Tag Archives: audiobook

2 A.M. in Little America

Thoughts by Ken Kalfus, Highbridge 2022, 256 pages/ 6 hours 25 minutes, narrated by BJ Harrison

Challenge: for TOB2023, #WiaN2023 – Category punctuation

Genre/Theme: Speculative Fiction

Type/Source: audiobook / Audible

What It’s About: Ron Patterson is American but America is no longer a safe place to live. He is a migrant worker, trying to survive, trying to find a country who will allow him to live within its borders. Americans are often not welcome.

Thoughts: When I said Babel was “ambitious, carefully crafted, clever work”, I could say the same of this; much slighter in size but equally thoughtful of its elements and construction. However, this one needs more discussion and clarification to explain to me what Kalfus was trying to do! or rather, why he chose what he did to tell this story.

Ron comes across as a good guy, trying to keep his head done, to go along to get along and be left alone. But he suffers from faceblindness — usually or only memorably when applied to women. Other reviews state this to be on purpose; to show his confusion and wish that he could go home to America/motherland aka MOTHER. Yet others call this blatant disregard and disrespect for women. I can’t figure out where I stand on trying to understand that dichotomy. It is suggested that the confusion of being a migrant and not having personal identity – to be always grouped into that “MIGRANT = unwanted” category was what Kalfus was attempting to show. Yea, I dunno.

What would happen if America descended into civil war and became a violent unruly unsafe scary place to live? How would the world treat Americans?

This book had violence and many unnamed elements – some places were described but never identified. But Target the retailer and McDonalds, and Skittles even, were named as super-American things of the past. (One review stated that Target is a supporter of the publisher and this was total name placement for marketing purposes! That makes me laugh but I don’t not doubt it!!)

Points in its favor was that I kept listening, I was interested and curious and gave enjoyable time to the THINKING-ABOUT – rather than being frustrated. Weird when that happens, right? Why do some unknowns frustrate and vagueness/confusion in other situations be of intrigue? #shrug

Rating: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.



Thoughts by R.F.Kuang, Harper Audio 2022, 545 pages/ 21 hours 46 minutes, narrated by Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Billie Fulford-Brown – fabulous!

Challenge: TOB2023, #ReadICT: FULL TITLE: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution — one that would be an excellent fulfillment to the long title category, but also works for the Secret Society category…

Genre/Theme: Historical Fantasy

Type/Source: audiobook / Audible

What It’s About: A young Chinese orphan boy is taken from Canton and becomes the ward of a noted Oxford professor of languages at the revered Translation department aka Babel. Mayhem ensues. OK, not really — Well, it takes a few years; eventually, young Robin begins his studies in the heralded translation school and makes friends, finds truths, and learns the ways of the world. This book is dense, transportative [boo – I’m being warned that this isn’t actually a word but I say it IS], linguistically-entrancing, at times comic and at times a teensy-weensy melodramatic. But hey! it is Victorian England. I’m keeping transportative. AND melodramatic. It works.

“This is how colonialism works. It convinces us that the fallout from resistance is entirely our fault, that the immoral choice is resistance itself rather than the circumstances that demanded it.”

Thoughts: This is an ambitious, carefully crafted, clever work of Historical Fantasy – showing how colonial capitalism is oppressive, but also exploring the concepts of language itself from beginning to its ever-always updating-changing & morphing into a slippery power struggle for those who attempt to own it all.

Word nerds should love it. I am finding my appreciation for it growing as I attempt to write this and yet… it does has its flaws. It is long. I grew tiresome of the main character’s inner doubts and confusion that contrasts with his daring-do only a page or minute before. Still, I never skipped! (I may have zoned out or paid more attention to traffic in a necessary safety moment or two since I was audio-driving most of it.)

“How strange,’ said Ramy. ‘To love the stuff and the language, but to hate the country.’

‘Not as odd as you’d think,’ said Victoire. ‘There are people, after all, and then there are things.”

