To the Bright Edge of the World.
By Eowyn Ivey. Read by John
Glouchevich and others.
2016. 13.5hr. Hachette, CD, $35 (9781478964759).
Ivey’s lyrically beautiful second novel, about
an adventurer and his team exploring the Alaskan wilderness in the 1880s, reveals a harsh
landscape but courageous characters. Colonel
Allen Forrester is commissioned to explore the
unknown banks along the Wolverine River,
leaving behind his pregnant wife at the Vancouver barracks. The novel is told in a series of
letters and diaries, including that of a present-day descendant of the Forresters who asks for
consideration to preserve the letters in a museum. Glouchevich brings a solemn gravity to
the young Colonel Forrester. Christine Lakin
narrates Forrester’s wife, Sophie, with delicate
strength; her journal entries are intimately
performed, reflecting her character’s strength
as she endured quietly in her husband’s absence. Kiff Vandenheuvel narrates the various
other informative entries from Russian diarists
and U.S. commissioners, as well as additional
small notes. Recommended for lovers of literary historical fiction who enjoy an atmospheric
listening experience. —Joy Matteson
By Lucy Inglis. Read by Avita Jay and
2016. 11hr. Recorded Books, CD, $97.75
(9781501927621). Gr. 8–11.
Hope and Emily seemingly live parallel stories as Englishwomen traveling in Montana
who survive an accident but are stranded in
the woods with a Native American cowboy—
with whom they fall in love. The difference
is that Hope is reading Emily’s story in a
century-old diary. Like Hope, listeners will
be enthralled with Emily’s tale, artfully narrated by Thorburn. Emily’s initial fear is
evident in Thorburn’s shaky voice, but Thornton also reflects Emily’s growing confidence.
Her distinct supporting-character voices are
very strong, allowing listeners to follow along
easily. Jay narrates Hope’s journey and gives
her the perfect teen voice by quickly changing inflection and pace to show the array of
emotions experienced by a young woman in
extreme circumstances. Although most of the
voices and accents are done well, Cal’s generic
American cowboy drawl slows the book’s
pace. Still, this is a strong offering about characters finding love and overcoming adversity.
The Littlest Bigfoot.
By Jennifer Weiner. Read by Emma
Galvin and others.
2016. 7hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $29.99
(9781508222613). Gr. 4–7.
Three narrators create the voices of misfit
middle-graders in the first in a new series from
Weiner. Alice is unusually tall and large-boned,
with wild, uncontrollable hair. She never seems
Eureka! 50 Scientists Who Shaped Human History.
By John Grant. Read by Mark Meadows.
2016. 8.5hr. Dreamscape, CD, $39.99 (9781520031507). Gr. 6–9.
These inviting mini biographies introduce students to
an eclectic group of scientists who helped form the world
as we know it with their research and discoveries. Although the emphasis is clearly Western and male (from
Pythagoras of Samos to climate-change researcher James
Hansen), there is a sprinkling of outliers (Ada Lovelace,
Marie Curie, and Rachel Carson, among them). Reading
at a pleasantly brisk pace in a crisp English accent, narrator Meadows accurately reflects
the accessible language and engaging tone of the essays. The scientists are vividly characterized and described not only through their accomplishments but also through personal
idiosyncrasies and intriguing trivia. He even manages to make the line “But there’s more”
sound inviting at the end of each biography; this section highlights additional reading and
viewing suggestions. These anecdote-filled biographies make an excellent supplement to
STEM-related studies, and this production creates an informative and entertaining listening experience for middle-schoolers and adults alike. —Joyce Saricks
One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives.
By Bernd Heinrich. Read by Rick Adamson.
2016. 6hr. Dreamscape, CD, $49.99 (9781520006109).
Adamson reads Heinrich’s work with a perfect avuncular tone—if your uncle were a
joyful scientist who had found the ideal intersection between his job and his hobby. The
narrator gives a fittingly straightforward reading of Heinrich’s scientific and methodical
journal entries. He adopts an appropriately wry tone to relate the author’s more personal
stories and insights, such as his matter-of-fact decision to take a chainsaw to the inside
wall of his log home so he can build a platform for the flickers pecking their way through
from the outside to build a nest, or the bone-deep solidarity Heinrich feels when one
of his bird subjects finds its life mate, just as he is doing the same. The author’s journal
sketches can’t be seen here, but the audiobook makes up for this lack by Adamson’s pitch-perfect renditions of different bird calls. Besides nature enthusiasts and bird-watchers, this
title will be a popular listen for families on long road trips. —Sam Adams-Lanham
By James Gleick. Read by Rob Shapiro.
2016. 10hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780735285903).
Despite Gleick’s reputation as a writer on scholarly scientific subjects, nonscientists have
no reason to fear they’ll find a densely complicated treatise here. Midway through, Gleick
reveals that “the rules of time travel have been written not by scientists but by storytellers.” There’s something for everyone as Gleick persuasively explores the nature of time
travel, turning to writers of speculative fiction, philosophers, poets, and scientists—from
H. G. Wells and his time machine to Schrödinger, Doctor Who, and Twitter. Time travel
may be a complex concept, but few can explain it better or with more engaging examples.
Narrator Shapiro, familiar to Gleick listeners from his compelling narrations of Chaos
(1987) and The Information (2011), returns here, and as previously, his perceptive reading
enhances listeners’ understanding and appreciation of Gleick’s wide-ranging intellect and
wit. He reads at a measured pace with effective pauses, allowing listeners an opportunity
to appreciate ideas. Although he stumbles a bit on the multiple German pronunciations,
he proves an engaging and companionable guide. —Joyce Saricks
NEW SCIENCE TITLES ON AUDIO
By Sandra Brown. Read by Stephen
2016. 11.5hr. Hachette, CD, $35 (9781478927457).
Narrator Lang manages the many subtle-
ties of character with impressive ease in
Brown’s latest romantic thriller. Business-
woman Jordie wants desperately to protect
Josh, her younger brother, a fugitive. She is
kidnapped by Shaw, the gruff, hard-edged hit
man who interrogates her about her broth-
er’s whereabouts—and the $30 million he’s
stolen. Jordie moves from sassy-mouthed un-
easiness to outright terror; her voice tightens
as she fears each breath may be her last, but
she never loses her razor-edged intelligence,
which enables her transition from desperate
abductee to strategist improvising her es-
cape. Scary? You bet, especially since gravelly
voiced Shaw, despite the courtesies he shows
her, is a stone-hard hired killer. Add a hand-
ful of convincingly portrayed criminals and
law officials with tinges of southern accents,
plus Shaw’s smoldering attraction for his
captive, and the simmering brew of roller-
coaster emotions, exigent circumstances, and
a drop-dead kiss to die for is sure to rivet
listeners. — Whitney Scott