Kidd, Sue Monk. The Invention of Wings. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781490602707. $123.75; 11 CDs. retail ed. Penguin Audio; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Kidd’s (The Secret Life of Bees) latest is a remarkable work of historical fiction that relates the story of the wealthy Charleston, SC, Grimké sisters, Sarah and Angelina. Their house slave Hetty “Handful” Grimké inspires their efforts toward abolition and women’s rights, and she ultimately becomes an integral part of them. The work is superbly read by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye; the language wonderfully communicates the bond that evolves among these complex women as they travel through the political landscape and the social movements of this era. Be sure to listen to the last minutes of content as Kidd discusses her research and how it intertwines with the well-told fictional tale. VERDICT An exceptional audiobook—this story is not to be missed. [“This richly imagined narrative brings both black history and women’s history to life with an unsentimental story of women who became sisters under the skin,” read the starred review of the Viking hc, LJ 11/1/13; see the Q&A with author Kidd on this page.]
McCall Smith, Alexander. The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Bk. 14). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470368340. $92.75; Playaway digital; digital download. F
For a series now with 14 entries, McCall Smith’s Botswana-set books starring Mma Precious Ramotswe have maintained a remarkably high standard. Every novel adds new depth to its beloved characters while spinning plot twists that are sufficiently intriguing to make each book work on its own as a satisfying detective story. This latest (after The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection) explores the effect of motherhood on Precious’s recently married associate, Mma Makutsi. The latter’s maternity-leave causes the unfailingly sensitive Mma Ramotswe to redefine her professional relationship with her assistant. Meanwhile, the agency confronts troubling cases of a possibly false heir to a farm and a beauty salon targeted by a vicious rumor campaign. Despite the country’s many admirable qualities, all is not well in Botswana. Lisette Lecat’s narration is, as always, pitch perfect. VERDICT Another excellent title from McCall Smith.
Wiseman, Rosalind. Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN . $45; 11 CDs. retail ed.; digital download. SOC SCI
If your boy seems complacent or cynical, writes Wiseman (Queen Bees & Wannabes), it’s probably an act. She writes that boys “profoundly want strong, comforting, honorable adults who admit how messy life is.” Astute and substantive, this work considers boys and the degrees to which they mask their frequent confusion and awkwardness. It also features much direct advice for parents (e.g., don’t ask him, “How was your day?”), minute dissections of adolescent peer groups, and realistic tips for communicating. Narrator Kathe Mazur’s even, calm tones smooth out occasionally shrill writing and add inflection when reading the many insightful contributions written by young males. VERDICT Motivated listeners will learn much from this work, which will be of value in public libraries and in collections focusing on adolescent health and for professionals.
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Bodden, Marlen Suyapa. The Wedding Gift. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427232977. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Naxos Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781843797302. $62.98; digital download. F
Conan Doyle, Arthur. The Poison Belt. 3½ hrs. ISBN 9781629230122. Playaway digital.
Kipling, Rudyard. With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C. 2½ hrs. ISBN 9781629230184.
