Thursday, January 29, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Women of Duck Commander by Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson

Title:  The Women of Duck Commander

Authors:  Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson

Narrators: Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson, Alex Robertson Mancuso

Unabridged Length: 6 hrs, 22 mn.


Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
In the pages of this book, you'll find both fun and inspirational stories . . .

Kay shares the honest story of her relationship with Phil-and his wild and philandering years-and the challenges of being a teenage mother. Even more amazing, she shares the forgiveness she offered Phil and how they have now celebrated forty-eight years of marriage.

Korie tells of her first encounter with Phil when she was in just the fifth grade. At that first meeting Phil came right out and told her what good husbands his boys would make and that she should keep an eye on them. She also shares the reaction her parents had when she told them that she and Willie were getting married when she was only eighteen.

Missy tells the story of their daughter, Mia, who was born with a cleft palate, and their adjustments to this condition and Mia's joyful spirit that inspires them all.

Jessica recounts her first conversation with Jep and how unimpressed she was when Jep bragged that his dad was the Duck Commander Phil Robertson. She told him she'd heard of Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, and Duck, Duck, Goose-but not the Duck Commander.

Lisa reveals the serious marriage problems she and Al had problems that almost ended their marriage for good and how they worked through those issues to have a more stable and loving marriage than she ever imagined possible.


My Review:
If you are a fan of Duck Dynasty this is one book you will not want to miss.  I listened to Happy, Happy, Happy on audio and new that I had to follow that up with the women's story.  All of the women give little tidbits of their lives as they open their hearts to us.

The one thing that resonates loudly for me from this book is the relationship Miss Kay has with all of her daughters-in-law.  She takes each of them under her wings and accepts them for who they are.  And in return, these ladies treat Miss Kay with the respect she so well deserves.

The Robertson clan has obviously come a long way, but life wasn't always full of roses and butterflies for this family.  Before Phil became a man of God, he led a life that is not suitable for a young family.  But Miss Kay did not have an alternative, she raised her boys the best she could, even when Phil was not around.  I knew Phil was not a good man in the early days of their life together, but Kay did not sugarcoat it.  I have to admit that while listening to this book, I actually became quite angry with Phil, but thankful that he found the Lord and changed his ways.

I think one of the most powerful stories in this book is when Lisa shared her story.  I'm sure it was hard for her to confide in us about her tragic past, and I can't help but appreciate her as a woman.  I don't want to give away anything about her story as I feel it should only be told by her.  She also shares with us the ups and downs of her marriage to Alan, taking full responsibility for any wrongdoing she may have caused.

Although I enjoyed listening to Lisa's story the most, all of these christian women have plenty to contribute with their personal tidbits.  Each of the women narrate their own segments, and I have to admit that as much as I respect these ladies, I did not care for their narration at all.  That honestly is my only criticism of this book, and had I physically read the book I'm sure I wouldn't have a negative word to say.

With themes of family, love, and forgiveness, I'm sure many of you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I recommend this book for either personal leisure or as a book club selection, especially for the christian readers.  And please keep in mind that my rating is specifically for the audio version.

My Rating: 3/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.


My Review:
This is a wonderful story that plunges us into the lives of two people on completely different roads of their lives.  On the outside they appear to be complete opposites, but through their companionship they find a common bond.  There are two parallel stories being told.  Vivian's story takes places years ago, while we hear Molly's story in the present tense.  This method does not always work for me, but the Orphan Train had me hooked from page one.

Molly is a young girl who unfortunately is a product of our foster care system.  She has a mother who couldn't handle the responsibility of caring for another person, so early on Molly was removed from her care.  Molly struggles to find both her identity and her place in the world.  When she is faced with the project of helping an old woman clean out her attic, she cannot know that she will finally come to terms with the person she truly is.

As Molly helps Vivian sort through all the items in her attic, the task apparently is going to take longer than anticipated.  Every item has a story that needs to be shared and Vivian can't seem to part with a thing.  So rather than throwing items in the trash or sending to a thrift store, they organize the remnants from Vivian's past, as Molly learns about the life this woman led.  Molly never would have guessed that Vivian was once penniless and orphaned, as she herself is today.

The most important part of this novel was learning about the real orphan trains that brought children of all ages across the country in search of homes for them.  I'm sure there are plenty of good stories, but many experiences seemed to mirror Vivian's, as the children were advertised as cheap labor.  Your heart will probably break, as mine did, just trying to imagine the living conditions these children were placed in.

This truly was a wonderful story bringing to life to me a period of history that was new to me.  With themes of family, secrets, and friendship, I'm sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this book for both personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This book is from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Innocent by David Baldacci




Title:  The Innocent

Author:  David Baldacci

Narrator:  Orlagh Cassidy

Unabridged Length:  12 hrs, 17 mn.



Here is a summary from the Goodreads website:
It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn't seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.

Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn't an ordinary runaway -- her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can't walk away. He needs to help her.

Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he's convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents' deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.

Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl's life... and perhaps his own.


