Week ending November 22, 2013
Higginbotham, Susan. The Stolen Crown. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781482815776. $44.99; 2 MP3-CDs. 11 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Higginbotham (The Traitor’s Wife) here tells a tale of love and intrigue set against the turbulent Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. King Edward IV marries Elizabeth Woodville in secret. Elizabeth’s sister, Kate, later marries Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. Kate’s husband must choose between loyalty to his brother-in-law the king and to his best friend, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Actors and playwrights John Lee and Alison Larkin provide a lively performance and effectively narrate these reminiscences of Kate and her husband, full of historical facts among the deceptions, betrayal, romance, and throngs of characters.
Verdict Recommended to fans of English historical fiction.—Denise Garofalo, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib, Newburgh, NY
Hurwitz, Gregg. Tell No Lies. 11 CDs. 13 hrs. library ed. unabridged. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781455882410. $79.97; 11 CDs. retail ed. 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
A threat made via an anonymous letter makes it into the wrong mailbox, and Daniel Brasher is in a race to save several complete strangers until he decides to try to save a future victim and becomes a target himself. The velvety narration of Scott Brick is excellent. His cadence and inflection add to an already riveting story.
Verdict Hurwitz’s (They’re Watching) latest is a well-crafted mystery and a thing of beauty. The action is tight and keeps listeners on the edge of their seats to the very end. The author really delivers with this entry about a how a simple misplaced letter can turn life upside down. Highly recommended.—Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.
McCarry,Charles. The Shanghai Factor. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9¼ hours. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622310135. $34.95; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
McCarry, a former CIA operative who worked deep undercover in Europe, Asia, and Africa, writes from personal experience in this twisty thriller that pits a young, unnamed American spy against Guoanbu, China’s intelligence agency. The appealing agent becomes reckless when he meets the lovely Mei and they begin a relationship in which neither asks the other too many questions. Things turn even more harrowing for him when he realizes there’s literally no one he can trust as his desperation mounts. McCarry particularly excels at description; when the agent is thrown into the Yangtze River, the portrayal of its contents is graphic and gross! Unfortunately, the climax, which seems hurried and almost forced, will leave some disappointed and bewildered. Narrator Stephen Bowlby handles the text, excellent description, and accents (particularly the Chinese) most commendably.
Verdict Fans of espionage and those who prefer a mostly Chinese locale will most enjoy.—Susan G. Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL
MacHale, D.J. SYLO. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068546 $59.99; digital download. F
First, freshman Tucker Pierce watches the star of his football team drop dead with no explanation. Then he witnesses an unexplained explosion followed by a stranger trying to promote an “athletic supplement” that gives those who take it superhuman speed and strength. The next thing he knows his home is being invaded by SYLO, a secret branch of the military, and quarantined for a lethal “virus.” The longer the quarantine goes on, the more Tucker and his friends start to believe that SYLO might be lying. MacHale, author of the popular “Pendragon” titles, here launches another thrilling series. With constant action, this book will have listeners trying to decipher the good guys from the bad guys to the very end. Andrew Bates does an amazing job of narrating the fear, anguish, and terror that the residents of Pemberwick Island feel.
Verdict Recommended for anyone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller. Fans of Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne” series might want to try this YA novel with crossover appeal.—Jessi Brown, Huntington City Twp. P.L., IN
Picoult, Jodi. Perfect Match. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470341404. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Picoult (The Storyteller) doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult subjects, and Perfect Match is no exception. District attorney Nina Frost is used to seeing the worst of human nature and works hard to ensure that justice is served and criminals are punished. However, when her son becomes the victim of a horrific crime, she doesn’t wait for the legal system. Fans of Picoult will see some of the curve balls coming, but, despite this, there are plenty of surprises and thought-provoking questions to keep readers engrossed in this riveting story. Having three narrators is at first distracting; however, the reason becomes apparent as the story progresses.
Verdict Picoult, as always, excels in capturing the thoughts and perspectives of a cast of characters all experiencing the same event and showing that life is seldom black and white but instead varying shades of gray. Recommended.—Theresa Horn, St. Joseph Cty. P.L., South Bend, IN
Roberts, Nora. Chesapeake Blue. (Chesapeake Bay Saga, Bk. 4). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781469297729. $49.97; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Roberts brings the readers back into the lives of the Quinn brothers and their families (after Inner Harbor). Seth Quinn, the youngest, is finally home from his artistic journey overseas, and the Quinn kin couldn’t be happier. While Seth readjusts to small-town life, he catches the eye of the local florist, Dru Whitcomb Banks, and the two begin a relationship. However, he soon finds out that running away from his past is never the solution, and with his family by his side, he is never alone. James Daniels does a great job as narrator and brings to life all the residents of Chesapeake Bay and the emotional roller coaster of their lives—both in the past and the present.
Verdict Highly recommended for Roberts’s many fans.—Stephanie N. Juarez, Keach Family Lib., Robstown, TX
Wolitzer, Meg. The Interestings. 12 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 16 hrs. Penguin Random Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624060878. $59.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
When six teens meet at an upstate New York summer arts camp in 1974, they form an instant bond and ironically dub themselves “The Interestings” because they’re certain they’re destined for greatness. In reality, only two members of the sextet achieve artistic success as adults, while the others, with a considerable amount of bitterness, drift into less remarkable lives. The novel follows the Interestings’ lives from 1974 to the present and explores the fallout of failed artistic ambition and the significance of talent in relation to socioeconomic disparity. Wolitzer (The Ten Year Nap) has written a relatable story with a strong sense of time and place. Debut narrator Jen Tullock is one to watch, performing a distinct voice for each character and enhancing Wolitzer’s keenly observed characterization.
Verdict Highly recommend for general collections, especially where literary fiction is popular.—Julie Judkins, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor