How do you guarantee that your next audiobook listen is a hit? Try out an audiobook original! When a book’s content is made solely for the audio format, with the listeners fully in mind, it can take the storytelling and narration experience to a whole other level. Welcome to the new era of listening!
Sara’s Pick: Sometimes siblings are complete opposites, like Nadiya and her half-brother Chase. A private person who writes highly successful crime novels under a pen name, Nadiya likes to keep things to herself. Chase, on the other hand, shares everything with the world via his TikTok account, which would be fine if he wasn't staying with Nadiya. When a break-in occurs at their upstairs neighbor’s, Chase sees it as a chance to go viral and get even more attention for himself. Too bad it's not the attention he, or his sister, were looking for. With hilarious banter, unexpected twists, and a killer ending, #CrimeTime is an audio original you have to hear to believe.
— Simon & Schuster Audio (@SimonAudio) December 19, 2023
The first audio original from Jeneva Rose, the author of blockbuster bestseller The Perfect Marriage, #CrimeTime is a full-cast mystery written with her husband, Drew Pyne, perfect for fans of Only Murders in the Building and Finley Donovan Is Killing It.
Going viral has never been so dangerous.
Nadiya loves her privacy: living alone and writing a popular series of crime novels under a pen name, she’s worked hard to build the quiet life she cherishes. But all that changes when her long-lost half-brother Chase comes to town, needing a place to stay until he can get back on his feet. Chase’s dream job is Nadiya’s worst nightmare: he’s an aspiring TikTok star, oversharing on the internet at every opportunity.
When a burglary occurs in the apartment upstairs, Chase decides to film and post all the action. Unbeknownst to him, this was not a random break-in, but a targeted operation run by dangerous criminals. Overnight, Chase’s videos go viral, garnering millions of views and amassing a huge following of loyal #Chasers. It’s everything he’s ever dreamt of, expect the attention has brought the wrong kind of heat. Chase and Nadiya are plunged into a world of organized crime, and together, they must uncover the truth and clear their names before they become the next victims.
Performed by a full cast and filled with both laugh-out-loud banter and shocking twists, #CrimeTime is a delightful romp through the murky, unpredictable realms of crime, family, and the TikTok algorithm.
Heather’s Pick: Whether you have fond childhood memories of scaring yourself silly with R. L. Stine’s THE BABYSITTER, or you’re a horror buff in general, this one’s for you. In Stephen Graham Jones’s THE BABYSITTER LIVES, teenager Charlotte shows up for her first time babysitting the six-year-old Wilbanks twins, Ron and Desi, with the expectation of a quiet evening that will enable her to finish cramming for the SATs. What she ends up getting is absolutely terrorized by a haunted house that seems to communicate directly with the boys. Her only hope of escape is unlocking the tragic secrets lurking within the house. . . . Brilliantly narrated by Isabella Star LaBlanc, this easily bingeable audiobook, which you can listen to in under eight hours, is exactly what you need to stay alert on a road trip, or to keep you motivated to finish your household chores (before they finish you, mwahaha).
Only on Audio! A new horror novel from the bestselling author of The Only Good Indians and My Heart is a Chainsaw.
A mother carries her six-year-old daughter into the tiled bathroom where the bathtub is already running, is still running, is overflowing, and for a moment the girl calms, seeing her little brother floating facedown in the water, his hair a golden halo around him, but then this mother is guiding her face-first down into that water, that, as it turns out, isn’t just water but scalding water, and eleven years later her scream is the drawer screeching out of the counter by the sink.
When high school senior Charlotte agrees to babysit the Wilbanks twins, she plans to put the six-year-olds to bed early and spend a quiet night studying: the SATs are tomorrow, and checking the Native American/Alaskan Native box on all the forms doesn’t mean jack if you choke on test day.
But tomorrow is also Halloween, and the twins are eager to show off their costumes—Ron is a nurse, in an old-fashioned white skirt-uniform, and Desi has an Authentic Squaw costume, complete with buckskin and feathered headdress. Excitement is in the air.
Charlotte’s last babysitting gig almost ended in tragedy, when her young charge sleepwalked unnoticed into the middle of the street, only to be found unharmed by Charlotte’s mother. Charlotte vows to be extra careful this time. But the house is filled with mysterious noises and secrets that only the twins understand, echoes of horrors that Charlotte gradually realizes took place in the house eleven years ago. Soon Charlotte has to admit that every babysitter’s worst nightmare has come true: they’re not alone in the house.
The Babysitter Lives is a mind-bending haunted house tale from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.
Featuring a note from the author.
Molly’s Pick: I’m not the type of friend who is regularly recommending audiobooks or podcasts, but I haven’t been able to shut up about the audiobook original THE HONEYMOON CRASHERS by Christina Lauren. A follow-up to the charming THE UNHONEYMOONERS returns us to Maui for the wedding of Olive and Ethan. Though initially planned as an elopement, Olive’s twin sister, Ami, knows better: she flies their entire family to Hawaii to support and celebrate the happy couple . . . and has just mere days to plan a full wedding. At the same time, Ethan enlists his best man, the carefree and charming Brody, to help Ami. (You see where this is going.) The book is narrated by a full cast, so we get to experience Ami, Brody, and the entire Torres family in vivid detail. It’s a delight to listen to, and Harry Shum Jr., as Brody, is actual perfection. Take a listen and enjoy!
