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Friday, January 20, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Unbroken (YA Adaptation) by Laura Hillenbrand @LLAudiobooks

TITLE: Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
NARRATOR: Edward Herrmann
PUBLISHER: Listening Library
PUBLICATION DATE: November 11, 2014
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 8 mins 
GENRE: Biography, Nonfiction
The number one New York Times best-seller, which is also a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie, has now been adapted by the author for young adults. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this riveting biography includes more than 100 black-and-white photos, as well as exclusive content, "In Conversation", with Laura Hillenbrand and Louie Zamperini.

On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.

In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning number one New York Times best-seller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome.
MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy for voluntary review consideration.

Both heartbreaking and inspiring, Unbroken will most definitely move you!

Louis Zamperini, son of Italian immigrants, grew up in Torrance, California. He was a very mischievous boy, smoking at the age of 5 and drinking by age 8 with a penchant for stealing. In an effort to keep him out of trouble and give him something to focus on, his older brother, Pete, whom he idolized, started to train him. He discovered that he enjoyed running, and his dream was to run in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He was the youngest distance runner to ever make the team, and he was 19 years old when he went to Berlin. He finished in eighth place, but it was his sprint at the end of the race that captured everyone’s attention.

Following his return to the United States, Louis enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and graduated from flight school as a second lieutenant in 1942. He was sent to war in Oahu. While on a search and rescue mission in May 1943, his B-24 crashed into the ocean. Only three men survived the crash: Louis, his best friend Russell Allen “Phil” Phillips, and Francis “Mac” McNamara. They were presumed dead, but they were adrift at sea in two rafts that they tethered together. They battled the elements, with little food (which should have been rationed but, instead, was eaten by Mac in a state of panic), and water. They survived on rain water and the fish that they could catch, but the sharks circled them constantly and even rammed the boats. At one point, they thought a rescue plane had finally found them but it was a Japanese bomber that fired at them, shooting holes in their rafts but miraculously missing the men. Louis prayed that if God would allow him to survive that he would spend the rest of his life serving Him. By the time that the raft reached land after drifting more than 2,000 miles, they were captured by the Japanese and there were only two left; Mac had died at sea.

As a Prisoner of War, Louis was subjected the unimaginable horrors. He was tortured, beaten, starved, and humiliated. He lost more than half his body weight, and he remained a POW for two years.

After his return to the United States, he was hailed a hero. Phil survived as well, and they both got married. However, Louis was plagued with flashbacks and suffered severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He turned to alcohol to numb his senses, and he became violent. At one point, he shook his baby daughter to get her to stop crying and that’s when his wife planned to leave him. Instead, she became a born-again Christian after attending a Billy Graham revival and urged Louis to go with her. He was reminded of his prayers on that raft, his promise to God that he would serve Him the rest of his life if only God would save Him, and that’s when his life changed. He went home and gathered up all the alcohol in the house and dumped it down the drain, and he never again suffered from PTSD or flashbacks. He even returned to Japan to confront the men who tortured him who had been captured as war criminals, and he offered them his forgiveness.

This was an incredibly moving story, and Louis Zamperini is pretty inspiring! In spite of everything that he had endured, his heart had not hardened. His captors may not have deserved his forgiveness, but he gave it and was able to move past that pain to start the healing process. Laura Hillenbrand is a very gifted writer, and the story was hauntingly beautiful. She writes in such a vivid and descriptive way that she made me feel as though I was right there in the life raft with Louis, Phil and Mac! The only thing that made this author’s story better was the narration by Edward Hermann, which was top-notch. He brought this remarkable story of one man’s determination to life. Here is a sample of the narration:


I can’t wait to watch the movie!

MY RATING:

5 stars!! It was superb, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in survival stories or WWII history. Thanks again to Listening Library for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Shadows Still Remain by Peter de Jonge @HarperCollins

TITLE: Shadows Still Remain
SERIES: O'Hara & Krekorian, Book #1
AUTHOR: Peter de Jonge 
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
PUBLICATION DATE: April 21, 2009
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 288 pages
GENRE: Mystery
ISBN: 9780061373541
A Beautiful Woman, Missing

New York City, 2005. Thanksgiving weekend. A topless Kate Moss peers down from a billboard over rain-spattered Houston Street. Escaping a troubled past, Francesca Pena came to the city and reinvented herself. At New York University, her beauty and charisma are the envy of her privileged pals, yet none knows the real Francesca who, after a night of drinking, is now missing.

A High-Stakes Gamble

Detective Darlene O'Hara of the Seventh Precinct and her partner, Serge "K." Krekorian, set out to find Pena. But when the case turns high-profile and Homicide is called in, O'Hara, who has an eighteen-year-old son she saddled with the name Axl Rose O'Hara, and whose binge drinking exacerbates the massive chip on her shoulder, refuses to let go. Risking both her and K.'s careers, she defies NYPD brass and Homicide legend Patrick Lowry to secretly pursue her own investigation.

