Category: Memoir

UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE by Susan Spencer Wendell

My Year of Living With Joy.  written with Brett Witter. Available now from Harper Audio. From the Publisher: “A powerfully emotional and irrepressibly joyous at the things that matter most. Susan Spencer-Wendel’s Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy is a moving and inspirational memoir by a woman who makes the most of her final days after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). After Spencer-Wendel, a celebrated journalist at the Palm Beach Post, learns of her diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, she embarks on several adventures, traveling to several countries and sharing special experiences with loved ones. One trip takes Spencer-Wendel and her 14-year-old daughter, Marina, to New York City’s Kleinfeld’s Bridal to shop for Marina’s future wedding dress – an occasion that Susan knows she will never see. Co-written with Bret Witter, Until I Say Good-Bye is Spencer-Wendel’s account of living a full life with humor, courage, and love, but also accepting death with grace and dignity. It’s a celebration of life, a look into the face of death, and the effort we must make to show the people that we love and care about how very much they mean to us.” From the review in Audiofile Magazine: “With upbeat pacing and wry humor, narrator Karen White reflects the author’s unbroken spirit and ever present wit while her wistful tone conveys all the pathos of the situation without ever becoming maudlin. White’s moving presentation helps realize Spencer-Wendel’s ultimate wish for her incredible book “to make people laugh and cry, and hug their children, and joke with their friends, and dwell on how wonderful it is to be alive.” My recording experience: Oh, oh, oh.  This was One of Those Books.  One of Those Books that changes your life.  One of Those Books that, as a narrator, you just hope you do it justice.  And you do the retakes again and again until you’re not crying because you know that the author wouldn’t want that in there, because she’s not crying.  She’s smiling. Although I’ve recorded a pile of memoirs, it was a particular gift to record this one.  For so many reasons.  But the top of the list was that Susan couldn’t do it herself.  Many writers choose not to record their own work, for all kinds of reasons, but this time someone had to be Susan’s voice, and truly truly I was so honored that I could do this for her.  Because what I received in return were Susan’s words echoing in my head.  Smile.  I am alive today.  Live with joy.  Words that have continued to echo for  me everyday since I read them in December.  I am inspired by Susan to be present . . .

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UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE GIVEAWAY

Because I loved this book so much, I’m giving away a downloadable copy, which will come to the winner as a gift from my Audible account. Read more about this book in my previous post, but to enter, just make a comment below and tell me what brings you joy! I will choose the winner at random on Tuesday, April 2 at 5 p.m. PST.  I will contact the winner via the email you leave when you make your comment, but I won’t use any of your emails for anything else, I promise 🙂 THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN. Thanks, all, for entering.  I do many giveaways here, so consider following the blog or following me on Twitter @KarenWhitereads or Liking my Facebook page to learn about future giveaways.

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HORSE LOVERS' AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY

If you are a horse lover, or know one (maybe your mom?) then enter to win these two audiobooks from Tantor Audio about folks whose lives were changed by these magnificent animals. BELIEVE: A Horseman’s Journey by Buck Brannamen Narrated by John Pruden and Karen White and SADDLED: How a Spirited Horse Reined Me in and Set Me Free by Susan Richards Narrated by Karen White. To enter, just make a comment below and tell us something about you and horses.   Winners will be chosen at random on Thursday May 17 at noon PST and will receive a CD version of the audiobooks.  Entrants in continental US only please.

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BELIEVE: A Horseman's Journey, by Buck Brannaman

Narrated by John Pruden and Karen White. Available now from Tantor Audio. From the Publisher: In his bestselling The Faraway Horses, Buck Brannaman, extraordinary trainer and acknowledged inspiration for The Horse Whispererer, described how he found his calling and honed his art and craft. Following the book’s widespread acclaim, the universal application of Brannaman’s approach to interpersonal relationships has struck a responsive chord in the equestrian community and with the public at large. Believe continues to chronicle Buck’s efforts as catalyst and mentor as we meet thirteen people with whom he has worked. Through their words and through Brannaman’s perceptive introductions to each essay, we experience firsthand the hope and confidence that he has instilled in them and their horses. You will discover through these stories how many untapped dreams and abilities you, too, possess, and how you can bring them to fruition. So journey with Buck Brannaman, learn from him, and profit from the voyage. Listen to a sample here:  

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A YEAR AND SIX SECONDS: a love story by Isabel Gillies

