Category Archives: Audiobooks

RIP XIII: The Keeper of Lost Causes

I read The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen, a few weeks ago and it is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it. The plot is complex, the characters very interesting, and the suspense keeps you turning pages long into the night.

When the story begins, Carl Mørck, a brilliant detective with an anti-social personality, is just coming back to work from medical leave after recovering from a tragic attack on his investigative team that resulted in the death of one of his partners, a crippling injury to his other partner, and a bullet wound that came very close to killing him. He recovered from the bullet wound, but he has not recovered from the emotional wounds.

Carl lay there a long time, as if he’d fainted, with his head full of desperate thoughts. They took his pulse and then drove off with him and his two partners. Only at the hospital did he open his eyes. They told him that his eyes had a dead look to them. They thought it was the shock, but it was from shame.

His return to the police department was not welcome. He was a difficult leader, a real loner, and nobody wanted to work with him. Fortunately, a new grant had just been given to the Chief to open up a new department that would investigate cold cases. It was to be called “Department Q” and Carl was given that job, with an office in the basement, and a huge backlog of unsolved cases, or “hopeless cases,” as the police chief called them.

The first case Carl chose to look at involved a popular politician who went missing five years earlier. Merete Lynggaard, had disappeared while on a ferry ride with her younger disabled brother. The case had been poorly investigated, no clues were found, the case had been shelved and everyone assumed she had fallen overboard and perished. She had not. She was still very much alive, but being held captive in very cruel conditions by an unknown assailant.

The course of solving this mystery was intricate and fascinating. Carl was given an assistant, Hafez el-Assad, a Syrian immigrant, to help him with the case. The two of them, both brilliant detectives, became quite an effective team. You got to know all the characters well enough to know why they each did what they did in the story. And it was one of those “unputdownable” books that kept you anxious and on alert until the very end.

Somewhere inside of him, where cause and effect were not weighed against each other, and where logic and explanations never challenged consciousness, in that place where thoughts could live freely and be played out against each other—right there in that spot, things fell into place, and he understood how it all fitted together.

This book is the first in a series by this author. I will definitely be reading more of them!


I read this book for the Readers Imbibing Peril XIII challenge.

RIP XIII: The Whispering Statue

When I was young, I read all the Nancy Drew mysteries (at least the ones that were available at that time)! My brothers and I would go to the library every week and I would come out with a pile of books, mostly Nancy Drew mysteries. They said to me many times, “Rob, you’re in a reading rut!”  Yes, that’s what good mysteries do to you, and I still love getting caught in a mystery reading rut!

The Whispering Statue, by Carolyn Keene, is book #14 in the original series. All the Nancy Drew books were actually ghostwritten, and my favorite of the ghostwriters was Mildred A. Wirt Benson. She wrote the first twenty-three books in the series, and those are my favorites.

Another interesting tidbit about the early Nancy Drew books, which were originally published in the 1930s, is that they were rewritten and republished in the 1970s. The copy I read of The Whispering Statue was definitely a rewritten one from the 70s because the plot was significantly different and shorter than the earlier version, AND the word “groovy” was used two or three times in the story. That was a dead giveaway to someone very familiar with the late 60s and early 70s!!

I enjoyed rereading this mystery. It was pleasant to spend an afternoon on the porch with a fun book. My goal is to slowly reread as many of the Nancy Drew books as possible!

Penguin Random House: the publisher’s summary of plot:

Once again, Nancy faces two puzzling mysteries at once! The first concerns a valuable collection of rare books that Mrs. Horace Merriam commissioned anart dealer to sell–has he swindled her instead? The second mystery revolves around the baffling theft of a beautiful marble statue. To solve both mysteries, the famous young detective disguises herself and assumes a false identity. Despite these precautions, danger stalks Nancy’s every move. An attempted kidnapping, a nearly disastrous sailboat collision, and an encounter with a dishonest sculptor are just a few of the exciting challenges that Nancy is faced with as she gathers evidence against a clever ring of art thieves.

I read this book for the RIP XIII challenge, Peril the First

Ready Player One

It’s so much fun when a friend recommends a book, and tells you that the audiobook version is just terrific, and you listen to that audiobook, and then you totally agree with her! That’s what just happened to me! Recently, Les (@Coastal Horizons) and Kay (@Kay’s Reading Life) and I visited a wonderful bookstore, Third Street Books, in McMinnville, Oregon. While there, Les mentioned how good the audiobook version was of Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, narrated by Will Wheaton. So, I downloaded it and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it this month!

I thought this book was wonderfully creative and fun. I kept thinking of my son throughout the story because much of the computer and video game stuff was from his growing up years, but I felt the fun was ageless. It really was a love letter to the 1980s that everyone can enjoy!

From the Publisher’s Summary:

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut – part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m looking forward to it. My friend, Adam (@Roof Beam Reader), has already warned me that it is quite different from the book, but I will give it a try and see if it is as fun as the book.

Thanks, Les, for your recommendation!

Feeding the Dragon

Feeding the Dragon, by Sharon Washington, was offered as an audiobook special from Audible last week. I didn’t know anything about it, but when I read that it was the story of a little girl who grew up in the New York Public Library, I knew I had to listen to it. It was quite a delightful listen — Sharon Washington wrote it and was the reader, and I learned after listening to it that she has also performed it as a very successful play.

It is her family story. Her father was the maintenance person at the library and kept the ancient coal-fed furnace stoked at all times, thus the idea of “feeding the dragon.” The family lived in the apartment on the top floor of the library, and Sharon grew up amongst the books downstairs.

From 1969 until 1973 my family lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At 444 Amsterdam Avenue in an apartment on the top floor inside the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library:
my father George, my mother Connie; my grandmother, my dog Brownie, and me.
A typical American family.
Living in a not-so-typical place.

