Audiobooks of the Month: Masked Mystery

The days are getting dark, the pumpkins are growing orange, and the ghosts are making their neighborhood debut. You know what that means: it’s October, the perfect month to cuddle up with a warm drink and get chilled by a mystery or thriller, sure to raise the hair on any black cat. We’ve compiled a perfect Halloween list to accompany that trick-or-treat bag filled with candy. Enjoy!

Deemed by USA Today as “ambitious, heartbreaking, and…all too timely,” Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and his son Owen King explores the horror of a planet with no women.

Both a bestselling book and megahit movie, Stieg Larsson’s psychological thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the perfect listen if you want chills sent up your spine.

The New York Times called queen of suspense Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None “utterly fascinating” and “the most baffling mystery” she’s ever written.

Hide under the covers and enjoy the second novel in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, “ which Entertainment Weekly called “(a) gripping, stay-up-all-night read.”

Perfect for your All Hallow’s Eve, Denis Lehane’s NYT bestseller Shutter Island will keep you guessing—and glancing over your shoulder—until the very end.

Vanity Fair said, “Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train,” so what could be a better pairing for your Halloween candy than this Paula Hawkins mystery?

Light those Jack-o’-lanterns and cue up Chris Pavone’s NYT Bestselling thriller, The Expats, dubbed by The Guardian as being “Expertly and intricately plotted, with a story spiraling into disaster…”

With The Cuckoos Calling, J.K. Rowling left the wizarding world to write a crime novel that the New York Times says contains “propulsive suspense.”

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl contains what Entertainment Weekly called “…a genuinely creepy villain you don’t see coming.” What could be a better for your Halloween night?

Neil Gaiman’s million-selling Young Adult novel The Graveyard Book stars a boy who from infancy was raised by ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens.

Learn the origins of Halloween and how our rituals came about through Ray Bradbury’s eerie novel The Halloween Tree.

Called by USA Today, “A story with a ratcheting sense of unease,” The Breakdown by B.A. Paris is certain to give you a good dose of chills.

New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware (of The Woman in Cabin 10 fame) has a new thriller, The Lying Game, that is sure to keep you up at night.

 Jurassic Park’s, Michael Crichton returns to his paleontological roots in this Wild West thriller, Dragon Teeth.

Spend this Halloween traveling to sixteenth-century Spain, where you can visit the dangerous, high-stakes world of politics and religion in Matthew Carr’s The Devils of Cardona.

 If you like your murder mysteries British, then Susie Steiner’s Missing, Presumednamed one of the best books of the year by NPR—will be perfect for a hair-raising night.

Book of the Month: A Great Reckoning

Our September Book of the Month is Louise Penny’s highly-anticipated murder mystery, A Great Reckoning. For this, the twelfth novel in her acclaimed Chief Inspector Gamache series, Penny returns to the Québécois village of Three Pines, where the discovery of a peculiar old map the walls of a quaint bistro leads Gamache on a thrilling pursuit filled with danger, intrigue, humanity, and hope.


“There is something rotten at the Sûreté academy, and the now-retired Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has been brought in to clean it up. In the meantime, a strange map has been found in Three Pines. Old friends, new characters, murder, and history combine in another irresistible tale from Penny, whose writing is always compassionate, funny, and literate. This latest in the series is not to be missed.”
—Kathy Magruder, Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola, IA


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Listen to a preview of A Great Reckoning


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss A Great Reckoning. Use the hashtag #agreatreckoning and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


Watch Louise Penny discuss A Great Reckoning on PBS


Find culinary recipes inspired by the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Review: Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You made the Best of 2014 lists of some of my favorite, most trustworthy sites: BookRiot, NPR, Shelf Awareness. These lists were helpful because I spent most of 2014 out of the country and out of access to new releases. But that also meant that any book I chose from said lists had a lot of hype to live up to.

