Six Audio books of Different Genres For Your Listening Pleasure

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post (https://pmgilmer.com/2017/02/), listening to audio books is both a new and an old kind of reading for me. I started listening to some while walking, then tried while driving. When I first tried to listen while driving, I would find my mind wandering and lose track of the story. I now find myself frustrated if I don’t have a good book to listen to while driving. A few weeks ago, I started three different ones without even finishing the first disc. Having to drive with nothing but the radio (which I had done for years, after all) drove me crazy until I finally settled on a book I could enjoy.

Since I know there are a few others of you out there who enjoy audio books, I thought I would share some that have held my interest enough to make me want to take a long road trip to finish them. These books are of different genres as I get bored reading books of the same genre.

First, a children’s book, The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Though I listen to Young Adult books on occasion, listening to this one made me realize I may have been overlooking some fun and entertaining books by not listening to more children’s books. Nine-year old Ada is never allowed to leave her one-room apartment because her mother is embarrassed by her clubfoot. When her brother and other children of the neighborhood are gathered to send them out of London to protect them from the coming war, Ada escapes to join them. They are taken in, rather reluctantly, by Susan Smith who treats Ada like a normal child for the first time in her life. As Ada learns to read and ride a pony, she also learns about love and trust. But, the war can’t last forever. Will she have to go back to her mother? And shouldn’t she want to?

For suspense: Behind Closed Doors, by B. A. Paris. When Grace meets Jack–a handsome, successful lawyer–she believes she’s found the perfect man. She can hardly believe he wants to marry her and willingly accepts her sister with Down’s Syndrome as part of their family. To the outside world, Jack and Grace seem to be the perfect couple. Except–why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? Or go out on her own? And why are bars on their bedroom windows? Honestly, not the type of book I usually read because it totally creeps me out. Which is also the reason I couldn’t quit listening.

Historical fiction: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I’ve listened to several books by Lisa See and this is my favorite so far. See tells of a Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, who raise tea in a very secluded environment. Their culture and traditions make a fascinating read, but it is the characters who make the story. Li-Yan receives an education that few are granted in her world and becomes an interpreter for her people. When she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she manages to hide her baby (rather than kill her as her culture would dictate) and bring her to a city where she leaves her with a teacake. The baby is adopted by a wealthy California couple. Haley leads a happy life, but wonders about her origins. Meanwhile, Li-Yan goes on to learn more about the modern world and becomes a bridge between this new world and her old one. Through the world of tea, they both search and long for each other.

More historical fiction: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. A difficult, but fascinating read about a woman, Eve, who was a spy against the Germans in WWI and now spends her days drunk, full of rage, fear and regret. In 1947, Charlie St. Clair, shows up at her door looking for her cousin. Though she finds Eve pathetic, she believes Eve can help her and eventually obtains her help. Along the way, she learns Eve’s story–about her grossly misshapen hands and the demons she tries to hide. This story is based on a true female spy network used in WWI.

Historical Mystery: A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber. This is the fourth in the Lady Darby series, taking place in Scotland in 1831. I have listened to all four of these and look forward to the fifth book. (I reviewed the second book last year: https://wp.me/p1X6gd-fP) In this installment, Lady Darby has been commissioned to paint a portrait of Lady Drummond. When Lady Drummond is found dead, Lady Darby is appalled at Lord Drummond’s seeming lack of concern and suspects poison. She suspects Lord Drummond, too, but how can she prove it? He is a respected gentleman, and Lady Darby is still trying to overcome her past left her by her late husband.

Finally, the book I’m listening to now: Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone Phaedra Patrick. Benedict Stone, living in a quiet English village, finds himself stuck and his life falling apart. His marriage is in trouble and business at his jewelry store is almost non-existent. Then one night, a teen-age girl shows up on his doorstep. Gemma, the daughter of his long estranged brother who left for America years ago, has lost her passport and seems to be rather lost herself. Together, they learn about family and how to help and encourage one another.

How about you? If you listen to audio books, how do you find the ones you like? How important is the narrator to you?

 

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In Search of a Critique Group

Critique groups for writers are a necessary evil. Aren’t they? Most of us who write prefer our own company to any other. Also, as long as we are the only one reading our writing, we can believe it’s pretty good. Or not too bad. Or actually, it’s terrible and not worth the hard drive on which it has been stored. (See what I mean?)

But there comes a time when, if we’re serious about putting our work out there to the public in some way (preferably publication as in people are lining up to buy our books or we’re winning prizes for our stories and New York is calling), we must find some other writers who can give us constructive feedback. Letting your friends and loved ones read your work and tell you it’s the best book they’ve ever read (even if they haven’t read anything since high school) is all well and good, but will not impress any agent, editor, or publisher.

How to find that perfect critique group has eluded me so far, so, unfortunately, I am not here to give you any helpful tips if you are in that same position of looking for a good group. I have a couple of possibilities right now, and I hope to be able to share with you in the next few months about how I have finally found that group and how amazingly helpful they have been.

So, while I’m continuing my quest for a critique group, I will share the basic guidelines for what I expect from a group, and maybe you can suggest a few more. The first may seem obvious, but you would be surprised. Everyone in the group needs to be writing and to be serious about writing. (Who would join a group about writing who isn’t actually writing? All those who dream about writing and know how easy it really is, and think ‘what’s the big deal anyway?’)

Secondly, everyone needs to be willing to share something of what they’ve written and be willing to listen to everyone’s comments on their selection without being defensive or apologetic. And, third, everyone needs to be willing to read the writings of all members and give helpful feedback. No “this was great” or “this was terrible.” Be specific at what you like, don’t like, or feel needs to be made more clear.

Coming Soon: Besides rewriting Solomon I (totally changing the POV; more on that another time) and working on Solomon II, I’m working on a story to post in this very blog. Soon.

Fun Fact: I noticed when I started writing this blog, I have published one hundred posts, so here’s to 101.

P. S. For any of you writers out there, the Charlotte Writers Club has their nonfiction contest open now. Any piece of unpublished nonfiction from 750-2000 words may be entered. For more information, check out their website: charlottewritersclub.org

How about you? Have you been part of a critique group? What worked and what didn’t?