22 Booklist March 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
narrators effectively embody each of their characters, making this historical novel unforgettable.
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. By Megan
Shepherd. Read by Fiona Hardingham. 2016.
Listening Library, CD, $30.
Emmaline lives in a house with other children who suffer from the stillwaters (TB) during
WWII. Only she can see the winged horses in the
mirrors, and one of them desperately needs her
help. Hardingham’s narration gives this story a
hint of childlike wonder mixed with the horror of
living with tuberculosis.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses. By
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. Read by Jorjeana Marie
and others. 2016. Listening Library, CD, $35.
Four lives are woven together during the early
years of Alaska’s statehood. Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and
Hank are all hoping to change their lives and find
family along the way, all while living in a place like
no other. Multiple narrators allow each character
to resonate in his or her own voice.
Star Wars Ahsoka. By E. K. Johnston. Read
by Ashley Eckstein. 2016. Listening Library, DD,
After leaving the Jedi, Ahsoka begins to quietly
live her life as a mechanic. When the Empire invades the new planet she has settled on, she gives
them more of a fight than they anticipated. Eckstein’s high-energy narration is enhanced by full,
movie-like sound effects, making this one out of
Their Fractured Light. By Amie Kaufman and
Meagan Spooner. Read by Kim Mai Guest and
others. 2016. Listening Library, CD, $70.
Sofia and Gideon want to bring down Laroux
Industries and close the rift between their world
and that of the Whispers, an alien life form. But to
do so, they will have to trust each other as the Star-bound Trilogy comes to a satisfying end. Spooky
sound effects add to the narrators’ solid character
portrayals in this space odyssey.
Thieving Weasels. By Billy Taylor. Read by Robbie
Daymond. 2016. Listening Library, CD, $35.
Years after Skip escaped his dysfunctional family
to attend boarding school, they locate him, dragging him back into their lies and schemes, where
he finds himself wrapped in a murderous plot.
Daymond’s Long Island accents embellish this
perfectly campy story.
Traffick. By Ellen Hopkins. Read by Kirby
Heyborne and others. 2015. Simon & Schuster
Audio, DD, $17.99.
The sequel to Tricks, this audiobook follows the
five teens who have been victimized by the sex
trade as they try to face their demons and attempt
to change their lives. Multiple narrators give voice
to a dark, raw listen that offers a glimmer of hope.
Wink Poppy Midnight. By April Genevieve
Tucholke. Read by Michael Crouch and others.
2016. Listening Library, CD, $35.
In this twisty tale of manipulations, Midnight
finds himself caught between two girls—one who
is lost, the other who creates her own story. The narrators work together beautifully in this atmospheric
mystery, bringing depth to each of the characters.
THE LISTEN LIST: OUTSTANDING
AUDIO NARRATION, 2017
The Listen List highlights extraordinary narrators
and listening experiences that merit special atten-
tion by a general adult audience and the librarians
who advise them. Recordings are selected because
they are engaging and make one reluctant to stop
listening; because the narration creates a new ex-
perience, offering listeners something they could
not create by their own visual reading; and because
the narrator achieves an outstanding performance
in terms of voice, accent, pitch, tone, inflection,
rhythm, and pace. This juried list, designed for avid
listeners and those new to the pleasures of stories
read aloud, includes fiction and nonfiction and fea-
tures voices that enthrall, delight, and inspire.
Another Brooklyn. By Jacqueline Woodson.
Read by Robin Miles. HarperAudio, DD,
$13.99; Blackstone Audio, CD, $22.99.
Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, Woodson’s approachable and compelling free
verse reflects the African American experience
of growing up in 1970s Brooklyn. Miles’ pitch-perfect inflection evokes universal feelings of
memory, friendship, and the magic of place in this
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. By Stephen King.
Read by Stephen King and others. Simon &
Schuster Audio, CD, $49.99.
A stellar cast of actors presents this career-spanning collection of short works, punctuated
by King’s engaging, conversational commentary
describing his writing process and inspiration.
Through atmospheric, nuanced performance,
each work achieves a dramatic reinterpretation of
a range of genres, from humor to horror.
Because of Miss Bridgerton. By Julia Quinn.
Read by Rosalyn Landor. HarperAudio, DD,
$24.99; Blackstone Audio, CD, $39.99.
