I was looking through my Audible books and realized that I have not written reviews for the great majority of them. So I decided to do a short review on some of them, instead of my usual form. Here goes:
Rip Van Winkle - by Washington Irving
Fiction. A classic published in 1819. The boys and I listened to this after reading the Wishbone book, “Digging Up the Past” for the Boy’s Book Club. I was surprised at how much the boys enjoyed it. The language is “olde”, so I did pause to give definitions to some words. They didn’t know some of the history, so I paused to give a quick background lesson. But we all really enjoyed this story. I give it an A.
A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth
Autobiography. Oh, my word. This girl is funny! From how she learned about God, to her struggle with Meniere’s disease, to her addiction to Jimmy Choo’s – she keeps the reader smiling through it all. I’ll give it a B+, only because I can’t imagine that a reader like my father enjoying this book very much.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Non-fiction. This is the kind of book that my husband & I listen to on road trips. He doesn’t care for fiction, and I can’t stand to listen to gory war stories – so this is the compromise we both enjoy. We are both intrigued by “why people behave the way they do”, so this type of book works for us.
The author/MIT college professor did many studies with his available pool of research subjects – college students. One study that we found fascinating was that when he asked the students to recall the 10 Commandments, and then he gave them the opportunity to lie/cheat – they couldn’t do it. This went for students of all faiths. Previously, when he did the exercise without asking students to recall the 10 Commandments, the lie/cheat ratio was very high. However, he found that once students tapped the moral area of their conscience, they couldn’t bring themselves to cross their own moral boundaries. Fascinating! I give it a B. It was enjoyable, but some parts were pretty dry…
Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith and Friendship by John Kasich & Daniel Paisner
Autobiography. At the time this book was published, John Kasich was a former Republican congressman from Ohio. He had also been a host on the Fox News Network. He’s now the Governor of Ohio. The book is about how he, a Methodist minister, and a half-dozen men gather, as the title suggests, Every Other Monday to discuss how the Bible should/does influence their lives and their choices. The reader learns about Kasich, his history, and how he comes to have a faith in God. We get to learn how the group is formed and what keeps them going. I love the idea of having friends that I can discuss real Biblical truth with for twenty years. I give it a B+.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Non-fiction. I loved so much about this book. The gist of the book is that Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to land that had once been owned by ancestors in rural Appalachia. They take on a challenge: to spend a year eating only locally-produced, organic food. The family raises much of the food themselves, but the book also describes how they partner with local families to barter other food items. Barbara learns how to make cheese. (Something I really want to do now!) Her daughter raises chickens so that she can sell their eggs to local families. They also try their hand at raising turkeys. (You’ll learn more about turkey reproduction than you’ll ever want to know.) Her husband daily bakes the family’s bread. They plant and tend to the gardens during growing seasons. They can and freeze everything possible during harvest season.
For me, the negatives of the book were the preachy segments on global warming and climate change. There were also “spiritual” aspects that I absolutely do not agree with – however, I think the book offers valuable information when it comes to making thoughtful choices about where our food comes from. I give it a B.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society byMary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Fiction. I absolutely loved this book. I haven’t enjoyed a fiction novel this much in a very, very long time. The book is a compilation of letters sent from and to the 30-something author Juliet. Juliet is looking for her next book subject when she receives a letter from farmer Dawsey Adams. He finds her name inscribed in a used book that he purchased, and he writes to ask her if she knows of any other books published by the author of the book in his possession. And so begins a delightful tale. As Juliet and Dawsey begin to correspond, she is drawn into the world of Guernsey, an island in the English Channel. The reader is given the treat of rich characters along with a bit of the island history of German occupation. I give it a A-, because as much as I loved it, I think it’s “chick lit.” I can’t see a reader like my dad enjoying this story.
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter by Jason Kersten
Biography. This is the story of Art Williams, a man who is a master counterfeiter. This story was a perfect example of ” the truth is better than fiction.” It was incredibly entertaining. Art’s life truly seems larger than life. He comes from the slums of Chicago. Meets his mom’s boyfriend, a man named DaVinci, who introduces him to the world of counterfeiting. The reader gets a front row seat to Art’s education about printing presses, inks, and paper. We see how he beats the law for a while, and then ultimately how he is caught.
A strong warning. This book should absolutely be rated R. There were some aspects of the story that should have been left out. There were tangents about trysts that really got out there. Frankly, I think it was poor editing that allowed them to stay. If I had to grade the editing, I’d give it a D ~ because it just stunk. However, because the story was so entertaining, I’ll give the book a B.
Father and I Were Rangers: Little Britches #1 by Ralph Moody
Autobiography. Another winner, and another book the boys and I listened to. The story is the biographical tale of Ralph Moody and his family. Ralph is 8 years-old when they move from New Hampshire to Colorado to become ranchers in 1906. Through Ralph, we learn that he is the oldest boy of the family. He has an older sister, and two younger siblings. We learn that his father, though in poor health, teaches Ralph a tireless work ethic. His mother, a refined lady, did her best to help her husband create the kind of life they wanted to have. We witness the family establish their claim to a little plot of land. We see them work together to plow, put in fences and irrigation systems. We see young Ralph do what he can to help his family. My boys were absorbed by this story. They loved listening to Ralph’s tales of riding horses, and learning to do tricks.
I will give a word of caution to parents, the cowboys in the book say a few harsh words. It is not out of character for the rough and tumble cowboys, but I wouldn’t want it to surprise you. I give this book an A-.
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Rom Brafman & Ori Brafman
Non-fiction. This is another book that Hubby and I listened to on a trip. A very interesting book that tries to explain some of “why people behave the way they do.” One example they use to explain behavior is the horrible KLM Flight 4805 plane crash as an example. The pilot, the head of KLM’s safety program no-less, makes multiple choices that go directly against safety rules and common sense. Why would he do this? The Brafman’s explain that the crash was the result of many incorrect minor decisions, rather than just one horrible decision.
Hubby and I were fascinated, but I’ll admit if you aren’t interested in the subject, you might think it’s pretty dry. I give it at B.
I have a few other books left to review, but seeing as how this has turned into nearly 1500 words, I think I’ll stop for now.