Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares {audiobook}

TitleSisterhood Everlasting
Author: Ann Brashares
Narrator: Angela Goethals
Length: 10 hours
Published in: 2011
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9780307912244
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: In high school, I read the first books of this series, I think I read them all. So I thought this sounded good.
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends,Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one. 

My Thoughts: I truly loved this book. This was a story for which I was happy to get in my car to go to work in the morning. There is some sadness involved and that part really bewildered me–I just couldn’t understand. At first I thought it’d end up as a sort of mean joke, but it wasn’t. And when there was a twist a little later the whole story really came together and was a nice closure, I think, to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

The Seventh Victim by Mary Burton {audiobook}

TitleThe Seventh Victim
Author: Mary Burton
Narrator: Johanna Parker
Length: 9.5 hours
Published in: 2013
Genre: fiction, mystery
ISBN: 9781452611051
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: title spiked my curiosity
Rating: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s been seven years since the Seattle Strangler terrorized the city. His victims were all young, pretty, their lifeless bodies found wrapped in a home-sewn white dress. But there was one who miraculously escaped death, just before the Strangler disappeared…

Lara Church has only hazy memories of her long-ago attack. What she does have is a home in Austin, a job, and a chance at a normal life at last. Then Texas Ranger James Beck arrives on her doorstep with shattering news: The Strangler is back. And this time, he’s in Austin…

He’s always craved her, even as he killed the others. For so long he’s been waiting to unleash the beast within. And this time, he’ll prove he holds her life in his hands—right before he ends it forever…

My Thoughts: I don’t know that this would be considered a mystery. But it does have certain aspects of a good thriller. I wasn’t continually left on the edge of my seat when I got to work or home (it was an audiobook for my commute), but there were a few times I stayed in the car a few extra minutes to keep listening. I had suspected two specific men to possibly be the Strangler, but was pretty sure it was one of them more than the other. I don’t want to give anything away, but it turns out I was slightly right to suspect both of them, in their own rights. And I have to admit that I was very happy when Lara finally trusted another major character, so as to make her really vulnerable (I’m trying not to give it away, and that might make this sound very weird). That release of her distrust was really good for the story–there was tension there that needed to be realized. Oh, and the very last twist of of the story really got me! I hadn’t exactly seen it coming, but it didn’t surprise me all that much either–as it got closer and closer, I just wanted to yell at Lara that she was being really dumb! I mean, given what had happened, even if you think you’re in the clear, you can’t be too sure.

I think I’d recommend this to people who like a good thriller. It wasn’t a scary thriller, just a pretty run-of-the-mill thriller. But I liked it 🙂

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson {audiobook}

TitleAutobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
Author: James Weldon Johns
Narrator: Richard Allen
Length: 6 hours
Published in: 1912
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9781624061912
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: Title and cover intrigued me
Rating: 4/5

SUMMARY (Goodreads):

James Weldon Johnson’s emotionally gripping novel is a landmark in black literary history and, more than eighty years after its original anonymous publication, a classic of American fiction. The first fictional memoir ever written by a black, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man influenced a generation of writers during the Harlem Renaissance and served as eloquent inspiration for Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. In the 1920s and since, it has also given white readers a startling new perspective on their own culture, revealing to many the double standard of racial identity imposed on black Americans.
Narrated by a mulatto man whose light skin allows him to “pass” for white, the novel describes a pilgrimage through America’s color lines at the turn of the century–from a black college in Jacksonville to an elite New York nightclub, from the rural South to the white suburbs of the Northeast. This is a powerful, unsentimental examination of race in America, a hymn to the anguish of forging an identity in a nation obsessed with color. And, as Arna Bontemps pointed out decades ago, “the problems of the artist [as presented here] seem as contemporary as if the book had been written this year.”

My Thoughts: As a history-lover, I really found this story intriguing. The time of the story–early 1900s–is a really complex time in America and to read such a one-of-a-kind narrative, however fictional it may be, only piqued my interest all the more.

Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister {audiobook}


Title: Farewell, Dorothy Parker
Author: Ellen Meister
Narrator: Angela Brazil
Length: 10 hours
Published in: 2012
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9781620647073
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: Thought a book about Dorothy Parker would be interesting
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

When it comes to movie critics Violet Epps is a powerhouse voice. Equally unafraid of big Hollywood names and public opinion, her biting reviews are widely quoted.  But when it comes to her own life, Violet finds herself unable to speak up—paralyzed by crippling social anxiety. When a chance encounter at the famous Algonquin Hotel unleashes the feisty spirit of the long–dead Dorothy Parker, the famous literary critic of the 1920’s, Violet thinks she is going crazy. But as the rematerialized Mrs. Parker helps her face her fears, Violet realizes how much she has been missing by keeping quiet. It turns out though, that the shade has problems of her own, not the least of which include equal portions of narcissism and pessimism and the inability to move on to her afterlife.