ea. vol: 3 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. Dreamscape Media. 2013. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; digital download. F
de la Peña, Matt. The Living. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480524392. $69.97; 7 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Delinsky, Barbara. The Dream Unfolds. (Crosslyn Rise’s Dreams, Bk. 2). 5 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624067853. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; digital download. F
Lawrence, Mark. Emperor of Thorns. (Broken Empire Trilogy, Bk. 3). 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781464033100. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Love in the Time of Cholera. tr. from Spanish by Edith Grossman. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15½ hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781482939712. $79.95; 13 CDs/1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Chang, Jung. Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. MP3 digital download. retail ed. 16½ hrs. Random Audio. 2013. ISBN 9780804149037. $25; Playaway digital. BIOG
Dershowitz, Alan. Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law. 18 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 21½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804127950. $50; 18 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. MEMOIR
Kilmeade, Brian & Don Yeager. George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution. 5 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611762273. $29.95; digital download. HIST
Langley, Philippa & Michael Jones. The King’s Grave: The Discovery of Richard III’s Grave and the Clues it Holds. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452617374. $39.99; 8 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
Lieberman, Daniel E. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780307990082. $45; digital download. HEALTH
Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy. 29 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 38 hrs. Naxos Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781843797395. $152.98; digital download. PHIL
Sapolsky, Robert M. A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons. 12 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452618531. $44.99; 12 CDs/2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; digital download. MEMOIR
Shields, David , & Shane Salerno . Salinger. 16 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 19½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470365110. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; digital download. BIOG
Billingham, Mark. Sleepyhead. (Tom Thorne, Bk. 1). 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622312870. $34.95; 9 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Billingham’s first novel (originally published in 2001) makes its debut on audio. Allison Willetts has survived being attacked by a serial killer who manipulates his victims’ pressure points to induce strokes. The survival of this one girl, who can see, hear, and think but is now unable to move or communicate, holds the key to the killer’s identity. Detective Inspector Tom Thorne soon unravels the killer’s twisted agenda and sets out to prove his case. Simon Prebble’s assured narration is mesmerizing and sure to keep listeners riveted. VERDICT This excellent British police procedural with an original premise is a must for fans of the genre. [“With this first work, Billingham has concocted an intense, creepy variation on the serial-killer theme,” read the starred review of the Morrow hc, LJ 8/02.]
Billingham, Mark. Scaredy Cat. (Tom Thorne, Bk. 2). 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622312900. $34.95; 10 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
British crime novelist Billingham’s second novel (first published in 2002, following Sleepyhead) to feature DI Tom Thorne is a gripping police procedural about the hunt for the perpetrator of a string of sadistic murders. Thorne discovers that there are actually two killers at work, and the book moves between their backstories and the investigation. Billingham does a masterly job of creating his characters as well as describing London and the criminal underbelly of the city. As always, narrator Simon Prebble gives an electric performance that is excellently paced. VERDICT Mystery fans who like complex plotting, detailed character development, and realistic psychological suspense will relish this title. [“Highly recommended, especially for fans of Harry Bosch and Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect fame,” read the review of the Morrow hc LJ 6/1/03.]
TRUE CRIME TALES
Guinn, Jeff. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson. 14 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 17½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470376499. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. BIOG
True crime aficionados will welcome this well-written and well-read account of the 1969 Manson murders, especially since there aren’t as many books about the topic as one might expect. Listeners get more background on Manson’s childhood than in Vincent Bugliosi’s classic Helter Skelter, and Guinn (Go Down Together) focuses on Manson’s eagerness to get a recording contract (it seems that in Guinn’s view, the whole “inciting a race war” thing played second fiddle to Manson’s musical ambitions). Particularly evocative are Guinn’s depictions of Manson’s predatory presence in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury area during the Summer of Love, which was the genesis of his “family.” Listeners truly get a sense of the aspirations of those traveling to San Francisco (peace and free love) and the reality (frequent rape, filth, and eating from dumpsters). Jim Frangione’s unobtrusive narration carries the compelling story forward. VERDICT Recommended.
Rule, Anne. Practice To Deceive. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442364509. $34.99; digital download. CRIME
In this convoluted narrative, Rule (The Stranger Beside Me) follows the case of former beauty pageant queen Peggy Sue Thomas and her then-husband Jim Huden. The couple were convicted ten years after the fact for the murder of Russel Douglas, who was found shot to death in his car on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. Although narrator Anne Twomey’s voice is very pleasant, there is no narrative momentum behind this story—listeners are left with little understanding of why the crime was committed. The couple did not benefit financially from the murder; their only connection was that Peggy Sue worked in a hair salon with Russ’s wife, Brenna. The speculations about possible motives are less than convincing, and motiveless murders do not make for a compelling story. VERDICT Libraries can pass on this one.