Audiobooks – 10/01

Hola Audiophiles!

Welcome to October! It’s the spookiest month, the scariest month, and not just because it’s when yours truly was born. I don’t know about you, but I’m officially starting to read and watch all of the witch things. Mwahahaha! I love this time of year.

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of September 29  (publisher descriptions in quotes)

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, read by Anisha Dadia (YA fantasy) – In the first book of Novik’s brand new Scholomance series, El is a student at said Scholomance, a very unique magic school that’s always trying to kill its students in one way or another. There are no teachers, no holidays, and all friendships are strategic. El has one goal: to make it out of the school alive, a goal that’s complicated by all the monsters and cursed artifacts, plus the fact that everyone in the school thinks she’s an evil witch. They don’t even know about that pesky prophecy, the one that says she possesses a dark power that can level mountains and kill millions.

Narrator Note: I just finished this book and loved Anisha Dadia’s narration! She really leaned into the unlikable, bristly but ultimately well-meaning thing and nailed what I imagined El would sound like.

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez, read by Sol Madariaga (contemporary YA) – Camila is living a double life in Rosario, Argentina. At home, she’s a model daughter and sister living under the weight of her family’s expectations, abuse, and double standards. On the field though? She’s La Furia, a powerhouse soccer player with mad skills. When her team makes it to a nationwide tournament, she gets the chance to really show off her talent. Her dream is to get a scholarship to play for a North American university, but a lot stands in her way. the boy she once loved is back in town and oh yeah, minor detail: her parents not only don’t know she plays fútbol, but would strictly forbid it if they did.

Narrator Note: Sol Madariaga also reads Romina Garber’s Lobizona, another buzzy 2020 YA release set partially in Argentina. Love to see it!

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell, read by Allyson Ryan (fiction) – Welp, this sure doesn’t help my insomnia-related anxiety! Karen Russell has dreamt up (ha) a world plagued by lethal insomnia. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dora was one of the plague’s first victims, is a top recruiter for the Slumber Corps where she convinces people to donate their sleep to an insomniac in crisis (ummm, call me?). Slumber Corps is supposed to be at the forefront of the fight against this disease, but are they really? “When Trish is confronted by ‘Baby A,’ the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious ‘Donor Y,’ whose horrific infectious nightmares are threatening to sweep through the precious sleep supply,” Trish’s faith in the organization is put to the test. The book even comes with a Nightmare Appendix!

Narrator Note: You know Allyson Ryan: her most recent work includes Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and Long Bright River by Liz Moore.

Latest Listens

I am dead, gone, and shooketh by my latest listen. That listen is Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching and lemme tell you: believe the hype.

The thing is: it’s best enjoyed if you go in knowing as little as possible. I know I teased the plot in this very newsletter last month when it released, but picture me in a black suit donning some shades and pretend I’ve just done a Men in Black on you. Poof! Your memory is gone. Now go forth, listen, and be wowed.

What I will do is discuss the narration by Susan Dalian and Jay Aaseng. I absolutely loved both of their performances! Susan Dalian is so natural; I believed the fear and paranoia in her narration so much that I wanted to reach out and be like, “Hey friend, you okay?” She gave her characters warmth, charm, and “try me again” energy as appropriate and then turned around with the biiiiiig Karen vibes when needed, too. Jay Aeseng’s voice is rull, rull nice, and thank you sweet baby cheeses because he did not once speak in “Black voice.” Their combined performances, though they never once interacted with one another (each chapter is told from one of two character’s perspectives) somehow still conveyed such chemistry. Best of all: the tension. Oooh the tension! It takes skill to make tense moments feel real in audiobook narration and they both nailed it.

Go forth, and yell “howdy doody” at folks who are doing the most (you’ll see!).

From the Internets

Over at Get Literary: What’s That Audiobook?: Watch Your Favorite Authors Play the Audiobook Guessing Game – I love Ruth Ware sharing her deductive reasoning and Tembi Locke’s many facial expressions (relatable). That reminds me: I need to read From Scratch!

What audiobook should you read next for Hispanic Heritage Month? has a quiz to help you decide.

Audible rounded up audiobooks featuring unlikely heroines.

Audiofile suggests some cozy romances for fall and how glad am I that my hold on You Had Me at Hola just came in?! ALSO it must be said: 1) That yellow book you may have scrolled right past is the follow-up to Book Riot faveThe Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, and 2) pretty please and por favor: look past that… questionable cover.

Over at the Riot

You need to keep learning, I need to keep learning. Let’s all keep learning with these nonfiction audiobooks to teach us some things. I recently talked about Amanda Leduc’s Disfigured, I want to hand that book out to people on the street!

Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at 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, Queen of the Pumpkin Domain

Book Radar

There’s a Romance Novel About COVID and More Book Radar!

