Well, huh. The last time I posted was September 2013. It seems like it was only yesterday that whatever it was that happened then happened. You know, like…stuff. Well, the holidays happened and then came along the new year which all can be fattening distracting. I’ve been busy and blah, blah, blah…narrating audiobooks blah, blah, blah…

I say that every time don’t I? Well, if nothing else I’m consistent. Without further ado and in no particular order, here are the latest titles since then that I have made come to life in your earballs:

1. “Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World” by Bob Rosen

A provocative, personal approach to leadership based on in-depth research with hundreds of executives around the world.

Confronted by disruptive change and economic turbulence, many of today’s leaders find themselves ill-equipped to manage the hazards they now face. They must contend with chronic uncertainty, cynical employees, and personal burnout. Most are poorly served by the prevailing paradigm that obsessively focuses on what we do to produce short-term results while sabotaging who we are as healthy human beings. Few have seen alternatives, until now.

Grounded proposes a new approach that’s designed for actual humans who must grapple with these forces. This new paradigm speaks to our better selves. Based on the author’s “Healthy Leader” model, it focuses on the six personal dimensions that fuel- and refuel – the world’s top leaders: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational, and spiritual health.

The book argues that leaders at every level can be more self-aware, develop their untapped potential, and drive significantly better results – for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

 

2. “Strength of a Champion: Finding Faith and Fortitude Through Adversity” by O.J. Brigance

As the Baltimore Ravens made their improbable march to victory in Super Bowl XLVII, they turned to their senior advisor of player development, O. J. Brigance, for inspiration each and every Sunday.

Following a stellar 12-year career as a linebacker, including a Super Bowl win with Baltimore in 2000, O. J. “Juice” Brigance joined the Ravens’ front office. But in 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – and told he had only three to five years to live. As a player, he’d battled hundreds of injuries and setbacks. None of them prepared him to face ALS.

With faith and determination in his heart and his wife, Chanda, praying by his side, Brigance fought back against the debilitating disease, even as ALS robbed him of the ability to walk and speak. He kept working, smiling, and touching his players’ lives all the way through their remarkable Super Bowl run-more than five years after his diagnosis.

Now, Brigance shares his incredible story, offering lessons in resilience and reflecting on the championship team that inspired him in turn. Along with his own journey, Brigance recounts the struggles and successes of Ravens players, including Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, and Torrey Smith, as well as the strength of head coach John Harbaugh. Having watched their season from the best seat in the house, Brigance highlights their perseverance, confidence, and leadership, and the best that sports can bring out in people.

Full of profound revelations and never-before-told anecdotes, Strength of a Champion is a celebration of the human spirit from a man who left everything on the field. O. J. Brigance never asked to be a hero. That’s what makes his story so courageous.

 

3. “Prisoner” by Megan Derr

A man whom all men fear…

General Dieter von Adolwulf has led the Scarlet Army of Kria to victory for the past decade, holding the infamous field known as the Regenbogen against Kria’s hated enemies—the deceptive Illussor and the ruthless Salharans. War has waged between the three nations for longer than anyone can remember, but no one has held the Regenbogen as well as the notorious Wolf of Kria and his fearsome army.

A man who fears nothing…

Returning home at the end of the year, the Scarlet Army is attacked in the dead of night by a single man who manages to kill hundreds before he is finally captured. A Salharan soldier with no name, no purpose but to kill, he refuses to bend to the Wolf who takes him prisoner and forces upon him a despicable Krian name.

A man with nothing to lose…

When the rest of his army is slaughtered by Illussor soldiers desperately seeking his prisoner, Dieter determines to hold fast—both for answers and in revenge for the men he lost. But answers and revenge are hard to come by when surrounded by secrets and treachery, and the man least likely to kill him is the prisoner who most wants him dead.

