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Audiobooks

Audiobooks 04/08/21

Hola Audiophiles! Remember how last week I promised to be done with my latest listen by now? Well, the universe laughed at me and my silly little plans. Since the last newsletter came out, I took my dad to the hospital three times in four days, and then he had emergency surgery on Monday. I’m not sure what day it is anymore and def didn’t finish this book. but I’m going to tell you about it anyway because I love it so far and feel confident enough to recommend it.

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of April 6

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

It’s finally here!!!! My former Read Harder co-host and wonderful friend, Book Riot’s own Tirzah Price, has a book out in the world! This is the first in a series of YA murder mystery Austen retellings (weeee!) In Pride and Premeditation, 17-year-old Lizzie Bennet is an aspiring lawyer. When a scandalous murder rocks London society, Lizzy is convinced authorities have imprisoned the wrong person and sets out to solve the murder on her own. But as the case and her feelings for the heir to the prestigious Pemberley Associates firm (Mr. Darcy, you may have heard of him) become more complicated, Lizzie realizes her dream job could very well get her killed. (YA mystery)

Oh and ehhem, the book is also Barnes & Noble’s April YA Book Club Pick. Just a casual flex for the people!

I was so excited when I found out Morag Sims was reading Tirzah’s book (The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley). Such a perfect choice!

audiobook cover image of Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

Harlem,1998: after a series of pregnancies that’ve ended in heartbreak, Laila turns to the Melancons, an old and powerful Harlem family, for help. She makes a deal to obtain a piece of caul from them, a precious layer of skin that’s said to be the source of their healing power; but the deal falls through and another pregnancy ends in tragedy. Meanwhile another baby is about to be born to her cousin Amara and then given to the Melancons to raise as their own. The matriarchs of that family predict that this child, Hallow, will restore the family’s prosperity, but Hallow grows up to question her identity and the way she was raised. As the Melancons thirst to maintain their status grows, Hallow’s mother Amara is determined to avenge her longstanding grudge against the family. Mother and daughter will cross paths, forcing Hallow to decide where she really belongs. (fiction)

Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt (The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn)

audiobook cover image of Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi is an $@*# gem. Her books just take me out of my body! This latest is the story of Otto and Xavier Shin whose aunt has gifted them a magical train ride as a not-honeymoon honeymoon. The couple realizes that they appear to be alone on this former tea-smuggling train and soon realize that it’s not your average locomotive. When Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a cryptic message, “further clues and questions pile up. As the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.” (literary fiction)

Read by Ben Allen, Intae Kim, Jade Wheeler, Deana Taheri, Rosa Escoda, and Deepti Gupta. The only person I’m familiar with personally from that cast is Deep Gupta but I am already sold based on a preview!

cover image of Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

If you don’t already know about Jenny Lawson and are looking for super candid, often hilarious, sometimes cringey (but charmingly so) musings on mental health peppered with personal anecdotes sharing some very honest struggles, look her up. This latest from Lawson “humanizes what we all face in an all-too-real way, reassuring us that we’re not alone and making us laugh while doing it. From the business ideas that she wants to pitch to Shark Tank to the reason why Jenny can never go back to the post office, Broken leaves nothing to the imagination in the most satisfying way.” (nonfiction, essays, autobiography/memoir)

Read by the author in her signature brand of wacky run-on sentences and relatable quirk. Love her so much.

Latest Listens

audiobook cover image of Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

This is a stunning beautiful desert fantasy set in the Americas. The main character is sixteen year old Xochitl, the cuentista in her village of Empalme. The people in her village give her their stories, then Xochitl returns those stories to the earth, to Solís, at the conclusion of the ritual. The confessor walks away free from the guilt and burden of their story, and Xochitl gives it story back to Solís and promptly forgets it. She’s been told, as have all cuentistas, that this ritual is a necessity for the protection off her village.

Hers is a lonely existence and often a heavy one; she longs to be free and to share her heart with a kindred spirit. Then a horrible tragedy in the village forces Xochitl to consider whether what she’s been told about her role is a lie. It’s on a journey across the desert to get answers that Xochitl is joined by Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the murderous conqueror responsible for the tragedy that sent Xochitl on this quest in the first place. They agree to complete the rest of the journey as companions and soon find themselves drawn to one another. Their hearts could be the match Xochitl longs for… if they can survive the terrors that wait for them in the desert each night when the sun goes down.

We often get asked for recommendations for books where the setting is a character and this is precisely that kind of book. The desert is a living, breathing entity, one that both gives with unexpected benevolence and takes with horrible cruelty. This book is an homage to both the beauty and the terror as well as the people that inhabit these spaces. It’s a gorgeous F/F love story, an action-packed ride full of tons of Espańol, and a thought-provoking examination of the weight of taking on other people’s stories.

As for narration, Frankie Corzo (Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester, Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova) really hasn’t let me down. Her tone pairs perfectly with the story, emotional and vulnerable yet full of quiet power just like Xochitl herself. She handles the pacing wonderfully and gives distinct personalities to each character deftly. I so enjoy spending time with her warm and lovely performances.

From the Internets

at Audible: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is the Fictional Oral History You Have to Hear

at Audiofile: 5 Audio Novels for Spring

at The Washington Post: The top audiobooks of the last year, according to our readers

at Libro.fm: 10 Must-Read Books on Urban History, Monopoly, Inequality, and Tech

Libro.fm is also gearing up for Independent Bookstore Day! Spend at least $15 USD at your indie either online or in-person between April 24th and 26th then submit your receipt to get a free audiobook! See the list of awesome selections here.

Over at the Riot

7 Great Mysteries and Thrillers on Audio


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 4/01/21

Hola Audiophiles! Don’t hate me: I don’t have a Latest Listen like I said I would because I’m still not done with my current book. I have an excuse though, and that’s that I was babysitting my adorable nephew for a few days while his equally adorable baby sister came into the world! I’m so in love with both of these tiny humans and gladly put my reading on hold to be part of this big moment in their lives. I’ll be back next week with a review, for reals this time. I do have some awesome new releases and newsy bits to tide you over in the meantime.

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of March 30th

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib

Borrowing its title from a speech by Josephine Baker at the March on Washington in 1963, Hanif Abdurraqib’s latest is a reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. “With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent.” If you’re a fan of Go Ahead in the Rain, Abdurraqib’s love letter to A Tribe Called Quest like I am, this is a must read/listen. (music, US history)

Read by JD Jackson (The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead)

audiobook Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Facing down an invasion by Fjerda, King Nikolai Lantsov must summon every tool at his disposal if he wants to win, including the monster within. Standing with him is Zoya the stormwitch who has lost too much to war and refuses to bury another friend; but duty demands she embrace her powers and become a weapon for the king, no matter the cost. Nina is working deep undercover as a spy in Fjerda, but her deep desire for revenge may cost her country its freedom—and the chance to heal her broken heart. (YA fantasy)

Read by Lauren Fortgang (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo)

audiobook cover image of She's Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

I love Wendy Heard and Frankie Corzo; put ’em both together in a YA thriller inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray set in my hometown and you get an instant addition to my TBR. Summer is winding down in San Diego; Veronica is bored and uninspired in her photography. Her best friend Nico is insatiable and obsessed with chaotic performance art. Then lonely, magnetic Mick changes everything between them, the perfect artistic subject and Veronica’s dream girl. As the days get hotter and longer, they soon find themselves falling in love. They’re so deep in all these feelings that they never see it coming: “One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.” (YA thriller)

Read by Frankie Corzo (Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro, Bailey Carr (The Night Swim by Megan Goldin), Stephen Dexter (To Good to be True by Carola Lovering)

audiobooks cover image of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

This book sounds! so! good! Opal is a fierce, independent Black woman coming of age in Detroit pushing the envelope with her music and style. She’s discovered by aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles at a bar’s amateur night, and off they go making rock music together. Then in 1970’s New York, just as she’s finding her place in it’s funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a concert. “Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth.” (historical fiction)

Check out this ridiculous full cast: Janina Edwards, Bahni Turpin, James Langton, André De Shields, Dennis Boutsikaris, Steve West, and Gabra Zackman. Give it to me!

