After some long books in May, I decided to catch up on some shorter books. In my Audible collection, that means listening to a few Audible Originals. And finally Audible let’s you sort your titles by length, which makes it much easier to manage via time. Instead of overwhelming my subscribers with posts that only include short reviews, I consolidated four of them here.

A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain

I chose this historical fiction story about Marie Curie because she’s a favorite of my science-loving young granddaughter.

Narrated by Curie, this tells the story of her journey from Poland to Paris to study science. And of course, her meeting and subsequent relationship with fellow student Pierre Curie. All the relevant issues of the time are covered in this short audio story, including women’s education, independence, and marital conventions.

It wasn’t long but I appreciated knowing a little more about Curie’s early life and strength of character. It’s a 3 star listen!

Atomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfeld

I don’t often read contemporary fiction about marriage. Maybe it’s because, after nearly 25 years, my husband and I have a good thing going and I don’t like thinking about the alternative. Who knows. Either way, I picked this free Audible Original based primarily on its narrator, Diane Lane. She does an excellent job!

In this short story, Heather is a hard-charging Hollywood executive tasked with getting Brock, a self-help author, to change his perspective on a decision about the movie version of his book. She visits him in Alabama for a short meeting. And it’s her perspective that changes based on how she perceives him in real life.

Sittenfeld takes on many topics in this short story, chief among them hypocrisy and infidelity. The payoff was more subtle than the story arc indicated it might be, and I found that disappointing. Heather and Brock aren’t especially likable, but the author develops strong commentary on the state of marriage in the 21st century.

Overall, it kept me interested for the short time it lasted but it wasn’t stellar. Another 3 star listen.

Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry

This 37-minute haunted house story gave me more creepy feelings than the much-longer similar novella I read in the same week. Maberry creates both strong ambiance and interesting characters in few words. It’s a good thing I listened during the day rather than right before sunset! I’ll definitely seek out more of Maberry’s work now. And the narration from Scott Brick is terrific.

If you love horror and don’t want much of a time investment, this is a fun way to connect with the genre. A 4 star listen!

Mala by Melinda Lopez

If you’ve ever been a caregiver to a parent, you will connect immediately with this short play / memoir from Melinda Lopez. Lopez lays it out truthfully, and I happened to listen just about on the third anniversary of my mother’s death. But there’s also plenty of dark humor in this true-life tale, so you’ll laugh while you cry.

Lopez lived next door to her parents, and she tells about the ups and downs of their health. She also talks about what it’s like to navigate these waters with siblings. Nothing about her life, or this play, is easy. Her mother says she’s “evil in her core” when she calls her “mala.” She is the one who has to make the hard decisions.

But, like all of us, she gets through and tries her best. I liked this unique memoir enough to imagine listening again in the future, or recommending to a friend living the caregiving journey. 4 strong stars for this one.