Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne forges a new epic feminist retelling for fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story as they strive for a better world. Don’t miss Barrie Kreinik’s narration of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, from the perspective of Ariadne and her sister Phaedra.
Hola Audiophiles, and happy Pride month! I’m kicking off the celebration by finally reading Casey McQuiston’s latest which just came out this week. Tell me, what books are you reading this month? While you get your answers ready, let’s talk about new books and the fantastic collection of short stories I just devoured.
Ready? Let’s audio.
New Releases – Week of June 1st
publisher descriptions in quotes
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Cynical 23-year-old August has just moved to New York City with a very firm “magical love stories don’t exist” mentality. Then she meets a dazzling, edgy, and mysterious woman named Jane on the train and BOOM, instant crush. Jane soon becomes the best part of August’s day, until she discovers a pretty big problem: Jane doesn’t just look and dress like an old school punk rocker: she literally IS from the 70s. August will have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help June get back where she belongs. (romance)
Read by Natalie Naudus (The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, a new queer retelling of Gatsby!)
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
Four years ago, Addie and Dylan fell in love under the Provence sun. He was a wealthy Oxford student vacationing at their friend Cherry’s gorgeous villa and she a wild-child working there as a caretaker for the summer. They were a perfect match…until they weren’t. Now their lives have collided most comically: on their way to Cherry’s wedding, Dylan and Addie’s cars are involved in a crash. With one car wrecked and time a’ticking, Addie and her sister Deb find themselves begrudgingly agree to drive Dylan and his best friend Marcus to the rural Scotland wedding. Things so super smoothly, right? Wrong. Hilarious! But so, so wrong. (romance, rom-com)
(tw: sexual assault, non-graphic)
Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
Ashley C. Ford is an American writer, podcaster and educator and this is her much-anticipated memoir. “Through poverty, adolescence, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley Ford wishes she could turn to her father for hope and encouragement. There are just a few problems: he’s in prison, and she doesn’t know what he did to end up there.” Ford shares her deeply personal story with readers, exposing how isolating a childhood growing up a poor with a family fragmented by incarceration can be. This promises to be an impactful, if heartbreaking, read. (memoir)
This audiobook is read by the author and includes a bonus conversation with Clint Smith—who also has a new book out this week!
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
It’s August 1983 in Malibu. The four Rivas siblings are the offspring of legendary singer Mick Riva. There’s Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer and the other a famed photographer; and their baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings command a Kardashian-esque fascination the world over. Nina is getting ready to throw her annual end-of-summer party; but over the course of 24 hours, all of their lives will change forever. (historical fiction)
How the World is Passed by Clint Smith
Many of you may know writer and poet Clint Smith’s wonderful work from The Atlantic. This is his debut work of nonfiction, a “deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history.” He starts with his hometown of New Orleans and takes readers on a tour of moments and landmarks that tell an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping this nation. I am going to take my time with this one. (history)
Read by the author
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
This debut is the first in a new historical mystery series set during the Harlem Renaissance, so I’m already sold. Louise is a young Black woman who works at a café by day and at Harlem’s hottest speakeasy by night. When a girl turns up dead in front of the café—the third local Black girl to turn up dead in the past few weeks—Louise is forced to confront a past she’s tried so hard to run from. When an altercation with a cop gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: she can help the police catch the killer or wind up in a jail cell. Not really much of a choice, is there? Louise will have to go toe-to-toe with a murderer bent on taking more lives, possibly her own… (mystery)
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
I haven’t been great about reading short stories lately and wanted to change that, so I borrowed this audiobook from Libby after no less than seven friends commended it (LOL: one of them told me to read “this amazing audiobook, I think it’s called Women Who Go to Church?). I told myself I’d listen to one story every night during my skincare routine. Theeeeen I liked it so much that I finished it in a day.
The collection of nine stories is described as exploring “the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.” I couldn’t have put that better myself if I tried. There’s the story of two 40-year-old lifelong friends whose relationship turned sexual years ago; on New Year’s Eye 1999, the narrator suggests to her friend that they could be more than occasional lovers, but the friend stills dream of life as a “good Christian woman” and rebuffs her with horrified disgust. In another stories, two women have fled their hometown in the south to live freely and safely as a same-sex couple. But one of the women grapples with the concept of home, of family, of longing for the people and places that made you even though they may no longer be good for you. There’s another story of a teenage girl reckoning with her mother’s cold, abusive behavior and years-long affair with their pastor. She struggles to understand who or what God really is, and what it means to be a god-fearing person at all.
The stories are read with such warmth and tenderness by Janina Edwards (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory). She puts so much heart into each narrative, like she’s reading from her own diary and not a collection of short fiction. On a personal level, I related sooo hard to the stories where characters examined their relationship with faith and religion with new eyes. I cried in my car at least twice as these fake people poured their hearts out and shared the softest parts of their conflicted souls.
This is one of the best story collections I’ve read in years and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
From the Internets
at Audible: The Best Lesbian Listens by Queer Authors
at Libro.fm: Take their quiz to get an audiobook rec for Pride!
at Publishers Weekly: According to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobook sales rose 12% in 2020.
at The Washington Post: The best audiobooks for your summer drive, sorted by length — and who’s in the car.
Over at the Riot
An Ode to Audiobooks Improving My Life – I love this post so much.
AudioFile has announced the latest Golden Voices inductees. I am slow-clapping for Cassandra Campbell and Soneela Nankani!
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with with all things audiobook or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In The Club newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.