So it was a bit of trepidation that I began listening to to Everything I Never Told You. From the beginning, it not only met, but surpassed my expectations. The first words, “Lydia is dead,” set the tone for the rest of the book. Not that everything will be laid out so blatantly—indeed circumstances are slow to unravel—but that her death will weigh heavily on the characters, as though in their grief they are the ones buried beneath six feet of earth. Lydia was the favorite of the family, with the long black hair of her Chinese American father and the blue eyes of her white mother. Her father wants her to be a well-adjusted and sociable teenager while her mother pressures her to study science and become a doctor. Her parents desperately want for her the things that were just out of their own reach.

The year Lydia dies is 1977, and mixed-race families in Ohio were still scarce enough to cause a stir. A newspaper article about her death notes that children of such marriages often have it hard, straddling two worlds. Strangers pull their eyelids sideways with their fingers at the children, tell them that they are other, not American, outsiders. Lydia and her brother Nath cling to each other, as only they understand the lonely situation that they find themselves in. Ng has said in interviews that all but one instance of racial prejudice her characters face are based on her or her family’s own experiences. These realistic touches create a believable atmosphere and obstacles the characters must face.

Throughout the book, nobody knows if Lydia’s death was an accident, suicide, or murder. Some of the marketing around Everything I Never Told You describes it as a mystery. Because of the unknown circumstances of Lydia’s death, it has some elements of a good mystery, but that is not where the emphasis of this story lies.Those who are in it for an intriguing who-done-it with twists and turns and fast plots will be disappointed. This is a book about families dealing with loss. Not only the loss of Lydia, but the loss of their own hopes and dreams. Slowly Ng peels back the layers, the hidden motivations behind the characters’ actions or inactions.Everything-I-Never-Told-You-1

I usually have a distaste for books about families who don’t talk to each other. If the whole book’s conflict could be resolved in a few open and honest conversations, and the characters just fail to do that, it falls apart for me. I kept expecting that feeling in Everything I Never Told You, but as the narrative progressed, as I got to know each of the characters, I felt sympathy and solidarity rather than annoyance. It’s as if the things they feel are so big that they cannot physically get their mouths around the them, as if they are so abstract that the words have not been invented yet. Or maybe it’s because this family doesn’t resent each other. Quiet anger doesn’t bubble over and drive a wedge between them. They still very much love each other.

The last hour of the book, I had what NPR refers to as a “driveway moment.” I came home from a walk to the grocery store, during which I’d been listening to the book, but didn’t want to turn my phone off. I sat in my home office, where I was supposed to be working, and finished listening. I’m the sort of of audiobook listener who likes to multi-task while listening—driving, cooking, gardening, walking, working out—but here I sat, totally absorbed in the book, not wanting to do so much as tap my foot. The mystery of Lydia’s death is heartbreaking. The loss of a life so young is never easy. And still, I didn’t want the story to end.

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Life After Life

Ursula Todd was born in a blizzard in the year 1910 just outside of London, England. Gone before she can take her first breath, Ursula dies in a complicated childbirth. On the same snowy winter night, she is born a wailing, healthy baby girl, her little fingers grasping for her mother’s embrace. The story unfolds and Ursula dies repeatedly, in numerous ways, with each passing leading to an alternative life.

Kate Atkinson’s dark and poignant novel, Life After Life, captures life’s uncertainties and the power that one moment can have over an entire life’s story. Every one of Ursula’s deaths brings her closer to the tumultuous time of the 1940s where she is faced with myriad choices, myriad paths. Atkinson’s novel captures the fragility of life, the sorrow and power of death, and most importantly the strength everyone possesses over their story.


What would you do-over if you could? Let us know in the comments.


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And Then There Were None

The best part of a good mystery is becoming captivated and immersed in the story as readers work alongside detectives solving classic who-done-it cases. Agatha Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None, is the crown jewel of its genre, and a book I devoured in just one sitting.

