STAFF PICK: Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls with Sharp Sticks
Author: Suzanne Young
Narrator: Caitlin Davies

Girls With Sharp Sticks, by Suzanne Young, New York Times bestselling author of The Program was an exciting new addition to Audiobooks.com in March. I have to admit, it was the intriguing cover of this book that drew me in and then with a description likening it to Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale, I was ready to dive right in. This comparison made me wonder if Girls with Sharp Sticks could go toe-to-toe with such hard-hitters, but it definitely held its own!

Girls with Sharp Sticks is set at Innovations Academy, an old technology factory turned finishing school for girls. From the moment the story opens, there is the looming feeling that there’s more to this academy and these girls than meets the eye.

The protagonist, Philomena (Mena for short), is a model student at Innovations Academy, but begins to question certain practices and suspects that there’s something that they aren’t telling the students. This leads to lots of shocking revelations and twists and turns that keep you hooked.

I saw myself in Mena with the way she was vulnerable yet strong and her unfaltering dedication to her friends was what drew the strongest connection for me. Listening to this book was exciting, suspenseful and it made me want to yell “GIRL POWER!” from the rooftops.

It helps that the narrator, Caitlin Davies, portrays the characters distinctly, so that you are immersed in the shut off academy in the mountains. There are definite times where I got lost in Mena’s world so much so, that I didn’t even realize it was one single person narrating each one of the characters. This is especially true for the creepy feeling I got every time Davies would read the lines from the Guardian, one of the staff at Innovations Academy.

If you’re a fan of The Program series from Suzanne Young, then this listen is right up your alley. Girls with Sharp Sticks has many of the same themes throughout it and a similar dark, dystopian-type setting to it that you will find all too familiar.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, mystery/thriller that will have your ears glued to your headphones, Girls with Sharp Sticks is the perfect next listen for you. I think there’s definitely more to this story, so I’m looking forward to the next installment from Young to see what other twists she can throw into the mix.

Publisher’s Summary:

Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this start to a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.

Some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardian, they receive a well-rounded education that promises to make them better. Obedient girls, free from arrogance or defiance. Free from troublesome opinions or individual interests.

But the girls’ carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations Academy will learn to fight back.

Bringing the trademark plot twists and high-octane drama that made The Program a bestselling and award-winning series, Suzanne Young launches a new series that confronts some of today’s most pressing ethical questions.

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Staff Pick: #IMOMSOHARD by Jen Smedley and Kristin Hensley

Title: #IMOMSOHARD
Authors: Jen Smedley, Kristin Hensley
Narrators: Jen Smedley, Kristin Hensley

Becoming a parent is one of the most wonderful experiences. I am very lucky and privileged to be a stepmom to two wonderful young women (I’m SO OLD), and a mom to an incredibly awesome little boy. However, it’s also the most difficult, exhausting, and frustrating experience ever.
One of the hardest things about becoming a new parent for me was the pressure I put on myself. There are a plethora of parenting books, blogs, and of course, online mommy groups who give you conflicting information on what’s best. I had a whole bunch of ideas of how I was going to be the best parent ever…until I had my kids.

If you’re a parent who isn’t 100% perfect, then #IMOMSOHARD is the listen for you! Much like the popular web series, #IMOMSOHARD offers advice and sympathy in a non-judgmental way. Jen Smedley and Kristin Hensley have been friends forever – and their friendship has transcended everything, growing even closer since having their children. These women DO NOT sugarcoat motherhood at any time. They are truthful about everything, including childbirth, post-baby body, self care, relationships, toddler tantrums, and more!

Some of my favorite parts of this book are the parts that really resonated with my own parenting experiences, which were things like:

Mom friends: Because your other friends DO NOT want to hear about your toddler’s potty training escapades.

Post-Partum depression: Very few mothering books talk about what PPD really feels like, even though SO many women go through it. Their honesty on this topic was inspiring.

Feeding your kids: Before I had a kid I was always of the opinion that my children should “Eat what I eat or they’ll go hungry.” Jen and Kristin’s reply to this? “Eat what they eat, or I’ll go crazy.” As the mother of a three year old, I agree this is now my motto. Show me a parent of a toddler who doesn’t routinely eat crackers, chicken nuggets, and grilled cheese sandwiches, and I’ll show you someone who’s a liar 😀

Jen and Kristin narrate this audiobook, which means the book is so much like their podcast (a good thing!). It’s like your mom friends sharing their stories, which is so much more relaxing than many “self-help” parenting books, which Jen and Kristin are adamant that #IMOMSOHARD is not.

I recommend this book to anyone who’s a parent. Whether you’re a bio-parent, step-parent, foster-parent or anyone who has a parental role, you’ll recognize a lot of the tales in the book, and feel better about some of the non-perfect things you’ve done. The audiobook version is especially parent-friendly, since you can listen while you do housework, while the kids are napping, or while you’re hiding in the bathroom FOR ONE SECOND OF PEACE.

