Celebrate Audiobook Month!

June is audiobook month, so to celebrate, I’m listing my top 10 audiobook picks. Need more suggestions? Check out these links to other bloggers from the Audio Publishers Association. You can also win prizes during the month of June!

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan. Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend are the other two titles in this series, and they are all delightful. The narrators are gifted linguists and breeze through multiple language with ease. It’s truly amazing to hear.
  2. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) as well as books 2 and 3 in the series are delightfully evil crime novels that had me on the edge of my seat. These are the types of books that make me take the long way home after work, just to keep listening.
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I was surprised I loved this book so much, as the premise isn’t one I’d normally pay attention to, but the narrator’s voice is soothing, and the topic of an elderly man walking 600 miles to deliver a message to a dying acquaintance is much more touching than you may think.
  4. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.  This book made me so nostalgic for college, and yet so thankful I’m not 20 any more. However, there are many days I wish I was still an English major, reading and writing most of the day.
  5. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I know almost nothing about baseball, but that doesn’t matter even though this novel’s protagonist is his college’s baseball star. This book also made me nostalgic for college, and I was impressed with the author’s ability to capture complicated relationships so well.
  6. The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner. I love Jennifer’s books and have read all of them, but this one is my favorite. I also love the narrator’s voice, and this is a book I revisit in both print and audio.
  7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Another college-era novel that I loved. Can you see a theme here?
  8. Taylor Stevens’ Vanessa Michael Monroe series starts with The Informationist and continues with four fantastic and gripping titles. This is a series I can only listen to – not read in print – and I think you will understand why once you read them.
  9. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes is the best self-help book you’ll ever read. It’s on my list to read yearly, I find it that inspiring.
  10. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. Did you know Lauren Graham is not only a fantastic actress but also a talented writer? And that she wrote this book while shooting Parenthood? It makes me love it even more.

 

Affiliate links to Amazon hyperlinked above.

 

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Fiction Monday

I’m writing a book in my head. The first two chapters are in my Notes app on my phone. Until I get motivated to write it down in a place that won’t disappear the next time I drop my phone in the bathtub – you know, like on a computer with a hard drive, or on Google Drive where it can live blissfully in the cloud – here’s a bit I wrote in my head this morning:

***

Lisa stared at the car scent in her hand. She hadn’t meant to wander into yet another Bath and Body Works, but the FREE ITEM coupon was burning a hole in her purse. Her basket was full of hand soaps she didn’t need, but Maggie did. Maggie’s kids were always dirty. Or maybe all kids were always dirty, Lisa didn’t really know.

The car scent in Lisa’s hand smelled exactly like her ex-boyfriend’s cologne, the cologne she had bought him right before he left for London, the cologne she had sprayed on his old t-shirt and stuffed under pillow case hoping he wouldn’t notice how sentimental she was after just a month of dating. But there it was, in her hand, and now it was in her cart, and she was going to put it in her car and smell him on her way to work, on her way home, on her way to Maggie’s house to drop off the 3 for $18 hand soaps she’d bought, hoping that the scent of her ex-boyfriend would distract her from Sam.

***

 

 

Friday Reads

I am so excited for the weekend because my to-be read pile is growing, and since I’ve checked all of these titles out from various libraries and I’m fastidious about turning them back in on time (no renewals allowed on any of the titles I’ve checked out!), I have a lot of pages to read.

First up: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve never read anything by this greatly esteemed author, but I’ve heard from lots of people that she’s a favorite author of theirs, and this book fits the bill for one of my reading challenge categories: published in the year I was born.

Second: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I’ve never read a comic book from cover to cover, so I’m excited to branch out and read this, especially since it was recommended on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Third: The Wang’s vs. The World. I’m a huge fan of Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American stories (side note: did you know Kevin Kwan’s next book, Rich People Problems, is coming out this May?!? I’m so excited!!) and this is a comedic take on a rich Chinese-American family’s downfall during the recession.

Fourth: Exit West. This new novel is getting rave reviews and I’m very interested in the timely subject matter in light of Trump’s latest travel ban. The NYT calls it “a dystopian parable about the current refugee crisis.” Anyone else want to read it for a virtual book club?

Happy Friday!

 

Books & Podcast Recommendations for the Easily Distracted Parent

In the six years since I first became a parent, I’ve discovered that my attention span is exactly the length of two Paw Patrol episodes. But due to a recent surgery, a broken wrist and seven (yes, count them: SEVEN) weeks of suffering through various head colds and the flu, I found a newly redeveloped talent: the ability to sit still and pay attention to printed words. However, I realize that not every parent has the luxury of sitting on their couch for hours on end, so the following recommendations can be enjoyed in snippets, too!

Books:

Act Like It When I received the iBooks email with the phrase “free books” in it, I didn’t know I was going down a rabbit hole of romance novels, but this book is well-written and a good read, which I discovered after two shout-outs, one on Book Riot and one on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. After reading this, I’ve read a lot of BAD romance novels and I’ll tell you, this one is rare: good, an interesting plot with real-life characters. Trust me.

