About Chrissy Holt

Chrissy loves to read mysteries, thrillers, romance, and sci-fi, when she's not dealing with the the craziness of three kids, two parrots, one dog, and a long suffering husband.

Book Clubbin’ – 10 Discussion Questions for Ask Again, Yes

Welcome to our new blog feature — Book clubbin’! We know that many of you (and us in the Audiobooks.com office!) are in book clubs, and so it seemed an obvious thing to blog about.

In the clubs I’m in (Yes, plural. I have a bit of an addiction) a lot of us are busy parents, have challenging jobs, or just have generally hectic lives, so listening to audiobook versions of the novel can be really useful. You can squeeze your book club choices into your commute, listen while you work, or even when your baby is napping (HAH!).

Every month we’ll pick a popular book club pick, and set up some discussion questions to get you and your book club going. This month, we’ve got questions for Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, which was recently voted the Tonight Show Annual Summer Book Club Read. This is a really intense and awesome listen, with in-depth characters, and a lot to talk about. So here are our Ask Again, Yes book club questions!

—————MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!————

1. This novel has been described as a “Domestic” novel. Do you feel that’s the right genre for this novel? Why or why not?

2. Ask Again, Yes is told from the perspective of many different characters (Kate, Peter, Francis etc.). How do you think this adds to the development of the story?

3. The title Ask Again, Yes references the discussion Kate and Peter have at the end of the book. Do you feel that it applies to any other characters?

4. How are mental health and addiction issues portrayed in the novel? Do the characters’ experiences differ due to the era they grow up in?

5. Who do you think is the most sympathetic character in the book? Who is the least likable?

6. When Francis discovers Anne at Peter and Kate’s house, are you surprised at how calm he is? Or is this in line with his character?

7. The theme of history repeating itself is central to this novel. Which characters most fall into these patterns? Are there characters that don’t?

8. Kate, Lena, and Anne are very different women. How is the role of the traditional wife and mother portrayed in this novel?

9. The shooting changes the lives of almost everyone in the novel. How different do you think the following relationships would have been had it never happened? i) Kate and Peter ii) Lena and Francis iii) Anne and Brian.

10. What do you think the future holds for Kate and Peter?

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STAFF PICK: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Narrators: Emily Watson, Richard Armitage, Georgia Maguire

If you haven’t heard of M.T. Edvardsson, the author of A Nearly Normal Family, then that is going to change really, really, soon. Edvardsson is not a new writer, and has written a number of critically acclaimed books in his native Sweden, both in the genres of thriller, and young adult. You can see these different aspects of his writing at play in A Nearly Normal Family, which is the first of his novels to be available in audio in Canada and the US.

A Nearly Normal Family initially appealed to me because of a question asked in the synopsis of the book: “How far would you go to protect your children?” As a parent, instantly you want to say “I’d do anything”, but then you start to think. Would you lie to the police? Lie in court? A Nearly Normal Family challenges these ideas through the story of eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell, a girl accused of the murder of a shady businessman. Her father is a pastor, her mother, a criminal defense attorney. They find their morality tested to the extreme as they, of course, defend their daughter, even in the face of evidence, and in the aftermath of their daughter’s strange behavior.

The book is told in three parts. The first section is from the perspective of Adam, the father, the second, from the perspective of Stella, and the third, from Ulrika, Stella’s mother. What I find incredibly interesting is that with each section, your perception of the characters changes. Without giving anything away, I found that when Adam narrated, I felt sympathy for him, and very little for Stella. When Stella narrated, I began to dislike her parents, and felt so sorry for her. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions!

While this is listed as a legal thriller, and there’s a lot of great courtroom drama, it’s also very much a domestic thriller, with a lot of flashbacks, and background about the family, and psychological twists and turns.

The narrators of this book are amazing! Emily Watson, Georgia Maguire, and Richard Armitage, all of whom are excellent actors and narrators, bring gravitas to this serious and dramatic listen.

If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, domestic thrillers, or anything with psychological twists and turns, then this will certainly appeal to you. I think we will be seeing much more of Edvardsson in the future,  if this amazing novel is anything to go by.

Publisher Summary: 

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the listener to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life-and one another.

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get 2 free audiobooks when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

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Get Dramatic With These Enhanced Audiobooks!

On October 30th, 1938, Orson Welles and a team of actors performed a radio play version of H. G. Wells’ War of The Worlds. Due to the realistic nature of the play (sound effects, talented actors, etc), many people—possibly up to a million—believed that what they were listening to on the radio was a REAL alien invasion. This caused widespread panic. Highways were jammed, people called 911 to ask for gas masks. In the end, Welles had to go on air to remind people it wasn’t real.

One of the things I love most about audiobooks is that they really bring books to life, much like the way in which Welles’ production made War of the Worlds seem real. Audiobooks can add an extra element of drama and excitement that doesn’t regular books just can’t achieve. Your enjoyment is enhanced by narration and special features such as music and sound effects. If you’re like me and you listen to audiobooks for enhancement, you’ll love these recommendations below!

