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July 13, 2021

6 Audiobooks for Your Summer Listening Enjoyment

by Donna Huber


My to-do list doesn't seem to be shrinking. Thankfully, I've had a number of audiobooks to listen to while cooking, cleaning, and doing yard work. These books would also be awesome for road trips or for walks on the beach. While I received early print or digital copies of many of these books, I was able to get the audiobooks from the library. For the last two books reviewed, I received advance copies of the audiobooks from the publishers via Netgalley.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman

May 2021; Harlequin Audio; 978-1525811524
audio (11h32m); ebook, print (368 pages)
women's fiction

I was jealous that both Susan (her review) and MK (her review) received advance copies of this book when I read their reviews. The book sounded so good so I immediately put in a request at the digital library in hopes that they would get the audiobook. They did! So even though I received a free print copy for participating in the social media campaign, I decided to listen to the audiobook.

I'm not sure what I can add that Susan and MK haven't already said about the book. I agree completely that it is a great book. It's perfect for summer with its nostalgic feel. I went to 4-H camp as a kid and loved that week when we went to Rock Eagle where we went canoeing and did archery and rode bikes (the camp at Jekyll was my second favorite because it was on the beach). 

I really enjoyed the story. Shipman's writing is wonderful and really puts the reader in the story. The Clover Girls is my first book from Shipman, but it won't be my last. Now have more books to see if I can find in audio at the library - I'm eyeing The Summer Cottage if I need another summery audiobook and Christmas Angels for a holiday read this winter.

The characters are great. I think I identified most with Liz. But there were aspects of all the women/girls that I related to. They were fully fleshed out and felt like real people.

There are plenty of funny moments and a bit of romance (just enough for a good summer read). There are also a few times that I felt like yelling at the characters to get their acts together.

This book is read by multiple narrators but there were still times I forgot whose chapter I was listening to (usually when I stopped in the middle of a chapter and had to come back to it). Thankfully the tracks were labeled with the character's name so I just had to glance at the screen. But overall, I didn't have any problems following the story with moderate distraction - if anything the story was a bit more distracting so I had to mostly listen to it while cleaning and cooking instead of at work.

If you are doing a girls' weekend road trip this summer then this would be a great book for you to listen to together. It would also make a great book club as there are a few points worthy of discussion.

Buy The Clover Girls at Amazon

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

The Librarian of Saint-Malo
June 2021; Thomas Nelson; 978-0785239918
audio (8h37m), ebook, print (384 pages)
historical fiction

You know I love WWII fiction and I like finding stories that are different. While I knew about books being destroyed and Hitler having rare and valuable artifacts (mostly artwork) confiscated, I haven't read any stories about the people who had spent their careers curating and caring for these items. The closest I've come is reading The Zookeeper's Wife. So I was interested in reading about a librarian trying to protect books.

I thought the story started out a bit slow but I soon was caught up in the lives of Jocelyn and the other residents of Saint-Malo. 

This is my first book from Escobar, and I liked his writing style. It is not an intense read and I didn't really feel like the characters were in danger, though they do participate in some mild resistance activities. If you like the more romantic WWII stories then you will like this one. It isn't really a romance but there is a theme of love and the overall story is softer than say, Code Name Helene. I would compare it in tone to Maggie Brookes's The Prisoner's Wife.  

As I listen to a lot of audiobooks, I have pretty high expectations of what makes a great audiobook. I have listened to a few books lately that were set in France and the narrator had a French accent which added a note of authenticity to the story. However, Nicole Baggs does not have a French accent and I felt that it took away from the story. She did pronounce France and places as the French would but that is all. I also thought some of the voices sounded more comical than realistic. It wasn't terrible as an audiobook but I do think it diminished my enjoyment of the book somewhat.

The Librarian of Saint-Malo is more fictional than other WWII stories I've read lately, but it is based on some facts which are noted at the end of the book. There is also a timeline of WWII events so if you don't read a lot of WWII fiction and don't really remember much from your high school history lessons you can learn what was going on the larger front while the events played out in the small town of Saint-Malo. This book would probably be a good one to start with if you are wanting to read more WWII fiction.

While this book isn't typically what people would think of as a "beach read", I do think it makes a great summer read. For those that prefer to read historical fiction, then this would be a good "beach read". 

Buy The Librarian of Saint-Malo at Amazon

Tom Clancy Target Acquired by Don Bentley

Tom Clancy Target Acquired
June 2021; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 978-0593188132
audio (10h51m) , ebook, print (432 pages); thriller

After having taken a break for a while from the Jack Ryan universe, I've jumped back in and I'm really enjoying these new books. Target Acquired is focused on Jack Jr. and it takes place in the Middle East. 

I don't know if there is really anything original I can say about the book. If you love the Jack Ryan series, then you won't be disappointed with this book. If you are looking for a covert operations thriller, then you should read this book - even if you have never read any book in the Ryan universe. Tom Clancy didn't publish the books in chronological order so his book could be read in any order and each stood well on its own. The writers who have taken over the franchise have continued this tradition.

There are several writers now who contribute stories to the universe and I've read at least one book by all of them (I think) and I can't really tell the difference so don't worry if you have read one writer and are afraid the characters won't seem like themselves. 

If you have been reading this series for a while, you know what to expect. It is a great action-packed story with plenty of twists and turns and close calls. It is tightly focused on Jack Jr with very little mention of the other team members. There is some brief "catch up" on what the Campus is for those who haven't read the series. 