A Desperate Chase and a Chilling Twist

Following a deadly trail that leads from NYU's ivory towers to Brooklyn tattoo parlors, from a skanky strip club to a whitewashed boutique run by a Korean madam, O'Hara closes in on her prey. But she has to move fast, because Lowry and the NYPD are about to make a devastating mistake that will leave the real killer free.

MY REVIEW:

This was a great start to a new mystery series, which features a determined detective and some surprising plot twists!

A beautiful Puerta Rican young woman, 19-year-old Francesca Pena who is a sophomore at New York University, meets her friends at a trendy bar on the night before Thanksgiving. A guy tries to hit on her, but she shoots him down and moves to table by herself. At this point, Francesca’s friends have already left the bar and Francesca closes the place down. Outside, she is squatting down and heaving her guts out when someone approaches her and asks if she is okay. That is the last that anyone sees of Francesca.

Francesca’s ex-boyfriend, David McLain, files a missing person report when she doesn’t come home that night. They are no longer a couple but remain friends, and he is visiting from Massachusetts and is staying at her apartment. Detective Darlene O’Hara and Serge Krekorian, her partner of four years, work at Manhattan’s Seventh Precinct. They are heading the investigation for Francesca’s disappearance.

Francesca’s naked body is found in a bathroom at East River Park, and there is evidence that she was tortured and raped before her death. O’Hara and Krekorian only have 72-hours to solve the case before it gets turned over to the Homicide Unit.

It’s tough not to like to Darlene. She is gutsy, determined, and not afraid to take risks. However, she would be a bit of a nightmare of a partner because she acts like the lone wolf sometimes, and she’s darn lucky that she has a partner who backs her up! The plot went pretty dark and disturbing, as we learned more of Francesca’s background.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fast pace of the story and will definitely read the next installment in the series, Buried on Avenue B, which was released in 2012.

MY RATING:

4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy dark and gritty crimes!

This book qualifies as:
Task #5 for my Goodreads Winter Seasonal Scavenger Challenge - Skiing

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Expecting to Die by Lisa Jackson @readlisajackson @KensingtonBooks #WaitingOnWednesday


"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: Expecting to Die
SERIES: To Die, Book #7
AUTHOR: Lisa Jackson
PUBLISHER: Zebra
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: February 28, 2017
FORMAT: Paperback

LENGTH: 484 pages
GENRE: Suspense/Thriller
ISBN: 
9781420136074
The menacing woods of Grizzly Falls, Montana, are not for the faint of heart. But for some, they re the perfect setting for partying and pranks. They don t know there s a rapt audience amid the tangled trees, a killer with a different kind of game in mind, for whom the woods are dark and deep and perfectly deadly

Some places earn their bad reputation through tall tales or chance. Grizzly Falls is different. Here, killers aren t just the stuff of legends and campfire lore. Someone is in the nighttime shadows, watching the local teens play around in the moonlit woods. Waiting for the right moment, the right victim. Waiting to take away a life.

Detective Regan Pescoli is counting the days until her maternity leave. Exhausted and emotional, the last thing she needs is another suspected serial killer. Especially when her daughter, Bianca, is swept up in the media storm. When a reality show arrives in town, the chaos only makes it harder for Pescoli and her partner, Selena Alvarez, to distinguish rumor from truth.

Another body is found and another. And as the nightmare strikes closer to home, Pescoli races to find the terror lingering in the darkness, where there are too many places to hide and countless places to die

I seriously need to get caught up on this series! I have Book #4 on my Kobo and #5 in paperback, waiting to be read. I must get on that!


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, January 17, 2017

Ten Underrated/Hidden Gems I've Read In The Past Year Or So #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 Underrated/Hidden Gems I've Read In The Past Year Or So

Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden
(Dead Wrong, Book #1)
This is the best Romantic Suspense book that I read last year! Smoking hot!! Until this book, I hadn't heard of this author but I already bought the next two books in the series.


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
(The Exorcist, Book #1)
The movie doesn't hold a candle to the book! This 40th Anniversary Edition of the audiobook is narrated by the author, and it's absolutely chilling.


Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
(Across the Universe, Book #3
This was the best Dystopian book that I read last year. The whole series was phenomenal.


A Magical Christmas by Heather Graham
I don't generally read Contemporary Romances, so I have always steered clear of this author but I absolutely loved it and intend to read more from her!


The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson
This is another new-to-me author that blew me away, and it was such a touching and heartwarming story. A perfect holiday read!


Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
(Gone With the Respiration, Book #1)
I've had a hard time with steampunk. This genre has been hit or miss with me. I either really like the book or really dislike it. This one was really good!



Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
This was tough to read but, oh, so good! It deals with sexual abuse and cutting.


Little Black Dress by James Patterson with Emily Raymond
Don't knock the BookShots series! Going into these short reads, you have to realize that you aren't going to get a ton of character development. If you can accept that going in, then I recommend that you try one of these books. This was a very hot quick little read, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!


Death of a Cupcake Queen by Lee Hollis
(Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery, Book #6)
I need a book title with a "Q" in it for one of my reading challenges, and I saw this at the library and grabbed it not realizing it was #6 in a series! It didn't matter that I jumped so late into the series, but now I want to read the earlier books because I enjoyed it so much!



