Tag Archives: best audiobooks

Friday 5 – Different Types of Books I’ve Been Reading!

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I’ve got an interesting mix of books for you today! One about beauty, a fictional story set in early 20th century Moscow, fictional post WWII letters and the island of Guernsey, poetry for depressives and a cookbook using ingredients from Trader Joe’s.

I love how such a strange mix of books made it into my life at precisely the same time!

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The French Beauty Solution
by Mathilde Thomas (nonfiction) – worth a read

Thomas is the co-founder of the French cult beauty product company Caudalíe. You can expect that she’ll mention her company’s products in the book, but she mentions those of other brands as well. And while I probably won’t be trying her grape-cleanse anytime soon, I did learn a few things like the best and worst ingredients that go into beauty products. And also that most beauty treatments (except for mani-pedis) are much less expensive in France. I’ve never really done a spa weekend, but I think France would be just the place to do it!

Another tip I learned to keep skin from losing its moisture: After showing, apply coconut oil to your skin. Then blot (instead of drying) with a towel to seal in moisture.

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A Gentleman from Moscow
by Amor Towles 
(fiction) – worth a read

Even though I adored Towles’ Rules of Civilitythe sheer size of this book daunted me. I had it in my hands once and when it took me a week before I opened it, I realized there were hundreds of people on the waiting list, so I best just return it. I finally checked it out again and it kept me glued to my anti-gravity lounge chair on our deck on many summer afternoons. I was a bit confused by the ending; but as I found out, not in ways that other people were when I did a search online. I understood who the woman was in the final scene, but I guess I had too many questions about what happened next and why. While there was a conclusion, it wasn’t wrapped up neatly with a little bow. But maybe that was what Towles was looking for… he got us talking.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer (fiction, audiobook) – MUST READ/LISTEN

Just like the book The Help, I am behind the times with this work of art! Also published in 2009, many readers of the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy commented that they had trouble keeping all of the characters straight so they thought the audiobook was much better to do so.

And much like The Help, I don’t know how or what could make this book any more perfect than what it is!

It’s written (almost) entirely of letters to and from the protagonist Juliet, but still forms a complete and beautiful story situated just after WWII in London and on the island of Guernsey. While I was reading it, the movie adaptation was released on Netflix!

I watched it almost immediately after finishing the book because I had no idea how they could adapt these letters onto the screen. Truth be told, many of the details were changed… but they worked for their purposes without detracting too much from the heart of the book. (Plus you’ll see a few fave actors from Downton Abbey!) I still highly recommend reading the book or listening to it on audio.

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Depression and Other Magic Tricks
by Sabrina Benaim (poetry) – worth a read

I don’t normally read poetry. It’s probably because it takes so much to understand and decipher it. I’m just not that good at it. Still, I can appreciate this little book of poems for what it is. Some of it is way over my head and sometimes it is a little much — like “Get over him already!” when reading about break-ups and heartache. But in the same vein, I know the power in releasing the emotion in the moment.

There is creativity in the style of poems as well, styles that may be well-known to the poetic world, but which were new to me, including:

  • Erasures – taking a song and then blacking out all the lines accept the few words that you want to form a poem with in the order they appear in the song
  • Taking a poem from earlier in the book and adding lines within it to create an entirely different poem with an entirely different meaning and feeling
  • Speaking about herself in the third person

While Benaim’s writing is beautifully thick and syrupy with lyrical meaning, much was over my head. Still, there were some great nuggets and lines from certain poems that I really enjoyed. For example:

We cannot control what we remember, but we can control how we remember. (~ How to Fold a Memory)

My favorite poems from this book:

  • explaining my depression to my mother: a conversation
  • seven small ways in which i loved myself this week
  • on releasing light
  • another plain truth
  • magic trick 004
  • follow-up: a prayer / a spell

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The Eat Your Way Healthy at Trader Joe’s Cookbook
by Bonnie Matthews (cookbook) – worth a flip

I love Trader Joe’s, but it isn’t quite convenient enough to get there that often. I loved that the author was able to change her lifestyle by eating healthy all by using and adapting specific ingredients she shopped for at Trader Joe’s. While I loved her story, I found myself just flipping through this book more overwhelmed than inspired. I think there are some great recipes suggested here; they just didn’t arrive in the right season in my life.