My one complaint is how much violence Jack Jr. endures in the book. He is extremely beat up and I don't think realistically he would have still been standing - either the pain or the blood loss would have caused unconsciousness. The author probably thought the reader would be too wrapped up in the action to notice and/or care. But I prefer my human characters to be a bit more human and not SUPER human.

If you are looking for a book to read as a couple, then you can't go wrong with a Jack Ryan book and Target Acquired is very good. The narrator of the audiobook is one of my favorite male narrators (Scott Brick also narrated Steve Berry's The Kaiser Web) and Brick's voice is how I hear Jack sounding even when I read the books myself.


Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey

Very Sincerely Yours
June 2021; Berkley; 978-0593333419
audio (10h7m), ebook, print (384 pages); romance

When I was in my twenties I read chick lit novels non-stop. Sometime in my thirties, though, I grew tired of the genre. I found myself rolling my eyes at the cliche tropes more often than not and personally the stories just made me feel bad about my own lack of romance. So I stopped reading the genre completely. But now in my 40s and I occasionally like to dip my toe in. And what better time for a fun romantic tale than summer?

Very Sincerely Yours has a great "meet-cute" moment between the two main characters. It was equally awkward for both parties but fun for the reader. And I didn't roll my eyes at a single romantic comedy trope as the story is really well done. While unlikely to ever really happen in real life the story felt realistic. The characters could definitely be real people and people that you would want in your life.

For readers that don't want a lot of angst or messy relationship moments, then this is a great book for you. The inevitable "can't be together" moment is pretty short-lived and the issue that drives them apart isn't anything too horrible. It was probably the only thing that came close to having me roll my eyes and yell at the characters - it would have gotten to that point had it been drawn out any longer than it was.

I can see this being made into a Hallmark movie. So if you haven't had your fill of fun, clean romances this summer then you should definitely pick up this book.

I was able to listen to the book with moderate distractions without getting lost but it was enjoyable enough to be the sole focus of my attention. 

Buy Very Sincerely Yours at Amazon

A Hex for Danger by Esme Addison

A Hex for Danger
July 2021; Dreamscape Media; 978-1643855868
audio (10h20m), ebook, print (336 pages); cozy mystery

When I moved away from chick lit I turned to cozy mysteries for light, funny reads to balance the darker stories I was reading. I usually only read paranormal cozy in October but when I saw A Hex for Danger I thought what better time than summer for a story with a bit of mermaid lore.

This is the first book I've read with mermaids (not counting Harry Potter since merpeople were a minor character). This isn't like the movie Splash starring Tom Hanks (I know I just dated myself). None of the characters actually shift between human and mermaid. Instead, it is a genetic mutation that is carried by people who are descended from mermaids. 

There is quite a bit of mermaid lore that is focused around the mermaid of Warsaw. But other mythologies are also brought in, like Thor's hammer and the Greek gods. So if you like mythology then you will like this book.

A Hex for Danger is book 2 in the Enchanted Bay Mysteries series so there is still some setting up of this universe and establishing the characters. However, I was a bit disappointed with all the explanations of this magical world in the last hour of the book. The mystery was wrapped up but then the story is dragged out - yes it reveals some things brought up in the story and sets up an overarching plotline, but I think it could have been incorporated better. It was almost like a short story on its own.

Speaking of length, this is one of the longer cozy mysteries I have listened to. Most are under 8 hours but A Hex for Danger is almost ten and a half hours long. 

Emily Durante does a great job as narrator. I could hear the different characters and easily distinguish between them.

As the series is set in North Carolina, it would be a fun audiobook for a beach trip to the Outer Banks - though I enjoyed it just as well while washing dishes.

Buy A Hex for Danger at Amazon

The Therapist by B.A. Paris

The Therapist
July 2021; Macmillan Audio; 978-1250274120
audio (10h2m), ebook, print (304 pages); thriller

B.A. Paris's new book hits shelves today so you know by the end of the week all your bookish friends are going to be talking about it. Domestic thrillers is one of my most favorite genres and I read a lot of authors in this genre. So I'm relatively new to Paris's books. I've actually only read one other book by her - Behind Closed Doors. I listened to the audiobook then too so I was excited to be able to get an early copy of the new audiobook because I imagine the waitlist will be weeks (months?) long at the digital library. 

As I've only read one other novel, I'm not sure if this is a coincidence or typical of her books but from the start I had a strong sense of deja vu. The Therapist felt a lot like Behind Closed Doors. So much so, I had to double check that this was a new book and not a re-release or something. Once the story really got started, it is its own unique story but the tone remains the same (which makes sense as it is a winning style for the author).

I have noticed the last few weeks how suspicious I've become. (There was a workman of the side of the work digging a whole the other day. He had on a reflective vest and orange cones so I thought nothing of it until I noticed that the truck looked like a normal everyday truck and not truly a work truck - it didn't have any logos or other road or construction crew type markings. I thought that would be the perfect setup in a thriller.) So I was was immediately suspicious of all the characters in The Therapists. My mind kept going to all the shows and books I've read that take place in a small, gated community and the theories were flying through my head. I didn't want to put it down as I had to know what happened and who all were involved.

I enjoyed the audiobook production but I did have trouble figuring out the characters as the voices aren't distinct enough. I especially had trouble when the story jumped to the therapist. I often spent a few minutes confused until the text indicated that we had jumped to Nina and away from Alice.

This audiobook did take quite a bit of concentration to follow the story so it would be best for quiet walks on the beach or sipping a glass of wine while rocking on the front porch.

Buy The Therapist at Amazon


Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.


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