Tossing and Turning? Try an Audiobook!

I think we all have nights when sleep eludes us. Our brains start whirling and it’s hard to quiet our thoughts enough to fall asleep. Some people take a pill. I take a book, an audiobook, that is.

I have found that listening to audiobooks in bed at night is the best way to redirect my thoughts away from all the stuff that’s keeping me awake. I discovered this by accident when my children were young and would wake up from a nightmare. They would inevitably be too keyed up to fall back to sleep, and I would stay up with them, usually telling them a story to get their mind off the bad dream until they could drift back off to sleep.

Years later, I had trouble sleeping myself and decided to adapt the storytelling method that had worked with my kids. I started listening to audiobooks at bedtime. What a help they were! I would inevitably fall asleep faster with the audiobook than without, and I found a way to squeeze a little extra “reading” time in!

Now, not all audiobooks are suitable for relaxing bedtime listening. A gruesome crime novel or horror story kind of defeats the purpose – I reserve grittier fare for print reading. Likewise, I find most mysteries require too much attention to detail, so are not the best for my “bedtime stories”. Romance, humor, fantasy, and classics have become my nighttime listening go-tos.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to give my insomnia-cure a try (great for daytime listening, too!):

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, read by Dan O’Grady. A perfect match of book and narrator, this quirky Aussie love story is a delight.

The Martian by Andy Weir, read by R.C. Bray. Terrific narration by Bray gets character Mark Watney’s nerdy genius and dry humor just right.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman, read by George Newbern. You’ll quickly embrace the prickly Ove, and the neighbors who invade his formerly well-ordered life.

The Harry Potter audiobooks by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale is a perfect example of how the right narrator can elevate even the best books. He’s won many awards for his narration of the Harry Potter series, and all the accolades are deserved.

The His Dark Materials audiobooks by Philip Pullman, performed by a full cast. Another series that absolutely blooms to life in audio, with this full cast performance pulled together by Pullman’s narration. It’s stunning.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Rob Inglis. Even if you’ve read the book, you’ll get something new out of the audiobook. If you like Inglis’s narration of The Hobbit, you can listen to him read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.

The Outlander audiobooks by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter. Again, even if you’ve read the Outlander series before, you will find new things to love about it in Davina Porter’s skilled narration. And it’s nice to hear all the Gaelic words pronounced correctly!

Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author. This book is, quite frankly, hysterical, and Tina Fey’s narration will have you chuckling into your pillow.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons. Sure, it’s the story of a middle-aged man’s unhealthy obsession with a teenager, but the prose is practically poetry and Jeremy Iron’s narration is mesmerizing.

What is the Next Book in This Series?

whats-nextIt is extremely frustrating to read a book only to discover it is part of a series, and there is no clear list of reading order. While some series are loosely tied together and allow for skipping around and reading out of order, others can only be fully enjoyed when read in order. To help ease your frustration, I am going to share the tools that I use to help determine the correct reading order. There are several routes to find the answer to this question, some are simple and easy, others require a little work.

The first way to find the answer of reading order is to find the author’s website. Many internet savvy authors, or their publishers, maintain websites with series listings in order and, in the case of multiple series, the suggested reading order for everything. Not all authors do this, but some have very helpful lists to help out their readers. Many include printable lists so you can easily keep track of titles you have read and what you should read next.

Some examples of authors that offer comprehensive lists or tools on their websites to find the reading order include Nora Roberts, Gail Carriger, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, and many more. I highly suggest checking with the author’s website first before branching out and trying other avenues, because who better to explain the best reading order than the person that wrote them?

goodrdsIf the author fails you, do not lose heart! My second choice for series order, and further reading suggestions, is Goodreads. If you search for a book title, Goodreads will give you a wonderful amount of information. On the book’s page you can follow links to the author page or a list of book in that series (both published and sometimes books that have not been released yet) in order. The bonus is you get suggestions for books that might appeal to you because some authors list what they are currently reading or their own recommendations. For instance, on the author page for one of my current favorites, Maria V. Snyder, you can see her books listed by series, in order, and what she is currently reading.

There are also a few websites dedicated to helping readers find the next book in a series, or the complete reading order of any given series.  One website that I often use is well titled as: Book Series in Order which you can search by author or character name.  Order of Books is a second site that can help you find the reading order of different authors and series. This site allows you to search by author or main character. If you are looking specifically for children’s series check out Juvenile Series and Sequels, and if you need young adult series listings I would suggest using Series and Sequels. whats-next-in-series1

If  you still are not sure about the series order of the books you are reading or want to read, please stop in and visit our Welcome Desk or give  the library a call. We are here to help.

A Beautiful Ending To A Wonderful Romantic Series

Back in August 2016, I introduced you to a new series, Wild Aces, by Chanel Cleeton.   on-broken-wingsYou can read about it here.  Available now is the third and final book in the series, On Broken Wings.   Here’s the official summary:

A year after losing her husband, Joker, the squadron commander of the Wild Aces, Dani Peterson gets an offer from his best friend, Alex “Easy” Rogers, to help fix up her house. Dani accepts, and their friendship grows—along with an undeniable attraction.

Racked by guilt for loving his best friend’s widow, Easy’s caught between what he wants and can’t have. Until one night everything changes, and the woman who’s always held his heart ends up in his arms. Yet as Easy leaves for his next deployment, he and Dani are torn between their feelings and their loyalty to Joker’s memory.

