14 September 2018

8 Audiobooks to Listen to in September

As you know, September is a huge publishing month, and I have a ton of books on my radar, in all three media (print, e, and audio). I'm going to do my best to read and listen to as many as I can, but I know I'm going to miss some good ones.

Here are four fiction and four nonfiction audiobooks, all published in September, that have caught my eye (ear?) and are near the top of my queue. The summaries are from the publishers, but the audiobook and other notes are my own.

Fiction

Audiobook of Lake Success by Gary ShteyngartLake Success by Gary Shteyngart (Random House Audio; 13 hr, 32 min), read by Arthur Morey and Soneela Nankani

The best-selling author of Super Sad True Love Story returns with a biting, brilliant, emotionally resonant novel very much of our times.

Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son’s diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema--a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth--has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.
According to the reviews of this much-buzzed book, Shteyngart tempers his trademark humor with deeper themes, leaving us with much to think about. Audiobook notes: I'm confident Morey (who is the narrator for several recent audiobooks on my list) will bring a good mix of gruff and vulnerable to his performance, and Nankani has made it onto my reliable narrator list, especially for Southeast Asian voices. Bonus: I've seen several short videos about Lake Success, but can't help but give a shout out to Ron Charles's Totally Hip Book Review Video.

Audiobook of The Lost Queen by Signe PikeThe Lost Queen by Signe Pike (Simon & Schuster Audio; 17 hr, 44 min), read by Toni Frutin
The Mists of Avalon meets the world of Philippa Gregory in the thrilling first novel of a debut trilogy that reveals the untold story of Languoreth--a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland--twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin.

In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother - a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin - Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever
I started this book on my iPad when on vacation last month, and even though I got through only a chapter or two, I'm already invested. I love the time period and the setup of Languoreth's story. Audiobook notes: Frutin is a totally new narrator for me, but after listening to a sample of her performance, I think she will add immensely to the atmosphere of the story.

Audiobook of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten WhiteThe Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White (Listening Library; 10 hr, 15 min), read by Katharine McEwan
"Exquisitely disturbing", raves internationally best-selling author Stephanie Garber of this stunning and dark reimagining of Frankenstein.

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver", and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
Who isn't fascinated by the Frankenstein story? I love a good retelling or new perspective, and if reviewers can be believed, this one is well done. Audiobook notes: McEwan has narrated a number of audiobooks I ended up loving, from fantasy to historical and literary fiction, so she's a big factor in my wanting to try this on audio.

Audiobook of Time's Convert by Deborah HarknessTime's Convert by Deborah Harkness (Penguin Audio; 15 hr, 46 min), read by Saskia Maarleveld
Set in contemporary Paris and London, and the American colonies during the upheaval and unrest that exploded into the Revolutionary War, a sweeping story that braids together the past and present.

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life, free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one, and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus's deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast forward to contemporary London, where Marcus has fallen for Phoebe Taylor, a young employee at Sotheby's. She decides to become a vampire, too, and though the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable in the modern world than they were in the 18th century. The shadows that Marcus believed he'd escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both--forever.
I loved Harkness's All Souls trilogy, so it's a no-brainer that I've got this book near the top of my list. I know the historical details will be right and have faith that the plot will be strong. Audiobook notes: Maarleveld is a versatile narrator who usually does well with accents and with bringing out the characters' personalities. I'm betting she's a good match here.

Nonfiction

Audiobook of Fashion Climbing by Bill CunninghamFashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham (Penguin Audio; 6 hr, 28 min), read by Arthur Morey
For Bill Cunningham, New York City was the land of freedom, glamour, and above all, style. Growing up in a lace-curtain Irish suburb of Boston, secretly trying on his sister's dresses and spending his evenings after school in the city's chicest boutiques, Bill dreamed of a life dedicated to fashion. But his desires were a source of shame for his family, and after dropping out of Harvard, he had to fight them tooth and nail to pursue his love.

When he arrived in New York, he reveled in people-watching. He spent his nights at opera openings and gate-crashing extravagant balls, where he would take note of the styles, new and old, watching how the gowns moved, how the jewels hung, how the hair laid on each head. This was his education and the birth of the democratic and exuberant taste he came to be famous for as a photographer for The New York Times.

After two style mavens took Bill under their wing, his creativity thrived and he made a name for himself as a designer. Taking on the alias William J.--because designing under his family's name would have been a disgrace to his parents--Bill became one of the era's most outlandish and celebrated hat designers, catering to movie stars, heiresses, and artists alike. Bill's mission was to bring happiness to the world by making women an inspiration to themselves and everyone who saw them. These were halcyon days when fashion was all he ate and drank. When he was broke and hungry, he'd stroll past the store windows on Fifth Avenue and feed himself on beautiful things.

Fashion Climbing is the story of a young man striving to be the person he was born to be: a true original. But although he was one of the city's most recognized and treasured figures, Bill was also one of its most guarded. Written with his infectious joy and one-of-a-kind voice, this memoir was polished, neatly typewritten, and safely stored away in his lifetime. He held off on sharing it--and himself--until his passing.
I so miss Cunningham's photos of fashion on the streets. I didn't know much about him, besides his photos, until I watched a documentary about his work. Then he got a spot in my heart. I can't wait to hear his story in his own words. Audiobook notes: I think Morey was brilliant choice. His voice isn't Bill's, but I think it has a similar quality. If I choose to listen, I will have a copy of the book in hand, though, to see the photographs.

Audiobook of Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob WoodwardFear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster Audio; 12 hr, 20 min), read by Robert Petkoff
With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies.

Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files, and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One, and the White House residence.

Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.
A list of don't-miss nonfiction titles for this month would be incomplete without mentioning Woodward's latest. One of the most trusted observers of the underbelly of the White House ever gives us a midterm take on Trump. Audiobook notes: Petkoff is a veteran nonfiction narrator who knows how to walk the line between an expressive delivery and an objective performance.

Audiobook of The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger (HarperAudio; 10 hr, 40 min), read by Bernadette Dunne
When 64-year-old Jackie Kennedy Onassis died in her Fifth Avenue apartment, her younger sister Lee wept inconsolably. Then Jackie’s 38-page will was read. Lee discovered that substantial cash bequests were left to family members, friends, and employees--but nothing to her. "I have made no provision in this my Will for my sister, Lee B. Radziwill, for whom I have great affection, because I have already done so during my lifetime," read Jackie’s final testament. Drawing on the authors’ candid interviews with Lee Radziwill, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters explores their complicated relationship, placing them at the center of 20th-century fashion, design, and style.

In life, Jackie and Lee were alike in so many ways. Both women had a keen eye for beauty--in fashion, design, painting, music, dance, sculpture, poetry--and both were talented artists. Both loved pre-revolutionary Russian culture, and the blinding sunlight, calm seas, and ancient olive groves of Greece. Both loved the siren call of the Atlantic, sharing sweet, early memories of swimming with the rakish father they adored, Jack Vernou Bouvier, at his East Hampton retreat. But Jackie was her father’s favorite, and Lee, her mother’s. One would grow to become the most iconic woman of her time, while the other lived in her shadow. As they grew up, the two sisters developed an extremely close relationship threaded with rivalry, jealousy, and competition. Yet it was probably the most important relationship of their lives.

For the first time, Vanity Fair contributing editor Sam Kashner and acclaimed biographer Nancy Schoenberger tell the complete story of these larger-than-life sisters. Drawing on new information and extensive interviews with Lee, now 84, this dual biography sheds light on the public and private lives of two extraordinary women who lived through immense tragedy in enormous glamour.
Yes, I'm one of those people who can't get enough of the family that's been called U.S. royalty. There was much to admire about Jackie O, who found a place for herself despite being in the spotlight and despite sorrows. Audiobook notes: I really enjoy Dunne's performances of both fiction and nonfiction, and I'm confident her narration will be sensitive and engaging.

Audiobook of Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton by Tilar J. MazzeoEliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton by Tilar J. Mazzeo (Simon & Schuster Audio; 10 hr, 42 min), read by January LaVoy
Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton--Alexander Hamilton’s devoted wife--in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal musical Hamilton. But they don’t know her full story. A strong pioneer woman, a loving sister, a caring mother, and, in her later years, a generous philanthropist, Eliza had many sides--and this fascinating biography brings her multifaceted personality to vivid life.

[The biography] follows Eliza through her early years in New York, into the ups and downs of her married life with Alexander, beyond the aftermath of his tragic murder, and finally to her involvement in many projects that cemented her legacy as one of the unsung heroes of our nation’s early days. Featuring Mazzeo’s “impeccable research and crafting” (Library Journal), and perfect for fans of the richly detailed historical books by Ron Chernow and Erik Larson, Eliza Hamilton is the captivating account of the woman behind the famous man.
I love biography and am especially interested in learning the stories of people (read: women and POC) who slip through the cracks of history. I can't wait to meet the real Eliza. Audiobook notes: OMG, LaVoy is narrating this book! That's pretty much all I need to say. I love her work.

Which September audiobooks are on your list?

8 comments:

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 9/14/18, 7:51 AM  

I'm on the library hold list for Fear on audio.

bermudaonion 9/14/18, 8:17 AM  

Carl's reading Fear right now. It started slow for him but he's really gotten into it now. Fashion Climbing sounds good to me!

Marg 9/14/18, 9:05 AM  

I am really looking forward to listening to The Clockmakers Daughter by Kate Morton which is narrated by one of the actresses from Downton Abbey. After that it is Lethal White!!

rhapsodyinbooks 9/14/18, 9:11 AM  

Jim is also reading Fear. I like Kiersten White - might try that one.

Susie | Novel Visits 9/14/18, 9:30 AM  

Love these previews. I'm adding both Fashion Climbing and The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters to my nonfiction TBR list. I've gone back and forth on Lake Success, so may wait for your review on that one.

Judee Algazi 9/15/18, 12:09 AM  

Thanks for the suggestions. I listen to audio books in my car. Right now I'm listening to a biography about Oprah by Kitty Kelley which is really good. The Eliza Hamilton book looks good to me.

Vicki 9/15/18, 10:50 AM  

I think I'd enjoy The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters and might try Fear.

Daryl 10/1/18, 9:44 AM  

adored the All Souls trilogy .. and i read/listened to Time's Convert ... i have to say didnt love it .. and i think originally from what i read there was supposed to be a different book beginning the next trilogy not sure why they reversed them .. i will say this .. the historical chapters revealing Marcus' life were excellent .. cant say te same for the chapters detailing Phoebe's conversion

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