Free Audiobooks on Spotify

Pride and Prejudice audiobookA few weeks ago I was delighted to discover that Spotify (a music streaming service) offers free audiobooks! The playlist I saved is filled with literary classics rather than new releases or current popular fiction, which is what I’ve been reading the most of lately. Which of these fantastic stories did I start with? None other than Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice yet… Shocking right?? It’s completely up my alley and I’m trying to find time to correct this grievous error. I was excited to find the story available (for FREE) on the playlist and I use Spotify all the time, so it’s been really easy to switch between music and audiobooks depending on my mood and what I’m working on.

I won’t go into detail about my opinions on Pride and Prejudice in this post other than to say that I absolutely loved the story and it has leaped to the top of my favorite books list. I’ll definitely share my thoughts later on, but I want to read a physical copy of the book first and Pride and Prejudice surely deserves its own post.

I definitely recommend checking out the Audiobooks playlist on Spotify! Along with Pride and Prejudice there are many other classics including, The Great Gatsby, 1984, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Crime and Punishment, and The Secret Garden, just to name a few. Happy listening!

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

Glory Over EverythingGlory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom picks up where The Kitchen House left off and because I loved the first one, I was thrilled to read the second. The Kitchen House is an excellent book about an orphaned Irish girl who works an indentured servent in the kitchen of a plantation. It should be noted that Glory Over Everything can definitely be read as a standalone book.

James Pyke is the son of a white plantation owner and a kitchen house slave, but takes after his father so much so that he believed himself to be white throughout his childhood. As an adult, James now lives in high society Philadelphia and his secret identity is at risk when he goes to rescue his manservant Pan who has been kidnapped and sold into slavery down south. During his journey, James meets an unforeseen alley, Sukey, and together the 3 attempt to escape through the Underground Railroad.

Pan, only a boy, is absolutely endearing and I loved his character. Eager, chatty, and curious, Pan has the best intentions but his questions get him into trouble.

“Robert tells me that I got to learn to be discreet, a word that he says means not to talk so much.”

Grissom has done an amazing job of bringing these vivid characters to life. Their emotions and actions are authentic and I was really impressed by the dialogue throughout the story because it flowed so naturally.

I absolutely recommend Glory Over Everything, as well as The Kitchen House, and both are at the top of my have-read list. Thank you to Simon Books for sending me an advanced copy of Glory Over Everything for an honest review.

Bookish Podcasts

Bookish podcastsTo make the most of a busy March I’ve been listening to podcasts during my commute and food prep time. True to the book nerd that I am, some of these are bookish podcasts and I’m here to share them with you!

The Penguin Podcast

Hosted by Penguin Books UK, I really enjoy the conversational interviews between the authors and podcast hosts. I’ve listened to Richard E. Grant’s sessions with both Neil Gaimon and Paula Hawkins. I learned a lot about the authors and their books and especially enjoyed that each one shared a few items of significance.

What Should I Read Next?

Anne Bogel, the founder of Modern Mrs. Darcy (a wonderful blog that you should definitely check out if you haven’t already), hosts the podcast. During sessions that range between 20 and 40 minutes, Anne chats with different guests and gives them recommendations based on what they have already read and what they liked/didn’t like. It’s a great podcast and Anne has a huge range of bookish knowledge!

Modern Love: The Podcast

This podcast is produced by WBUR and based on a New York Times series of reader-submitted essays. Even though it isn’t about written books specifically, this podcast shares a series of stories just like any book. The podcasts focus on romantic love, familial love, self-love, and are very touching and unexpected. With episodes that are about 20 minutes long, the podcasts are the perfect length to listen to while I get ready for work. I highly recommend Modern Love: The Podcast; it’s one of my very favorites!

What about you all? Do you listen to podcasts?

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

No One Knows “Insanity is filled with wishful thoughts.”

Aubrey was devastated when her husband disappeared without a trace 5 years ago and she still feels the loss everyday. Even though his body hasn’t been found, the court has officially declared him to be dead. With the declaration comes a $5 million insurance payout and information that leads Aubrey to believe that there may have been more to her husband than she knew…

When I first started reading No One Knows by J.T. Ellison I wasn’t sure about the story because the flow was a bit choppy and at times the dialogue felt forced, but I was intrigued enough to continue. I’m glad I kept reading though because the story picked up and I was gripping the book through the very last pages.

No One Knows As with many psychological thrillers these days, No One Knows has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and while there are similar components of deceit and trickery, I would end the comparison there because it isn’t fair to either book. There are many psychological elements to this story, throwing me for a loop when I thought I had my head wrapped around the situation. I ended up really enjoying No One Knows and definitely recommend it!

Here’s one more quote that stuck out to me: “Everyone came to this town with a dream, and ended up kaleidoscopes together into a single shifting, pulsing entity.”

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison will be released on March 22, 2016.No One Knows

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House“Turners seemed incapable of doing anything in moderation.” This was one of the many quotes from The Turner House by Angela Flournoy that stood out to me. Flournoy has successfully created a story that examines the dynamics of a big, complicated, prideful, and loving family. I was very interested in the different roles and relationships between the 13 children, each of whom had a very distinct personality.

