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 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Welcome to our monthly blog feature — Book Clubbin’!
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 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Unless you have been living in a cave for the last couple of months, you have probably heard a lot about this amazing sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. Book clubs EVERYWHERE have been devouring this book (Our own office book club included!), and so it seemed like an awesome pick for this month’s blog.

So take a peek at our questions, and as always, remember there MAY be some spoilers in here!

—————MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!————

1) Do you think The Handmaid’s Tale needed a sequel? Were your questions answered by the end of the novel, or do you have even more?

2) Did The Testaments change your perception of Aunt Lydia? Why or why not?

3) In section 52, Aunt Lydia says the Aunts sometimes share information about their previous lives, “…Past lives are shared, I took care not to share too much of mine….” What do these snippets of information that we hear tell you about the Aunts? What opinions may they secretly have of Gilead? And what does it tell us about Aunt Lydia?

4) Even though Gilead seems to allude to having a lot of the same technology as the rest of the world, unbabies, deaths during childbirth, and other fatal/serious ailments seem to be the norm there. Why do you think this is?

5) When Nicole and Agnes are travelling to Canada, Nicole says “Just because people are related to you doesn’t mean you love them.” Agnes replies “Love is like a discipline, like prayer.” How have the girls’ upbringings developed their perception of what love is?

6) Much like The Handmaid’s Tale, the Gilead in The Testaments reflects a lot of situations in current society, especially in relation to movements such as #metoo. What parallels can you see?

7) Why do you think Atwood called the novel The Testaments?

8) Of all the groups of women in Gilead, who do you think has the most “freedom”?

9) Men are not portrayed very favorably in The Testaments. Are there any male characters who have redeeming features? Is it possible to be a man in Gilead and NOT be a bad person?

10) The novel has multiple narrators. How does this format help you to understand the story in different ways? How effective did you find the narration to be?


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Book Clubbin’ – 10 Discussion Questions for The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Welcome to our new blog feature — Book Clubbin’!
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 The Farm by Joanne Ramos.

We’ve reviewed this book before (and we LOVED it!), and we know it’s a big book club book this year, so take a peek at our questions, and feel free to use them for your next book club meeting! 

—————MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!————

1. What genre would you put this book in? Sci-fi? Feminist or women’s fiction? Something else? Why?

2. There are some heavy themes in this book: Women’s rights, racism, immigration, class inequality etc. Can you see any parallels with issues in the news right now?

3. Jane, Lisa, and Reagan are three very different women put in the same situation. What do you think makes them friends? What makes them so different from each other?

4. Do you think Ate and Mae are “bad” people? Or do they have good and/or altruistic reasons for some of the “bad” decisions they make? 

5. What is your opinion on the morality of Golden Oaks? Do you think it’s a good thing? A bad thing? Or somewhere inbetween?

6. Do you think that Golden Oaks could exist in real life? 

7. How does The Farm present the idea of the American Dream?

8. There have been comparisons of The Farm to The Handmaid’s Tale. Do you feel these books share similar things? How do they differ?

9. Did the ending surprise you? How did it change your perception of Mae and Jane?

10. “Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.” Money is a huge theme in the book. The women at The Farm need it, and the potential parents have lots of it. What role do you think money plays in the book? 

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection 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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STAFF PICK: The Passengers by John Marrs

Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
Narrator: Clare Corbett, Roy McMillan, Tom Bateman

Modern life is so strange.  I have an amazing phone app from my grocery store that, based on my past purchases sends me discounts, and seems to know when I’ve run out of shower gel, laundry soap, and cookies. Very, very creepy, but very, very convenient. Can you even imagine life now without phone apps, online DNA tests, or driverless transit systems like London Thameslink or Vancouver’s skytrain?

Many people are frightened of the growth of AI, which has lead to a growth in the popularity of dystopian literature, TV, and film, including shows and movies like Black Mirror, Ex Machina, and novels such as The Test.  I feel that there is nothing scarier (and more entertaining) than listening or reading something that you can actually imagine happening. I don’t generally find horror books scary, but a horror or thriller, set in modern times, involving normal day to day things? Nothing scarier.

The Passengers is such an all-encompassing, terrifying read. This listen is set in a society – not far from our own – where self-driving cars are now the norm. Considered to be safe, self-driving cars are used by everyone without issues.

One evening, eight people:  a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man, are traveling in their self-driving cars as usual. Suddenly, the doors lock, the destination changes, and all manual controls are disabled. Then a voice speaks, “You are going to die.”

From hidden cameras in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. This situation is now a reality show with a twist. The public gets to choose which of the eight to save, which means killing the remaining seven….

What I love most about this listen is the way in which you feel like you are in the audience of the reality show.  During the book, the “voice” gives us more information about the eight people. Because of this information, the perception of the public changes, and suddenly the people who seem like they should stay alive become less deserving once we hear more about them. I started actually thinking about who I would kill first, and changed my mind over and over about who I felt should be saved. Much like Marrs’ other books, there are plenty of twists and turns that keep you listening and guessing right up until the end.

The audio production for this book is amazing. There’s a number of awesome narrators, and a barrage of sound effects, which adds to the idea that you’re listening to a reality show that’s happening live. It really adds to the drama of the situation.

