June Reads (& Best Audiobooks for Summer 2020)

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June means summer reading at its finest! June 2020 was a busy reading month for me with some of the BEST audiobooks for summer 2020! I read 11 new books, including the latest in a couple series I’ve read for years, a nonfiction based in my home state, a few mysteries, a couple romances, a couple “chick lit” 😉 and some good old literary fiction. These are not ranked in any particular order other than how I read them this month.

I almost exclusively read audiobooks, and these were all library borrows I listened to via Overdrive. I’ve linked to Amazon, Goodreads, so you can check out more reviews 🙂 Read on to find out which of these 11 books have a shot at making my favorites list for best audiobooks for summer 2020!

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The Wives

By Tarryn Fisher

“How far would you go to find out the truth about your husband?”

The premise of this book drew me right in.

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

Wait, what? At first glance, you would expect a book about polygamy to be set in Utah. (I know, judgement much?!) While the husband does have ties to Utah, the book is set in Seattle and Portland. The narrator, Thursday (yup, Thursday. Side note: The husband jokingly calls the other wives “Monday and Tuesday, so I was pretty far into the book before I realized Thursday was actually her real name.)

One day, Thursday finds something that leads her to question her relationship with her husband, (I mean, I guess more than you would typically question your partner with two other wives/lives)

While there were a few good twists and turn, in the end, it just fell a little flat for me. Thursday was not a very likable character. None of the characters were, really. I found myself not really caring what happened to any of them in the end.

I listened to the audiobook addition (Overdrive) and LOVED the narration by Lauren Fortgang.

Duration: 9:02

Release Date: December 30, 2019

Narrator: Lauren Fortgang

Twisted Twenty-Six

By Janet Evanovich

This isn’t just another case. This is family.

Poor Steph. She and Grandma really get dragged to it and through it this time around.

How far will Stephanie Plum go to protect the one person who means the most to her?

Grandma Mazur has a target on her back in this book. Her new husband–a local gangster– drops dead just minutes after the wedding. Her late husband’s “partners” think Grandma is hiding keys to his supposed fortune and won’t stop until they find what they’re looking for.

Oh, Stephanie Plum. I’ve really grown into a love/not-quite-hate-but-maybe-disdain relationship with this series over the past decade. It’s been same old, same old for several of the last books in the series. This book was definitely better than some of the past few, but it still left me feeling unsatisfied with Stephanie’s life decisions. Okay, lack of decisions. Lula is always a redeeming comic relief character. Grandma was not quite up to par in this story line. Hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but RANGER EATS A DONUT!

I will NEVER tire of listening to Lorelei King narrate these books. She is spot on with her character depictions and I love the nuances she uses to bring each one to life.

Duration: 6:44

Release Date: November 2019

Narrator: Lorelei King

The 20th Victim

James Patterson (with Maxine Paetro)

I just read the 19th installment of the Women’s Murder Club series the month before, and it almost gave up on the series. It was AWFUL. The 20th Victim was better.

The storylines were a bit tighter. The interactions between the actual women’s murder club were more substantial this book, etc.

Duration: 8 hours 26 minutes

Published: May 04, 2020 Penguin, Little & Brown

Narrator: January LaVoy

Undercover Bromance

Lyssa Kay Adams

Blurb: Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

I did not read the first in this series, but don’t feel like I missed out on much. (I’m sure it’s a great read, I just meant I wasn’t lost picking up the series with this book.)

This was a quick, cutesy read. Romance isn’t my favorite genre, but I like to mix it up every few books with something with a “happy ending!” to balance things out.

Liv gets fired from her job as a pastry chef at a super upscale spot (the same night Braden Mack takes a date there and Liv accidentally drops a ridiculously expensive cupcake on her lap.) Liv is fired and Braden steps in to try to “help”.

I liked the female lead, Liv, and loved that she lived on a farm. It was based in Nashville, which was also a cool change of pace.

I also liked that it was narrated by a man for some reason. Most romance books have female narrators, so this did kind of switch things up a bit.

Duration: 9 hours, 8 minutes

Published: March 10, 2020 by Penguin Audio

Narrator: Andrew Eidan

All Adults Here

Emma Straub

Gosh, I fall more in love with Emma Straub with each of her novels. The characters are so quirky and lovable.

It really left me wondering if there are certain situations or scenarios where I’m sure I know what someone else involved is thinking, but in reality, they have a totally different perspective or opinion.

I love the semi-dysfunctional family narrative as well. It just feels so much more “normal”. The cast of characters is large–at the helm is Astrid Strick. She’s widowed with three grown children, a teenage granddaughter who recently comes to live with her, and a girlfriend.

Not only do we get peeks into each of these characters’ lives, but there’s also the granddaughter’s new best friend at school, who is navigating gender identity.

There’s some heavy stuff, but the story unfolds in such a way where you’re genuinely rooting for each of the characters. Straub lets us in just enough to gain perspective and then some. It’s a truly lovely read. BONUS: Narrated by the also lovely to listen to Emily Rankin, and one of the contenders for best audiobooks for summer 2020!

Duration: 11 hours, 5 minutes

Published: May 04, 2020 by Penguin Audio

Narrator: Emily Rankin

The Lies That Bind

Emily Giffin

This book is a big nope from me. I wanted to love this book. I really enjoy most of Emily Giffin’s books. Really, I do. I’ve ready every book so far. That said, I didn’t like ANY of the characters involved here. It just felt cheesy, exploitative, and generally “yucky” to me. I wasn’t rooting for anyone by the end, and was only happy when the title was over.