The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren
This was a really life-changing book for me, and it is a great motivator in examining your life to see where you can do better or be better or where the next steps are. It really resonated with me.




So, what hidden gems have you read in the past year or so? 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, January 16, 2017

A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Starting Line #WintersRespite


A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon has begun!


I'm Reading:

Something from my TBR mountain. This is a dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Letter.

by Hillary Jordan


I'm Listening To:

Something from my TBR mountain, and this is January's Read-a-Long for the Classic Horror Reading Challenge.


Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
by Mary Shelley
[on my iPod]


Other Books on my TBR:


The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
[on my iPod]


by L. Frank Baum
(Katie Maguire, Book #1)
by Graham Masterton



I will post my updates on Twitter using the #WintersRespite hashtag, and then do a wrap-up post at the end of the read-a-thon on my blog.

Thanks again to Michelle at Seasons of Reading for hosting!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm still reading: 

Something from my TBR mountain.

TITLE: When She Woke
AUTHOR: Hillary Jordan 
PUBLISHER: Algonquin Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 4, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 344 pages
GENRE: Science Fiction/Dystopia
ISBN: 9781565126299
I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.


I'm listening to:

Something from my TBR mountain, and this is January's Read-a-Long for the Classic Horror Reading Challenge.

PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: March 12, 2008 (first published 1818)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 42 mins 
GENRE: Classics, Horror
Dr. Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist, is consumed by a fanatic desire to create a living being. He fashions an eight-foot-tall creature and succeeds in animating him, but, horrified by his visage, perceives his creation to be a monster and frightens him away. The monster, wandering in search of human companionship, is spurned and repulsed by all he approaches and learns to hate and to kill. He confronts his maker with a terrible choice: unless Frankenstein creates for him a mate, he will go on a rampage of destruction.

Frankenstein, a masterpiece of 19th-century Gothic horror and considered to be the first science-fiction novel, is a subversive tale about the corrupt tendencies in humanity's most "civilized" ambitions.



I just finished:


AUTHOR: Laura Hillenbrand
NARRATOR: Edward Herrmann
PUBLISHER: Listening Library
PUBLICATION DATE: November 11, 2014
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs and 8 mins 
GENRE: Biography, Nonfiction
The number one New York Times best-seller, which is also a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie, has now been adapted by the author for young adults. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this riveting biography includes more than 100 black-and-white photos, as well as exclusive content, "In Conversation", with Laura Hillenbrand and Louie Zamperini.

On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.

In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning number one New York Times best-seller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome.



TITLE: Pax
PUBLISHER: HarperAudio
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2016
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 5 hrs and 35 mins 
GENRE: Childrens/Middle Grade Fiction
Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather's house 300 miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be - with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own....

From best-selling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the essential truths that define us and the devastating costs of war. Pax is destined to become a beloved classic.


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, January 15, 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

We got another dump of snow on Monday night, and it was light and fluffy but deep. It's easy to shovel, but it won't stay put. Our winds gusted to 90 km/hr, and then our temps dropped to -45 degrees Celsius (that's -49 degrees Fahrenheit) with the windchill and there was ZERO visibility on Thursday. Here's what it looked like on Tuesday morning with the fresh fluffy snow:


 That's my picnic table buried under there. You can't even see the bench anymore!




Now we are in a warm-up! It's currently -15 degrees Celsius (that's 5 degrees Fahrenheit), and we are supposed to reach +1 degree Celsius by Thursday. Isn't that crazy?! But you realize what that means? Yes, more snow! Another 20 cm is expected next weekend.

I have added a TON of audiobooks to my TBR pile, and most of them were free!


"Shane" gifted me with more audiobooks through Audible:


The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles


The Autobiography of Charles Darwin by Charles Darwin

Thanks, Shane!


This was one of Audible's Daily Deals this week, and it's been on my Wishlist and I couldn't pass it up for only $2.95:


Into the Light by Aleatha Romig
(The Light, Book #1)


These were FREEBIES that I found on Audible:


(Simon Serrailler, Book #8.5)

Lock and Key: The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson
(Lock and Key, Book #2)


(The Chronicles of St. Mary's, Book #6.5)






Did you know that you can get FREE audiobooks on Penguin Random House's website when you sign up for their newsletter? Click HERE, and then click on each of the links at the top (Fitness, Crafter, Family Travel, Business Traveler, Tech & Sci-fi, and Gardener & Cook). Scroll down to the bottom of each page and sign up for the newsletter, and then you will receive a download link for a free audiobook! The only link that didn't have an audiobook was Business Traveler, but the offerings change periodically and I've gotten audiobooks here more than once. Here are the ones that I picked up:


(Stone Barrington, Book #6)


(Dash & Lily, Book #1)

 
(The Original Shannara Trilogy, Book #1)

(The School of Essential Ingredients, Book #2)



I received this lovely surprise in my mailbox:


Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

Thanks again, Blackstone Audio! I can't wait to listen to it!!


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