STAFF PICK: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Post by Graeme Rassenti

Title: Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Lenny Henry

Have you ever imagined a version of yourself that was more suave, more talented, and cooler than you thought you could ever be? What if you met that person? Have you ever felt like nothing ever goes your way? What if you met the person for whom everything always works out? And what if that person was a brother you never knew you had?

Anansi Boys tells the story of Charles Nancy (Fat Charlie) who, upon learning that his embarrassing and estranged father has died on stage singing karaoke, finds his entire past opening its mysteries to him. Charlie learns of his father’s hidden identity as the African god Anansi, and of his long lost brother, Spider, of whom he has no memory. After an evening of drinking, Charles invites Spider into his life, only to find everything turned upside down. Spider has the powers of a God, and with a word can make people believe whatever he chooses. And Spider chooses a lot of things: including making Fat Charlie’s fiancée believe Spider is Fat Charlie, prompting her to fall in love with the much more dynamic and interesting version of her fiancé.

In this novel, Neil Gaiman explores the idea of stories and storytelling. Interspersed through the various characters’ stories are Anansi’s origins in African mythology. We learn how the trickster Anansi stole all of the stories and controls the flow of stories. We hear how he does bad things, but isn’t a bad person. We also hear of Tiger, a brutal killer, and how he is so often tricked by the clever Anansi. These stories are, like many stories of myth, simple in their presentation, but they serve to offer lessons that the heroes of the tale often need to learn in order to survive the strange circumstances that they find themselves in.

Charles Nancy’s journey is one of self-actualization that so many of us strive for ourselves. He has dreams and aspirations but puts them on hold because he’s afraid of being mocked for trying, and because he believes it’s a failure in itself to lack the very things he wants. It’s only as events with his brother unfold that he is forced to face his own potential, and to move out of his comfort zone.

The entire audio experience is expertly narrated by Lenny Henry, who brings to life the wide cast of characters very well. From Charles’s enigmatic boss to Charlie’s old next door neighbor Mrs. Higgler, Lenny Henry does a terrific job bringing this cast of characters to life.

Anansi Boys is an excellent listen for anyone who wants to believe in a world a little bigger than our own, and who would love to discover their own amazing place in it.

Publisher Summary:

God is dead. Meet the kids.

Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. 

Now brother Spider’s on his doorstep — about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting… and a lot more dangerous.

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February’s Top 10 Audiobooks.com Member Downloads

Listen to last month’s roundup of the top fiction and non-fiction titles downloaded by Audiobooks.com members.

Fiction

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

For years, rumors of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

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2. The Reckoning by John Grisham, narrated by Michael Beck

October 1946, Clanton, Mississippi

Pete Banning was Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite son—a decorated World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning he rose early, drove into town, and committed a shocking crime.  Pete’s only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family—was: ‘I have nothing to say.’ He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave.

In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete’s defense attorney tries desperately to save him.

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3. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Fiona Hardingham

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” And since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will?

It’s simply not in Fixie’s nature to say no to people. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, an investment manager, scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card.

When Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life jobless and aimless, she’d love for Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Seb agreed than the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

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4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, narrated by Jack HawkinsLouise Brealey

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations-a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

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5. The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman, narrated by John Rubinstein

Summoned to a run-down former strip joint, LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis and psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware find themselves crashing a wild Saints and Sinners–themed wedding reception. But they’re not the only uninvited guests.

A horrified bridesmaid has discovered the body of a young woman, dressed to impress in pricey haute couture and accessorized with a grisly red slash around her neck. What’s missing is any means of identification, or a single partygoer who recognizes the victim. The baffled bride is convinced the stranger snuck in to sabotage her big day—and the groom is sure it’s all a dreadful mistake. But Delaware and Sturgis have a hundred guests to question, and a sneaking suspicion that the motive for murder is personal. Now they must separate the sinners from the saints, the true from the false, and the secrets from those keeping them. The party’s over—and the hunt for whoever killed it is on.

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Non-Fiction

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. 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. With unerring honesty and lively wit, 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.

