In Wendy Walker’s thrilling audiobook, Don’t Look for Me, the greatest risk isn’t running away. It’s running out of time. One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life. She doesn’t want to be found. Or at least, that’s the story. It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over. But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke? Listen to Therese Plummer’s narration of the Don’t Look For Me audiobook to find out.
Hola Audiophiles! Welcome back to Audiolandia. I have been looking forward to a lot of today’s new releases for some time now so let’s get straight to it! Like I said before: this fall is going to be quite the ride.
Ready? Let’s audio.
New Releases – week of September 1st
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole, read by Susan Dalian, Jay Aaseng (mystery/thriller) – My Riot buddy Jamie Canavés has given this book an absolutely glowing review and says it’s best to go into it knowing as little as possible. So I’ll say just give you this: a young woman in Brooklyn is doing her best to keep (get?) her life and neighborhood in order. When she begins to research the neighborhood’s history, strange things start happening… Props to Alyssa Cole for killing the romance game and now hitting us with this magnificent work of suspense!
Narrator Note: Susan Dalian is the voice of Haku in the first season of Naruto, as well as Storm in Wolverine and the X-Men and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. Jay Aeseng is a writer/actor/producer who you may know from the Twin Peaks TV series.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, read by Bahni Turpin (fiction) – This book sounds like it is going to slap me in the face and I will take that slap with a smile. Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford studying depression and addiction. After an ankle injury leaves her athlete brother hooked on Oxy and he dies of a heroin overdose, Gifty turns to science to understand the depth of her family’s loss. But she also finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and the evangelical church in which she was raised, where the promise of salvation is tempting, but elusive.
Narrator Note: I’m not even going to say anything about Bahni Turpin anymore. Just going to drop her name and the mic.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, read by Avi Roque (YA fantasy) – I love this book! Aiden Thomas is a delightful queer trans Latinx human and this is their debut paranormal queer romantic YA fantasy (it’s adjective day!). It’s about a trans boy who wants more than anything for his traditional Latinx family to accept his true gender. To prove that he’s a brujo, he performs a death day ritual with the help of his badass BFF to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. Pero…the ghost he summons a) isn’t his cousin and b) kind of refuses to leave, and c) is also kind of dreamy? This book is full of Latinx references and non-italicized Spanish and is inspired by lots of different Dia de los Muertos rituals. Mi corazon is just fit to burst!
Narrator Note: Avi Roque is an actor whose most recent work includes the show Chicago Med. They are also queer, trans, and Latinx which I really appreciate as a choice for this book. I love the humor, the drama, and the tenderness they lend to the words from what I’ve sampled so far.
Wayward Witch by Zoraida Cordova, read by Almarie Guerra (YA fantasy) – 🎶Although we’ve come *snap* to the eeeeend ooooh the road… I am both very ready and wholly unprepared to read this last installment of the Brooklyn Brujas series by my fave Zoraida Córdova. This part mythical/part urban fantasy series has followed the three Mortiz sisters as they come into their powers and battle magic in both the real world and worlds beyond. Wayward Witch is told from Rose’s perspective and kicks off with a huge revelation on her Deathday ceremony, which leads to an adventure in the Caribbean Sea. Apparently today’s newsletter is dedicated to witchy Latinx death day stuff and I am very okay with that.
Narrator Note: Almarie Guerra did a fantastic job with Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal and is such a great choice to voice the youngest Mortiz sister! Her body of work includes Valerie Valdes’ Chilling Effect, The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera, and Wendy Heard’s The Kill Club.
Heyyyyy it’s more (sorta) witchy Latinx death stuff! I wrapped up my listen of Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, a middle grade fantasy adventure inspired by the legend of La Llorona. Before I tell you about the book, let me tell you a little more about The Weeping (or Crying or Wailing) Woman.
I’m fairly positive that La Llorona began as a Mexican folk tale, though I’m sure she’s been an equal opportunist in terrifying children of numerous Latin American backgrounds. The legend varies a little, but the general idea is that long ago before La Llorona was La Llorona, she was a woman who married a rich man and had a couple of kids. The husband was rarely home and on the rare occasion in which he was, the guy ignore his wife and focused all his attention on the kids. Sh*t really hit the fan when Not-Yet-La Llorona caught her man with another woman, and that is when it’s said she drowned her children in a jealous rage. In some versions of the story, she also drowned herself and was then turned away from the pearly gates, banished to purgatory on Earth to spend her days in search of her lost children. It’s said she continues to lurk near bodies of water in her funereal gown waiting to attack or kidnap children. Might this story terrify a kid who lives in mother&@%^# coastal San Diego? Me. That kid was me, and the answer is yes.
Back to the book! Paola Santiago and the River of Tears is part of the Rick Riordan Presents line and the titular character is a science and space-obsessed 12-year-old. Pao and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know they must abide by one rule: stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned in the Gila a year ago, and Pao resents her mom’s insistence that La Llorona is to blame.
In spite of all the risk and warnings, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope in a stargazing spot by the river. But Emma never shows and remains missing the next day, and Pao begins to wonder if her mom was maybe, possibly a little bit right. She and Dante will have to brave a world of unnatural mist, monsters of lore, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying unknown force. Could that force be… nah, it couldn’t. Or can it? Maybe. You’ll see.
Between the use of a magical chancla and the presence of chupacabras, I again wish I could hop in the spaceship and gift this literary treat to my younger self. What fun to see the mythologies I grew up with brought to such magical and adventurous light! It takes a careful hand to take a pretty dark and terrifying story like that of La Llorona and calibrate the creepy down to a level that works for a middle grade audience. Tehlor Kay Mejia is that very hand and I’m glad this generation of kids will get to devour her work.
Narration gets five stars from Frankie Corzo for well-paced, suspenseful narration and for getting the voices of twelve year olds just right.
From the Internets
Check out Libro.fm’s Independent Bookstore Day wrap-up, including video submissions just dripping in indie bookstore love.
at AudioFile: 5 New Enemies-to-Lovers Romances on Audio – This is quickly becoming one of my favorite tropes!
Over at the Riot
7 Literary Authors Who Read Their Own Audiobooks– Ta-Nehisi Coates’s voice has stayed with me all these years, what a performance.
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Stay bad & bookish, my friends.