About Jemma

Jemma's favorite things in life are audiobooks, Earl Grey tea and travel – preferably enjoyed all at once.

STAFF PICK: The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

Title: The Rules Do Not Apply
Author: Ariel Levy
Narrator: Ariel Levy

Clocking in at just under five hours, The Rules Do Not Apply, I assumed, would be a poignant but generally light interlude between my typically much longer listens. Boy was I wrong with that one. Ariel Levy sucked me in deep with her expressive, artful prose, her sense of humor in the midst of sadness, and her ability to be gracefully self-aware yet painfully self-obsessed — all in one gulp.

My favorite quote from the novel presciently summarizes what is to come as Ariel Levy tells her story:

“Daring to think that the rules do not apply is the mark of a visionary. It’s also a symptom of narcissism.”

In this memoir, Levy deconstructs the fine line she walked between her ambitious, youthful talent, and her delusion that life would always unfold on her terms. When she miscarries at five months pregnant during a reporting trip to Mongolia, she is forced to reckon with that which is out of her control — including her wife’s alcoholism, and their financial situation.

Levy handles the heavy heartache with elegance and a needed dose of self-deprecating humor. Sometimes, the memoir misses the mark: there are some troubling passages about racial minorities that hint at an unchecked white privilege, and the ending felt a little rushed and lazy. But predominantly I felt intensely connected to Levy’s emotional journey and completely swept up in the narrative of her life.

Essential to that connection, I think, was that Levy narrated her own story. The way she speaks makes it feel like a candid interview, or a (long) monologue at a dinner party: conversational, and with a depth that can only come from an author’s narration.

I would highly recommend this listen for anyone who enjoys books about writers and writing, emotional memoirs, or novels set in New York City. It really does pack a punch; be prepared to ask yourself, “If everything by which I define myself came crashing down, who would I become?”




GIVEAWAY: Brain Rules for Aging Well by John Medina

How healthy is your brain? Thanks to our friends at Pear Press, for the entire month of September, you can download Brain Rules for Aging Well written and read by John Medina for FREE! Simply open the Audiobooks.com app, search for Brain Rules for Aging Well, and click “Download”.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

In a book destined to be a classic on aging, Medina’s fascinating stories and infectious sense of humor breathe life into neuroscience. Brain Rules for Aging Well is organized into four sections, each laying out familiar problems with surprising solutions. First up, the social brain, in which topics ranging from relationships to happiness and gullibility illustrate how our emotions change with age. The second section focuses on the thinking brain, explaining how working memory and executive function change with time. The third section is all about your body: how certain kinds of exercise, diets, and sleep can slow the decline of aging. The final section is about your future: Medina connects all the chapters into a plan for maintaining your brain health. Each section is sprinkled with practical advice – for example, the fascinating benefits of dancing – and the brain science behind each intervention.

This giveaway ends on October 3, 2017, so don’t delay! To learn more about this title and sample the audio, find it in our app or click here. We also recommend that you sign up for a free trial membership if you aren’t already an Audiobooks.com subscriber. That way, your downloaded content won’t be local to your device – you can sign into your account from anywhere, on any device, and pick up right where you left off.


STAFF PICK: Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar

Title: Everybody’s Son
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Narrator: Josh Bloomberg

Born into the rough projects, Anton is only 10 years old when his single mother Juanita’s crack addiction sends him into foster care. His foster parents, David and Delores Coleman, are still reeling from the death of their own son a few years prior and grip onto Anton with a ferocity that ultimately sees them manipulate the law to keep Anton in their care – a dangerous decision for a family who works in politics and criminal justice.

The story is told in three parts: Anton’s boyhood, his college years, and his middle-age. Despite his role as the protagonist, we never really get to know Anton – largely because he doesn’t know himself. He serves as a passive everyman for us to see the development of the characters around him – the true architects of his life. And although Anton is smart, attractive and successful, he’s consumed by a crisis of identity as a black boy with a white family. Years down the line, it all comes to a head when Anton’s mother re-enters his life and he must decide who he wants to be: everybody’s son, or his own man?

I liked author Thrity Umrigar’s nuanced approach to the complicated morals and motivations of the major players in Anton’s life. While the characters’ skin tones are all black and white, nothing else is: this book deals with the grey zone of what’s right and wrong, where Anton belongs, and how far someone should go for the person they love. It all makes for great discussion (my book club had a thoughtful conversation dissecting it), but I’m still left without answers to some of the book’s plot points as well as overarching themes.

Over the 10 hours of listening, I was kept engaged by skillful narration from Josh Bloomberg. There was never any confusion about who was speaking: Bloomberg created a distinctive voice for every character, no matter how minor, and I was drawn in by his wide range of accents. I credit him for making Everybody’s Son a story worth hearing.

