Ruge, Eugen. In Times of Fading Light. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11¾ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622312283. $34.95; 10 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Ruge’s breathtaking debut novel presents the moving story of three generations of the Umnitzer family. Wilhelm and his wife, Charlotte, returned to Europe from exile in Mexico after World War II to help build the communist state. Their son, Kurt, spent a harsh decade imprisoned in the Soviet Union, though he lives to see the fall of the Berlin Wall. His son, Alexander, diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2001, leaves Germany for Mexico to search for his grandparents’ history. The novel is set in Germany, Mexico, and Russia, moves forward and backward in time, and touches on the twists and turns that history took during the Cold War. It also contains a vast range of sympathetic and unsympathetic characters and passes from being funny to sad to tragic with ease. Simon Vance does an excellent job in presenting Anthea Bell’s translation. VERDICT This panoramic tale is among the best audiobooks of the year; recommended to all listeners.
Hirsh, Michael. None Braver: U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen in the War on Terrorism. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452614458. $44.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
In this 2004 work, newly available in audio, journalist and Vietnam combat veteran Hirsh (editor, Newsweek; Capital Offense) shares stories of triumph and heartbreak from pararescue jumpers, known as PJs, in Afghanistan. PJs undertake dangerous air-based rescue missions including going behind enemy lines to save fallen military brothers and sisters. Hirsch captures the essence of the PJs’ creed—die so others may live—by detailing everything from procedural Special Ops information to the personal accounts of those involved in tragic circumstances. These gripping stories include helicopter crashes into the Hindu Kush mountains, nighttime parachute drops into mine fields to save allies, and somber descriptions of losing fellow soldiers. Seasoned narrator Corey Snow delivers a methodical approach to the content, and listeners will be easily fooled into assuming Hirsh narrated this work himself. VERDICT Best for nonfiction military fans. [“Sometimes Hirsch lets his subjects go on too long, giving readers an all too vivid impression of a torpid day at the base. But when the action starts, he depicts their harrowing adventures with verve and insight, writing in a laconic, acronym-heavy military-ese that aptly conveys the cool-headed grit with which soldiers cope with the chaos of combat,” read the review of the NAL hc, LJ 10/1/03.]
Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow. 15 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 18 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442365520. $49.99; digital download. F
Matthews brings to the table his 33 years as a CIA intelligence officer in his debut spy thriller. Dominika Egorova is a Russian spy and “sparrow,” a trained master of “sexpionage,” assigned to get information from Nathaniel Nash. Nash, a CIA officer, handles the high-level Russian mole whom Dominika seeks. The two spies get caught in a dangerous world of tradecraft, surveillance, defections, murder, and, perhaps the most dangerous for them, passion. Matthews’s lovebird spies must navigate a thick web of espionage while attempting to do what is best not only for their countries but also for themselves. The author’s experience in the field gives listeners amazing insight into what goes on in the world of intelligence. Recommendations should take into consideration passages of greatly detailed sexual encounters and murders. Narrator Jeremy Bobb is masterly in catching the emotion and realism of Matthews’s world. VERDICT Best for fans of spy literature. [“An excellent read with a continuously propulsive plot; Matthews’s career in the CIA informs this with ass-kickingly real espionage details. Those craving le Carré style, cloak-and-dagger, cat and mouse realism will enjoy this and clamor for more,” read the review of the Scribner hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 5/16/13.]
To log in to your account, click here. To view the new subscription options, Get Started With Book Verdict Pro Today.
Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Ephron on audio
Ephron, Nora. Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385367363. $45; digital download. HUMOR
These two collections of essays, originally published in the 1970s, are here available as an audiobook for the first time. In Crazy Salad, Ephron writes about American women and the changes they were going through in the early 1970s, while Scribble Scribble addresses issues related to the media of the same era. These classic first-person essays were written as Ephron’s career transitioned from journalism to other forms of writing and reveal more of her sharp political insights than do her later collections. While immersed in the issues of the time, both collections have a remarkable relevance 40 years later, covering everything from Ephron’s obsession with breasts to Watergate to the genesis of People magazine. Kathe Mazur’s smart, conversational tone is a fine match for Ephron’s revealing and humorous voice, giving readers the feeling of having spent an afternoon in the company of one of our very smartest friends. Verdict Readers with an interest in feminism, the media, personal essays, or current events from the 1970s would be hard-pressed to find a more relevant collection than Ephron’s. Fans of the late author will be thrilled at the revival of these previously unavailable writings.