But I loved the ending. I loved that this ends with the struggle continuing! OF COURSE! Being set in the 1830s, addressing most of the world’s ills, and knowing history since,…. of course the struggle continues. Shall we suspect a setup for a sequel? One I just might read. If you notice that I don’t even mention the fantasy portion [silver bars magically powered by words], it was not a heavy feature but a significant metaphor perhaps. Am I right or wrong to consider it as such? Don’t know. I’ll just say it worked for me and it didn’t distract nor take up all the oxygen in the book.

Rating: Four and a half slices of pie.

“something something something…. caught with his thumb in a pie… something something”

HEY. I was driving! I can’t capture quotes when I’m driving! audible should make this easier… it shouldn’t be this hard to capture a note and have it become a goodreads update somehow…

I learned about the word STRIKE. I learned about the word NICE. I learned and geeked out on a lot of the language-y things. And the audio had footnotes in a different WONDERFUL voice offering the updates/history/pronunciation/etc. The main narrator was AMAZING, too. Well done. I would, if I had had the time to make this a project, done the eBook with audio to get the full of everything.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Club Dumas

Thoughts by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Phoenix Books 2009 (orig 1993), 6 hours 2 minutes

Translated from Spanish by Sonia Soto, Narrated by David Warner

Challenge: none
Genre: Literary Thriller
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  A friend recommended at just the right time.

MOTIVATION for READING:  As I explained right above this, I have a friend – one of those amazing friends who has that crazy skill to make everything you say or do to be acknowledged as just the right thing. Too good for my ego?! She’s one of those people who is uplifting to be around and talk with. So when she asked if I had read this one, I paid attention and almost immediately raced its place up my tbr to number one spot. Yea, I think I did do just that when I realized, “hey, I am not listening to an audiobook right now and I need to be listening to an audiobook and the ones I got, aren’t inspiring me.”  Into my ears, it went.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A mercenary book dealer is hired to find authenticity on a few rare manuscripts and discovers that the two tasks are related. Along the way, he meets interesting characters that resemble characters in famous stories – and are even named as famous characters in celebrated tales and behave likewise! One intertwined story line is about a chapter in Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. The other book is a possible survivor of a trio of banned books that commune with the devil. Maybe Dumas communed with the Devil?

Our protagonist is named Lucas Corso. Our narrator also tends to break the third veil [upon researching if I had this right, I did not. It’s the THIRD WALL] or whatever it is called when the narrator talks to the reader.  [I could totally be misremembering.*] Corso meets one character who remains an enigma still.**

THOUGHTS: It was good. It was fun! It’s a literary literary thriller!! There are terrific quotes to start each chapter. There are music interludes for the audio version. I just found out while prepping this post that the book is on the 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die. LOVE when this happens without me orchestrating it.


RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. I rarely catch or note if I do, when pie is mentioned in an audiobook. There might have been a tart…

I would be very pleased if Audible and Goodreads would collab and capture notes...


*  Footnote #1 – It was an audiobook. I am usually yelling at Esther to stop eating acorns or goose poop or I am getting interrupted by my free walking app that tells me when I’m at half-mile + time per mile + calories burned. SHUT UP ALREADY. (I’ve since turned her off since she talks over my audiobooks. No more. Bitch.)

**   Footnote #2 – I had first thought that ‘the girl’ aka Irene Adler (ahem) was Corso’s daughter. I think we (readers) are supposed to imagine she is The Devil.

Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Thoughts  by Patricia Lockwood, Audible Studios 2017, 10 hours 12 minutes

Narrated by the author.