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2. The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe, narrated by Andrew G. McCabe

On March 16, 2018, just twenty-six hours before his scheduled retirement from the organization he had served with distinction for more than two decades, Andrew G. McCabe was fired from his position as deputy director of the FBI. President Donald Trump celebrated on Twitter: ‘Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.’

In The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, Andrew G. McCabe offers a dramatic and candid account of his career, and an impassioned defense of the FBI’s agents, and of the institution’s integrity and independence in protecting America and upholding our Constitution.

The Threat recounts in compelling detail the time between Donald Trump’s November 2016 election and McCabe’s firing, set against a page-turning narrative spanning two decades when the FBI’s mission shifted to a new goal: preventing terrorist attacks on Americans. But as McCabe shows, right now the greatest threat to the United States comes from within, as President Trump and his administration ignore the law, attack democratic institutions, degrade human rights, and undermine the U.S. Constitution that protects every citizen. 

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3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, narrated by Derek Perkins

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

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4. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Leif BabinJocko Willink, narrated by Jocko WillinkLeif Babin

Combat, the most intense and dynamic environment imaginable, teaches the toughest leadership lessons, with absolutely everything at stake. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin learned this reality first-hand on the most violent and dangerous battlefield in Iraq. As leaders of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, their mission was one many thought impossible: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a violent, insurgent-held city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping, firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories, they learned that leadership—at every level—is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.

Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training to pass on their harsh lessons learned in combat to help forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After leaving the SEAL Teams, they launched a company, Echelon Front, to teach those same leadership principles to leaders in businesses, companies, and organizations across the civilian sector. Since that time, they have trained countless leaders and worked with hundreds of companies in virtually every industry across the U.S. and internationally, teaching them how to develop their own high-performance teams and most effectively lead those teams to dominate their battlefields.

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5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results.

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Page to Screen in March 2019

Going to the movies this March? Get the best experience by listening to the books they were based on before seeing the film adaptations.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Film Adaptation: Chaos Walking) by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl
Expected release date: March 1

Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, and Nick Jonas are joining forces to bring to life Patrick Ness’s bestselling Young Adult series. Based on the first novel in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, the story is set in a dystopian town called Prentisstown where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts. When the only boy in town, Todd (Holland), discovers an awful secret, he’s forced to run for his life.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman, narrated by George Guidall
Expected release date: March 10

The much-anticipated second season of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is finally coming to Starz on March 10 in the US and internationally on Amazon Prime Video. First debuting in April 2017, the series follows ex-convict, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), who is hired as a bodyguard, driver, and errand boy by the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). Season two will pick up about 30 minutes after the end of season one.

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Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, narrated by Joy OsmanskiCorey Brill
Expected release date: March 15

Grab your tissues, folks, this looks like it could reach John Green levels of heartbreak. When Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) meets Will Newman (Cole Sprouse), they both feel an instant attraction. The only catch? As Cystic Fibrosis patients, they must stay at least five feet apart from each other, which gets harder and harder the deeper they fall in love.

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The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook, narrated by Leighton Pugh
Expected release date: March 15

Set in Hamburg after the end of World War II, The Aftermath finds Colonel Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Kiera Knightley) forced to share a house with a German widower (Alexander Skarsgård) and his daughter, where tensions and passion inevitably erupt.

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite
Expected release date: March 22

Maria Semple’s bestselling dramedy begins when notorious and opinionated Bernadette Fox, played by Cate Blanchett, disappears out of the blue. In an effort to track down her mother, Bernadette’s 15-year-old daughter, Bee, combs through email messages, official documents, and secret correspondences to piece together the story of her mother’s troubled past.

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STAFF PICK: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Daisy Jones & the Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrator: Jennifer BealsJudy GreerBenjamin BrattPablo Schreiber

Believe the hype. Daisy Jones & the Six will seduce you, then chew you up and spit you out with raw emotions. It will leave you in a state of wonder as to how this amazing rock band could let the unthinkable happen. How could the legendary band Daisy Jones & The Six break down and eventually break up? Well, Taylor Jenkins Reid is about to let you in on their story in her latest novel, Daisy Jones & the Six.