From the Internets

at Audiofile: 5 Questions with Narrator Adenrele Ojo

at Libro.fm: 5 Reasons to Listen to Fantasy on Audio

Costco launches new Audiobook Store and iOS App

Eleven Diverse Audiobooks in Verse

Over at the Riot

8 Epic Family Sagas on Audio


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 3/25/21

Hola Audiophiles! In addition to some of the week’s new releases (so good!), today I’m giving you a list of books to combat AAPI racism and educate readers on its long history in the US. Some of these were also featured in this week’s In the Club, but I’d like to share them far and wide. My focus here is on books about the East Asian community due to the surge in violence affecting East Asians in this moment. Books are not going to solve the problem on their own, but they’re a place to start.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of March 23 

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico by Juan Villoro, translated by Alfred MacAdam

Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico by Juan Villoro, translated by Alfred MacAdam

I can’t wait to get my hands on this! The title Horizontal Vertigo refers to the ever-present threat of earthquakes that led Mexicans to build their capital city outward rather than upward. “With the perspicacity of a keenly observant flaneur, Juan Villoro wanders through Mexico City seemingly without a plan, describing people, places, and things while brilliantly drawing connections among them. In so doing he reveals, in all its multitudinous glory, the vicissitudes and triumphs of the city’s cultural, political, and social history: from indigenous antiquity to the Aztec period, from the Spanish conquest to Mexico City today…” Those are admittedly some fancy words to describe what sounds like a really wonderful deep-dive into the history (and a tour of) the sprawling metropolis that is my mother country’s capital city (nonfiction, travel guide, history, in translation)

Read by Gabriel Porras (The Other Americans by Laila Lalami). Gabriel is a Mexican actor born in Mexico City with this beautiful, richly accented voice. This should be a real treat on audio.

audiobook cover image of Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Oh my gatos, Aiden Thomas’ next book is here! In this dark and twisty reimagining of Peter Pan, Wendy and her two brothers went missing five years ago in the woods behind her house. Wendy was found, but her brothers weren’t. Years later, Wendy is 18 and the town’s children have started to disappear, bringing questions about her brothers’ mysterious disappearances back into the light and casting new suspicions on Wendy. She attempts to run away from it all and in doing so almost runs over an unconscious boy in the middle of the road. His name is Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, and he wants Wendy to help him rescue the missing kids. Time for Wendy to face whatever’s waiting in those woods… I’m so excited to see what they’ve done with this story after the sheer delight that was Cemetery Boys. (YA fantasy)

Read by Avi Roque, who also read the audiobook of Cemetery Boys. Avi is a Latinx, trans, nonbinary actor & artist whose voice work is so bright and rather youthful sounding—perfect for Aiden’s books.

cover image of The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

Virginia, 2004: After her fiancé disappears on what should have been their wedding day, Lara Barnes embarks on a desperate search for answers that leads her to her great-grandmother’s diaries. Those diaries speak of the dark and magical circus in 1920s Paris “where women weave illusions of magnificent beasts, carousels take you back in time, and trapeze artists float across the sky.” The Secret Circus owners’ daughter meets a charming young painter and embarks on a passionate affair that may have set off the curse that has haunted the women of Lara’s family for generations. That curse may also have something to do with her fiancé’s disappearance. (fantasy)

Read by Emily Lawrence (House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig)

audiobook cover image of Red Widow By: Alma Katsu Narrated by: Mozhan Marnò

Red Widow by Alma Katsu

Ooh, a spy thriller! CIA agent Lyndsey Duncan crossed a line with a colleague while on assignment and she’s been benched as a result. So when a former colleague and chief of the Russia Division recruits Lyndsay to join her for an internal investigation, Lyndsey jumps at the chance to help find a mole and prove herself. During the investigation, she strikes up an unusual friendship with fellow agent Theresa Warner, the wife of a former director killed in the field under suspicious circumstances who’s now known as the “Red Widow.” She has knowledge that proves invaluable to Lyndsey, but when she uncovers a “surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she unearths a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it…” (mystery, spy thriller)

Read by Mozhan Marnò (The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict).

Books to Combat AAPI Racism

audiobook cover image of Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

This is part memoir, part cultural critique recounting Cathy Park Hong’s childhood and life as the daughter of Korean immigrants. She describes “minor feelings” such as shame and suspicion as occurring when American optimism contradicts lived experience—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. (Read by the author)

audiobook cover image of All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Nicole Chung was a transracial adoptee, raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town when her Korean parents put her up for adoption at her premature birth. As Nicole grew up and found her identity both as an Asian American and as a writer (while facing discrimination her parents couldn’t see), she began to question the veracity of the mythologized version of her adoption story she’d been told all her life, one that painted her biological parents as making the ultimate sacrifice to give her a better life. (Read by Janet Song)

audiobook cover image of The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

This comprehensive history by professor Erika Lee tells the story of Asians in America, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and other Asian identities from the 16th century to the present. It makes plain a pattern of anti-Asian policies and examines the labeling of Asian Americans as America’s “model minorities.” (Read by Emily Woo Zeller)

Non-Audio Bonus Picks

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This is a graphic novel and thus not suited for audio, but worth the read. Activist and actor Takei shares the story of his family’s harrowing experience in multiple Japanese internment camps during World War II. Takei’s story is reminder of just how recent this atrocity in our nation’s history is and the importance of discussing that history in the here and now, especially when it’s so rarely taught in schools.

cover image of Yellow Peril edited by John Kuo Wei Tchen and Dylan Yeats

Yellow Peril: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear edited by John Kuo Wei Tchen and Dylan Yeats

Here’s another bonus pick because of its visual element. Published in 2014, this comprehensive archive of anti-Asian images and writing documents the rise of the idea of the Yellow Peril (anti-Asian fear-mongering and paranoia) through an extensive collection of paintings, photos, pulp novel drawings, movie posters, comics, pop culture ephemera, and more.

From the Internets

at Audible: interviews with Sarah Penner about The Lost Apothecary and meditation guru Jesse Israel

at Audiofile: Mysteries in Honor of Women’s History Month

at Libro.fm: AAPI-Owned Bookstores to Support and an interview with Kendra Winchester, co-founder of the Reading Women podcast (and awesome writer of Book Riot’s weekly audiobooks feature)!

Over at the Riot

Meet the winners of the 2021 Audie Awards!

I love Soneela Nankani and this roundup of some of her best work.


