Audiobook: Darkhearts

by James L. Sutter
Read by Ramon de Ocampo
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Or listen at
Release date: June 6, 2023
Content: There is a lot of swearing, including quite a few f-bombs, talk of sex, and some tasteful on-screen sex. It will be in the Teen section of the bookstore.

In middle school, David started a band – Darkhearts – with his friends Eli and Chance. They had some success playing gigs in the Seattle area, where they lived, but after a while, David got annoyed with Eli and Chance hogging the spotlight and so quit the band. However, after he left, Darkhearts got huge. Like super huge. And David’s held a grudge ever since because he feels he missed out. 

But, Chance is back in town – Eli died of an overdose, and Chance came for the funeral and to regroup – and wants to reconnect with David. At first, David goes along with it grudgingly, but after a while he realizes something: he really likes Chance. Like really likes Chance. Is he going to be able to get past everything else – Chance’s fame, his own resentment, his father’s concern – and be able to throw himself into this relationship? Does he even want to? 

This was so incredibly delightful. The characters, the depection of a teenage boy band, the cool things they went. David’s best freind, Rachel. The fluidity of his sexuality, and the total non-issue that it was. The romance – and while it kind of followed the beats of a romance novel, I appreciated David’s growth over the whole thing. De Ocampo was a fabulous narrator as well; pulling me into a story that I may have dismissed in print. 

Highly recommended.

Audiobook: Today Will Be Different

todaywillbedifferentby Maria Semple
Read by Kathleen Wiljoite
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s two f-bombs, and assorted other milder swearing. There’s also some uncomfortable domestic issues, and thematically it skews, well, adult. It’s in the fiction section of the bookstore.

I loved the way this book began:

Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I’m speaking to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. Today I’ll play a board game with Timby. I’ll initiate sex with Joe. Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed in proper clothes and only change into yoga clothes for yoga, which today I will actually attend. Today I won’t swear. I won’t talk about money. Today there will be an ease about me. My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile. Today I will radiate calm. Kindness and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I’m capable of being. Today will be different.

It’s such a gloriously low bar for everything. I can completely relate.

Eleanor is trying to make it through each day. Some days are more successful than others. And on this day — the book takes place in 24 hours, with some flashbacks — she will be challenged. Her 8-year-old son, Timby, will fake being sick to get out of being bullied at school. She will discover her husband told his office he’s on vacation, which he is most assuredly not. She will be reminded — strongly — of her estranged sister. She will get a concussion and steal someone else’s keys. It will not be a winner of a day, by any standards, but Eleanor will be — hopefully — better for it.

I think the secret to this one, at least for me, was listening to it.  The narrator was AMAZING. So good in fact, that I want to hunt out other books she’s read. I think she captured Eleanor perfectly, and she pulled me into the narrative. I’m pretty sure it was because of the narrator that I came to love Eleanor and look forward to hearing more about this crazy day (and her crazy past) she was having. (Maybe I would have liked it in print… Stemple is a good writer; the story is entertaining and made me think as well. Plus there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments as well.)

Sometimes I like adult books. This was definitely one of those times.