Tag Archives: John Grisham

Top 10 Tuesday — A Heartwarming Christmas

3 Dec

This week, Top 10 Tuesday is all about the Christmas reads. Every year I look forward to some just-for-fun reading featuring the tinsel, mistletoe, and joy of Christmas. Most of the books are novella length — perfect for the busy season — and involve plenty of romance. But sometimes I just want a heartwarming story that is more than kisses 😉 . The following books fit the bill. I hope you find one to love.

For more of bloggers’ favorite Christmas reads, please visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top Heartwarming Christmas Books

 

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson

Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club — enjoying one another’s company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they’re sure that without her the group can’t continue.

When the group gathers “one last time” to open a bag Abby’s husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way — little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

During Isabella Alcantara’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence, simply because their home was targeted by mistake. Isabella knows she was spared only because she now lives in a different location, but she knows too that the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a “coyote” to bring them across the border to America, she agrees. But Francisco and Isabella are abandoned by the coyote and left to die. Francisco then valiantly sacrifices himself to get Isabella to safety. Homeless, nearly penniless, pregnant, and alone, Isabella determines to find a way to honor her promise to her beloved husband.

Living on one of the smaller spreads along the Arizona border, Miriam Nelson becomes furious with God and turns from her faith when her border patrol agent husband, David, is killed in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Though her mother and young son do their best to woo her back from the anger and bitterness that have overtaken her, they make little headway.

Two widows — one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge — must make their journeys along different pathways, but with the same destination: a barn full of animals that stands waiting for them on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning that will bind them together in a most miraculous way.

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas the final decoration Madge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a letter delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery posed in that letter put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Award-winning author Eva Marie Everson wraps up a Christmas story of hope, love, and forgiveness just in time for the holidays.

The Ornament Keeper, a contemporary Christmas novella, features Felicia and Jackson Morgan who are spending their first Christmas apart after twenty years of marriage. But a lifetime of gifted ornaments helps Felicia piece together the story of their marriage and the one mistake of unforgiveness she made before they said, “I do.”

Can these memory-filled ornaments reunite this family before Christmas? Only time will tell.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flag

Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He’s never liked Art and resents the man’s presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick’s attitude sours even more.

Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons -– as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day –- work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas. With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story will have readers remembering every good and perfect gift of Christmas.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

Never expecting to be homeless, Josie Meyers and her children are shocked when circumstances force them to live on the streets. Rick, a down-and-out disabled vet, befriends them, reawakening memories of a faith Josie had in childhood. But can she reconcile her once-held beliefs with her current situation? Will she and her children even survive long enough to try to rekindle Josie’s faith?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Characters Like Me, Because It Really Is All About The Books

7 May

I found this week’s Top 10 Tuesday prompt — Characters That Remind Me of Myself — a bit daunting. I lead such a boring life, that it would never make it as a book. 😉 I really struggled to come up with the requisite 10 to fill this post, until I started thinking about what consumes a lot of my thoughts — books! I read them, talk about them, blog about them, sniff them . . . . Anyway, I came up with a list of characters that are surrounded by books too. I really wouldn’t want to trade places with any of them because of their issues, and the fact that some regularly stumble on dead bodies or engage in nefarious activities! And while my husband may say our home is starting to look a lot like a bookstore or library, I do not work at either. But I am a book pusher  enthusiast who makes sure everyone has the opportunity to get their hands on the story that is just right for them. Whether you like cozy mysteries, suspense, romance, women’s fiction, or time-slip novels, I hope you find a book you just need to read!

For more fun with doppleganger characters, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

A Dozen Book Pushing Characters

(aka booksellers or librarians)

Bruce Cable — Camino Island by John Grisham

Violet and Daisy Waverly —Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Annie Laurance Darling — Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart

Callie Randall — Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

Helma Zukas — Miss Zukas And The Library Murders by Jo Dereske

Madeline, Janet, and Carrie — The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

Rick Denton — Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

A. J. Fickry — The Storied Life of A. J. Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin

Claire Malloy — Strangled Prose by Joan Hess

 

Which character is like you?

Top 10 Tuesday — Bookish Bookshops

16 Oct

Ok, I know that the title of my Top Ten Tuesday post is a bit redundant, but I have a reason for this somewhat silly title. Today, bloggers are supposed to share the bookstores and/or libraries they would love to visit. A very bookish bucket list. 😉 There are a number of real life bookstores that I would absolutely love to visit. Powell’s in Portland comes to mind. But those destinations will have to wait. So I thought I would share the bookstores I have already visited, however fictionally. Yes, my list consists of bookstores that reside in books, hence bookish bookshops. Some of the books are cozies in which bookstore owners double as mystery solvers, while others share stories beyond the covers of books and walls of stores.  Have you visited any on my list? I’d love to know what you thought.