I enjoyed listening to this book and would love to see Sharon Washington’s performance of her story!

Dreams From my Father

My book blogging friend, Andi, at Estella’s Revenge, recently listened to the audiobook of Dreams From my Father, by Barack Obama (narrated by the author). She rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, and talked about how much she enjoyed listening to it. She inspired me to follow suit, so I downloaded the audiobook from Audible and am just starting it. My mother (age 98) is also going to listen to it so that we can share our thoughts about it on the phone in our daily conversations. We both miss the Obamas greatly and thought that listening to Barack Obama tell stories about his life and family would be very enjoyable. Thanks, Andi, for the idea! This little shared project is going to brighten our days!

Mom and I have been sharing books and reading experiences for a lot of years!

 

August Reflections

I had a wonderful August this year!  August is usually one of my least favorite months because of the intense and constant heat. But despite record-breaking heat in our area, I loved the month!  It was full of family — extended time with our grandson, and a family reunion in celebration of my mother’s 98th birthday. We enjoyed travel, gardening projects, 5K races, and watching the awesome total eclipse of the sun! And when it wasn’t too smoky in our area (due to the many wildfires!), I loved the daily views on my walks and drives through this gorgeous part of Oregon.

My reading time was limited, but I did enjoy 4 different books during the month. My favorite book of the month was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I am rereading the series just for fun and as an antidote to the misery of the daily news. I also reread Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is my least favorite of her books…still. A refreshing and delightful read was of Philippa Pearce’s The Way to Sattin Shore. And a fascinating library book was The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It was a fun book and brought back many memories, including a memory of volunteering in the school library at my junior high school –typing cards for the catalog!

So, I just have to say that August turned out to be a delightful month for me overall. I am now 5 books “behind schedule” with my Goodreads goal for the year, but that’s totally okay. The special memories from this delightful month of August will warm me through many cold winter months ahead.

A Summer of Reading

Woman Reading, by Frederick Childe Hassam

For me, this has been a summer of reading! While my blogging lagged, my reading continued and has been a real pleasure. I often copy down quotes that resonate with me from the books I’m reading, so I thought I’d share with you a few of those summer favorites so you can see where my reading journey has taken me.

“The house was refreshingly peaceful, and I pottered about enjoying my leisure and solitude. It is deeply satisfying to me, after spending so much of my time among a number of energetic young people, to hear the clink of a hot coal and the whisper of flames  in my own chimney, the purring of Tibby delighting in company, and the chiming of the clock on the mantelpiece.”
~ from Storm in the Village, by Miss Read

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“Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
~ from The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien

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“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
~ from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

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“At the very beginning, anticipatory obedience means adapting instinctively, without reflecting, to a new situation.”
~ from On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder

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“To those who will decide if he should be tried for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ -the House of Representatives-
And to those who would sit in judgment at such a trial if the House impeaches -the Senate-
And to the man who would preside at such an impeachment trial -the Chief Justice of the United States, Warren Burger-
And to the nation…
The President said, ‘I want you to know that I have no intention whatever of ever walking away from the job that the American people elected me to do for the people of the United States.’
~ from All the President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward”

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“She could teach them to face whatever came with calmness and courage, to love their families and their friends with unswerving loyalty, and to relish the lovely face of the countryside in which they lived.”
~ from Miss Clare Remembers, by Miss Read

What Happened to May?

What happened to May? It just flew by for me in a rush of travel, gardening, visits with family and meeting with old/new friends, 5k races, and unfortunately, spending evenings being completely sucked into the news of the day. It was overall a lovely month and especially nice to have some sunshine and warmth arrive after such a long winter and wet spring!

During May, both my reading and blogging took back seat to all the other activities. However, I did manage to finish reading 4 books, two of them mysteries by Donna Leon, and I’m getting close to the end of my rereading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings.

Welcome June! I’m looking forward to getting back to my books this month and to being able to read them on the front porch!

April Reflections

“Puddle” by M.C. Escher

April flew by so quickly this year! We continued to have record-breaking rains here in the Pacific Northwest throughout the month, but the temperatures moderated and there were days when we could finally get out in the garden and start cleaning up after such a long winter. Hubby and I spent two days in Silverton, Oregon, enjoying the early Spring beauty of the Oregon Garden and a short, but beautiful visit to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.

My reading time slowed down but April was a good reading month anyway. I completed 8 books and a knitting project! My favorite book this month was the science fiction novella, Binti!  It was so well written and enjoyable, and I loved spending some time out of this currently crazy world. I enjoyed listening to another audiobook in Craig Johnson‘s Walt Longmire mystery series. And I loved reading more poetry during this National Poetry Month!  I also read and reviewed three books for The Classics Club, books chosen from my 50 books in 5 years list.

I always love April, and the beauty of the spring flowers and blossoms is wonderful after the darkness of our winters here. May will be a busy month, including a road trip to visit my 97 year old mother and many more days to spend outdoors in the garden and on long walks around town, but I’m looking forward to my May reading, as well.

 

Around town…

First Audiobook

the-scarlet-pimpernel

The very first audiobook I ever listened to was The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy. That was about 35 years ago but I still remember the experience well. The book was on cassette tapes borrowed from the library and it was really a lot of fun to listen to and it sparked a longtime love of listening to books. I borrowed a lot of books on tape from the library, and then a few years later, I became a member of Recorded Books — an excellent company for producing books on tape — and ordered my audiobooks by mail. I listened to a lot of books that way. Now it is so easy to have an Audible membership and simply download a book to my phone. I do love to listen to all kinds of books!

What was the first audiobook you listened to?

recordedbooks1