Hello and welcome to my stop on the Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop, hosted by the fabulous The Book Nympho, The Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog, and Hot Listens! I’ve been an audiobook listener for about two years now, and I have Felicia (The Geeky Blogger) to thank for getting me hooked. ;-) Okay, without further delay, here are my top five favorite audiobooks from last year:
#5: A SUDDEN LIGHT by Garth Stein
Narrated By Seth Numrich
The bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain presents a long-awaited new novel in which a boy trying to save his parents’ marriage uncovers a vast legacy of family secrets.
In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.
But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future.
Spellbinding and atmospheric, A Sudden Light is rich with unconventional characters, scenes of transcendent natural beauty, and unforgettable moments of emotional truth that reflect Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation—a triumphant work of a master storyteller at the height of his power.
Number five on my favorites list is A SUDDEN LIGHT by Garth Stein, an engrossing Gothic novel set in the Pacific Northwest in 1990. The language in this book was gorgeous and descriptive. I could easily picture the crumbling Riddell mansion and the majestic forest surrounding it. I really enjoyed listening to this on audiobook. Narrator Seth Numrich did a great job with the many different characters, each one sounding distinct. When he did the voice of Trevor’s father, he sounded a bit like Keanu Reeves, which I liked. ;-)
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#4: THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW by Washington Irving
Narrated By Tom Mison
Tom Mison, star of the hit Fox series Sleepy Hollow, narrates the classic Washington Irving short story.
In the secluded Dutch territory of Sleepy Hollow, nebbish schoolmaster Ichabod Crane competes with the town hero for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, the 18-year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. As Crane leaves a party at the Van Tassel’s farm one autumn evening, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, an apparition said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper snuffed out by a stray cannonball during the Revolutionary War.
Number four on my favorites list is THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW by Washington Irving. Irving was a fabulous writer, and the language in this story is beautiful. Tom Mison has the perfect voice to tell Ichabod’s harrowing tale, and his acting talent shines through in the narration. I thought his English accent fit the story nicely, and I particularly loved how he pronounced the words autumnal, Hessian, and Brom Bones. Yeah, I could easily get lost in his voice. THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW is most definitely worth a listen!
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#3: SISTERS OF TREASON by Elizabeth Fremantle
Narrated By Teresa Gallagher,
Georgina Sutton, and Rachel Bavidge
Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.
Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.
Oh, those Tudors! Number three is SISTERS OF TREASON by Elizabeth Fremantle. It’s good to be queen, but what happens when you’re in the precarious position of being next in line, and a threat to her crown? This novel tells the fateful story of the Grey sisters, Catherine and Mary, younger cousins of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. SISTERS OF TREASON on audio was a joy to listen to. Narrators Teresa Gallagher, Georgina Sutton, and Rachel Bavidge gave brilliant performances.
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#2: IN THE BLOOD by Lisa Unger
Narrated By Gretchen Mol and Candace Thaxton
Liar, liar, pants on fire . . . College senior Lana Granger has told so many lies about her past that the truth seems like a distant, cloudy nightmare. But she meets her match when she begins babysitting for a volatile, manipulative eleven-year-old boy. Soon after Lana takes the job, her close friend Beck mysteriously disappears. Lana instantly begins fabricating stories – to friends, to police, to herself. Why doesn’t her account jibe with those of eye-witnesses? Lana will do anything to bury the truth about that night … and about her life. But someone else knows her secrets. And he’s dying to tell.
As darkly startling and finely crafted as her blockbuster bestseller Beautiful Lies, Lisa Unger’s masterful new psychological thriller is packed with no-holds-barred raw power.
Number two is IN THE BLOOD by Lisa Unger, a gripping psychological thriller filled with shocking twists and turns. I had to pause more than once for a jaw-dropping “O.M.G.” moment! The book was narrated by Candace Thaxton and Gretchen Mol, and both performances were amazing. Ms. Thaxton narrated from Lana’s POV, and Ms. Mol read the part of a mystery woman writing in her journal. They both did a great job capturing the essence of their characters. I could really hear the tension, fear, and desperation in their voices, perfect for this thriller. Highly recommended!
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#1: YOU by Caroline Kepnes
Narrated by Santino Fontana
(a.k.a. My New Narrator Boyfriend)
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age.
YOU was my top favorite audiobook of 2014. I thought it was a well written novel, suspenseful, and heavy on the pop culture references, though it lacked the big “gotcha” twist that I was anticipating at the end. HOWEVER, the BIG reason I enjoyed this book so much was the audio performance by Santino Fontana. His narration was brilliant, one of my all-time favorites on audiobook. Joe’s character was a total and complete sociopath, but dang it, Santino Fontana made me sympathize with Joe, even – *gasp* – like him in a crazy sort of way.
The most exciting news to report is that there’s going to be a “You, #2” titled LOVE. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw it on Goodreads. I had no idea there would be a sequel!! *happy dance*
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Did you listen to any of these books? What did you think? This blog hop was great fun, and I’m sending out a big “thank you” to the hosts! Please click below for links to all the participating blogs. Thanks for stopping by!