The Walking Book Club sneaker ratings and reviews

Audiobook Reviews & Sneaker Ratings

Looking for your “next great listen?” Check out our audiobooks reviews for walking. We rate each book on motivation to move, narration quality, and overall experience.

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American Dirt audiobook review

American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins
Narrated by Yareli Arizmendi

January 2020 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.9 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.4 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.9 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 16 hours 55 minutes

Review: Powerful! Listen for Yourself

Despite the controversy, members who chose to participate in Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt felt it was an extremely meaningful round. “I am a better person for reading this book” was a sentiment expressed by many. Several members went on to read Urrea’s The Devil Highway to learn more about migration to El Norte. 

We encourage the listener to take the time to investigate Cummins’s references like La Bestia, murder rates in Alcalpulco, gang violence, and tattoos. These book extras and several links to interviews with Cummins and the press on the controversy in our Discussion Group. Simply search Where American Dirt through the spyglass at the top right of the FaceBook page.

We had the pleasure of hosting both Cummins and narrator Yareli Azrimendi in our first Heart and Soul Book Chat which pairs authors and books with humanitarian causes. The event raised close to three thousand dollars for The International Rescue Committee to aid with COVid relief at the border. Hearing the soulful passion of both women was truly inspiring. Please take the time to read and research before coming to a conclusion on the author or book. We were able to have many fruitful and productive discussions to understand the controversy and the subject matter.

The narration was good, but some members felt the narrator’s tone did not match the story’s intensity.

 

Here’s what else our members had to say about American Dirt:

“Really opened my eyes and made me appreciate living where I do. So sad that people have to live like this.”

“I really liked this book, especially since I teach kids from Mexico and Central America; the stories of the various characters are very realistic.”

Becoming audiobook review for walking and movement

Becoming

By Michelle Obama
Narrated by Michelle Obama

March 2020 Audie Nominee Round

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.5 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 5.0 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.6 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 19 hours and 3 minutes

Review: Take a Walk with Michelle

While listening and moving to Becoming, members felt they had a new workout partner in author and narrator Michelle Obama.

Her friendly tone pulled members in from the start, and they felt like they lost a friend once the book was completed. When you listen to Becoming, you understand why her autobiography won a Grammy and an Audie award.

Here’s what The Walking Book Club members had to say about Becoming:

“A book to make you laugh out loud and cry. Full of humanity and inspiration. “When they go low, we go high.”

“It’s a remarkable book. I’ve listened to it twice while walking or gardening. Enjoy it.”

“I loved it, especially as she narrated it herself.”

“I’m finding myself talking to my girls about this book. I had a great discussion with my teenage daughter last night about some of the issues Michelle raises … I hope she knows how far and wide she is reaching.”

“I listened to it and really liked it. My only criticism is that I felt it was too long, and she would have benefited from a better editor. That said, I felt like I got a lot of insight into her and her family. Also, her voice was soooo soothing and pleasant to listen to. I was driving through a blinding rainstorm one day and kept saying, “Keep talking to me, Michelle…keep talking to me.” All in all, I enjoyed the book and was glad that I chose the audio version.”

“…what a wonderful human being – I love the stories she shares about her extended family.”

Firekeeper's Daughter audiobook review

Firekeeper’s Daughter

By Angeline Boulley
Narrated by Isabella Star LaBlanc

April 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.5 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.0 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.6 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 14 hours 13 minutes. Listened at 1.3 x for 11 hours of active time.

Review: Picked up for Movie Production

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, narrated by Isabella Star LaBlanc, is an excellent motivator to move.

The Walking Book Club has a friendly rule, you have to be moving to listen to the audiobook. It caught my attention as it’s soon to be adapted at Netflix for TV with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.

Feeling like an outsider, Daunis Fontaine, a biracial science geek, and hockey star, is getting ready to leave home for college when tragedy strikes. The audiobook holds your attention for many reasons, coming of age, friendship, and loss, mystery, and romance, but what I appreciated the most was the insight into the Ojibwe culture and heritage.