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 03/18/21

Hola Audiophiles! I’m down in San Diego for just shy of two months now that my family is vaccinated, and my baby niece will be born in about a week! I’ve been blasting through audiobooks while shopping in anticipation of this trip and can’t wait to scream about my favorites! Today’s Latest Listen almost made me crash my car while shopping for baby clothes. SO GOOD. I’ve learned that I manor cut out for a life of crime. I’d give myself an ulcer from the stress!

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of March 16th 

(publisher descriptions in quotes)

audiobook cover image of Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine is a biracial, unenrolled tribal member with dreams of studying medicine who puts her future on hold to care for her ailing mother. She has a crush on Jamie, the new recruit on her brother’s hockey team, but lately she gets the sense that Jamie might be hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a murder and gets pulled into an undercover criminal investigation into a new lethal drug. She secretly pursues her own investigation on the side, using her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to suss out the culprits. But the deceptions and the deaths keep coming, and “Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.” (YA fiction, mystery)

Read by Isabella Star LaBlanc, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota stage and screen actor who played Tiger Lily in a Shakespeare Theatre Production of “Peter Pan and Wendy.” This is her first audiobook credit that I could find, I’m excited to listen!

audiobook cover of The Way Madness Lies

That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined by Dahlia Adler (editor)

Speaking of Shakespeare, I love me a reimagining of The Bard’s tales, don’t you? This collections brings together 15 acclaimed YA writers as they put their modern spin on ol’ Willy’s celebrated classics. Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining The Merchant of Venice), Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale), Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet), Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147), Anna-Marie McLemore (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Samantha Mabry (Macbeth), Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus), Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night), and more!

Read by Lily Anderson, Ariel Blake, Patrice Caldwell, Caitlin Davies, Ramon de Ocampo, Almarie Guerra, Cary Hite, North Homewood, Barrie Kreinik, Nikki Massoud, Joy McCullough, Mark Oshiro, Avi Roque, Julia Whelan, and Landon Woodson

audiobook cover image of The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who “understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends” (I love that). She has her life plan all mapped out and it doesn’t include the marriage her matchmaking family expects of her, so she asks her childhood crush to be her fake fiancé. It just so turns out that this crush of hers, venture capitalist Liam Murphy, is in a bind of his own that could be remedied with a fake engagement: his inheritance is contingent on being married. A marriage of convenience will solve both of their problems, right? I love me a fake dating/marriage rom-com! (romance, romantic comedy)

Read by my fave Soneela Nankani! (His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey)

Latest Listen

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A Cosby

Beauregard “Bug” Montage is trying to keep his head above water and do right by the people he loves. He’s an honest mechanic who runs his own shop, he’s a devoted husband, and he’s a loving father to his three children. Bug is also knows as the best wheelman on the East Coast, but that life is behind him now. At least it was until a new auto shop moved into town and ate up his clientele. Now bug owes three months of rent on his shop and the bills keep piling up. So when he’s approached by someone from his former life, a shady character who did him real dirty on a job, Bug knows he shouldn’t trust him when he promises this new job will be an easy payout. He knows he should say no, but he can’t. So he agrees: one last job and then he’ll be out of the game for good. Guess how well that turns out?

Holy sh*t. The car chase and heist scenes are so intense, more than I forgot they could be in in book form. I listened to this one primarily while driving and kept clutching my steering wheel with white knuckles like I was the getaway driver in an illegally modified car. I was wound up tight for whole chapters at a time hoping the cops wouldn’t catch up, that the car wouldn’t crash, that the bad guys wouldn’t win (are there… any good guys?), that Beauregard’s wife and kids would stay safe. And that brings me to the most compelling part of the book: Bug as a character study. You root for Bug, but he’s a complicated man. He’s flawed and makes a lot of poor choices, some that feel avoidable and others made in desperation with his back against a wall. You feel for him even when he goes down the path we as readers so clearly see is not going to end well, and recognize that so much of his experience as a Black man in the south plays into the choices made available to him in the first place.

Lastly, we need to talk about this narrator. Adam Lazarre-White is an actor, writer, director, and producer known for roles in film and television like Scandal, The Young and the Restless and Ocean’s Thirteen (how fitting). And sir, I just wanna know *Rihanna voice* wheeeeere have you been all my life? How dare you be this perfect!? There’s an interview with S.A. Cosby at the end of the audiobook where he’s asked about the performance, and his response was to wonder if Adam Lazarre-White had been in his head while he was writing the book. It felt like he was Bug, and then like he was the rest of the characters, too. His delivery is so natural, effortless, so guttural in those tense moments and calm in moments of (charged, so charged) stillness. He nailed it. He just nailed it! This is easily one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in years.

If you’re looking for dark, gritty, nuanced heist thriller that feels like The Fast and the Furious + The Italian Job + the Starz show Power but set in the south with fantastic, immersive narration, pick this up.

From the Internets

The Libro.fm team has revealed their biannual To Be Listened To (TBLT) List! From author-read audiobooks to audio originals and full-cast productions, these 16 spring releases feature something for every audio taste.

Aaron Paul and Krysten Ritter of Breaking Bad (and other) fame are reuniting to voice characters in a new James Patterson audio drama.

Scribd Audio has officially launched with 40 audiobook titles in its first run. Among those 40 titles is a version of Black Imagination read by Daveed Diggs and Lena Waithe. Cool stuff!

These 5 audiobooks recount American history as written and voiced by Black women

Over at the Riot

7 of the Best Middle Grade Audio Books


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks 03/11/21

Hola Audiophiles! Welcome back and Happy Thursday! I woke up with more sun in my city’s forecast and exciting life things on the horizon so I’m feeling all kinds of gratitude. I’m reminded that so many people are still going through it right now, so before I get to the audiobooks today, I want to drop a couple of important links for anyone looking to help communities in need.

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of March 9, 2021

(publisher descriptions in quotes)

cover image of Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman

Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman

You can hear me gush about it on this week’s All the Books episode. Jess Zimmerman is the editor in chief at Electric Lit, and this is her cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology. She discusses 11 female monsters, including Medusa, the Harpies, and the Sphinx, breaking down how women have been labeled as monsters for daring to be everything from sexual to angry (ya know: human). This is a wonderful work of feminist cultural critique and a sweet sweet hit of dopamine for all my mythology nerds. (essays, nonfiction)

This one was read by the author and it’s great! On the podcast, I said I might have preferred this one in print. But! The only reason I personally felt that way is because mythology books *always* send me on a Google rabbit hole and I like to be able to go back and reference earlier parts of the book. It is still a fantastic audiobook!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

The third book in the Brown Sisters series is finally here! Eve is trying to get her act together and her parents are about to cut her off I she doesn’t. She goes for a long drive that ends with her stumbling across a charming bed & breakfast and ends up in a (very)spontaneous!) job interview for a head chef position. It does not go well though, especially the part where Eve goes to leave and—accidentally? mostly?—hits the B&B owner with her car. Whoopsie! Guess she’ll have to stick around to help while he recovers for his injuries. Awkward! But also: steamy. See my full review below under Latest Listen! (contemporary romance, rom-com)

cover image of We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart

We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart

Leviathan is an aging nuclear submarine with a sacred and secret mission: to trigger the Second Coming when the time is right. Remy, who was taken from the surface world and raised to sing in a choir of young boys board the ship, is part of a strange crew who controls the Leviathan. Remy also has a secret: she’s a girl, and the ship’s old chaplain gave her the missile launch key just before he died. She promised to keep it safe, but the new chaplain has priorities of his own and safety doesn’t seem to be among them. Remy will have to decide for herself how to handle the fate of the world. (science fiction)

Read by Mia Ellis; I knew I wanted to talk about this book as soon as I heard a sample. Mia is new to me but her pace, clarity, and tone are exactly what I love in a tight sci-fi novel.