Dumplin’ If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, you will like this book. It’s YA fiction at its best: it doesn’t insult your intelligence and portrays teenage characters in a realistic way.

Hag-Seed Totally and completely different than the previous two recommendations, this is a highly entertaining book by Margaret Atwood. It’s her reinterpretation of The Tempest and you don’t have to remember the original (or even have read) to enjoy it.

We Live in Water I don’t usually enjoy short story collections, but this one by Jess Walter is so, so good. The first story is probably my favorite – it’s gut-punching, magnificent writing and the PWN is lucky to have such a talented writer.

And if you’re not in the mood for books right now, here are a few podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately:

Podcasts:

Crimetown Go behind the scenes of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, with this fascinating look at a larger-than-life mayor and the mob. After each episode, you’ll marvel that this is a true story.

Missing Richard Simmons I didn’t even know Richard Simmons was missing, but that doesn’t matter. Why did he disappear? Why haven’t his closest friends heard from him? And will the mystery be solved by the end of the season? I need answers. NOW.

I Highly Recommend 

Time is short when you have two kids, a full time job, spend at least 2 hours in the car every day and a husband you love dearly. So. Anyway. Here are some short blurbs about things I’ve loved recently.

Books

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Life changing. No, I really mean it. If you have too much stuff in your life, read this book. It will make you rethink everything you’ve been holding on to for so long.

Eat to Live
While I’m not sure I can sustain a lifestyle change like this permanently, I am trying to incorporate more clean eating in my life. This book has good recipes and a philosophy about healthy eating I can get behind.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
The baby sleep bible, re-reading this book made me rethink how many times I’ve disrupted Junior’s sleep to run errands. Babies need sleep! I’m so much better about letting him nap well and sleep early after reviewing this advice.

Emma
I love Alexander McCall Smith and this retelling of a Jane Austen favorite is delightful.

Yes Please
If you can, get the audiobook version of this book. Prepare to laugh and cry.


TV Shows

Veep
After signing up for a free trial of HBO Now, we’ve been binge watching the first three seasons. So, so funny.

Recipes

In my effort to eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of dairy I eat, I’ve had to be creative with quick meals at supper.

Here are three recent favorites:

Baked polenta with sautéed veggies. I sautéed onions, squash, and mushrooms and then added peas to the pan, then poured the vegetable mixture over sliced polenta and then added tomato sauce. I admit to adding a bit of shredded mozzarella cheese, too. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Curry udon. Make the curry as instructed on the box, then add udon noodles. I added a bit more water than the recipe called for so it would be more of a soup than a thick curry.

Lettuce wraps. I sautéed tofu with mushrooms and then added water chestnuts and soy sauce. Serve with lettuce cups.

What’s on Baby’s Bookshelf?

My kindly coworkers asked if I needed anything in particular for baby #2. Besides the Ergo baby carrier that I’m still coveting, my number one pick is books!

I asked my well-read group of friends what books are on their must-read list for babies and toddlers and they responded with the following titles.

And favorite children’s’ book authors include Sandra Bonynton, Richard Scarry, Mo Willems, and Oliver Jeffers.

I would add Little Blue Truck, Ferdinand, Chu’s Day, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Llama Llama Time to Share, and If Jesus Came to My House. 

What books are on your top 10 list for babies and/or toddlers? 

What Should I Read Next?

GoodReads

Reading List, 2014

I set my GoodReads reading goal to 36 books this year, before I found out I was pregnant. Now my goal is to finish 36 books before baby arrives and I’m 14 books in to finishing my goal. Why must I finish before baby arrives? Well, let’s just say reading and nursing at the same time was very difficult for me the first time around, although I did manage to read Cutting for Stone (and it’s a LONG book) on my iPhone during feedings. So maybe there’s hope after all for my literacy well being.

I’ve read a lot of Young Adult fiction this year. After reading the heartbreaking The Fault in Our Stars, I took a hiatus from John Green but then read his other books in quick succession. None were as good as TFIOS, but all were enjoyable. And I kept wishing books like this existed when I was growing up. I also found mention of A.S. King’s Reality Boy on a book blog, and immediately downloaded it to listen to on my commute. Even though it’s YA, it was amazing. So, so good.

At some point, I will review some of my other recent reads, but I will quickly say this: read the Veronica Mars novel after you watch the movie, and prepare to have your socks knocked off!

Right now, I’m reading The Goldfinch, which is really good (and sad!) but very dense and it’s going to take me a while to finish. So in addition to this lunchtime read, I want to add something lighter to bedtime reading. Oh, and audiobooks. I need suggestions as everything I want to listen to is already checked out from the library.

What’s the best thing you’ve read lately? Is the rest of the Divergent series worth reading? Because let’s be real, it’s no Hunger Games!