book review, christian blog, critics, non fiction, theater

No Time to Read? Why Not Take a Listen!

Reading calms the mind and soothes the soul don’t you think? I love that it makes my imagination soar and when I finally get “into” a book I just want to devour it and use every spare moment I can to finish it. Afterwards, if it is a good one….I just can’t stop thinking about it.

Many of my friends have begun listening to audio books. Something I really rebelled against. I have several reasons for that rebellion. The first is that I LOVE holding the book in my hand, turning the pages, being able to mark the book if I want to remember something and many other the reasons. I am also a visual learner so just LISTENING frightened me. I wasn’t sure it would keep my attention and/or I would daydream in the middle and not pay attention (maybe that is the same thing.) However, so many of my friends are doing it, I decided it wouldn’t hurt anything to try.

I downloaded an app called Chirp and proceeded to watch their daily offerings to see if one of their specials would interest me. Believe me, there is a big difference in paying $3 or $4 or the regular $15 (or up) price! Growing up I was a huge fan of mysteries and often read books by Mary. Somewhere along the way I grew tired of figuring out “Who done it” long before it was revealed in the book. So I stopped reading them. When I saw a book by Mary Higgins Clark on the special list of Chirp, I thought, “Why not? It’s a good place to start.”

I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark

From the cover:

In a riveting psychological thriller, Mary Higgins Clark takes the reader deep into the mysteries of the human mind, where memories may be the most dangerous things of all.

At the center of her novel is Kay Lansing, who has grown up in Englewood, New Jersey, daughter of the landscaper to the wealthy and powerful Carrington family. Their mansion — a historic seventeenth-century manor house transported stone by stone from Wales in 1848 — has a hidden chapel. One day, accompanying her father to work, six-year-old Kay succumbs to curiosity and sneaks into the chapel. There, she overhears a quarrel between a man and a woman who is demanding money from him. When she says that this will be the last time, his caustic response is: “I heard that song before.”

That same evening, the Carringtons hold a formal dinner dance after which Peter Carrington, a student at Princeton, drives home Susan Althorp, the eighteen-year-old daughter of neighbors. While her parents hear her come in, she is not in her room the next morning and is never seen or heard from again.

Throughout the years, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Peter Carrington. At age forty-two, head of the family business empire, he is still “a person of interest” in the eyes of the police, not only for Susan Althorp’s disappearance but also for the subsequent drowning death of his own pregnant wife in their swimming pool.

Kay Lansing, now living in New York and working as a librarian in Englewood, goes to see Peter Carrington to ask for permission to hold a cocktail party on his estate to benefit a literacy program, which he later grants. Kay comes to see Peter as maligned and misunderstood, and when he begins to court her after the cocktail party, she falls in love with him. Over the objections of her beloved grandmother Margaret O’Neil, who raised her after her parents’ early deaths, she marries him. To her dismay, she soon finds that he is a sleepwalker whose nocturnal wanderings draw him to the spot at the pool where his wife met her end.

Susan Althorp’s mother, Gladys, has always been convinced that Peter Carrington is responsible for her daughter’s disappearance, a belief shared by many in the community. Disregarding her husband’s protests about reopening the case, Gladys, now terminally ill, has hired a retired New York City detective to try to find out what happened to her daughter. Gladys wants to know before she dies.

Kay, too, has developed gnawing doubts about her husband. She believes that the key to the truth about his guilt or innocence lies in the scene she witnessed as a child in the chapel and knows she must learn the identity of the man and woman who quarreled there that day. Yet, she plunges into this pursuit realizing that “that knowledge may not be enough to save my husband’s life, if indeed it deserves to be saved.” What Kay does not even remotely suspect is that uncovering what lies behind these memories may cost her her own life.”

Whew! Long Synopsis!

I’m not sure if I liked the book MORE because I LISTENED to it versus READING it, but I actually liked it. I was surprised how many people on Goodreads gave it negative reviews. Did I figure it out before it was revealed? Yes. But it did keep me going for awhile.

I actually enjoyed listening to it quite a lot. In fact, I have now devoted a certain time every day to listening. I look forward to it. If you haven’t tried it-I would encourage you to check it out and perhaps even try the Chirp App.

It kept my attention most of the time. I did find the story a little hard to follow at the beginning as I tried to remember who was who, but I thought that was due to my listening skills. I love the way Clark gives little hints from the start that really matter as you start to think about the clues. For me, the story was tied up very neatly in a satisfying way. Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was Clark’s use of adages and witty sayings that may not be familiar to today’s generation, but were things I remember both of my parents saying time after time. I enjoyed being able to finish Clark’s sentences!

Was it the most suspenseful, heart-pounding novel ever? No, but that isn’t what I was looking for. If you want a story that is part mystery-part romance and engaging– then this is the story for you.

When you read a book you are able to create the character based on the author’s words only. When you listen, the voice artist helps create the character by how she uses her voice. That being said, I loved Kay and her grandmother. I thought that Gladys and many of the other supporting characters were interesting and well-thought out. I didn’t particularly care for Peter (Kay’s husband) I found him to be spineless and blah. I don’t know why Kay would fall in love with him. I didn’t root for their love story. In fact, I rooted for Kay, but not for him.

What I loved about this book:

It almost goes without saying that a work by Mary Higgins Clark is beautifully written. Her works are believable as she is very thorough in her research. The plot is interesting and holds the attention of the reader. I love a good mystery and this one is interesting enough to make my brain search to figure out the “real murderer.” I love that.

Who should read this book?

Lovers of mysteries and suspense.

Warnings:

Death, murder, violence

Favorite quotes :

“you can love a person without loving everything about that person.”

Rating: 4/5

We Hope For Better Things

From the cover:

“When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos–seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

We Hope for Better Things was a fabulous listen. I loved everything thing about it. It is basically three love stories in one and Bartels carries the reader from one page to another in a way that leaves you breathless with anticipation. There really isn’t anything I didn’t love about this book. The story grabbed me from the beginning. It is emotional, powerful and moving. Both stories have a historical significance that will be difficult to forget long after you finish this beautifully written book. It will help you look at race in America in a different light with both the modern love story as well as the story from the past.

What I loved about this book:

Everything! I loved that this book made me think. It was a deeply layered plot that was fast-paced and intriguing. The plot contained themes that many of us wrestle with today, but also others that took place because it was set in a historical time slot. Bartels was a master creator in shaping each of the three women, who were strong and weak in their own individual ways. Each had issues to tackle because of the time they were living in. The story isn’t a pretty one, but it was a beautiful representation of humanity. I hope I am a better person and more aware after reading this book.

Who should read this book?

Lovers of history. Fans of historical fiction, and fans of family stories and for those who like to read diversity and explore themes of racism.

Favorite Quotes:

“Change happens when the cost of keeping things the way they are is too high.” 

“And at that moment, on a nondescript tan couch in an impeccably clean living room at Twelfth and Seward, Nora fell in love with the wrong man.” 

“All it took to lose one’s history was a single generation that didn’t take the time to learn it and pass it on. I would do my part to keep it alive. ” 

Warnings:

Heavy Themes: Racial prejudice, marital infidelity, slavery.

Rating: 5/5

My journey into audio books has begun and it was a success. I can’t wait to tell you about the next one! What have you been doing??