My Thoughts: I rather enjoyed this story. I admit I was a little skeptical about the whole ghost idea. But it wasn’t terribly “out there.” Not that I’d expect to ever have a similar encounter, but it was “believable” in a sense. Some parts of the story were a little predictable, but nothing too cliche.

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn {audiobook}

Title: Mrs. Queen Takes the Train
Author: William Kuhn
Narrator: Simon Prebble
Length: 9.5 hours
Published in: 2012
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9781624060519
public library
Reason for Reading: 
Sounded fun 🙂
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Amazon):

After decades of service and years of watching her family’s troubles splashed across the tabloids, Queen Elizabeth needs some proper cheering up. An impromptu visit to the place that holds her happiest memories-the former royal yacht, Britannia, moored in Leith, Scotland-is just the cure she needs. Hidden beneath a skull-emblazoned hoodie, the limber Elizabeth (thank goodness for yoga) walks out of Buckingham Palace, into the freedom of a rainy London day to catch the train to Scotland at King’s Cross. But an unlikely sextet of royal attendants-a lady-in-waiting, a butler, an equerry, a mistress of the Mews, a dresser, and a clerk from the shop that serves the queen’s cheese-join together to find their missing monarch and bring her back before her absence sets off a national scandal.

My Thoughts: I found this book quite delightful. It was funny and light and simple. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it because it’s so straightforward. But I did get excited to drive to work so I could listen to it some more 🙂

The Thursday War by Karen Traviss {audio}

Title: The Thursday War
Author: Karen Traviss
Narrator: Euan Morton
Length: 15 hours
Published in: 2012
Genre: science fiction
ISBN: 9781427226242
public library
Reason for Reading: 
Nick plays Halo and I saw this on the recent releases for audiobooks at the library. I thought it couldn’t really hurt to try something completely different from what I’m normally reading.
Rating: 3/5

Summary (from Amazon):

Welcome to humanity’s new war: silent, high stakes, and unseen. This is a life-or-death mission for ONI’s black-ops team, Kilo-Five, which is tasked with preventing the ruthless Elites, once the military leaders of the Covenant, from regrouping and threatening humankind again. What began as a routine dirty-tricks operation―keeping the Elites busy with their own insurrection―turns into a desperate bid to extract one member of Kilo-Five from the seething heart of an alien civil war. But troubles never come singly for Kilo-Five. Colonial terrorism is once again surfacing on one of the worlds that survived the war against the Covenant, and the man behind it is much more than just a name to Spartan-010. Meanwhile, the treasure trove of Forerunner technology recovered from the shield world of Onyx is being put to work while a kidnapped Elite plots vengeance on the humans he fears will bring his people to the brink of destruction.
My Thoughts: I don’t have many thoughts on this book because I really didn’t understand much of it. I mean, in the larger picture, this wasn’t a standalone novel. So the backstory, which I didn’t know, would’ve made a difference as far as my rating of the book goes. From what I read, it was okay. On its own, I didn’t find it all that interesting. But I wouldn’t mind a similar book that was a standalone or the beginning of a series at least.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis {audiobook}

Title: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Author: Ayana Mathis
Narrators: Adenrele Ojo, Bahni Turpin, Adam Lazarre-White
Length: 10.5 hours
Published in: 2012
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9780804127011
borrowed from library
Reason for Reading:
Title sounded intriguing as I browsed through the newly released audiobooks.
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from cover):

In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation.

My Thoughts: I really loved this book. Each of Hattie’s children had such a different life from the others, I hardly knew what to think. Plus, Hattie had children spanning a 30-year period. And in the US, there was quite a lot of change between the Great Depression and the 1980s. One of the things I liked the most about the story were the children’s names: Philadelphia (boy) and Jubilee (girl) were the first two, the twins. Then there were, in no particular order, Floyd, Bell, Six, Billups, Ella, Ruthie, Cassie, Franklin, and Alice. One child was a schizophrenic; one child, a homosexual musician; another was born of a different father; one given away to family to ease the family’s hardships; another became a Bible-beating reverand living a life of sin; one was a soldier in Vietnam; and another was molested by a neighbor as a second was locked out and never said a word. It is a shame that most of the children did indeed have hardships to suffer through. Some where able to bear their challenges, some weren’t.

As I listened to this story, it reminded me a lot of The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I listened to about a year ago. Both stories were very different, but the overall feeling while reading them was very similar. I recommend both 🙂

Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros {audiobook}

Title: Have You Seen Marie?
Author: Sandra Cisneros
Length: 30 minutes
Published in: 2012
Genre: fiction (short story)
ISBN: 9781611209952
public library
Reason for Reading: 
found it on the new releases shelf at the library
Rating: 2/5

Summary (from book cover):

The internationally acclaimed author of The House on Mango Street gives us a deeply moving tale of loss, grief, and healing. The word ‘orphan’ might not seem to apply to a fifty-three-year-old woman. Yet this is exactly how Sandra feels as she finds herself motherless, alone like ‘a glove left behind at the bus station.’ What just might save her is her search for someone else gone missing: Marie, the black-and-white cat of her friend, Roz, who ran off the day they arrived from Tacoma. As Sandra and Roz scour the streets of San Antonio, posting flyers and asking everywhere, ‘Have you seen Marie?’ the pursuit of this one small creature takes on unexpected urgency and meaning.