If you’re a fan of writers such as J.G Ballard, or TV shows like Black Mirror, this is very much the listen for you! I’m now binge listening to the rest of John Marrs’ back catalog, and keeping away from all robots… 😉

Publisher Summary:
You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die.”

Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, ‘Which of these people should we save?…And who should we kill first?’

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection 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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Not Your Granny’s Bodice Rippers! New Trends in Contemporary Romance Covers.

One of the many brilliant things about audiobooks is that you can listen to something without everyone knowing what you’re listening to. This is especially useful if you like to tell people that you only listen to business books, when you actually mostly listen to romantica. (Come on, we all do it).

I personally read and listen to lots of books in all different genres. For example, in the last couple of months I’ve listened to After by Anna Todd, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. But sometimes you can feel a little self-conscious if you’re on the bus reading a bodice-ripper, or the latest true crime with a gruesome cover, particularly if there are small children around. Plus, if you’re trying to zone out on your commute, people are less likely to start the “Whatcha reading?” conversation with you if you have your headphones on. (Introverts unite!).

That’s not to say that covers are not important, even for audiobooks. When searching for new listens on Audiobooks.com, it’s true to say that most of us are attracted to awesome summaries and beautiful covers. And here at Audiobooks.com we’ve certainly noticed a trend in super-cute romance covers that are definitely not your grandma’s bodice rippers or aga sagas. So whether you embrace your love for steamy romance, or want to hide your phone app far, far, away, we have some sexy, romantic, and fun listens for you, with some cute covers to boot!

 

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting, narrated by Teddy Hamilton, Holly Warren 

Imagine finally meeting your celebrity crush! Now imagine that you meet your celebrity crush by accidentally tripping over and falling on him. CRINGE.

Kailyn, a law student meets Daxton, an TV star-turned-law student, and after this embarrassing encounter they become fast friends…until a betrayal causes an abrupt end to their relationship.

Eight years later, Daxton is back in Kailyn’s life, and needs her help. Will they be able to get past their issues to work together…and maybe more?

Read more and sample the audio →

 

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, narrated by Charlotte North

Georgette’s family has a successful renovation business, but instead of doing that for a living, Georgie is *literally* a clown. She loves her job entertaining kids, but since “no one will date the clown” she decides to give herself a bit of a makeover.

Combine this with a flirtation with an ex-baseball player, and you’ve got a fun and adorable listen that will make you swoon!

Read more and sample the audio →

 

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai, narrated by Summer Morton, Brian Pallino

Alisha Rai brings us The Right Swipe – a modern romance story for the Tinder generation.

Rhiannon Hunter is driven and strong in her career as a dating app creator, and uses the same cut-throat techniques for her dating life. However, things change when she meets Samson, who breaks her heart, and disappears. Will she give him a second chance?

This romance novel is part of Rai ‘s modern love series, and features strong women, diverse characters, and feminist themes. This is as much a book about a successful woman, as it is about romance.

Read more and sample the audio →

 

If We’re not Married by Thirty by Anna Bell, narrated by Rebecca Courtney 

Are you one of those people who made a deal with a friend (jokingly, of course) that if you weren’t married by a certain age, you’d marry them? In this cute story, Lydia is thirty and single. On vacation, she bumps into her childhood friend, who she’s always had a crush on, and they soon enter into a passionate holiday romance. Years ago they made a pact that if they were still single when they turned thirty they would get married. But no one really follows through on these pacts . . . right? Could Lydia’s back-up really be the one?

Read more and sample the audio →

 

Red, White and Royal Blue By Casey Mcquiston, narrated by Ramon De Ocampo 

I love romance novels, and I LOVE the Royal family, so I was drawn, not just to the beautiful and fun cover, but also to the cute and fun subject matter, and the fact it’s a LGBTQ+ read.

The US President’s son, Alex, has a fun and exciting “job” as an international socialite and “millennial ambassador.” However, one less than fun element of the job is having to maintain a fake friendship with his long-term nemesis – and member of the British royal family – Prince Henry.

However, the more time they spend together, the more Alex realizes that Henry isn’t as bad as he originally thought, and soon enough they find themselves hurtling into a secret romance that could derail Alex’s mom’s re-election campaign, and upend two nations!

Read more and sample the audio →

 

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

This is not the first time I’ve raved about Helen Hoang. She creates such great and believable neurodiverse characters.

Following the amazing (and also cute-covered) Kiss Quotient, The Bride Test follows Khai, (Quan’s brother in The Kiss Quotient), who has autism, and steadfastly avoids relationships. His very traditional mother is desperate for him to get married, so she takes matters into her own hands, and goes to Vietnam to get him a bride.

Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When she gets a chance to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down. But seducing Khai is not as easy as she thought it would be….

Read more and sample the audio →

 

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory, narrated by Janina Edwards 

You know a book is good when Reese Witherspoon picks it for her book club. Carrying on from The Wedding Date and The Proposal (A Hello Sunshine Pick!), The Wedding Party centers in on Maddie and Theo who are arch enemies with two things in common: 1) Alexa is their best friend, and 2) they hate each other.

However, after an “Oops! We made a mistake!” night together, they can’t stop thinking about each other. Helping plan Alexa’s wedding means they have to spend a LOT of time together, which causes tension…and passion.

Read more and sample the audio →

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection 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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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?

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection 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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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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