A perfectionist maid of honor and a carefree, surfer-bro best man team up to plan a wedding and end up finding a spark of their own in the first audio original from author duo Christina Lauren, a full-cast sequel to their New York Times bestseller The Unhoneymooners.
Ami is determined to break the Torres family wedding curse. Her own disaster of a reception ended with all the guests getting food poisoning, and she left her cheating husband soon after. But even though she’s still processing her own divorce, Ami won’t let her twin sister Olive’s day be anything but perfect. Olive may think she wants a private ceremony in Maui, where she and her fiancé Ethan first fell in love, but Ami knows better and secretly flies the whole Torres family out to surprise the couple. Now she and her meticulously organized binder have less than two weeks to get everything together for the big day, thousands of miles from home.
Enter Brody, Ethan’s best man, who happens to be living in Maui and insists on helping with the preparations. His playfully elaborate schemes and happy-go-lucky attitude are the last thing Ami needs. When sparks start to fly, could it derail all her carefully laid plans?
Equal parts hilarious and swoon-worthy, this full-cast production is your ticket to the ultimate destination wedding, bringing to life both a captivating couple and an unforgettable family. The Honeymoon Crashers is Christina Lauren at their charming, hilarious best.
Emily’s Pick: I’m honestly so surprised that William Kent Krueger’s books haven’t been adapted for the screen yet, because they’re practically begging for it. He writes such beautifully descriptive settings and dramatic character arcs that just need to be acted out. While we all wait for an adaptation to inevitably happen, I highly recommend checking out this audiobook original story at an ideal length of just under four hours. On the Mississippi River in 1927, a devastating flood threatens the destruction of an ancestral home. As a rowboat filled with a ragtag crew of convicts and mysterious figures attempts to save a family trapped in the house, the narrative cycles through themes of pride and loyalty. Narrator JD Jackson conveys the frantic dilemmas that the cast of characters face as they battle the great river and their own emotional currents. And, for me, listening to this story—raging with heroism and the timeless theme of human versus nature—as an audiobook gave the experience, all the more, an epic folktale feel.
An audio original novella from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, The Levee is a powerful, captivating story of a family, a storm, a complicated rescue, and the true cost of survival.
It’s 1927, and the most devastating flood in American history has swelled the Mississippi River to a width of eighty miles. In an attempt to save a family trapped by the rising water, four men in a tiny rowboat battle the treacherous flow: three are convicts, on loan from the local prison and pressed into service; the fourth, the leader of the team, is driven by his own hidden motives. But to their surprise upon arrival at Ballymore, an ancestral home protected by a high, circular levee, not everyone in the family feels the need to be saved. Pride, greed, loyalty, and even love create their own complex currents behind the massive wall. As the threat from the flood increases and time ticks away, the crew and the family must decide on a course of action, and a desperate plan is hatched to save the weakening levee and all it was built to protect.
The Levee is a propulsive, heartfelt tale of courage, cowardice, and sacrifice in a historic moment when the indomitable human spirit is pitted against the awesome and destructive power of nature.
Lauren's Pick: I devoured KISS & TELL: STAND-UP & STORIES ABOUT LOVE, SEX, ETC. in just one weekend. As a fan of the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I knew I had to download it when I saw that Rachel Bloom was cohost to this original comedy audiobook. And it did not disappoint! SNL alum Jay Pharoah cohosts with Bloom, and comedians including Atsuko Okatsuka, Morgan Jay, the Sklar Brothers, and Zach Noe Towers talk about modern love through a range of performances, which sport stand-up and storytelling to original songs and impressions. At just under four hours, it’s the perfect pick-me-up to listen to when you need a good laugh.
Kiss & Tell: Stand Up & Stories About Love, Sex, Etc. is a breakthrough audiobook that combines the brashness of stand-up comedy, the intimacy of oral storytelling and the energy of a live audience to portray a compelling and hilarious take on modern relationships. Coproduced with Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat and hosted by Emmy Award–winning actress Rachel Bloom and Saturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah, Kiss & Tell presents an incredible lineup of the funniest comedians unavailable in any other format or on any other platform.
Telling a uniquely collaborative, extensive, and universal love story through a variety of diverse lenses, covering everything from first dates and first dances to cheating, break ups, and everything in between, Kiss & Tell features performances ranging from stand-up and storytelling to original songs, impressions, and more.
Organized along the timeline familiar to anyone who has been in a relationship—tracing the journey from pre-date jitters through settled domesticity—the assorted (and occasionally sordid) tales presented in Kiss & Tell bring the universal challenges and rewards of romantic relationships to hilarious life. Listeners will hear themselves in these talented performers’ fresh takes on these recognizable milestones: crushes crushed, proms attended and virginities lost, couples counseling, parenthood, and blending families.
Along the way, these performers share memories from surprising turns in their own journeys, including the challenges of bringing a sex toy through airport security, and coming to the realization of how threesomes are like horror movies. You’ll hear dispatches from the frontlines of today, men and women, straight and gay, pursuing romance while confronting the realities of dating in your thirties or discovering the truth about Tinder. And you’ll hear love in action as several couples perform together, including newlyweds remembering the vacation that defined their relationship, and longtime partners sharing the microphone to give each other the chance to have their say.
Hosts Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live) share hilarious stories of their own while introducing a roster of performers assembled exclusively for this recording, including:
The Sklar Brothers
Zach Noe Towers
Photo credit: iStock / Gerasimov174