Amanda Michelle Steiner

Audible Editor

Amanda Michelle Steiner

As a former TV journalist and current books editor, Amanda is relieved that all of the antisocial activities from her childhood in Montreal ended up working out in her favour. She's particularly fond of complicated female protagonists, diverse stories, YA fantasy, and the odd psychological thriller. When she's not reading or listening, she's hanging out with her husband and her two cats, whom she not-so-jokingly refers to as her daughters.

Amanda's Recent Reviews

    • A Novel
    • Written by: Sally Rooney
    • Narrated by: Aoife McMahon
    • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
    • Release date: 2019-04-16
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 211 ratings
    • Captures the indelible nature of young love
    • In her sophomore novel, Sally Rooney captures the indelible nature of young love with stunning precision. Connell and Marianne begin their relationship in high school, where they pretend not to know each other. He the popular captain of the football team and she a mousy loner, their roles reverse in university in ways these archetypal personalities so often do in real life. In their on-and-off pseudo-relationship, the pair orbit each other like planets but never quite come together.

      I devoured Normal People like a woman starving and felt its words like a physical thing; often I'd find my heart actually hurting not because it's particularly sad — although it has its moments — but because the author managed to articulate such a specific human experience with staggering empathy. Coupled with lilting, Irish-accented narration by Aoife McMahon, Normal People is easily my favourite book of 2019. (So far!)
    • Written by: Candice Carty-Williams
    • Narrated by: Shvorne Marks
    • Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins
    • Release date: 2019-03-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 60 ratings
    • Takes aim at the indignities young women face
    • '''Being brave isn't the same as being okay,' my mum said quietly.''

      Queenie Jenkins is not having a good year. Fresh from a breakup and struggling in her job at a national newspaper, our titular heroine — a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman — begins to engage in self-destructive behaviour with men who take advantage of her vulnerability. As Queenie gradually learns how to ask for help dealing with issues stemming from a fraught childhood, Candice Carty-Williams's debut takes aim at the indignities that young women — and, in particular, women of colour — face while moving about in the world.

      Narrator Shvorne Marks inhabits the multicultural city of London in all its varied accents with skillful ease, making for a truly stellar listen.
    • A Novel
    • Written by: Mona Awad
    • Narrated by: Sophie Amoss
    • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
    • Release date: 2019-06-11
    • Language: English
    • 3.5 out of 5 stars 30 ratings
    • A darkly funny, spooky little story
    • Bunny is a darkly funny, spooky little story following Samantha, a cynical outsider in a highly selective MFA program. Her solitary world tilts off its axis when she's invited to a private soirée hosted by a group of intolerably bubbly classmates who refer to each other only as ''Bunny.'' There, she finds the belonging she'd secretly craved, but it comes at a cost. Soon, the edges of reality become filmy and permeable, where magical and monstrous creations are conjured with the power of the group's twisted imagination.

      Mona Awad's sophomore novel delves into the push-and-pull of solitude and bonding; of the importance of creating meaningful connections with your peers while retaining a sense of self.
    • Written by: Samantha Downing
    • Narrated by: David Pittu
    • Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
    • Release date: 2019-03-26
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 155 ratings
    • For anyone who thought Dexter had a point
    • I love psychological thrillers, but with this genre more than any other I am ruthless. While tropes exist for a reason, I have no problem with stopping a thriller that tips over into banal predictability — and it happens pretty frequently! That said, I could not put down My Lovely Wife.

      This fast-paced debut follows a married couple of 15 years who keep the spark alive by meticulously planning and carrying out murders. I don't want to say more at the risk of spoiling any of its many twists, but I highly recommend this one for anyone who thought the titular character in the Dexter series had a point.
    • Written by: Halle Butler
    • Narrated by: Halle Butler
    • Length: 4 hrs and 8 mins
    • Release date: 2019-03-05
    • Language: English
    • 3.5 out of 5 stars 10 ratings
    • A perfect encapsulation of millennial angst
    • Millie is a 30-year-old temp who can't seem to marshal the emotional energy to assert any control over her life. Instead, she fervently imagines what her new life could look like if only she changed her job, life, wardrobe, and attitude — all the while falling asleep in front of the TV every night. It's an all-too-familiar refrain, isn't it? How many times have you promised yourself that your diet starts Monday, or that you're for-real-this-time going to start practicing yoga, or that you're finally going to start using the meditation app your therapist recommended? (Too specific?)

