June-July Reads and Listens

It’s been a busy couple of months and I have been listening to a bunch of really great selections and read a bunch too! I am really enjoying my Book of the Month Club selections and the Literati Book Club as well. I highly recommend them both; however, if you are looking for a club that has online book discussions – Literati is your place to look. They have a great app as well so whether you are on your phone, iPad or computer, it’s a very easy site to use. Literati has a bunch of different book clubs where authors or celebs have selected the book. Each one has a theme like Austin Klein’s Read Like an Artist, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild Reads. I’ve been in Kelly McGonigal’s Joy Collective but just switch to Susan Orleans’ Private Collection. If you want to leave one club for another, you simply make the switch online before the 17th of the month. (FYI: I don’t get any thing for recommending these in any way shape or form. I just like their services. )

Here are my reviews for my June-July Reads and Listens.

“This is the great horror of life: that mistakes are forever, and cannot be undone. You can never truly go back, even if you want to retrace your steps and take another route. The path has already disappeared behind you.”

― Janelle Brown, Pretty Things

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How well do you know the people around you? In this day of social media when appearances seem to be everything, can you trust what you see. Con artists,grifters and narcissists are real and this is the story of some of them. The story touches upon themes of friendship, mental illness, and trust to name a few. It’s a wonderful psychological thriller and the narrators Julia Whelan as Nina and Lauren Fortgang as Vanessa do a superb job. A great listen!

“…it is sad, of course, to forget. But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten. To remember when no one else does.”

― V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I just finished listening to this book and now that it’s over, I loved it. While I was listening to it, I felt it was slow in parts, but interesting enough to continue. I thought that the author had drummed a few things in, repeating things a few times more necessary perhaps, to get the point across on what it must have been like for Addie to experience. But if you can keep push through it, it’s worth it. This is a beautifully written story rich with interesting characters. I found it a bit confusing , listening to audiobook, since the story skips around in time and keeping things straight in my head took a little more focus on my part. But all in all, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to those who have a little patience and enjoy finding the devil in the details. Julia Whelan does a fantastic job with the narration. She is becoming. favorite narrator of mine. 3-1/2 stars.

“Until recently, I didn’t think that humans could choose loneliness. That there were sometimes forces more powerful than the wish to avoid loneliness.”

― Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was sucked into the story from the moment I opened the book. Kazuo Ishiguro is a beautiful writer who masterfully brings us right into the world of artificial intelligence with introducing us to Klara, the main character and narrator. Klara provides an interesting and unique perspective.
The book touches upon many themes: relationships between humans and relationships humans have with technology; grief; social inequality, just to name a few. I highly recommend this to anyone – it’s a beautifully written book and has such an interesting perspective on what the future could bring.

“Increasingly at Southern airports, instead of a “good-bye” or “thank-you,” cashiers are apt to say, “Have a blessed day.” This can make you feel like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne. “Get it off me!” I always want to scream. “Quick, before I start wearing ties with short-sleeved shirts!”

― David Sedaris, Calypso

Calypso by David Sedaris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoy David Sedaris and his stories about his life and family. Sedaris describes any given situation so that you feel as if you are right there beside him. I’m not a political person so when I hear comedy start to talk politics I tune out, particularly these days. I’ve had too much of the bashing from all sides, so those two short parts weren’t my favorite.

But since I am a second generation Greek-American I especially enjoyed hearing stories about his Papou and Yaya and all his Greek experiences! I could listen to him talk about the Greeks for hours and I’m sure I would be in stitches laughing. Calypso has a little bit of everything and it’s good to hear some up-to-date material from Sedaris. Sedaris’s books always make me laugh.

“How were you supposed to change- in ways both big and small- when your family was always there to remind you of exactly the person you apparently signed an ironclad contract to be?”

― Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I picked this book as my Book of the Month club selection and was excited to read another novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, as I really enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six and I had seen other great reviews about Malibu Rising–initially.
Malibu Rising was just okay to me – a quick beach read at best. For multi-generational family story, that was based around the Riva family of 6 – I found most of the characters lacking in depth other than Nina and Kit. Jenkins Reid captures the essence of Malibu and transports you to its beautiful sand, surf and people. I just wish overall, there had been a little more substance.

“Being drunk never changes a person, but it does grant their shadow selves free rein to step forward.”