Hi friends! Happy first day of October! In the immortal words of Anne Shirley, I’m so happy I live in a world where there are Octobers. I plan on toasting the new month with mugs of cider and cuddling in my sweaters. I might get wild and make a pot of soup!

I’ve got lots of excitement for you today, so let’s dive in!

Trivia question: What town in Connecticut is the setting of Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitters Club?

Deals and Squeals

The Uglies adaptation now has a star and an executive producer in Joey King!

The Booker Prize winners will now be announced on November 20, to make room for a busy week in the book world: Barack Obama’s memoir will be out November 17, and the National Book Award winners will be announced the following day!

Phoebe Robinson announced the first two books to be published under her new Tiny Reparations imprint! You can read an excerpt of one of the books at Kweli Journal.

It’s Banned Books Week! Check out the most challenged books of the last ten years.

Netflix has won the rights to adapt A Note of Explanation, a recently discovered novel by Vita Sackville-West.

Twitter is all abuzz about the new romance novel Kissing the Coronavirus by M.J. Edwards. I have no words.

Riot Recommendations

At Book Riot, I’m a cohost with Liberty on All the Books!, plus I write a handful of newsletters including the weekly Read This Book newsletter, cohost the Insiders Read Harder podcast, and write content for the site. I’m always drowning in books, so here’s what’s on my radar this week!

Want to read: Karolina and the Torn Curtain by Marlya Szymiczkowa

I loved Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing earlier this year, and I’m so excited to see that the sequel will be hitting shelves next spring! This series follows Zofia, a professor’s wife in 1890s Krakow who can’t ever help herself when a mystery emerges. This time, one of her maids goes missing and is found dead, so Zofia works with the police to figure out what’s going on!

What I’m reading this week:

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

The Return by Rachel Harrison

Trivia answer: Stoneybrook

And since it’s October, here are a few of my favorite bookish October things:

Anne Shirley October Bookmark

Fall Fangirl Candle

Rainbow Rowell’s Ode to Autumn Printable

Stay cozy, bookish friends!

Kissing Books

All Kinds of Game Changers

Happy Halloween, folks! I don’t particularly partake, myself, but I enjoy how enthusiastic people get about it. It also means it’s officially the start of Nightmare Before Christmas season. Because I feel similarly about film that I do about romance novels: there need to be more love stories about Halloween. :’D

Let’s talk about books.

Over on Book Riot

Carole followed up her deep-dive on fat representation vs. fat acceptance with a nice long list of must-read fat positive romances. I’ve read a bunch of them but have more to check out. How many of these have you read? What do you think about the rep in them?

Sometimes, I love small town romances, and sometimes, I don’t. Laura Marie pulled together a list and I’ve only read one, so I’m looking forward to seeing where my leanings lie in regard to this group that are some of the best.

Hope is all of us, to some extent. (Even me, who hasn’t had a public transit commute in years. Still miss my daily reading time, though.)

Have you heard about our savior, historical fiction?

I hadn’t thought of it this way, but yes. Totally.

HAHA we’re all going to The Bad Place.

Do you reread?

When your favorite author comes out with a new book, what do you do?

Curious about books like Ammonite?


I know I’ve been talking a lot about a particular Game Changers series, but you might want to check out the one by AC Arthur. Play to Win and Playing For Keeps, the two books out in the series now, are 3.99 each (as of writing this on September 29). The books center friends who have come together to open a sports bar and the interesting relationships in which they find themselves. AC Arthur always puts people in odd situations and these are no different—especially the second one, which has a particularly fun premise.

New Books

I’m still slowly making my way through Well Played because what is even time anymore, but there are some great books out this week that you should check out if you get the chance. There are so many, I’m skipping descriptions this week, but have fun clicking!

Fast Breaker by Chencia C. Higgins

Follow Me Darkly by Helen Hardt

The Never List by DL White

The Love Study by Kris Ripper

Lay Your Head On My Pillow by Tanzania Glover (Super short but call me a sucker for 90s art and R&B titles)

A Second Bite At Love by Tempestt Chantel

Her Night With the Duke by Diana Quincy

Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo

Beauty Tempts the Beast by Lorraine Heath

Now or Never by Nyora René

Roommaid by Sariah Wilson

Her Sweet Temptation by Nina Crespo

To Be Her Girl by Emily Cradduck

In Buffalo With You by Megan Fuentes (This is the first in a series about people falling in love at World Fairs and I didn’t know what I wanted until I wanted it)

Once Dishonored by Mary Jo Putney (Pants!)

Breakfast in Bed by Rochelle Alers

Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands (New Argeneau!)

Crowne Rules by CD Reiss

The Flaw in Our Design by Monica McCallan

Well. That’s plenty. Reading anything good this weekend?

As usual, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback, bookrecs, or just want to say hi!

Today In Books

Virtual Southern Festival of Books Starts This Week: Today In Books

Virtual Southern Festival of Books Starts This Week

The 11-day Tennessee festival, Southern Festival of Books is celebrating its 32nd iteration and going virtual. Starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, you can watch the festival’s lineup, which has 100+ authors and will commence with Ann Patchett chatting with Yaa Gyasi, for free.

Diversity Improves In YA In UK

Research by Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, associate professor at University College London, shows that YA authors of color in the UK more than doubled in the last two years: From 7.1% in 2017 to 19.6% in 2019. The one potential issue is UK authors of color being ignored for authors of color from the US.

The Booker Prize Moves For Obama

Make way for Obama. At least, that’s what the Booker Prize is doing. The British literary award will no longer announce the prize winner on November 17th–moving the date to the 19th–because President Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land, releases on the 17th.

Thriller vs. Horror: Your Guide

If thriller vs horror distinctions have you bamboozled, you’re in the right place. Let’s zombiewalk into a breakdown of these categories.

What's Up in YA

YA Book News and New YA Releases: October 1, 2020

Hey YA Readers!

This is Sharifah filling in for Kelly while she’s on vacation.

Welcome to October! I don’t know about you, but I’m treating every day of this month like it’s Halloween.

I’ve got some YA news and new releases for you.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Aftershocks by Marisa Reichardt

All This Time by Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones (paperback)

Breathless by Jennifer Niven

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Disclose by Joelle Charbonneau

Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan, Johanna The Mad (Illustrated by), C.S. Pacat (Created by)

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter (series)

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen (paperback, series)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jackpot by Nic Stone (paperback)

A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen (series)

Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi (paperback)

Rebel by Marie Lu (paperback, series)

Shine by Jessica Jung

Silent As a Grave by Zoe Aarsen (paperback, series)

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Suggested Reading by Dave Connis (paperback)

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss

Under Shifting Stars by Alexandra Latos

This Week at Book Riot

Thanks for hanging out, and Kelly will be back next week.

Happy reading!

— Sharifah



We’re teaming up with Podium Audio to give away a 1-year subscription to Audible! Simply fill out the form here or click the picture to subscribe to Podium Audio’s Sci-fic and Fantasy newsletter for a chance to win!

Here’s a little more about the Podium Audio newsletter: Sign up to join the Podium Audio science fiction & fantasy newsletter! Subscribers of this newsletter will be alerted to Podium’s new & noteworthy titles in all sub genres of SFF as well get exclusive access to giveaways, promotions, and special announcements. With book trailers, behind-the-scenes blooper clips, and author and narrator spotlights, this newsletter is designed for the avid audiobook listener who can’t get enough SFF into their headphones!

The Kids Are All Right

Kidlit Book Deals for September 30, 2020

Hi kidlit pals! Welcome to another round of great book deals. I’m excited to see that October is almost upon us, and this week’s book deals definitely reflect the shift towards spooky season! If you’re itching for a spooky kidlit read, then definitely keep scrolling! If not, then don’t worry–there are plenty of adventure, fantasy, and contemporary stories for you here, too.

As always, prices change without notice. Snag these book deals while they last!

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers by Anna James and Paola Escobar is $2. Start a new series!

The Miraculous by Jess Redman is $3.

Dear Girl: A Celebration of Wonderful, Smart, Beautiful You! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Holly Hatam is a cute picture book, and it’s only $4.

The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland is a great series starter that’s just $2, and by the author of Wings of Fire!

Crenshaw by the one and only Katherine Applegate is just $2!

Want something spooky for the season? The Oddmire: Changeling by William Ritter is $2.

Based on a Native American legend, Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac is just $3.

Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzales is an action-packed middle grade adventure set in Rome, and it’s $4.

The Last Kids on Earth (and all the sequels!) by Max Brallier are just $2–read them before you see the Netflix show!

Want to start reading the iconic Diary of a Wimpy Kid series? The first book is just $3.

Happy reading!


Riot Rundown


In The Club

In the Club 08/30

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. September is over (weren’t we all just grooving to Earth, Wind, and Fire??) and once again I insist that time has ceased to have all meaning. October is my birthday month and I love witchy season, so I’m not too mad. I just need Portland to get with the autumnal program and go back to cooler temps so I may blissfully don my chunky knits.

Enough about me, let’s talk libros. To the club!!

Nibbles and Sips

The second the weather began to cool* here in Portland, all my cooking reluctance magically vanished and I was DTC (down to cook). I immediately made one of my favorite labor-of-love recipes: Persian jeweled rice. It’s bursting with so many mouthwatering flavors—sweet caramelized onions, a melange of golden raisins, dried apricots and cherries, the delicious warmth of cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice—all nestled inside a bed of fragrant basmati rice soaked in saffron with a luscious buttery crust and topped with warm almonds and pistachios. WHEW. It’s so good. Here’s the recipe I use, and a similar one without the paywall that I haven’t tried. Enjoy!