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What kind of books are you reading right now?
Do you read different kinds of books at different times during the year?

Cheers~
Carrie

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The Best Books I Read in 2017

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Looking for a few good reads this coming year?

Here is a list of a books I read (that were not necessarily published) in 2017, that I also rated 5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.  I have included three books each from three separate categories. Enjoy!

Audiobooks:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon

I saw the play, so I knew what was coming. But I was still crying all the way driving home from work as the story ended. It’s a great story in general, but the narration is fantastic. I highly recommend this on audio. (My review here.)

 

 

 

 

Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue

I didn’t know anything about this book in advance, only that it was recommended on audio. Man, is the narrator fantastic with the voices! This immigration novel will pull at your heartstrings. (You can read my short review in this post.)

 

 

 

Kitchens of the Great Midwest – J. Ryan Stradal

Yes, I listened to and recommended it last year. Yes, I listened to it again – this time, with my husband. He loved it, too. I have no regrets of duplicating those hours. I love this book.

 

 

 

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Cookbooks:

Dinner: A Love Story – Jenny

This cookbook reads like a novel. That’s how I read cookbooks; so it was a match made in heaven. After checking it out from the library, I purchased my own copy. Which reminds me, those beef short ribs aren’t going to braise themselves. I need to open that one back up!

 

 

Well Fed: Weeknights – Mel Joulwan

This is another cookbook that got me excited to purchase my own copy. Now that I have it, I need to go back through, flag those pages and do some cooking! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, you don’t need to be Paleo to enjoy this cookbook. (I’m not.) Joulwan will teach you how to cook without you even realizing it.

 

Five Ingredients, 10 Minutes – Jules Clancy

You already knew this, since I declared it the Best Cookbook You’ve Never Read! I’m still making my way through it and must say that I never knew how quickly tasty and satisfying meals could come together! I’ve got more results to post!

 

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Non-Fiction:

It Takes One to Tango – Winifred M Reilly

I wasn’t even looking for this book; but it is one of the best books I’ve read all year! It came up in a list of books about marriage that are actually useful. I read it on a whim and found it a surprisingly quick and eye-opening read. Whether you think your marriage is on the rocks or you just have the same little arguments over and over again, this book is for you.

 

 

 

Bon Appetempt –  Amelia Morris(I just reilaed this was also on Audio, but the audio isn’t the reason I liked it, where those 3 books above are great on Audio!

I just realized that I listened to this one on audio, but I didn’t put it in that category. You don’t have to listen to this one audio; so it fits fine here. In fact, I bought the printed book afterward because I wanted the recipes she described and read to me! We all have been on our own culinary journey as our knowledge of cooking and taste buds evolve. This is one woman’s story. And I liked it.

 

 

 

Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs – Pete Souza

This is an absolutely beautiful and historic coffee table book! The amount of work and hours Souza put in to capture all of these moments, both personal and professional, both joyous and heart-wrenching blows my mind. This is dedication to work and the result is stunning.

 

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Fiction:

Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

It’s not common that I check a work of fiction out from a library and then promptly purchase the book after I’ve read it because I know I will be re-reading it in the future. You can read my review in this post.

 

 

 

 

This is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel

Whoa. I had no idea what this book was about before I opened it. It may have taken me a bit to get into; but I was thinking about it for weeks afterward. I don’t want to give too much away… but you can find my review at the end of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

A Dog’s Way Home – W. Bruce Cameron

I love Cameron’s books written from a dog’s perspective. (I never did see the movie adaptation of A Dog’s Purpose.) But this one may just be his best yet. My husband doesn’t like to read books about dogs because he always fears that the dog will die and he will be sad. Don’t worry, that is not the case here. (I’m not giving it away, the title tells you that!) So worth the read, especially if you are a dog lover.