― Michele Harper, The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully written while taking on tough subjects as forgiveness, transitions, trauma, abuse and racism. Michele Harper brings us into her world from rough beginnings into the world of emergency medicine. You don’t have to be a nurse, EMT, doctor or anyhow related to the medical profession to be able to relate to her stories. I read this book because it was the July book from my Literati book club as part of the Joy Collective which focuses on “books that explore our capacity to find hope, courage, and belonging.” This book certainly accomplishes all of that and so much more.

“Hadn’t the hummingbird been a kind of miracle? Hadn’t it diminished us not to see this as a miracle and protect it?”

― Jeff VanderMeer, Hummingbird Salamander

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I wanted to like this book more than I ended up once I finished. I have not read a lot of climate change fiction, but I think there must be others that are more riveting and keep you at the edge of your seat because the stakes are so high. I didn’t experience that with this book. The characters aren’t particularly likeable which may be why i didn’t feel as invested in what happened with them.

The climate change issues mentioned specifically are issues which we see and feel already today: extinctions of animal species, wildfires, pandemics… We can imagine these more because we are already living through them versus having the author paint a picture through his words of a post apocalyptic world. I found the writing to be very choppy which may be why when listening to the book it was difficult to follow at times and lacked a certain flow.

Zenodotus puts The People We Keep on the #Marleywoodlflmustreadlist

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The People We Keep is a story about people and the the decisions we make and how they affect our world and the world of those we touch. Allison Larkin does a wonderful job in introducing us to April and her world – showing us who she is to her very core and the people she let’s into her life. We care deeply about April and what is going to happen to her. Larkin does an excellent job over putting as much thought into the other characters, Margo, Ethan,Carly, Robert and Justin.
My son went to IC in Ithaca, New York and Larkin nailed her description of this beautiful town at the foot of one of the Finger Lakes and how the people who have spent any time there love it so and migrate back. Knowing this I felt a sense of familiarity reading the other places April encounters, despite having never visited those places.
I loved and cared April and her world. Well-written and easy to read, Allison Larkin created great characters with such depth, that I was swept up in April’s life journey and taken back to the 90s.I highly recommend this book. 4.5 Stars!

“It’s funny about love’, Sophia said. ‘The more you love someone, the less he likes you back.’

‘That’s very true,’ Grandmother observed. ‘And so what do you do?’

‘You go on loving,’ said Sophia threateningly. ‘You love harder and harder.”

― Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this book and I can see myself picking up and rereading it again and again. The relationship between the grandmother and Sophia is priceless. This book is beautifully written and the descriptions of their island will transport you to their world and put you right next to them, smelling the salty air and seeing the amazing beauty which surrounds Sophia and her grandmother. Tove Jansson’s reflections about people, relationships, and connections to nature, are ageless. There is so many levels to this book – it’s a must-read. 5 stars!

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I read this book as a recommendation from the Book of the Month club. The title sounded intriguing to me as I glanced over the selections of the month. I also enjoy and appreciate a good short story. A well written short story can pack a punch in just a few pages. Evans accomplishes this is a number of her short stories – my favorites being King Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain, Alcatraz and Why Won’t Women Just Say What They Want. The title story and novella, The Office of Historical Corrections, is an interesting premise but I found the characters to be somewhat predictable.


Happy reading and listening!
If you are interested you can take a look at all my reviews on Goodreads.

February/March AudioBook Club

It’s hard to believe it’s March already. The last month has been somewhat of a blur to me. A week into the month, my son called to tell me that he hurt his knee while sitting on his air mattress which has been doubling for a couch while he waits for the couch he ordered in December to arrive. The good news is that we learned just yesterday that it is scheduled for delivery the last Friday of this month. Finally.

Me and Mom

The second week of the month started with my mother experiencing her second stroke in 5 months – this stroke ultimately took her life 5 days later. Since then we have said our goodbyes to her as a family graveside and with extended friends and extended family via a zoom memorial. I miss my long conversations with her and now continue to grieve. It will take some time but life goes on.

I have been reminded of that fact this last week as I have been consumed with dealing with my son’s knee surgery and having to care for him during his recovery. My mother always said ‘the job of a parent isn’t ever really fully done.’ She was always there for me when I needed her and I will always be there for my kids when and if they need my help. In the last 7 days, I have averaged 3.4 miles of walking and 10 flights of stairs daily in my own house simply running around, going up and down the stairs (the house unfortunately is not set up with a first floor bedroom). My left knee hurts a little bit.