The author, Angeline Boulley, is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a reservation and community on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She delves into real-world issues affecting Indigenous communities, blends tradition into the storyline, and balances them with the story’s central mystery.

Although the audiobook is listed as Young Adult, the story is compelling for adults of all ages. The story also raises the visibility of Native storytellers.

“As Native storytellers, we do have a lot of stories to tell. Because native people aren’t a monolith. There’s so much diversity between tribes and within tribes. I just think the more stories that are out there, the better representation and accuracy that we get.” ~ Angeline Boulley

Considering speeding up the narration.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev audiobook review

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

By Dawnie Walton
Narrated by Janina Edwards, Bahni Turpin, James Langton, André De Shields, Dennis Boutsikaris, Steve West, Gabra Zackman

May 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.8 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 5.0 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.9 Sneakers
Moving and listening time:13 hours 17 minutes

Review: Musical Historical Fiction at its Best

If musical historical fiction were a book genre, The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton would rank at the top of the list.

The story chronicles Opal Jewell and Nev Charles’s rise starting in the ’60s and culminates in a recent day with a revival performance taking readers down a melodic memory lane.

As we listened, our minds called upon real legends – the edgy androgynous images of Grace Jones, the eyebrow-raising fashion flair of Cher, and the fanatical appeal of the Billie Eilish. Watson’s musical references throughout the book will make the reader yearn for a playlist of the artists. Some songs are just a reference because they evoke images of the Confederate flag, others because they are classics, such as Motown, gospel, the Beatles, and British rock.

The latter half of Opal and Nev is raw and real, with words and references to Black Lives Matter, Trump, and racial tension.

Watson deserves praise for weaving together music, motivation, and humanity into one cohesive story that comes full circle. The ensemble cast of narrators is outstanding, likened to a theatrical production.

You can find a full curriculum of behind the scene book extras in our FaceBook Discussion Group by searching #opalandnev in the spyglass at the top right of the page. You can also access the book extras on Pinterest page under The Walking Book Club, Opal and Nev.

Here’s what our members have to say about The Final Revival of Opal and Nev:

“Awesome narration”⁠

“I want an Opal-inspired concert T-shirt now!!!”⁠

“Loved story & narration.”⁠

“The story felt so real!! 4 chapters in, and I couldn’t figure out how I had never heard of them and started searching for their music!”⁠

“I love this! Accents are so important for an audiobook… If it’s not right, it distracts from the story.”⁠

“Fabulous book and narration!”

The Four Winds walking book club review

The Four Winds

By Kristin Hannah
Narrated by Julia Whelan

January 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 5 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 5 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 5 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 15 hours 2 minutes

Review: Another Kristin Hannah Gem!

Once again, you are hooked from the start, especially the audiobook version of The Four Winds. The Walking Book Club listens to audiobooks while moving and rate our selections on motivation to move and quality of narration — five sneaker reviews for all categories.

Julia Whelan delivers once again as the narrator! Her cadence and ability to seamlessly bring each character to life through slight variation in tone give dimension and depth to the story. We’ve had the pleasure of listening to other Whelan narrations in The Great Alone and Educated. She’s a Walking Book Club favorite.

And the story keeps you wanting to move. I appreciated the exploration of mother-daughter relationships in The Four Winds. I was surprised to learn that Hannah’s favorite character in recent books was Elsa (there’s a bonus interview with Hannah and Whelan at the end of the audiobook.) It’s a tough call for me because we loved Isabelle from The Nightingale and Leni from The Great Alone. Character comparison would make for a worthy discussion for book clubs.

Hannah tackles the Depression and Dust Bowl from a female perspective. “I was looking for a story about female strength and that would show history from a female perspective. The Great Depression was a time where there were a lot of women who ended on their own, and there were a lot of women who ended up being primarily responsible for their families. I had never read that story.” The Four Winds delivers.

