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An Audio Sampler of ANY MAN by Amber Tamblyn
HarperAudio_US

Performed by John Roberts, Russ Tamblyn, Ben Foster, Marc Maron, Jason Ritter, Glenn Davis, January LaVoy, Therese Plummer, Robin Miles, Phoebe Strole, Dan Bittner, James Fouhey, Michael Crouch, and Amber Tamblyn In this electric and provocative debut novel, Tamblyn blends genres of poetry, prose, and elements of suspense to give shape to the shocking narratives of victims of sexual violence, mapping the destructive ways in which our society perpetuates rape culture, brilliantly brought to life through a multi-voice performance A violent serial rapist is on the loose, who goes by the name Maude. She hunts for men at bars, online, at home— the place doesn’t matter, neither does the man. Her victims then must live the aftermath of their assault in the form of doubt from the police, feelings of shame alienation from their friends and family and the haunting of a horrible woman who becomes the phantom on which society projects its greatest fears, fascinations and even misogyny. All the while the police are without leads and the media hound the victims, publicly dissecting the details of their attack. What is extraordinary is how as years pass these men learn to heal, by banding together and finding a space to raise their voices. Told in alternating viewpoints signature to each voice and experience of the victim, these pages crackle with emotion, ranging from horror to breathtaking empathy. As bold as it is timely, Any Man paints a searing portrait of survival and is a tribute to those who have lived through the nightmare of sexual assault.

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LEAVING CLOUD 9 by Ericka Andersen Chapter 1
HarperAudio_US

Order Audiobook https://amzn.to/2KjB9ql Narrated by Charity Spencer A powerful, heartbreaking, and redemptive account of a boy who endured a childhood of poverty and abuse in an American Southwest trailer park named Cloud 9. Abandoned by his father at age two, Rick Sylvester lived with an abusive mother whose struggles as a member of the working poor led her to drugs, alcohol, theft, and prostitution--and eventually attempted suicide. Rick battled depression, anxiety, and PTSD as the chaos, neglect, and unpredictability of his childhood seemed to doom him to follow in his mother's footsteps. Well into adulthood, Rick stumbled through unemployment and divorce, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain until he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Miraculously, though, he overcame the odds and today is a happy husband and father. How did this happen? Rick's answer is this: "It was the Lord." A message of hope to those who are drowning from an undeserved childhood, Leaving Cloud 9 speaks to millions who grew up poor, feeling ignored and hopeless, and who need the healing power of God. This indelibly American story conveys the steadfast love of Jesus and his power to deliver us from the most devastating of pasts.

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FAWKES by Nadine Brandes Chapter 1
HarperAudio_US

Order Audiobook https://amzn.to/2tvF7Sb Narrated by Oliver J. Hembrough “Fawkes is the perfect mix of history and magic.” —Cynthia Hand, New York Times bestselling author of My Lady Jane Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England. Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death. But what if death finds him first? Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in. The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King. The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other. No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back. “I was up late in the night reading, waiting to get to the fifth of November to see how the plot would actually unfold, and it did not disappoint. An imaginative, colorful tale about choosing for yourself between what’s right and what others insist is the truth.” —Cynthia Hand, New York Times bestselling author of My Lady Jane “Hold on to your heart as this slow-burning adventure quickly escalates into an explosion of magic, love, and the truth about loyalty.” —Mary Weber, bestselling author of the Storm Siren Trilogy “Fawkes is a tale full of spiritual depth, tragedy, and hope. A beautifully written allegory for the magic of faith, with an achingly relatable hero who pulls you into his world heart and soul. A must-read for all fantasy fans!” —Lorie Langdon, author of Olivia Twist “A brilliant book that fulfills every expectation. Brandes turns seventeenth century London into a magical place. I was captivated by the allegory of her magic system and how she blended that fantasy with history. I highly recommend this gripping and beautifully crafted book to all. It will leave you both entertained and pondering matters raised in the storyline long after you’ve finished reading.” —Jill Williamson, Christy Award-winning author of By Darkness Hid and Captives “A magical retelling of the seventeenth century’s famous Gunpowder Plot that will sweep you back in time—to a divided England where plagues can turn you to stone and magic has a voice. Deft and clever, Fawkes is a vibrant story about the search for truth and issues relevant to us, still, today.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author