The backdrop is September 11th, btw. Spoiler alert: it’s not making the cut for my best audiobooks for summer 2020. Womp. Womp.

Duration: 10 hours 45 minutes

Published: June 02, 2020 by RandomHouse Audio

Narrators: Brittany Pressley, Will Damron, Vikas Adam, Simon Katz

Happy and You Know It

Laura Hankin

This book was SUCH a pleasant surprise. From looking at the cover, I really didn’t know what to expect. I kept thinking of “flair” from the movie Office Space. Here’s the blurb on the book:

A dark, witty page-turner about a struggling young musician who takes a job singing for a playgroup of overprivileged babies and their effortlessly cool moms, only to find herself pulled into their glamorous lives and dangerous secrets….

This book was funny and had better twists than many of the mysteries I’ve read! It was very entertaining. It was part soap opera, part Real Housewives, part Sex and the City, and part curated Instagram feed. I’ll say it’s in my top 5 contenders so far for best audiobooks of 2020.

Duration: 10 hours, 46 minutes

Published: May 19, 2020 by Penguin Audio

Narrator: Laura Hankin (Nailed it!)

Big Summer

Jennifer Weiner

Synopsis: A sparkling novel about the complexities of female relationships, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.

This was a definite top 3 June pick. I LOVE Jennifer Weiner. This book had love, murder, scandal, mystery, twists, beachiness, (and a little bitchiness), friendship, empowerment, and more.

This felt really close to early Weiner works. I’ve never been disappointed in anything she’s penned, but I definitely would rank the earlier novels higher in the Weiner hierarchy of books. This book jumps straight up to that level. That also means contender status for best audiobooks for summer 2020!

Duration: 10 hours 54 minutes

Published, May 05, 2020 by Simon and Schuster Audio

Narrator: Danielle MacDonald

Ghosts of Harvard

Francesca Serritella

Synopsis: Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

This book was kind of trippy. I had all sorts of mixed feelings. The premise of a ghost story intrigued me. The narration is incredible. There are some creepy effects for the “ghost” voices. At times, Cady is kind of unlikable. The whole “hearing voices” storyline from Cady is also a bit misleading and confusing. I kind of get the perspective it adds to what her brother was going through, but there was part of me that felt a little duped. It’s difficult to explain how it made me feel.

I definitely recommend the audiobook. Great narration. Pretty solid plot. Good twists and turns. It’s about a 3.5 for me overall.

Duration: 16 hours 46 minutes

Published: May 05, 2020

Narrator: Karissa Vacker

Death in Mud Luck

(A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic)

Eric Eyre

This book hit home for several reasons. First, I also worked as a journalist in the capital city here in the Mountain State, telling the tales of the ravages of the drug epidemic. Obviously, being a native West Virginian, I’ve seen and lived the opioid epidemic. I’ve had friends die in their twenties and thirties from overdoses. I’ve had family members in and out of rehab. Two years ago, my then 10-month old daughter was nearly run over by a car that came barreling through the playground at our local park. The driver was high on heroin.

I’ve known the role(s) that the pharmaceutical industry had played in supplying millions of “legal” pills to West Virginia residents. (Pulitzer-prize winning) Eric Eyre is truly one of a kind in his class of journalists. I know that all-consuming feeling of being so connected to a story that it’s all you live, breathe, dream, and think about day in and day out. Even through his own serious health battle, he never stopped searching for answers.

The lies, deception, manipulation, and callousness of the drug companies (and politicians involved!) will make you sick. It’s literally disgusting.

Narrated by Michael David Axtell. I mostly loved the narration for the audiobook, but there were a few mispronunciations that natives could pick up on. (MATT-e-WAN for MATE-wan, etc.) I get it. West Virginia is also home to Hurricane (HER-e-CUN) I got very familiar typing phonetic spellings into teleprompters during my years in the news business. 😉

Duration: 8 hours and 7 minutes

Published: March 31, 2020 by Simon & Schuster Audio

Narrator: Michael David Axtell

Beach Read

Emily Henry

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett and January Andrews are both authors. Everett–literary fiction. Andrews is a bestselling romance write.

Seemingly polar opposites who were once college rivals, the pair finds themselves living next door to each other in beach houses for the summer, each apparently suffering from writer’s block.

After reconnecting in the small Lake Michigan town, the two team up to overcome their writer’s block and agree to “switch genres” for their next books. Everett’s only caveat, “Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love.” Right 😉

Oh my goodness! Saving the best for last here. Maybe. Big Summer was really neck-in-neck for that spot. Beach Read was light and refreshing but had actual substance and character development that had me swooning for ALL the characters. Gus’s aunt and her wife were such a sweet addition to the cast, and their perspectives really helped shaped his character into something magnificent.

While there were a few slightly cheesy parts, overall, this book was the absolute perfect beach read (even if you’re nowhere near the sand and sea this year!)

BONUS: It’s narrated by Julia Whelan! She is the QUEEN of audiobook narration. I’ve never disliked anything she’s narrated. This is seriously one the BEST audiobooks for summer 2020.

Duration: 10 hours 13 minutes

Published: May 19, 2020 by Penguin Audio

Narrator: Julia Whelan

That’s a Wrap

That’s a wrap on what I read in June 2020! You can check out my Goodreads challenge progress here. Follow my new #bookstagram account (@checkyourshelves).

Have you read any of these? What was your favorite? Do you have a favorite for the best audiobooks of summer 2020 yet? Want to read them? Pin for later! 🙂

Best Audiobooks for Summer 2020 | Check Your Shelves

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