Categories
Audiobooks

One of My Favorite Audiobooks of the Year AND New Releases!

Hello Audiophiles! As we head into the last month of summer, I’m scrambling to sneak in a few more summer reads. Over on Read Appalachia, I’ve been hosting an Appalachian Summer Reading Challenge in the form of a BINGO board. Over the last several months, I’ve been working my way through the different challenges.

There have been so many fabulous audiobooks that I’ve made it through so far—Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome, Pure America by Elizabeth Catte—but my favorite listen of the summer has to be The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson.

Dylan, a red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, stands on the beach. His chest floor is covered in sand. You can tell he's been having a great time rolling in the sand.
Dylan enjoys summer days digging in the sand at the beach!
A graphic of the cover of The Birds of Opulence

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

After listening to a series of “just okay” audiobooks this month, I was ready for something to really blow me away. In came The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson. While it first came out in print a few years ago, it wasn’t until just a month or two ago that this incredible novel was released on audio.

The novel begins in the early 1960s in a place called Opulence, Kentucky. There, we meet generations of Black women who have been raising their daughters in the town since anyone can remember. From a surprise birth on a winter’s day to secret love affairs to dramatic funerals, these women see it all.

I especially love Wilkinson’s prose. There’s just something about the way she describes the fields on the family land or the relationship between mother and daughter that had me hanging on every word.

Allyson Johnson narrates the story with her masterful skill. Instead of trying to imitate the Appalachian Kentucky dialect, Johnson just uses touches of dialect here and there to give hints of how the characters might be speaking. It’s the perfect balance of accent, giving listeners a taste of the flavor of the region.

Narrated by Allyson Johnson (Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings and Citizen by Claudia Rankine)

Recent Releases!

A graphic of the country of In the Country of Others

In the Country of Others by Leila Slimani

When a Frenchwoman falls in love with a Moroccan soldier, she has no idea what’s in store for her. After WWII ends, she moves with her new husband to Morocco, and her new life begins. What she imagined as the adventure of her life soon turns to an incredible disappointment as she is ostracized and isolated. Her biracial daughter faces difficulties of her own as she is teased by classmates for having a French mother. With In the Country, Slimani steps up her game and gives us a one-of-a-kind story that is must listen.

Narrated by Lara Sawalha (A Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar and The Silence of Scheherazade by Betsy Göksel)

A graphic of the cover of Battle Royal

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

I love a cute story around baking, and Battle Royal does not disappoint. When two former rivals learn that they will both be competing for the opportunity to bake the cake for an upcoming royal wedding, the gloves come off and the competition begins. The two go head to head in the competition, each showing their own personal flare for their craft. But who will be choosen? The classic perfectionist Dominic? Or the one-of-a-kind Sylvie? 

Narrated by Billie Fulford-Brown (Jane in Love by Rachel Givney and Act Like It by Lucy Parker)

A graphic of the cover of Redemptor

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

The much-anticipated follow up to Raybearer is here! Jordan Ifueko is back to continue Tarisai’s story. Now coming into her own power, our protagonist must choose her own council, those who will help her survive. She knows what her kingdom expects of her, and she’s determined to see it through. But she doesn’t realize that the throne she sits upon represents all her kingdom must answer for. Can Tarisai figure out how to make amends for the sins of her kingdom’s past?

Narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt (The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris and Legendborn by Tracy Deonn)

A graphic of the cover of Velvet Is the Night

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

In one of the most anticipated novels of the year, Velvet Was the Night, Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes on a brand new, noir-inspired story. In Mexico City, during the 1970s, Maite works as a secretary who loves reading the latest romance stories in her favorite magazine. She dreams of passion and love, hoping for a life beyond the boring office around her. When her next-door neighbor disappears, she finds herself in the middle of a very real mystery. But what starts out as a search for a missing person soon turns into a full blown scheme involving political dissidents.

Narrated by Gisela Chípe (The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende and It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham)

A graphic of the cover of The Many Meanings of Meilan

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang

Meilan loves her family of uncles, aunts, and grandparents who all work with her parents at the family bakery, but when the family’s matriarch dies, Meilan’s entire world is turned upside down. Her parents have a disagreement with some of the other family members, and Meilan finds herself far away from her home in Boston. In Rosebud, Ohio, where few people have heard of Boston’s Chinatown, Meilan must learn a whole new world. This is a beautiful story of a Chinese American girl coming into her own in a whole new way.

Narrated by Annie Q (As Many Nows as I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl and Hello (from Here) by Chandler Baker and Wesley King)

Around the Internet

Your Audiobook Guide to Book Awards” (Libro.fm) – I found this post so helpful as I plan my own “to be listened to” audiobook list.

To Be Listened To: Fall’s Most Anticipated Audiobooks” (Libro.fm) – I have been so excited for this list! Definitely a must-read line up for any audiobook lover.

Just in case you missed it, there are three new narrators who been inducted into Golden Voices, Audiofile’s lifetime achievement honor.

On Book Riot

6 Myth Retellings on Audio” – I share some of my favorite myth retellings on audio!


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

Must-Read Books for Women in Translation Month!

I couldn’t be more thrilled to jump into Women in Translation Month! I first celebrated #WITmonth back in 2016 and have celebrated it every year since. You can find more info about Women in Translation month via the original founder’s website.

A couple friends and I started a #WITreadathon to encourage folks to pick up more books by women in translation and celebrate women’s writing from around the world. For me, I am always looking for audiobook editions of titles, which makes this month all the more challenging. BUT I’m so grateful that as audiobook popularity continues to rise, I have so many more options than I did five years ago.

So in this special edition of the newsletter, I’m going to highlight some of my favorite audiobooks from women in translation that I’ve listened to in the last several years, and I hope you love them as much as I do!

A photo of Dylan, the red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, lying on a floor next to a copy of The Vegetarian by Han Kang. Dylan's head imitates the head of the woman whose silhouette on the cover of the book.
A graphic of the cover of Inkheart

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Translated by Anthea Bell

Readers with kids often ask me for recommendations so they can make reading women in translation something they do as a family, so I thought I’d start with two books for young people. The one is Inkheart, which I have listened to and relistened to countless times over the years. The book follows a young girl named Meggie whose father repairs books. She loves her quiet life with her dad, but when a mysterious visitor named Dustfinger shows up at their door, Meggie’s whole world begins to change.