There is a curriculum of book extras on our Facebook Discussion Group Facebook Page. Simply search the #thefourwinds through the spyglass at the top right of the Discussion Group page. You will find iconic pictures and book quotes that enrich the listening experience.

The Good Sister audio book review

The Good Sister

By Sally Hepworth
Narrated by Barrie Kreinik

March 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 5 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.6 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.7 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 8 hours 19 minutes

Review: Full of Twists and Turns

The Good Sister is full of twists and turns, making the audiobook version a great motivator to move — five sneaker ratings! (The Walking Book Club has a friendly rule that you have to be moving to listen.)

Right from the beginning, you’ll be asking yourself, “who is the good sister?” Fern or Rose? And will keep you guessing right up until the end.

The Good Sister is an intriguing psychological thriller without being violent or disturbing. Set in Australia, the narrator is perfect! Barrie Kreinik seamlessly alters her voice for each sister, making the quality of narration rating five sneakers too!

Our members report more movement and an overall experience of Sally Hepworth’s latest five sneakers all the way around! Perfect for anyone seeking a mystery drama that won’t leave you emotionally exhausted and wanting to know what’s next for both Fern and Rose.

Here’s what our members had to say about The Good Sister:

“I can’t say enough about this book… The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth is about two very different fraternal twins. Fern is a librarian who leads a very structured life and has some sensory issues. Her sister Rose helps to take care of her, and when Rose is unable to get pregnant, Fern thinks of a way she can repay her for all her assistance. What could go wrong here, right?! The character development is exquisite and delves into the personality traits and interpersonal relationships of several characters with troubling characteristics which are not labeled but left for us to uncover through their actions and words in a way that drew me in and didn’t let go of until the very last word… This book also contains a lot of diversity and refreshingly accurate descriptions of sensory issues and type one diabetes which really impressed me as a MOD (mother of a diabetic teen).

I give this book a five sneaker rating across the board for motivation to move, quality of narration, and overall experience. There’s nothing I could ask for in a book that this story did not deliver!”

Hidden Valley Road audio review

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

By Robert Kolker
Narrated by Sean Pratt

February 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.8 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.2 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.5 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 13 hours 8 minutes

Review: Captivating Non-Fiction

“For a family, schizophrenia is, primarily, a felt experience, as if the foundation of the family is permanently tilted in the direction of the sick family member. Even if just one child has schizophrenia, everything about the internal logic of that family changes.”

Hidden Valley Road might just be our favorite non-fiction audiobook to date!

Riveting, gripping, heart wrenching are all apt adjectives for the true story of one family’s mind-blowing experience with schizophrenia. In addition to the story’s humanity, the author weaves in psychiatry’s historical aspects, drug development, and treatment over eight decades. It covers the treatments from institutionalization, lobotomy to shock therapy. 

Because this was a group selection, there is a curriculum of book extras on our Discussion Group Facebook page. You can find more information on the Galvin family, interviews with the sisters, and family pictures. There is also a link to an interesting article on “mother blaming” and the schizophrenogenic mother. Simply search the #hiddenvallyroad through the spyglass at the top right of the Discussion Group page.

Every once in a while, an audiobook comes along that keeps us motivated to move and listen for hours because it’s that captivating – Hidden Valley Road is one. Thank you, Galvin family, for your honesty and bravery. Bravo, Robert Kolker, for telling the family’s story in an honest, informative, and compassionate manner.

This is an audiobook that educates rather than entertains, making the narration less influential to the content; still, the narration is well done and appropriate for the subject.

The Husbands by Chandler Baker audiobook review

The Husbands

By Chandler Baker
Narrated by Allyson Ryan

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.5 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.5 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.5 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 14 hours 13 minutes. 1.3 – 1.4 x narration speed for 12 hours active time.

Review: Jump on and enjoy the ride.

It’s tough to pinpoint exact adjectives for The Husbands — tongue-in-cheek, science-fiction, humor, thriller, thought-provoking, timely, and probably a few more. I found it was easier to just jump on the wild ride of The Husbands and enjoy.

Just as in The Whisper Network, Chandler Baker makes you stop and think. What would equality look like in a modern-day marriage? I found myself remarking at the dinner party scene. “Asher rises to collect the group’s salad plates.” The action, so small, hit home. The husband cleared the table of the guest’s dishes. Odd or natural? But if the roles were reversed and the wife got up to prepare for the next course, would it seem so unnatural?

It’s those scenes and dialogue peppered into the story that give pause and make you reflect on stereotypes.

Why can’t we take The Stepford Wives and flip the premise? What thoughts and feelings does it evoke to the audiobook listener on modern-day marriage? That’s why I suggest not trying to overthink each chapter and hold on for a wild ride.

When you get to the end, and the ride attendant asks if you want another round, your head might be a little dizzy, and you might feel a little uneasy; your answer will likely be “yes.” So will you need another round to process — fiction? Science fiction? Mystery? Humor? Irony?

Good news, though, The Husbands has already been picked up for production starring Kristin Wiig, six weeks before the book’s official release on August 3rd. I anticipate The Husbands will make for a great movie and great dialogue for book clubs. So grab a glass of wine, hop on and then opine.

Regarding narration, Allyson Ryan does a nice job and moves easily between character voices. Thanks, Macmillan, for the opportunity to review.

The Midnight Library review

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig
Narrated by Carey Mulligan

February 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.6 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.4 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.6 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 8 hours 50 minutes

Review: Philosophical Slant Will Keep Your Mind Engaged, Body Motivated to Move, and Soul Thirsty For More

We loved this audiobook! Matt Haig’s prose on living an authentic life are brilliant reminders for a thriving life.

His philosophical slant kept our minds engaged while walking. How many different lives could you have experienced if you had chosen differently? We found ourselves questioning decisions within our own lives. 

There are countless quotes from the book that are worthy of savoring, thought provocation, and discussion. Some of our favorites include:

“Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”

“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

“You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.” 

“Regrets don’t leave. They weren’t mosquito bites. They itch forever.”  

“It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.”   

“If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it. And don’t give a second thought when people mock it or ridicule it. Most gossip is envy in disguise.”   

The Midnight Library was a great group selection for The Walking Book Club

The Push audiobook review

The Push

By Ashley Audrain
Narrated by Marin Ireland

May 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 5.0 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.0 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.5 Sneakers
Moving and listening time:8 hours 37 minutes. Listened at 1.4x for 7 hours of activity.

Review: Dark But Motivating to Move

Psychological dramas are always great motivators to move.

The Walking Book Club has a friendly rule that you have to be moving to listen, and The Push definitely delivered.

At first, I questioned the style of writing as too choppy, but the style enhanced the story’s tension by the end. I felt both frustration and compassion for Blythe and wanted to reach through the headphones and implore Fox to help her; the complexities of emotions highlight the author’s ability to take us on a roller coaster of feelings.

The underlying themes of motherhood, the pressure to be a “good mother,” and suspected attachment disorder in The Push are on the darker side of psychological thrillers. It might make some listeners uncomfortable. However, it can also make for a binge-worthy exercise and activity session. You will want to know how it ends and when you get there, it might leave you feeling uneasy.

I sped up the narration and finished listening in a little under seven hours — perfect for a quick (and active) audiobook selection.

The Push is Ashley Audrain’s debut novel. I’ll be keeping my eye out for her next book.

Where the Crawdads Sing audiobook review

Where the Crawdads Sing

Written by Delia Owens
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

September 2019 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.9 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.8 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.9 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 12 hours 12 minutes moving

Review: Listen Before the Movie is Released

There’s a reason why Crawdads is a #1 New York Times bestseller and is now being made into a big-screen movie! It’s outstanding!

We encourage the listener to take the time to investigate the many interesting book extras. Like why Owens chose the marsh as the setting for Crawdads, the origins of the phrase “sneaky f*&#r,” the mating dance of fireflies, and the meaning of moon phases.