Latest Listens

New life mantra after reading this book: find you a partner who looks at you like you’ve disinfected and restocked every bathroom in the building.

In Act Your Age, Eve Brown, our favorite purple-haired free spirit who mixes up words and whose AirPods practically live in her ears is trying to figure out the adulting thing. She had a pretty good run as an event planner, but then she freed some doves at a wedding when she wasn’t supposed to and that was a wrap on that.

cover image of Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Her parents sit her down and give her the “enough is enough” talk: Eve needs to get an keep a job or she’ll officially be cut off. Hurt by their lack of faith in her, she takes off on a long, meandering drive that ends at a charming B&B a ways from home. I can’t recall why she goes inside (probs to use the loo), but she’s almost immediately asked if she’s there to interview for the head chef position. She’s all “Yeah yeah yeah, sure sure!” Buuuuuut the very bottled-up, likes-things-just-so owner of the B&B, Jacob, takes one look at Eve with her purple braids, graphic tee, and all that hope/youth/positivity and shuts that sh*t down quick. Eve goes on her merry way, but then… she hits the dude with her car.

Now Jacob’s arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, so he kind of has no choice but to accept that his business partner has hired Eve to stay on and help run the place.These two are polar opposites in so many ways, so obviously hilarity ensues! But also… sexy times. I’m bringing back the body roll, y’all.

Talia Hibbert has shared how challenging it was to write this book in a pandemic, but she knocked it out of the park. This might just be my favorite book in the series! She just has the lock down on fun, realistic, contemporary romance that’s as heartwarming as it is steamy (so steamy) and actual laugh-out-loud hilarious! The entire scene where she tries to set up a cute “friend date” for her and Jacob and then the guy finds a certain purple toy of hers in the couch cushions took me all the way out (that toy’s name is M’Baku, in case you were wondering). I also really appreciated the thoughtful conversations around the autism spectrum (I’m not saying more about that to avoid spoiler stuff). I just loved this book so much.

I loved it extra hard because of Ione Butler, who also reads Take a Hint, Dani Brown. She nails Eve’s youthful, bubbly persona and indefatigable sense of humor with such ease and then just as smoothly transitions into Jacob’s prim, proper, and prickly demeanor without a hitch. She does sex scenes really well, which as I’ve said, is a skill! She gives us all the heat and lusy tension and does it so naturally. I sadly didn’t get to shock the hell out of a family in a Subaru with this audiobook since I don’t really drive a lot in these pandemmy days, but I enjoyed it just the same.

From the Internets

at Audible: Why Nnedi Okorafor Keeps Coming Back to Coming-of-Age Stories

at AudioFile: 5 Audiobooks & 5 Recipes

at Libro.fm: Quiz: Reads for Women’s History Month

Over at the Riot

7 of the Best Audiobooks by Australian Women Writers

Where to Find Audio Dramas and Audiobooks with Sound Effects


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

Thanks again to our sponsor for today’s newsletter, OrangeSky Audio and The Alex Vane series by A.C. Fuller! It’s one year after the 9/11 attacks and court reporter Alex Vane is fighting to break into the flashy world of TV news. But when he uncovers the scoop of a lifetime, his tightly-controlled world is rocked: his editor buries his story, a source turns up dead, and Alex finds himself at the center of a violent media conspiracy.

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks 03/04/21

Hola Audiophiles! I’m writing you from yet another sunny day in Portland. I am living for these temps warm enough to not need the giant fuzzy socks and fingerless gloves I’ve been wearing while I work! There are tons of great books out this week, many of which I’ve already read or am in the process of reading. Let’s get to the audio things so I can get back to soaking up this Vitamin D with an audiobook in my ears.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of March 2nd

publisher descriptions in quotes

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is the latest from the author of Never Let Me Go and his first release since winning the Novel Prize in Literature. Klara is an Artificial Friend who spends her days observing the folks browsing inside the store and passing by on the street, waiting for a customer to choose her. This is “a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?”(fiction)

Read by Sura Siu (No Planet B by Lucy Diavolo) – I sampled this audiobook and found what I heard of Sura Sia’s performance to be simultaneously soothing and ominous? Or maybe just foreshadowing? Very interested in this one.

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira

A costly mistake left Carmen Aguilar a few credits short of being able to graduate, so she’s retaking an internship class to earn her high school diploma. That’s how she finds herself working as a Dream, performing at kid parties dressed in a giant Disney princess gown in the middle of a Miami summer. The gig is actually not that bad though, one she gets to do with her best friend. But then the boy who broke her heart joins the Dream team (sorrynotsorry), which is awkward, just as the Dreams are hired to perform at the quinceañera of the bratty cousin who betrayed Carmen and ruined her reputation, which is even more awkward. If she wants to earn those credits, Carmen will have to manage dancing in the brutal Miami heat, fending off that papi chulo ex of hers, and stopping her spoiled prima from ruining her own dang quinceañera. If she can do all of that, she might just get her happily ever after. I’m listening to this one now and I am obsessed! contemporary YA)

Frankie Corzo (Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey) – Okay, so I’m doing it (have I done this?) I’m adding Frankie to my list of faves. I enjoy spending time with her so much and feel like she keeps getting better and better at her craft. She was a Cuban mom (and tia, and tio, and prima, etc) in this book.

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

This book had me at “constellation magic on the Underground Railroad,” then I saw Bahni on narration and, well, ya know. Sold. In this exciting work of speculative historical fantasy, the Civil War is over. Hetty Rhodes is a former conductor on the Underground Railroad who used a combination of wits and magic to shepherd dozens of people north to safety. She and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia where they dedicate themselves to solving murders and mysteries that White authorities want nothing to do with. Then Hetty and Benjy find one of their own slain in an alley; they bury the body and head off in search of answers, but “the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.”

Read by Bahni Turpin (The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi)

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

I’ve been meaning to read Elly Griffiths for years, and how can I resist when her latest is pitched for fans of Anthony Horowitz and Agatha Christie?? A 90-year-old woman, Peggy, dies of a heart condition—nothing to investigate there, right? That’s what Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur thinks at first, then the deceased woman’s caretaker, Natalka, shows up at the police station with some interesting information: while clearing out the woman’s flat, Natalka finds an unusual number of crime novels, all dedicated to Peggy with a cryptic postscript. Detective Kaur suspects there’s more going here that meets the eye, especially when a gunman breaks into the house, steals one of the books, and the novel’s author is found dead shortly thereafter. That marks the beginning of a string of attacks on writers from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. Must! read! (mystery)

Read by Nina Wadia (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach)

Latest Listen

I usually like to avoid back-to-back reviews for the books in the same genre, but I couldn’t resist this week. I’m going back to YA fantasy (last week was Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones), and friends: my latest listen is SO good.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

This audiobook is a 19-hour listen (less at the 1.2 speed at which I listened to it, but still) but I finished it in a little over two days. I went on so many dang walks, took my sweet time folding laundry, cooked a bunch—any excuse to throw on this audiobook because I just couldn’t stop.

