Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave have stripped back on indulgences dramatically since we became Mum and Dad to six rescue cats. It isn’t so much about the money but frankly, once you’ve had one pair of shoes pooed on, a nice piece of furniture scratched and marked, a few ornaments knocked off and broken… well, you begin to reassess.
One thing we still indulge in is our love of books. For Dave, it’s a love of history books. Though he tries to stop buying them, I keep sneaking some home or onto the Kindle because I know he’d miss them too much if he went cold turkey. For me, it’s audiobooks! I’ve found some great listens in the last couple of years that have had me giggling, crying or gasping with indignation. Here are my five indulgent listens.
Five Indulgent Listens
Where Rainbows End – Cecilia Ahern
A bittersweet tale of childhood friends Rosie and Alex whose relationship must survive many trials and tribulations, not least the discovery of their true feelings for one another. From naughty children to rebellious teenagers, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But just as they’re discovering the joys of teenage nights on the town and dating disasters, they’re separated. Alex’s family moves from Dublin to America — and Alex goes with them. For good. Rosie’s lost without her best friend. But on the eve of her departure to join Alex in Boston, Rosie gets news that will change her life forever — and keep her at home in Ireland. Their magical connection sees them through the ups and downs of each other’s lives but neither of them knows whether their friendship can really survive the years and miles — as well as new relationships. And at the back of Rosie’s mind is whether they were meant to be more than just good friends all along. Misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck have kept them out of each others’ arms, but when presented with the ultimate opportunity, will they gamble everything — including their friendship — for true love? Destiny, Alex and Rosie discover, is a funny thing and fate isn’t quite done with them yet…
My verdict: I gushed, I blushed, I completely turned to mush!
This Charming Man – Marian Keyes
Paddy de Courcy is Ireland’s debonair politician, the “John F. Kennedy Jr. of Dublin.” His charm and charisma have taken hold of the country and the tabloids, not to mention our four heroines: Lola, Grace, Marnie, and Alicia. But though Paddy’s winning smile is fooling Irish minds, the broken hearts he’s left in his past offer a far more truthful look into his character.
Narrated in turn by each woman, This Charming Man explores how their love for this one man has shaped their lives. But in true Marian Keyes fashion, this is more than a story of four love affairs. It’s a testament to the strength women find in themselves through work, friendship, and family, no matter what demons may be haunting their lives. Depression, self-doubt, domestic abuse—each of these women has seen tough times in life, and it’s through Keyes’s wonderful storytelling ability that these subjects are approached with the appropriate tone and candor. Her deft touch provides a gripping story and, ultimately, a redemptive ending.
My verdict: I had a lump in my throat so often from sadness or shock but a perpetual pain in my belly from all the laughter!
Skippy Dies – Paul Murray
Why does Skippy, a fourteen-year-old boy at Dublin’s venerable Seabrook College, end up dead on the floor of the local doughnut shop?
Could it have something to do with his friend Ruprecht Van Doren, an overweight genius who is determined to open a portal into a parallel universe using ten-dimensional string theory?
Could it involve Carl, the teenage drug dealer and borderline psychotic who is Skippy’s rival in love?
Or could “the Automator”–the ruthless, smooth-talking headmaster intent on modernizing the school–have something to hide?
Why Skippy dies and what happens next is the subject of this dazzling and uproarious novel, unraveling a mystery that links the boys of Seabrook College to their parents and teachers in ways nobody could have imagined. With a cast of characters that ranges from hip-hop-loving fourteen-year-old Eoin “MC Sexecutioner” Flynn to basketballplaying midget Philip Kilfether, packed with questions and answers on everything from Ritalin, to M-theory, to bungee jumping, to the hidden meaning of the poetry of Robert Frost, “Skippy Dies “is a heartfelt, hilarious portrait of the pain, joy, and occasional beauty of adolescence, and a tragic depiction of a world always happy to sacrifice its weakest members. As the twenty-first century enters its teenage years, this is a breathtaking novel from a young writer who will come to define his generation.
My verdict: I don’t know how something so sad can be so funny. Incredibly moving, poignant, hilarious, tragic.
The Other Hand – Chris Cleave [US title: Little Bee]
We don t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterwards that is most important. Once you have read it, you ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
My verdict: This is an incredibly well written, haunting and stunning story. The narration only enhances that and is performed beautifully.
11/22/63: A Novel – Stephen King
On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed forever.
If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you?
Would the consequences be worth it?
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.
Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Explore the Possibilities…
My verdict: I loved this book so much I think I ended up with a crush on the main character. Amazing narration and a great story made this a perfect audiobook pick.
The rest of the hoppers…