Hidden Gems of Indie Audiobooks
Happy fall, everyone! ‘Tis the season for falling leaves, warm sweaters, and… pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. I myself just had my first pumpkin-flavored beverage of the year yesterday. Delicious! Or overdone, depending on your worldview, I suppose. This month I’m featuring an author writing cozy mysteries, perfect for listening while snuggled up with your favorite warm beverage, pumpkin or otherwise. I’m also introducing a wonderful LGBTQ romance author, as well as the memoir of a former drug addict turned successful entrepreneur. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Bella Falls has lived all over the world, but her paranormal cozy mysteries take place in North Carolina, right where she grew up. As a result, the down-home Southern setting of her books feel entirely natural, from the sweet tea and delicious comfort food to the main character’s extremely insincere “Bless your heart.” In the first audiobook of the series, Moonshine & Magic, Charli is a witch returning home to Honeysuckle Hollow after leaving her fiancé and family without a goodbye. She’s hoping to lie low for a while, but when she stumbles on a dead body her first night back, she’s drawn into the middle of a magical mystery that threatens not only her but her entire community. Can she use her unique magic to solve the case and save her town?
This series is narrated to perfection by Johanna Parker, who you may recognize from the wildly popular Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries, the basis of the HBO tv series True Blood. This experience puts this new paranormal Southern story is very much in Parker’s wheelhouse. If you enjoy Moonshine & Magic, you’ll love the sequels, Fried Chicken & Fangs and Sweet Tea & Spells!
Eden Finley is an up-and-coming contemporary romance author who writes MM (male-male), MMF (male-male-female), and MF (male-female) romances. Her MM romances have been particularly well-received, tearing up the Amazon and Audible charts. Her first audiobook, Fake Out, follows Maddox, a man who pretends to be gay to get away from the pressure to marry his female childhood sweetheart. When he agrees to attend her wedding, he needs to find a man willing to pretend to be his boyfriend to keep up the charade. Damon reluctantly agrees to act as Maddox’s plus-one in exchange for an important business introduction. Amid wedding-weekend shenanigans and ridiculous misunderstandings, unexpected sparks fly!
This is the first in Finley’s popular Fake Boyfriend series and has been described as light, hilarious, and sexy. Narrators Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma are perfectly on point in this listen, bringing to life the sparkling dialogue and crackling heat between the two main characters. If you love Fake Out, be sure to check out the sequel, Trick Play!
If you’re looking for a rags-to-riches story, look no further. Khalil Rafati’s I Forgot to Die is a memoir of addiction and recovery, following his descent into drug addiction and hard-fought rise to becoming an extremely successful business owner. It begins with his abusive childhood, and his subsequent escape to Los Angeles, where he slips from a good job cleaning the cars of Hollywood stars to a life of heroin and cocaine addiction and homelessness. After nine overdoses, Khalil entered a rehab center, got clean, and began to work hard to turn his life around. His particular interest in vegetable and fruit juices eventually led to the launch of his popular juice bar business, Sunlife Organics. Today, he employs several hundred people through six Sunlife Organics locations, a recovery center, and a yoga studio.
I Forgot to Die has been acclaimed in the New York Times, the BBC, and numerous tv spots. The author narrates his work, a fact which reviewers have loved, and does an excellent job of bringing an unflinching, real voice to his life story.
By Elizabeth Sylvia