Available at Tantor Media  From the Publisher: A Year and Six Seconds opens on the winter day Isabel Gillies arrives in Manhattan, two young sons in tow, after her husband has left her; she’s moving back in with her parents until she can figure out what to do next. In scene after sweet, hilarious scene, Gillies exposes her attempts to feel strong and lovable and to cross items off a staggering to-do list that includes: break down only in front of best friend, not in front of children; get along with parents in tight quarters; find preschool spot for son mid-school-year in Manhattan; receive one great, romantic kiss. She makes lists, she dates, she cries; she and her whole crowded family get the flu; then, just when Gillies least expects it, she falls in love. A Year and Six Seconds is a buoyant, true romantic comedy with a universal human undercurrent reminding us that we can all struggle and stumble, but somehow come out just fine on the other side. From the Literate Housewife review: “This audiobook is narrated by Karen White. She did a wonderful job rolling with the punches and small joys that filled Isabel’s Gillies’ account of her divorce and its aftermath…I can honestly say that I’m glad I finished the book because the last 45 minutes redeemed the experience for me. There is a scene where Karen’s reading brings out the beauty in an otherwise sad experience that warmed my heart.” Audio sample:  

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AUDIOFILE'S BEST OF 2011 LISTS

I am so honored to be included on Audiofile’s Best Voices 2011 Non Fiction & Culture for YOU HAD ME AT WOOF by Julie Klam, Tantor Media and Best Audiobooks 2011, Fiction & Classics for EVERYTHING THAT RISES MUST CONVERGE by Flannery O’Connor narrated by Bronson Pinchot, Karen White, Mark Bramhall, Lorna Raver (Blackstone Audiobooks)

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A HEART FOR FREEDOM by Chai Ling

The remarkable journey of a young dissident, her daring escape, and her quest to free China’s daughters. Available now from Christian Audio. Listen to a sample here: “A key leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Ling has written a candid and compassionate memoir of her years at Beijing University, her rise to leadership in the student movement, her escape and eventual embrace of Christianity. A gifted writer with a passion for justice, she weaves a tantalizing web of childhood and young adult experiences to describe her misgivings about the Communist Party of China; her awakening, with other students, to the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.; and her growing sense of empowerment as a woman. What’s especially remarkable about her story is the lack of bitterness toward many in the Communist regime and especially Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader at the time. This book will be treasured not only by Western China watchers and evangelical Christians who have no doubt embraced Ling as their own, but by anyone interested in how protest movements arise, grow, and work though their internal conflicts. Hers is a tale of human dignity and the imperative to live a life of meaning.” Publisher’s Weekly (print review)

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YOSSARIAN SLEPT HERE by Erica Heller

Available at Tantor Media. From Erica Heller, daughter of Catch-22 author Joseph Heller, comes a mordantly funny, poignant, and incisive memoir about growing up with her father. Listen to a sample:  On Oprah’s Fall Reading List. “A rare combination of candor, humor, and compassion, this book is for all [listeners], especially of literary and family memoirs, and all fans of Heller. A fine combo with Tracy Daugherty’s Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller.” —Library Journal Starred Review “An affectionate family scrapbook crafted with a bittersweet blend of humor and pathos.” —Kirkus “Charming and combative.” —The New York Times

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BIG MEMOIR GIVEAWAY

I’ve been honored to narrate a number of memoirs – honored, because when an author is sharing the (sometimes funny, sometimes painful, sometimes both) intimate details of their personal experience, I really want to get it right. To celebrate the recent release of Isabel Gillies’ memoir of divorce and bouncing back, A YEAR AND SIX SECONDS, I am giving away a copy of it along with two other amazing books that take on life’s big challenges.  IMPERFECT ENDINGS, by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter, is “the uplifting story of a woman determined to die on her own terms and the family who has to learn to let her go”.  SADDLED, by Susan Richards, is “a memoir about the power of animals to carry us through the toughest times of our lives”. These books may all sound terribly depressing – but I loved reading them all and was inspired by each of these women to face my own life challenges with grace, humor and humility. To enter to win CD copies of these 3 memoirs, just make a comment below by noon EST on Monday, September 19.  A winner will be chosen at random, and will be contacted via the email you leave on the contact form so that I can get your snail mail address.  Continental US entries only, please!

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DISASTER PREPAREDNESS by Heather Havrilesky

Available from Blackstone Audiobooks                   Listen to a sample here:   “As a kid of the 1970s, Havrilesky drafted plans and mapped escape routes in case any of the catastrophes depicted in the era’s popular disaster flicks happened in real life. Everything from alien invasions to house fires were covered. But what about growing up? There aren’t enough tin-foil hats in the world to prepare for the myriad everyday farces and small disasters that scar us emotionally in the course of coming of age. Disclosing her family history with both intimacy and sarcastic wit, Havrilesky focuses on her relationship with her parents, the aftershocks of their divorce, and her active pursuit of self—in cheerleading, boxing, New Age therapy, and some awkward romantic entanglements. While this memoir is dedicated to her fiercely independent mother, she creates a pensive, loving, and honest eulogy for her late father, the spontaneous adventurer. The end, refreshingly free of spite and full of hard-won optimism, is the true accomplishment of her work.”  Booklist –Courtney Jones

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