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TOOTH AND NAIL by Linda D. Dahl
HarperAudio_US

Read by Julia Whelan. Fresh out of medical school, Linda Dahl began her surgical residency in the Bronx as a total fish out of water. Growing up in a Middle Eastern family in the American Midwest, she was a born outsider, and in her new community in New York, she felt even more isolated. Even at work she struggled to fit in: among her fellow specialists, she was one of the only women. One night, at her husband’s urging, Dahl watched a boxing match between Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya. Seeing Mosley survive against the odds gave Dahl hope that she, too, could find her footing. As her fandom grew, boxing became a way to connect with her patients and community. Later, when she was in practice on the Upper East Side, Dahl received a phone call from the New York State Athletic Commission. They were looking for a fight doctor. Dahl accepted. Tooth and Nail chronicles the years Dahl spent as an ear, nose and throat surgeon by day and a ringside physician by night. Intrepid, adrenaline-fueled and loaded with behind-the-scenes takes on famous boxers, including Mike Tyson, Wladimir Klitschko and Miguel Cotto, Dahl’s story offers a modern examination of sexism, dislocation, the theater of boxing and a road map for how to excel in two very different male-dominated worlds.

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WHISTLE IN THE DARK by Emma Healey
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Julia Deakin. Emma Healey follows the success of her #1 internationally bestselling debut novel Elizabeth Is Missing, winner of the Costa First Novel Award, with this beautiful, thought-provoking, and psychologically complex tale that affirms her status as one of the most inventive and original literary novelists today. Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare. Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions. Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: "I can’t remember." For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself. A wry, poignant, and masterfully drawn story that explores the bonds and duress of family life, the pain of mental illness, and the fraught yet enduring connection between mothers and daughters, Whistle in the Dark is a story of guilt, fear, hope, and love that explores what it means to lose and find ourselves and those we love.

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WHAT REMAINS OF HER by Eric Rickstad
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Stephen Graybill. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girls comes this chilling, harrowing thriller set in rural Vermont about a recluse who believes the young girl he's found in the woods is the reincarnation of his missing daughter, returned to help him solve her and his wife's disappearance. I won’t say a word. Cross my heart and hope to die… Jonah Baum, a professor of poetry at a local college in Vermont, sees his ordinary life come tumbling down when his wife and young daughter vanish from their home. No evidence of a kidnapping. No sign of murder. No proof that Rebecca didn’t simply abandon her marriage. Just Sally’s crude and chilling drawings, Jonah’s little lies, and the sheriff’s nagging fears that nothing is what it seems. For Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, it’s something else. She trusts in Sally not to just disappear, not after they’ve shared so many secrets—especially about the woods and what they saw there. But she’ll never tell. No one would believe her anyway. As the search for Rebecca and Sally intensifies, and as suspicion falls on Jonah, the disappearances become more relentlessly haunting than anyone can imagine. Because what’s seen in the light of day is not nearly as terrifying as what remains hidden in the dark…

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TEXAS DESTINY by Lorraine Heath
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Eva Kaminsky. He’s fallen for a woman…​ Anxious to meet her soon-to-be-husband, Dallas Leigh for the first time, mail-order bride Amelia Carson is en route to Fort Worth, Texas. When she steps off the train and locks eyes with her betrothed, she immediately feels drawn to him. But the cowboy standing before her isn’t Dallas. Instead, Dallas’ brother Houston has been sent to accompany her on the three-week journey to the ranch where she’ll begin her new life. Who belongs to another... The war Houston Leigh fought has left him with visible scars, a daily reminder of his cowardice on the battlefield. Denying his intense attraction to Amelia, he is determined to deliver her untouched, as promised. But during their long dangerous trip, he can’t help but admire her inner strength and fearlessness. And when she looks at him—as if she can see beyond his scarred face and read his innermost thoughts—he loses his heart to her. Now as they near the ranch, Houston must choose to remain loyal to his brother—or find the courage to fight for the woman he’s convinced is his destiny...

