Dear Mr. Hemingway Logo

read what you love • love what you read

Audio Books Worth Your Hours

Audiobooks Worth Your Hours collage

Part 2

Tales From An Audio Book Junkie

June 12, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I have written to you about my love of audiobooks before. In my days, they were actually referred to as “books on tape”. I still catch myself saying that from time to time…especially when my kids look at me like I am speaking a foreign language. Anyway, do you know how many times I have fallen asleep listening to your book, The Old Man and the Sea? Well, it feels like a thousand. As much as I adore that particular book of yours, it is my darling husband that plays it over and over again as he drifts off to sleep. Every now and then he throws on the audio version of your book, A Moveable Feast. I have no problem listening to that book over and over again. Falling asleep to your words from this story ensures my dreams will be filled with Parisian streets, salty oysters, and crisp white wine. Anyway, I digress. Today I am sharing some books that I found to be quite entertaining on audio. A little bit of romance, friendship, mystery, memoir, and time travel is coming your way today. Grab your headphones and hit play! Let the listening begin!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. If you are looking for a way to listen to your books while supporting ANY participating local bookstore, check out Libro.FM. Feel free you use my REFERRAL LINK to get your first month free. Any member can share their referral code. Click on the book pics below to take you directly to their info page.

Abby Jimenez’s book, The Friend Zone, came out last year, and I JUST recently listened to it. I am actually pumped that I was was fashionably late to this fabulous book party. This book was the perfect feel good, pick me up during this uncertain time. Not only did I get to spend the night in bed reading this warm and fuzzy tale, I acquired a new book boyfriend who goes by the name of Josh. Married or not, you can never have too many book boyfriends 😂😂😂. Also, if you end up liking this book, the sequel just came out. It’s called The Happily Ever Playlist.

9 hours 32 minutes

Hachette Audio

Forever Publishing

Synopsis:

“Kristen Peterson doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.”

⁣WOW! I’m embarrassed to say that I did not know who Mikel Jollett was or for that matter, who his band, The Airborne Toxic Event was. Well, after listening to his brand new memoir, Hollywood Park I have a pretty good sense of who this writer and musician is! Mikel Jollett narrates his profound journey from his early childhood In the 70’s to present day with an honesty that spares no details! From his early days living in a cult with his family to his unsettled adolescence and young adulthood, Jollett’s journey was rocky to say the very least. He effortlessly brings his readers into his world of family love, loyalty and survival by exploring the intimate most details from his relationship with his parents and older brother. His writing is stunning and his story is absolutely unforgettable. His emotional memoir will no doubt stir your soul and fill your heart with love. ⁣Bonus……Jollett narrates his audio book.

11 hours 44 minutes

Macmillan Audio

Celadon Books

Synopsis:

“So begins Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic.

In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.”

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is absolutely wonderful on audio. Who wouldn’t want to attend a wedding with friends and family on a small Irish island? The privacy from the outside world, the weekend escape from everyday life, one big hurrah with friends and family to tide you over until someone else’s big day. Sounds like the perfect weekend. The narrators’ Irish accents and the icy cold ocean air will make you feel like you are actually on this Emerald Island. There is a creepy vibe while the bride and groom and all their guests get ready for the ceremony. Family drama and dark secrets from their pasts give this wedding day a very unsettling vibe. Throw in some blood and a dead body and you have one heck of celebration. Foley’s slow burn mystery is an atmospheric treat.

9 hours 53 minutes

Harper Audio

William Morrow

Synopsis:

“The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?”

When I think about time travel, my mind instantly goes to The Magic Treehouse or Outlander. In Margarita Montimore’s new book, Oona Lockhart travels to a different time in her life every New Year’s Eve for one year. Can you even imagine revisiting yourself in the past or for that matter, meeting yourself in the future? If given the chance, would you alter your past knowing that in turn, it could change the future? Montimore offers her readers this, and so much more in her unique tale. Oona Out of Order definitely made me think. Between the pages of this compelling read are funny and light hearted moments coupled with self reflection and a giant splash of pop culture (80s and 90s anyone?). Do not think too deeply about the ins and outs of time travel. Simply enjoy Oona’s wild ride!

