Staff Pick: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

TitleThe Lost Village

AuthorCamilla Sten

NarratorAngela Dawe

Scary movies are pretty much all I watch these days from paranormal to slasher and everything in between, they offer a much-needed escape from reality. Watching these freaky flicks while sitting safe and cozy inside really makes you thankful that you’re not dealing with a murderous man in a mask or an angry spirit looking for its revenge.

So, with that in mind, it’s not surprising that when The Lost Village by Camilla Sten popped up in my recommended listens and I saw that it was touted as Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar, hello?? I didn’t even hesitate to pick this one up! These comparisons really do hold up too! The Lost Village had the same uneasy found footage style of The Blair Witch Project while inserting the story of a mysterious secluded Scandinavian village a la Midsommar.

This unputdownable listen follows Alice Lindstedt and her group of friends as they travel to a remote village where almost 900 of its residents vanished back in 1959 leaving nothing in their wake but an abandoned newborn and woman stoned to death in the town square. Alice and her friends are determined to make a documentary and find out what truly happened in this “lost village,” but production is halted as unexplainable things begin to happen, equipment goes missing or is wrecked, and the crew starts seeing things that shouldn’t be there.

The narration by Angela Dawe is really what brought this story to life and allowed me to paint a better picture of each character in my mind. Her narration gave me a feeling of actually peeking behind the curtain of Alice’s internal monologue. There were points of this book that the description of the scene really gave me the creeps, so if you’re a horror/thriller novice, get ready for some nightmare fuel.

The Lost Village was a wild ride with all the suspense, and twists and turns that you could want and it left me guessing until the end. If you’re a fan of a good horror flick or anything from Riley Sager, you’ll definitely want to jump into this audiobook next.

Publisher Summary:

The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

Come find out.

Read more and sample the audio →


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Staff Pick: The Push by Ashley Audrain


TitleThe Push
Author: Ashley Audrain
Narrator: Marin Ireland

My goal for 2021 is to venture outside of my comfort zone with the audiobooks I listen to. Every year I say that I’m going to do this, but by the end of the year when recapping what I listened to, it’s all young adult, thrillers, and horror. What can I say, I like what I like.

So, in January I decided to take a little leap and jump into The Push by Ashley Audrain. Described as a psychological drama, this story follows Blythe Connor and her experience of motherhood. Blythe is excited for the arrival of her little girl, Violet, but soon comes to realize that something may be wrong with her new “bundle of joy.” Blythe’s husband, Fox, dismisses her worries and, as time goes on, Blythe begins to question her own sanity.

While I’m just a cat mom and haven’t spawned any human children at this point in my life (you’re welcome, world), I still found it so easy to relate to Blythe’s struggles with womanhood and her relationship with her own mother. At times, the audiobook was hard to listen to, but only because through Marin Ireland’s masterful narration, Blythe’s stress, hurt, and the pressure she felt were conveyed so well.

The second person narration of the story combined with the bite-sized chapters made this a propulsive listen that I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) pause. I was so invested in Blythe’s story that I just had to know how it all turned out.

If you’re a fan of We Need to Talk About Kevin, family dramas, or slow-burning thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to check out The Push for your next listen!

Publisher Summary:

A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family—and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for—and everything she feared

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter—she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born—and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.

Read more and sample the audio →


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Staff Pick: Shipped by Angie Hockman

Title: Shipped

Author: Angie Hockman

Narrator: Inés Del Castillo

The only media I want to consume right now is escapist comedy – no explanation necessary – and this brand-new rom-com meets travelogue by debut author Angie Hockman absolutely fits the bill.

Shipped is a quick, easy read centered around Henley, an overworked marketing manager at an adventure travel company. She’s up for a big promotion, but so is her rival Graeme, the remote social media manager whom she’s never met.

When their boss tasks them with taking one of the company’s cruises through the Galápagos (best proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos wins the promotion) Henley doesn’t expect to fall in love with the Galápagos – or with her hunky competition – but of course that’s exactly what happens.

