Book Clubbin’: 9 Discussion Questions for ‘The Four Winds’ by Kristin Hannah

It’s that time again…our monthly Book Clubbin’ feature is back! Listening to an audiobook can be a great way to distract yourself while doing chores, going for a walk, or even while relaxing, but once the book ends and you want to chat about that big twist what do you do!? Our answer: start a book club! Whether your area of the world is currently in lockdown or is transitioning back to normal day-to-day life, try scheduling at least an hour every month to talk about your latest listen!

This month, we’ve decided to jump into The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. Hannah is the bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone and has been getting even more buzz after the recent Netflix adaption of her novel Firefly Lane.

The Four Winds is a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Whether you’re already a frequent Kristin Hannah reader, or this is your first listen from her, this story is likely to strike a chord as it is especially prescient considering the state of our world in 2021. So, if you’re ready to get started, keep reading for our discussion questions below. Beware— SPOILERS ahead.

—————CONTAINS SPOILERS!————

1) Was Elsa’s life defined by the cultural expectations for unmarried women? How do you think her failure to meet these expectations affected her?

2) How did Elsa’s pregnancy affect both her and Rafe? How different would their lives be if Elsa had not gotten pregnant?

3) A major theme that carries throughout The Four Winds is the idea of the American Dream. How did this come to play in the decisions that Elsa made throughout the book?

4) People’s relationship with the land that they’re from and/or the land that they own play a major role in this story. Discuss this relationship and why it is so important.

5) In the same vein, some families did travel West in hopes of finding work and making better lives for themselves while most families chose to remain at their farms affected by the drought. Why do you think this is?

6) After moving to California, Elsa ends up falling for Jack. How does Elsa’s relationship with Jack differ than her relationship with Rafe?

7) Elsa and her family endure extreme hardships even after arriving in California and yet they persevere. Do you think they would have had a better or worse experience if they had stayed in Texas?

8) What did it take for Loreda to finally understand her mother and why she made the decisions she did?

9) How do the events of the Great Depression compare to life during the current pandemic? What lessons did you take away from this story that you can apply to your current life?


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 Book Clubbin’: 10 Discussion Questions for The Dutch House by Ann Patchett


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Chilling Listens: What’s New in Horror

Spooky season is in full swing, which means now is the perfect time to dive into a new thrilling listen. As the colorful leaves begin to gather on the front yards in my neighborhood, there’s truly no better vibe than just curling up inside with some apple cider, pressing play on a new and chilling audiobook, and just escaping for a while. Sometimes, when I’m feeling extra wild, I’ll even light a candle.

Jokes aside, if you are looking to get scared this season, check out some of the newest horror listens below. From psychological thrillers to creepy paranormal listens, find your next fright before Halloween.


The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher, narrated by Hillary Huber

If you enjoyed The Twisted Ones from T. Kingfisher, then you’ll definitely want to jump into their latest release, The Hollow Places, this season. This compelling horror novel follows a freshly divorced Kara who moves back in with her uncle and helps manage his museum of curiosities. Kara finds a hole in the wall that holds a hallway leading to countless portals to alternate realities that are haunted by creatures.

Read more and sample the audio →


Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp, narrated by Cassandra Morris, Jeffrey Brick, Julia Whelan, Mw Cartozian Wilson, Jer Adrianne Lelliott

Five friends are headed to a cabin for one last getaway before they go their separate ways. Their plan is to play their favorite murder mystery game, but when the game and reality start to blend with deadly consequences, it’s a race against the clock for “game over.” If you’re looking for the classic “teenagers at a cabin in the woods” type of listen with some shocking thrills along the way, look no further.

Read more and sample the audio →


These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever, narrated by Michael Crouch

Fans of The Secret History will want to pick up These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever. This unputdownable debut tells the story of two college students whose escalating obsession with one another leads to an act of unspeakable violence. Explore the depths of human desire and the darkness it can bring forth in us.

Read more and sample the audio →


The Hole by Sora Kim-Russell, Hye-Young Pyun, narrated by Tim Campbell

Looking for something a little different this season? In The Hole, Oghi wakes from a coma after causing the car accident that took his wife’s life and left him paralyzed and disfigured. He is left in the care of his mother-in-law who is grieving the loss of her only child. This listen is an unnerving story about the horrors of isolation and neglect in all of its banal and brutal forms.

Read more and sample the audio →


The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle, narrated by Holly Robinson

Everyone loves a good suspenseful thriller. I know I do! The Girl in the Mirror has everything you’ll need to keep you on the edge of your seat. A whodunit thriller mixed with family drama, topped with an evil twin, The Girl in the Mirror is a listen you can’t pass up!

Read more and sample the audio →


The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson, narrated by Inés Del Castillo

Turner Falls is a small town in the hills of western Oregon, the perfect town for a tourist’s getaway. When an outbreak develops, this slice of heaven becomes the epicenter of an epidemic. With teenagers ill, murderous, and on the loose, Lucy and her friends must do whatever it takes to survive the night. Fans of Stranger Things and World War Z will love this heart-racing dark satire.

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!

STAFF PICK: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendriks and Sarah Pekkanen

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Narrator: Julia Whelan and Barrie Kreinik

After getting pulled into the deep end of The Wife Between Us fan base, I was ecstatic to hear that Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen were coming out with a new thriller, An Anonymous Girl (and devastated that I had to wait an entire year before I could listen to it). I always get anxious with anticipation whenever an author I love (or in this case, authors) comes out with a new audiobook. Will it live up to my expectations after being blown away by their first work? In the case of thrillers, will it follow a similar climax be too predictable? Of course, the very best suspense audiobooks are the ones we think we have figured out before being knocked off our feet and high horses.

