Adult Audio Books Review ~ Psychological Thrillers

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I tend to be more of a cozy mystery fan but give me the right mix of psychological thriller and a character I can care about and I’m sucked in. I’ve read a few of the latest buzzy reads (The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl etc.) and while I definitely enjoyed them they were also a little harder for me to read because of the violence, language, sexual content etc. that tended to be so pervasive or over the top that it sometimes took away from the story. (Yes, I get that life is ugly but I don’t need ALL the gory details!) I like my scary movies this way too. Give me a classic edge-of-your-seat nail biter over a twisted bloodbath any day. (Anyone see A Quiet Place? This is what I’m talking about. Such a great movie!) So, I’ve got two recent reads (or rather listens since they were both audio books) for you today. If you like some subtle twists and a classic feel to your thriller I highly recommend the following:

Depressed, alcoholic, heavily medicated Dr. Anna Fox, psychologist, is living alone in the townhouse she formally shared with her husband and daughter who have gone away under the pretense of a separation though she still talks to them frequently. Laid up and extremely agoraphobic after a serious car accident she spends the bulk of her time watching her neighbors through her camera’s viewfinder, playing online chess, watching old movies, or in a chatroom for agoraphobics where she offers her expert advice (though she rarely heeds it herself.)

Anna is highly unreliable and the characters she interacts with don’t come across much better. The cast is relatively small and the stage is reduced to her home and the square where she lives. None of her neighbors are what they seem but no one seems to believe Anna when she sees one of them stabbed to death in their living room. Full of homage to Hitchcock and other noir thrillers, Anna is the classic helpless heroine, handicapped by her situation but making a stand in the final scene. There aren’t a ton of surprises here but there are some twists and moments I didn’t expect and it kept me sucked in from beginning to end.

The Woman in the Window book review

The Woman in the Window (audio book)

Written by: A.J. Finn

Read by: Anne Marie Lee

Number of Pages: 448 (13 hours 41 minutes audio)

Publisher: William Morrow (print) HarperAudio (audio), 2018

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 4/5

 

Recently divorced, Peter Harper is a musician and composer in a creative crisis. He rents a secluded beach house in Ireland in the hopes of rediscovering his muse but it isn’t to be. He spends some time with his mysterious neighbors (who seem to have no traceable past and like to avoid questions) and the local townspeople, including a love interest who runs a shop and hostel in the village. But mostly he spends time alone. Then one night he’s struck by lightning coming home from a dinner party and suddenly he’s plagued by headaches and vivid nightmares that intensify when his children come for a visit. The line between reality and his dreams gets blurred beyond recognition and soon no one knows who or what to believe.

Last Night at Tremore Beach book review

The Last Night At Tremore Beach

Written by: Mikel Santiago

Read by: John Keating

Number of Pages: 320 (9 hours, 58 minutes audio)

Publisher: Atria Books/Blackstone Audio, 2017

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 4/5

 

 

What are your favorite mysteries or scary reads? Any you think I should add to my list?

Picture Book/Audio Book Review ~ Tolkien

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 
How many of you have succumbed to the lifestyle trend that is Hygge? (Pronounced “hooga” it’s a Danish word basically meaning coziness…it involves lots of candles or firesides, fuzzy blankets, books, board games, walks on the beach, connecting with people and unplugging.) There are all sorts of books, pins, articles and whatnot to give you ideas on how to do it with kids, during all the seasons, in small spaces etc. I love the idea of slowing down, being more present and aware and any tips to do it are always welcome.
Well, when I picked up this book I hadn’t realized that’s what I would be getting but I was pleasantly surprised. The author walks us through various traditions, cultures, and habits of the characters of Middle Earth (specifically focusing on the Hobbits of the Shire) and tells us how we would benefit from modeling our own lives after theirs. Everything from relishing the drinking and eating we do (emphasis on the relishing, slowing down, while at the same time doing it with gusto and our whole being and attention) to gardening and being close to nature, walking, staying home more often (yet being open to adventure occasionally to help us be more grateful for what we’ve got), singing regularly and taking naps. He also delves into some advice on how to deal with the Gollums that surface in our own lives, advises us to give gifts on our birthdays rather than to focus on receiving them, and keep a full larder (or at least a pot of tea and some cookies) on hand for any visitors.
I listened to this as an audio book which was read by Simon Vance (who has a lovely British accent which always makes things seem more credible and authoritative…plus it’s Tolkien, you need a British accent for Tolkien. No offense to the author who is American. 🙂 )
It’s full of Tolkien quotes, tidbits and explanations about the who and what of Middle Earth. Anyone who is a mega fan will probably be bored by the references but those with a passing knowledge will find something that resonates even if it’s just that simple reminder to slow down.
Wisdom of the Shire book review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life (Audio book)

Written by: Noble Smith

Read by: Simon Vance

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, 2013

Number of Pages: 222 (4 hours 47 minutes audio)

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5

For those of you looking for a little more information on the creator of the aforementioned Shire or if you’ve got a younger audience you’d like to start introducing Hobbits, Ents and elves to, then this next book is for you.