 

 

 

 

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BONUS!!!

Christmas:

The Deal of a Lifetime – Fredrik Backman

The author of a Man Called Ove conceptualized this book by thinking What If? And it is such a good one that takes place on Christmas Eve. It might be completely different from anything you’ve ever read… or maybe it isn’t. But it’s quick, easy and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed reading it this holiday season.

 

 

 

 

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If you had one book to pick to recommend that I read in the New Year, what would it be?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday – What I Read This Spring

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I’m a bit behind on what I’ve read and listened to, but here’s what was in front of me this spring… just before our trip to Charleston. FYI – There are some great ones/favorites in here!

The Artist
by Suzanne Hagelin 
(fiction) – on the fence

I’m guessing I found this book as a free download on the Amazon Kindle store. It had good reviews and I “purchased” it on a whim. Although I don’t own a tablet or e-reader, I like to have a few Kindle books on my phone in case I’m stranded in line somewhere without a book. I don’t tend to enjoy reading books on my phone. This was a shorter book with an intriguing premise; but I’m not sure I like how it unfolded. As usual, I’m just not fond of many endings to books.

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Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead 
(fiction) – must read

This book has an ongoing, growing waiting list at my library and for good reason. I can’t say that I’ve ever read a historical novel like this. Whitehead is a wonderfully descriptive writer who captures such depth in imagining place and time you can almost feel it. I loved this book… the only part I didn’t was the ending. Because this piece could truly have kept on going.

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Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue 
(fiction, audiobook) – must read/listen

Somewhere along the way, I not only had reserved this on my to-read list, but also as one as I should listen to on audio. I would definitely agree that this is the route you should take there. This book probably rates up there as one of my favorite audiobooks of all time! The narrator has a phenomenal ability to do a wide range of voices and accents that feel completely authentic. In today’s world of immigrant debates, I think this book is highly relevant to our time.

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Sheet Pan Suppers:
120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven
*Plus Breakfasts. Desserts. and Snacks, Too!

by Molly Gilbert (non-fiction, cookbook) – skip

This is one of those cookbooks where I started reading and got really excited about it. I love the idea of pulling an entire meal out of the oven all arranged and cooked on one pan. Then after putting the cookbook aside for a few days and returning to it later, I lost interest. I only found a couple of recipes I could actually find myself making.

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Dinner: A Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach (non-fiction, cookbook/memoir) – must read

Kat at Tenaciously Yours posts weekly photos of her dinners and sites many of her meals as coming from Dinner: A Love Story. With my plan to borrow one cookbook per week from the library this year, this seemed a logical choice.

I completely adored this cookbook, but not for the reasons I thought! Since this book is part memoir, it does read just like a story… which is how I often read cookbooks anyway. After flagging several recipes, I decided to just purchase the cookbook myself. This is why it’s helpful to check cookbooks out of the library – you can decide whether or not you want to own them!

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This is a sixth one, but I’m adding it because it’ll be my last audiobook for a while, until this winter when my commute resumes.

M Train
by Patti Smith (non-fiction, audiobook) – DNF

I had this on a list of recommended audiobooks. At the time, I didn’t know it was non-fiction, nor the content of the story. I am not familar with author Patti Smith either. At first listen, I couldn’t believe that they had her narrate her own book on audio. It was monotonous and dry and I had hard time paying attention. The writing is excellent, but I couldn’t get past her voice. But after a while, it grew on me. (Which often seems to be the case with audiobooks.) Then it just felt right that she was reading this memoir of sorts. Because it was her experience.

I did abandon this book however, because it was what I was listening to when my commute came to a halt. After that, I was in the car for no more than a few minutes at a time by myself. It didn’t make sense to keep going when I was having a hard time concentrating with my own circumstances as it was. But her experiences (and love of black coffee) and the content of the book is interesting enough that I may revisit when my commute resumes this winter.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Cheers~
Carrie