*Me: “Yay fall!”
Fall: “Oh you thought you had me? Byeeeeee!”


The innanets are overflowing with lists of Latinx lit for Hispanic Heritage Month! Por ejemplo:

There’s a lot of great lit on these lists, make sure to check them out! Below you’ll find a few from my own reading or TBR that I think your book clubs would have a good time discussing.

the book of lost saintsThe Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older – This is a multigenerational Cuban-American family story about a woman named Marisol, a woman who lived during the Cuban Revolution and disappeared without a trace. “Now, shaped by atrocities long-forgotten, her tenacious spirit visits her nephew, Ramón, in modern-day New Jersey.” This prompts Ramon to go looking for answers about his family’s painful history, just as Marisol intended. The journey brings with it romance, a murderous gangster, and a discovery of the lost saints who helped his aunt survive imprisonment.

The Book of Anna by Carmen, translated by Samantha Schnee – Real talk: I have tried to read Anna Karenina several times and failed, each time as a teenager so maybe now it would be different in my 30s? What I do know is that I am very interested in this book by Mexican writer Carmen Boullosa, a novel told from the perspective of Anna K’s son in the years after her tragic fate with the Russian Revolution on the horizon.

cover image of Loteria by Cina PelayoLoteria by Cynthia (Cina) Pelayo – It’s spooky season, so let’s do a little light horror, shall we? First, you should know that La Loteria is an iconic Mexican card game, a little like bingo but with images instead of numbers. As for this book, I read it earlier this year and it really got under my skin, but not so much with and graphic, gory, in-your-face horror. The terror here is more of the dark fairytale variety (expect monsters, ghosts, vampires, and werewolves) but the best part is the format: it’s a collection of 54 (very) short stories, one for each of the images in the Loteria deck.

Note: This appears to be out of print at the moment, so try your libraries and secondhand shops, or check Cina Pelayo’s website down the line for availability!

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina María Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses – Fasten your seatbelts, folks: we’re leaving Gentle Horrorville and headed straight for Dark and Twisty Town. Bazterrica book imagines a world where widespread animal disease has now made the consumption of human mean legal (gulp). Marcos runs a slaughterhouse for humans, though he’s trained not to think of his specimens as human and is barred from personal contact with them on pain of death. But when he’s gifted a live specimen of the finest quality, he’s drawn to her irresistibly, “tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.” This isn’t horror so much as dystopian literary fiction but dios mio! This sounds twisted and skin-crawly AF.

Suggestion Section

GMA’s October book club pick is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, a book I recently added to my TBR! Time-travel + a magical library that sits between life and death filled with all the lives you could have led = my kind of read.

at Salon: how Emily Dickinson, Octavia Butler, Joan Didion, Jericho Brown, and other authors helped one reader survive this quarantine.

Remember last week when I mentioned Carole Bell’s post on fat representation in romance and said this would be a great topic for book club? Well booya! Carole also wrote a follow-up post with very thoughtful and detailed recommendations of fat positive romance novels.

Apparently Jane Fonda is dropping in on virtual book clubs as she promotes her new book on environmental activism, What Can I Do? All the winners of the nationwide search have been selected, but Jane and Greenpeace have provided these book club discussion questions for all to unpack and enjoy.

Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.

—Vanessa aka La Pumpkin Spicy

Today In Books

The Decade’s Most Challenged & Banned Books: Today In Books

The Decade’s Most Challenged & Banned Books

The American Library Association created Banned Books week in 1982 in response to book challenges surging in schools, libraries, and bookstores. The week is intended to support free and open access to information and to celebrate the freedom to read. With a focus on literary censorship, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has released a list of the 100 most challenged and banned books of the last decade.

Rare Pre-Columbian Manuscript Now Digital

You can now see one of only a handful of pre-Columbian manuscripts in existence, the Codex Zouche-Nuttall, which is a two-narrative pictographic folding manuscript completed in 1556 thanks to a scanned 1902 facsimile edition. “One side of the document relates the history of important centres in the Mixtec region, while the other, starting at the opposite end, records the genealogy, marriages and political and military feats of the Mixtec ruler, Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw.”

Phoebe Robinson’s Imprint Will Pub These Books First

Author, comedian, and podcaster (to name a few) Phoebe Robinson announced her new imprint with Dutton/Plume, Tiny Reparations Books, earlier this year. Now we have details on the first two books the imprint will release: nonfiction essay collection Rage: The Evolution of a Black Queer Body in America by Lester Fabian Braithwaite, and debut novel What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris.

8 Books That Highlight How Broken the U.S. Criminal Justice System Is

These books about the broken US criminal justice system educate on why the system operates the way it does and what can be done to change it.