Be sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to find out just where other bloggers want to visit.

 

Top Bookish Bookstores

 

Bay Books — Camino Island by John Grisham

The Book Depot — Strangled Prose by Joan Hess

Charming Books — Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

Death on Demand Bookstore — Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart

Island Books — The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Magic Balloon Bookshop — Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

Oak Tree Bookstore — The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

 

What bookish location do you want to visit?

 

Audiobook Mini-Review: Camino Island

20 Oct

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

(For Wikipedia) John Grisham is an American bestselling writer, attorney, politician, and activist best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practiced criminal law for about a decade and served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990.

His first novel, A Time to Kill, was published in June 1989, four years after he began writing it. As of 2012, his books have sold over 275 million copies worldwide. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell 2 million copies on a first printing.

Grisham’s first bestseller, The Firm, sold more than seven million copies. The book was adapted into a 1993 feature film of the same name, starring Tom Cruise, and a 2012 TV series which “continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel”. Eight of his other novels have also been adapted into films: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, Skipping Christmas, and A Time to Kill.

My Impressions:

Camino Island is classic Grisham. An intriguing crime with bad guys who are very bad and good guys who are a bit bad as well. The book begins with a daring heist of extremely valuable and rare manuscripts. Just what has happened to them is the focus of the novel, but the real treat for the reader are the wonderfully colorful characters, including main characters bookseller Bruce Cable and young novelist Mercer Mann. For those who love books, Camino Island will definitely appeal. There is a lot of talk of bookselling, publishing, and writing, with references to numerous authors, both real and fictional. The fictional setting is a laid back northeast Florida island with long expanses of beach and intense sun. The book is a fun trip into the literary world, but those looking for a clean read need to look elsewhere. There is a lot of adult activity, including heavy drinking, sex, and language. I found the book perfect for my morning walks. Not too intense, a good narrator, and a story that kept me engaged.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Review: The Confession

18 May

In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, Travis Boyette abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.

Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess. But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

 

John Grisham is an American bestselling writer, attorney, politician, and activist best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practiced criminal law for about a decade and served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990.

His first novel, A Time to Kill, was published in June 1989, four years after he began writing it. As of 2012, his books have sold over 275 million copies worldwide. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell 2 million copies on a first printing.

Grisham’s first bestseller, The Firm, sold more than seven million copies. The book was adapted into a 1993 feature film of the same name, starring Tom Cruise, and a 2012 TV series which “continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel”. Eight of his other novels have also been adapted into films: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, Skipping Christmas, and A Time to Kill.

 

My Impressions:

Anticipating a very long plane trip, I looked for an audiobook that would keep me engaged and interested and would last long enough to get me through the return flight. My thoughts immediately went to a John Grisham novel. I like Grisham for a number of reasons, one being that his books never fail to entertain. I chose The Confession, a title that already resided on my shelf (my husband read it years ago). It was a great choice. Not only did it make the miles literally fly by, but it challenged and expanded my beliefs on capital punishment. A controversial topic to be sure, The Confession examines what it means if an innocent man is sentenced to death. All aspects are included: the media circus, the political climate, the heartbreak of the families on both sides, and the spiritual implications of the ultimate punishment. The story is full of twists and turns, the characters are intriguing, and the subject matter handled in a mostly even-handed manner. I think it is safe to say that Grisham writes from an anti-death penalty standpoint, a view that I also hold, though for probably different reasons. Grisham didn’t change my mind about anything, but he did cause me to see the whole process surrounding death penalty cases in a new light. An engrossing read, I recommend The Confession.

The story opens with a confession from career criminal Travis Boyette to a Lutheran pastor. Keith Schroeder doesn’t really know what to do with Travis or his statement that an innocent man is about to be executed in Texas. What follows is a race to bring the confession to light, something that is met with resistance and dismissal from all parties concerned. Travis and Keith are interesting main characters. They cannot be more different — one who has lived a life taking and manipulating, another who earnestly desires to do the right thing. Their unlikely partnership makes for good drama. Grisham’s portrayal of the circus that surrounds the upcoming execution rings true. Media, groupies, politicians, all make the situation bizarre and disturbing. While The Confession is not Christian fiction, three pastors make an appearance and an impact on the story. Keith’s views are, of course, front and center, but Grisham also shares the feelings and thoughts of the pastors of the victim’s family and the accused’s family. The three struggle in varying ways — also very realistic. The Confession is dark, so don’t expect a feel good ending. This book is one to make you think, whichever side of the debate you find yourself on.