 

4. “In Such Dark Places” by Joseph Caldwell

Eugene is a midwesterner living in New York, an erstwhile Catholic and not-quite-openly-gay photographer. When a Holy Week pageant in the gritty Lower East Side erupts into a riot, he is sucked into the city’s shadowy depths. While photographing the parade, Eugene has his eye on a handsome teen, but when things turn violent the youth is stabbed and Eugene’s camera is stolen. To find the camera and its precious film, which may provide evidence, Eugene has to become acquainted with a seedy, unfamiliar world, and hold on to his sanity in the process. In Such Dark Places is a thrilling debut novel of awakening and obsession.

 

5. “Dark Magic: Dark Series, Book 4” by Christine Feehan

Young Savannah Dubrinsky was a mistress of illusion, a world-famous magician capable of mesmerizing millions. But there was one – Gregori, the Dark One – who held her in terrifying thrall. Whose cold silver eyes and heated sensuality sent shivers of danger, of desire, down her slender spine.

With a dark magic all his own, Gregori – the implacable hunter, the legendary healer, the most powerful of Carpathian males – whispered in Savannah’s mind that he was her destiny. That she had been born to save his immortal soul. And now, here in New Orleans, the hour had finally come to claim her. To make her completely his. In a ritual as old as time…and as inescapable as eternity.

 

6. “Dark Challenge: Dark Series, Book 5” by Christine Feehan

Julian Savage was golden. Powerful. But tormented. For the brooding hunter walked alone. Always alone, far from his Carpathian kind, alien to even his twin. Like his name, his existence was savage. Until he met the woman he was sworn to protect.

When Julian heard Desari sing, rainbows swamped his starving senses. Emotions bombarded his hardened heart. And a dark hunger to possess her flooded his loins, blinding him to the danger stalking him. And even as Desari enflamed him, she dared to defy him – with mysterious, unparalleled feminine powers. Was Desari more than his perfect mate? Julian had met his match in this woman, but would she drive him to madness – or save his soul?

 

7. “Acrobat” by Mary Calmes

Forty-five-year-old English professor Nathan Qells is very good at making people feel important. What he’s not very good at is sticking around afterward. He’s a nice guy; he just doesn’t feel things the way other people do. So even after all the time he’s spent taking care of Michael, the kid across the hall, he doesn’t realize that Michael’s mob muscle uncle and guardian, Andreo Fiore, has slowly been falling in love with him. Dreo has bigger problems than getting Nate to see him as a potential partner.

He’s raising his nephew, trying to leave his unsavory job, and starting his own business, a process made infinitely more difficult when a series of hits takes out some key underworld players. Still, Dreo is determined to build a life he can be proud of – a life with Nate as a cornerstone. A life that is starting to look like exactly what Nate has been seeking. Unfortunately for Dreo – and for Nate – the last hits were just part of a major reorganization, and Dreo’s obvious love for Nate has made him a target too.

 

8. “Sworn to Protect: Sugarland Blue Series Book 1” by Jo Davis

Detective Shane Ford, Sugarland’s favorite cop, has been blindsided by the sudden death of his best friend, NFL star Brad Cooper, and by becoming the legal guardian of Brad’s son, Drew – a bitter, angry 16-year-old with a dangerous secret. Shane is determined to pry the truth from Drew, but he manages only to alienate him – and winds up going head-to-head with Juvenile Officer Daisy Callahan, whose job is to protect the teen’s best interests.

Shane has always been drawn to Daisy’s beauty and strength, but he’s determined not to allow their intense attraction to interfere with his duty ever again. It’s a vow that will prove difficult to keep, as the realities of Shane and Daisy’s blossoming love and their growing bond with the grieving teen propel Shane headlong into danger for the new family he has sworn to protect.

 

9. “Long Division” by Kiese Laymon

Long Division contains two interwoven stories. In the first, it’s 2013: After an on-stage meltdown during a nationally televised quiz contest, fourteen-year-old Citoyen “City” Coldson becomes an overnight YouTube celebrity. The next day, he’s sent to stay with his grandmother in the small coastal community of Melahatchie, where a young girl named Baize Shephard has recently disappeared.

