In November 2014, 13 members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past 40 years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before.
Promise Me, Dad offers something extraordinary: the rare political memoir that transcends its author and reveals something greater about humanity altogether. Yes, this is Joe Biden reflecting on his final year as vice president, but it's also about his son Beau, and his bravery in the face of the unthinkable, and what it means to move forward and find purpose in the wake of profound loss. Listening to Biden read, I've never heard a public figure so open and candid and raw about their own grief. And in those most personal of moments—where you feel like you're right there with Joe—it’s enough to make you tremble. But Biden's story is truly one that proves the indomitability of the human spirit and one that I couldn't help feel was particularly redemptive and unifying as an American at this time.
Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down.
Let’s get this out of the way: Artemis is not The Martian. And, in my opinion, that’s a very good thing. A high-stakes sci-fi thriller that takes place in Artemis, the lone city on the Moon, the novel follows Jazz Bashara—26, perpetually broke, and scraping by as a porter . . . when she’s not making a few illicit bucks smuggling goods onto the Moon. Lured in by the promise of fortune, Jazz finds herself in over her head as she is drawn into a scheme that goes much deeper than she could have anticipated. This novel is filled with plenty of the techy detail and sardonic humor that made its predecessor so unique—Weir makes you feel the claustrophobia of a cramped city on the moon with finite levels of oxygen, and Jazz could go head-to-head in a battle of cracking wise with Mark Watney any day—but the story stands on its own two legs. The best part: Rosario Dawson is perfectly cast as the feisty heroine; her performance is lively, witty, and animated, and she clearly brings her experience as an actress who has portrayed so many roles in the sci-fi, fantasy, and action genres.
What begins as a routine journey on the luxurious Orient Express soon unfurls into Agatha Christie's most famous murder mystery. This all-star production features lead performances from Tom Conti ( The Dark Knight Rises, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence) as Hercule Poirot, Sophie Okonedo ( After Earth, Hotel Rwanda and Ace Ventura) and Eddie Marsan ( Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta and Hancock) plus a full supporting cast.
A train stuck in the snow carries a cultural mixture of passengers . . . and all of them are suspects in a brutal murder. All, apart from the great detective Hercule Poirot, mais naturellement, who is tasked with finding the culprit in a case where all is of course not what it seems. This multicast drama version of one of Agatha Christie’s best-known mystery novels features Tom Conti, Sophie Okonedo, Jane Asher, Rula Lenska, Art Malik, and many more great actors from around the world. With a full SFX soundtrack and exclusive score, the drama follows our wryly funny, sharply intelligent and often grumpy hero as he untangles the most tangled of icy webs to uncover the truth. One of my favourite books since early teenage years, MOTOE showcases Christie in expert form, transposed into an excitingly immersive and lively production from Audible Originals.
It has been 10 years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now, working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career and a modern apartment. But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens' biggest scandal from more than a decade ago.
The author is currently well known for the super-strong badass hero she plays in Netflix’s Marvel universe, but the character she’s written here has a strength and spunk that makes her a superhero of another kind. Lawyer Abby Williams’s return to the small town in which she grew up will require her to take on not only the area’s biggest employer in an environmental crimes investigation, but also the traumas of her youth and the personal fallout she’s dealt with for years. The story, full of mind games and suspense, moves along thanks to rich character development as you meet the characters in this sad and suspect town, Karissa Vacker’s effectively moving narration, and the tension that builds to one satisfying resolution.
Exploring a wide range of everyday topics - from credit card debt and household budgeting to holiday sales - Ariely and Kreisler demonstrate how our ideas about dollars and cents are often wrong and cost us more than we know. Mixing case studies and anecdotes with tangible advice and lessons, they cut through the unconscious fears and desires driving our worst financial instincts and teach us how to improve our money habits.
I must admit that a personal finance book is not something that would typically make it into my listening queue but, in my search for a November pick, I was drawn to the cover of Dollars and Sense and then immediately recognized Dan Ariely's name as a long-time customer favorite. So I gave the sample a try and, "bam!", I was sold by the narration. Simon Jones's performance captures the wit and wisdom authors Ariely and Kreisler have woven into this very entertaining blend of storytelling and behavioral economics. I'm left much more cognizant of the outer and inner forces that affect how I spend money without feeling overwhelmed (or bored) by the practical things we all can do to be smarter about the financial choices we make.
Jellyfish are an enigma. They have no centralized brain, but they see and feel and react to their environment in complex ways. They look simple, yet their propulsion systems are so advanced that engineers are just learning how to mimic them. They produce some of the deadliest toxins on the planet and still remain undeniably alluring. Long ignored by science, they may be a key to ecosystem stability. Juli Berwald's journey into the world of jellyfish is a personal one.
I was completely charmed by this science memoir about jellyfish and chasing your dreams. Juli Berwald’s love of marine biology was reawakened when she started contributing to National Geographic to help support her family. Quickly becoming obsessed with jellyfish, she set out on an unexpected journey to find out if jellies thrive in climate change—and whether that’s disastrous for humans. The result is this audiobook, full of charming anecdotes about what happens to baby jellies hatched in space, why jellyfish kiss their wounds better, and her three pet jellies named “Peanut,” “Butter,” and “Jelly.” Her narration isn’t super polished, which makes it all the more endearing—I love the moments when you can hear her laughing quietly to herself.
When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B. B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded kids. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they'll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso's villainous clutches.
Neil Patrick Harris’s first book is full of the usual Dickensian clichés so common in children’s books--a poor orphan and crooked, greedy adults trying to exploit him—but Harris makes it his own by adding legit magic tricks and endearing personal asides to the audience. The story is light and fun, and fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events will love it. But the best part is Harris’s narration. His charm and charisma come through in full force, making you feel like you are his best friend and he is telling the story just for you.
Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. Why not?
The twenty-second installment of the Jack Reacher series is a must read. (Series are like that; they ebb and flow.) Dick Hill *is* Jack Reacher to me, and his performance in The Midnight Line is as strong as ever. What makes the audiobook special is how the narration conveys the loneliness of the people in Mule Crossing, Wyoming (a new locale for Reacher), the pain that drives some of them to Fentanyl addiction, and the sadness of wounded soldiers who return home to find difficulty instead of triumph. Ultimately, however, Dick Hill and Lee Child also pay homage to the unlikely resilience that impels fictional—and real—lives.
A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he's always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new American musical about life and the way we live it.
Let me preface this by saying how much I loved the show Dear Evan Hansen. The music, the acting, the storyline—everything was perfect. So of course, I had to pick up Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window, which is a behind-the-scenes look into the production and development of this thoughtful, tearjerker of a show. It was incredible to hear how much time and effort goes into not just writing and creating the show, but into developing the backstory of the characters and the experiences that shaped their lives. Fair warning for non-New Yorkers: this book WILL make you want to see the show . . . so you might have to road trip to NYC. Of course, you can repeat listen in the car.