11 hours 30 minutes

Macmillan Audio

Flatiron Books

Synopsis:

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever-changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.”

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon is an all-star treat. Here is my favorite quote….“If sexy and adorable had a baby together, the result would be Daniel Collins.” SOLD! Farrah’s book is filled with sass, class, and a whole lot of smarts… did I mention Daniel Collins??? Women lifting each other up, staying true to yourself, and a tall, dark and handsome man lingering in the background….sign yourself up for this one. Such a perfect summertime listen.

9 hours 41 minutes

Forever

Hachette Audio

Synopsis:

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men and no dating.

For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy Daniel Collins at work.What are the chances?But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?

Listen Up

Kelly with her chicken and the book "You're Not Listening"

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy (Celadon)

February 18, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Earlier this month, I led a discussion group on Instagram with my friend Sue on Kate Murphy’s new book, You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters. As promised, I am sharing some of the conversations we had on this extremely relevant book and URGING you to read it. Our discussion covered some of the highlights in the book but certainly did not cover everything. Let’s jump right in!

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel here, I am going to share with you the publisher’s synopsis.

“Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. A listener by trade, New York Times contributor Kate Murphy wanted to know how we got here.

In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend. She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there (including a CIA agent, focus group moderator, bartender, radio producer, and top furniture salesman). Equal parts cultural observation, scientific exploration, and rousing call to action that’s full of practical advice, You’re Not Listening is to listening what Susan Cain’s Quiet was to introversion. It’s time to stop talking and start listening.”

I can’t reiterate enough the importance of this book. Murphy says, “You learn when you listen.” Yes, this is true in class or with an audio book, but are we really learning about one another in our conversations? How much can we learn from a text, email or social media account? True listening occurs, face to face…..the old fashioned way. Back in the day (not that long ago), we hung out with our friends/family on the front porch, over long Sunday dinners and even at more frequent social gatherings. We talked, we connected, we actually listened to one another and knew one another. I am old enough to remember those days. Long phone calls from my land line (I still do that….EVERYONE KNOWS THAT I LOVE LONG PHONE CALLS), car rides that included conversations (is that possible?), and lastly… LESS DISTRACTIONS. There is no doubt that technology plays a huge role in this drama. But is it all technology’s fault???

First of all, technology is a double edged sword. I think everyone agrees on this. It distracts us, distorts reality and takes away from meaningful conversations. It also informs us, connects us to friends and family far away and makes things in our lives so much easier. And guess what…… it is here to stay. Because of this, we need to figure out a way to cohabitate together. I sometimes think (others agreed as well) it is more obvious to those of us that have lived with it and without its extreme presence, to see the huge impact this technological era has made. Whether I am wrong in my assumption or not, listen to what this author is saying. Murphy talks about the increase in loneliness, depression, and even suicide (up 30% since 1999). Generation Z (our kids) are the first generation to be truly raised on “screens”. iPads and iPhones were not out right when I had my boys so I lucked out with not having the option to hand them one of those devices from the start. However, it is a big part of their lives now, even if I do not always like it. EVERYTHING is done via text, email, google calendars, etc. Social media is everywhere as well, no matter how hard you try to keep your kids off of it. Where I do see kids/teens using these platforms appropriately, I also see a lot of negativity a damaging behavior. Murphy talks about how loneliness and depression is high among 8th graders. I can totally see how this is possible (having an 8th grader myself). If your head is buried in a phone or on a device, you are not making meaningful connections. You are isolating yourself from human contact. I try so hard to model and teach my boys the importance of friendships and relationships. You need to put work into them to keep them strong. Go bowling, bike riding, skiing, shoot some hoops, etc. Do activities that help connect people. Good old fashioned fun works (easier said than done). I think we all agreed in the discussion that finding a balance is a real struggle. Like many, I do not want to give up the beauty of technology. It’s fun, it’s convenient and it is part of life. I do continue to work on boundaries and the personal impact it has on me, my family and the relationships we have. Sifting out only what serves me in a positive way is my goal. Not only is this an evolving skill, but it will be different for everyone!