The narrator did an admirable job of bringing all the voices in the novel to light, while being easy to listen to.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2016

27 Dec

2016 was a whirlwind of activity for my family. Several weddings, a couple of bucket list trips, and relocations led to a very busy year. Amid it all I did manage to read some great books — some new releases and some new to me. So, I am supposed to narrow my list to just 10. Hmm . . . can’t do it. 😉 So I have come up with two lists — Contemporary Fiction and Historical Fiction. No matter your preference of genre, there is something for you on these lists. To see what other bloggers consider their best of the best, please visit The Broke And The Bookish.

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Top Contemporary Fiction of 2016

 

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Seeing Things by Patti Hill

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

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Water From My Heart by Charles Martin

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow

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Top Historical Fiction of 2016

 

Anchor in The Storm by Sarah Sundin

AD 30 by Ted Dekker

A Day And A Life by Penelope Wilcock

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Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

The Lady And The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Like A River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart

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The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Within The Veil by Brandy Valance

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Best of The Best of 2106

There were two books that I gave Very Highly Recommended ratings to in 2016. Both were from author Mike Nappa. These are great books I would recommend to everyone!

unknown2Annabel Lee

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl–before it’s too late.

41jklpz8chl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Raven 

As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience’s pockets while they watch. It’s harmless fun — until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn’t seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his “personal assistants”, The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, “Nevermore”.

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues — and their complicated feelings for each other — to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge.

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Best Christmas Novellas

13 Sep

Thanks to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish for hosting Top 10 Tuesday every week. This week’s theme is Favorite Genres. To find out what other bloggers love to read, click HERE.

 

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It’s September and while Pumpkin Everything is popping up, the temperatures here in Middle Georgia are still in the 90s. It may be a bit hot, but when the calendar says it’s Fall, I like to begin my Christmas reading. Every year I look for a Christmas fix in books. Here is a list of some great books to read to get you in the Christmas mood, no matter the date or temperature! I’ve divided them into categories, although there is some crossover, so that you can pick the best for your mood and tastes.

Top Christmas Novellas

 

Historic and Nostalgic Christmas

The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

Remembering Christmas by Daniel Walsh

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Suspenseful And Mysterious Christmas

Holy Night by Colleen Coble

Silent Night by Colleen Coble

Advent of Murder by Martha Oakley

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Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

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Christmas with Dogs And Cats

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

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Funny Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

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Heartwarming Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

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What’s Your Favorite Christmas Book?

 

Top Ten Tuesday! — Audiobooks

28 Jun

It’s Freebie Day at Top Ten Tuesday! Thanks to the gals at The Broke And The Bookish who host every week. To find out what other bloggers are sharing today, click HERE.

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I love audiobooks! I started listening about 6 years ago when I traveled 4+ hours to my daughter’s college soccer games. They filled the tedious hours of driving alone. I got my husband hooked on audiobooks when we would go on road trips for football games. With Summer in full swing now, I thought it would be good to share my favorites. Audiobooks are perfect for car or plane trips or when you just want to relax and have someone read to you. 🙂 I also listen while exercising and doing chores, basically anytime when it is too cumbersome to hold a book! I went a bit over the top with my list — 20+ books! But I really liked them and just had to share.

 

TOP 10 20+ FAVORITE AUDIOBOOKS

While it is important to have a good story, a good reader/narrator is also important for a quality audiobook — timing and voices/accents are key. My husband and I got hooked on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries. But just any old narrator will not do; we have to have Hugh Fraser! Lucky for us, a ton of Poirot audiobooks featuring Fraser are available. He does an excellent job in making Poirot come to life. Here are a few of our favorites.

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The Christie audiobooks run about 6+ hours, making them a perfect choice for listening with others.

Along with the Christie mysteries, I have listened to some other excellent books. They vary in length, but have a two things in common: excellent stories and excellent narrators. The following have something for everyone — suspense, mystery, history. There is even a classic! Check them out!

