Category Archives: Listening

Audio books, music, discussions, all those things which are pleasing to the ear.

No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

No. I am not a crazy stalker.

Truth time: I embarrass my kids sometimes. Really. I do. I have this thing about striking up conversations with people. My kids, who are 26, 22, and 19 are pretty much used to it now, but it doesn’t stop them from rolling their eyes or shaking their heads. But no, I am not a crazy stalker.

  • Conversational.
No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

Sometimes it is just a comment about something with which I can connect to the other person. For instance, in line at the grocery I may comment on how good the pack of cookies look that the person in front of me is purchasing. Or maybe how I have never tried that brand of whatchamacallit that they are purchasing and follow-up with something like “Since you are buying it, I assume it is pretty good?”

About 97% of the time, the person will respond and a small conversation will ensue. It makes the monotonous task of standing in line pass more quickly. If someone beats me to this tactic, it makes me feel better. Sort of like a validation of my presence.

  • Complimentary.

Also, I issue compliments to people. A lot. By the time they are reading this part, my kids are doing the head shake, eye-roll thing right now. But I’ll bet they are smiling, too!

It takes almost zero effort to complement someone, and you never know how much of an effect it can on their day.

Today I was on a chat with a customer service rep (CSR) and the conversation started this way:

No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

CSR: Thank you for contacting Audible.com,Alicia. My name is Sharmaine. I can certainly look into this for you.
Me:Thank you, Sharmaine. Love your name.
CSR Sharmaine: Thank you for that. Alicia. You name is beautiful too.
Me: Thank you. Yours sounds like a character that should be in a medieval novel. She would definitely be the heroine.
CSR Sharmaine: Thank you for that, Alicia. I appreciate it. 🙂

This took very little time and she was checking on my issue all the while. It was a very pleasant experience. Considering that she is a CSR on the support line, I imagine she gets some irritated customers, so this let her know that I was NOT one of those. I was going to be an easy-peasy assignment.

Besides, I meant what I typed. I am pretty sure a “Sharmaine” could be married to a Knight of the Round Table and completely able to take care of herself when her Knight is out protecting the land. She is probably a favorite confidant of Guinevere . ( I sort of have a runaway imagination.)

I am pretty confident that Sharmaine left that customer call feeling better than she had when she accepted it. I also left the call with my issue resolved and feeling happy with a story of Guinevere and Sharmaine prancing through my brain. A win-win situation if ever there was one.

  • Caring.
No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

No. I am not a crazy stalker. A Propensity to Discuss post.

You never know how much that person may need to hear something nice at just that moment. If someone is being surly to you, usually it is because something else has gone wrong in their day. This act might just turn their day around!

Trust me, I know. I have had that experience myself. There is a guy who used to work with me who always found something to complement. There were several times that I just didn’t feel great and honestly wanted to find a rock under which I could hide. But it always seemed that he would show up at just the right moment with a complement and my whole attitude would change. Just. Like. That.

  • Credible.

When I say these things, I am being real. I am being honest. Not condescending. People know when you don’t mean what you say. I don’t believe in the saying “If you can’t say something nice…” I just generally try to find something nice to say just to be friendly. Even if I am  the one having the bad day. It truly makes me feel better. I swear!

  • Congenial.

Learn to accept compliments.  Don’t try to turn them down or around. This one is one of the hardest for me.

Person 1: “Pretty dress.”
Person 2: “Oh, this dress is so old.”

Person 1: “I love your hair.”
Person 2: “Oh, it’s such a mess right now.”

Come on. Accept that comment at face value. I can goad you on this, as I used to be terrible at accepting complements! But then I realized that I was taking away the joy from the person giving the complement. Basically saying “You have no idea what you are taking about.” And y’all, that is WRONG! Being gracious is an admirable quality.

So give and accept those complements. And let them seep into your skin and make your day so much better!

Do any of you ever talk to random strangers? If so, what do you talk about? How do you start your conversations? I’d love to hear! Really. I would! 

A MUST read...The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review.

A MUST read…The Kitchen House

Lavinia McCarten was six years old when she was hoisted, starving, sick and near death from a ship that had sailed from Ireland to America. Having lost both of her parents on board the ship, Lavinia had to serve out the term of her parents’ service.* In the novel The Kitchen House Kathleen Grissom tells Lavinia’s heart-wrenching, loving, amazing story.

The ship’s owner, James Pyke sent her to work in his plantation’s Kitchen House with Belle, who knew first hand what it was like to be ripped from the only life you had ever known and sent to work there.

Caught up in a world where she didn’t really fit in, Lavinia’s new life took shape. Although she was white, she did not fit in at the “big house” of the plantation owners because she was a servant. She took her place as part of the family of slaves there.