Don’t forget to visit our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram accounts, and use the hashtag #IListenFor to let us know why you love listening to audiobooks. Lastly, don’t forget to enter our contest for a chance to win the ultimate audiobook lovers prize pack!

Full-cast

I LOVE full-cast audiobooks. It’s awesome to hear each character voiced differently, since it brings the whole book to life. It’s especially great when it’s a play, since they are written to be performed, not read.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narrated by Jennifer BealsJudy GreerBenjamin Bratt, Pablo Schreiber

This recording has an amazing full cast of narrators, which includes Robert Petkoff and Julia Whelan, and is a unique listen that feels more like a rock documentary than a novel.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties. Her voice is getting noticed, and she’s the kind of beautiful girl that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, and their lead singer Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

Read more and sample the audio →

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by David Sedaris, George Saunders, Nick Offerman, and a full cast

If I could be a fly on the (studio) wall on any audio recording, it would be this one. There are 166 narrators, including some of my favorites, Nick Offerman, Susan Sarandon, David Sedaris, and more!

Set in February 1862, The Civil War is less than one year old. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.

Based on this historical event, George Saunders tells an amazing story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical story into a supernatural realm that is both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Read more and sample the audio →

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, narrated by Robertson Dean, Cherise Boothe, Ryan Anderson, Dwight Bacquie, Robert Younis, Johnathan Mcclain

This is SUCH an interesting listen, and the full cast of narrators really bring out the idea that the book spans not just decades and countries, but also many cultures and characters.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

This story spans decades and continents and includes a range of characters such as assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts!

Read more and sample the audio →

Celebrity-narrated memoirs

There is nothing better than a memoir read aloud. I love the idea that the writer is reading their life story to you. You hear their passion and emotions in the narration when they recount their experiences, which is something you just don’t get from reading the pages of a book.

Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama

It would be impossible to write a blog post about amazing memoirs without including this. Michelle Obama’s grace and intelligence comes across just perfectly in this memoir. The gravitas of the First Lady is there, but it also feels like you’re sitting with a friend, in a coffee shop, while she tells you stories about her life.

In her memoir, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. She describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Read more and sample the audio →

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: A Oral History by Megan MullallyNick Offerman, narrated by Nick OffermanMegan Mullally

You know that cute couple who joke and bicker back and forth, and you just wish that you could be just like them? Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are that couple. I can’t imagine not listening to this in audio. They chat back and forth about their lives, their personal histories, how they met, and most importantly, what makes them such a perfect couple. By the end of the book I wanted to hug them both. I loved their little stories, how they finished each other’s sentences, and I laughed so hard at some points, I had to pause the book. A little risque at times, it’s not for everyone, but if you love this couple (and their love of puzzles) as much as I do, you’ll think it’s great.

Read more and sample the audio →

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, narrated by Mindy KalingMichael SchurB. J. NovakBrenda Withers

If you’re a fan of The Office or The Mindy project, then you probably love Mindy Kaling as much as I do. Mindy feels like a friend who you’re having a gossip session with.

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

Another laugh out loud listen, perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend, or what makes a great guy, or what is the perfect amount of fame? If so, you’ve come to the right book!

Read more and sample the audio →

Cinematic productions

Music can evoke many emotions, so adding it to an audiobook to further enhance the listening experience is a no-brainer!

Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, narrated by Jonathan Davis

Some audiobooks send shivers down your spine. If you’re a Star Wars fan (and really, is there anyone who isn’t?) this will not disappoint. Set before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, this novel focuses on Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as they navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future in this canon Star Wars novel.

When there are fighting scenes, you can hear lightsabers. When they encounter members of the Hutt Empire, there are special effects that make the narrator sound just like Jabba did in Return of the Jedi. You feel like you’re right there with them, or at least sitting in a movie theater!

Read more and sample the audio →

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, narrated by Carly Robins

The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite listens of last year. Funny, cute, and steamy, it was the perfect romance novel.

We have the “regular” version too, but if you’re looking for something a little different, the Booktrack edition adds an immersive musical soundtrack to the story, which really adds to the pep and fun that is this novel.

In The Kiss Quotient, The heroine, Stella Lane, works in a well-paid, technical job, making algorithms that predict customer purchases. However, her social life is not as successful as her professional life. Helen finds it hard to be in relationships, which she attributes to being on the Autistic spectrum, as well as a lack of romantic experience. So she comes up with the idea of hiring an escort to get “experience with a professional.” This hilarious read can get pretty steamy, but it’s a great read from a unique perspective and a neurodiverse author.

Read more and sample the audio →

Illuminae by Jay KristoffAmie Kaufman, narrated by Lincoln Hoppe, Johnathan McClain, Olivia Taylor Dudley

There’s something about Sci-Fi that really lends itself to cinematic productions, and Illuminae is no exception. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more, this audiobook features a full cast and sound effects which adds to the whole immersive experience.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get 2 free audiobooks when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

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#TipTuesday – Get More Books!

