Brooks, Terry. The Annotated Sword of Shannara. 22 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 27½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 9780449013366. $45; digital download. FANTASY
A young man, his faithful companions, a wise wizard and his evil counterpart, kindly helpers, and minions of destruction. J.R.R. Tolkien did it first, but Brooks wasn’t far behind, and this classic adventure has inspired scores of writers. Elements fantasy lovers now find familiar were fresh and new in 1977 when Sword was first published, starting a multivolume epic. New episodes rank high on best sellers lists, and the original is still a compelling listen. This edition of the 2003 recording features a decade-younger Scott Brick, whose enthusiastic style reminds listeners that, at his best, he has few peers. Brooks reads the new introduction and brief, unobtrusive annotations offering insights and tidbits on the writing. A PDF including illustrative material from the book would have been useful. VERDICT Suitable for adult and teen audiences and recommended for collections large enough to include multiple versions of this classic fantasy.—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC
Høeg, Peter. The Elephant Keepers’ Children. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781470810641. $105; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Danish author Høeg is best known for Smilla’s Sense of Snow, but don’t expect another taut mystery. This title is a zany adventure story with spiritual overtones that features three precocious siblings and their dog. Peter, Tilte, and Hans’s parents have gone missing. Their father is a minister on the tiny, fictional Fino Island and their mother is the organist with a deep interest in science. Fearing their parents are involved in a plot to steal religious relics, the children set out to locate them before the heist. Characters with playful names like Alexander Flounderblood and Rickardt Three Lions abound, and the action is nonstop as the siblings try to figure out what their parents are up to. Overlying all are deep questions about spiritual freedom, love, parenting, and the nature of life. Tilte calls her parents “elephant keepers,” meaning that they have a huge unfulfilled desire—their yearning to know God. Reader Kirby Heyborne beautifully captures the voice of Peter in this elegantly crafted yarn. VERDICT This contemplative, farcical, and well-written title is highly recommended.—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., MI
O’Brien, Tim. If I Die In a Combat Zone. 5 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452610795. $29.99; 5 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR
O’Brien’s memoir of his days as a U.S. Army foot soldier fighting in Vietnam was released in 1973, although some segments were published while he was still enlisted. Although he recaps his own experiences, O’Brien speaks for legions of soldiers before and since as he discusses his small-town U.S. upbringing in a society that regarded combat as a male ritual that tested bravery and instilled character. He questions those traditions when recalling his induction and training, his detailed plan to go AWOL to Sweden, and his year of service as an infantry grunt humping it through Nam (the plethora of soldierspeak lends authenticity.) The memoir is peopled with both the career soldiers and short-timers he encountered during his tour of duty; some survived, others did not. Ultimately, he ponders the nature of courage and war and the morality of fighting when one does not believe in the cause. Narrator Dan Jon Miller’s youthful voice is a perfect match for the material; O’Brien discusses the book in a brief bonus Q&A. VERDICT O’Brien’s powerful memoir remains highly relevant and should be standard issue to all military personnel and their families. Highly recommended.—Mike Rogers, Babylon, NY
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The following titles are reviewed in the April 1, print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Baldacci, David. The Forgotten. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. AudioGo. 2013. ISBN 9781619695528. $89.99; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. THRILLER
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. The Gods of Mars. 7 CDs. 9 hrs. ISBN 9781452608266. $29.99.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. The Warlord of Mars. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. ISBN 9781452608273. $24.99.
ea. vol: library ed. unabridged. Tantor Audio. 2012. 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. SF
Forster, E.M. Maurice. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. AudioGo. 2012. ISBN 9780792793076. $49.95. CLASSIC
Groot, Tracy. Flame of Resistance. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781464035623. $123.75; digital download. F
Kellerman, Faye. Prayers for the Dead: A Decker/Lazarus Novel. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611207897. $59.99; Playaway digital. MYS
Malliet, G.M. A Fatal Winter. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611206395. $59.99; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. MYS
Morton, Kate. The Secret Keeper. 17 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 20 hrs. Bolinda Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781743136201. $51.29; Playaway digital; digital download. F
O’Brien, Timothy L. The Lincoln Conspiracy. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 9780449012147. $40; digital download. MYS
Stoker, Bram. Dracula’s Guest and Other Stories. 5 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 5¾ hrs. Naxos Audiobooks. 2012. ISBN 9781843795636. $34.98; digital download. CLASSIC
Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611749809. $69; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. MEMOIR
50 Cent, with Jeff O’Connell. Formula 50: A Six-Week Workout and Nutrition Plan That Will Transform Your Life. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781470842222. $89; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. HEALTH
Tabor, James D. Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452635088. $83.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. REL
Unger, Harlow Giles. John Quincy Adams. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781470819019. $105; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. BIOG/HIST