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SICK by Porochista Khakpour
HarperAudio_US

Read by Yetta Gottesman. In the tradition of Brain on Fire and Darkness Visible, an honest, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery that details author Porochista Khakpour's struggles with late-stage Lyme disease. For as long as writer Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn't know why. All of her trips to the ER and her daily anguish, pain, and lethargy only ever resulted in one question: How could any one person be this sick? Several drug addictions, three major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease. Sick is Khakpour's arduous, emotional journey—as a woman, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems—through the chronic illness that perpetually left her a victim of anxiety, living a life stymied by an unknown condition. Divided by settings, Khakpour guides the reader through her illness by way of the locations that changed her course—New York, LA, New Mexico, and Germany—as she meditates on both the physical and psychological impacts of uncertainty, and the eventual challenge of accepting the diagnosis she had searched for over the course of her adult life. With candor and grace, she examines her subsequent struggles with mental illness, her addiction to the benzodiazepines prescribed by her psychiatrists, and her ever-deteriorating physical health. A story about survival, pain, and transformation, Sick is a candid, illuminating narrative of hope and uncertainty, boldly examining the deep impact of illness on one woman's life.

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OPEN MIC NIGHT IN MOSCOW by Audrey Murray
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Emily Woo Zeller. The raucous and surprisingly poignant story of a young, Russia-obsessed American writer and comedian who embarked on a solo tour of the former Soviet Republics, never imagining that it would involve kidnappers, garbage bags of money, and encounters with the weird and wonderful from Mongolia to Tajikistan. Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Siberia are not the typical tourist destinations of a twenty-something, nor the places one usually goes to eat, pray, and/or love. But the mix of imperial Russian opulence and Soviet decay, and the allure of emotionally unavailable Russian men proved strangely irresistible to comedian Audrey Murray. At age twenty-eight, while her friends were settling into corporate jobs and serious relationships, Audrey was on a one-way flight to Kazakhstan, the first leg of a nine-month solo voyage through the former USSR. A blend of memoir and offbeat travel guide (black markets in Uzbekistan: 5 stars; getting kidnapped in Turkmenistan: 1 star) this thoughtful, hilarious catalog of a young comedian’s adventures is also a diary of her emotional discoveries about home, love, patriotism, loneliness, and independence. Sometimes surprising, often disconcerting, and always entertaining, Open Mic Night in Moscow will inspire you to take the leap and embark on your own journey into the unknown. And, if you want to visit Chernobyl by way of an insane-asylum-themed bar in Kiev, Audrey can assure you that there’s no other guidebook out there. (She’s looked.)

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A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS by Linwood Barclay
HarperAudio_US

Performed by George Newbern. The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbye returns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation. College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s "normal" existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write. However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails. Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself. But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . . .

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THE MONK AND THE RIDDLE by Randy Komisar
HarperAudio_US

Read by Randy Komisar. What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life...? It's a question most of us consider only hypothetically-opting instead to "do what we have to do" to earn a living. But in the critically acclaimed bestseller "The Monk and the Riddle", entrepreneurial sage Randy Komisar asks us to answer it for real.

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LITTLE GIRL LOST by Wendy Corsi Staub
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Hilary Huber. From New York Times Bestselling Author Wendy Corsi Staub comes a gripping novel of psychological suspense, as a young foundling’s path to her biological parents leads to a killer with a chilling agenda. MAY, 1968 On a murky pre-dawn Mother’s Day, sinister secrets play out miles apart in New York City. In Harlem, a church janitor finds an innocent newborn in a basket. In Brooklyn, an elusive serial killer prowls slumbering families, leaving a trail of blood and a twisted calling card. Cloaked in lies, these seemingly unrelated lives—and deaths—are destined to intersect on a distant, blood-soaked day. OCTOBER, 1987 Reeling from shocking personal discoveries, two strangers navigate a world where nothing is as it seems. Amelia Crenshaw embarks on a search to discover the truth about the birth mother who abandoned her, never suspecting she’s on a collision course with a killer. Detective Stockton Barnes, a brash young NYPD detective, trails a missing millionaire whose disappearance is rooted in a nightmare that began twenty years ago. The past returns with a brutal vengeance as a masked predator picks off victims whose fates intertwine with a notorious murder spree solved back in ‘68—or was it?