Challenge: TOB Nonfiction May
Genre: Memoir
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible

MOTIVATION for READING: I had heard this one was quite funny. I like funny.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Can I just say that this book is so much more than any synopsis can attempt to share? let’s see what the goodreads blurb has to say:

The childhood of Patricia Lockwood, the poet dubbed “The Smutty-Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas” by The New York Times, was unusual in many respects. There was the location: an impoverished, nuclear waste-riddled area of the American Midwest. There was her mother, a woman who speaks almost entirely in strange koans and warnings of impending danger. Above all, there was her gun-toting, guitar-riffing, frequently semi-naked father, who underwent a religious conversion on a submarine and discovered a loophole which saw him approved for the Catholic priesthood by the future Pope Benedict XVI – despite already having a wife and children.

When the expense of a medical procedure forces the 30-year-old Patricia to move back in with her parents, husband in tow, she must learn to live again with her family’s simmering madness, and to reckon with the dark side of a childhood spent in the bosom of the Catholic Church. Told with the comic sensibility of a brasher, bluer Waugh or Wodehouse, this is at the same time a lyrical and affecting story of how, having ventured into the underworld, we can emerge with our levity and our sense of justice intact.

Ok, maybe it does. Or maybe you have to READ THIS BOOK and then realize how much you really were forewarned but didn’t quite expect until after. Does that make any sense to anyone?

First, I admit that I was instantly struck with a “Yes-I-Want-To-Read-This-Please” thought when I saw she was from Kansas. I have a big soft spot in my heart for the state of Kansas.

Two, even though I’m not Catholic (I’m Lutheran by upbringing), most if not all of my friends growing up WERE Catholic. SO I *know* enough about that religion to have an understanding – especially in comparison to Lutheranism. Yea, whatever.

Third, I had to find out a few things that struck me odd about this blurb. Um, a priest who is ‘frequently semi-naked’? And… they let her (or disallowed – which could it be?) to put that in a book!? I’m still rather shocked. Did any of his parishioners READ this book!?  yikes.

WHAT’s GOOD: Remember when I said, “this book is so much more”? I fell into the author’s words like a feather into a down pillow. I agree very much with the bit in the blurb that describes this as “a lyrical and affecting story”.

This would be an interesting story to contrast with Educated, for father analysis.

What’s NOT so good:  My midwestern mild-mannered sensibilities were quite offended. No, not offended… What IS the word? I just can’t believe she put this stuff into words and published it! I am so much more private, I suppose. Yikes!!  It’s been enough time away that I can’t even remember the particulars but I remember the shock and awe.

Reminded me of the question in The Animators about using other people in our art.

And… I have to admit that I didn’t think this book was for me at the beginning. The author narrates and this can always be risky. It took me one or two hours to adjust to the tone and what I interpreted as snark in her voice.  But I’m glad I stuck with it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I love that the LOVE in this family is evident. They may not get along but they love fiercely anyway. That is my impression. What a contrast to Idaho, hmmm?

My favorite story – laugh out loud funny – was the one about Patricia and her mother checking into a Hilton Hotel and there was cum on the sheets. I kid you not. OMG.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

It is always tough to catch pie references while listening to an audiobook but I do have these notes to share:

Lots of pie. In the Intro, even. In Ch 2, she mentions working in a diner and the owner looks like he wants to smash pies into faces. Also, a mention that Mrs. Ford got eye surgery and can now read her pie recipes.




Copyright © 2007-2018. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Manhattan Beach

Thoughts  by Jennifer Egan, Simon & Schuster Audio 2017, 15 hours 16 minutes

Narrated by Heather Lind,‎ Vincent Piazza,‎ Norbert Leo Butz

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Historical Lit? Crime Thriller?
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: Free credit time and this was the one I wanted to read next. 

MOTIVATION for READING: I wasn’t as sold on Egan’s Pulitzer winner but this one sounded different in style and the story interested me.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Anna is a young girl when she meets an associate of her father’s. Eddie is the father and Dexter Styles is his employer. Destiny brings Styles  back a few years later as we follow Anna asserting her rights to be a female diver at the Navy Yard and we learn of her father’s disappearance. Does Dexter know what happened to Eddie? Maybe, maybe not.

