By Peter Heller. Read by Kimberly Farr.
2017. 11.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9781524751067).
Celine is an extraordinary character: an
old-money, East Coast blue blood who is a
renowned sculptor—and a private investigator specializing in reuniting families. She has
a find rate higher than that of the FBI and
is also a crack shot and dedicated outdoors-woman—skills she needs in her search for a
long-missing nature photographer. Narrator
Farr captures Celine’s feisty complexity and
imbues her with ferocity and eccentricity that
leap from the speakers. Particularly well done
is her interpretation of Pete, Celine’s taciturn
polymath second husband, a Mainer who is
both her life and sleuthing partner. Narrating
this novel, which is part thriller, part family
confessional, Farr moves between characters
and time periods with ease, as gracefully as
Celine herself. The buoyancy of Farr’s voice
propels listeners through Celine’s backstory,
slowly spooled out in chunks throughout,
culminating in a richly satisfying listen.
Cheech Is Not My Real Name . . . but
Don’t Call Me Chong!
By Cheech Marin. Read by the author.
2017. 7.5hr. Hachette, CD, $30 (9781478934851).
In Marin’s memoir, listeners are treated
to stories about his childhood in East L.A.;
dodging the Vietnam draft in Canada; his
working relationship and success with Tommy Chong; his successful solo career; and
beyond. Don’t expect over-the-top anecdotes
from his stoner comedy days; the memoir,
along with Marin’s narration, is more charming than anything else. His signature, slightly
husky voice never deviates from lighthearted
friendliness. Marin mentions quite a few
names of colleagues and celebrities he’s encountered during his career, but he reads
with such humbleness that it never sounds
like he’s name-dropping. Instead, Marin’s
sincerity translates into eternal gratefulness
and awe for the opportunities life has granted him. He certainly infuses his narration
with humor, when appropriate, but never
uses it to distract from the story he is telling.
Listeners who only know Marin from Cheech
and Chong should prepare to be impressed
by his multifaceted and accomplished life.
Dear Ijeawele; or, A Feminist
Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read by
2017. 1hr. Books on Tape, CD, $15 (9780525494706).
This audiobook deserves a place on all
“sure-bet listen” lists. Adichie’s direct and
honest advice for raising a feminist is com-
pelling in print, and made more so in audio.
Narrator LaVoy keeps the pace lively and
the approach warm and earnest. She enunci-
ates clearly and never oversells the message.
Her conversational tone moves lightly be-
tween the seriousness
of the subject and the
wry humor Adichie
employs to deliver her
thoughts in episto-
lary form. Although
this is an inspiring
piece of listening for
established and bud-
ding feminists, it’s not just an audio for new
mothers of daughters. The message deserves
an audience among listeners, of all genders,
who seek a perceptive, welcoming primer
on feminism. The compact and compelling
audio is ideal for family listening on a road
trip and sure to spur conversation. LaVoy’s
voice will resonate with listeners and affix
Adichie’s empowering and practical sugges-
tions for instilling confidence and respect in
all members of society. For any library’s au-
dio collection. —Kaite Mediatore Stover
The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest
to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the
By James Barron. Read by Jonathan Yen.
2017. 6.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $29.99 (9781681684413).
With the nation running out of stamps
and no time to get an official shipment from
England, in 1856, the postmaster of British
Guiana had provisional one- and four-cent
stamps printed there. The fascinating history
of the single remaining one-cent stamp leads
journalist Barron into the arcane and obsessive world of stamp collecting. Along the
way, he introduces listeners to famous collectors (King George V of Great Britain among
them); dealers; and those who have owned
this stamp, most recently auctioned for $9.5
million! Yen clearly revels in his narrative responsibilities, offering an enthusiastic and
thoroughly entertaining account of the history of that stamp and of stamp collecting. His
animated reading captures the book’s humorous tone in the droll characterizations of the
hobby and those who engage in it. Quirky,
even whimsical, this brief microhistory
should appeal to a wide range of listeners, not
just fans of stamp collecting. —Joyce Saricks
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.
By Hannah Tinti. Read by Elizabeth
2017. 13.5hr. Brilliance, CD, $34.99 (9781423385363).
Tinti’s novel about the titular character,
Samuel Hawley, weaves together threads
from his past lives, measured in bullet
wounds sustained, and his daughter Loo’s
present life with him. As a result, the story
traverses decades and regions of the country
until Sam’s criminal past catches up with
his attempt to start fresh in his wife’s home-
town. Along the way, his associates provide
an unsavory element to Loo’s world of adult
supervision and teen romance. Wiley’s char-
acterizations run the gamut of small-town
archetypes, from nosy neighbors to adversar-
ial teens (and their parents) to Loo’s brusque
grandmother. She excels especially at bring-
ing the morally ambiguous Sam to life.
Reading in a lower pitch and with a slight
rasp, Wiley demonstrates his world-weari-
ness and gruff exterior. In particular, Wiley
highlights the gap between this and Loo’s
youthful, evaporating innocence. Wiley por-
trays the pain and thrills of each of Sam’s
lives convincingly, keeping the pace mov-
ing steadily toward the dramatic conclusion.
YA/M: As relentlessly violent as Sam’s
story is, resilient and brave Loo will
fascinate YA readers who relish a coming-of-age tale with edgy suspense. DS.
By Julie Ann Walker. Read by Emily
2017. 10.5hr. Dreamscape, CD, $59.99
Reporter Samantha Tate knows that the
motorcycle shop Black Knights Inc. is hiding a story worthy of her ambitions, and
after being sidelined with an injury, Black
Knight member Ethan “Ozzie” Sykes finds
it increasingly difficult to push Sam away.
Beresford’s peppy delivery matches Sam and
dialogue, rife with
wordplay and the
geekiness of their
When Sam’s investigations lead to
her being hunted
by a gun-running biker gang, Beresford
ratchets up the adrenaline. She masterfully
changes tempo and tone to convey a range
and depth of emotions, from mirth to lust
to self-doubt, while also naturally matching
the rhythms of spoken and internal dialogue.
Sam and Ozzie’s sizzling chemistry is dampened by moments of suspicion, guilt, and
fear, but Beresford’s delivery engages all the
senses when their relationship turns explicitly physical. Each of the many characters
has a unique, recognizable voice, and Beresford deftly handles accents, from British to
Chicagoan. Beresford’s pitch lightens for
the women’s dialogue while adding a gravelly edge for the alpha males. This delightful
series mixes the sense of community found
in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series with the scorching heat of Lora Leigh’s
Tempting SEALS. —Karen Toonen