A few for my ears….

As you know, I spend a lot of time commuting.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed some really good audiobooks through my Audible account.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger was a mixed mystery/coming of age story that was really well-written. Here’s the description from Amazon:


“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.



I really enjoyed this book — it kept me listening right up unto the end. I particularly loved the main character and his reminiscences of this fateful summer of his youth. It is read by Rich Orlow – who did a fantastic job – and runs 11 hours.


Another fantastic book was Z by Therese Anne Fowler. This is historical fiction about Zelda Fitzgerald. Here’s the Amazon overview:

“Picture a late-May morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume – same as I would wear that evening….”

Thus begins the story of beautiful, reckless, 17-year-old Zelda Sayre on the day she meets Lieutenant Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald at a country club dance. Fitzgerald isn’t rich or settled; no one knows his people; and he wants, of all things, to be a writer in New York. No matter how wildly in love they may be, Zelda’s father firmly opposes the match. But when Scott finally sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda defies her parents to board a train to New York and marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Life is a sudden whirl of glamour and excitement: Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel – and his beautiful, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, trades in her provincial finery for daring dresses, and plunges into the endless party that welcomes the darlings of the literary world to New York, then Paris and the French Riviera. It is the Jazz Age, when everything seems new and possible – except that dazzling success does not always last.

Surrounded by a thrilling array of magnificent hosts and mercurial geniuses – including Sara and Gerald Murphy, Gertrude Stein, and the great and terrible Ernest Hemingway – Zelda and Scott find the future both grander and stranger than they could have ever imagined.


I LOVED this book so much! Zelda’s story is so tragic yet you can’t look away.

The narrator, Jenna Lamia, was AMAZING and I can still hear her voice in my head (in a good way!). It runs approximately 12 1/2 hours.



I also listened to the novel: THE BOYS IN THE BOAT, by Daniel James Brown, about the Washington college crew team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Here’s the Amazon overview:

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together – a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boatis an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.



What a great story! I love a feel-good athletic underdog story!!

This 14 1/2 hour book was read by Edward Herrmann. He did a fine job, but his voice reminded me of the voiceover from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when I was a kid. To be honest, I would have loved a bit more pep.


Currently I am listening to THE LINCOLN LETTER by William Martin. I love his books! In this one Peter Fallon is looking for a lost diary of President Lincoln.


What have YOU been listening to lately?

Review: CALL ME ZELDA by Erika Robuck

A while back I went to a book talk and signing by Erika Robuck held at my favorite indie: The Concord Bookshop. I loved her talk about how she came to write CALL ME ZELDA, about Zelda Fitzgerald’s time spent in a mental institution while she was treated for schizophrenia and the relationship she forms with her nurse. I bought but saved CALL ME ZELDA until our trip in August so that I could take it with me (sort of like bringing along a special friend!). I enjoyed this beautiful but heart-breaking novel and didn’t want it to end.

In CALL ME ZELDA, psychiatric nurse Anna Howard is still recovering herself from the losses of WWI (her husband is MIA and her young daughter has died of pneumonia). She works at a mental hospital and has Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of F. Scott) in her charge. She and Zelda form a bond and become friends. Anna’s emotional attachment to the troubled Zelda leads her to leave her job and work privately for the Fitzgerald family, where she is privy to the highs and lows, the sweetness and the abuse, of Scott and Zelda’s relationship. Zelda, who is schizophrenic and also seems depressed, is unpredictable yet vulnerable. She shows great brilliance, yet feels smothered and held back by Scott. Scott, meanwhile, is an alcoholic who brilliance is at times eclipsed by his selfish manipulations. Anna’s own back story exists as another story line in this book: her struggle with coming to peace with her losses and her striving to begin to live life again.

All in all, I loved this book. It read easily and I felt the character of Anna was well-developed and believable. I didn’t know too much about the Fitzgeralds before reading this novel, and I realize it is fiction, but I found their portrayal quite fascinating. This is one of several books on Zelda Fitzgerald published this year and I put in with my “woman behind the man books” – e.g. “The Paris Wife”, “The Aviator’s Wife”, “Loving Frank”, etc. This was a great read and will undoubtedly be one of my top books for 2013 – made all the more special because my copy is signed by Erika!

Afternoon at the Concord Bookshop with Erika Robuck!

I had the chance to head over to the Concord Bookshop yesterday to hear Erika Robuck talk about her book: CALL ME ZELDA. She chronicles (in novel form) the time that Zelda Fitzgerald (F. Scott’s wife) spent in a mental institution. Ms. Robuck is clearly an expert on the Fitzgerald’s, and her knowledge and admiration of them shined throughout her talk.

I enjoyed hearing her and meeting her – and I look forward to reading her book!

Here is Erika with her novel:photo (3)Erika Robuck

You can visit Erika’s website to read more about CALL ME ZELDA (including an excerpt) and read about her other novels: http://www.erikarobuck.com/Other-Books.html