Publisher Summary:

In their highly-anticipated first book, the hilarious mom duo with millions of followers explores all the ridiculous shit you’re expected to do to keep multiple humans alive and happy-ish, and celebrates the love for the friends who get you through it.

Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, the creators of #IMomSoHard, are just like you and your best mom friend, only funnier and with more wine. Perhaps you’ve seen one of their insanely popular videos musing on everything from impractical swimsuit fashions to “Things I Found in My Bra.” Or maybe you’ve gone to one of the shows on their sold-out tour, hailed as “monster truck rallies for moms.” Or you might have just taken a break from mom-ing so hard yourself and decided to read some adult words for a few minutes. Did you pour yourself some wine? 
This is not a self-help book. Kristin and Jen know that you probably didn’t get to shower today and that the last thing you need is advice on all the stuff you’re doing wrong. Instead, Kristin and Jen talk nipple hair, sex after marriage, Mom-bods, and their unhealthy obsession with Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones. #IMomSoHard is packed with the back-and-forth laugh-out-loud best-friend banter that Kristin and Jen are known for, with plenty of real talk about post-partum depression, bullying, and the dark thoughts that plague every mom. Throughout it all, they know the ups and downs of motherhood often have nothing to do with your kids—it’s the female friendships and solidarity you have with other moms that makes it all worthwhile.
#IMomSoHard is like a long, funny, gab session with your best mom friends. Kristin and Jen know 6:00–8:00 pm is the worst time to call you. They know not to harass you when you show up to a playdate in a free t-shirt you got from the dentist. They won’t give pep talks, but they will talk you down from the motherhood ledge, because, congrats: you’re passing with a “C”—and that’s all any of us can hope for.

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Twin Sisters Pen an All-Too-Plausible Dystopian America

Did you know today is National Siblings Day?

National Siblings Day was first recognized in 1998 and celebrated on April 10 every year since. Today we celebrate the strong relationships and unique bonds between siblings, and what better way to do that than honoring siblings who have written a book together?

Today we are featuring a wonderful fantasy audiobook, The Rule of One, written by twin sisters, Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders, and narrated by Karissa Vacker. The book started as a screenplay and eventually evolved into a novel, with Leslie, the younger of the pair, writing Mira’s chapters, and Ashley writing Ava’s.

In The Rule of One, identical twins Ava and Mira are secretly and illegally residing in the United States, which has instituted a strict one-child policy. Ava and Mira are trying their best to masquerade as the same person so their secret remains undiscovered. Unfortunately, it only takes a moment for their cover to be blown and their whole world turned upside down. What, exactly, will the twins have to endure to stay safe?

The Saunders sisters are currently developing their book into a TV series with producer Ginger Sledge (Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Miss Congeniality). The sequel to this book, The Rule of Many, is slated for release in the spring of 2019, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!

Publisher Summary:

In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.

In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.
She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.

Read more and sample the audio →

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STAFF PICK: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Title: The Perfect Girlfriend
Author: Karen Hamilton
Narrator: Anne Marie Lee

It’s funny how the genre of a novel can change the connotations of the title. If this was a cozy mystery, or a romance novel, I feel like The Perfect Girlfriend would be a delightful little tome involving baking and kittens. However, since this Karen Hamilton novel is a suspense-filled thriller, we know that there will probably not be a bunch of cozy cake puns.

In this novel, we meet Juliette. She talks at length about Nate, who we very quickly discover is not her current boyfriend, but her ex. While Juliette sees their relationship as being the great love of her life, Nate doesn’t feel that way, and requests “space.” Juliette develops one single purpose – to get Nate back by becoming a perfect match for him. She still has a key to his apartment, so she lets herself in and tidies up, leaves wine on the table, and moves things around. He’s a pilot, so she becomes a flight attendant on his airline, and begins befriending his coworkers. She also bugs his phone, monitors his movements, and reads his personal emails. A little extreme, methinks.

Karen Hamilton does a great job of making Juliette build up from someone who’s dealing badly with a break-up at the beginning, to an obsessively delusional person by the end, so it’s only partway through that you begin to think “oh, wait, this is madness.” Also, Nate and his friends and family are not particularly endearing characters either, so it’s hard to feel much sympathy for him, even when he’s experiencing the extreme consequences of Juliette’s obsessions.

Without giving anything away, (because I don’t want to spoil any of the twists and turns) there are two really cool ways in which the author gets you invested in Juliette’s story. The first is how you get facts about her background (is Juliette who she says she is? Is she even called Juliette?), so you repeatedly feel sorry for her, then angry with her, then sorry for her again. We don’t know if these are true, but they give us some idea of how she views herself. The second narrative device Hamilton employs is using the supporting characters’ perceptions of Juliette to help you understand who she really is. Juliette is such an unreliable narrator that you cannot trust anything she says, so it’s nice to have these moments of clarity through the eyes of others.

Anne Marie Lee’s narration is perfect for this book. I imagined that to manipulate so many people, Juliette would have to sound unassuming and calm, both of which are qualities that Lee brings to this listen.