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THE LAST THING I TOLD YOU by Emily Arsenault
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Roger Wayne. From the acclaimed author of The Evening Spider and The Broken Teaglass comes this psychological thriller about the murder of a psychologist in a quiet New England town and his former patient whose unreliable thread will keep readers guessing until the shocking end. I hear myself whispering. Not again. Not again. Why did I ever come back here? Surely because of you. Because I thought of something I’d always meant to tell you. Because you were the only one I ever really wanted to tell it to… Therapist Dr. Mark Fabian is dead—bludgeoned in his office. But that doesn’t stop former patient Nadine Raines from talking to him—in her head. Why did she come back to her hometown after so many years away? Everyone here thinks she’s crazy. And she has to admit—they might have good reason to think so. She committed a shockingly violent act when she was sixteen, and has never really been able to explain that dark impulse—even to Fabian. Now that Fabian’s dead, why is she still trying? Meanwhile, as Detective Henry Peacher investigates Fabian’s death, he discovers that shortly before he died, Fabian pulled the files of two former patients. One was of Nadine Raines, one of Henry’s former high school classmates. Henry still remembers the disturbing attack on a teacher that marked Nadine as a deeply troubled teen. More shockingly, the other file was of Johnny Streeter, who is now serving a life sentence for a mass shooting five years ago. The shooting devastated the town and everyone—including Henry, who is uncomfortable with the “hero” status the tragedy afforded him—is ready to move on. But the appearance of his file brings up new questions. Maybe there is a decades-old connection between Nadine and Streeter. And maybe that somehow explains what Nadine is doing in Fabian’s office nearly twenty years after being his patient. Or how Fabian ended up dead two days after her return. Or why Nadine has fled town once again. But as Nadine and Henry head toward a confrontation, both will discover that the secrets of people’s hearts are rarely simple, and—even in the hidden depths of a psychologist’s files—rarely as they appear.

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INAPPROPRIATION by LEXI FREIMAN
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Katherine Littrell. A wildly irreverent take on the coming-of-age story that turns a search for belonging into a riotous satire of identity politics Starting at a prestigious private Australian girls’ school, fifteen-year-old Ziggy Klein is confronted with an alienating social hierarchy that hurls her into the arms of her grade’s most radical feminists. Tormented by a burgeoning collection of dark, sexual fantasies, and a biological essentialist mother, Ziggy sets off on a journey of self-discovery that moves from the Sydney drag scene to the extremist underbelly of the Internet. As PC culture collides with her friends’ morphing ideology and her parents’ kinky sex life, Ziggy’s understanding of gender, race, and class begins to warp. Ostracized at school, she seeks refuge in Donna Haraway’s seminal feminist text, A Cyborg Manifesto, and discovers an indisputable alternative identity. Or so she thinks. A controversial Indian guru, a transgender drag queen, and her own Holocaust-surviving grandmother propel Ziggy through a series of misidentifications, culminating in a date-rape revenge plot so confused, it just might work. Uproariously funny, but written with extraordinary acuity about the intersections of gender, sexual politics, race, and technology, Inappropriation is literary satire at its best. With a deft finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, Lexi Freiman debuts on the scene as a brilliant and fearless new talent.

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THE HIGHLANDER'S PROMISE by Lynsay Sands
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Joel Froomkin. In a spellbinding new Highlands story from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands, the laird of the Buchanans finds the one woman who is his equal in passion and courage. Aulay Buchanan has retreated to his clan’s hunting lodge for a few days of relaxation. But the raven-haired beauty he pulls from the ocean puts an end to any chance of rest. Though he christens her Jetta, she knows nothing of her real identity, save that someone is trying to kill her. As she recovers, it will not be easy for Aulay to protect her and keep her honor intact when she mistakenly believes they are man and wife… Jetta sees beyond Aulay’s scars to the brave, loyal warrior she’s proud to call her own. But as the attempts on her life grow more brazen, Jetta realizes that not all is as she believes. And if Aulay is not her husband, can she trust the desire flaring in his eyes, or his promise to defend her with his life?