When the children claimed to see a supernatural presence one night in the Turner house, their father Francis denies the possibility of a ghost, saying “there ain’t no haints in Detroit.” Years later, when the siblings have become grandparents themselves, the mysterious haint is still present. This is especially true for Cha-Cha, the eldest sibling who took on the paternal role when Francis passed away. When their mother, Viola, becomes sick and the value of the Turner house crashes with the housing market in 2008, the siblings come together to decide how to move forward.

I really enjoyed The Turner House and the role that each of the siblings played, especially the youngest child Lelah. A terribly lonely woman, she’s addicted to gambling and the stillness that it brings her. Although her downward spiral disappointed me, I found myself rooting her on towards recovery. Because there were so many siblings, I had a tricky time keeping them all straight, but that’s to be expected with 13 children in one family.

Here’s one more quote from the book that really struck home with me:

“What parts of their worlds would crumble if they took a great look at their parents’ flaws? If there was no trauma, why not talk about the everyday, human elements of their upbringing?”

I definitely recommend The Turner House for a thought provoking read! Enjoy!

The Turner House

Spring Reading Recommendations

Dream by Day and glassybabyIn honor of National Reading Month, I’m excited to share a few of my favorite books published so far this year with you all! This week I’ve partnered with glassybaby, a PNW based company dedicated to supporting charities with their beautiful handmade candle votives. We bring you these exciting narratives, which cover a wide range of genres from historical fiction to suspenseful thrillers to insightful literary fiction. I invite you to curl up with one of these great books this weekend!

The Forgotten RoomThe Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Karen White & Lauren Willig

A story of fate, The Forgotten Room is the multigenerational tale of three women spanning the decades between the 1890’s and 1940’s in New York City. When the wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought into the hospital where Kate Schuyler works, she feels an undeniable connection with him and is shocked to find a painting that strongly resembles her in his possession. While trying to understand her connection to this mysterious man, she uncovers the truth about her mother and grandmother, each of whom lived in the same mansion converted boarding house converted hospital that she does. Despite being written by three authors, the transitions between these vibrant determined characters flow smoothly together.

The Widow The Widow by Fiona Barton

When Jean Taylor’s husband is accused of kidnapping a young child, she is shocked. Playing the role of the faithful wife, she stands by his side through the case as the police, press, and public relentlessly pound on their door. Years after the little girl disappeared, Jean’s husband is dead and now a widow, she opens up about the secrets she has kept hidden. What really struck me in The Widow was the influence that the media has on a police case and public opinion. With vast experience in the field of journalism, Fiona Barton shares this perspective in her debut novel.

FIND HER by Lisa GardnerFIND HER by Lisa Gardner

“Nobody wants to be a monster.” A fast-paced and suspenseful book, FIND HER is a fantastic. Gardner brings us the story of a survivor, a fighter, and a kidnap victim, Flora Dane. After being held captive for 472 days, Flora has been through the worst. 5 years after her abduction, Flora is still having trouble readjusting to normal life when she mysteriously disappears again. This dark thriller is filled with unexpected twists and presents a very unique perspective into the trauma of kidnapping and the long-term psychological effects of such an experience.

My Name is Lucy Barton My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

It’s difficult to put into words the impact of My Name is Lucy Barton as a novel that is both incredibly powerful and extremely subtle. Elizabeth Strout examines the relationship between a mother and daughter when Lucy, the protagonist of the story, is in the hospital recovering from surgery and her mother comes to her side. Lucy and her mother have a very complicated relationship, but at the same time it’s simple in this: they love each other irrevocably. “I feel that people may not understand that my mother could never say the words I love you. I feel that people may not understand: it was alright.”

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did! Happy reading!

xo Samantha

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'BriensFrustrating, heartbreaking, and eye opening, Lisa Genova brings us Inside the O’Briens, a story about the impact of Huntington’s disease. Genova, the author of the award-winning novel Still Alice, has an incredible talent in her ability to personalize terrible illnesses and create stories that strike a chord with readers.

The O’Brien’s, an Irish Catholic family, are from Boston, Massachusetts. Joe O’Brien, father of the family, is a tough cop with a knack for swearing who learns that Huntington’s disease (HD) is the cause behind his jerky movements and mood swings. HD is a lethal neurodegenerative disease without a cure and is passed down genetically, meaning that Joe’s children each have a 50% chance of testing positive as well.

The story is told from two perspectives, from Joe and from one of his daughters, Katie. Through Joe’s eyes we see the devastation of the disease and the terrible guilt he feels for possibly passing it down to his children. Katie, Joe’s youngest daughter, struggles with the decision of whether to take a test to determine her HD status. That decision weighs very heavily on her and causes her to put her life on pause because she feels unable to move forward. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Katie:

“Everything she’s ever done has been in preparation for her real life, and she’s itching to get started.”

I admire Lisa Genova for her incredible storytelling abilities and for raising awareness for a destructive disease. An informative, engaging, and heart wrenching book, I absolutely recommend Inside the O’Briens!