I find listening to my books to be such a relief. It’s my me-time. I have been downloading my tax forms and filing stuff from last year that never got filed in 2020. I haven’t felt very artistic lately but I am trying to relax and get back into the routine of drawing.

I listened to 2 books in February, the first was a title I had in my library for a while and as part of my resolution to read the older titles in my library and stop accumulating more books – which I still do anyway – I finally tackled it. I am so glad I did too! Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a phenomenal story by Mark T. Sullivan. The audiobook which I listened to is narrated by Will Damron and runs 17 hours and 43 minutes and is just amazing! Wow! I found this to be a fascinating book.

“It all made Pino realize that the earth did not know war, that nature would go on no matter what horror one man might inflict on another. Nature didn’t care a bit about men and their need to kill and conquer.

Mark T. Sullivan, Beneath a Scarlet Sky

The story is about the remarkable life of Pino Lello, a young boy from Italy during WWII. I was on the edge of my seat plenty of times throughout the story. I highly recommend this read to anyone who is interested in history and adventures. 5 Stars.

I decided to switch gears afterwards and listened to another Taylor Jenkins Reid novel – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I found this book to drag in areas, granted that’s a lot of husbands to go through. Overall the plot is interesting and Evelyn Hugo character who I found to be very deep and complex. However, the character of Monique annoyed me bit. She seemed a bit whiny at times and I don’t like hanging out with whiny people and I have begun to notice I don’t like books as much that feature whiny protagonists. The book is narrated by Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan and Robin Miles and runs 12 hours and 10 minutes. 3.5 Stars.

I am able to focus so much better on things and block out all the external clutter of the world which has been great lately. I continue to listen to The Word of Promise Audio Book, New King James Version which is narrated by Michael York, Jason Alexander, Joan Allen, Richard Dreyfus, Louis Gossett, Malcolm McDowell Jr., Gary Sinese, Marisa Tomei and Stacy Keach. This behemoth runs 98 hours and 1 minute. I’m only 2 hours 26 minutes into it so far but I have enjoyed listening to it. I have only read parts of the Bible and it is one of my resolutions to complete.

I began the March with A Burning: A Novel by Megha Majumdar. A classmate of mine who now lives in Australia recommended the book. The audiobook runs only 7 hours and 22 minutes and is narrated by Vikas Adam, Priya Ayyar, Deepti Gupta, Soneela Nankani, Neil Shah and Ulka Simone Monhanty who all take on the voices of the various characters features in this story about class, corruption, justice and the individual roads fated in life.

I found this to be an interesting glimpse into a different culture. The characters are unique and captivating – yet, all somewhat relatable despite living in a country where societal norms differ greatly from those in the western cultures. I felt frustrated for Jivan and Lovely and what they endure as women in India.

Many years ago I would have been asking why is this happening? But now I am knowing that there is no use in asking these questions. In life, many things happen for no reason at all.

Megha Majumdar, A Burning: A Novel

I thoroughly enjoyed the The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Since finishing it, there are descriptive scenes which have stayed with me and I thought about repeatedly. I love old fairy tales and I love the idea of taking a children’s story and turning it into a novel. I loved the passages about the landscape and I found the characters to be as deep and full as the Alaskan snows they endured. I highly recommend this book to readers who are interested in adventures in the Alaskan wilderness with a touch of old fashioned fairy tale weaved into a modern day story of love and survival. 4 stars.

Currently I have started to listen to The Garden of Evening Mists by Tang Twan Eng, a recommendation from my cousin who first heard about the book from my Aunt. My cousin raved about it and thought I would enjoy since I love nature and gardening so much. I’ll let you know what I think about it next time.

Happy Reading –
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

My Audiobook Club – August/September

The last days of summer were crazy busy for me. We’ve been getting all the wood cut, split and stacked for our wood furnace which we use primarily for our winter heat. Later this morning we will go out and do four more gator loads which we estimate will complete filling our woodshed, the last remaining space we have for wood stacking.

While I’m out there doing a lot this work and some of my other gardening work, I have my headphones on all the while listening to one of my audiobooks. Since my last My Audiobook Club post I have listened to and completed 8 more books. That brings my total this year to 27 books and counting.