You can find these book extras and more in our Discussion Group. Simply search Where The Crawdads Sing through the spyglass at the top right of the FaceBook page. It will blow you away how Owen seamlessly blends in interesting gems of biology in Where The Crawdads Sing.

Because it starts with young Kya in 1940 and follows the story of her life, Owens can weave together many aspects. Not only does she include environmental science, she blends mystery, romance, poetry, courtroom drama, and coming of age.

Thus, Where The Crawdads Sing has a little something for everyone. It’s no surprise that the audiobook ranks in the top favorites for The Walking Book Club. Let us know what you think in the comments, and come back and share after you see the movie. (June 2022 release)

 

Here’s what our members had to say:

“And the ending OMG, what a great ending. I loved this book….”

“I thought the narrator did an excellent job.”

“‪I was in awe that this person (narrator) who read the book could remember how each character talked and read so effortlessly.” 

Yellow Wife By Sadeqa Johnson audiobook review

Yellow Wife

By Sadeqa Johnson
Narrated by Robin Miles

January 2021 Group Selection

The Walking Book Club Sneaker Ratings:

Motivation to Move: 4.9 Sneakers
Quality of Narration: 4.8 Sneakers
Overall Experience: 4.9 Sneakers
Moving and listening time: 9 hours 31 minutes

Review: Brilliantly Researched and Soulfully Written

Having the opportunity to chat directly with authors makes us fall in love with their books even more. And that’s precisely what happened with Sadeqa Johnson’s book, Yellow Wife.

Yellow Wife is a masterful piece of historical fiction inspired by Sadequa’s family’s visit to the Richmond Slave Trail along the James River in Virginia. When we spoke with Sadeqa, she shared how a Mary Lumpkins trail marker kept calling her psyche back. We’re so glad she listened because the novel is brilliantly researched and soulfully written.

You can find more information and pictures of the Slave Trail on our FaceBook Discussion Group Page. Simply search the Yellow Wife through the spyglass at the top right of the FaceBook page.

Sadeqa creates a narrative through the fictional character’s eyes, Pheby Delores Brown, who becomes the yellow wife to the notoriously cruel owner of the Devil’s Half Acre jail. Pheby may be fictional, but we get a glimpse of what life may have been like for the real Mary Lumpkins as she navigates motherhood through the narrative. This is a must-listen audiobook for fans of historical fiction; Robin Miles, Audie Award winner of Best Female Narrator of 2020, is outstanding!

You can find the replay of our Heart and Soul Book Chat with Sadeqa Johnson and Robin Miles to benefit The Sacred Ground Project here.

 

Here’s what our members had to say about Yellow Wife:

“Finished The Yellow Wife today. I couldn’t turn it off, and at the same time, it was such a heavy story. I highly recommend it.”

“The book was awesome and the narration incredible…Out of all the audiobooks, this was the best… I had to keep going (moving). I had to know what was going to happen next … beautiful story.”

“The ending of The Yellow Wife makes me wish there was a sequel.”

About Julie Kaminski

Julie Kaminski | The Walking Book Club

Julie Kaminski MA, NBC-HWC, holds a Master’s Art with distinction in Counseling Psychology specializing in group work, a Bachelors in Business with an emphasis is Health and Wellness, and is a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach. She holds ACE certifications in Group Fitness and Personal Training. In addition, she is licensed with Wellcoaches, the only American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) endorsed coaching program.

Julie is the creator of numerous small group training curriculum including Fitness Plus and The Walking Book Club. She has thirty years’ experience working in private practice, major corporations, clubs, and health centers.

Julie’s areas of expertise include: group counseling, dynamic group instruction, creative solutions and project management. Extensive experience in designing custom programs for individuals and groups. Knowledgeable in all areas of wellness, including fitness, health, nutrition, eating behaviors, stress management and spiritual fulfillment. Coaching skills include the application of motivational interviewing, goal setting theory, and appreciative inquiry. She completed University of Pennsylvania’s Foundations of Positive Psychology and is the author of The Flourishing Home.