I found comfort in that predictability and enjoyed the twists and turns the author added along the way. Shipped offers a great dose of armchair travel while we stay at home, and was sweet, smart and fun. Listening in audio made the armchair travel experience all the more immersive. Narrator Inés Del Castillo made me feel like I was really seeing the flamingoes on Floreana Island, feeling the sand on my toes during a wet Zodiac landing, or sighting wild tortoises in the highlands of Puerto Ayora.

Del Castillo also beautifully brought to life Hockman’s multi-dimensional characters – no one fit an overused archetype – and I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity in her cast. Hockman also brings an environmental angle to her plot, and gave me food for thought about the ecological problems and opportunities with the modern travel industry: not often the case with your typical rom-com!

With characters to root for, a romance to swoon for, and a setting to pine for, Hockman hits one out of the park in her first novel. Just be warned: you’re going to want to add the Galápagos to your travel bucket list after reading this book, so start saving now!

Publisher Summary:

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

Read more and sample the audio →


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Staff Pick: The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia

Title: The Chicken Sisters

Author: Kj Dell’antonia

Narrator: Cassandra CampbellXe Sands

As a lover of fried foods, a fan of reality TV, and a huge believer in Reese’s book club picks, I knew I had to check out KJ Dell’Antonia’s The Chicken Sisters.

Taking inspiration from the secret family recipes you’ll find in the book, I’ve broken down the recipe that made The Chicken Sisters an absolute hit. Simply combine:

• 2 parts lighthearted family feuding

• 1 sweet, slow-burning romance

• A heaping handful of secrets

• 1 meddling reality TV show host

• And a dash of classic Southern charm

Over the past century, the fictional town of Merinac, Kansas has seen two family-owned restaurants ruthlessly competing for the role of the town’s best fried chicken. But when the daughter of Chicken Mimi’s marries the son from Chicken Frannies, the rift between the families grows like never before. In an attempt to finalize the true best recipe, the families sign on for Food Wars, a well-known reality show known to showcase competing restaurants and the drama that entails.

With the incredibly talented narration duo that is Cassandra Campbell and Xe Sands, The Chicken Sisters is a story you won’t want to miss in audio. Their subtly charming voices are so well-matched with the quirky characters of small-town Merinac that they truly become as integral to the plot as the sisters themselves.

KJ Dell’Antonia has also truly impressed me with her ability to accomplish what I love about reality TV: a scripted story that still somehow feels entirely real. The characters don’t stand out in my memory because they’re perfectly kind, smart, or funny, but because they enter uncharted territory and end up making realistic mistakes. Dell’Antonia made it easy to picture myself in their shoes, building an unforgettable connection to her characters.

All in all, The Chicken Sisters reminds me of a modern day, fried chicken-fueled rendition of Romeo and Juliet, in absolutely the best way. Though there aren’t any theatrical deaths (not a spoiler, I promise), there’s no shortage of dramatic moments that will keep you coming back for more.

Publisher Summary:

In tiny Merinac, Kansas, Chicken Mimi’s and Chicken Frannie’s have spent a century vying to serve up the best fried chicken in the state–and the legendary feud between their respective owners, the Moores and the Pogociellos, has lasted just as long. No one feels the impact more than thirty-five-year-old widow Amanda Moore, who grew up working for her mom at Mimi’s before scandalously marrying Frank Pogociello and changing sides to work at Frannie’s. Tired of being caught in the middle, Amanda sends an SOS to Food Wars, the reality TV restaurant competition that promises $100,000 to the winner. But in doing so, she launches both families out of the frying pan and directly into the fire. . .

The last thing Brooklyn-based organizational guru Mae Moore, Amanda’s sister, wants is to go home to Kansas. But when her career implodes, helping the fading Mimi’s look good on Food Wars becomes Mae’s best chance to reclaim the limelight–even if doing so pits her against Amanda and Frannie’s. Yet when family secrets become public knowledge, the sisters must choose: Will they fight with each other, or for their heritage?