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HER FEAR by Shelley Shepard Gray
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Tavia Gilbert. In New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s latest novel of suspense in her Amish of Hart County series, an EMT falls for a woman with ties to an Amish community where people are dying similar, suspicious deaths. Sadie Detweiler never imagined she’d move to Kentucky, yet here she is: a pregnant, unmarried Amish girl banished by unforgiving parents to live with kin she barely knows. The men are gruff and her cousins are secretive. Worst of all, elderly matriarch Verba becomes mysteriously ill shortly after Sadie moves in. When EMT Noah Freeman arrives, Sadie immediately notices he’s unlike any other Amish man she’s met. Noah is warm, confident, and has an easy way with practically everyone in the community, both Amish and English. Though Sadie is drawn to him, she has little hope he will reciprocate her feelings once he learns she’s with child. Noah can’t understand how a girl as sweet and lovely as Sadie ended up sleeping on a cot in Verba Stauffer’s kitchen. He also senses Sadie is terrified of something. Concerned, he checks up on her. Eventually they strike up a friendship and soon their attraction is undeniable. When Verba later dies at the hospital and her death is followed by two others, Noah’s boss wants him to dig around the Amish community for clues. He agrees—for Sadie’s sake—because only the truth will keep her safe and by his side.

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13
HANGMAN by Daniel Cole
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Alex Wyndham. A DETECTIVE WITH NO ONE TO TRUST A KILLER WITH NOTHING TO LOSE Detective Emily Baxter is still reeling from the Ragdoll case, and from the disappearance of her friend William “Wolf” Fawkes. Despite her reluctance to jump into another gruesome case, she’s summoned to a meeting of a new FBI/CIA/UK law enforcement task force in New York. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up from the Brooklyn Bridge, the word “BAIT” carved deep into its chest. As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder, again with a victim inscribed with a word—“PUPPET.” The murders continue to grow in spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, and the team helplessly plays catch-up. Baxter must shake off the grief and fear that have paralyzed her for the last year so she can stop another terrible killer before it’s too late.

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THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE by Sophie Jordan
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Carmen Rose. A bride wasn’t in his plans . . . The last thing Marcus, the Duke of Autenberry, expects to see after sleeping off a night’s drunken shenanigans is a woman being auctioned in the village square. Before he can think about the ramifications, he buys her, thinking he’s winning the girl her freedom. Instead, he discovers he’s bought a wife. A duke wasn’t in hers . . . Alyse Bell is almost rid of the shackles that bound her in a name-only marriage, but the day her friend promised to purchase her in a wife auction, he vanishes, leaving her to face a mob of unsavory bachelors intent on owning her body and soul. But the appearance of a wicked, wealthy stranger changes her path forever. The road to ruin . . . Marcus doesn’t know what to do with the impertinent chit who clearly isn’t duchess material! Insisting their marriage isn’t legitimate, they leave for his estate in Scotland, hoping to devise a plan to get rid of each other. However, on a journey fraught with misadventure, their attraction grows and Marcus realizes he’ll do anything to keep this fiery woman for his own.

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THE DESERT AND THE SEA by Michael Scott Moore
HarperAudio_US

Read by Corey Snow. Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates—a riveting, thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival. In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International—and funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting—Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped and subsequently held captive by Somali pirates. Subjected to conditions that break even the strongest spirits—physical injury, starvation, isolation, terror—Moore’s survival is a testament to his indomitable strength of mind. In September 2014, after 977 days, he walked free when his ransom was put together by the help of several US and German institutions, friends, colleagues, and his strong-willed mother. Yet Moore’s own struggle is only part of the story: The Desert and the Sea falls at the intersection of reportage, memoir, and history. Caught between Muslim pirates, the looming threat of Al-Shabaab, and the rise of ISIS, Moore observes the worlds that surrounded him—the economics and history of piracy; the effects of post-colonialism; the politics of hostage negotiation and ransom; while also conjuring the various faces of Islam—and places his ordeal in the context of the larger political and historical issues. A sort of Catch-22 meets Black Hawk Down, The Desert and the Sea is written with dark humor, candor, and a journalist’s clinical distance and eye for detail. Moore offers an intimate and otherwise inaccessible view of life as we cannot fathom it, brilliantly weaving his own experience as a hostage with the social, economic, religious, and political factors creating it. The Desert and the Sea is wildly compelling and a book that will take its place next to titles like Den of Lions and Even Silence Has an End.

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AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS by Leah Franqui
HarperAudio_US

Performed by Soneela Nankani. Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances. Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life. Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pavil’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week "working" vacation traveling across America be? Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways. A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek.

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