      The New Me is a perfect encapsulation of existential millennial angst and corporate disillusionment and for that reason it's not for everyone. But if any of this rings true to your experience, then this author-narrated listen might just be the perfect thing to hold a mirror up to your own neuroses.
    • A Novel
    • Written by: John Boyne
    • Narrated by: Richard E. Grant, Richard Cordery, Nina Sosanya, Laurence Kennedy
    • Length: 11 hrs and 32 mins
    • Release date: 2018-11-13
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 59 ratings
    • Unputdownable
    • I was so enthralled by John Boyne's 2017 novel The Heart's Invisible Furies that I downloaded his latest, A Ladder to the Sky, without even reading the summary. What resulted was one of the best psychodramas I've listened to all year, enhanced by a four-person cast of narrators bringing an already captivating story into full colour.

      Maurice Swift, our perfectly hateable protagonist, is utterly talentless and yet absolutely dogged in his pursuit of literary fame at all costs. As friends and loved ones drop to the wayside on his journey to the top, Maurice's soul becomes ever more forfeit in this unputdownable spiritual descendent to The Talented Mr. Ripley.
    • Written by: Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori - translator
    • Narrated by: Nancy Wu
    • Length: 3 hrs and 21 mins
    • Release date: 2018-06-12
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 20 ratings
    • A strange, quirky tale
    • To be completely honest, The Convenience Store Woman caught my eye because I was feeling nostalgic for the trip to Japan I'd taken earlier this year and the cover for this book gave me a craving for konbini onigiri. I was delightfully surprised by what I found: a strange, quirky tale that I've been turning over in my head for months.

      Keiko Furukara has never been able to fit in. But when she begins working at a convenience store at 18 years old, she finally finds one place where she can conform to expectations and fulfill a societal role to perfection. More importantly, she's happy. Eighteen years later, however, increasing external pressures make themselves known and Keiko ends up making choices solely to please the people around her. As an unusual woman attempts to bend herself into the shape people need her to be in order to satisfy their own expectations about the world, what follows is a lesson in staying true to yourself — even if you're a bit of an oddball.
    • A Memoir
    • Written by: Terese Marie Mailhot
    • Narrated by: Rainy Fields
    • Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
    • Release date: 2018-03-13
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 44 ratings
    • An arresting series of essays
    • ''My story was maltreated. The words were too wrong and ugly to speak. I tried to tell someone my story, but he thought it was a hustle.'' The opening lines of Heart Berries knocked me flat when I picked it up earlier this year. In an era that insists that women are free and safe to tell their stories — despite frequent evidence to the contrary — Heart Berries is yet another series of lessons in how difficult it often is to actually be heard — particularly if you're a woman of Indigenous descent.

      But as author Therese Mailhot commits her trauma to paper in this arresting series of essays written while she was institutionalized for PTSD and bipolar II, she is finally able to seize control of her story; in doing so, she succeeds in taking back the power from her aggressors. Mailhot's prose is unlike anything I've ever encountered in memoir, and Cherokee narrator Rainy Fields brings it to life with intimacy and grace.
    • Written by: Iain Reid
    • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
    • Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
    • Release date: 2018-09-04
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 25 ratings
    • Guaranteed to linger in your memory
    • What does it mean to be human? Iain Reid explores that core existential question in his sophomore novel, Foe — an eerie, suspenseful little thriller that I devoured in one sitting.

      Foe follows a couple, Junior and Henrietta, who live on a farm in the middle of nowhere sometime in the near future. When the couple learn that Junior has been selected to participate in a program that would take him far, far away, they are assured by the suspiciously genial government operative handling their case that arrangements will be made so that Henrietta is not left alone during Junior's time away. Reid's prose is haunting and strangely romantic as the tension ratchets up, leading to a conclusion that is guaranteed to linger in your memory.
    • A Novel
    • Written by: Zoje Stage
    • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
    • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
    • Release date: 2018-07-17
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 156 ratings
    • A tense debut
    • I'm a pretty voracious listener of psychological thrillers, but I often find that my standards for the genre aren't met to the point of recommendation. Oh, the husband is secretly a controlling emotional abuser, you say? Groundbreaking.

