Audiobook: Whiteout

by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon
Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Dion Graham, Imani Parks, Jordan Cobb, Shayna Small, A.J Beckles & Bahni Turpin
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Or listen at Libro.fm
Others in the “series” Blackout
Content: There is some mild swearing and one almost on-screen sex scene. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Much like Blackout, this book has an overriding premise: a snowstorm has hit Atlanta and has shut down everything (which, to be honest, I’ve experienced. It’s not fun.). People are stranded all over town, from the airport to the stadium to the local music venue. And everyone has a purpose: to help their friend apologize to her girlfriend and win her back.

It’s kind of a silly premise, but then this is not only a YA romance, but it also is a Christmastime/holiday YA romance, so of course, it’s a bit implausible. Everyone ends up with their happily ever after, though the authors do leave you guessing for a bit as to whether or not it will actually happen. It’s a whole lot of spectacle, though not a whole lot of falling in love. Instead, the authors chose to focus on established relationships: whether they are friends looking to level up, or old flames, or making up after a fight. It made the whole story smoother, knowing that these teenagers all had a past together. Additionally, there was so much gay in this book, it was wonderful.

On top of that, the full-cast recording made the whole book just a pleasure to listen to. I really loved this one.

Audiobook: Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

by Bono
Read by the author
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Content: There is swearing, including a few f-bombs. it’s in the Music section of the bookstore.

I was never a super huge U2 fan, but I liked them quite a bit, in the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. War, Joshua Tree, Rattle & Hum, and Actung Baby were the albums that I really liked, and listened to a lot. I never did see them live, a nagging regret I have, and one that was definintley made greater after listening to this book. At any rate, when I heard that Bono had written a memoior, I was absolutely in: I adore celebrity memoirs, he’s reading the book himself, what’s not to like? (I even snagged a signed copy at work, yay!)

And I was not wrong. Listening to this book is an experience. Not only does Bono read the book, he sings the lyrics, and they got the rights to the U2 songs to play snippets at the beginning of each chapter. There are sound effects (bells ding, crowds yell, and they put echos on his voice sometimes). The book is loosely chronological, though he does jump around telling stories as they fit in. It’s also loosely thematic, as he chooses the U2 song that best fits the theme of the chapter. He ranges through evertyhing, from the forming of U2, to his relationship wih his wife, to his work in activism, to the many different directions fthe band has gone. He’s introspective and often hard on himself – every time the ban nearly broke up, he says that it’s his fault – and often brings up his faith and doubts. It was absolutely worth the 20 hours listening to it, as I fell into a reawaking of the affection I hd for U2 as a teenager, and rediscovered so many of their songs that I rememberd loving.

If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved this one. Yes, it’s a celebrity memoir, but it’s also so much more than that. Highly, highly recommended.

Audiobook: Nerd

Adventures in Fandom from this Univers to the Multiverse
by Maya Phillips
Read by the author
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Content: There really isn’t anything that I can think of. It’s in the Film section of the bookstore.

In a series of essays, Phillis – a cultural critic for the New York Times – deconstructs her relationship with fandoms over the years. I liked her groupings – the first one is about the way New York shows up in comic books and movies, and a later one talks about Gods and the supernatural. I liked her insights, even when I disagreed (she took on Firefly, and it didn’t come out well, which I mean, sure, but leave my show alone!). It was a fascinating look at fandoms through the eyes of someone who has been a fan of things since she was young (though I didn’t get many of the anime references), and someone Black and female. It wasn’t your usual perspective on these sorts of things, and I appreciated that.

She was a good narrator of her own book, as well, and it made me feel like a friend was sitting there chatting about her thoughts on all sorts of geeky things.

Recommended.

Audiobook: Thank You for Listening

by Julia Whelan
Read by the author (who happens to be a very excellent audiobook narrator)
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Content: There is swearing including multiple f-bombs and some pretty steamy on-screen sex. it’s in the Romance section of the bookstore.

Sewanee Chester was an aspiring actress untl a tragic accident took that off the table. She turned to audiobooks, doing romance unders a pseudonm for a while, but has let that go too, doing more mainstreem books these days. That is until an offer she couldn’t refuse – a dual record with unknown but super steamy narrator Brock McKnight – came along. While she’s heating up the emails and texts with Brock, she still has her mind on Nick, the one-night stand she had in Vegas after a book convention.

Of course there are ups and downs, of course there are high stakes (and low stakes), and of course there is a Happily ever after. But what I thorougly enjoyed about this one is that it was the thing – a romance book – whiile poking fun at all the romance tropes and romance authors and audiobook narrators out there. I love it when the thing is the thing while poking fun at the thing. And this is definitely lots of fun.

I think it was especially fun because Whelan is an excellent narrator, and she did All The Voices, which just made it that much more enjoyable. (In fact, sometimes I wondered if she made certaincharaters the way there wer just so dhe could do that particular voice for them.) I may not have loved it as much if I had just read it, but it was absolutely delightful and hilarious in audio.

I had a hilariously fun time listening to this one. Definitely recommended.

Audiobook: Dinners with Ruth

by Nina Totenbrg
Read by the author
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Content: There is some mild swearing including one f-bomb. It’s in the Biography section of the bookstore.

The book’s subtitle is “A Memoir on the Power of Friendships, ” which really sums up the book. Nina (I can call her Nina from having listened to her on NPR for decades, yes?) reflects not only on the close friendship she had with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg but on the friendships that have gotten her through her life. She spends a lot of time not just reflecting on having friends, and how it’s possible to be friends with people you disagree with (which is something we’re losing I think, as a society), but also on how those friendships have enriched her life. It ranges from supreme court justices to her colleagues at NPR to her family and the friends that introduced her to both of her husbands.

I really recommend getting this one on audio. Totenberg is a radio journalist, which means she knows how to tell a story. And she is delightful here. From her small chuckles when she reads something funny to the emotion in her voice when she talks about RBG’s death. It’s truly delightful to listen to.

Very highly recommended.

Audiobook: Bookish People

by Susan Coll
Read by Alexa Morden
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Content: There is some mild swearing and a couple of f-bombs. There is also mention of suicide. It’s in the Adult Fiction section of the bookstore.

A co-worker – the current Children’s Coordinator at the bookstore – turned me on to this one, saying: It’s super accurate, including down to the vacuum cleaner that won’t work. That was enough for me.

The basic plot: it’s one week at an independent bookstore in Washington, DC (not Politics and Prose, though) where everything seems to go wrong. The owner, Sophie, is having second and third thoughts about running a bookstore and just wants to hide away in the hidden room behind the sports section (I think?). Clemi, the event coordinator, has booked Raymond Chaucer, a notorious poet who is basically known because his wife killed herself. Clemi, however, thinks Chaucer is her real father. In between all that is a lot of rain, some pretty weird and funny customers, and a vacuum cleaner that just won’t work.

it’s particularly silly and fluffy; there’s really not much depth or growth here But the author must have some experience with working at a bookstore; there was a lot of insider baseball from Shelf Awareness (which is more like an industry newsletter, not a blog) to receiving and stocking books (though they order a LOT of books) to those weird customers who show up at author events. In fact, it was the author event, where one attendee just started rambling about spotted owls, that had me howling in laughter. I know those people; I have had those people at events I have run.

The narrator was particularly delightful and engaging, doing voices (I particularly liked her voice for Summer), and basically keeping me engrossed in an increasingly silly plot.

So, not a deep or moving book, but it was good for a few laughs, which I enjoyed.

Audiobook: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

by Gabrielle Zevin
Read by Jennifer Kim and Julian Cihi
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Content: there is swearing, including multiple f-bombs, on-screen instances of some pretty unhealthy BDSM, and some violence. It’s in the Fiction section of the bookstore.

For reference about the title.

It’s really kind of hard to sum this on eup. There is a plot: Sadie and Sam are friends as children, they fall out and meet again as students at MIT And Harvard respectively, and end up making video games togethre with Sams roommate, Marx. But that doesn’t really do this novel justice. It’s really about friendships and all different types of love, and the relationships we make and break and make again. It covers about 40 years, and all the ups and downs in Sadie’s and Sam’s life, set against the backdrop of the games that they have made together over the years.

It didn’t always work for me; I found it to drag sometimes, and at other times I was bored with where the story was going. But in the end, I found it to be sweet and touching, and quite insistent that romantic love, at least as we all think about it, is not the Best Thing Ever, that people can live and thrive with other relationships in their life. It was definitely refreshing in that sense.

And the narration was quite good. She didn’t always do the voices, but I was able to follow the story.

And the narration was lovely. She didn’t do all the voices, but the writing was good enough that I could usually tell who was talking no matter what.

I didn’t absolutely love it, but I really liked it.

Audiobook: Counterfeit

by Kirstin Chen
Read by Catherine Ho
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Content: There was some swearing. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

Ava Wong has lived a safe life: the daughter of Chinese immigrants, she chose the safe occupation (lawyer), married well (he’s a doctor) and has a child (he’s two), and is living a “good” life. Except, she’s supremely unhappy. Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s former roommate at Stanford. She is a woman of the world and has developed a counterfeit scheme where she buys knock-off designer bags from China, purchases the same designer bag and returns the counterfeit to the store, selling the original on eBay for a discounted price. It’s made her, well if not millions, then at least a good living. She sees Ava’s unhappiness, and invites her into her world. The whole book is framed as Ava’s confession to a dective, having been caught out in the scheme, and is taking the fall. Except: is she?

To be honest: I wasn’t all that invested in Ava or Winnie’s story. I liked parts of it, and Ho kept me entertained, but I didn’t really feel connected to the story. It’s not that it wasn’t enjoyable (stick around: part 2 makes part 1 worth it), but in may ways, I felt like it was Rich People Problems, which are very uninspiring right now. . So while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t all that great either. At least it helped fill the hours at work.

Audiobook: Flying Solo

by Linda Holmes
Read by Julia Whelan
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Content: There’s swearing, including a couple of well-placed f-bombs. There is also off-screen sex. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

Laurie grew up in a small Main town, and couldn’t wait to get away. She didn’t return often, and once her immediate family moved away, there wasn’t much reason to return. That is, until her Great-Aunt who had no children of her own, passed away. Suddenly, it became Laurie’s job to go through Aunt Dot’s house and get it ready to be sold. Once there, she discovers a wooden duck in a blanket chest, and that starts off a chain of events that leads Laurie to a greater understanding of her aunt. Along the way, she reconnects with her old boyfriend, Nick, who is recently divorced.

I liked that this was a less-than-traditional romance. While it’s still about people falling in love, it features a heroine who called off her wedding because she didn’t feel right about it. She’s nearly 40, she’s she’s a larger woman; Holmes mentions “size18” and “larger body”. Laurie is a woman who knows that she wants to live alone and that maybe being married isn’t for her. She’s bucking societal norms, not doing things the way things are “supposed” to be done. I really really appreciated that. And honestly: it was this embracing of non-traditionalness that made the book a really good one for me.

Whelan is still a delightful narrator; she makes the listening experience super engaging and enjoyable. I will have to listen to her read more! In short: thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Audiobook: Yerba Buena

by Nina LaCour
Read by: Julia Whelan
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Content: there is some talk of drug use, some prostitution, off-screen sex, and swearing including f-bombs. It’s in the Adult Fiction section of the bookstore.

Emelie and Sara are two women, both at odds with their life. Emilie has been in college for seven years, changing her major five times, and has yet to graduate. Sara ran away from home at 16, without finishing high school when her best friend (and lover) was found dead in the river. She spent years working her way up from the bottom to become a respected bartender. When she and Emilie first meet, though, it’s an instant spark, but at the time, Emilie is having an affair with the owner of a restaurant. When they do connect, things don’t go well. In fact, that’s the whole point of the book, I think: Emilie and Sara have to become their own individuals before they can successfully become a couple.

I think that’s the whole point of the novel: it’s much less a love story than it is a growing-up story. Both Emilie and Sara have pasts they need to reconcile with and futures they need to figure out. Yes, they are ready for a relationship, but maybe not quite ready enough, which gives the whole book an air of the bittersweet to it. I adore LaCour’s writing and the way she makes characters come alive. It also helped that Whelan’s narration was incredibly engaging.

Definitely a good book.