 

This is a fantastic bio of the father of modern fantasy with bits of magic on every page. The text and illustrations effortlessly showcase the magic and devastation of Tolkien’s life. Both pulling from his experiences and trying to escape them, John Ronald created worlds, creatures, languages, and stories that have become a cultural phenomenon with lives of their own opening the door to other phenomenon such as Dungeon’s and Dragons and Harry Potter.

 

There’s some detailed back matter including author’s and illustrator’s notes providing more details about Tolkien’s life and the creation of the book. There’s also a bibliography and catalog of the dragons that influenced and appeared in Tolkien’s stories. A brilliant and beautiful addition to any home or classroom library, particularly for Tolkien or fantasy fans.

John Ronalds Dragons book review

John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien

Written by: Caroline McAlister

Illustrated by: Eliza Wheeler

Number of Pages: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2017

Age Range: 6-12

Rating: 4.5/5

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

I’ve been a goal/resolution junkie since I was little. I loved the idea of making a list of things to do and finding ways to do better (one day I’ll figure out how to actually stick to all of them, but that’s another post entirely!) My birthday also rolls around this time of year so that’s an added incentive to look back and look forward and see how far I’ve come and where I’d like to go. Naturally I’ve gotten sucked into the self-help aisle of the bookstore more than once or twice and have found some amazing gems that have helped get me where I am today. But with each new year and the chance to start fresh and re-focus on what I’d like to have happen in the coming months I find that picking up a book or two on the topics I’m most drawn to at the moment can give me the direction, motivation, and tools I need to be more successful.

Kind of along the same lines is the idea of participating in challenges or competitions of some variety. There are a lot of great reading challenges out there* and over the years I’ve participated in a number of them, sometimes with a public commitment and follow-up and sometimes on my own. You can read a book from the year you were born, or set in the state or country where you live. You can read books from genres you’re not familiar with or the previous year’s award winners. Or simply set goals for the number of books you’d like to read or the amount of time each day you’ll commit to reading. The possibilities are endless and sometimes it’s just what I’ve needed to get me out of my comfort zone (ie rut) and introduce me to new favorites.

This year my goals are a little more vague. Rather than focusing on numbers or genres I’m going to work hard to commit to sharing the books I read with all of you. I’ve got great plans for this little blog o’ mine and I’m hoping to find more and more of you that I can share with as I come across favorites and standouts and I’m hoping you’ll share with me as well.

What are your reading goals for this year? Any favorite challenges or groups that you return to year after year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

*Here are just a few of my favorites if you’re looking for something new to try!

Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club

Oprah’s Book Club

The Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge

The Daily Positive’s Winter Book Challenge

Goodreads encourages you to set a goal for the number of books you want to read throughout the year and tracks it as you go.

There are also a bunch on Pinterest that you don’t have to look too hard to find.

Adult Non-Fiction Book Review ~ Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Braving the Wilderness

Written by: Brene Brown

Number of Pages: 208

Age Range: Adult

Rating: 4.5/5

For anyone who isn’t yet familiar with Brene Brown’s work, let me be the first to introduce you. You can thank me later. Brown is a research professor, PhD and LMSW who has spent the bulk of her career studying shame and vulnerability. She’s got a couple of fabulous TED talks that are definitely worth your time and if you want a quick overview of her work, start with The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s a fast read but jam packed with lots to think about.  Her overarching theme is that we need to open ourselves up to being vulnerable in order to grow and love and basically live a truly full life. The rest of her books expand (and divert a little, though still heading in the same general direction) the thoughts laid out in TGOI. My favorite by far is Daring Greatly, but they are all fantastic.

In Braving the Wilderness she tackles the idea of vulnerability within our roles in society, particularly calling out the political climate we are currently facing. (Mud slinging, endless bipartisan arguing and finger-pointing are never courageous!) She calls on her readers to find the courage to stand alone and stand for what they truly believe, not just to fall into the mob mentality of agreeing with the groups that are the most vocal or even the most accepting. True belonging isn’t just being a part of a group but being part of a group that accepts you for you who are, your most vulnerable and authentic self. And finding that self is hard but necessary if we want to have any chance of making a difference in your own life or in the world. They’re lofty goals and ideas and she acknowledges the difficulty but she also manages to infuse each book with hope and makes it all seem realistically doable.

While her studies and findings are priceless and pretty groundbreaking, its Brown’s personality, charm, and personal vulnerability that make her works really stand out. She never fails to share personal experiences (negative and positive) to illustrate the concepts she’s teaching and her candidness makes you feel as if you’re sitting on the couch sharing stories with a friend. If you’re looking to make some changes in the new year, start by picking up one of Brown’s books and committing to really internalize just one concept she introduces. I promise, your life will never be the same.