Before leaving, City is given a strange book without an author called Long Division. He learns that one of the book’s main characters is also named City Coldson – but Long Division is set in 1985. This 1985 City, along with his friend and love-object, Shalaya Crump, discovers a way to travel into the future and steals a laptop and cell phone from an orphaned teenage rapper called…Baize Shephard.

They ultimately take these with them all the way back to 1964, to help another time-traveler they meet protect his family from the Klan.

City’s two stories ultimately converge in the mysterious work shed behind his grandmother’s, where he discovers the key to Baize’s disappearance.

 

10. “Hot Pursuit: Sugarland Blue Series Book 2″ by Jo Davis

Taylor is a laid-back, smart-aleck kind of lawman. He’s also a man’s man, as well as every woman’s private fantasy. But years ago, he was part of a botched hostage situation that ended with him being hailed as a tough-as-nails hero-even though the pain, fear, and shame from that terrible day still haunt his every moment.

Cara Evans couldn’t care less about Taylor’s pain. In the moment he became a so-called hero, she lost someone she dearly loved. Yet neither of them is prepared for the instant, undeniable attraction that flares between them-or the danger that’s soon hot on their heels.

 

11. “Pieces of You: Shattered Hearts Series, Book 2” by Cassia Leo

(Co-narrated with Emily Durante and Kris Koscheski) In Relentless, college student Claire Nixon and surfer Adam Parker each had a painful past too heavy to carry alone. Claire tried to push Adam away, but Adam’s relentless pursuit of her heart and her secrets made her walls come crumbling down.

But now Claire’s attending college a hundred miles away from Adam. With their new relationship already hanging by a thread, Adam is sent to Hawaii on business. And Claire’s first love, rock star Chris Knight, is back in her life. Chris wants his ex-girlfriend back. Both he and Claire know that only Chris has the power to mend the final missing piece of Claire’s shattered heart. But Claire’s strength is tested as she is forced to confront the demons she’s been running from for more than a year.

Now Claire must choose between a long-distance relationship with Adam and a second chance at true love, family, and home with Chris.

 

12. “Bring Me Home: Shattered Hearts Series, Book 3″ by Cassia Leo

(Co-narrated with Emily Durante and Kris Koscheski) The breath-taking conclusion to the New York Times and USA Today bestselling series. “Sometimes, letting someone go is the ultimate act of love.” Claire Nixon is a college student with a past full of secrets and heartbreak. She was saved once by her first love, and rock star, Chris Knight. But when she encouraged Chris to leave town to pursue his dreams, both Claire and Chris didn’t realize it would be the biggest mistake of their lives. After a devastating year apart and thousands of miles of distance between them, Claire met sexy surfer Adam Parker. With his awful jokes and profound patience, he helped Claire pick up the shattered pieces of her broken heart for the second time. But now Chris has returned and he is willing and determined to make Claire’s dreams come true—the same way she did for him when she let him go. With Adam’s former girlfriend in the picture, Claire finds herself torn between the new, passionate love she shares with Adam and the love and family she shares with Chris.

 

13. “The Marrow of Tradition” by Charles W. Chesnutt

A fictionalized recounting of the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898, The Marrow of Tradition offers a powerful and harrowing look at many of the political and racial tensions looming in turn-of-the-century South Carolina. Largely drawing upon his own relatives’ first hand accounts of the massacre, Chesnutt used this historical novel to refute many of the misleading, sensationalized spins on the tragedy that were prevalent at the time. Notable for introducing the public to the nuances of propaganda and yellow journalism, The Marrow of Tradition remains one of the most poignant and historically accurate novels ever composed about the postbellum South.

I think that wraps it up. Well I’m off to another narration session. A stroyteller’s tale is never done because after “the end” comes another time once upon. Say, I like that. I think I’ll use it more often.

(promptly forgets it)

-Crisden

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