This audiobook is the perfect adventure for any young bookworm who has always wondered what they would do if they ever had the opportunity to meet the characters from their favorite books. Lynn Redgrave performs the book perfectly, creating the most incredible voices for each of Inkheart’s memorable characters. 

Narrated by Lynn Redgrave (Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield)

A graphic of the cover of A Winter's Promise

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos, Translated by Hildegarde Serle

As the second book that would be perfect for the kids in your life, I have to tell you about A Winter’s Promise, which is part of a quartet of fantasy novels translated from French by Hildegarde Serle. Our protagonist, Ophelia, lives in a world where people live on Arks, floating pieces of land that each have their own culture and customs. Her parents decide to marry her off to a man far to the north, sending her off to meet her future in-laws with just her chaperone as company. Soon, Ophelia finds herself entangled in the political machinations of the different factions in her new home. Emma Fenney does a fantastic job capturing the large cast of characters and providing distinct voices for them that help the listener remember who is who.

Narrated by Emma Fenney (Envy by Amanda Robson and The Stylist by Rosie Nixon)

A graphic of the cover of My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, Translated by Ann Goldstein

Like many readers back in 2015, I found myself entangled in the incredible story that is Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet. Lena and Lenu are two best friends from a working class neighborhood of Naples. Their relationship is fraught with jealousy, competition, and manipulation. For the entire series, we watch as these two characters are drawn back to each other again and again through the decades. If you want a saga that will capture your attention from the first page until the last, this is it! Hillary Huber narrates the audiobook edition, giving listeners a narrator that they can get invested in and stick with for the entire series.

Narrated by Hillary Huber (Library at Mount by Char by Scott Hawkins and Final Girls by Riley Sager)

A graphic of the cover of Notes of a Crocodile

Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin, Translated by Bonnie Huie

I listened to Notes of a Crocodile last year, and it stood out as one of my favorite audiobooks. The story begins with an unnamed narrator writing her story of attending university in Taiwan in the 1980s. She describes her experience falling in love with another girl in her class and her own struggle with internalized homophobia. As her story unravels, we watch as she creates a found family for herself in her search for a place to belong. Jo Mei narrates the audiobook skillfully, capturing the voice of the unnamed protagonist so well.

Narrated by Jo Mei (The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung)

A graphic of the cover of The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Translated by Deborah Smith

Winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, The Vegetarian needs no introduction. The novel focuses on a young woman who decides to become a vegetarian, much to her family’s horror. As time passes, they become more and more convinced that the protagonist needs to be pulled out of what they believe to be an irrational belief. Narrators Janet Song and Stephen Park draw listeners into the story quickly, making this audiobook incredibly engrossing.

Narrated by Janet Song (All you Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung) and Stephen Park (The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama)

A photo of the graphic of the cover of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

The Enlightenment of the Greenage Tree begins with the death of the narrator. Although dead, she remains with her family as they flee the city for the Iranian countryside. There, each family member experiences their own fantastical journey to untangle meaning from the series of tragedies that they’ve experienced. Azar uses her own imagination and inspiration from Persian folklore to weave together a narrative all her own. One of my favorite narrators, Priya Ayyar, creates the perfect feel for the audiobook edition.

Narrated by Priya Ayyar (Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed and The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani)

Around the Internet

I really enjoy Audiofile Magazine and their wide range of audiobook features! Here a few of their recent ones:

Audiobooks Featuring Four Weddings and Funeral

7 Kids’ Audiobook for Going Back to School

Audiobooks Mysteries Take on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over on Book Riot

Here are even MORE audiobooks by women in translation! – “10 More Books by Audiobooks for Women in Translation


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

Closing Out Disability Pride Month & New Releases!

Hello Audiophiles! I looked up a few days ago and realized August has arrived — I thought I had more time for summer listening! Plus, it’s women in translation month, and I’ve been setting aside dozens of books throughout the year just so I can read them in August. I doubt that I’ll get through thirty books in thirty-one days, but I feel like I need to try, right?

Every year, a couple friends – Matthew Sciarappa and Jennifer Helinek – and I host the #WITreadathon, which encourages folks to read books by women in translation. There’s a group read, some prompts, and all sorts of celebratory enthusiasm over on Twitter, so feel free to check it out and join us if you feel so inclined!

So stay tuned for all sorts of women in translation content. And let me know if you have any women in translation recommendations!

Other than that, this week has just been my spouse and I celebrating our corgi’s birthday, showering him with gifts, and telling him how beautiful he is. Ah, how our definition of a successful party has changed since the beginning of the pandemic! Of course, here is a photo of the birthday boy and his new toy yak.

A photo of Dylan, the red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, sitting on a white furry blanket next to his new toy yak.

Onto the audiobooks!

A graphic of the cover of Growing Up Disabled in Australia

Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Findlay

With the end of Disability Pride Month last week, I found myself thinking about books by disabled authors. Previously in the newsletter, I shared my love for Disability Visibility. I also love Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Findlay. Both anthologies celebrate disability in all of its many forms, but I loved learning more about disabled folks’ experiences in Australia.

The editor, Carly Findlay, also has an excellent memoir called Say Hello, in which she shares her experience living with a rare skin condition. Findlay is such a huge disability rights advocate, particularly for people with facial differences.

Findlay narrates both Growing Up Disabled in Australia and Say Hello, performing each book like a pro. I cried at points during both books, so I’m not entirely sure how Carly managed it. She’s able to communicate the frank realities that many disabled folks face while maintaining poise, but there’s still so much emotion and heart in her delivery.

Both books are available as audiobooks here in the US, so definitely go check them out!

Recent Releases

A graphic of the cover of When the Reckoning Comes

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

Mira fled her small town of Kipsen to find a better life, but she finally returns home to attend her friend Celine’s wedding. Hoping to reconnect with her childhood friends, Mira tries to make nice, but the plantation’s dark history looms over the event, casting everything in its shadow.

Narrated by Kara Young

A graphic of the cover of The Husbands

The Husbands by Chandler Baker

Pitched as a gender-swapped The Stepford Wives, The Husbands features Nora Spangler, a successful woman who seems to have it all. But Nora often feels like her husband doesn’t work nearly as hard as she does. When she decides to buy a new house, she can’t help but feel drawn to a neighborhood where all the men seem so perfect. My guess is that she may just realize that these men might be too good to be true.

Narrated by Allyson Ryan (Long Bright River by Liz Moore and Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner)

A graphic of the cover The Turnout

The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott is back with another engrossing read. The Turnout includes all of the signature Megan Abbott elements, including a thrilling plot, dancers, and intricately drawn characters. The novel revolves around two sisters and one sister’s husband who all run a dance studio together with precision—until it all seems to go wrong.

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell (Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot)

A graphic of the cover of Damnation Spring

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson

I have a huge weakness for books about trees, so from the moment I heard that this audiobook was about a family who owns a logging company in California, I knew I had to listen to it. Set in 1977, Damnation Spring centers around Rich, his wife Colleen, and their young son. There’s lots of drama around the business, a grove of redwoods, and all sorts of shenanigans. Where do I sign up?!

Narrated by CJ Wilson, Rebecca Lowman, Mark Sanderlin, and Candace Thaxton

A graphic of the cover of Death in Castle Dark

Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond

Nora Blake accepts a new job and goes to live in Castle Dark. With a name like that, you’d think she would know that sinister things are about to happen. Alas, when a man at the castle dies, she’s completely surprised, but she soon recovers and begins trying to figure out who is guilty of the crime.

Narrated by Imani Jade Powers (The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles)

A graphic of the cover of Shallow Waters

Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz

Shallow Waters follows a young Yoruba woman named Yemaya who travels from her home to America in the mid-1800s. When we meet Yoruba, she has no idea that she possesses the power of an Orïsha a deity in the religion of the Yoruba people. Her journey takes her from Africa to North America as she tries to find a mysterious man who may have some answers for her.

Narrated by Michelle Kopacz

Around the Internet

5 Questions with Narrator Catherine Ho” (Audiofile Magazine) – I love a narrator Q&A!

Over on Book Riot

10 of Libro.fm’s Most Preordered Books of Fall 2021” – I share some of Libro.fm’s most popular preorders!

12 LGBTQIA YA Audiobooks to Listen to in the 2nd Half of the Year” – Sarah Nicolas shares even MORE audiobooks for your “to be listened to” lists for the fall!


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

A Fantastical Road Trip Listen

Hello, audiophiles! This past week, I’ve been back in the Bluegrass State to spend time with my family. I loved getting a chance to wander around my hometown, hang out with friends, and take LOTS of photos. One of my many bookish projects is called Read Appalachia, which celebrates Appalachian Literature and Writing. When I’m back home, I always love having the opportunity to learn more about the region’s literature and landscape

Of course, a ten-hour road trip (just one way!) means that my spouse and I needed to prepare plenty of audiobook options for the ride. In my last newsletter, I shared a little bit about our traditions, and in my weekly audiobook article over on Book Riot, I listed a few different options that we considered. But in the end, we chose one book for our trip that turned out to be a fabulous fantastical adventure.

A photo of Kendra, a 30-something white woman with brunette hair, staring out across the Ohio River. There is a bridge in the background.
Taken by my spouse in Portsmouth Ohio

Recent Listens

A graphic of the cover of Elatsoe, which features and Apache teenaged girl standing in a sea of ghost dogs.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Before listening, I’d heard so many wonderful things about this fantastical title, which features the title character, Elatsoe, and her adventures in a world much like our own, but with vampires, elves, and many more otherworldly creatures. Through a secret passed down by generations of Lipan Apache women, Elatsoe possesses the ability to summon the dead. But her mother always warned her: only ever summon the spirits of animals, never the ghosts of humans.

But when her cousin dies in a car wreck, she feels incredibly tempted to call upon him to help find out what happened. Before she can make a decision, her cousin visits her in her dreams and tells her that he was murdered. Determined to find justice for her cousin, Elatsoe heads to her cousin’s home in rural Texas and begins questioning the townspeople.

I’ve been wanting to read this novel from the moment I learned that it existed, so I couldn’t have been more thrilled to listen to the audiobook on the trip. From the first few moments of the story, the concept and worldbuilding captured my attention. There’s something special about the way Little Badger creates Elatsoe’s world.

Kinsale Hueston performs the novel in a way that captures Elatsoe’s personality, humor, and strength. Hueston hasn’t narrated many audiobook titles yet, and I look forward to hearing more from her!

Narrated by Kinsale Hueston (Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse)

Recent Releases

A graphic of the cover A Song Everlasting which features an off white and light blue

A Song Everlasting by Ha Jin

This quiet novel focuses on Yao Tian, a Chinese singer, who has travelled to the United States for a concert. But when he takes an extra gig to help pay for his daughter’s tuition, he has no idea that this choice will change his future forever. I loved listening to Liberty discuss this book on All the Books—I immediately went and found the audio after listening to her describe it!

Narrated by Feodor Chin (A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling and The Ruin of Kings by Jessica Lyons)

A graphic of the cover of Not a Happy Family which features an old mansion lit up at night

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

A man is murdered and his three adult kids all have a reason, besides their incredible inheritance, to want their father dead. There’s nothing like a messy family novel, so of course Not a Happy Family is right in my wheelhouse. And if you love a novel with all sorts of twists, family secrets, and gasp out loud moments, then this is for you.

Narrated by Ellen Archer (Room by Emma Donoghue)

A graphic of the cover of Goldenrod, which features a greenish blue background with goldenrod

Goldenrod by Maggie Smith

There’s nothing like listening to a poet read their own work, so of course I’m all here for Maggie Smith’s new collection Goldenrod. These poems focus on the ideas of solitude, parenthood, love, memory, and so much more. There’s something about the way that Smith captures snapshots of everyday life that makes her poems all-engrossing.

Narrated by the Author

A graphic of the cover of Red Wolf, which features a woman wearing a red hooded cape.

Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent

I love a good fairytale retelling, but this one hits a bit differently. Adele is a guardian of folks who live in the town of Oakvale, which is surrounded by a dark wood. These guardians wear red cloaks and hoods, harkening back to a certain young woman wandering through a wolf-infested forest. This fascinating take on a beloved tale is sure to not disappoint.

Narrated by Taylor Meskimen (West by Edith Pattou and Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen)

A graphic of the cover of Out of the Shadows, which features three Star Wars characters

Out of the Shadows: Star Wars: The High Republic by Justina Ireland

Perfect for any Star Wars lover, this young adult author Justina Ireland spins a tale of Sylvestri Yarrow, who’s been carrying the weight of the family business on her young shoulders ever since her mother passed. There’s also a Jedi Knight and her padawan who are summoned to Coruscant under mysterious conditions. Justina Ireland brings all of her action writing skills to her take on the beloved Star Wars universe, and I am here for it!

Narrated by Keylor Leigh

Over on Book Riot

30 of the Best Audible Books for Kids” — All things kid lit, but on audio

Who Listens to Audiobooks?” — Danika has outdone herself with this fantastic breakdown of data on who listens to audiobooks and why

5 Rising Stars in Audiobook Narration” — I share some of the Black and Indigenous women narrators who have such promising audiobook narration careers ahead of them!

Around the Internet

Disabled-Owned Bookstores to Support” (Libro.fm) — With so few companies having acknowledged Disability Pride Month, I was so thrilled to see this post from Libro.fm!


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

Road Trip Listens and New Audiobook Releases!

Hello, audiophiles! It’s prime time vacation time, and in my family, the biggest debate revolves around what audiobook we should listen to during our annual road trip back to Kentucky to visit my family. In the past, we’ve listened to The Martian by Andy Weir, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, so fiction is usually a good choice.

But even before we hit the road, I’ve actually already started my vacation listening. Since I’m the road trip organizer, planning the route and making sure everything is packed—including Dylan’s favorite toys—I’ve developed some personal traditions. One of those traditions is choosing an audiobook that I listen to only when I’m prepping for the trip. Nothing makes mundane tasks—laundry, Corgi grooming, packing— fly by like a fast-paced whirlwind of a book. 

Next week, I will tell you what books we chose for the different parts of our trip and how it went, but first, I have to tell you about one fabulous under-the-radar audiobook.

A photo of Dylan the corgi grinning at the beach at the edge of the water
Dylan couldn’t be happier to play in the summer sun.

Recent Listens

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

The moment I heard about Ghost Forest, I knew I had to listen to it. This novel, told in vignettes, follows a family from Hong Kong that moves to Canada. But while his wife and daughter move across the world, the father stays in Hong Kong for work. Our unnamed protagonist shares snippets of her life with us, always circling back to her father and his visits or his absence. When her father becomes ill, the protagonist begins to ponder her life, her father’s life, and what it means for her.

The women in the story create a backbone for the novel as they constantly tell each other stories. As we listen to them share their memories, each new chapter reveals something new about the family, and we begin to see a more complete picture of our protagonist.

There’s an incredible scene where our protagonist tries to figure out how to tell her very ill father that she loves him. This one moment gives us a deeper understanding of the full extent of our protagonist’s emotional struggle as she tries to connect with her father.

Pik-Shuen Fung narrates the audiobook, performing her poetic prose beautifully. She presents each vignette as a polished gem for us to admire, her prose and voice perfectly blending together to create a truly wonderful listening experience. The novel is full of deeply emotional moments where Fung’s narration feels like part of the story itself.

Narrated by Pik-Shuen Fung

Recent Releases!

My audiobooks apps tend to overflow with a ridiculous number of options, but here are a few selections of some of my favorites, including a romance novel, a fascinating thriller, and a literary fiction novel that’s sure to be on many “Best of the Year” lists.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

As a huge Jasmine Guillory fan, I hit play as soon as the romance novel hit my iPhone’s audiobook app. I loved this whirlwind romance between Ben Stephens, who works in marketing, and Anna Gardiner, whose Hollywood star is on the rise. It contains all the best things: witty banter, plenty of food, and steamy sex scenes. Janina Edwards performs the audiobook perfectly, as always.

Narrated by Janina Edwards (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Janina Edwards and No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts)

A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

The author of the much-beloved Wayfarer series has created a brand new world to dive into, beginning a new series with A Psalm for the Wild Build. Years before the novel begins, the robots of Panga became sentient and walked away from their lives of servitude. They now wander the forest. When a tea monk meets a robot who asks him, “What do you need?”, the monk begins to think and interrogate the question. Emmett Grosland captures the vibe of a monk meeting a sentient robot, which I can’t imagine has been a kind of audiobook that comes up often for audiobook narrators.

Narrated by Emmett Grosland

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

OH MY GOODNESS, this audiobook!! I’d never read Samantha Downing before, but as soon as I heard David Pittu’s rendition of Tony Crutcher’s narrative voice, I was hooked. Crutcher hates the students at the private school where he teaches English Literature, so he doesn’t really care when a series of mysterious deaths happen on campus. But when people start digging into his personal life, he’s had enough. From start to finish, I hung on every word, unable to stop listening (who needs sleep?!).

Narrated by David Pittu (Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt)

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

Our protagonist arrives at the Hague with a one-year contract to work as an interpreter. While she gets to know her new home in New York City, she finds herself entangled in other people’s lives who are also snared in their own messy relationships. The engrossing whirlwind of her life causes her to take a look at her choices in a new way that makes her reassess her place in the world. Audiobook narrator Traci Kato-Kiriyama captures the viewpoint character’s perspective so well in her performance.

Narrated by Traci Kato-Kiriyama, (The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina and The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa)

Around the Web

7 Great Audiobooks to Listen to This Month (Vulture)

From Lin-Manuel to Pollan to St. Aubyn: Audiobooks for Every Attention Span (New York Times)

13 Summer Activities to Pair with Audiobooks (Libro.fm)

Over on Book Riot

I share my road trip TBR!: 5 Audiobooks for Your Next Road Trip


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

Long-Awaited New Audiobook Releases!

Hello, audiophiles! Thank you all so much for your kind words of welcome. Audiobooks have long been my first love, and I look forward to celebrating them with you every week.

I hope all of you in the American Southeast are safe and well after Elsa galavanted across the country. We bunkered down here in the Low Country and much of the island lost power. I want to send a huge thanks to all of the teams that have worked hard to restore power to communities on the east coast after the storm.

After Elsa passed through, Dylan was more than happy to reclaim his favorite spot on the porch. He enjoys spying on the neighbors and barking at the dogs that walk by our front porch.

photo of Dylan the corgi sitting on a chair

Backlist Love

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

While I didn’t have the internet after Elsa came to town, I listened to audiobooks downloaded on my phone. It felt restorative to listen to Robin Wall Kimmerer read her audiobook Braiding Sweetgrass to me. Each essay in the book focuses on a different aspect of how human beings are part of nature, holding key roles in many of its ecosystems. There’s just something so special with how Kimmerer encourages folks to think about their actions and how that affects the natural world around them.