Landor’s polished reading perfectly matches
Quinn’s clever, witty historical romp, providing a
delightful listening experience. Through a sophisticated British accent and subtle changes in tone,
the storyteller’s distinctly voiced performance impeccably conveys the exasperation and romantic
tension that draw listeners into the budding love
story, building to a sensual, satisfying culmination.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. By
Phaedra Patrick. Read by James Langton.
Harlequin Audio, CD, $39.99; Blackstone
Audio, CD, $39.99.
Langton’s unhurried delivery charms in this
heartwarming yet often bizarre adventure of adorable octogenarian Arthur Pepper as he bumbles his
way through a scavenger hunt into his late wife’s
undisclosed past. From high-pitched middle-class
Bernadette to her mumbling, teenage son, listeners forge an emotional connection courtesy of
adroit expressions of character development.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.
By Matthew Desmond. Read by Dion Graham.
Books on Tape, DD, $95.
Listeners will experience a shift in their world-views as this significant work of ethnography
reveals the impact of eviction on poverty in
America’s society and culture. Graham’s sobering,
empathetic narrative captures the personalities of
eight struggling families and two landlords while
conveying author Desmond’s painstaking data
collection and intimate reportage.
Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia. By Julian Fellowes.
Read by Juliet Stevenson. Hachette Audio, CD,
$35; Blackstone, CD, $118.99.
Stevenson demonstrates her unequaled mastery
of narrative art, transforming Fellowes’ richly de-
tailed historical melodrama of 1840s London into
enthralling audio theater. A panoply of British
class and regional accents, combined with period
pacing and precise depiction of age and gender,
illuminates personalities within a family saga of
Lily and the Octopus. By Steven Rowley. Read
by Michael Urie. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD,
Rowley explores the deep attachment of man
and dog in a tale that combines pathos and humor, eloquently portrayed by a reading that
echoes those shifting moods. Urie crawls inside
owner Ted’s head, voicing a sympathetic connection with human despair, while also depicting
dachshund Lily’s engaging doggy dialogue, in a
cathartic performance that reveals a roller coaster
of emotions as a tumor devours a life.
News of the World. By Paulette Jiles. Read by
Grover Gardner. Brilliance Audio, CD, $59.97.
This lyrical western tale of a developing friendship between an aging soldier and an orphaned
young girl is colorfully expressed through Gardner’s steady pacing, gravelly twang, and folksy
tone. Subtle changes in inflection and accent
give voice to the former captive and ethnically
diverse characters encountered along the road,
immersing listeners in a harrowing though ultimately redemptive journey through post–Civil
Razor Girl. By Carl Hiaasen. Read by John
Rubinstein. Books on Tape, CD, $40.
With endless energy, unfailingly deadpan delivery, and spot-on comedic timing, Rubinstein
skillfully distinguishes a large cast of characters
as they ricochet through interweaving story arcs.
In this briskly paced work of beautiful absurdity,
a series of offbeat high jinks connects impeccably
voiced characters, including a Cajun country reality star; a mafia kingpin; Arabic immigrants; a
sexy con woman; and the hero, Yancy, a disgraced
detective now on roach patrol.
Sleeping Giants. By Sylvain Neuvel. Read by
Andy Secombe and others. Books on Tape, DD,
The discovery of a giant metallic hand prompts a
team of scientists, government agents, and researchers to scour the planet for clues. The vocally versatile
ensemble constructs a beyond-the-book experience,
nimbly interpreting Neuvel’s nonlinear approach
of using dialogue-driven exchanges through interviews, news stories, and journal entries.
The Underground Railroad. By Colson
Whitehead. Read by Bahni Turpin. Books on
Tape, CD, $40.
Whitehead’s haunting literary tale of Cora, who
escapes abuse and enslavement in the antebellum
South, is propelled by the magic realism of a subterranean railway in an alternate American history.
Turpin’s faultless, fully voiced narration embodies
authentic dialects and accents; her sonorous, dramatic tone and commanding presence intensify
the somber power of the author’s words.
A Wild Swan: And Other Tales. By Michael
Cunningham. Read by Lili Taylor and Billy
Hough. Macmillan Audio, CD, $19.99.
Taylor and Hough’s atmospheric dual performance delivers a quirky interpretation brimming
with macabre, racy humor in Cunningham’s rei-magined fairy tales for adults. Accompanied by
original musical motifs that enhance the storytelling, and combined with a remarkable depth of
characterization, this short, episodic production is
a perfect listen for those new to audiobooks.