick. It started with my younger daughter, who has been down and out with a fever and chest congestion since Wednesday night. My older daughter just has a phlegmy cough and chest congestion, no fever. It hit me on Friday night, and it feels like a truck ran over me. Every part of my body aches and I'm sweating buckets. I can't sleep because I'm so uncomfortable. Blaaaaahhhhhhh!! This is my first time with being sick this winter, so I guess I shouldn't complain but it's a doozy.

No pictures of the yard this week. I have the blinds drawn because my head is screaming, but I can tell that it's sunny out.

If you've left a comment over the past week, my response will be delayed. I will be getting back to you once I feel better.

If you missed it earlier, I have ARCs to swap. Check out MY POST to see if there's anything there that you'd like to read. If so, please let me know! I'd love to trade with someone. I will be adding to it once I have a chance to dig through boxes and bookshelves.


I downloaded these audiobook FREEBIES at Audible:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
(Outlander, Book #1)


The Innocent Ones by Robert Gregory Browne


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


Jane Carver of Waar by Nathan Long
(Jane Carver, Book #1)


The Turn of the Screw by Henry James


When You're Ready by J.L Berg
(Ready, Book #1)

Thanks again Audible for all the freebies!


I bought these audiobooks from Audible:

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
Audible Daily Deal for $1.95


Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
I used one of my credits for this one. Love this author!


I received this audiobook gift from Shane:

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Thanks again, Shane!


Recap: Last Week On The Blog





What books have you added to your shelves this week? If you are also participating in either of these memes, please leave me the link to your blog post in the comments so that I can come and drool over all your goodies!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale Read-Along - Discussion #Resistance #13WLRP


I think one of the reasons that I put off reading The Handmaid’s Tale for so long is because I thought that it wouldn’t be relevant. It was written over 30 years ago, right? I was a teenager when it came out, and I remember that there was media attention over the writing but not any specifics. I also remember that it was banned, and it is #37 on the ALA’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books for 1990-1999.

I was most surprised at how relevant Atwood’s writing is, even today! She wrote about a futuristic society, and what is most disturbing is that I can actually envision how such a society could come to pass with a tyrannical leader. It’s a very scary thought! When she wrote about “Islamic fanatics,” my gut wrenched. This seems too plausible!!

As a divorced mom and sole provider for my two daughters, Atwood’s dystopian world would take away my independence and ability to support my children. Not only would my rights be stripped, but theirs as well as they would be groomed to be Handmaids with no other options. I would do anything to escape from that world, like Offred did. If I was caught like Offred, I would then be separated from my children and would never see them again. That would kill me. I would be determined to find them and still try to escape.

Although I cannot imagine having loveless sex with someone for the sake of procreation, we do all have a survival instinct. If it was just me with no children, I think I’d rather be sent to the colonies! But as a mom with daughters who would be destined to a life like that? I’d try to escape and, if caught, to find my way back to them.

The Handmaids are also forbidden from reading, and I assume that is so that they are kept in the dark about what is happening in the rest of the world. It’s another way for the government to exercise their control over the Handmaids, to diminish them as individuals with no rights of their own.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and thanks to Michelle for finally giving me the push I needed to knock it off my TBR!

My review is posted HERE.

Thanks, again, Michelle for hosting the read-a-long!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood @MargaretAtwood @audible_com #CanadianAuthor #Resistance

TITLE: The Handmaid's Tale
AUTHOR: Margaret Atwood
NARRATOR: Claire Danes
PUBLISHER: Audible A-List Collection
PUBLICATION DATE: July 20, 2012 (first published 1986)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs
GENRE: Classics, Science Fiction/Dystopia
Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and JulietThe Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

The Handmaid's Tale is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star had a hand in selecting.

MY REVIEW:

It’s shameful that this Canadian girl has never read Margaret Atwood! I’ve had this classic on my TBR forever, and I’ve put it off for so long. I was thrilled to see a read-a-long for this book hosted by Michelle at Gather Together and Read, which gave me the push that I needed to finally take the plunge.

The setting of the story takes place in the future, following the collapse of the American government as we know it. The President was assassinated, and a group took over and re-branded the country as the Republic of Gilead which utilizes a dictatorship that strips women of their rights. They were unable to access their bank accounts or to hold a job. Any woman of reproductive age was forced to become a Handmaid, and her body is merely a vessel for bearing children. Handmaids are “owned” by leaders called Commanders and their infertile (older) wives, and their job is to act as a surrogate to the couple. To further emphasize that a woman no longer has any rights, the Handmaid’s are renamed “of” plus the first name of the Commander she serves.

The book’s narrator is Offred, and she describes the monthly ritualistic Ceremony that takes when she is ovulating. The sex between her and the Commander is not intimate or pleasurable. They both are fully clothed, with only her dress hitched up and his pants unzipped. There is no touching or kissing, and Offred lies between the legs of the Commander’s wife (also fully clothed) who holds the hands of the Handmaid while she watches the two engage in the act to ensure that no one is enjoying it! During a regular check-up with a physician, he suggests to her that the Commander is likely sterile and offers to impregnate her. Offred is tempted, because failure to become pregnant will brand her as an “un-woman” and she would be sent to the colonies (which are never really explained, other than to say that you wouldn’t want to end up there). However, it would be too risky for them both so she turns him down. Meanwhile, the Commander propositions Offred to secretly meet with him in his study.

Through flashbacks, we learn about Offred’s life before this new world. She was married to a man named Luke, and they had a daughter. They were attempting to flee the United States to Canada when they were caught. Offred has not seen either of them since. She assumes that Luke was killed, and her daughter was likely adopted by an affluent couple.

This book was better than I expected! With today’s political unrest, this book is just as relevant today as when it was written over 30 years ago! I really enjoyed Atwood’s writing, who describes in detail the brainwashing that the Handmaids are put through. She painted a very disturbing dystopian future for women, ruled by a tyrannical government. I cannot imagine living a life like Offred, and she handles it much better than I could! She wants to survive and will do it at whatever cost. I found the whole Ceremony with the Commander and his wife abhorrent and tantamount to rape. Even though she did consent, what choice she really have?!? Having the Commander’s wife hold her hands during the Ceremony made it seem even more like the act was being forced upon Offred.

This is my first narration by Claire Danes, and I thought she did a great job at conveying Offred’s different emotions. For example, we heard Offred’s spunky side during her secret meetings with the Commander and the pain in her voice when she wonders whether her daughter was told that she was killed. Ms. Danes had me totally engaged! However, she has an odd pronunciation of the word “mauve,” which I have never heard before. I actually had to rewind and listen again to figure out what she was saying! Here is a sample of the narration:


I can't wait to watch the television series, which is set to air in April 2017. I also plan to watch the 1990 movie starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, and Aidan Quinn.

MY RATING:
4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy dystopia!

This book qualifies as:
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