I started the month with a recommendation from my 22 year old niece and goddaughter, The Guest List by Lucy Foley. The audiobook is narrated by a cast of voices and runs 9 hours and 54 minutes. A fun mystery in the style of a good Agatha Christie thriller, I give this a four star rating. I hate to say too much about a book, always fearing that I may inadvertently give away too much. 3.75 stars

In my experience, those who have the greatest respect for the rules also take the most enjoyment in breaking them.

Lucy Foley, The Guest List

I followed up this audiobook with another recommendation from my goddaughter since she’d steered me well the last time. Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid is also narrated by a cast of voices and runs 9 hours and 3 minutes. This was another fun listen which reminded me of hanging out and listening to old friends, if I had hung out with a bunch of rock musicians that is. Taylor Jenkins Reid weaves a tale about a fictional band into a musical world that was the soundtrack of my generation’s lifetime. I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook and give it 4 stars.

You can’t control another person. It doesn’t matter how much you love them. You can’t love someone back to health and you can’t hate someone back to health and no matter how right you are about something, it doesn’t mean they will change their mind.

Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel

I followed up this book with Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng narration by Jennifer Lim with a run time of 11 hours, 27 minutes. This is a book with lots of different storylines going on at once which sometimes can be difficult to follow. I enjoyed this book though, there was something about the family which I found relatable – probably the dysfunctionality. I can see how this was made into a television miniseries. 3.5 Stars

Sometimes you have to scorch everything to the ground and start over. After the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that too. They start over. They find a way.

Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere

I dove into an oldie but a goodie, a book I read in high-school, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut narrated by James Franco for 5 hours and 13 minutes. I liked this book in high school and 35 years later I enjoyed listening to the audiobook. Vonnegut has a way of creating interesting characters that you come to care about, some you may have met in another of his books. Slaughterhouse Five is an intense book about Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW and his experience at Dresden. It’s a timeless book which reminds us of a moment in history form a very personal point of view. If you have never read Slaughterhouse Five, you should. 5 Stars. Must read/listen.

That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

After such an intense book, I decided to completely switch gears and check out something completely different. Tomorrow by Damian Dibben, narration by George Blagden at 10 hours and 42 minutes was a fantastical story of a dog and his master. Most of the story is set in one of my favorite cities in the world, Venice, Italy which is described time and gain throughout the story. Having visited Venice many times I found it easy to put myself right there in the action. I love dog stories and particularly stories which remind you of the incredibly strong bond between a dog and their human. I highly recommend this book or audiobook for any dog enthusiast, it’s a certainly a must read/listen. 4 Stars.

Humans possess a fascination for our species, and an innate kindness that they do not always have for each other.

Damian Dibben, Tomorrow

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout was narrated by Kimberly Farr and was a long 12 hours and 2 minutes. I was underwhelmed by this story. I had all sorts of expectations considering it is a Pulitzer Prize Winner and was named best book of the year by a bunch of different media organizations. But that right there should have been my tip off. The media has been a less than reliable source in recent years. So what would they know about a good book. The book is about the title character and her family and I kept thinking at some point things would come together but they didn’t. There are more Olive books which is why things felt a little unfinished. There were a few poignant quotes I took from the book though. This one in particular made me chuckle: “She didn’t like being alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.” 2 Stars

Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most like not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.

Kimberly Farr, Olive Kitteridge

I went back to another classic, not wanting to be disappointed and I wasn’t. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury narrated by Tim Robbins was poignant to me today as it was back when I read it for the first time in high school. Time and again I kept going back over certain lines which stood out to me where I was astounded by the timelessness of Bradbury’s ideas. It’s a story which demonstrates how important it is to have books and art, know your history and remember the facts. It’s a story about how facts and how history can be distorted and falsified. This is a must read/listen – 5 Stars.

Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitch the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

We need not be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Finally, I circled back to an audiobook I had started a few months earlier but stopped because it just wasn’t into it initially. The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward and narrated by Theresa Plummer ran 8 hours and 3 minutes. Recently I made a commitment to myself to finish projects that I started and walked away from, so I gave this book another try.

The story was a lot deeper than it initially appeared to be and perhaps I was more in the right frame of mind to listen to this type of story. Another dysfunctional family’s story is always something I can relate to. Overall, the book was better than I thought it would be in the beginning. A Reese’s Book Club X Hello Sunshine Book Club pick, so I had big expectations and I can see Witherspoon producing this story in movie or something one day. 3.5 stars.