The Advocate by Randy Singer, narrated by David Cochran Heath

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zach Appleman

Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill, narrated by Lisa Larsen

A Cry from The Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks, narrated by Teri Clark Linden

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The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey, narrated by Gabe Wicks

Cuts Like A Knife by M.K. Gilroy, narrated by Coleen Marlo

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer, narrated by Joey Collins

Dubiosity by Christy Barritt, narrated by Joyce Bean

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Fear Has A Name by Creston Mapes, narrated by Paul Michael

Longbourn by Jo Baker, narrated by Emma Fielding

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, narrated by Jessica Almasy/Suzanne Toren

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim, narrated by Tavia Gilbert

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The Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta, narrated by Amanda McKnight

The Racketeer by John Grisham, narrated by J.D. Jackson

Sycamore Row by John Grisham, narrated by Michael Beck

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin, narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, narrated by Sissy Spacek

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki, narrated by Madeleine Maby

Vanished by Irene Hannon, narrated by Celeste Ciulla

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin, narrated by Kevin Stilwell

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What about you?

Do you listen to audiobooks?

 

Audiobook Review: Sycamore Row

16 Jun

51QUB-bTyFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_John Grisham takes you back to where it all began. One of the most popular novels of our time, A Time to Kill established John Grisham as the master of the legal thriller. Now we return to Ford County as Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial that exposes a tortured history of racial tension.

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. The second will raises many more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

71JrhQGPrOL._UX250_John Grisham is an American bestselling writer, attorney, politician, and activist best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

 

My Impressions:

John Grisham’s novels never cease to provide hours of reading enjoyment. His plots keep me riveted and his characters become friends. Choosing one of his novels is always a safe bet. But in Sycamore Row, a return to Clanton, MS and Jake Brigance, Grisham has outdone himself. This novel is one of my all time favorites.

It’s been three years since the controversial case that put Jake Brigance in the spotlight. Still recovering from the trauma of a difficult trial and threats to his family, Jake needs another case to challenge him and make a little cash. When a handwritten will arrives in his mailbox, Jake knows this civil case will be like no other.

Jake Brigance is a character to love. A tenacious and principled lawyer and a confirmed family man, Jake is just a likable guy. His good looks, easy Southern charm and everyman attitude make him a favorite with townspeople and juries. Colorful characters from A Time to Kill are back in Sycamore Row, along with new characters all vying to get a piece of Seth Hubbard’s pie — lawyers, Seth’s family and the unlikely beneficiary, Letty Lang. There are plenty of villains to boo and likable, yet flawed, characters to cheer for. Race is again the emphasis in a novel set in the late 1980s, but with roots in the early years of the 20th century. Both the book and the case have twists and turns that Grisham lets the reader in on even before the main characters. And while the reader may have some doubt as to how it will all turn out, Grisham comes through. The reader will be shocked, saddened and heartened by the unfolding events.

I listened to the audiobook and was overall pleased with the reader. Being from the South, I found some of the accents a bit over the top, but that’s fairly normal for portrayals of the Southern voice. Although to be fair, I am acquainted with some real small town lawyers who do lay it on a bit thick. (Michael Beck, the reader, is from Memphis so I defer to his expertise.)

Overall, Sycamore Row is a great novel. Please note: it was published for the general market, so there are a few instances of profanity.

Highly recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: Skipping Christmas

19 Dec

521019Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.

grisham_bio_picA graduate of Mississippi State University and Ole Miss Law School, John Grisham obtained his law degree in 1981 and practiced law for about 10 years, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. He was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1983 and served until 1990. He gave up his law practice to write full-time. He began writing in 1984, and three years later finished his first novel, A Time To Kill, published by Wynwood Press in June 1988. He is the best-selling author of A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief and The Client.

 

My Impressions:

Skipping Christmas was my church book club’s December selection. It was also a book that we shared with the ladies at the transitional center where I volunteer. We met last Thursday for food, fellowship, and a time of discussing what really matters at Christmas. Grisham’s book is a light-hearted look at a couple who decide to skip the holiday chaos for a 10 day Caribbean cruise. While their neighbors, co-workers and friends are in the middle of the holiday craziness, they congratulate themselves on avoiding all the nonsense. That is, until their daughter informs them that she will be home for Christmas. Then they embark on a decorating, shopping and party-making frenzy.

While most of us enjoyed the funny portrayal of Luther’s attempt to skip Christmas, we were disappointed that Grisham did not use the book to focus a little more on the true meaning of Christmas. And though we realized that the targeted audience was secular, it would have been nice to have a bit more mention of Jesus’ birth. We also were disappointed that Luther failed to give to charities, something he and his wife agreed would not be missing from the year’s skipped celebration. But the book did spark a lot of discussion — what needs to be skipped, what just can’t be left out and our families’ traditions – past and present. Many of the ladies at the center won’t be with family this year. It was great to have a time to talk about what Christmas is really all about.

So while Skipping Christmas is fluffy, it did lead to deep discussions. So I would recommend this book for book clubs looking for a quick read for their December discussions.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the hardcover copy of this book years ago. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.