But when Dani discovers something that sends them both into a spin, the conflicted lovers must overcome the past to navigate a future together…

I can’t remember when I have ever been so moved by a fictional book.  When I finished reading it, I just sat in my chair stunned, only able to think “wow”.  The three books in the series can stand on their own, but On Broken Wings ties all the books together with a genuinely authentic military love story full of emotion, humor, love, passion, heartache and triumph.

What a way to end a series.  This book was completely captivating and everything a romance should be.

Hot New Contemporary Romance Series

heart-2I’ve been reading contemporary romance books for a very long time.  It’s getting harder to find a book that grabs my attention and captures it until the end of the book. After awhile, the plots seem to be so similar and the endings predictable.  After starting three books and returning them to the library after just two chapters, I was thrilled to find a book that held my interest all the way to the end!  Author Tessa Bailey has come up with a fresh new series, Romancing the Clarksons, about four siblings coming to terms with the death of their mother.

tooThe first book in the series is Too Hot to Handle.
The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn’t seen in years. When rescue shows up—six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle—Rita’s pretty certain she’s gone from the frying pan right into the fire . . .

Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he’s about to be sorely tempted. There’s something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn’t just for tonight—he’s forever.

The author managed to surprise me with intricate story telling and dramatic turns of events – a complex story hidden beneath excellent writing, with an intriguing cast of characters.  This dysfunctional cast of four siblings literally leads you on a journey of anguish, vulnerability, sorrow, humor and passion.  This is a book full of life and passion!

I will admit that parts of Too Hot to Handle were, well, too hot for me!  There are several explicit sex scenes throughout the book, but not enough for me to stop reading it.  Whatever your comfort level is, the book is worth reading to the end.  Just skip what is uncomfortable for you!

too-wildBook two in the series is Too Wild to Tame – due out January 31, 2017.  Hired to work for the country’s most powerful senator, Aaron Clarkson, known for his prowess in the bedroom, finds it hard to not mix business with pleasure when he meets the senator’s daughter, the black sheep of her conservative family who is wild, gorgeous and 100 percent trouble.

too-hardBook three in the series is Too Hard to Forget – due out April 25, 2017.  Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he’s been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy’s determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she’ll finally be able to move on.

In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist.

highres-MJB_5140.jpgAuthor Tessa Bailey – Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

 She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of nine years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

Enjoyable Reads

Life has a way of getting in the way, and I’ve had to cut back on my reading.  I used to finish a book even if I didn’t like it.  But now, if it doesn’t draw me in after the first two chapters, it goes back to the library.  It’s been awhile since I’ve finished a book.  But, finally, I actually finished two in a row!  Not only finished, but I actually finished each one in a day!  On two beautiful Sunday afternoons, I sat and read, and read, and read.  It was wonderful!

robbThe first one was J.D. Robb’s Apprentice in DeathIf you’ve been a fan of Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, you probably noticed that her last several books were, well……different.  Some say she has a ghost writer (which she vehemently denies), others say writer’s block, and others say she’s just spreading her wings and trying something new.  Apprentice in Death is more in line with her earlier writings and I was hooked in the first chapter.  There is a subtle difference.  In the earlier In Death books, Ms. Robb spent a lot of time writing about the actual killings in very graphic detail.  In Apprentice, she spends her time inside the characters’ heads and their lives.   I love how Roarke and Eve have ‘grown up’.  There is a quiet maturity about them, but they still sizzle and crackle.  All the supporting characters are back and a few new ones have been introduced, giving hope that future books will be as entertaining as this.  This is my favorite book of the In Death series.

Summary

“The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be. Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD, but never one like this. After reviewing security videos, it becomes clear that the victims were killed by a sniper firing a tactical laser rifle, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the locations where the shooter could have set up seem endless, the list of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer. Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources–and genius–at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two–one older,one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil.”

 

alwaysThe second book I finished was Always A Cowboy (The Carsons of Mustang Creek) by Linda Lael Miller.  This is book two of a trilogy.  Ms. Miller has been writing about cowboys for a very long time.  You think she couldn’t possibly write something new and different, but she proves over and over that she can!  Again, I was hooked in the first chapter.  This is a gentle romance with just the right amount of spice and it gives us a good look into modern life in the American West.  Ms. Miller has a way of making her characters come to life and the settings are rich with details.  The story moves along quickly and there is an eclectic assortment of secondary characters that adds a richness to the story.

This book has an added bonus.  At the end of the book, Ms. Miller wrote a very personal essay giving us a glimpse into her life.  Ms. Miller is one of those authors who shares a lot about herself.  She has a wonderful website with news, a blog, and contests.  Check it out here.

Summary

Drake Carson is the quintessential cowboy. In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of this life, its pleasures and heartbreaks. Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down. When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but he can’t deny the longing—and the challenge—she stirs in him.

Luce Hale is researching how wild horses interact with ranch animals—and with ranchers. The Carson matriarch invites her to stay with the family, which guarantees frequent encounters with Drake, her ruggedly handsome and decidedly unwelcoming son. Luce and Drake are at odds from the very beginning, especially when it comes to the rogue stallion who’s stealing the ranch mares. But when Drake believes Luce is in danger, that changes everything—for both of them.

rancherBook one in this trilogy is Once A Rancher.  It too, was an outstanding read.  “ Offering a troubled boy a job on the ranch he shares with his younger siblings, Wyoming businessman Slater Carson falls for the youth’s beautiful guardian, Grace, a resort manager whose busy life is threatened by dangers from her past.”