My Thoughts: I have to admit that had I realized the book was so short when I found it on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered with it. The time listed on the back was misleading–an hour long book didn’t seem too short. But I failed to realized that that time included the reading in English and in Spanish. I could hardly even consider this a book–it is a short story. I don’t think it’s really all that possible to rate or review the story, having been so short. I admit, though, that the telling of the story was beautiful and the language was very lyrical. I feel bad because I know the story was supposed to be very moving and semi-autobiographical for Cisneros, but I just didn’t really take anything away from it.

The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch {audiobook}

Title: The Dark Monk
Author: Oliver Potzsch
Narrator: Grover Garland
Length: 15 hours
Published in: 2009 (book, in German); 2012 (English translation)
Genre: historical fiction
ISBN: 9781455867233
borrowed from library
Reason for Reading:
Last year, I listened to The Hangman’s Daughter on audio. When I saw this on the new release shelf at the library, I decided to see how it was.
Rating: 5/5


1660: Winter has settled thick over a sleepy village in the Bavarian Alps, ensuring that every farmer and servant is indoors the night a parish priest discovers he’s been poisoned. As numbness creeps up his body, he summons the last of his strength to scratch a cryptic sign in the frost.

Following a trail of riddles, hangman Jakob Kuisl, his headstrong daughter Magdalena, and the town physician’s son team up with the priest’s aristocratic sister to investigate. What they uncover will lead them back to the Crusades, unlocking a troubled history of internal church politics and sending them on a chase for a treasure of the Knights Templar.

But they’re not the only ones after the legendary fortune. A team of dangerous and mysterious monks is always close behind, tracking their every move, speaking Latin in the shadows, giving off a strange, intoxicating scent. And to throw the hangman off their trail, they have made sure he is tasked with capturing a band of thieves roving the countryside, attacking solitary travelers and spreading panic.

Delivering on the promise of the international bestseller The Hangman’s Daughter, Oliver Potzsch takes us on a whirlwind tour through the occult hiding places of Bavaria’s ancient monasteries. Once again based on prodigious historical research into Potzsch’s family tree, The Dark Monk brings to life an unforgettable, compassionate hangman and his tenacious daughter, painting a robust tableau of a seventeenth-century Bavaria and quickening our pulses with a gripping, mesmerizing mystery.

My Thoughts: I rather liked this book, just as I did it’s predecessor. (I’ve put in my request for The Beggar King from my library, so hopefully I’ll be able to read that soon!) It was easier for me to picture this book than the first one, but I can’t say there’s any reason for that. At one point, there were two or three different plot lines going on in this story, which confused me a little. With a few seconds pause in the narration, I’d be reading about Magdalena instead of the hangman or Simon & Benedicta. But he different characters’ stories all ended up together, as I assumed they would. There were some surprises in the book, at least to me. I don’t think too much when I’m reading a book, not usually looking for any sort of clues or trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. Unless the nature of the story is mystery, that is. This was more of an adventure than the first in the “series”, involving the Templars. (It seems so many novels have something about the Templars and/or the Masons if they involve religion or history…not that I mind.) I’m really looking forward to the next Hangman’s Daughter tale (The Beggar King).

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin {audiobook}

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Narrator: Cassandra Morris
Length: 7 hours
Published in: 2005
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9780307282408
borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: 
browsed the audiobooks at the library and found this as the last at the end of the collection; it sounded interesting, so I got it
Rating: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is usually warm with a breeze, the sun and the stars shine brightly, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful here. And you can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.
It’s where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different from it. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth.
But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen (again). She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. She wants to fall in love. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well.
How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

 My Thoughts: I liked everything about this book, except for the ending. Before I began, I thought it might be a little like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which I read years ago. But it was very different, from what I remember. I loved this take on what the afterlife is like. In fact, I think I’d almost prefer for this to be what I picture “heaven” to be like.
The jist of Zevin’s Elsewhere is this: It is like Earth, but you age backward from the age you arrived until you are an infant, at which time you are sent back to Earth and “reborn”, but you have no recollection of your previous life. In Elsewhere, you have an avocation (a job) that you like. You can’t really die or get hurt, because you age backwards, so you heal almost instantly. They have Observation Desks (“O.D.s”) where you can pay to look down on earth and see your loved ones. There are even ways you can contact the living, though it’s illegal.
I found that to be a nice way to picture the afterlife.
The ending was a little simple, I thought. I had sort of expected a miracle or something, in a way that Liz could remember her previous life even after she was sent back to Earth. But there was no such thing. It wasn’t a bad ending to the story, but it was a little simple for my taste. And not what I’d been expecting.