Plot refresher: What we’re getting here is Southern Black Girl Magic with a modern-day twist on Arthurian legend plus a little romance, too. After her mother dies in a car accident, 16-year-old Bree Matthews needs an escape from painful memories and her childhood home. She and her bestie enroll at a residential program for bright high school students at UNC Chapel Hill thinking it’ll be just the thing to bring Bree back to life, but things don’t go according to plan. On her very first night on campus, she witnesses a magical attack that she very much wasn’t supposed to see and almost gets kicked out of the program for being caught off campus. In the aftermath of the attack, Bree discovers that the memory erasure that was supposed to work on her has failed, so she starts asking questions and ruffling feathers. This is how she comes to find out that Chapel Hill is home to a secret demon-fighting society known as the Legendborn whose members are descendants of King Arthur and his knights, and that she possesses a unique magic of her own. Also… a giant magical war is coming and it’s bringing bloodthirsty beasts. This book is a RIDE, yo.

It really is so special to spend time with a heroine like Bree, one who’s dealing with the big evil forces/scary monsters/buried legacy stuff while also navigating the microagressions (and the macro ones) that come with being a young Black woman in the south. I was so ready for the Arthurian stuff with a Black girl lead, but I really didn’t know how deep this book was going to go—or in what direction—and I don’t know how much of it I should tell you either. Part of the “oh… snap!” fun is in finding those parts out for yourself. I figured we were going to see Bree deal with unprocessed grief, and watch her field all kinds of uncertainty as she came to terms with her powers and the secrets of her ancestry. I did not know the exploration of those themes would also be a condemnation of cultural appropriation and our country’s racist past (I am once again bursting with how badly I want to say more here!). Tracy Deonn has done something so incredible with this book, one that makes so many important statements both in its drop-the-mic moments and its asides. Arthurian purists are gonna be big mad.

Joniece Abbott-Pratt’s performance damn near had me in tears. Bree really goes through it in this book and Joniece Abbott-Pratt conveys every one of those ups and downs with such precision, such conviction. The way her voice goes all tender and soft in the romantic bits, or how it cracks in the emotional scenes? Listen, I did the whole Kerry Washington lip quiver at a local park as I sat there trying to keep it together. What a knockout narrator for a knockout book. And guess what? There’s a sequel coming.

From the Internets

at Refinery 29: All The Audiobooks You Can Listen To For Free, Without A Subscription

at Audiofile: 7 Kids’ Audiobooks Celebrating African American Heritage

at Audible: When Audio Is a Portal to Other Realms

at Libro.fm: What to Read in 2021 Based on What You Loved in 2020

at BuzzFeed: 21 Audiobooks And Podcasts By Black Canadians You Have To Listen To

Over at the Riot

6 Great Audiobooks by Trans Authors


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 02/25/21

Hola Audiophiles! Welcome back to another week of audiobook love. There are some really great titles out this week, including releases from Nalini Singh, Joe Ide, Ransom Riggs, and Charlaine Harris. I’m going to tell you about some books that may have flown under your radar, and then immediately run outside to soak up the sun that decided to show itself today.

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of February 23

publisher descriptions in quotes

cover image of The City of Good Death by Priyanka Champaneri

The City of Good Death by Priyanka Champaneri

On the banks of the Ganges sits India’s holy city of Banaras, the place where pilgrims come to be released from the cycle of reincarnation by purifying fire. Pramesh has lived quite contently in Banaras for ten years managing a death hostel, shepherding the dying who who come to the holy city in search of a good death. But one day a lifeless form of a man is pulled from the river, a man with an uncanny resemblance to Pramesh. It turns out it’s his estranged cousin Sagar, and his presence casts a shadow over the life Pramesh and his wife Shobha have built for their family. (fiction)

Read by Manish Dongardive (Mumbai Noir by Altaf Tyrewala) – I’m unfamiliar with Manish’s work, but that sample sold me in seconds! Soothing, smooth, very “tell me more.”

Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer

Toriiiii! I met Tori Telfer (and her mom) when I was still a bookseller in San Diego during an event for her first book, Lady Killers and I’m jazzed to hear about this next effort. This is a look at some of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and the crimes they dared to commit. (nonfiction, true crime)

Read by Jaime Lamchick (Crooked Magic by Eva Chase) – Jaime is another narrator I’m not familiar with, but the sample feels like she’s the perfect person to read this book. Her reading gives me equal parts “this subject is fascinating” and “can you believe women get looked over even in the subject of crime?” Yessss.

Escaping Exodus: Symbiosis by Nicky Drayden

Check this: in the far future nearly a thousand years removed from Earth, humanity survives inside of giant space animals called Zenzee. Cool cool cool. Humanity has also just about driven their giant space friends to extinction with this exploitation. Even better! The good news is that thanks to careful oversight by new minted ruler Doka Kaleigh and sacrifice by all of its crew, life inside the Parados I is now on the brink of utopia. But Doka’s rivals feel threatened by that success; “when a cataclysmic event on another Zenzee world forces Doka and his people to accept thousands of refugees, a culture clash erupts, revealing secrets from the past that could endanger their future.” The stakes are even greater for Doka, and that much stickier; he’s fallen for the one woman he is forbidden to love—his wife. (science fiction)

Read by Staci Mitchell (Colonize This! edited by Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman) and James Fouhey (The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert)

Latest Listens

cover image of Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

I said I was going to buy this one in print because look at that cover! I love me some Shayna Small though and I’m impatient, so I listened to it instead. Shayna (and Namima Forna) did not do me wrong!

It’s the day of the ritual blood ceremony that will determine if 16-year-old Deka be allowed to remain in her village and she really needs her blood to run red. But of course, her blood runs a brilliant gold, the color of the impure. In an instant, the village and family she’s known all her life want nothing to do with her, and she’s subjected to a fate worse than death. She wakes up some time later, dazed and confused in a room with a mysterious woman who makes her an offer: she can stay in the village and submit to her fate, or she can join an army of girls like her and go fight for the emperor. Seeing no other viable option, she follows the woman to join that army. The further she gets into the empire’s mission to eradicate a legion of demons knows as Deathshrieks, it becomes clear that none of what she’s taken for truth in her life is what it seems.

I loved everything about this conflicted heroine marching into battle armed with abilities she knows not the full power of, a young woman who though soft and tender is also as fierce as her blood is gold. Her origins are as much a secret to her as they are to us, and that slow revelation is just pure wow; it’s so satisfying to watch her question authority and trust her intuition, and of course embrace the power she was always taught to fear and despise. Then there’s the pure joy of the friendship she develops with the band of young women alongside her on the battle field, women with physical and emotional scars who ride as hard for Deka as she does for them. There is so much power and Black girl magic vibrating through this whole narrative, it gives me chills. I remember when there were little to no Black and brown girl heroines in YA fantasy (or you know, lit at large). Spending this time with (and rooting for) Deka was really special.