If you’ve read it, too, comment below with your thoughts!


New Minecraft audiobook lets you choose your narrator

The folks over at Random House have gotten pretty creative. Yesterday’s audiobook releases included two distinct versions of the exact same book, just with different narrators! Minecraft: The Island is now available with narration by Jack Black, and with narration by Samira Wiley, of Orange is the New Black fame.

It was important for the author and for the video game company that the protagonist not be exclusively male or female, but to give the listeners narrative choice. So, which narrator will you choose?

Minecraft Books

About Minecraft: The Island

The first official Minecraft novel! In the tradition of iconic adventures like Robinson Crusoe’s Treasure Island, the New York Times bestselling author of World War Z tells the story of a hero – stranded in the world of Minecraft – who must unravel the secrets of a mysterious island in order to survive.

Washed up on a beach, the lone castaway looks around the shore. ‘Where am I?’ ‘Who am I? And why is everything made of blocks?’ But there isn’t much time to soak up the sun. It’s getting dark, and there’s a strange new world to explore!

The top priority is finding food. The next is not becoming food. Because there are others out there on the island . . . like the horde of zombies that appear after night falls. Crafting a way out of this mess is a challenge like no other. Who could build a home while running from exploding creepers, armed skeletons, and an unstoppable tide of hot lava? Especially with no help except for a few makeshift tools and sage advice from an unlikely friend: a cow.

In this world, the rules don’t always make sense, but courage and creativity go a long way. There are forests to explore, hidden underground tunnels to loot, and undead mobs to defeat. Only then will the secrets of the island be revealed.


June’s Top 10 Audiobooks.com Member Downloads

Check out this month’s roundup of the top titles downloaded by Audiobooks.com members! We’ve separated out fiction and non-fiction for your browsing convenience.




1. Camino Island by John Grisham, narrated by January LaVoy

Camino Island

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars…

Read more and sample the audio. 






2. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, narrated by various narrators

Into the Water

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Read more and sample the audio. 





3. Come Sundown by Nora Roberts, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers

Come Sundown

The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business. A little more than thirty thousand acres, it is home to four generations—and behind the scenes, Bodine Longbow does all she can to keep things running with the help of her siblings, the staff, and the new hire, Callen Skinner. 

Read more and sample the audio. 




4. It by Stephen King, narrated by Steven Weber


Stephen King’s #1 national bestseller about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Read more and sample the audio. 






5. The Fix by David Baldacci, narrated by Kyf Brewer and Orlagh Cassidy

The Fix

Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution-style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Read more and sample the audio. 









1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

Read more and sample the audio. 




2. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, narrated by the author

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and bestselling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Read more and sample the audio. 




3. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance, narrated by the author

Hillbilly Elegy

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis, that of white working-class Americans. 

Read more and sample the audio. 


4. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, narrated by the author

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Bestselling author, speaker, and world-traveling success coach Jen Sincero cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver in You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. In this refreshingly blunt how-to guide, Sincero serves up twenty-seven bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, life-changing insights, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word.

Read more and sample the audio. 



5. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken, narrated by the author

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

The story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.

Read more and sample the audio. 



GIVEAWAY: The Trouble with Patience by Maggie Brendan

Our next giveaway is here! Thanks to our friends at Oasis Audio, for 24 hours only, you can download The Trouble with Patience by Maggie Brendan for FREE! Simply open the Audiobooks.com app, search for The Trouble with Patience, and click “Download”.

Here’s a little bit about the book, which is narrated by the fantastic Rebecca Gallagher:

Patience Cavanaugh has lost hope in romance. The man she yearned to marry is dead and her dreams are gone with him. Now she is consumed with restoring a dilapidated boarding house in order to support herself.

Despite Patience’s desire for solitude, Jedediah Jones, the local marshal with a reputation for hanging criminals, becomes an ever-looming part of her life. It seems like such a simple arrangement: She needs someone with a strong back to help her fix up the boardinghouse. He needs a dependable source of food for himself and his prisoners. But as she gets to know this “hanging lawman,” Patience finds there is far more to him than meets the eye — and it could destroy their tenuous relationship forever.

With a keen eye for historical detail and a deft hand at romantic tension, Maggie Brendan invites you to a Montana gold rush boomtown, where vices and virtues are on full display and love is lying in wait.


This giveaway ends on June 23, 2017 at 9 a.m. EST, so don’t delay! To learn more about this title and sample the audio, find it in our app or click here. We also recommend that you sign up for a free trial membership if you aren’t already an Audiobooks.com subscriber. That way, your downloaded content won’t be local to your device – you can sign into your account from anywhere, on any device, and pick up right where you left off.