It’s a tour de force of sex, drugs, and rock and roll that will make you forget the fact that the band you’re reading about is fictional. I found myself pausing from listening to google a song of theirs, or to google an event mentioned in the book, only to stop short and remind myself that the book was fiction. It’s gritty, it’s real, and Daisy Jones & The Six is about to take you on a whirlwind ride. There are moments of true 70’s rock and roll: you’re partying with the band and you’re recording in the studio at all hours of the day. But, there are quiet moments too, where we get to watch pure creativity happen between two musical geniuses as they collaborate on songs, along with glimpses into the personal, tender moments of the band and their families.

The list of narrators is long and perfectly cast. Jennifer Beals and Pablo Schreiber take on Daisy and Billy, and they let you feel every high and every low. It truly is a unique listening experience which complements the unique story of Daisy Jones.

This book plays out like a Rolling Stone magazine interview or TV special. This is the unspoken story of a fictional rock band that will leave you wanting to listen to their albums and to be among the lucky fans at their concerts who chant Daisy’s name until you’ve lost your voice. And it completely works.

Publisher Summary:

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding 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.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

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STAFF PICK: The Huntress by Kate Quinn

Title: The Huntress
Author: Kate Quinn
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld

Oh my goodness. Dear reader, you will not be able to stop listening to Kate Quinn’s latest book, The Huntress. I found myself so engrossed in this book that I would sit in my car once I’d arrived at my destination just to finish a chapter—and sometimes this was for 15 minutes or more.

The Huntress is story of how the lives of a Soviet Night Witch, a British war correspondent, and a young American photographer’s lives are impacted by a Nazi murderess, known only as the Huntress. As some spend their days haunted by her actions and longing to bring her to justice for her crimes, others spend their days welcoming her in their lives, unaware of her past and her true story.

Not only is the premise for the book well thought out and impeccably researched, Kate Quinn has also created a cast of characters who are believable and well-rounded. She has crafted the bold, headstrong Nina—our Night Witch Soviet bomber—to be vulnerable but true to her spirit. We meet Jordan, a young woman who catches a glimpse through her camera that reveals all is not what it seems, and we watch her struggle to make her own choices and learn to trust her herself. And Ian, our reliable British war correspondent who is wrestling to come to terms with his own experiences in the war and his own demons.  Not to mention The Huntress herself, who, while trying to live a quiet life after the war, has obviously not shaken off her past. All of these characters are brought to life through Saskia Maarleveld’s marvelous narration. She has treated not only the characters with perfect tone, but her overall pacing and treatment of the work are all on point.

Told through alternating perspectives and years, The Huntress will leave you asking “how?” How does this all fit together? How are they going to find her? How can I not have heard of the Night Witches before? How could someone do this? How did Kate Quinn craft such an excellently paced, fascinating, informative, gripping novel with everything from romance to suspense, to humor? I, for one, will not question Kate Quinn’s writing abilities but be forever in awe of them.

Publisher Summary:

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.

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Page to Screen in February 2019

Going to the movies this February? Get the best experience by listening to the books they were based on before seeing the film adaptations.

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie, narrated by Hugh Fraser
Expected release date: February 1

Hercule Poirot is returning to the small screen, this time with John Malkovich playing the beloved detective. The miniseries adaptation will air on Amazon Prime and also stars Rupert Grint.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic. A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident—but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal, mistake.

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The Rhythm Section: A Stephanie Patrick Thriller by Mark Burnell, narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden
Expected release date: February 22

Starring Jude Law and Blake Lively, Mark Burnell’s riveting thriller The Rhythm Section begins with the crash of flight NEO027. The crash destroys Stephanie Patrick’s life: her family was on board and there were no survivors. Devastated, she drops out of college and her life spins out of control as she enters a world of drugs and prostitution—until a journalist discovers that the crash wasn’t an accident. There was a bomb planted on the plane. Filled with rage, and with nothing left to lose, she focuses on one goal: revenge.

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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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