And if I haven’t sold it to you hard enough, here’s this amazing pitch: an African-inspired world that “basically imagines what would happen if the Dora Milaje from Black Panther were stuck in The Handmaid’s Tale and decided they weren’t going to take it anymore.” YES.

Shayna Small (The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson) delivers another solid performance here, giving us the full range of accent work in her repertoire. Small delivers all of them richly and passionately, bringing to life each of the characters’ distinct personalities. The audiobook clocks in at just under 13 hours, but it felt like half that. Go get it!

From the Internets

at Audible: Voices of Audible: Celebrating Black Poetry

at Audiofile: Soak in the Sun and Solve Crimes with these Mystery Audiobooks

at Libro.fm: Traci from The Stacks: Black History Month Audiobook Picks

Over at the Riot

Meet the 2021 Audio Awards finalists!

6 of the best audiobooks for your LGBTQ+ book club. Homie and Red, White & Royal Blue are two of my favorite audiobooks of the last couple of years!

7 Audiobooks for Times When Being an Adult is Too Much. Been there!


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa

Thanks again to our sponsor OrangeSky Audio, publishers of Nightmare House and Mischief by Douglas Clegg. In the chilling Harrow series, a man goes to claim an inheritance and ends up unlocking the long-buried secrets of a sinister mansion—eek! This gothic horror series is perfect for fans of The Haunting of Hill House, Paul Tremblay, and Stephen King.

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks 02/18/21

Hola Audiophiles, and greetings from the other side of a very rare Portland snow storm! I finally got to make snow angels and touch actual powdery, fresh snow for the first time. I’m feeling very grateful to have been warm, cozy, and safe for the whole experience because a lot of folx are out there struggling. My thoughts go to all of you in places ill prepared for the weather you’re experiencing.

For those of us who are able: consider dropping off food, water, blankets, warm clothing, etc for those in need (both the houseless and those otherwise affected). Instagram has been a great resource for me to find places accepting donations here in Portland, and here’s a directory of mutual aid organizations in Texas.

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of February 16 

(publisher descriptions in quotes)

audiobook cover image of The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Evelyn is a brilliant scientist who’s just won a prestigious award for her research in the field of human cloning. She should be ecstatic, but her personal life has fallen apart. Not only did her husband Nathan cheat on her, he did it with a clone of Evelyn, a clone he created behind her back using her own research without her knowledge. The “oh snap!” moments don’t stop there though. That clone, Martine, is pregnant when she’s not supposed to be able to conceive, making her very existence an ethical violation. And another thing: she’s just killed Nathan in self defense after he attacked her first. This is a sci-fi light ride from start to finish that flips the domestic thriller on its head. Oh, to be inside of Sarah Gailey’s mind. What a place! (science fiction, thriller)

Read by Xe Sands (Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey, The Great Offshore Grounds by Vanessa Veselka)

audiobook cover image of Soulstar by C.L. Polk

Soulstar by C.L. Polk

Yesss we finally have the third book in C.L. Polk’s Kingston cycle! Robin Thorpe has kept her magic hidden for years to avoid imprisonment by the state, keeping her head down in Riverside. Then Grace Hensley comes knocking with wonderful news: Robin’s days of hiding are over! Freed witches are flooding the streets of Kingston and returning to the families they were ripped from. Robin begins hashing out a plot to ensure that Aeland remains free and just, but that won’t be easy. She’ll also have to face the “long-bottled feelings for the childhood love that vanished into an asylum 20 years ago.”

Read by Robin Miles (Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson, Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson)

cover image of No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Everyone who’s read this has told me two things: that it’s one helluva genre-bender and that you should go into it knowing as little as possible. So I’ll just give you this: “a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans” and then sh*t gets a little too real. I’m a huge fan of Lockwood’s Priestdaddy and can’t wait to see what she’s done with fiction! (fiction)

Read by Kristen Sieh (One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London)

Latest Listens

cover image of Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein

For those not familiar with Christopher Marlowe, he was a famous Elizabethan poet and playwright, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s and probably his most important predecessor in English drama. He was a bright kid who went on to earn his B.A. from Cambridge and was soooort of working on his master’s a few years later. The university tried to deny him the degree, presumably due to a slew of unexplained absences and rumors that he’d converted to Catholicism and would soon be ditching Cambridge for a Catholic institution—how dare! Then a funny thing happened: advisers to Queen Elizabeth intervened, recommending that Marlowe receive the degree on account of his “services for the state.” In case you’re not picking up what I’m putting down here, it is pretty commonly accepted today that Kit Marlowe was a spy for the Crown. We’ll never actually know for sure because of how spying works, but historical records from that time (of which there are way more of than I expected!) make a pretty good case.

A Tip for the Hangman is an Elizabethan spy thriller that fictionalizes, with creative license, Christopher “Kit” Marlowe’s story. When the book opens, Kit gets called to a meeting by the head of his department at Cambridge, and he assumes Cambridge is about to give him the boot for slacking off. But no, not exactly: the Queen’s spymaster is at this meeting to recruit Marlowe to spy on the papist Mary Stuart (aka Mary Queen of Scots) and prove she’s involved in a plot to commit treason. I say “recruited,” but it’s more like he’s voluntold, so off he goes, more than a little nervous but hoping to get it over with quickly. Spoiler alert: nah.

Kit is smart and resourceful, but also clearly out of his depth. He gets by mostly by the skin of his teeth because he’s a great liar, but you just know his luck is gonna run out sooner or later. He’s also clearly conflicted by the work he does the further he gets pulled into this web of espionage, especially when his involvement starts to have consequences in his personal life. In the middle of a string of treacherous missions and impossible decisions, we also watch his career as a playwright explode. In spite of the fact that you kinda know the ending here ain’t a happy one (if you know a bit about Kit Marlowe), you just keep hoping the author will write in a change of course. The final chapter (and off, the final pages!) just gutted me. Let’s just say hope is a helluva drug.

The performance of this book by James Meunier is just wonderful. He nails the snark and irreverence of Kit’s character so well that you’ll forget, for just a moment, that this isn’t an author telling you their own story, but a voice actor reading the role of a fictional character. He tells it all so naturally, conveying everything— annoyance, love, lust, desperation, betrayal, abject terror—like he was feeling every one of these emotions himself in real time. The parts where he gets low and tender (you’ll see what I mean) are so heartfelt that I had to pause what I was doing and remind myself again that James was not personally traumatized by the beheading of Mary Stuart, or heartbreak.

This book is perfect for fans of historical fiction who also enjoy a queer romance, a lot of snark, and all the tense, suspenseful parts of a classic spy novel. Oh, and make sure to listen to the author’s note for some important notes on artistic license. It’s all just catnip fo history nerds.

From the Internets

AudioFile’s new podcast, Audiobook Break, is bringing novels into a serialized podcast format, presenting an extraordinary audiobook chapter by chapter.

Also from Audiofile, here are six second-chance romance audiobooks to keep you believing in that thing called love.

Libro.fm has a ton of amazing author interviews up on their blog right now:

Over at the Riot

5 of the Best Audiobooks About Food and Cuisine. Yum. I read Rebel Chef last year and loved it! A must-listen if you like reading about celebrity chefs.

Excellent Gifts for Audiobook Lovers – I really love the bright mustard yellow color of that sweatshirt!