Ephron, Nora. Heartburn. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5½ hours. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385367301. $40; digital download. F
Ephron’s witty 1983 novel, read here by the incomparable Meryl Streep (who starred in the movie adaptation), is a thinly veiled account of the end of Ephron’s second marriage. It’s also a novel about storytelling, why we do it and what it does for us. While Ephron intentionally structures the story of Rachel, a cookbook author who’s married to Mark, a political journalist in love with another woman, with a beginning, middle, and end, some of the most delightful bits are the detours she takes as Rachel’s first-person narration makes listeners privy to her thoughts on everything from the history of lettuce to the allure of beige. There are a few aspects of the language that are dated, and the recipes included are unappealing, but neither element is overly intrusive. Streep’s interpretation does not disappoint, wonderfully incorporating many of Ephron’s verbal mannerisms while bringing the actress’s own flavor and authority to the part. Verdict Ephron treats the listener to what was by all accounts her great enthusiasm for the physical things of the world, and while that is pleasure enough in itself, the quality of the book is made more profound by her matter-of-fact, irreverent observations on love, marriage, and storytelling. Highly recommended.
Ephron, Nora. Wallflower at the Orgy. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385367332. $40; digital download. HUMOR
Ephron’s first book (1970) is a collection of articles, essays, and interviews that were first published in the late 1960s. A number of celebrity interviews are included, for example, one with Mike Nichols during the filming of Catch-22. If Ephron’s insights were not always unique, her pieces are uniformly focused, accurate, entertaining, and, at times, very funny. This early work offers glimpses of the talent that produced more than a dozen screenplays, several of them award winners. In a new audio edition, Kathe Mazur enhances the material with a well-paced, nuanced performance, and the short pieces are perfect for folks with limited listening time. Verdict While definitely worth a listen, the content is dated. Chiefly of interest to students of Vietnam-era pop culture and folks who remember the period.
Cain, Chelsea. Let Me Go. (Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell, Bk. 6). 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427231512. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Gregory, Philippa. The White Princess. 15 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 18½ hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442361553. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F
McEwen, Scott with Thomas Koloniar. Sniper Elite: One Way Trip. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442366084. $39.99; digital download. F
Pessl, Marisha. Night Film. 19 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 23 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780307932679. $50. F
Rivers, Francine. Leota’s Garden. 15 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 18 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2004. ISBN 9781470320102. $123.75. F
Robert, Katee. Wrong Bed, Right Guy. (Come Undone, Bk. 1). 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9781624601774. F
Schine, Cathleen. Fin & Lady. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427231543 $39.95; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Shulman, Polly. The Grimm Legacy. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068454. $59.99; digital download. retail ed. Penguin Audio. F
Silver, Elizabeth L. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804120852. $40. F
Gladwell, Malcolm. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611137521. $40; 6 CDs. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. PSYCH
Laditan, Bunmi. The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452613758. $34.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. PARENTING
NPR. NPR American Chronicles: Exploring Space. 3 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 3½ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622311927. $24.95; 3 CDs. library ed.; digital download. HIST
Rosenfelt, David. Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Listen & Live Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781593166588. $29.95; download digital. MEMOIR
Smith, Ali. Artful. 4 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 4 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622311835. $24.95; 4 CDs. library ed.; digital download. MEMOIR
Weber, Mark. Tell My Sons: A Father’s Last Letters. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7½ hours. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804164269. $25; 6 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. MEMOIR
double dose of lipman
Lipman, Elinor. The View from Penthouse B. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8¾ hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624064692. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Sisters Gwen and Margot are living in an apartment with Anthony, their gay roommate. Margot is dealing with her paroled ex-husband who moved in downstairs plus financial woes thanks to a Madoff-esque scheme. Gwen is jumping back into the dating scene after mourning her husband for two years. This well-written, character-driven book about sisters, second chances, dating, grief, and forgiveness plays out with unexpected humor. Mia Barron’s narration is very well done; she embodies the characters with wit and snark when warranted, and her comedic timing fits the story very well. VERDICT Recommended for listeners who enjoy character studies with a touch of humor. [“Middle-age love, family dynamics, and friendship make [Lipman’s] latest [title] jarringly funny, touching, and vividly amusing,” read the review of the Houghton Harcourt hc, LJ 2/15/13.]
Lipman, Elinor. I Can’t Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays. 3 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 4 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624064715. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. memoir
Novelist Lipman (The Family Man) narrates her collection of autobiographical essays, which originally appeared in publications such as More magazine, The Boston Globe, Good Housekeeping, the Huffington Post, and Gourmet. It’s readily apparent the pieces were produced for different purposes and venues over a large span of time. Apart from all concerning Lipman’s life in some way, few pieces share the same themes or even tone. Several essays concerning mixed families, single motherhood, or defunct popular culture have not aged well. While this collection will be of interest to Lipman’s fans because it offers insight into her writing process and her novels’ inspirations, uninitiated readers won’t be as enamored. VERDICT Many articles are only a few minutes in length, making this collection ideal for commuters or other literary snackers. [“This is a crash course for aspiring authors (in the section “On Writing,” among others) and a charming read for those who enjoy the essays and literary nonfiction of Nora Ephron or Anna Quindlen,” read the review of the Houghton Harcort hc, LJ 2/15/13.]