Amazingly Awesome Audiobooks

Monday 17 February 2020

I was originally going to do a post about my favorite audiobooks from 2019, but seeing as it's already February, I figured I'd change this one into an ongoing series where I give suggestions of audiobooks I loved. When I'm at work I spend about half the time in an office at a desk. I bought a set of Bluetooth ear buds so I keep one in as I work which allows me a lot of time each week to enjoy books from Audible, Libby, Overdrive, and other great services. So let us begin with my first ever Awesome Audiobooks!

The Land Series by Aleron Kong
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Premise: Richter was playing an MMORPG one day and completed what he thought was a hidden mission. Instead of loot, gold, or experience, he finds himself transported to a strange land. What's even stranger is that he finds the world is just like a video game. He has a character sheet, he can gain levels, he has abilities, but so does everyone else. What is new new world? Can Richter survive? Can he ever get home?

This is one of my favorite series of all time. I got the first book as the daily sale book on Audible and I'm so thankful I did. This was the first book I ever listened to that was narrated by Nick Podehl who quickly became my favorite narrator of all time. He's a true voice actor who has a different voice for every character and it helped me get immersed into the series. When I'm listening to The Land, Kong could leave out who said what line and I'd know just from Podehl's voice.

But there's a catch with this. This is from the new(ish) genre LitRPG, which I love but is also a very very specific genre. Last year the PopSugar Reading Challege had LitRPG as a prompt and boy did people bitch about it. Read something out of your comfort zone? Heaven forbid! This isn't like Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, or Thrillers which are very broad genres. This is a very unique and limiting genre. So if you don't think you can broaden your horizons and give it a shot, then don't even try.

But if you do want to give it a shot, I want to press the fact that this is a wonderfully written and enjoyable series that is up to 7 books at this point. So you're not jumping into a series that after two books you'll have to wait years for the next one.  Kong isn't like Patrick Rothfus, he can actually finish a book! So give this series a chance. It's a wonderfully fun and deep story with the best narrator in the world of audiobooks and there are enough books in the series to keep you entertained for months.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
Narrators: Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman, Rebecca Soler, and Fred Berman.
Premise: Sadie has had a hard life. She grew up basically on her own, caring for her younger sister Mattie in a small town and tries her best to provide a life for her. When Mattie is found dead, Sadie's world crumbles. After the police are unable to find the killer, Sadie takes it upon herself to find the killer and starts her own investigation. Wes McCray is a radio host starting his own podcast about small town America. He hears Sadie's story and becomes obsessed with finding out who killed Mattie and what ever happened to Sadie. Can he help her before it's too late.

Sadie was the perfect book to get the audio treatment. The story is presented in two parts. The first is Sadie's side of things then we're presented with Wes's experience as told through his podcast. This audio book has a full cast and "reads" like an old radio drama, but not as campy. Not only is it a good story, but if you listen to a lot of audio books, it comes as a nice break. It's not presented in the classic fashion so it breaks up any possible monotony from back to back to back audiobooks.

The pacing of the story is quite impressive as we hear Sadie's story then we hear Wes's point of view as he's a week or two behind her (if I remember correctly). So you can see the effects of Sadie and her actions and the impact she left in her wake.

The ending kind of bothered me and I think it would have been a deal breaker if I didn't enjoy the story leading up to the conclusion. So just a warning if an ending can kill a book for you. I didn't hate the ending, I just found it lacking. Courtney Summer's conclusion was either lazy or attempted to be avant garde but fell into a tired trope instead. Either way I was left mildly cold, but the rest of the book was enjoyable enough to keep this on my list.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Premise: When you read this book you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading 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... (taken from Goodreads).

Earlier on in this very blog I told you that my favorite narrator was Nick Podehl, that was incorrect. He's tied for first place with Julia Whelan who may not do the insane amount of voices that Podehl does, but she has a very smooth and enjoyable cadence to her voice that made me hang on to every word she uttered. Each of her voices were unique and even her male voices were different. Let's be honest, for both men and women narrators, doing a voice of the opposite sex isn't the easiest thing. But she can do it (Podehl can too, but we're talking about Whelan here).

But enough about the narrator. What about the story? This is a solid thriller. I'm fairly new to the genre so maybe I'm not as well versed as others may be, but I didn't see the big twists coming. My wife, on the other hand, did see them coming, but still enjoyed the book which is why I feel that this is a good one to recommend. Both of us enjoyed this. One who guessed the twist and one who was blindsided by it. Hendricks and Pekkanen weave an intriguing story that was strong enough to hold up to my wife's superhuman ability to pick up on book twists. All of the characters avoided the standard genre tropes and in the end it was a gripping and enjoyable story.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Amazingly Awesome Audiobooks. Maybe this will catch on and we can call it Triple A like Guy Fieri's Triple D or Triple G.... maybe?

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