Picture it: you go to pick an audiobooks and see there are several versions of the same book. Here are some tips for choosing between varying versions, narrators, and content.


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.
Vanessa


Thanks again to MIRA Books for sponsoring this week’s newsletter, publisher of The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull. This stunning novel tells the true story of the American divorcée who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 2/11/21

Hola Audiophiles! Hello again from Portland where we’re allegedly going to get up to four days of snow! I probably need to go stock up on a few things since this Californian isn’t used to driving in these conditions, so I’ll get this intro over with quickly and get to the part about books.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of February 9th 

publisher descriptions in quotes

cover image of Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein

I will do a full review for this one probably next week, because I just finished it and loved it so much! This Elizabethan spy thriller is a fictional account of a story many believe to be true: playwright Christopher Marlowe was recruited as a spy by the Crown while working on his Master’s at Cambridge in the 1580s. The Queen’s spymaster shows up one day and is all, “Get in loser, we’re going to prove that papist Mary Stuart is plotting treason.” He sort of gets voluntold, so off he goes, and in that moment his life—and history—are forever changed. It’s got a queer romance and a lot of snark and plenty of spy novel aaah-is-he-going-to-pull-this-off-or-die suspense stuff. This one is great for history nerds; it sent me down a Google rabbit-hole for sure. (historical fiction)

Read by James Meunier (Murder Ballads and Other Horrific Tales by John Hornor Jacobs)

cover image of The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

You know I love mythology, but I’m especially excited to read this one because it’s rooted in Norse mythology. Why, you ask? Because I went to a high school called Valhalla and our mascot was The Norsemen, and I’ve been way into Norse mythology ever since the first day of my freshman year when I completed Odin’s March up and across a rainbow bridge and touched Thor’s hammer at the end (it’s a big ol symbolic ceremony that students do again in reverse when they graduate to this day, at least in non-COVID times. I’m not kidding). And now that you know another nerdy fact about me, go get this audiobook! It’s narrated by one of my faves and is all about the banished witch Angrboda who falls in love with that trickster Loki and risks the wrath of the gods in so doing. (mythology, fiction)

Read by Jayne Entwistle (Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell)

cover image of A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

I make a gleeful little noise every time I see a romance or cozy mystery with characters of color at the center, especially when they involve food! In this YA rom-com. Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai are two Vietnamese-American teens who each work at their parents’ neighboring pho restaurants. Bao is stable and reliable, Linh a creative, artsy firecracker. For years, the Nguyens and the Mais and their competing establishments have been at odds, so Bao and Linh have mostly avoided each other. But a chance encounter brings them together and pow! Sparks fly. Sound familiar?! Like maybe a tale that takes place in fair Verona? (YA romance)

Read by Ryan Do (The Writer’s Library by Nancy Pearl, Jeff Schwager), Vyvy Nguyen (Quiet As They Come by Angie Chau)

cover image of Kink by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell

Kink: Stories by R.O. Kwon (editor) and Garth Greenwell (editor)

I knew I wanted to read this book before I knew wtf it was about; I saw a black cover with bright pink text and a contributor list that included R.O. Kwon, Garth. Greenwell, Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, and Carmen Maria Machado. Then I read it, and what a reward. This passage from the intro to the book really sums it up beautifully: “By taking kink seriously, these stories recognize how the questions raised in intimate, kinky encounters…can help us to interrogate and begin to re-script the larger cultural narratives that surround us.” This collection of stories spans the sexual spectrum and ranges from the relatively mild to the super explicit, examining desire, consent, safety, and power dynamics, and asking readers to think about the ways in which gender, politics, and cultural norms inform those power dynamics. I love the framing of kink as empowerment, and the challenge to examine any discomfort you feel in reading these stories. Be warned: it’s NSFW. Don’t come crying to me if you forget to connect your ear buds to your phone at the office. (short stories, erotica)

Read by an ensemble cast: Corey Brill (The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu), Aden Hakimi (Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday), Lameece Issaq (They Never Learn by Layne Fargo), Kyler O’Neal (singer, writer, and actress), Joy Osmanski (This Time Will be Different by Misa Sugiura), Kaipo Schwab (Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse), Aven Shore (Notes on a Killing by Kevin Flynn, Rebecca Lavoie), and Ashton Grooms (actress you may know from Fox’s Star).

cover image of Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Sixteen-year-old Deka is a nervous wreck ahead of the blood ceremony that will determine if she will become a member of her village. She already stands out because of her powers of intuition, so she really, really needs her blood to run red. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs a brilliant gold. If like me, you’re thinking, “oooh pretty,” hold that thought. In Deka’s world, gold is the color of impurity, and Deka will thus face a consequence worse than death. There’s hope though—maybe. A mysterious woman approaches her with a proposition: she can stay in the village and submit to her fate, or she can join an army of girls like her and go fight for the emperor. Does she choose acceptance for an uncertain fate? And is anything—or anyone—what it seems? (fantasy)

Read by Shayna Small (The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson)

Latest Listen

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (Feminine Pursuits #1)

I finally see what all the fuss about this feminist historical f/f romance was about. When we first meet Lucy Muchelney, her lover of several years has ditched her to marry a man for “security.” But her spirits perk up when she receives a letter from Catherine St. Day, the recently widowed Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text. Hey! Lucy happens to be an astronomer. Heartbroken and with no other professional prospects, Lucy takes a gamble and shows up at the countess’ estate unannounced to be like, “Yo, so, hire me!” She doesn’t expect to be bowled over by the countess’ beauty, but she is.

The countess is also taken aback, and not just because she’s feeling some things that she’s never felt for a woman before when she lays eyes on this unexpected guest. She’d only reached out to Lucy in the first place hoping she might know of a person who could help because Lucy’s recently deceased father was a renowned and respected astronomer. Lucy explains that her father not only taught her everything he knew, but that Lucy herself did a lot of the work her father was commissioned for. The countess is all about women’s empowerment, but fears introducing Lucy to society and giving her this important project will piss off the the Very Serious male scientists in the field.

She’s right of course, and it’s only when those science dudes show their entire misogynist asses at a society meeting that the countess makes up her mind: she’ll withdraw the funding she’d committed to that group for the project and will instead allow Lucy to live in her home while she works on the translation by herself. And that’s how Lucy comes to spends her days interpreting the complicated French text at this lovely estate. At night, Catherine and Lucy explore each other’s celestial mechanics if you know what I’m sayin’. Life would be grand if things stayed this way, but old wounds and sabotage by some salty (and inferior) science bros threaten to undo all this happy.

This one is read by Morag Sims (A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian), whose delivery I found so delightful. The banter felt natural and matched the mood (tension! frustration! lust! science feelings!) of every conversation, and the steamy sexy times scenes were wonderfully executed (listen, not everyone can pull this off, but Miss Sims had me asking if it was hot in here). In light of my enthusiasm for this performance, I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that Morag Sims will read the audiobook of Pride and Premeditation, our very own Tirzah Price’s debut Austen-inspired YA murder mystery novel out this spring!!!

But back to the book at hand: there are two more books in the Feminine Pursuits series if you like this one as much as I did: The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows is out now (just… don’t judge the cover) and The Hellion’s Waltz comes out in June.

From the Internets

Audible editors share the listens that changed their lives.

