Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10¬æ hrs. Naxos Audiobooks. 2011. ISBN 9781843794431. $59.98; 3 CDs. retail ed. abridged. 4 hrs.; digital download. CLASSIC
Hard Times is Dickens’s most political novel. Taking place in the industrial burg of Coke town, the drama among the characters illustrates the author’s view of the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and utilitarianism on the lives of all involved and is essentially a moral fable illustrating the principle that one reaps what one sows. VERDICT Anton Lesser, a classical actor and an award-winning audiobook reader, gives a spirited reading, bringing out the character of each persona‚ the dictatorial Gradgrind, the pompous Bounderby, and the meek Sissy‚ with skill and verve. An entertaining and captivating listening experience; all libraries should consider. [See the Dickens roundup, p. 68.‚ Ed.]‚ Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll. Lib., Lynchburg
Hollinghurst, Alan. The Stranger’s Child. 16 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 20 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9780307966582. $58.75; 16 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. F
This story’s core takes place on the eve of World War I. George Sawle invites his friend Cecil Valance to visit for the weekend. Valance is heir to the estate of Corley Court and a budding poet. Before his visit is over, Cecil pens a poem in the autograph book of George’s sister. As the story progresses, the reader finds that Cecil died during the war and the poem has become famous. George’s sister has married Cecil’s brother and is now Lady Valance. Owing to three more time jumps, the details surrounding the poem become both more and less clear. VERDICT Man Booker Prize winner Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty) crafts a multidimensional story that captures the essence and selectivity of love, fame, human memory, and history. An excellent reading is given by James Daniel Wilson. [This generously paced, thoroughly satisfying novel will gladden the hearts of Anglophile readers, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Knopf hc, LJ 9/1/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
Lu, Marie. Legend. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011.
ISBN 9781611760088. $39.75; 7 CDs.
retail ed. Penguin Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In her debut novel (first in a proposed trilogy), Lu offers up two kick-ass 15-year-olds living in what is now the Republic of California. Day is a street kid causing numerous problems for the totalitarian government; June is a Republic prodigy with an uncanny skill for sniffing out miscreants. When their paths inevitably cross, June hates Day because she believes him responsible for her brother’s death. When she learns the truth, she tries to save Day from execution by Republic officials who hide even more horrendous secrets. VERDICT Competent readers Steven Kaplan (Day) and Mariel Stern (June) do a solid job of keeping the suspense flowing. With an impending CBS Films movie already generating positive buzz, this book is certain to be popular. ‚ Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base Lib., Lompoc, CA
Mills, Kyle. Robert Ludlum’s The Ares Decision. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¬Ω hrs. Hachette Audio from AudioGO. 2011. ISBN 9781611138023. $29.98; 10 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Ludlum’s Covert One series continues with a solid effort. With Iran on the brink of civil war, Iranian intelligence, as its last-ditch effort to stay in power, turns to a Ugandan terrorist who has harnessed a terrifying, quick-spreading parasitic infection that causes violent uncontrollable rage along with superstrength and -speed to those infected. The U.S. president’s secret intelligence agency, Covert One, sends its top operative‚ army microbiologist Col. Jon Smith‚ to contain the germ before the terrorists spread it. VERDICT The taut writing is above average, and Jeffrey Woodman’s narration leaves no doubt why AudioFile Magazine called him one of the 50 Greatest Voices of the Century. Highly recommended. [The Grand Central hc, published in October, was a New York Times best seller.‚ Ed.]‚ Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 7 CDs.
retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Naxos Audiobooks. 2011. ISBN 9781843794493. $33.59; digital download. CLASSIC
This classic tale of horror and obsession features an appropriately overwrought reading by three talented British actors. Dr. Victor Frankenstein becomes enslaved to the idea of reanimating the dead, spending years in a manic frenzy of scientific study and creation. But once his monster lives, Frankenstein is so horrified by the ugliness of the demoniacal corpse that he abandons it, never imagining that they will meet again in murderous circumstances. Daniel Philpott does most of the narration, employing a Germanic accent when he voices the good doctor’s dialog. Roger May does a superb job as Capt. Robert Walton. The best performance, though, is by Jonathan Oliver as the Daemon. He makes listeners feel pity and compassion for this creature who longs only for love and intellectual stimulation; instead, he cannot help but be the personification of evil in his own mania for vengeance. VERDICT The reading is well paced, and the narrators are not afraid to sound overwrought when appropriate. ‚
B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L., Goleta Branch, CA
Fisher, Carrie. Shockaholic. 4 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 4 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2011. ISBN 9780743550260. $34.99; digital download. MEMOIR
In this follow-up to Wishful Drinking, Fisher writes about what it means to be thought of as self-absorbed, to have famous parents who parted notoriously, how it feels to have electroshock therapy, and making peace with the past that includes living with Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Elizabeth Taylor; being Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy; waking up next to her dead, gay best friend; and enduring various other adventures that it’s hard to believe could have happened to anyone else. Her reading is pitch-perfect: acerbic, revealing, vulnerable, and hilarious. VERDICT Fisher is seriously funny, and this memoir is recommended for all listeners interested in pop culture and celebrity autobiographies. ‚ Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence
Grisham, John. The Litigators. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11¬Ω hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307943217. $45;
9 CDs. library ed. abridged; 9 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; 9 CDs. retail ed. abridged; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Davis Zinc is a Harvard graduate and lawyer with a prestigious Chicago firm who cracks up after years of long hours, horrible bosses, and mind-numbing work. He unexpectedly finds himself employed by the ragtag firm of Finley & Figg and part of a major tort litigation with a large pharmaceutical company. The line between good and evil is more gray than in many of Grisham’s previous novels. However, listeners will find themselves liking greedy, ambulance-chasing F&F‚ despite its lack of ethics‚ and hoping they can pull off the win against Varrick Labs. VERDICT Grisham makes the law seem interesting and accessible, yet it is the relationship among the characters, not the legal drama, that is this story’s true heart. Audie Award winner Dennis Boutsikaris does an excellent job of portraying the offbeat characters. [The Doubleday hc, published in October, was a New York Times best seller.‚ Ed.]‚ Theresa Horn,
St. Joseph Cty. P.L., South Bend, IN
Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. 5 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781611760149. $29.95; digital download. CLASSIC
Steinbeck’s 1945 novel is a snapshot of life in a hard-living neighborhood adjacent to the sardine and tuna canneries in Monterey, CA. The memorable characters include Lee Chong, the Chinese merchant; Dora Flood, the local madam; Doc, biologist and owner of Western States Biological Supply; and the boys‚ Mack, Hazel, and Eddie. The latter trio decide to throw a surprise party for Doc to repay his generosity. To earn money for the event, they catch hundreds of frogs that Doc will buy and then sell to his customers. In the process, the boys acquire a puppy and a cask of whiskey. The bash gets wild, and Doc’s house is trashed. To make it up to him, they surprise him with another party involving the entire neighborhood. Steinbeck shows that friendship and community can be forged anywhere. VERDICT Steinbeck makes the characters, who may be considered marginal, endearing. Narrator Jerry Farden reads the story as it is written: dispassionately, almost like reporting, which allows the listener to appreciate the wonderful humor and delicious irony. Note that this Penguin Audio edition is a reissue of the 1989 Recorded Books production.‚ Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL
Steinbeck, John. Sweet Thursday. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2011. ISBN 9780142429242. $39.95; digital download. CLASSIC
Published in 1954, this continues the tale begun in Cannery Row. The setting is the same, and familiar characters return‚ Mack and his buddies and marine biologist Doc. But there are changes, too. Joseph-and-Mary Rivas is the new owner of Lee Chong’s grocery store, and Fauna has taken over the Bear Flag brothel from her sister Dora. Cannery Row was not immune to the changes wrought by World War II. Doc has returned from his military service to reopen Western Biological Supply. Before the war, he was content to collect and sell specimens and listen to classical music. Now, he feels intensely lonely and also pressured to publish the results of his scientific work. Mack and Fauna conspire to pair him with Suzy, the Bear Flag’s new girl. The best of intentions go awry in a humorous and charming series of misunderstandings. VERDICT Jerry Farden’s straightforward reading allows the listener to discern the irony and humor of which the characters are unaware. A welcome choice for public libraries that could be part of a Heard any classics? display.‚ Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.
Del Toro, Guillermo & Chuck Hogan. The Night Eternal. 12 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 14¬º hrs. HarperAudio. 2011. ISBN 9780062097880. $39.99; digital download. F
Mayor, Archer. Tag Man: A Joe Gunther Novel. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. AudioGO. 2011. ISBN 9780792782834. $64.95; digital download. MYS
Muller, Marcia. City of Whispers. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. AudioGO. 2011. ISBN 9780792780465. $59.95; digital download. MYS
Ondaatje, Michael. The Cat’s Table. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9780307943712. $45.75; 6 CDs. retail ed; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Singh, Nalini & others. Angels of Darkness.
9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs.
Tantor Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781452633572.
$71.99; 9 CDs. retail ed; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F
Clinton, Bill. Back to Work: Why We Need Smart
Government for a Strong Economy. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9780307990693. $39.75; 5 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. POL SCI
Dent, Harry S., Jr. & Rodney Johnson. The Great Crash Ahead. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9781461818922. $123.75; 10 CDs. retail ed. S. & S. Audio; digital download. BUS
Didion, Joan. Blue Nights. 4 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 4¬º hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307940834. $25; 4 CDs.
retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR
Greenblatt, Stephen. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¬æ hours. Recorded Bks. 2011. ISBN 9781461838227. $92.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
Reiner, Jon. The Man Who Couldn’t Eat. 7 CDs.
library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781611202663. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR