Camrose Public Library

Audio File Episode 4: Best Audiobooks of 2021

January 14, 2022 Camrose Public Library Season 4 Episode 4
Camrose Public Library
Audio File Episode 4: Best Audiobooks of 2021
Show Notes Transcript

Hello and welcome to Audio File, a Camrose Public Library Podcast Series. On this podcast, we recommend audiobooks that are truly music to the ears and available right here at CPL. Today’s episode will be focusing on six titles that have been dubbed, in one place or another, as some of the top stories published in 2021. This is in honor of the new, and hopefully better, year. Thanks for listening!

Narrator 0:03
Hello everyone and welcome to Audio File, a Camrose Public Library Podcast Series. On this podcast, we recommend audiobooks that are truly music to the ears and available right here at CPL. Today’s episode will be focusing on six titles that have been dubbed, in one place or another, as some of the top stories published in 2021. This is in honor of the new, and hopefully better, year. Let’s get to it!

Our first pick is an Adult Sci-Fi Thriller: The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield. 1973. A final, top-secret mission to the Moon. Three astronauts in a tiny module not just a quarter of a million miles from home, but a quarter of a million miles from help.

As Russian and American crews sprint for a secret bounty hidden away on the lunar surface, old rivalries blossom and the political stakes are stretched to the breaking point back on Earth. Houston flight controller Kazimieras "Kaz" Zemeckis must do all he can to keep the NASA crew together, while staying one step ahead of his Soviet rivals. But not everyone on board Apollo 18 is quite who they appear to be.

Full of the fascinating technical detail that fans of The Martian loved, and reminiscent of the thrilling claustrophobia, twists and tension of The Hunt for Red October, The Apollo Murders puts you right there in the moment. Experience the fierce G-forces of launch, the frozen loneliness of Space and the fear of holding on to the outside of a spacecraft orbiting the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour, as told by a former Commander of the International Space Station who has done all of those things in real life. Strap in and count down for the ride of a lifetime.

The Apollo Murders is not just a National bestseller, but is rated by Indigo as one of the best books of 2021 and is also a Heather’s Pick. The writing is both detailed and realistic, likely thanks to the abundance of knowledge on the subject matter that astronaut Hadfield has accumulated. 

The 2021 Random House of Canada audio production of the Apollo Murders is read by Ray Porter. Porter is a multiple Earphones Award–winning and Audie-nominated narrator and that shines through here. He also has numerous TV and film credits bolstered by a twenty-year stint with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Porter’s deep voice lends a gravitas that perfectly compliments the tone of the text.

If you’re looking for a space thriller that explores an alternate past, try The Apollo Murders.
Our next pick is the YA Thriller Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley. Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi's hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug. Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars. At the same time, she grows concerned with an investigation that seems more focused on punishing the offenders than protecting the victims.

Now, as the deceptions—and deaths—keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she's ever known.

Firekeeper’s Daughter has a list of accolades a mile long. It’s a 2021 Kids' Indie Next List Selection, An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March Selection, An Entertainment Weekly Most Anticipated Books of 2021 Selection, A PopSugar Best March 2021 YA Book Selection, Reece’s YA Book Club pick, the winner of the Goodreads choice awards in the YA category. All in all, this story has quickly become beloved and definitely worth looking into. 

The 2021 Macmillan Audio production read by Isabella Star LaBlanc. LaBlanc is new to the world of audiobook narration, but she still brings a great performance here. To quote the starred Booklist review: "The text is filled with Ojibwe phrases and traditions that Native American reader LaBlanc (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) handles with ease. Her voice is young and earnest and her fluency adds to the portrayal of Daunis...It's a tale filled with suspense, and LaBlanc's sensitive reading will keep listeners plugged in."

If you’re looking for a suspenseful YA thriller, try Firekeeper’s Daughter. 

Next up is The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen's sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah's increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen's boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn't who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen's true identity—and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen's past, they soon realize they're also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.
With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

We have another long list of reasons why this is a story worth checking out. The Last Thing He Ever Told Me is a Goodreads Choice Award winner in the Mystery and Thriller category, a Reece Book Club pick, and a highly anticipated Best Book of Summer Selected by the likes of Vogue, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, CNN, Town & Country, Parade, and Bustle. The family dynamics here are believable and the mystery is slowly unfurled at a mostly steady pace, making for a solid story. 

The 2021 Simon & Schuster Audio production of the Last Thing He Told Me is read by Rebecca Lowman.  Lowman is a performer of stage, film, television, and of course audio content. In addition to playing the lead in Eve of Understanding, for which she won the best actress award at the 2006 Boston Film Festival, she has appeared in the television series Burn Notice, Private Practice, Criminal Minds, The Shield, Big Love, Without a Trace, Cold Case, and Will & Grace. This experience translates well to her performance here which pairs nicely with her naturally pleasant speaking voice.

If you’re looking for a mystery that everyone is talking about, try The Last Thing He Told Me.  

Our fourth pick is Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant. Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. Intelligence is no cure, and it can even be a curse: being good at thinking can make us worse at rethinking. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people's minds—and our own. As Wharton's top-rated professor and the bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, he makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. Think Again reveals that we don't have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility over consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom.

Think Again was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a nominee for the Goodreads Choice awards in the Non-Fiction category, and is listed as one of the top audiobooks on The topic is both timely and timeless, making it a great read now or five years from now. The audiobooks clocks in at just under 7 hours so it isn’t a huge commitment either. 

The 2021 Penguin Random House Audio production of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know is read by the author, Adam Grant. Grant is both a podcast host and professor which gives his performance an academic, yet approachable feel. Non-Fiction is often elevated by the use of the author as narrator, given that they are the ones with all the information and experience about their topic, which can really bring their audiobook to life. That’s very much the case here with Grant capturing and holding the reader’s attention with thorough research and a professional tone. 

If you’re looking to learn something about learning, try Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.  

 Our fifth pick is The Wish by Nicholas Sparks. The year 1996 changed everything for Maggie Dawes. Sent away at sixteen to live with an aunt she barely knew in Ocracoke, a remote village on North Carolina's Outer Banks, she could think only of the friends and family she left behind—until she met Bryce Trickett, one of the few teenagers on the island. Handsome, genuine, and newly admitted to West Point, Bryce showed her how much there was to love about the wind-swept beach town and introduced her to photography, a passion that would define the rest of her life.

In 2019, Maggie is a renowned travel photographer. She splits her time between running a successful gallery in New York and photographing remote locations around the world. But this year she is unexpectedly grounded over Christmas, struggling to come to terms with a sobering medical diagnosis. Increasingly dependent on a young assistant, she finds herself becoming close to him. As they count down the last days of the season together, she begins to tell him the story of another Christmas, decades earlier—and the love that set her on a course she never could have imagined.

The Wish was a New York Times bestseller, a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category, and a top pick of the year from There’s a reason why eleven of Spark’s book have been made into films and why all his books have been New York Times and international best sellers and it’s because the man knows how to write a story. Sparks writes stories that are a heartbreaking blend of love and life and The Wish is no exception. 

The 2021 Hachette Book Group audio production of The Wish is read by Mela Lee and Will Collyer with a cameo by Mr. Sparks himself right at the beginning. Lee is a professional voiceover artist for film and television with a long and diverse list of credits; she’s appeared in everything from Disney’s Miraculous Ladybug to CSI NY. And this is all to say nothing of her career in music as a vocalist and composer. Collyer is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator as well as a film, television, and stage actor. He has starred in television shows such as Melrose Place, Charmed, CSI: Miami, and Boston Public, as well as numerous films and plays. With a duo like this, how can you go wrong? Lee and Collyer have good chemistry and having two narrators tends to add another layer to the story. The cameo by Mr. Sparks is also a neat little addition to the beginning of the audiobook. 
If you’re looking to increase your use of tissues this year, try The Wish. 

Our sixth and final pick is Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reed. Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth. Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’d be there. And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anybody.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising was dubbed one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Time, Marie Claire, PopSugar, Teen Vogue, and Self. In addition, it won the Goodreads Choice award for the Historical Fiction category and was a Read with Jenna Book Club pick. Reed is a master of historical fiction, weaving characters and settings together to transport the audience to a specific moment in time, and this story is a great example of that. 

The 2021 Penguin Random House Audio production of Malibu Rising is read by Julia Whelan. Whelan is an actor, a writer, and a narrator of over 400 audiobooks. She’s been named one of AudioFile magazine's Golden Voices and has won numerous other awards, including the 2019 Best Female Narrator Audie for Tara Westover's Educated and a SOVAS for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year. She is also a Grammy-nominated audiobook director as well as a certified tea sommelier. Whelan is, in a word, professional. Her tone and emphasis are spot on, lending the right amount of gravitas to the text. She grabs your attention right away and keeps it throughout the story. 
If you’re looking for an 80’s throwback that lets you party with the stars, try Malibu Rising.    

That’s it for this episode of Audio File. All the audiobooks discussed are available at Camrose Public Library in audio CD or downloadable audio format at the time of this recording. Thanks very much for listening and remember to stay curious.