Slaves A MUST read...The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Slaves A MUST read…The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Mama Mae, Papa George and Belle quickly took her in as one of their own. They loved her, They taught her. They nurtured her. They became her true family.

The children of the big house, Marshall and Sally also took notice of Lavinia. There was confusion from 4-year-old Sally because Lavinia was like her. Marshall was more careful to stand-off from her because of the influence of the plantation overseer’s hatred of slaves.

When, at age 14, Lavinia’s circumstances change drastically, she was in no way prepared for the way that her entire life was about to be turned completely and wholeheartedly upside down.

And when those changes occurred, Lavinia did not have any idea of how to manage the new life into which she had unknowingly chosen.

Kathleen Grissom A MUST read...The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Kathleen Grissom A MUST read…The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Ms. Grissom has succeeded in writing one of the best books I have ever read. It is beyond great. It will take you from exponentially happy to heartbreakingly sad and back again in a matter of a few pages.

Very rarely do I bring a book home and then take it back in to work with me. This book went everywhere with me so that I could open and read any time I had a moment. I did not want to do anything but listen to/read this book until I finished it.

If you have ever even considered a slight possibility that you may want to listen to a book on audio The Kitchen House should absolutely be your first pick! Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin do an outstanding job of bringing all of these characters to life. This is one of the audio books by which all other audio books should be judged.

There were even parts that I read that I chose to go back and listen to on the audio because I knew it would be so beautifully performed.

This book is now my favorite book of all time. (Actually, it is tied with To Kill a Mockingbird, because there is no greater than that, but this one is on the very same pedestal.) Considering the number of books I have read in my lifetime, that is really saying something!

Beautifully written, Grissom has an incredible way of turning phrases into works of art.

This is also a story that screams to be told, heard, and re-told.

A MUST read...The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review. Alice Walker quote.

A MUST read…The Kitchen House. A Propensity to Discuss review. Alice Walker quote.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Before the American Civil War, it is estimated that more than 500,000 Irish men, women and children were sold as indentured servants. A very large number of those came to America and would work for 7-10 years before being released from their debt.

Just what kind of mother are you?

Lisa Kalisto is a harried mother of three. Juggling work, a husband, a family, and a household. And doing a pretty good job of it. Much like the rest of us, so much to do and seemingly so little time to do it.

Just what kind of mother are you? A Propensity to Discuss review.

Just what kind of mother are you? A Propensity to Discuss review.

In Paula Daly’s  Just what kind of mother are you? every day is a whirlwind of getting the kids to school, getting ourselves to work, cooking, cleaning, homework, bed. She just feels at times that she might not keep it all together.

Her best friend Kate seems to have it all and to have it all together. Perfect house. Perfect husband. Perfect kids. Perfect life. And she makes it look so easy.

To be honest, Lisa is somewhat in awe of Kate. Never-mind the fact that Kate, as Lisa’s always loving, strong support system of a husband, Joe, reminds her. “Doesn’t have an effing job.” Still, Lisa judges her life by Kate’s and always believes herself to be just this side of failure.

So when Kate’s daughter Lucinda goes missing, Lisa’s world is rocked to its core. Lucinda was supposed to be with Lisa. And Lisa had completely forgotten about that.

Wrecked with guilt, Lisa is consumed with doing whatever she can to find Lucinda and hopefully repair the friendship that is sure to be ruined by Lisa’s carelessness.

In this splendid novel, the reality of life is brought to the forefront.

Aren’t so many of us just so busy with life that we sometimes lose our grasp on something that is pretty important?

Just what kind of mother are you? Paula Daly. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Just what kind of mother are you? Paula Daly. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Don’t many of us look at those around us and think that their lives are perfect, while ours are a series of near misses?

When the walls begin to crumble, it becomes more and more apparent that not everything is exactly as it seems. Perhaps Lisa, like us, will one day realize that all that glitters is not gold.

I would give the audio version, performed by Laura Brattan a 5 out of 5 stars. With 7 major characters and several minor ones – male/female; young/old – there is no doubt which character is speaking. Her tone and inflection are amazingly different for each character.

I was truly sorry to come to the end of this book, both for the quality of the writing and the remarkable narration.

Sara Blaedel’s The Forgotten Girls

“She closed her eyes for a second to get a grip and settle herself. Her demons were circling.” –  The Forgotten Girls

Sara Blaedel's The Forgotten Girls A propensity to discuss post.

Sara Blaedel’s The Forgotten Girls A propensity to discuss post.

Detective Louise Rick has a new job, a new partner, and a new case. The new unit is one for closing missing persons cases and any correlating murder.

Once the medical examiner determines that the girl found dead in the woods died from a fall, it should be relatively easy to identify her and close the case.

Even after she has to hunt down her new partner in a bar and literally wake him from a drunken stupor, it should be an easy case.

The girl has a tremendous scar on her face and shoulder. But no one claims her. No one recognizes her.

When they finally get an indisputable lead on who she is, they also find death certificates for her and her twin sister that were filed 30 years before.

The open-and-shut case suddenly takes on a much more sinister twist as the search intensifies to determine whether or not her twin is still alive, and, if so, where she is.

As if having all of this, and a partner she doesn’t believe she even likes, much less trusts, the search takes her back to the one place she has tried for twenty years to be rid of. The place that holds the memories of the lowest point in her life.

Add to an incredibly intense story the acting ability of Christine Lakin as the narrator of the audio version and you have a reading adventure that keeps you guessing until the very bitter end.

Christine Lakin (Step by Step’s Alicia in the 90’s) does an incredible job with not only the voices, but also acting out the dialog. This is NOT your typical audio narrator. She IS the cast of characters. All of them. There is no doubt in your mind about which character is speaking when you are listening.

My biggest regret about this book? That there are books that have come before this one in the series, but they are not published in English. Come on, guys! Get with the program. I need all of Louise Rick!

You see, Sara Blaedel is the “Queen of Crime” in Denmark. There are, from research I have done, 7 Louise Rick books, but only 4 have released in the US. I can only hope more will follow and that the preceding ones will find a translator soon!

 

The girl on the train.

The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins is a one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a very long time.

The girl on the train A Propensity to Discuss Post

The girl on the train A Propensity to Discuss Post

The twists and turns leave you shocked right to the very end. And, trust me, you may think you have it figured out a few times during the story, but you don’t. You do not.

Rachel, an alcoholic, is divorced and lives with her somewhat sympathetic roommate, Cathy. Rachel rides train into London each day to hide the fact that she lost her job in a drunken stupor.

In a cruel twist of fate, the train takes her right past number twenty-three Blenheim road where she lived for five years with her husband.

Tom is the long-suffering ex-husband of Rachel who tries his best to keep Rachel’s drunk antics from tearing apart his new marriage.

Anna is the mistress turned wife to Tom and the bane of Rachel’s existence. Of course, Rachel is the person Anna hates most in the world. She fears her, not just for herself, but also fears what Rachel might do to Evie, the daughter Anna has with Tom.

Jess/Meghan lives at number fifteen Blenheim Road. She is beautiful and lively and in Rachel’s mind, she is everything that Rachel misses about her old life.

Jason/Scott is Jess/Meghan’s husband. Handsome, loving, adoring. Rachel’s dream life would include a man who treats her the way he treats his wife.

Of course, Rachel doesn’t really know Jason and Jess, she has only passed their house every weekday on her way to and from London. She has made for them the life she wants for herself.

On a drunken Saturday night, Rachel travels to Blenheim Road to confront Tom and Anna one more time. The next morning she remembers nothing. Has no idea how she came to have a huge cut and bump on her head. And Jess/Meghan is missing.

Terrified that she may actually have seen something from that night and feeling that she “knows” Meghan, Rachel gets herself very well caught up in the investigation. A few lies here and there to cover her excessive drinking, and then a few more to cover the ones she has already told.

Soon she is so caught up in the investigation that she actually puts herself into danger to find out what happened to her and to Meghan that night.

And you will not believe what actually happened.

You will not believe it. Except that you do. You knew the truth in your heart all along. Just as Rachel did.

And you will not believe it.

This book is a MUST for anyone who likes psychological thrillers and mysteries.

An absolute MUST if you liked Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

An absolute MUST if you like to read.

An absolute MUST if you don’t like to read. For this will make you love reading. 

I can only hope and pray that Paula Hawkins is working on another novel and that it is released soon. Very soon!

 

The audio book version of The girl on the train is performed by Clare Corbett as Rachel, Louise Brealey as Meghan, and India Fisher as Anna. These three actors are perfect choices for these characters.

While Clare Corbett is a sensitive voice for Rachel, India Fisher comes across as angry and domineering, which is exactly what I expected from Anna. She was spot-on!

Louise Brealey lends a breathless air to Meghan and at times has quite a Keira Knightly sound to her voice, which I found extremely pleasing. I fell in love with Meghan through the voice of Brealey.

All in all they are exactly as I would imagine these women to speak. I highly recommend the audio version to go along with your reading experience.

Dont try to find me A Propensity to Discuss Post

Don’t Try To Find Me…

Note: If you are reading this in Google Chrome, there may be info missing, as sometimes (I cannot figure why) numbers do not show in my blog posts on Chrome.

Don’t try to find me by Holly Brown

A husband who is caught up in his own world. A wife who needs more from her husband.

A husband with something to prove. A wife with something to hide.

A father who is always working. A mother lost in her problems.