We’ve heard from some of our subscribers that one audiobook a month is just NOT enough. With this in mind, today’s #TipTuesday social post is all about getting more books. And we have SO MANY ways to do this that a quick post on Facebook wasn’t enough to go into detail about the different ways you can get your listen on!

So what can you do to get more listens? Let us tell you!

1. Be a part of our VIP program

If you have a subscription with us, then you are automatically entered into our VIP program! What does this mean? It means you get to choose one free book from a curated selection every month! Browse this month’s special VIP Rewards book selection and choose your free title, either on your app, or on our website. VIP Rewards books will refresh on the first day of every month, at which point you’ll be able to browse the new selection and make your choice for one free download. All of your VIP Rewards books will remain in your library as long as you remain a member.

Check out our VIP rewards for this month here: https://www.audiobooks.com/vip-rewards

2. Upgrade your account

If you want the freedom to choose any available book, then upgrading your subscription to one where you get more credits each month might be a better option for you. If you go to your account page on our website, you can change your subscription level from one credit to two, or even three. That means if you add your VIP book choice to that, you get the chance to listen to up to four books a month!

3. a la Carte purchasing

Maybe you’re happy with your one + VIP book selection most months, but you’re going on a road trip, or your dream listen is out this month and you already used your credit. DON’T DESPAIR! When you find the book you want, look and see if there is a price visible. If there is, you can buy the book and own it outright! Easy!

4. Deals and Sales

Who doesn’t like saving money? Check out our deals and sales page here.

One way you can save yourself some hard-earned cash is by purchasing books at a discounted price in our a la carte sales. Oftentimes, you can save up to 80% off your books! You can add your books to the cart, pay via credit card, and get some awesome deals, saving your monthly credit for another listen. You can access sales on our website.

The other way to save is to take advantage of our deals that allow you to get two (or sometimes more) books for just one credit! You can access them via your app or on our site.

As always if you need assistance with any of these purchases, you can contact our support team who are always happy to help!

New to Audiobooks.com? Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

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STAFF PICK: The Farm

Title: The Farm
Author: Joanne Ramos
Narrator: Fran De Leon

They say “Never judge a book by its cover, but the striking cover of The Farm, is what initially drew me to it. Seeing the title of the book, and the baby bumps on the front page, it reminded me of the themes in The Handmaid’s Tale (a personal favorite!). But this is not set in a dystopian future, nor under a totalitarian government – it’s set in New York state, in current times. This does not make it any less chilling – because to me, there is nothing more frightening than something that could already be happening.

If you’re a fan of Black Mirror, The Farm has a very similar vibe, and addresses cultural themes like capitalism, technology, racism, social inequality, and poverty. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, it focuses in on the women in the story, and defies conventions about motherhood, but in a more modern, and less dystopian manner.

The majority of the story is set in Golden Oaks, a sumptuous retreat in New York state, which boasts every amenity of an expensive spa: organic meals, private fitness trainers, and daily massages, and you get paid for the privilege! So what’s the catch?

If you didn’t know the purpose of Golden Oaks, you would assume it was just another getaway for the ultra-rich. However, it is anything but. Golden Oaks is surrogacy taken to the extreme – an expensive baby farm, where the ultra-rich delegate their pregnancy to a group of mostly poor, desperate, immigrant women. The babies they produce need to be perfect. And a premium is paid to the “hosts” for keeping to the rules.

The main character, Jane, is an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother. At first, she is excited to have made it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. Separated from her daughter and forced to endure a life controlled and manipulated by Farm management, Jane soon realizes her retreat at Golden Oaks is not the sweet deal she once thought it would be. Jane and the other female characters begin to discover that there is something amiss at the Farm, and that the rules cannot be broken without dire consequences for the hosts.

I truly LOVED this book. If you like a bit of politics in your literature, this is definitely for you. At no time are the characters forced to join the Farm, but their social circumstances (poverty, freedom from controlling family, etc) make them feel like they have no choice. My heart ached when Jane is separated from Amalia, and the commodification of motherhood really made me feel uneasy. I loved that all of the supporting characters are women, and come from a variety of backgrounds. Mae, the Farm’s Director, is ruthless and smart. Reagan, a “premium host”, is awkward and idealistic. Lisa is the feisty rebel who tries to overthrow the farm’s control, but mostly for her own benefit, and Ate is a strong, older Filipina woman who is a mother figure to so many of the women, Jane included.

There are a number of twists and turns throughout the novel, and it’s one of those listens that stays with you long after you finish it. Fran De Leon’s narration is amazing, and perfect for this listen. Like Joanne Ramos, De Leon lived her early years in the Philippines, and since there are many Filipina characters in the novel, her knowledge of the culture and accents make for a much more authentic listen.

Publishers Summary: 

Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.

Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get a free audiobook when you sign up for our one month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobook!

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