We can’t blame technology for everything though. Another topic discussed by Murphy is our eagerness to get to know new people, a stranger if you will. Our heads are constantly down, eye contact is a lost skill and our desire to really get to know other people is lacking. Why? Murphy talks about how when we meet new people, it is common to mentally put someone in a category….almost prejudging. Whether it’s by skin color, activity, sexual preference, homeless, billionaire….you get my drift. By doing this, we are “selectively “ listening to what our preconceived notions are. I hate that this is true. Whether we are the ones prejudging or receiving the prejudgment, it doesn’t feel very great! Everyone has a story to tell and everyone’s story is NEVER what we presume. “You can’t judge a book by its cover” will always be true!

Busy lives have taken over. Overbooking ourselves, having kids with unbelievable schedules, work lives being our only lives…. who has time to connect with friends and family? Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist said, “a primary way we maintain friendships is through “everyday talk”. This seems so obvious, but difficult to achieve. During our instagram discussion, many who have kids agreed that their social lives were more abundant when their children were younger. They had time for more playdates and adult time. They claimed that as their children got older and had more school/sport activities, their friendships took a back seat and free time to spend with friends became more of a luxury. Sadly, some relationships fizzled due to lack of engagement 😢. Whether you have kids or not, there is no arguing that the pace of life is too FAST.

One part of Murphy’s book that the discussion group found particularly interesting talked about how GOSSIP has a positive social function and makes up “60%” of adult conversations 😯😯🤔🤔! Murphy mentions how gossip helps us decide who is trustworthy. “Listening to gossip contributes to our development as ethical, moral members of society”. If you really stop to think about this, it makes sense. Think about how hard you listen and absorb information from another person when they are “talking” about another person of interest. You can use this information many ways. You can hear what is being said to learn information about another person (true/untrue) or understand the person who is talking (hmmmm). Nevertheless, pay attention to what is being said. Do you see this percentage accurately reflected in your own conversations?

There will never be a “lastly” to this post, because in all honesty, we can talk about it all day. However…Lastly, I was fascinated by Murphy’s information regarding confident people and listening to opposing views. Whether we express them or not, most of us have an opinion or a view on something in life. From book club, to the political arena, to a conversation with a spouse, conversing with someone who has an opposing view happens ALL the time. In Murphy’s book, a Harvard law professor’s students said “they worry that if they really pay attention or really understand the other side’s point of view, they will lose sight of what matters to them”. What I personally found telling was the nationwide survey of college and university students conducted by the Brookings Institution. Listen to how alarming this is. Student protestors often times feel “unsafe” when listening to an opposing view. “Fifty-one percent think it is “acceptable” to shout down a speaker with whom they disagreed and a disturbing 20 percent supported violence to prevent a speaker from delivering an address.” Wow! Murphy said, “we only become secure in our convictions by allowing them to be challenged. Confident people don’t get riled by opinions different from their own, nor do they spew bile online by way of refutation.” Think about all of the online debates, etc. People who lack confidence can seek their own point of view and ignore what they don’t want to hear online. An easy way out. This chapter in Murphy’s book also draws attention to the political world. Is anyone really listening to one another? Think of all the chaos our world has faced through the decades, centuries. Have you ever listened closely to a presidential debate? Does any of this ring true? Yup….it sure does. It is kind of scary at the end of the day. If you “feel” strongly about something, but put up a defense when challenged, something is not lining up correctly. Becoming a better listener will help people stay informed so they can express their own opinions with confidence. I am pretty sure the people running our world need to take a page from this chapter…..don’t you think?