A father who pushes his daughter to excel. A mother who wants to give her daughter space.

A 14-year-old daughter who runs away.

A full-fledged social media campaign to bring that daughter home.

A father consumed with the campaign.

A mother terrified of the campaign.

A daughter who doesn’t want to be found.

When Marley left home, it was of her own free will. But throughout the search, almost no one believes that. When the Find Marley Facebook page goes live, so do the rumor mills, the speculations and the accusations.

Paul, Marley’s father, is a workaholic who focuses all of his energy and ambition at the social media campaign to find his daughter. He knows he and his wife have nothing to hide, so the campaign will do nothing but bring attention to their missing daughter and bring her home.

 

Rachel, Marley’s mother, knows she has something to hide. From Paul. From Marley. From the detective. From the world. A few little white lies won’t hurt anything. Or will they? When those lies are exposed, Rachel becomes chief suspect in Marley’s disappearance.

Marley has everything to hide. From her parents. From the world. And now from the one she left home to be with. Nothing is as it really seems for Marley. But she knows she never wants to go home again.

As the media campaign soars, so does the speculation. The story, told through the voices of Rachel and Marley, shows the damage that can be done when secrets and assumptions are made. When families forget to communicate, or maybe just want to believe that everything is fine. Because admitting problems would mean having to work admit those problems and to work to correct them.

Assuming everything is alright is so much easier.

Until it is too late.

This is a must read book. Along the lines of Gone Girl, but not quite so demented. This is a very good read. This is a really good have-to-find-out-who’s-lying-now page turning book. And I suggest it to you  as highly recommended!

In “real life,” Holly Brown works as a marriage and family therapist blogging at PsychCentral.com.

 

The audio book version of the Don’t try to find me is a terrific accompaniment to the book. For those of you who have never tried an audio book, this would be a great place to start. Hillary Huber, Angela Goethals, James Fouhey are the actors who read the story and each does a phenomenal job with the character they portray.

Hillary Huber is the voice of Rachel and in her voice you believe that she is raw and emotional and that there are a few things in her life she has to hide.

Angela Goethals (one of the former Home Alone siblings) does an amazing job as Marley. There is desperation in her voice that is almost tangible.

Last, but certainly not least, James Fouhey lends just enough of an eerie air to round out the audible version of this book.

All in all, this is one of the great audio versions of books that can be found on Audible.

Say you want a Revolution...A Propensity to Discuss Post

Say you want a Revolution…

Note: If you are reading this in Google Chrome, there may be info missing, as sometimes (I cannot figure why) numbers do not show in my blog posts on Chrome.

In Brooklyn, NY, Andi Alpers is angry. She is angry at her father for caring more about his work than his family. She is angry that her mom cannot, will not, does not cope with the world around her. She is angry that her teachers and Head of School want her to actually participate in her education. But she is most angry at herself. It is the fact that she blames herself for the death of her younger brother Truman that causes her the most anger.

And then it gets worse. Her father finds out that school is an afterthought to her now and whisks her away with him to France for the Christmas break. The whole break.

She will even miss her time with the one person in the world with whom she still shows any care at all, Nathan, her music teacher and her music lessons.

Say you want a Revolution...A Propensity to Discuss Post

Say you want a Revolution…A Propensity to Discuss Post

Her father is in Paris to run DNA testing on the very small embalmed heart that some believe may be the heart of Louis Charles of France. Louis Charles was the son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who is thought to have died at age 10 in a prison after both of his parents were put to death by Guillotine.

In Paris, she finds a diary that belong to a “player” or actor named Alexandrine who’s job it was to entertain the young prince and the timing corresponds with the French Revolution.

Say you want a Revolution...A Propensity to Discuss Post

Say you want a Revolution…A Propensity to Discuss Post

Andi is mesmerized by Alex’s diary and through Alex’s account of her life, learns so much about the revolution, and in turn, a good bit about herself.

Both stories are enthralling. I immediately liked Andi and wanted her to find a way to forgive herself for what happened with her brother. Alex “played” right into my heart from the first diary entry.

Since I love history, the storyline of the French Revolution is of particular interest to me and the research that went into the writing of this story is quite evident. Imagine that…a great story and a history lesson to boot. Awesome!

If you are looking for a really good book, start Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly and start a revolution of your mind. This is a really awesome read!

 

The audio book version of Revolution is read by Emily Janice Card as the voice of Andi and by Emma Bering as Alex. Card brings a true note of agitation and distress to the character of Andi, helping to give her character life with a sense of exhaustion with life and her depression. She brings Andi to life with a realistic quality. Alex’s portrayal by Emma Bering is just as convincing, leading the listener fully back to the French Revolution in a way in which you truly believe that you can feel the hatred and taste the burning bread. An awesome audio book!