WHAT’s GOOD: Anna is a great character and I was rooting for her all the way.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Egan as an author intrigues me. She knows her craft. I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook very much. Well done, all the way around.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. LOTS of pie mentions in this one.




Copyright © 2007-2018. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Updated to add links to the TOB:




Thoughts  by Jesmyn Ward, Simon Schuster Audio 2017, 8 hours 22 minutes

Narrated by Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chris Chalk, Rutina Wesley – RECOMMENDED

Challenge: Tournament of Book 2018
Genre: Southern Lit, Magic Realism
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: Hot book in the TOB that I had heard of more than some of the others. 

MOTIVATION for READING:  I hadn’t read a Jesmyn Ward book. Am eager still to read everything she produced/s, past and future.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I will provide the official blurb from the ‘official’ reader’s guide on the publisher’s website:

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, she brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied Sing is a majestic work that belongs in the canon of American literature.

WHAT’s GOOD: A lot. The writing, the imagery, the connections. Masterful.

What’s NOT so good: Perhaps it was the audio, but it took me a long time to figure out a few things – that is ME, not the fault of the book. (Driving and listening in winter travel conditions might not be the best medium for enjoying a shocking story.) But upon reading other thoughts and reactions, I have come to appreciate what was happening. This is a book that gets better in your mind the more you think about it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  This would be a great book for wise discussion and I am certain that it could only increase in appreciation. It is a powerful, masterful piece of literature and possibly could be, will be the kind of book taught in high schools for years to come; a classic already.

RATING: Four FIVE slices of pie. No pie mentioned.





Copyright © 2007-2018. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

We Were Liars

Thoughts wwlbyel We Were Liars by e.Lockhart, Listening Library 2014, 6 hr 24 min Audio

Narrator:  Ariadne Meyers


DEFINITION:  “To fall flat” – To fail in the intended effect.

This fell flat for me. I’m tempted to give it only two slices of pie.

I was intrigued by a tweet:

Book Review – We Were Liars by | Outstanding book – read it before someone spoils the amazing ending!

And I suppose I could blame Jill who wrote a spoiler free review which you must read if you ARE curious: Rhapsody in Books

What we have here is a conundrum. Advice is to read it NOW before someone spoils it. BUT you should know that that is the intention of the marketing team – to build it up with BIG TWIST!  Don’t TELL ANYONE!!  hype hype hype – which I was trying to avoid. Unfortunately, I was too late – I became aware that this was the intent of the marketing and I must have gotten suspicious.Perhaps if I had immediately read the book after Michelle said to do so because that was the first time I was warned; not aware of the propaganda of the warning. I couldn’t help but see this title start popping up everywhere, ugh. I should have waited a few years or skipped it altogether.

On the other hand, if this does appeal to you, the audio seems to be a good way to experience it. I thought the narrator did a fine job (except do not expect a Massachusetts accent!!) and there are some goodreads reviews that state the written presentation/style was annoying – this can be avoided by listening. I think. Maybe.

I just didn’t feel a thing. At the time of the big twist/shock/reveal, I was just relieved that the book would soon be over. No, I didn’t see it coming. But I did go looking for reviews at the half way mark (kiss of death for me when I do this, I can’t help it! when a book is starting to annoy me, I go see what others thought — to see if I should keep reading…)

And so I found Nymeth’s THOUGHTFUL issue exploration: Things Mean a Lot(I didn’t read the spoiler part — but I read the comments.  Ooops.) Nymeth always brings such calm insightful intelligent considerations to her reviews and sadly, that is what makes me most sad about the story – that I missed the bigger truth that Nymeth caught: “a story of political awakening gone horribly wrong…

Truly!! Many MANY bloggers I admire and respect thought this an AMAZING stunner of a book!!  GO decide for yourself and than cry with me that I failed with it…

Somebody please tell me that I will like The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks better?