Audiofile has some romance-themed content just in time for Valentine’s/Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day: 5 Audiobooks about Love, Unbidden and Romantic Suspense for Valentine’s Day Listening

at Libro.fm: take a quiz to find your next Black History Month listen

Over at the Riot

5 of the Best YA Audiobooks – You know how I feel about Cemetery Boys!

Short audiobooks that enhance the reading experience


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.

Vanessa

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 02/02/21

Hola Audiophiles! Whoa. This week brought the first book explosion of the year, and there are far too many amazing titles for me to fit in this newsletter! I’m going to highlight a few whose audio performances sound the most exciting, but check out our New Books newsletter if you haven’t already for a more robust list. Let’s get to it before I take up too much of your time.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of February 2, 2021

I truly wish I could talk about ten other books, like Milk Fed by Melissa Broder (queer dark fiction centered on disordered eating, blurbed by Carmen Maria Machado) and The Project by Courtney Summers (look, I have watched two documentaries about NXIVM and one about Heaven’s Gate, I am clearly in the mood for cult stuff). So many books, not enough time! But here are four I’m particularly excited about. (publisher descriptions in quotes)

cover image of  Make Up, Break Up by Lily Menon

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Let’s kick things off with an enemies-to-lovers rom-com, shall we? Annika and Hudson go their separate ways after a summer fling in Vegas, never to see each other again… but not really! Annika gets the quite the unpleasant shock when she learns that Hudson is not only moving into her building in Downtown LA, but into the office right next to hers. She is trying to keep her app, Make Up, afloat, billed as “Google Translate for failing relationships.” Hudson has an app of his own called Break Up (really, bruh?) and it’s wildly successful, and it’s known as “Uber for break-ups.” Well isn’t that just peachy?? The two will clash again and again as they compete in a prestigious investment pitch contest. But again, I did say this was enemies to lovers, so… (romance)

Read by Natalie Naudus (The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart, Ace by Angela Chen). I really enjoy her pace and inflection!

cover image of The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

I mentioned both this book and the next one in yesterday’s In the Club newsletter and I’ll say it again: I’m so surprised that the concept for this book wasn’t explored sooner. So much has been written and read about Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. But very little has been said about the extraordinary women who raised these American icons. In one stunner of a debut, Anna Malaika Tubbs (an educator, Cambridge PhD candidate, and Gates scholar, no big deal) celebrates Black motherhood by telling these women’s stories.

I recently found myself wondering what it must be like right now for the people MLK Jr. left behind: to witness a violent attempted coup largely led by white supremacists and then not a week later hear cries for unity underscored by MLK Jr quotes as though Dr. King wasn’t hated and persecuted in his time (and, you know, assassinated). This book feels like it came right on time; I for one am very interested in getting to know the women who raised these important figures, all of them taken too soon. For some bonus content, you can listen to Anna Malaika Tubbs on Jonathan Van Ness’s Getting Curious podcast. I especially enjoyed the part where he introduced her and said he “loves, like, a PhD moment.” (nonfiction)

Read by the author, whose voice is so bright and fresh! Her passion for this project is evident even in the sample for this title. I’m really excited to see what else she put out into the world.

cover image of Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

It feels lazy to call this anthology impressive, but impressed I am. This is a community history by 90 brilliant writers, each of whom tackles a five-year period from 1619 to the present. Each writer’s approach is different: some wrote historical essays, others short stories, some shared personal vignettes. The result is an important body of work that “fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.” (nonfiction, history, essays)

Read by… everyone? This book features 87 different narrators, including Dion Graham, Robin Miles, Phylicia Rashad, Leslie Odom Jr., Bahni Turpin, and more. Oh my gatos!

cover image of Blood Grove by Walter Mosley

Blood Grove by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley’s infamous Detective Easy Rawlins is back! This is, I believe, the 12th book in this series and returns to the streets of sunny Southern California. Easy “navigates sex clubs, the mafia, and dangerous friends when he reluctantly accepts the racially charged case of a traumatized Vietnam War veteran in late-1960s Los Angeles.” (mystery)

Read by Michael Boatman (Slay by Brittney Morris, Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley), who btw is an actor who’s been in aaaaaall of the crime dramas. I heard him and legit went, “Hey! I know him from SVU!” His voice was practically made for audiobook performance. What a perfect person to read an Easy Rawlins mystery!

Latest Listens

Having finally blasted through my Libby loans last week, I went right back to waiting for other holds to come in. Then I remembered that the Libby app’s landing page usually has a collection of titles with no wait times available for immediate loan. And that is how I came to finally read Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You.

This is, to be honest, not a book that was even on my TBR. When a book is everywhere—for reasons I can’t explain—I either want to run and grab it immediately or unconsciously stay far, far away from it. Everything I Never Told You fell into the latter category, and I don’t know why! I ended up really enjoying it and see why it makes such a good book club pick.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet...” So opens the book, and we very quickly learn that Lydia was the favorite, and I do mean fave-oh-rit, child of Marilynn and James Lee. Marilynn, who is white, and James, who is Chinese, are raising their mixed-race family of five in 1970s Ohio. All their hopes and dreams seemingly rest on Lydia’s shoulders, their perfect golden child who will surely go on to live the life they each once envisioned for themselves. But when Lydia’s body is found at the bottom of a local lake, the gossamer threads holding their family together come undone. The story is told in flashbacks and slowly pieces together what happened on the night of Lydia’s untimely death. It’s told from multiple perspectives, including Marilynn, James, Lydia, and her brother Nathan’s point of view, each revealing secrets and lies they kept from each other and from themselves.

Again, I see why this makes such a good book club pick. It asks us each to examine how well we really know the people we love, and confronts the devastating effects, if not addressed, of generational trauma. It considers the cost of perfectionism, especially the kind we foist on other people who never asked to be crushed under the weight of someone else’s expectations. It asks readers to sit with the idea that hurt people hurt people and to think critically about ambition. I kept finding myself shaking an angry fist at a character on one page only to better understand their motives, though not necessarily forgive them, a few chapters later.

It has been awhile since I listened to a book read by Cassandra Campbell, which is impressive considering her 47 pages of audiobook credits on Audible. I really enjoyed the life she gave to each character, especially Lydia and her siblings, Nathan and Hannah. She did a great job at nailing “frustrated teen” without sounding over-the-top and gimmicky, which many of you know is my pet peeve when adults voice younger characters. She conveyed hurt and anger and grief so well that I had to pause a few times and give it a minute.

If you’re in the mood for fiction that’s also a slow burn mystery and focusses more on the “why” than the whodunnit, and that sits with some of of the unsavory behaviors we exhibit when we feel robbed of our agency, add this one to your TBR.

From the Internets

I know I already expressed my awe for Four Hundred Souls, but here’s a piece from The Root about its star-studded audiobook cast. I’ll say it again for the people in the back: eighty! seven! different! narrators!

Libro.fm is kicking off Black History Month with a new, permanent collection of audiobooks by Black authors. Check out the collection here!

at AudioFile: go behind the scenes of the recording of Barack Obama’s A Promised Land

at Audible: Weezer… wrote a song about Audible?

Over at the Riot

6 Great Audiobooks in Translation – I’d like to add Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, such a good listen! Just speed it up a little, unless you prefer your narration on the slower side.

Great YA Nonfiction on Audio


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com 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.

Vanessa