Read more and sample the audio →


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Staff Pick: ‘A Deadly Education’ by Naomi Novik

Title: A Deadly Education

Author: Naomi Novik

Narrator: Anisha Dadia

Can anyone say with absolute confidence that they had a good high school experience? Are there people out there for whom those long, cringe-worthy years didn’t turn into a black hole of memories you no longer talk, much less think, about once you’re safely outside the reaches of adolescence? It turns out even witches and wizards have a rough time of it at the magical Welsh school, Scholomance. Only, in addition to battling the crippling embarrassment of their teenage years, they also have to fight their way past the maleficaria—monsters with a particular thirst for young witches and wizards—just to graduate.

Now that’s rough.

A Deadly Education sees Nebula Award-winning author Naomi Novik returning to series form after her two previous standalones, Uprooted and Spinning Silver. Set at the Scholomance school in Wales, A Deadly Education follows prophesized villainess-to-be Galadriel, or El, who despite her affinity for dark magic is trying to thwart her ominous destiny. Her acerbic attitude keeps people at arm’s length—that is until she inadvertently catches the attention of school darling Orion Lake. She could care less, though. All she wants to do is keep her dark powers in check and maybe, hopefully, form an alliance by graduation so she can make it out of the Scholomance alive.

I was primed to love this audiobook because my two guilty pleasures just happen to be books about witches and books about boarding schools. But even the most magic-adverse person would find themselves hard-pressed to not love El in her more vulnerable moments. Novik’s masterful ability to create memorable characters is on full display here, and narrator Anisha Dadia’s animated performance only serves to heighten El’s sharp tongue and no-nonsense attitude. If you’ve been searching for the antihero of your dreams, look no further—El is your gal.

Clocking in at just under 11 hours, A Deadly Education is a thrilling ride that puts an unexpected spin on the magic school genre. In a world where students learn magic or literally die trying, you can’t help but root for these hapless young pupils as they risk their lives to stand in the cafeteria line.

Novik has once again proven herself to be one of the most imaginative fantasy writers of our time. With A Deadly Education, she has created an endlessly fascinating albeit grotesque world for listeners to discover. Just proceed with caution and make sure the maleficaria don’t get you.

Publisher Summary:

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

With flawless mastery, Naomi Novik creates a school bursting with magic like you’ve never seen before, and a heroine for the ages—a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come.


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Staff Pick: Fable by Adrienne Young

TitleFable
Author: Adrienne Young
NarratorsEmma Lysy

As a millennial who grew up obsessing over The Pirates of the Caribbean (and all the sequels), I’ve always had a fascination with ships, pirates, lost treasure, and the open sea. Jump to the present — I’m all “grown up” and still can’t say no to a good book about an adventure at sea. Enter Fable by Adrienne Young.

Fable follows a spunky, clever, and underestimated teenager aptly named Fable. We meet her a few years after her father abandoned her on an island of thieves just after their family ship had sunk, killing her mother. Fable bargains with West, a local trader, to gain passage to The Narrows on his ship, the Marigold, so she can reunite with her father. It turns out that it’s not as simple as that, since West isn’t exactly who she thought he was.

If you find it hard to get into a book right away, don’t worry, that is not an issue for Fable. This young adult fantasy audiobook immediately pulled me in with the immersive writing and before I knew it I felt as if I were standing aboard the Marigold listening to the crashing waves.

Emma Lysy creates the perfect picture through her narration for how I viewed Fable. She’s matter-of-fact, bold, and determined, which is the exact type of heroine I’d like to look up to as a young adult.

Need I say more? Well, if you need any other reason to pick up this adventurous listen, Fable was selected as the October pick for Reese’s new YA book club! So, there’s bound to be lots of talk about this book over the next while. Plus, it’s a duology, so there’s more to come and I for one can’t wait to hear what’s next for fearless Fable.

Publisher Summary:

Filled with all of the action, emotion, and lyrical writing that brought readers to Sky in the Deep, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Fable, the first audiobook in this new captivating duology.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue and adventure.

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!