* New Englanders don’t say AUNT the way I did when I grew up:  like the insect ANT. They say it to rhyme with FONT and now after living here 10 years, I do, too! Every time I heard the narrator say “the Aunties”, I was distracted. “This is supposed to be set in Massachusetts…”




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Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

Thoughts umittohbyajga  Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven ABRIDGED by Susan Gilman, narrated by Susan Jane Gilman, 7 hrs 32 min

I really enjoyed this one. Gilman did a fabulous job narrating.

Susan and her friend Claire are new graduates from Brown University and since they crave adventure, they decide to take off for a year long trip around the world. They start in Hong Kong with the mission to explore China. The year is 1986 and China is only newly open for tourism.

Claire has to pump up and support Susan at the very beginning who is unprepared for the homesickness and strangeness of what they’ve gotten themselves into but by the end, it is Susan who rescues and supports Claire.

Truthfully, a lot of the story reinforces my faith in humanity. There are good people OUT THERE.

If you like books about crazy travel adventures, you can’t miss this one.

Rating:  Four slices of pie. fourpie


Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Good House

Rambling Thoughts tghnbmbh The Good House by Ann Leary, AUDIO narrated by Mary Beth Hurt, Macmillan Audio 2013, 10 hrs 12 mins

I liked this one A LOT.

I liked the voice – not only the narration voice of Mary Beth Hurt but how she talked, how the character spoke. It was pretty good New England accent, too (especially for MBH being from Iowa.)

Our main gal is a realtor. And she nailed it! What she said, how she talked – I was giggling with all the association. I worked for a lady just like Hildy. (My first job in Massachusetts was in real estate. Wow – could I relate to a lot of this part of the story…)

And the drinking theme? Ouch. That’s all I’ll say. It felt very realistic.

Hildy is trying to hold it all together and she needs to sell a few houses – the market is down and she’s gotten herself into a little bit of debt. But she had to lose time when her daughters presented her with an intervention for her drinking and she got to take an extended vacation. In the meantime, she’s back in town and managing her business as she tells us about a client that certainly eventually shows herself to be unstable. Or is it Hildy that is unstable? or both!?!

Sure, let’s go with that. Wine drinking, everyone in town knowing your business, etc and blah blah blah. A fun book with plenty of human angst and tragedy and yet laughter, too.

Fabulous audio! Well done.

Rating: Four slices of pie. fourpie

COPLEY CONNECTION – Hildy knows how to read people and she ‘pretends’ to read minds while at the same time sharing that she knows the ‘tricks’. I had just read a book where the characters could know what someone was going to say and/or portend the future, etc. so this was an interesting connection to The Witch of Little Italy. Also, the book I read right after this one also features a realtor.


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Paul is Undead

Thoughts  Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher, Blackstone Audio 2010, 7 hours 50 minutes

I have Literate HouseWife to thank for the suggestion to listen to this to get the full range of talent that is “narrator Simon Vance”. And then I find out that Kailana read this book, too. The Guilded Earlobe says exactly what I would say, so I’ll let him :

A hilarious novel that probably would have worked even better if I was more of a Beatles fan. Simon Vance’s narration itself makes this title worth a listen.

I had wishlisted this at the Audible.com site and recently, it went on sale. Just in time for RIP VII.

So I purchased and started listening right away. I just had to find out if this Simon Vance dude was as good as everyone says!

He is. And oh, what a funny odd gross story this is.

In a quick nutshell?  It’s an oral history of the Beatles as zombies. Actually, Ringo isn’t. Paul insisted that at least one band member have blood pumping through their veins. (It IS cool that Ringo is a ninja. Yoko is, too, in case you are curious but don’t think you’ll read/listen. Oh, and Mick Jagger is a Zombie Hunter.)

Recommended for any Beatles aficionado with a high gross-out tolerance and a wicked sense of humor.

Four slices of pie. PIE ON FIRE!!!  (chapter 4)

“So I can’t interest you in a flaming pie, John Winston Lennon?
No, you can’t interest me in a flaming pie, you sparkle-eyed wench.”



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