Category Archives: Audiobooks

Tamar by Mal Peet

Image result for tamar book coverTamar by Mal Peet is a YA novel set in the Netherlands during WWII, and tells the story of two young Dutch men, Tamar and Dart,  who are members of the British Secret Service, sent to the Netherlands to assist the Dutch Resistance.  The narrative alternates between a female narrator in current day Britain, the granddaughter of one of the young soldiers seeking information about her now-deceased grandfather, and a male voice telling the war story in the 1940s.  Both voices are spectacular, and their two stories are gripping in their own way.  I especially enjoyed the tale of the resistance fighters, the reality of the conditions they find themselves in, and the tragic love triangle in which they become embroiled.  This audiobook was excellent, and I’m sure it is also an excellent read. (Submitted by Ginny).

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Image result for faithful book cover alice hoffmanFaithful is the tale of Shelby, a teenager who survives a horrific car accident that leaves her best friend in a coma and Shelby with depression, survivor’s guilt, and PTSD. Her promising young life takes an abrupt swerve into the dark and unknown, and we follow Shelby along into adulthood.

It’s a simple story, really, and driven mostly by the mere passing of Shelby’s years. But it’s beautiful. I said “tale” earlier, because it’s not just a story about a woman, it’s a tale of redemption, of forgiveness, of romance and of mothers and daughters. Just a whisper around the edges of a fairy tale element – some symbolism, for those on the lookout for that sort of thing, and slow, gradual progress from unhappy to happy.

For those who like sad but happy books, rescuing stray dogs, complicated female characters, and Chinese takeout. I loved it. (Submitted by Veronica).

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Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Image result for help for the haunted book coverThis winter I read a different kind of Christmas story: Help for the Haunted by John Searles. The book follows the young, virtuous and strident Sylvie, who has recently lost her infamous ghost-hunting parents in a mysterious incident just before Christmas. Sylvie witnessed their murders, but wonders if perhaps the wrong man has been convicted for the crime.  Avoiding the eye of her emotionally stunted and manipulative older sister, Sylvie must endure the horrors of her teenage years with no parents, as well as attempt to piece together the truth of who they were and what happened to them in a twisted, taciturn series of events that has stuck with me. Though I initially was attracted to the book for its classification as a horror novel (it isn’t scary, by the way!), I couldn’t put it down for the truly enthralling mystery and unusual subject matter. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a darker (slightly paranormal) mystery. (Submitted by Mandi).

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The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood

Image result for book that matters most book coverAva is a middle-aged woman whose content, suburban life has quietly come apart. Her husband has left her for another woman; she suspects her troubled daughter Maggie is making poor decisions while studying in Florence; and her son is far away in Africa. When Ava’s best friend Cate convinces her to join the library’s book club, Ava is dubious about how much it will help. Of course, the power of books is not to be underestimated, especially when the book club’s yearly theme is revealed: each month, a member will choose the book that mattered most to him/her in their life.

Not just a comforting book about books; this book has surprising depth. The characters are flawed and more human than I expected, and there were quite a few layers to the plot. I especially liked the different perspectives of Ava and Maggie. The loose ends were all tied up a bit too neatly and prettily (and improbably, in a few cases) but that’s what makes a comforting read comforting. A totally enjoyable read, perfect for a snowy, relaxing day off! (Submitted by Veronica).

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Shelter by Jung Yun

Image result for shelter by jung yun cover imageShelter by Jung Yun is an intense and emotionally charged read that will grip the reader from start to finish. The story revolves around a young man dealing with the fallout of a home invasion attack on his parents. Intricately layered, dark and disturbing, and powerfully gripping, I could relate to the main character’s struggle to balance his family obligations with his feelings of guilt. (Submitted by Alan).

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Image result for hillbilly elegyHillbilly Elegy offers a fascinating look into the lives of white rural Americans. Author J.D. Vance uses his own personal experiences to describe and illuminate current social issues among working-class Americans. It is a quick, engrossing read, especially in light of the current political situation in the United States. I would recommend this book for anyone wanting to get an insight into the lives and hopes and dreams of those who feel so let down by their failure to achieve the “American Dream.” (Submitted by Claire).

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Furiously Happy: a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson

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I listened to this book as an audiobook. The subtitle describes the book perfectly – it is both very funny and very sad. Lawson suffers from depression and various other mental and physical issues. The title comes from her deciding to be “furiously happy” and live life to the fullest during the times when she’s able. I found the funny and horrible to be mixed very well–a serious chapter about depression followed by something bizarre about taxidermy raccoons.

Lawson isn’t for everyone; she has a very odd sense of humour and a rather foul mouth and is very frank about depression. But if you enjoy quirky humour and live with depression yourself or in a loved one, this is a great listen. Lawson is a true advocate for mental illness and she provides a very real look at depression – I was particularly interested in her description of how people with mental illness just don’t have the same amount of energy as “normal” people (she calls it the “spoon theory”) and how it is not treated like a disease–sufferers are told to get over it or just be happy while we would never say such things to people with physical ailments.  I laughed a lot and I really admire her philosophy of being furiously happy, I plan to try it myself! (Submitted by Gayle).

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