Thursday, January 20, 2011

excellent audiobooks for adults

via the Editor's Choice Media section of Booklist magazine!

Audio for Adults

The Brutal Telling. By Louise Penny. Read by Ralph Cosham. 2009. 13hr. Blackstone, CS, $72.95 (9781433297083); CD, $105 (9781433297090).

Cosham’s confident, thoughtful reading captures this compelling tale filled with dark secrets, seductive prose, complex characterizations, and a multilayered plot. Cosham’s mesmerizing performance is sure to touch listeners’ intellect, heart, and soul.

The Coral Thief. By Rebecca Stott. Read by Simon Prebble. 2010. 9hr. Tantor, CD, $69.99 (9781400143382).

Prebble transports listeners to a richly detailed post-Napoleonic Paris, teeming with adventure and scientific discovery and debate. His polished reading underscores the dark, dangerous tone, bringing out Stott’s gorgeous imagery and elegant language.

The Eyre Affair. By Jasper Fforde. Read by Susan Duerden. 2010. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $90 (9781415966648).

Plucky Special Operative Thursday Next sets off to rescue Jane Eyre and preserve the iconic narrative in this literary romp. Duerden’s matter-of-fact take on the reality-bending events is most delightful.

Fault Lines. By Nancy Huston. Read by Edwina Wren. 2010. 10hr. Bolinda, CD, $87.95 (9781742140926).

Structured as a reverse recitation of four generations of hidden family secrets, this is read by Wren, whose voice fluidly morphs between genders, time shifts, and accents in this emotional saga.

Freedom. By Jonathan Franzen. Read by David Ledoux. 2010. 25hr. Macmillan/AudioGO, CD, $99.95 (9780792773214).

Oprah’s newest book-club pick is a natural for audio. Ledoux does a terrific job with the massive plot, making the best-seller accessible through his steady, consistent reading.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. By Heidi W. Durrow. Read by Emily Bauer and others. 2010. 7hr. HighBridge, CD, $29.95 (9781598879230).

Centering on Rachel, the daughter of a black serviceman and a Danish mother, this powerful novel is told from multiple viewpoints, aptly recorded by three readers, with Bauer playing Rachel. The narrators eloquently capture the characters’ emotions and subtle maturation.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. By Stieg Larsson. Read by Simon Vance. 2010. 20hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780307735010).

Vance’s masterful reading of this final title in the acclaimed trilogy highlights the complex plot, breakneck pace, and irresistible characters (good and bad). This dark story of abuse, violence, conspiracy, and corruption is flavored by Vance’s outstanding reading and authentic accents. To appreciate the full impact of his performance, begin with the first title, also available from Books on Tape. (Top of the List winner—Audio.)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. By Rebecca Skloot. Read by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin. 2010. 12.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9780307712523).

Campbell calmly reads this compelling account of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were removed and cultured without her knowledge and used for medical research. Campbell personalizes Lacks’ story, with Turpin’s rich voice portraying Henrietta’s adult daughter. The book is the 2010 Booklist Top of the List Adult Nonfiction title.

Juliet. By Anne Fortier. Read by Cassandra Campbell. 2010. 20hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780307701930).

Julie Jacobs’ deceased aunt bequeaths her a passport and the key to a safe-deposit box in Italy, prompting Julie to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Campbell seamlessly switches among characters, both contemporary and fourteenth-century Americans and Italians.

Rain Gods. By James Lee Burke. Read by Tom Stechschulte. 2009. 16hr. Recorded Books, CS, $113.75 (9781440727047); CD, $123.75 (9781440727054).

Aging lawman Hackberry Holland is anticipating retirement until a truckload of Thai women is slaughtered in his district. Stechschulte moves smoothly and convincingly between Holland’s gruff been-to-hell-and-back growl and a criminal mastermind’s textured voice.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning. By Nancy Pickard. Read by Tavia Gilbert. 2010. 9hr. Blackstone, CS, $65.95 (9781441747716); CD, $90 (9781441747723).

Most of the action takes place in a rural Kansas town shimmering with secrets, and Gilbert brings emotion and finesse to her performance, superbly differentiating the richly drawn characters as they weave in and out of the unfolding plot.

Secrets of Eden. By Chris Bohjalian. Read by Mark Bramhall and others. 2010. 11.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9780307705051).

The murder of an abused wife and the apparent suicide of her husband leave their 15-year-old daughter devastated and the family pastor suffering. Four excellent readers, including Rebecca Lowman as the teen, contribute to this taut mystery.

Wolf Hall. By Hilary Mantel. Read by Simon Slater. 2009. 23hr. Macmillan/AudioGO, CD, $129.95 (9780792771159).

Historical-fiction fans will enjoy this novel told through commoner Thomas Cromwell’s viewpoint. The characters ring true, from British gentry and royalty to Italian and French diplomats, and all read with convincing accents and shifting tones.

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