My Review: 
Baldacci does a wonderful job once again of creating an action-packed novel full of intrigue and suspense.  This is the first book in the Will Robie series and he leaves off in a way that makes the reader want more.  We get caught up in Robie's quest to keep himself, and a young girl that crosses his path, alive.  

At the start of the book Robie decides not to finish a job, allowing people to live.  While people are spying on him to verify completion of the job, they realize Robie's hesitance, and decide to finish the kill job for him.  Unfortunately, this also puts Robie's life on the line as he finds himself a new target for the agency he has been employed by for years.

He comes across a young girl who seems to be in quite the predicament of her own.  As the duo flee for safety they find they have something in common, as they are both running from the same assassins.  As they fight to stay alive they learn to work together, solving the clues that could possibly end the madness.

Cassidy did a great job of narrating and there were even some sound effects to keep you on the edge of your seat.  With themes of murder, mystery, and survival, you may enjoy this book as much as I did, especially if you are a Baldacci fan.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from my local library for my own entertainment.  


Monday, December 29, 2014

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

What I finished:
I was able to sneak in The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst because I knew our book club selection would be a quick read.  I have to admit I didn't really know what this book was about, but I've been wanting to read it for the last couple of years.  It had an odd twist to it, but it was well worth the wait.

What I'm reading now:
Our December book club selection is Christmas Jars by Jason Wright.  I've come not to expect much out of the Christmas novels, and although this is a little book, so far I've found it quite powerful.  I'll let you know how it ends up.

What's next?
I've had Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson on my TBR pile for at least a year now.  When my friend told me she just picked up the audiobook I figured it's about time I get this one read and reviewed.  I've loved Jackson's previous work so I'm looking forward to this one.

So what's been keeping you lost in books lately?


Monday, December 15, 2014

Mailbox Monday-Dec. 15

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

This is what I found:
The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman

I haven't requested many books lately so I was surprised to find this one on my doorstep.  Did anything new show up at your door?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

My Review: 
Let me start this review by saying this is a classic that every American citizen should read.  It brings you back to a time when life was much harder than it is today-people actually had to work hard and sometimes fight for every single piece of bread being put on the table.  Our society has evolved into something allowing people to just get what they want, so it was refreshing to read a book about people who worked hard for their earnings.

The Nolan family has definitely had their fair share of hardships, but that doesn't stop Katie, Francie's mother, from trying to create the best home for her family that they can afford.  They go out of their way to make every penny stretch.  From going to different butchers for better cuts of meat, to walking an extra couple of blocks for a less expensive bread at a bakery, this family knew how to save money.  And with Johnny, Francie's father, spending all of his extra earnings at the local tavern, Katie found her way of saving a necessary way of life.

We follow Francie through her daily life and sometimes wonder how she and her young brother can make it another day when they are cold and hungry.  They look forward to school knowing they at least will not be cold for the day.  Francie has high expectations early on in life when she sets her eyes on a school in another District that would offer her a better education.  Her father may have been the local drunk, but he helped Francie do what she needed to attend that school.

There were moments in this book making me giggle with delight, while others had me gasping with astonishment.  I can't help but consider this book a great American novel that should be read by everyone, especially young kids that have everything given to them.  With themes of family, struggles, and America, I'm sure you all would enjoy this novel as much as I did.  I highly recommend this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This book is from my personal library and I read to it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Audiobook Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King




Title:  Mr. Mercedes

Author:  Mr. Mercedes

Narrator:  Will Patton

Unabridged Length:  14 hrs, 25 mn.





Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands. 

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the perp; and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy. 

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands. 

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

My Review:
Although there is no way I would have "read" this book, I have to admit the audio version was wonderful!  This book kept me interested the entire time, gripping my steering wheel some days, and I found myself wanting to get in my car to listen to it.  I've always had a problem reading King's novels, but I thought I would try an audio this time, and that proved to be a great experience!

Hodges is an overweight, retired cop who seems to have lost his zest for life.  He starts every miserable day alone, mindlessly completing his daily tasks.  A couple of unsolved cases bother him, but one day the case of the Mercedes Killer is opened up all over again.  He knows when he receives a letter from someone identifying himself as the Mercedes Killer, that he should contact the police, but he decides to take matters into his own hands.

As Hodges follows clues he becomes rejuvenated.  He feels better than he has felt in years and can't help but keep this case to himself, rather than contacting the police, just a little longer.  He recruits a couple of unlikely characters from the book to help him with his investigation.  We grow to care about the welfare of these characters, not wanting them to be hurt by this wackjob throughout the story.

Patton did a great job of bringing these characters to life for me.  I honestly don't know if I would have enjoyed "reading" this book as much as listening to it, so I have to thank Patton for his narration skills.  Since this is a book from the mystery genre, I'm not going to give any more away.  With themes of friendship, suspense, and murder you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this audiobook for personal leisure or even for book clubs that enjoy the murder/mystery genre.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Mr-Mercedes/Stephen-King/9781476754451#sthash.Q9aFpPS2.dpuf
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Mr-Mercedes/Stephen-King/9781476754451#sthash.Q9aFpPS2.dpuf