The story begins with an invitation for eight strangers to attend a weekend island getaway. Upon arrival, the guests enter the dining room to find ten figurines centered on the table along with a copy of an ominous nursery rhyme. A recorded message plays, accusing each of the guests of hiding a guilty secret and by the end of the night one of the guests is found dead.

This mystery is unique because there is no detective, everyone is a target, and no one is safe. And so the story takes readers on a thrilling, twisted whirlwind of revenge and murder without motive or reason in sight. That is, of course, until there are none.

And Then There Were None

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Have a favorite Agatha Christie mystery? Let us know in the comments.

The Long Way Home

Because the Gamache series does not have to be read in sequence, The Long Way Home is a delight for not only those who are well acquainted with Gamache’s thrilling story, but also those who are picking up Louise Penny’s novels for the first time.

The Long Way Home follows Former Chief Inspector of Homicide Armand Gamache as he emerges out of retirement to search for the missing Peter Morrow, a once-famous artist. Gamache is swept out of his peaceful home in Three Pines and drawn into the city of Quebec, where he becomes entangled in an ever-thickening web of secrets. One can only hope that discovering the truth will bring Gamache and Peter one step closer to their return, though it becomes terrifyingly clear that the signs may point towards their demise . . .

As a Booklist starred review put it, “[The Long Way Home is] another gem from the endlessly astonishing Penny . . .”

Louise Penny is also a great resource for aspiring writers, providing ample advice, inspiration, and know-how to the literary community via her website, louisepenny.com.


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The 6 Best Fathers in Literature

Most people will tell you that they have the best dad in the world. I’m no exception. I really do think I had the best dad. The only way he could have been surpassed is in fiction, and even then I’m not so sure.

Here are some of my and the Libro team’s favorite fathers in literature. From supportive side characters to crime-solving heroes, these dads love their kids and will do anything for them.

And a very happy Father’s Day to all of the real-life dads out there!


Pride-Prejudice

Mr. Bennet

Pride & Prejudice

While Mrs. Bennet tut-tuts over her daughters’ marriage prospects, Mr. Bennet is as calm and refreshing as cool breeze. He believes in Elizabeth like nobody else in the family does and understands that there’s more to life than finding a rich husband. When Elizabeth refuses to marry Mr. Collins, he says, “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”



Gilead

John Ames

Gilead

Gilead opens with a letter from John Ames to his young son. In it, he explains he’s dying, gives a bit of explanation about his life, but most of all, his letter is steeped in his love for his son. Ames is old and dying, and more than anything else he regrets that he won’t be there for his son. Throughout the book he recounts his life, as well as the lives of his own father and grandfather. Of all the books on this list, this is the best choice for a thoughtful Father’s Day gift.


The-Eye-of-the-World

Tam Al’Thor

Wheel of Time series

It’s difficult to talk about a character in such a long series without giving away too many spoilers. But I can say that Rand, the hero of the books, could never have endured or grown the way he did without the stability and good influence of his father. Tam teaches Rand to enter the void, a meditative state, focusing his energy and powers. He’s pretty handy with a sword too.



Whered-You-Go-Bernadette

Elgin Branch

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Elgin Branch might start off disengaged with his family, and way too into his job at Microsoft, but throughout Where’d You Go, Bernadette, he comes to realize that his daughter, Bee, is more important to him than anything else. Like any good parent, he wants what is best for her, but just what that is might not be what he originally planned.


Alex-Cross

Alex Cross

Alex Cross series

When he’s not out solving crime, Alex Cross can be found in his basement teaching his kids how to box. Though he wants to make the world a better, safer place, he’s happiest out slurping icecream cones with his family. But Alex’s lifestyle often places those he loves in danger. It’s what makes kidnapping in Cross My Heart such a heart-poundingly good thriller.



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Atticus Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch believes in truth and justice, and tries to instill these ideals in his children. But he’s also a tender-hearted man, and realizes that his children are young. He doesn’t talk down to them, but tries to explain the world to them in ways that they can understand. Atticus tells them, “You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.” It’s just one of the many pieces of his advice we could all use.


What father figures have we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Summer Sales for Summer Reading

Whether you’re going on a long run in the sun or a long road trip from coast to coast, whether you’re digging in the garden or prepping for a big family barbecue, audiobooks are a great companion for summer activities. To help you out, we discounted a few for the month of June. And don’t forget to check out our Book of the Month, Where’d You Go Bernadette.


Showtime

Showtime

By Jeff Pearlman

In Showtime, Pearlman relates the facts, figures, and behind-the-scenes accounts of one of the most-loved (and some might say the most-hated) teams ever: The 1980s L.A. Lakers. Great for those who closely followed the Lakers at the time as well as those who know them by reputation only.


Kill-Switch

Kill Switch

By Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene

Before writing Kill Switch, Baer and Greene produced the wildly popular television show Law & Order. In using a novel format, they are able to tell a longer, more involved story. Claire, a forensic psychiatrist, faces dangerous killers; one is locked up, but the other has been following her for some time.


The-Beautiful-Ashes

The Beautiful Ashes

By Jeaniene Frost

The things Ivy has always seen, the things she has always thought of as hallucinations, are real. When her sister is taken, she teams up with Adrian to find her. Adrian has secrets he’s keeping from Ivy, but they’ll have to face them eventually. But those secrets could lead to a war that would doom them all.


Brothers-Rivals-Victors

Brothers, Rivals, Victors

By Jonathan W. Jordan

In Brothers, Rivals, Victors Jordan tells the story of Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley, whose teamwork, friendship, and leadership led to victory in World War II. Jordan uses the Generals’ own accounts to tell this story as you’ve never heard it before.


Masters-of-the-Air

Masters of the Air

By Donald L. Miller

Masters of the Air is a long but engrossing nonfiction account of the American bomber boys in World War II. With the style and flair of a gifted storyteller, Miller recounts the real turbulence the bomber boys faced in and out of the air.


The-Mission-The-Men-and-Me

The Mission, the Men, and Me

By Pete Blaber

Pete Blaber has used his extensive military training both in and out of combat. In The Mission, the Men, and Me, he recounts stories of survival and teamwork from dangerous war zones to the everyday experiences of modern life.


Dan-Gets-a-Minivan

Dan Gets a Minivan

By Dan Zevin

Marriage, dog, kids, minivan . . . that’s the path that Dan Zevin finds himself on in his memoir Dan Gets a Minivan. His hilarious take on his own life makes for laugh-out-loud fun, and his ease creates a relatability that parents and nonparents alike can connect with.


The-Extraordinary-Dad

The Extraordinary Dad

By Made for Success

It’s often said that children don’t come with an instruction manual. But if you want to raise your children well, this is about as close as it gets. The Extraordinary Dad lays out easy steps for parental success.


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The Goldfinch

The only thing Theo Decker has of his mother is a small, mysterious painting, which he stole the day she died. Years later, this painting leads Theo on an adventure spanning two continents, a criminal network, and a cast of complex characters.

It is little wonder that Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Stephen King calls The Goldfinch “a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.” Publisher’s Weekly says, “There’s a bewitching urgency to the narration that’s impossible to resist.”

 


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The Silkworm

In 2013,  the audiobook of The Cuckoo’s Calling by as-yet-unknown author Robert Galbraith, shot to number one. It was only after the book made a successful debut in its own right that the world discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling. Rowling, writing as Galbraith, is now back with The Silkworm, the second installment of the acclaimed Cormoran Strike series. This time, Strike is on the case of a missing author, whose latest manuscript is so filled with violence and thinly-veiled references to those around him, it’s been deemed “unpublishable”. There may be none of the magic of the Harry Potter novels, but the suspense, twists, and details are all still there.

Listen to a clip from the beginning of The Silkworm.


 Have you read The Silkworm or The Cuckoo’s Calling? Let us know what you think or link to your review in the comments. Sign up for our newsletter to hear more about J.K. Rowling and similar authors.


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