#billysummers #stephenking #roysparks #peoplewemeetonvacation #emilyhenry #juliawhelan #maliburising #taylorjenkinsreid #juliawhelan #forgottenindeath #jdrobb #susanericksen
It hardly seems possible that September is already over! Kids are back in school, college football is in full swing, and Mother Nature is teasing us with some slightly cooler temperatures. I don’t know if it’s because we’re all staying home more, or if it’s just an unusually good time for the flow of creative juices, but this month’s listens feature four talented authors who are definitely on their best game. I like to throw in less well-known writers from time to time, but I think many readers and listeners will recognize the names Stephen King, Emily Henry, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and J. D. Robb. The storylines are diverse and all feature well-developed and strong characters performed by excellent narrators. All in all, September has been a very good month for book lovers!
By Stephen King
Narrated by Paul Sparks
Back in the day when I first started reading Stephen King’s novels, I would have never thought this writer could bring me to tears; maybe tears of fright or horror, but tears of sorrow and grief at that roulet wheel called fate? Never! Strong on character development and with a story and a narrator that will keep you enthralled long past your alloted listening time, Billy Summers is Mr. King at his best. There is horror, but it doesn’t derive from scary clowns, mad dogs, or teenaged girls run amok. Billy Summers portrays a different kind of horror . . . a little girl who is stomped to death for burning cookies, fellow soldiers who are blown apart in service to their country, and a young woman who is brutally raped by 3 guys who just want to have fun. Prepare to fall in love with a man who kills bad people for a living – a man who also loves playing games with small children, treasures their artwork, and saves a damsel in distress. Can there be a happy ending to this story? Is semi-satisfying a word? You’ll understand its meaning as narrator Paul Sparks reads the final words.
By Emily Henry
Narrated by Julia Whelan
Prepare to lose your heart to Poppy Wright and Alex Nilsen and with Julia Whelan as she gives voice to these two captivating characters. Remember that book you didn’t want to end? Well, this is that book!!! I loved Emily Henry’s Beach Read – which wasn’t, strictly speaking, a beach read. People We Meet on Vacation is cut from that same cloth; well-developed characters, a creative storyline that will have you laughing at times while your heart breaks, and a HEA that requires some work on the part of Poppy and Alex as well as the listener. You will occasionally want to slap first one, then the other as these two people who love each other work so hard at not being “in love.” Ms. Henry is an expert at the type of banter that will make you smile often and LOL at times, and the narration is perfect, reminding me why Julia Whelan is one of my favorites.
By Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrated by Julia Whelan
It’s been awhile since I read or listened to a book by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I was not surprised to find that I enjoy her work as much as ever. Couple that with one of my favorite narrators, Julia Whelan, and we have a compelling story of family loyalty and personal sacrifice. Despite fame and a life that others might envy, Nina Riva has always put family above her personal needs. On the other hand, her famous father has lived his life with only his own needs in mind, but then isn’t that what he learned as a child? When these two are reunited on a night that will set everything on fire (literally!), all the old hurts and secrets come to light as the flames consume the past and listeners won’t know until the very end who will rise from the ashes.
By J. D. Robb
Narrated by Susan Eriksen
If you are like most readers and listeners, you have one or more long-running series’ that you follow religiously. And, if you are like most readers and listeners, you probably find you enjoy some books in each series more than others. I always appreciate a visit with Lt. Eve Dallas and the NYPSD . . . it’s like being with family, but Forgotten in Death is the best in a long time. Not only does it have two fascinating concurent storylines, but the conclusion(s) will make you not just want to do a happy dance, but to hire a brass band and march around author J. D. Robb’s home! The storylines are, of course, about murder most foul except these murders are more foul than usual. The victims are a sweet and harmless homeless woman and a woman and her unborn child. The perpetrators are connected, but not in an obvious way and the scenes where the author describes their takedowns are the ones where you’ll want to bring in the brass band. Brava to Susan Eriksen for her narration and to the author for the Best of 2021, so far.