reading life

Reading Habits: Audiobooks by Chatti Brown

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The first trimester of my pregnancy saw me losing interest in activities I normally loved. I never got morning sickness but the mere thought of reading a book made me nauseous and I pretty much laid in bed binge watching Gilmore Girls. By the time the third trimester came I was feeling better but developed carpal tunnel so bad that holding a book (or my kindle) while wearing a wrist brace was near impossible. Had I known about audiobooks my reading life wouldn't have suffered so much.

I didn't start listening to audiobooks until sometime last year. My first jab at it was checking out a cd set from the library. This only allowed me to listen while I was driving so it wasn't a life changer but the book I chose, Wedding Night by Sophia Kinsella, was so ridiculous, it was entertaining. I wanted to get in the car and drive till I finished. That said, only when I found out that the library had a collection of e-audiobooks via Overdrive did audiobooks became a staple in my life.  

Audiobooks made cleaning the house more enjoyable. It made nursing a newborn easier without the need to juggle a physical book and possibly dropping it on the baby (that only happened once). It made me look forward to long distance travel and sitting in front of a computer editing images for hours. Often times, I'll have the physical book and the audiobook so that I can keep listening to the story while I work. Most often, the audiobook will enhance my reading experience (sometimes nothing can save a book). Take Lincoln in The Bardo, for example. All those dialects and accents read by different narrators really brought the book to life. Sometimes, if I can't get into a book I'll check out the audiobook and see if that makes a difference. I'll do that too if there are characters or places I have no idea how to pronounce in my head. Audiobooks also reminds me of the good times in elementary school when my teachers would read aloud while we follow along using our bookmarks as a guide. If you haven't given audiobooks a try, here are some recommendations:

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Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows: Don't let the title scare you off, this isn't Fifty Shades. Full of humor and warmth, I couldn't help but root for the women in this story. While intersperse with erotic stories written by the widows, it is much more complex digging into Sikh culture, immigration (in this case living in London), and traditional male and female gender roles.  The story was wonderfully enhanced by the narrators' performance, the Punjabi accent was done well. 

A side note: I don't like when female narrators growling the male characters' voices. This happens in nearly every audiobook and I had to look past that in this book. This is why I can't do romance novels in audio form. I find it hysterical and can't stop laughing. Luckily there’s more women than men in this novel.

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News Of The World: A recommendation from Anne of What Should I Read Next, I picked this up and quickly finished it in a day. Set after the Civil War, Captain Kidd is a  seventy-one year old vet riding around the American Southwest reading newspapers to his paid audience. Given a $50 gold piece to deliver a young girl to her family, they must travel through dangerous territories, struggle with language and cultural barriers (she was captured by Native Americans and raised in the tribe), and wrestle with a moral dilemma. The characters are developed beautifully, the male narrator sounded like the right age, and the story was mesmerizing.

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The Wicked Deep: I love an atmospheric tale with a bit of mystery. I was delighted by the island setting, the fog, the witches singing and most importantly, the story. While many complained of the narrator’s melancholy voice, I found it to be fitting for a story that has a somber undertone, almost like being entranced by a siren. If the voice makes you sleepy play it at 1.25x or 1.5x but trust me, this is a good one.

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The War That Saved My Life & The War I Finally Won: This triumphant story is so good, I want the physical copies in my personal library like yesterday. For a story written for Middle Grade readers, the characters are impressively rich. There is so much to unpack and talk about. I want to give the author a big hug for not underestimating the emotional competence and intelligence of both the children in the book and those reading it. There are some tough issues addressed in particular, the impact of war, anxiety, and child abuse. Brubaker Bradley does a magnificent job in discussing these issues gracefully while also giving us a sense of hope and perseverance. The afterwords in the second book brought me to tears.  

Six books on my Summer Reading List by Chatti Brown

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The weather went into the triple digits here in Colorado so it felt time to cull my summer reading list. As you already know, I'm trying to read less but be very intentional about what I choose. Most of these books have been sitting on my TBR (To Be Read) pile for some time and it seems summer is the perfect time to tackle this list . 

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HOME FIRE- This one knocks all the birds with one stone for any reading challenge (POC woman writer, culture different than my own, winner of an award, best cover). From the publisher: "The suspenseful and heartbreaking story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences. Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother's death, she's accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who's disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma's worst fears are confirmed. Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined."

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THE DRY: Last summer I had a thriller kick and read some very good ones (Emma In the Night, Final Girls), but since then they have been more hype than substance. I'm hoping this one will break the spell and at the very least, keep me engaged. "After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets."


STARDUST- How did I not know that my beloved movie was actually based on a book?Stardust is the one feel good movie I can watch over and over again. I don't talk much about my love for fairytale/fantasy/magical realism but this was my go to section in the library when I was a kid. Set in 1850s England, Tristran seeks the love of town beauty, Victoria, by promising to gift her a fallen star. So begins a wonderful tale of faerie land, magic, aging witches, cunning princes, a flying pirate ship and of course, a unicorn. I'm really hoping that the book is just as fun as the movie.



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LEAVE NO TRACE- Thank you Simon and Schuster for the free book via Bookish First. I was able to read a chapter of this and I can tell you it left me wanting more. This is about a boy who, along with his father, disappeared in the wilderness only to show up ten years later without an explanation. It is up to Maya Stark, a speech therapist with her own secrets, to crack him open. I'm hoping this book leaves me a bit frighten and out of breath. Available in September.





THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON- Again, my love for fantasy/magic compelled me to but this middle grade book This one seems right up my alley with a good witch that feeds a baby with silvery honeyed moon beam. 
"To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule -- but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her -- even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known."

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OUR SOULS AT NIGHT- When I first bought this I knew little about it. What I do know: the story takes place in a fictional Colorado town and the author, Kent Haruf, wrote Plainsong (I haven't read it but heard good things). This book follows the relationship between two widowed neighbors, Addie and Louis, after Addie propositions Lewis and asks if he would be interested in keeping her company at night. Knowing that alone makes it tender, and more about finding comfort than town gossip or sexual intimacies.



Tell me below what is on your reading list. Happy summer and happy reading my friends!