      Baby Teeth has restored my faith in the genre. Zoje Stage's tense debut is a dual narrative following a seven-year-old daughter, Hanna, and her mother, Suzette. To her father, Hanna is a gentle, loving, and precocious Daddy's Girl; to her mother, Hanna is a master manipulator, contemptuous to the point of violence. What follows is a taut back-and-forth between mother and daughter as Hanna angles to rid Suzette from their trio altogether.
    • Written by: Madeline Miller
    • Narrated by: Perdita Weeks
    • Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
    • Release date: 2018-04-10
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 868 ratings
    • Miller's prose is gorgeous
    • The long-awaited follow-up to Madeline Miller's 2014 Women's Prize-winning novel The Song of Achilles is another masterpiece of historical fiction. Circe follows the titular Greek goddess of witchcraft, a daughter of Helios who, feeling left out by her family and peer group, turns to the world of mortals for companionship. Ultimately it's a story about a woman who stops letting her destiny just happen, learning with time and growing confidence that there's all this power inside of her waiting to be wielded if only she could shake off the weight of other people's projected expectations and desires. Perdita Weeks' narration perfectly captures Circe's fears and anxieties, belied as they are by an undercurrent of incredible strength.

      Miller's prose is so gorgeous that it makes me furious and inspired in equal measure; her ability to capture what it means to be human while writing about gods and goddesses is seemingly beyond any mere mortal's level of empathy and care.
    • Written by: Chloe Benjamin
    • Narrated by: Maggie Hoffman
    • Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
    • Release date: 2018-01-09
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 119 ratings
    • An examination of human fallibility
    • In Chloe Benjamin's star-making debut, four siblings visit a psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die.

      Don't expect to find out whether the psychic was truly psychic; it doesn't matter. The Immortalists is an examination of human fallibility and our fruitless attempt to control our outcomes in an uncontrollable world, and the comfort that can be found in surrendering to fate, come what may.

      Narrator Maggie Hoffman expertly embodies each of the four Gold children in their search for meaning, making for a beautiful listening experience.
    • A Novel
    • Written by: Leni Zumas
    • Narrated by: Karissa Vacker, Erin Bennett
    • Length: 9 hrs and 6 mins
    • Release date: 2018-01-16
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 13 ratings
    • For fans of The Handmaid's Tale
    • For fans of The Handmaid's Tale comes Red Clocks, which might as well function as a prequel to Margaret Atwood's seminal dystopian novel.

      It's present-day America, and abortion is once again illegal; in vitro fertilization is on the way out, and single would-be parents and same-sex couples are denied the right to adopt. As these freedoms are stripped, Leni Zumas' story is told through the lens of four very different women grappling with this new world order. Red Clocks isn't perfect — it doesn't do enough to integrate the experiences of marginalized communities who tend to fare even worse under circumstances such as these. Regardless, this book ended up being a 2018 favourite for the same reasons The Handmaid's Tale will always appeal to me: it's a reminder of the dangers of complacence, and how easily the ground women have gained over the past 100 years would be happily ripped away by those who would benefit from a return to subservience.
    • Written by: Jessica Knoll
    • Narrated by: Ashlie Atkinson, Jenni Barber, Aja Naomi King
    • Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
    • Release date: 2018-05-15
    • Language: English
    • 3.5 out of 5 stars 14 ratings
    • A searing critique of modern-day feminism
    • If you need your female characters to be likable, this fast-paced murder mystery isn't for you. Above all, The Favorite Sister is a searing critique of modern-day feminism and the reductive idea that feminism means all women must like each other — the sort of rah-rah girl power that is more marketing intended to sell shampoo than an actual movement in service of advancing women's rights.