If you’re a fan of thrillers with lots of twists and turns, this is definitely the listen for you!


Publisher Summary:
YOU’VE NEVER READ A LOVE STORY AS TWISTED AS THIS.
Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.
They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.
She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.
True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

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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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Page to Screen in April 2019

Thinking of going to see a movie this April? Get the best experience by listening to the books they were based on before seeing the film & TV adaptations.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King, narrated by Michael C. Hall
Expected Release Date: April 5

When Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) takes a new job and moves his family to Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. There’s an undercurrent of danger that lingers…like the graveyard in the woods near the Creed’s home, where generations of children have buried their beloved pets. Behind the “pet sematary,” there is another burial ground, one that lures people to it with seductive promises and temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—proving to the Creeds that sometimes, dead is better. After you listen the novel you’ll be yearning to see the film on the big screen.

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The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson, narrated by Keith Sellon-Wright
Expected Release Date: April 5

Rich with details about the rhythms of daily life in the mid-twentieth-century South, The Best of Enemies (released on Amazon this April) offers a vivid portrait of a relationship that defied all odds. By placing this very personal story into a broader context, Osha Gray Davidson demonstrates race is intimately tied to issues of class and that cooperation is possible—even in the most divisive situations— when people begin to listen to one another.

Read more and sample the audio →

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
Expected Release Date: April 5

Crime drama Quicksand is coming to Netflix on April 5th, and is based on the 2016 novel of the same name. A mass shooting has taken place at a prep school in Stockholm’s wealthiest suburb. Maja Norberg (Hanna Ardehn) has just spent nine horrible months in jail and is now on trial for her involvement in the massacre where her boyfriend and best friend were killed. The time has come for her to enter the courtroom.

Read more and sample the audio →

Native Son by Richard Wright, narrated by Peter Francis James
Expected Release Date: April 6

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas (Ashton Sanders) had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Wright’s powerful novel—set in the 1930s—is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country. The film adaptation is set to debut on HBO Films on April 6.

Read more and sample the audio →

After by Anna Todd, narrated by Elizabeth Louise & Hero Fiennes Tiffin
Expected Release Date: April 12

Could this be love for Tessa (Josephine Langford) and Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin)? Soon to be a major motion picture, Anna Todd‘s sensational novel is now available with a bonus chapter read by Hero Fiennes Tiffin and a letter to listeners read by the author.

Tessa is the good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. Hardin is the bad boy with tattoos and a bad attitude. Hardin is the polar opposite of her sweet boyfriend back home. He is mean and rude, but as soon as they kiss, it ignites a passion within her she’s never known until now. Each time he pushes her away, she only feels pulled in deeper by her desire to find the real Hardin beneath his lies.

Read more and sample the audio →

I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Ryan O’Connell, narrated by Ryan O’Connell
Expected Release Date: April 12

From the beloved blogger turned voice of an online generation comes an unforgettable and hilarious memoir-meets-manifesto exploring what it means to be a millennial gay man living with cerebral palsy. Ryan shares his story of how, through extensive trial and error, he figures out how to take his life from bleak to chic.

The TV adaptation called Special will be released on Netflix April 12 and there will be eight episodes in total for Season 1.

Read more and sample the audio →

The Breakthrough: The Miraculous True Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection by Joyce Smith, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers
Expected Release Date: April 17

Coming to a theater near you on April 17, Breakthrough is the impossible true story about the powerful impact of prayer starring Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace, Dennis Haysbert, and Josh Lucas.

When Joyce Smith’s fourteen-year-old son, John, fell through an icy lake, he lay lifeless at the hospital for more than sixty minutes. But Joyce was not ready to give up on her son. She gathered all her faith and strength and cried out to God to save him. This is an extraordinary story of the death and resurrection of the Smith’s son.

Read more and sample the audio →

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice
Expected Release Date: April 18

Winter is coming. Who will win the battle, fire or ice? The long anticipated wait is almost over for season eight of Game of Thrones. While you wait for the show to return to HBO, you can make the wait more enjoyable by listening to Games of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire (Book One) to set the mood for what is about to come.

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Selection Day by Aravind Adiga, narrated by Sartaj Garewala
Expected Release Date: April 22

Did you see the Original Netflix series Selection Day last year? If you did, we have good news for you: part 2 of the show is finally arriving this month! It’s a brilliant novel about two brothers in a Mumbai slum who are raised by their obsessive father to become cricket stars, and whose coming of age threatens their relationship, future, and sense of themselves. Many fans can’t wait to see how the story of the Kumar brothers concludes.

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NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, narrated by Kate Mulgrew
Expected Release Date: April 30

Charles Talent Manx (Zachary Quinto) likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the Wraith, he and his innocent guests can slip out of the everyday world and onto hidden roads that lead to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland. The journey across the highway of Charlie’s twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor. Only one has escaped Charlie’s evil: her name is Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), she is grown up and craving revenge. Who will win this life-and-death battle, Vic or Charlie? This thrilling mystery debuts this April on Amazon.

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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