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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Listening to Books

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In the past few years, I have been listening to audio books more and more. I first began listening to them on my daily walk as it was rather dangerous to try and read a book while walking. Since I discovered bluetooth headphones, I can listen even more while cooking or performing those necessary evils known as “housework”. Last year I began to listen to them as I’m driving. I had tried to listen in the car at different times, but found my mind wandering too much to keep up with what was happening and thoughts of “where did that character come from?” were occurring too often. Then my son broke his leg, and I was spending more time on the road making daily trips to and from his school, so I decided to try listening again and was soon hooked.

I’m not sure why “listening” to books took some getting used to since, after all, that is how I was first introduced to reading. As with most people, my first introduction to the world of books was my mother reading stories to me. I also remember listening to books on a record player (you know, LPs or what are now known as “vinyl”) at school. I heard the books of both Wrinkle in Time and The Hobbit when I was in fourth and sixth grades. Though I have since read the print version of both these books, the memory of hearing them while sitting at a desk (breaking into my usual daydreaming) makes them more special than most.

I don’t believe audio books will ever replace the written word for me, but I am glad to have found a place for them. Anyone that enjoys listening quickly learns that finding a narrator you like is as important as finding favorite authors. Also some books just are easier to listen to than others. For me, those with a great deal of description tend to put me to sleep. Others are harder to keep track of the characters and the scenes without being able to go back and review. But, I’m getting better.

The most entertaining books (for me) are those in a series. Once you’re in a series and are familiar with the characters, it seems easier to stay focused. Another plus is having a narrator with whom you’re already familiar (change the narrator in the middle of the series and fans will complain loudly). A young adult, scifi series I’ve enjoyed over the past few years is Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles.  For historical mysteries, I’ve listened to several books from Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series as well as books from the two series by Charles Todd. Simone St. James writes historical mysteries with paranormal aspects. Others I’ve enjoyed include: Stella Bain by Anita Shreve; Bone Gap by Laura Ruby; and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  I found The Sun is Also a Star enjoyable as an audio because there were multiple narrators. Some books have put me off when a male tries a female voice and vice versa; but, not always.

Every year awards are given by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) which “recognizes distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment”. Looking these up, as well as past winners, is a good way to find books you might enjoy listening to. For a list of the recently released finalists of 2017, check out AudioFile’s webpage: http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/audies/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=20170222-nl3feb-audiestxt1

What about you? Have you jumped on the audio book bandwagon yet? Any favorite books? Narrators? Most people listen to audio books while performing other tasks. What else do you do while you’re listening?