With her encouragement, I walked outside and began looking at the palm trees and tall grasses around my house. I moved outside of Appalachia for the first time back in October, so many of the plants were unfamiliar to me. I pulled out my Seek app and began learning about the different species of fauna that make their home near mine.

That’s where Robin Wall Kimmerer shines best. With her stories of learning how to weave baskets from freshly felled trees to scooping algae out of her pond, you get the sense she knows the wildlife around her intimately, as fellow sharers of the land. There’s so much wisdom in this book. I know it’s one I’ll listen to again and again.

Narrated by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Long-awaited New Releases

In the audiobook world, most audiobook editions release the same day as the print edition—but not always! To make sure y’all still know about them, I’m highlighting some recent audiobooks that have been released long after their print editions entered the world.

Even As We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

This incredible novel came out in hardcover last summer, but we FINALLY have an audiobook as of the end of last June. I adored Even As We Breathe and can’t stop talking about it. This work of historical fiction follows a disabled Cherokee man named Cowney who gets a summer job at the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. While WWII rages on, the US military is using the inn to hold prisoner foreign diplomats of enemy countries. When a young Japanese girl goes missing, Cowney is racially profiled and brought in for questioning. Kaipo Schwab performs the audiobook with such emotional depth, capturing Cowney’s perspective perfectly.

Narrated by Kaipo Schwab, who is also part of the cast who performs Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse and Kink edited by Garth Greenwell and R.O. Kwon

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

This week, The Birds of Opulence arrived in my audiobook app, and I could not have been more excited. I’ve waited for the audio edition for several years now and feel overjoyed that the time has finally arrived! Affrilachian author Crystal Wilkinson is the current Poet Laureate of Kentucky, but she also writes fiction! The Birds of Opulence is in many ways a family story that focuses on the different generations of Black women in the same community. Narrator Allyson Johnson captures the beautiful cadence of Wilkinson’s incredible prose.

Narrated by Allyson Johnson, who also performs The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter and Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings

Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia by Elizabeth Catte

Though the audiobook for Pure America was delayed only a couple months, I could not have been more thrilled to have one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 finally in my hands (well, in an audiobook app on my phone, which I was holding…close enough!). Perhaps most well known for her book What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia (which she wrote in response to the unfortunately popular Hillbilly Elegy), Catte is back with Pure America, a look at the role of eugenics in Virginia. With the #FreeBritney movement saturating our newsfeeds, this audiobook comes at the perfect time. The discussion around Britney’s conservatorship has shined a spotlight on how America’s healthcare and legal systems have repeatedly failed and often actively harmed disabled people. Pure America tackles this same topic with Catte’s signature attention to detail and finesse. Jo Anna Perrin performance shines when she’s narrating the complicated details throughout the book, making it easy for listeners to follow along.

Narrated by Jo Anna Perrin, who also performs What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

Over on the Riot

If you loved Braiding Sweetgrass as much as I did, you have to check out 5 Audiobooks that Help You Explore Nature!

Around the Web

Check out this quiz from Libro.fm that pairs you with an audiobook written by a disabled author!

Scribd’s Reading Challenge for July

Vogue editors list their favorite audiobooks for summer road trips

Andy Serkis is recording a new edition of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Mary Sue lists 10 sci-fi/fantasy audiobooks you definitely should check out


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester (or follow Dylan @thebookcorgi). For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

My Favorite Audiobooks of All Time

Hello there, audiophiles! I’m Kendra, and I’ll be your new resident audiobooks enthusiast moving forward. A huge thanks to Vanessa for showing me the ropes, and I’m so excited for her as she takes the helm as Book Riot’s new Managing Editor. *confetti cannons*

As a little introduction, I’m a disabled book nerd from Appalachian Ohio and now live in the South Carolina Low Country with my Corgi, Dylan. Like I’ve mentioned in previous articles on Book Riot, because of my disability, I can’t read print anymore, so audiobooks have been my lifeline to the bookish world. I use roughly a dozen audiobook apps to keep up with my own quest to read ALL of the things!

photo of Kendra and her corgi Dylan

To help us get to know each other, I thought I’d start by sharing some of my favorite audiobooks of all time.

The Golden Compass audiobook cover

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

As a kid, I used to listen to audiobooks on my boom box like there was no tomorrow. I fell in love with the audiobook production company Full Cast Audio, which produced books from children’s authors Tamora Pierce and Bruce Coville. But my favorite book of theirs was the full-cast production of His Dark Materials Trilogy. I still listen to the series every few years and cry at the end of The Amber Spyglass every time.

Narrated by Philip Pullman and a full cast

Sabriel audiobook cover

Sabriel by Garth Nix

I’ve written a couple of times about my love of playing video games and listening to audiobooks. Sabriel inspired many of my adventures in World of Warcraft—Abhorsen is even my character’s name! Tim Curry (yes, THE Tim Curry) narrates this dark story of the Abhorsen, the title of the person tasked with hunting down necromancers throughout the Old Kingdom. Curry does a particularly excellent job voicing Mogget, a cat (sort of) who is the Abhorsen’s official companion and provides much of the book’s comedic relief.

Narrated by Tim Curry

audiobook cover image of Disability Visibility: Unabridged Selections edited by Alice Wong

Disability Visibility: Unabridged Selections edited by Alice Wong

As a disabled person, I rarely see that part of myself in books. But when I heard about Disability Visibility, I knew I had to pick it up. The essays from the writers inside were everything I’d hoped they’d be, and I felt seen in ways I never had before. Later, Alice Wong told me she wanted as many disabled people included in the project as possible, so she was delighted that Alejandra Ospina, who is also disabled, was chosen to perform the audiobook.

Narrated by Alejandra Ospina

audiobook cover image of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

As an Appalachian, I can’t help but notice that folks often have a certain memoir in mind when they think of Appalachian Literature. So when Appalachian writer Deesha Philyaw started taking the world by storm with her short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Philyaw has this way of capturing her characters on a page that is all-engrossing. The all-star audiobook narrator Janina Edwards performs the collection, making the listening experience as close to perfection as you can get.

Narrated by Janina Edwards

audiobook cover image of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I remember The Fifth Season not just as my first time listening to N.K. Jemisin, but also as the first time I remember adoring Robin Miles. There’s a video online where Miles and Jemisin discuss the making of the audiobook edition, and it’s this magical piece of insider perspective on what a narrator brings to the table.

Narrated by Robin Miles

Those are a few of my favorite audiobooks that I plan on listening and re-listening to until the end of time (or close to it, anyway). But now it’s time for a few new releases!

New Releases – Week of July 6th

audiobook cover image of Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

After her incredibly successful debut You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson is back with Rise to the Sun, another young adult queer romance. Like most of the bookternet, I adored Johnson’s first novel, especially since the audiobook edition is narrated by Alaska Jackson, who became an instant favorite of mine. Jackson is back to narrate Rise to the Sun, but this time with Lexi Underwood, and the two make a fabulous team.

Narrated by Alaska Jackson and Lexi Underwood

audiobook cover image of Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Crosby

The moment I heard Adam Lazarre-White read the first line of this book, I became hooked. The novel focuses on two ex-cons whose sons are both murdered. They carry a lot with them, including their mixed emotions about their sons being gay and very much in love with each other. But their quest for justice for their sons unites them in a single cause. So buckle in. Crosby’s second novel is just as all-engrossing as his first.

Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White

audiobook cover image of Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev is back with another Jane Austen retelling, and this time she’s retelling Sense and Sensibility. The novel focuses on Yash Raje, California’s first Indian American gubernatorial candidate, who starts to spiral after witnessing his friend become a victim of a hate crime. Yash’s family turns to his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, to help teach Yash stress management. This is a romantic comedy, so you can see where this is going, but with Sonali Dev’s storytelling, it’s sure to be quite the journey. As an added bonus, one of my favorite narrators, Soneela Nankani, performs the audiobook!

Narrated by Soneela Nankani

Over on Book Riot

7 More of the Best Audiobooks to Celebrate Disability Pride Month

From Around the Internet

Check out these Audiobook inspired recipes in AudioFile!

Here are 7 Summer Listens from Audiobook Producers

For those who love insider baseball, this article discusses how audiobook royalties work and why they may need to change


I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at kendra@readingwomenpodcast.com or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 07/01/21

Hola Audiophiles! Ok, for reals this time: this is my last Audiobooks newsletter! It’s been such a blast bringing you the deets on the latest and greatest in the audio universe. I thank you for all of your kind words and support of this newsletter, for putting up with my gratuitous body rolls and rolling with my Spanglish. As I take on a new role at Book Riot, I’m sad to say adios but muy excited for what comes next.

On that note, allow me to introduce you to the new Head Audiophile in Charge: Kendra Winchester! Does that name sound familiar? Perhaps you know her as the Executive Producer of Reading Women, a wonderful podcast that features books by or about women, or from Book Riot’s weekly audiobooks feature which she does so well. She is a wealth of audiobooks knowledge and her passion for the format shows. You are in such, such good hands with Kendra. Show her the same love you all showed me, ya hear?

Alright, familia. Let’s audio one last time.


New Releases – Week of June 29

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

I have been salivating over this latest work from the author of Cinderella is Dead for months, and I somehow missed that it’s a modern take on The Secret Garden?! When Briseis’ aunt dies and leaves her a rundown mansion in rural New York, Bri and her parents leave Brooklyn behind for the summer and head to the creepy old house for some R&R. Bri hopes to use this time to hone and control her gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to full blooms with a single touch. But the sinister old house has other plans involving a very specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with super deadly botanicals that only Bri’s family can enter. So we not not only get a magical lineage, tonics and tinctures, and a mysterious queer love interest, but I’m told this book features some of the most supportive parents in contemporary YA fiction. Sold! (YA fiction)

Read by Jordan Cobb (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland)

audiobook cover image of Gearbreakers, Book 1 by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers, Book1 by Zoe Hana Mikuta

I’ve been hearing sooo much buzz about this one! Godolia warlords are spreading their tyrannical rule over the Badlands using giant mechanized weapons called Windups. Eris is a gearbreaker who specializes in destroying Windups from the inside, but she lands in a Godolia prison when one of her missions goes awry. That’s where she meets Sona, a Windup pilot and obviously Eris’ mortal enemy, right? Plot twist!! Sona has a secret: she actually infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within. As they join forces to take on their deadist mission yet, they grow closer as comrades, as friends, and (body roll!) maybe a lil something more. (YA science fiction)

Read by Catherine Ho (Black Water Sister by Zen Cho), Cindy Kay (These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong)

audiobook cover image of The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

This is a fictionalized version of the very real story about Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian. She was hired as a twenty-something to curate a rate collection of manuscripts, art, and books for Morgan’s library, a role in which she excelled. But she kept a secret to herself all the while: she was Black. She wasn’t born Belle da Costa Green but Belle Marion Greener, the daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. She claimed her dark skin came from her alleged Portuguese heritage when she was really African American. I wonder just how many more stories there are out there of Black Americans who had to pass as white to protect themselves, their families, and their legacy. The answer of course is many, and I hope we see more and more of those stories being told more widely. (historical fiction)

Read by personal favorite Robin Miles (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin)

audiobook cover image of Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Liberty described this one as an over-the-top thriller and a locked room mystery on wheels, so fasten your seatbelts for a Riley Sager special! This one takes place in November 1991 when college student Charlie’s best friend has been murdered by the Campus Killer. To escape the grief and guilt, she decides to go back home to Ohio, opting to share the long drive with a stranger named Josh who she met on a campus message board. It all seems fine at first, but the further they get into the drive, the more she begins to suspect that she might have hitched a ride with a killer.

Read by Savannah Gilmore – I’m not familiar with Gilmore’s work, but samples of other titles sound super crisp, clear, and great for building the tension of a thriller.

Latest Listens

audiobook cover image of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anaparra

I’m not even close to done with this one, but I have to talk about it because I’m loving it so much (thanks to Jamie for recommending this one over and over again)! This is an adult novel that is mostly told from the point-of-view of children in the slums of India, starting off as a coming-of-age narrative and moving slowly into noir territory. Nine-year-old Jai has watched a ton of police procedural shows, so he feels pretty confident in his crime-solving skills. When a classmate goes missing, he enlists the help of schoolmates Faiz and Pari to find out whether it’s a bad djinn is responsible for the disappearance, or a really bad person.

It starts off as a somewhat of a game, but things take a dark turn when more children go missing. Frustrated by the adults and police’s refusal to take the sudden onslaught of disappearances seriously, Jai, Faiz, and Pari take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of things.

The pacing of this book is excellent, and the narration a wonderful balance: I find adults narrating children to be real bad so much of the time, but Indira Varma, Himesh Patel, and Antonio Aakeel do an excellent job with age-appropriate storytelling that doesn’t border on the super-pitchy and ridiculous.

From the Internets

at Audible: Because we read queer lit all year round: The Best LGBTQIA+ Listens by Queer Authors

at AudioFile: More Mystery Audio Gifts from Golden Voice Narrators

at Libro.fm: 3 Ways to Become a Better Reader with Audiobooks

at The Washington Post: 3 great new audiobooks for your drive, your walk, your laundry folding…

at Forbes: Self-Published Audiobooks Are The Next Great Entrepreneurial Side Hustle

Over at the Riot

Where to Find Free Audiobooks

6 of the Best Appalachian Audiobooks – written by Kendra!


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 06/24/21

Hola Audiophiles! So guess what: I’m a big ol’ liar. Well, not so much a liar as a person who can’t correctly read a calendar. This is my second-to-last Audiobooks newsletter, not the last like I accidentally told you it was. That’s good news though, right? Let’s get right to it!

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of June 22

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of What a Happy Family by Saumya Dave

What a Happy Family by Saumya Dave

The Joshis are outwardly an immigrant success story and the quintessential Indian American family. Bina is a pillar in her community, Deepak a successful psychiatrist. Their eldest daughter is following in the footsteps of her father’s career; their middle daughter is getting engaged to a longtime family friend; and their youngest son is a blessing—because all sons are! Then a family scandal cracks the veneer of perfection surrounding the Joshis; friendships unravel, a marriage is shaken, and rejections lead to overwhelming self doubt. In the midst of public humiliation, the Joshis learns that sometimes families fall apart only to come back stronger than before. (fiction)

Read by Soneela Nankani (Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey)

audiobook cover image of Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

Six beloved, best-selling, critically acclaimed authors come together in this beautiful celebration of Black teen love. Set during a New York City summer when a heatwave blankets the city in darkness, the collection is comprised of interlinked stories that are as hilarious as they are heartwarming, a testament to the light of love and the power of Black joy. (young adult, romance)

Read by an ALL STAR TEAM, are you ready for this!? Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Dion Graham, Imani Parks, Jordan Cobb, Shayna Small, A.J. Beckles, Bahni Turpin. What a lineup!

cover image of Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

This is the first book in the next installment of the historical Lady Janies series. While the first three books focused on Lady Jane Grey, the Mary books now set their sights on one of my favorite historical figures, Mary Queen of Scots. In Renaissance France, Mary is Queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. But also: she’s sometimes a mouse. You read that right: a mouse. When the French king meets a suspicious end, Mary and her betrothed Frances are forced on the throne. Mary will need to keep her shapeshifting identity a secret, otherwise heads might just start to roll. (young adult, historical fiction)

Read by Fiona Hardingham (Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir)

audiobook cover image of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley is a proudly fat, Black, queer yoga teacher whose first book Every Body Yoga got me to see a place for myself in yoga. While that book focused on the how, Yoke is about the why. “This yoga of the everyday is about finding within life’s toughest moments the same flexibility, strength, grounding energy, and core awareness found in a headstand or Tadasana or cobra pose.” Jessamyn is very real, very funny, and very no-f*cks-given on social media; I have no doubt these very personal essays on self-love, body positivity, race, sexuality, cannabis, and more will follow suit. (nonfiction, spirituality)

Read by the author

cover image of All the Water I've Seen Is Running by Elias Rodriques

All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running by Elias Rodriques

Aubrey, a self-identified “Southern cracker”, and Daniel, the mixed-race son of Jamaican immigrants, were high school classmates and friends in a North Florida town. Years after they’ve lost contact, Daniel is living in New York when he hears of Aubrey’s death. Now comfortable in his queerness, he’s left to confront his love for Aubrey. He begins a frantic search that takes him back to the place of his upbringing, tinged by racism and poverty, to find out not only what happened to Aubrey, but to find meaning in her death. (fiction, LGBTQ)

Read by Landon Woodson (Light It Up by Kekla Magoon, That Way Madness Lies by Dahlia Adler)

Latest Listens

audiobook cover image of The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

This book, I heart it so. I haven’t read Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare, but I was obsessed with The Switch last year. This next rom-com was exactly what I needed, though a little more hard-hitting than I expected it to be. Lemme give you the deets.

Addie and Dylan spent a summer falling in love under the Provence sun. Addie was a wild child working at her friend Cherry’s glamorous villa as a caretaker for the summer. Dylan was a wealthy Oxford student vacationing at that very villa, a trip he elected to make on his own when his family bailed after a big dramatic fight. From the moment Addie and Dylan locked eyes for the first time, it was game over. Twas a wild, romantic, sexy, and sun-drenched affair.

Years later, that bliss is entirely a thing of the past when the now former couple’s lives collide most comically: on their way to their friend Cherry’s wedding (you know, the one with the villa), Addie and her sister Deb are involved in a crash. Addie looks in the rear view mirror to get a look at the car behind her, and wouldn’t ya know: it’s Dylan in the driver’s seat. With one car wrecked and time a’ticking, Addie and Deb (very) begrudgingly agree to drive Dylan and his best friend Marcus to the rural Scotland wedding. Things so super smoothly and there’s absolutely no drama or awkwardness.

Obviously, I’m kidding. It’s a hot damn mess! There’s clearly all kinds of unresolved stuff between Addie and Dylan, details of which are revealed in alternating perspectives and in flashbacks to happier (then unhappier) times. It’s got some heavy stuff (trigger warnings to follow) and there’s some good commentary on the immense value of therapy. I won’t lie, I spent a LOT of time despising the Marcus character, and I think this would make a great book club read for the discussion of “what’s the difference between loyalty and just hanging onto a toxic friendship” thing, a topic with a lot of grey area when you take into account the “hurt people hurt people” thing, and that most of us don’t want to be defined by the actions of our youth. The book is also absolutely hilarious, even a little slapstick at times in an unexpected but delightful way. The side characters here add a lovely touch and I laughed out loud more than a few times.

The narration felt spot on for Addie and Dylan specifically, from the tender moments to the sensual ones and the raw expressions of hurt and betrayal. This was much heavier than I expected, but also that much more delightful when the HEA came around. It felt earned and not thrown together just for the sake of the HEA. (romance, rom-com)

(tw: sexual assault, non-graphic) 

Read by Eleanor Tomlinson (One Day in December by Josie Silver) and Josh Dylan (Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks)

From the Internets

at Slate: The audiobook industry is collectively squirming through the cultural debate on representation and casting (honestly, it’s about time)

at Audible: 10 “Finfluencers” You Should Know – I’m reading the book by Tiffany Aliche right now (Get Good With Money) and it is so accessible and great.

at Libro.fm: Quiz: Your Next Audiobook for Pride Month and Queer-Owned Bookstores to Support – which we of course do all year!

at AudioFile: In Conversation with Golden Voice Narrator Soneela Nankani

Over at the Riot

6 Epic Listens for Your Summer Reading List


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 06/17/21

Hola Audiophiles! I’m coming to you once again from (very) sunny Southern California and my two-week visit to San Diego. You already know what it is: tacos, babies, aggressive sunblock application, more tacos.

I don’t have a Latest Listen for you this week because WOW have I been busy, but I do have some news! Let’s get to the new releases first and then I’ll spill the chisme.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of June 15

publisher descriptions in quotes

cover image of The Hellion's Waltz by Olivia Waite

The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite

Awww yeah, the conclusion to Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series is here! After losing their piano shop to a con man in London, Sophie and her family move to a new town to start anew. Sophie meets stunning beauty Madeline Crewe and immediately suspects the silk-weaver of being up to no good—no one’s that good looking without having something to hide, surely! As for Maddie, she just needs oooone more big score to finally fund the weaver’s union. The last thing she needs is a nosy piano teacher poking around in other peoples business. Only one thing left to do: seduce her into the cause. Is it time for a body roll? I think it’s time for a body roll. (romance)

Read by Morag Sims (Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley)

Phantompains by Therese Estacion

Phantompains by Therese Estacion

Familia, I have been a big ol’ slacking slacker who slacks about including poetry audiobooks this year! This one was brought to my attention and I just couldn’t look away. Author Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that almost killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and her reproductive organs. With elements of Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion pulls from stories of ogres, mermen, and gnomes straight from Filipino children’s nightmares and weaves them in with imaginings from the hospital room where she spent months in recovery. This promises to be a unique work of poetry and an immersive, if haunting, listening experience. (poetry)

Read by the author

audiobook cover image of The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The follow up to The Silent Patient sorta feels like if The Secret History were a psychological thriller set in Cambridge instead of New England, but with less outright elitism and really scary rich people (this is a gross oversimplification, just trying to communicate some of the vibes and themes). Mariana is a troubled therapist grieving the loss of her husband. Her niece is a student at Cambridge, where Mariana once studied herself, and she’s bereft when her friend’s dead body is found. That friend was a member of a secret society known as The Maidens, a group of young female students who fawn over Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca in most icky fashion. When other members of The Maidens start turning up dead, Mariana knows it’s the untouchable Fosca who’s done it. She’ll stop at nothing to prove it, and doing so will mean confronting some buried memories and unprocessed trauma. (mystery/thriller)

Read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell) and Louise Brealey (The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson)

audiobook cover image of Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

Yeah, I’m including a second thriller because LAWD this sound like a ride! Oliver is a recovering addict who finally has everything he wanted: sobriety and stability, including his wealthy trauma surgeon partner Nathan. He knows he has no business going to a gay bath house, and even less business following a complete stranger into a private room therein. Just like that, a line is crossed, one Nathan can never ever know about. But then! Things go horribly wrong and Oliver barely escapes with his life. It’s bad, it’s very bad, and what to tell Nathan? That’s when Oliver falls back on old habits: he lies. Just in reading the description, I was saying aloud, “Nooooooo don’t do iiiiiitttt!” This sounds so thrilling and twisty. (thriller)

Read by Michael Crouch (They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera) and Daniel Henning (The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune)

cover image of Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Can we talk about that gorgeous cover? The power! Voya has long awaited her Calling, the trial all witches must go through before they come into their powers. Then the unthinkable happens—she fails. When an ancestor offers Voya an unprecedented second chance at the Calling, the price for redemption is steep: it will mean sacrificing her first love—who she’ll have to find and fall for first—and her entire family will lose their magic if she fails once again. This is also the first in a series, can’t wait to dive in. (YA fantasy)

Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt (Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris)

Siri, Play “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men

Gather round, audiophiles, I have something to tell you. Next week will be my final Audiobooks newsletter! I’ve so enjoyed getting to rant and rave about all things audio with you lovely people for I think a little over two years now. I’m not leaving Book Riot, just embracing growth and taking on new projects. I’ll still be around, still audiobooking, still injecting Spanglish into bookish conversations.

I can’t wait to tell you who’s taking over, more on that next week. You’re in good hands, rest assured, with this fresh voice and perspective! For now, keep on listening, and thank you for an awesome two years. It’s been swell.

From the Internets

at Audible: Casey McQuiston’s Secret Sauce in Her Unbearably Lovable Queer Rom-Coms

at AudioFile: Audiobooks on Perseverance and Renewal

hands holding a mobile phone displaying the audiobook cover image of On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Juneteenth is a couple of days away! To honor this historic day, Libro.fm is working with 23 Black-owned partner bookstores to give away audiobook copies of On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed, narrated by Karen Chilton (Recorded Books, Inc.). These Black-owned partner bookstores will distribute more than 1,500 copies of the audiobook to their customers! Head to https://libro.fm/juneteenth for to explore Black-owned bookstores’ Juneteenth recommendations, browse audiobooks by African-American authors, find Black narrators to listen to, and more!

Over at the Riot

On Learning to Embrace Audiobooks as a Reader

6 of the Best Fantasy Books to Listen To Again and Again

5 Grammy Award-Winning Audiobooks to Listen To

What Rioters Like to Do While Listening to Audiobooks


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