      I'll leave you with this passage, because it fairly sums up the vibe of Jessica Knoll's sophomore novel: "Telling women to help other women in a society that places us in a systemic competition with each other is a fool's errand. Two percent of the world's CEOs are women and yet we are expected to treat each other like sisters and not rabid hyenas thrown a carcass picked to the gristle by lions. Malnourish me, undervalue me, humiliate and harass me when I try to get my money anyway. But don't you dare tell me to go about it nicely."
    • Written by: Melissa Albert
    • Narrated by: Rebecca Soler, James Fouhey
    • Series: Hazel Wood, Book 1
    • Length: 12 hrs and 11 mins
    • Release date: 2018-01-30
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 106 ratings
    • Captures the grim nature of fairy tales
    • Have you ever thought about how truly dark fairy tales can be? We're told the watered-down versions when we're young, but even those feature child-eating witches, bloodthirsty giants, murderous stepmothers, and more death traps as allegory.

      In The Hazel Wood, 17-year-old Alice and her mother attempt to outrun the uncanny bad luck that follows them wherever they go. Soon, Alice discovers that the fairy-tale world described in her grandmother's cult-classic stories is real — and it's closing in. Melissa Albert's debut captures the grim, no-takebacks nature of fairy tales — how terrifying, how life-threatening, and how unyielding they can be on their path to parable.
    • Written by: Naomi Alderman
    • Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh, Naomi Alderman, Thomas Judd, Emma Fenney, Phil Nightingale
    • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
    • Release date: 2016-10-27
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 142 ratings
    • A total collapse of the patriarchy
    • "One of them says, 'Why did they do it?' And the other answers, 'Because they could.' That is the only answer there ever is."

      The Power takes place in a near future in which women have developed the ability to shoot electrical currents from their fingertips. This power leads to a cultural shift — suddenly, men are being told not to walk home alone and the responsibility becomes theirs to keep safe in a hostile world. Ultimately, Naomi Alderman's latest novel is an examination of the corrupting influence of power, no matter who wields it. Women are not necessarily the hero(in)es here, and not all of the metaphors are subtle. But if I'm being honest, it's not not satisfying to listen to a book that chronicles the total collapse of the patriarchy.
    • Written by: Roz Nay
    • Narrated by: Erin Moon
    • Length: 6 hrs and 18 mins
    • Release date: 2017-06-06
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 68 ratings
    • A binge-worthy psychological thriller
    • Our Little Secret is a binge-worthy psychological thriller with all the hallmarks of a spiritual descendant to Gone Girl and In a Dark, Dark Wood: An unreliable female narrator, a maybe-murder, and a dense plot with an ending that will give you whiplash. The story follows Angela, whose ex-boyfriend's wife has just been reported missing. A main suspect in the investigation, Angela tells her story from the beginning to a skeptical Detective Novak — and a whole new set of suspects emerge.

      This debut novel from B.C.-based Roz Nay comes to life with narration from Erin Moon, who effortlessly inhabits a cast of characters from small-town Vermont all the way to London, England.
    • The Broken Earth, Book 1
    • Written by: N. K. Jemisin
    • Narrated by: Robin Miles
    • Series: The Broken Earth, Book 1
    • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
    • Release date: 2015-08-04
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 371 ratings
    • Heart-wrenching and fascinating
    • In N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season, the people of the Stillness are victims of a malevolent Earth in constant flux as tectonic plates shift restlessly, catastrophically. However, not all are powerless: orogenes, those with the ability to manipulate thermal and kinetic energy, can fend off the seismic events trying to shake humanity from the Earth’s surface.

      The first in Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy follows three orogene women at different stages in their lives as they forge bravely ahead in a world that treats their gifts with fear and scorn. With a particular knack for world-building, Jemisin skillfully examines complicated intersections between class and race, making for a heart-wrenching and fascinating tale that is ultimately about powerlessness in the face of institutional injustice.
    • A Novel
    • Written by: Heather O'Neill
    • Narrated by: Julia Whelan
    • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
    • Release date: 2017-05-09
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 109 ratings
    • The audiobook that got me hooked on listening
    • To be completely honest, I was a pretty casual audiobook listener until I started working at Audible. Now I know that I just had to find the right performance.

      That performance was Julia Whelan's in The Lonely Hearts Hotel. At its core, Heather O'Neill's piece of historical fiction is a love story — between people, for a city — and all the pain that a great love entails. The narrative takes place mainly in Montreal and is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, and Whelan does this sweeping story justice by expertly juggling the dual male-female points of view for a truly affecting and transporting experience. (And, I must admit, I'm a soft touch for any story about my city of birth.)