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? 

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STAFF PICK: Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly

Title: Theme Music
Author: T. Marie Vandelly
Narrator: Sarah Mollo-Christensen

Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you’d realize that I would know
I would show
The special love I have for you
My baby blue

Upon first reading the synopsis for Theme Music I immediately thought of The Amityville Horror and it definitely had a similar feeling to it with a mysterious family murder and a ghostly presence in the place where it all began. What set Theme Music apart for me was the unique twists and turns that the story took. From horror to psychological thriller to family drama – this fast-paced listen kept me hooked all the way through.

When Dixie Wheeler was just a baby her father murdered her entire family on Thanksgiving day. A neighbor found her, the only survivor, in her high chair while Baby Blue by Badfinger echoed through the empty house. Thus, Dixie’s nickname Baby Blue was born and the Wheeler murders became something of a local legend.

After being raised by her aunt and uncle, 25 years later Dixie wants answers about what happened that day. Dixie moves into her family home where her life was forever changed and now, she must come face to face with the ghosts of her past…which seem a little too real. Once people start to turn up dead around her, she wonders how real those ghosts actually are.

I must warn you, if you do plan to embark on this twisty tale, there is a fair bit of gore – especially right off the bat. But the way that T. Marie Vandelly describes the macabre really sets the scene and allows you to immerse yourself in the story. Since Dixie was only a baby when the murders took place, she can only recount that day from what she’s read in newspapers and heard from rumors and gossip from people around town. In a way, the reader is in the same position as Dixie – we see everything through Dixie’s eyes and we learn everything she learns about what happened that day. This makes every twist that much more suspenseful! I’m telling you, I couldn’t listen to this audiobook fast enough – I had to know what would happen next!

Theme Music was narrated by Sarah Mollo-Christensen, an Audie-nominated narrator who has lent her voice to over 70 audiobooks on Audiobooks.com. Sarah’s portrayal of Dixie expertly mixed Dixie’s dark humor and uneasiness, which allowed me to connect with her character that much more.

Ghost story? Check. Psychological thriller? Check. Crime fiction? Check. If you’re looking for a new listen that’s packed with all of the goodness listed above, then you’ll definitely want to give T. Marie Vandelly‘s debut novel, Theme Music a listen.

Publisher Summary:

She didn’t run from her dark past. She moved in. 

For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it; but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was spared, becoming infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter.
 

Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember. So when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the house that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father or a demon of her own making. 

In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre to save her few loved ones that are still alive—and whatever scrap of sanity she has left...

Read more and sample the audio →


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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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Staff Pick: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff

Title: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered
Author: Georgia Hardstark, Karen Kilgariff
Narrator: Paul GiamattiKaren KilgariffGeorgia Hardstark

I’ll admit that I’m addicted to listening to podcasts and audiobooks. It’s not a bad addiction to have, but it does mean that I more-so dabble in multiple podcasts rather than diligently listen to every single episode of one particular podcast. There’s not enough time in the day! This is the case for My Favorite Murder. Over the past few years I have only listened to a few episodes here and there, so I can’t truly call myself a “Murderino” as they have so lovingly dubbed their listeners, but every episode I listened to was super interesting and often had me laughing out loud.

When I saw that the hosts of My Favorite Murder, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, were coming out with a book I just had to listen to it. And with a catchy title like, Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, which is also their sign off at the end of every podcast episode, my interest was immediately peaked. I’m a simple gal – I see a book with a cheeky title about murder and I read it!

In Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Kilgariff and Hardstark focus on some key pearls of wisdom that they’ve shared over the years on their podcast, but they go into further details with each topic. They both share personal stories, look back on fond (and not so fond) memories, and somehow it always relates back to one of the many murders that they’ve touched on in their podcast. I especially resonated with their stories from when they were teenagers and how a lot of what they went through shaped them into the people they are today. Even though I didn’t know these two authors that well I was interested in hearing their perspectives and their stories because they tell them in such a relatable way.

This audiobook was such a fun listen! With Kilgariff and Hardstark narrating it themselves it felt so genuine and kept the same vibe of their podcast. They also included sections of the audiobook read in front of a live audience, which made the narration feel that much more heartfelt and touching. You just know that they are so grateful for all of their listeners and this is made clear through this book.

No matter if you’re a casual listener, a die-hard fan, or if you’ve never even heard of My Favorite Murder, you will still absolutely love this audiobook. So, give it a listen, laugh, cringe, cry and…Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered. What great advice, right?

Publisher Summary:

The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the #1 hit podcast My Favorite Murder!
Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.
In
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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STAFF PICK: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Title: City of Girls
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrator: Blair Brown

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is my first foray into the author’s fiction and what a first experience it was. This book is everything you could want and more. There is tension, sex, subtlety; there is despair, there is realness, and there is life.

Gilbert’s narrator is Vivian, an old (in age only) woman who is looking back at her life with clear eyes and telling her story in all its gritty glory. Blair Brown’s performance as Vivian is steadfast yet spunky, capturing perfectly the airs that Vivian exudes as she shares her stories. We are transported back to the world of the New York theatre in the 1940s with such depth and layers that you feel the fabrics, people, and joie de vivre of the era.

Vivian is 19 when she is sent to live with her eccentric Aunt Peg in New York City after she failed out of Vassar College. She is self-assured in the sense that she knows who she isn’t and is open to who she is about to become. She throws herself into the life of the theater and she puts her sewing skills to good use. Through parties and engaging with nightlife, Vivian ends up perfecting a few other skills as well. This lifestyle, however, doesn’t last for long. As we have the benefit of Vivian telling her story from old age, we get to see how she moves past scandals, the war, and the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s.

The first two-thirds of the book are upbeat, carefree, and almost flippant. But it’s the last part that drew me in the most. Vivian in her middle age is a true treasure. She continues to live by her own rules but does so with such poise and determination that you can’t help but cheer her on and wish she could impart more life lessons on you.

Gilbert expertly transports you to another time and place, and they consume you as Vivian’s story unfolds. Don’t be disheartened by the switch in the pace of the book. It is here in the slowness that we truly see the beauty of a woman building her life, her values, and her family. And it is here that we are treated to perhaps the most endearing part of Vivian’s life. It is here that she offers the best of herself to us, dear reader: she offers a reminder of the value in the love of friendship.

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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