Read by the Author – The Celebrants & Rehearsed to Death

Posted May 30, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 8 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Read by the Author – The Celebrants & Rehearsed to DeathThe Celebrants by Steven Rowley
Narrator: Steven Rowley
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin Random House Audio on May 30, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Literary
Length: 9 hours 43 minutes
Pages: 320
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

A TODAY Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick

A Big Chill for our times, celebrating decades-long friendships and promises—especially to ourselves—by the bestselling and beloved author of The Guncle.

It’s been a minute—or five years—since Jordan Vargas last saw his college friends, and twenty-eight years since their graduation when their adult lives officially began. Now Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle find themselves at the brink of a new decade, with all the responsibilities of adulthood, yet no closer to having their lives figured out. Though not for a lack of trying. Over the years they’ve reunited in Big Sur to honor a decades-old pact to throw each other living “funerals,” celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living—that their lives mean something, to one another if not to themselves.

But this reunion is different. They’re not gathered as they were to bolster Marielle as her marriage crumbled, to lift Naomi after her parents died, or to intervene when Craig pleaded guilty to art fraud. This time, Jordan is sitting on a secret that will upend their pact.

A deeply honest tribute to the growing pains of selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth and the beautiful ways in which friendship helps us celebrate our lives, even amid the deepest challenges of living.

I enjoyed this book! This is only the second book written by Steven Rowley that I have read and I have really liked both of them. This book focuses on a group of college friends that make a pact to host each other’s funerals while they are alive to appreciate it after losing one of their friends. They get together at various points in their lives, usually when one is experiencing a crisis, to do just that. I loved the focus on friendship and mortality.

I really liked the idea of this group’s living funerals. I don’t remember everything from the time around my dad’s sudden death at a young age but I do remember thinking how much he would have liked to be there to talk to everyone. We get to see these characters at different points in time and I loved how they were there for each other even after spending years apart.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that Mr. Rowley did a fantastic job of reading his novel. I have to admit that I am always a bit worried when I see that an author has made the choice to narrate their own book. Not all authors are good narrators but I thought that this author was able to bring the story to life with ease. I do believe that his narration only added to my overall enjoyment.

I would recommend this book to others. I found it to be a compelling story driven by a colorful cast of characters and the bond between them. I hope to read more of this author’s work very soon.

I received a review copy of this book from G.P Putnam’s Sons and Penguin Random House Audio.

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Read by the Author – The Celebrants & Rehearsed to DeathRehearsed to Death by Frank Anthony Polito
Narrator: Frank Anthony Polito
Series: Domestic Partners in Crime #2
Published by Kensington Books, Tantor Audio on May 23, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Amateur Sleuth
Length: 8 hours 1 minute
Pages: 288
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Library, Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

Bestselling mystery author Peter “PJ” Penwell and actor JP Broadway have settled in the Detroit suburbs for a life of domestic bliss and, as hosts of a hit home renovation show, domestic success. But their foray into community theater proves a major risk thanks to some deadly improvisation . . .

Peter’s first play is having its world premiere at Pleasant Woods’s community theater. His handsome one and only, JP, has the lead. Rehearsals have begun. And New York City’s award-winning, hotshot helmer, Xander Sherwood Deva, is directing. Unfortunately the controlling, arrogant, poison-barbed, egomaniacal diva has everyone on edge. No wonder he finally pushes someone over it . . .

Xander is found strangled to death in the same extra-long, imported cashmere scarf he’s been brandishing like a boa ever since he arrived. In the name of making art he’s burned a lot of bridges and made a lot of enemies but which one wanted to bring down the curtain on him?

As they say in the theater: the show must go on. But not before amateur sleuths Peter and JP become Domestic Partners in Crime and try to solve this deadly real-life drama ahead of opening night.

I had a great time with this book! I liked the first book in this series quite a bit so I was eager to see what might happen in this second installment. When I noticed that the audiobook was available from my local library, I decided to grab a copy and spent much of my time with this book listening to the audio while following along in the book. I found this installment to be incredibly entertaining.

PJ (Peter) and JP are involved in a play that Peter wrote and JP will act in. They have a known director signed on so things look promising. Unfortunately, that director proves to be incredibly difficult to work with. After the director is found dead, Peter and JP decide to try to find out if it was an accident or if someone could be responsible for his death. I thought that the mystery was very done and while I figured out a few things, some things kept me guessing until the very end.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that the author did a great job of reading this story. He easily bought this wonderful cast of characters to life and I thought that he added just the right amount of emotion and excitement to his reading. He definitely knows the story and turned out to be the perfect choice for the narrator. I do believe that his performance added to my enjoyment of the story.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to others. I thought that it was a fun cozy and I love that it featured LGBT+ characters. This is the second book in the Domestic Partners in Crime series but could easily work as a stand-alone. I can’t wait to read more of this entertaining series!

I received a review copy of this book from Kensington Books.

8 responses to “Read by the Author – The Celebrants & Rehearsed to Death

  1. I wanted tonread the Celebrants but was worried when I saw that the author narrated, for the same reasons as yours. Now you convinced me!

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed both from the author doing the audio. Like you, I go into those warily. 🙂

    Oh, I really must hunt up the second book’s series since its set in Detroit area.

  3. I have the Celebrants on next weeks TBR. I love Rowley’s humor, and this sounds like a lovely story of friendship and connection. I eat that stuff up