When Jessica, a struggling makeup artist signs up for a psychology study conducted by Dr. Shields, she thinks she’s in for answering a few questions and collecting an easy check. But the questions are uncomfortably intense, and Dr. Shields is more interested in Jessica than she ever could’ve imagined.

The more Dr. Shields is inserted into Jessica’s life, the more paranoid she grows — but so does the money she’s being offered. A wicked game of cat and mouse is played throughout the book, which had me hooked right from the beginning. I was so pleased that Julia Whelan performed, as she did a fabulous job narrating The Wife Between Us. She speaks fluidly in a low, tantalizingly suspenseful tone. Having her paired with Barrie Kreinik made me extra glad I listened to the audio version of this book.

Each time I thought I had things figured out, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen threw me for a loop. Just as their last one did, this book kept me up into the wee hours of the night so I could finally get to the end. I was sad when I did, but one can hope that this powerful duo will return with another delicious thriller.

An Anonymous Girl.

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!

STAFF PICK: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Post by Miranda Winter-Sayle

Title: Vox
Author: Christina Dalcher
Narrator: Julia Whelan

Imagine you could only speak 100 words a day. How do you determine the importance of every word? This is the decision that Dr. Jean McClellan and all female citizens of the United States must make every day, in the world of this debut novel.

Vox, by Christina Dalcher, is a precautionary tale of a possible future for the United States. Women are not allowed to speak more than 100 words a day – a law that is upheld by bracelets that emit an electric shock that grows worse with every word spoken above the limit. Women are not permitted to have jobs, read, or travel outside the United States.

(I reached the end of my own 100 words in the middle of the previous sentence. Of course, in the society in Vox, I would not be permitted to write this review at all.)

Dr. Jean McClellan is a cognitive linguist who was researching the reversal of brain damage that caused a person’s inability to speak. Her research abruptly ended when religious extremists took over the United States and the subsequent introduction of patriarchal laws forbid women’s participation in society. But when the president’s brother is injured, she is given a choice: regain her voice and continue her research to save one of the men responsible this new world, or refuse and face implicit consequences – in silence.

As a fan of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I was incredibly excited to listen to Vox — and it did not disappoint. The premise is well-executed and the world that Dalcher creates is terrifyingly believable. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, Vox’s dystopia is in its early days, which allows the audience to witness the before and the after of the new world. The description of the evolution of modern day society into this universe was easily my favorite part of the novel.

Julia Whelan is a narrator I’ve heard before and she never fails to disappoint. Her tone perfectly reflects the anger that Dr. McClellan feels through the duration of the novel. She captures the somber tone of the novel expertly.

Vox was included on many most-anticipated summer releases lists, and now I understand why: its timely subject matter and original storytelling make it a compelling listen, and one I would definitely recommend.

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!

STAFF PICK: Educated by Tara Westover

Educated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Educated: A Memoir
Author: Tara Westover
Narrator: Julia Whelan

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love coming-of-age memoirs almost as much as air. Reminiscent of one of my all-time favorites, The Glass Castle, Educated is a perfect example of the power of curiosity, ambition, and education.

Kept out of school by her survivalist family, Tara Westover didn’t experience her first day of school until she was 17-years-old. Growing up in the Idaho mountains, she spent her childhood preparing for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned goods, stewing herbs, salvaging metal, and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. Four out of the seven Westover children don’t have birth certificates. None of them have medical or school records, as the children were all born at home and rely on natural medicine made by Tara’s mother, courtesy of her father’s distrust in modern medicine.

After one of her brothers goes to college and returns armed with stories of the outside world, Tara was inspired to teach herself enough math, grammar, and science to get herself into Brigham Young University, eventually earning a PhD from Cambridge University. It was here that she learned about major world events like the Holocaust and Civil Rights Movement, but not without shock, judgement, and curiosity from her peers.

Tara’s storytelling abilities, beautiful and vivid, are powerful enough to make me feel as though I’ve met the characters and been to the locations in a dream:

my father was not a tall man, but he was able to command a room. he had a presence about him, the solemnity of an oracle. his hands were thick and leathery — the hands of a man who’d been hard at work all his life — and they grasped the bible firmly.

Narrator Julia Whelan does an excellent job of embracing the author’s thirst for knowledge, zest for life, and struggle to adapt to a new life while realizing that maybe you can’t truly go home again.

Sample the audio and get the whole story.

STAFF PICK: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: 
Greer HendricksSarah Pekkanen
Narrator: Julia Whelan

I’m ashamed to admit my ego convinced me I could figure out the tangled anatomy of the love triangle in The Wife Between Us. The book description even warns that listeners will make many assumptions.

you will assume you are listening to a story about a jealous ex-wife.
you will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
you will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

I thought my creative thinking and investigative skills would allow me to piece things together on my own long before the plot unfolded. I was dead wrong.

Filled with wild twists and turns that make it painful to hit pause, The Wife Between Us swallowed me into the rabbit’s hole of a seemingly picture perfect marriage with unimaginable secrets and dangerous truths. Narrator Julia Whelan makes this story even more tantalizing with her ability to transform into a spectrum of characters, from the calculating Vanessa to the condescending Richard to the impressionable Emma.

At the end of every chapter, I was dying to know more, hoping there would be a critical piece of evidence in solving the plot’s puzzle. More often than not, I was left with more questions than answers. Nothing could’ve braced me for its shocking ending.

The spellbinding relationship between authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen began nearly a decade ago when Hendricks was the editor of Pekkanen’s debut novel. They credit their similar narrative instincts and approaches to storytelling, as well as their ability to be “curious students of human nature,” to the success of The Wife Between Us.

The Wife Between Us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to a sample and get the whole story here.