Well readers….I hope you enjoyed that chaotic summary of our Instagram discussion. I hope it prompts you to read this book and have your own book club discussions. Everyone wants to be heard. Let’s start Listening!

All my best to you Mr. H.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. “Listening is essential to being funny. A vast body of evidence indicates humor is an asset in forming and maintaining relationships both professionally and personally”. The friends that make you laugh…………are listening ❤️❤️

Click here to purchase You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

Discussion Read~Instagram

Discussion Read Graphic for Book You're Not Listening

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters (Celadon Books)

By Kate Murphy

January 13, 2020

Dear Book Lovers,

LISTEN UP!!!!! I want to invite you over to my Instagram page to join in on what is going to be a wonderful discussion. On February 6th, my book-loving friend from Colorado (Sue) and I are Co-Hosting a discussion read over on Instagram. The book we will be conversing about is Kate Murphy’s book, You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters.

Here is the synopsis from the publisher: “Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. A listener by trade, New York Times contributor Kate Murphy wanted to know how we got here.

In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend. She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there (including a CIA agent, focus group moderator, bartender, radio producer, and top furniture salesman). Equal parts cultural observation, scientific exploration, and rousing call to action that’s full of practical advice, You’re Not Listening is to listening what Susan Cain’s Quiet was to introversion. It’s time to stop talking and start listening.”

Why Instagram??? I have chosen this platform for a group discussion because it accommodates a large number of people and is easy and quick to comment on anytime of day/night. If you are not on Instagram, you do not need to post anything on your account to join in on the conversation. The best example I can share is my mom. My mom has no desire to be on social media. She did however make a private account to follow me and a few others and have access to make and read comments. ❤️❤️❤️. Anyway, no pressure. Just wanted to share. I will have a conversation on Facebook as well on February 6th. Because this is Co-hosted, it will not have the full conversation. No social media at all………No Problem. I will post the highlights of the conversation on the blog after February 6th.

I hope to HEAR from you on February 6th.

All the Best,

Kelly

P.S. Click here to reach my Instagram post announcing the group read.

Click here to purchase Kate Murphy’s book

The Best Books of 2019!!!

Collage for Best Books of 2019

December 31, 2019

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Can you believe that today is the last day of 2019? The last day of this DECADE???? This year has turned out some tremendous reads. Today I am sharing my top nine reads of 2019. Whether I was excited, crying, horrified, or genuinely scared, these nine books delivered the feels!!!! My reading motto is and always will be READ WHAT YOU LOVE~LOVE WHAT YOU READ! If you follow this way of thinking…your reading life will be stellar! So without further ado…My top nine of 2019 (in no particular order)!

1. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (Doubleday)~This is the ultimate family drama/saga. It stole my heart ❤️❤️❤️!!

2. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (Gallery Books)~Smart homes, technology and keyholes officially terrify me 😱.

3. The Testaments by Margaret Attwood (Doubleday)~This book was absolutely BRILLIANT! Click here for my blog post!

4. The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves (St. Martin’s Press)~I ran out of tissues reading this love story. My heart melted…….is a good way!!! Click here to read my blog post.

5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books)~This book absolutely lived up to the hype. Clever, sharp and impossible to put down.

6. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)~ Whitehead does a fantastic job depicting the south in the early 1960s while getting his point across without overly graphic descriptions of the unimaginable.

7. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press)~ A poetic, thought provoking and stunning read.

8. Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison (Harlequin)~ An elite all girl boarding school, a murder and a couple of mean girls……..this was great!

9. If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)~. This South African story tugged at my heart strings. A truly beautiful story! Click here to read my blog post.

Well Mr. H…………..That is a wrap! Cheers to another decade of reading!!!!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. Did you know that the most read book in the world is The Bible and according to PBS “The Great American Read”, Harper Lee’s To Kill a MockingBird is America’s most loved novel.

Join my mailing list!

and never miss a blog post