Joyce, Rachel. Perfect. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804164160. $40; 9 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) sets this novel in a village outside London where a family with two children lives in a lovely country house. Everything is perfect on the surface until the series of events set in motion by a minor accident ruin lives. Paul Rhys conveys the sense of inevitable doom as the flashback story is told through young Byron Hemming’s eyes—a friend tells him two seconds have been added to time to balance the rotation of the earth, then Byron’s mother makes a terrible mistake. Could those two extra seconds be to blame? The present-day plotline reveals the fearful mind of a man called Jim who suffers from mental illness, has endured repeated shock treatments, and cannot communicate his feelings, stuttering out only a few words at a time. Rhys skillfully maintains the sense of lives spinning out of control as the two plots draw together and Jim’s identity is revealed. VERDICT This audio is exceptional and deserves a spot in any fiction collection. [“Joyce stuns with her beautifully realized characters and the unexpected convergence of her two tales,” read the starred review of the Random hc, LJ 2/1/14.]
Kaysen, Susanna. Cambridge. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8¾ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781452619859. $39.99; 7 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
This “novel-from-life” tells the story of a young girl named Susanna growing up during the 1950s in Cambridge, MA, the daughter of a Harvard economics professor. The book follows the basic outlines of Kaysen’s own early life, her unhappy relationship with school and her travels to Greece, England, and Italy with her family. One of the most touching moments comes when Susanna tries to “push her budding breasts back in” so she can remain a child. While at times the descriptions of art and travel destinations sound too mature to come from such a young person, Kaysen mostly succeeds in conveying how it feels to be young and insecure among worldly academics and intellectuals. Reader Kathe Mazur effectively captures the voices and accents of the various characters, especially the Swedish ones. VERDICT Fans of Kaysen’s memoir, Girl, Interrupted, and those wishing to read about a quirky young girl who doesn’t seem to fit in will enjoy this book. [“Readers of literary fiction and novels about academic life will find the globe-trotting parents interesting, if not ideal protectors,” read the review of the Knopf hc, LJ 2/1/14. For more about this title, see the Q&A with Kaysen.]—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY Geneseo
Mead, Rebecca. My Life in Middlemarch. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781482973532. $76; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. BIOG
In her charming bibliomemoir, Mead (One Perfect Day) illustrates the power of great literature, revealing how a lifetime of reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life has influenced, and even transformed, her life. First released in serial format in 1871, Mary Ann Evans’s—Eliot was a pen name—classic tale of 19th-century English country life features a diverse cast of characters and themes. When British-born Mead first read Middlemarch as a teenager, she immediately identified with those characters, who longed to escape provincial life. As Mead read and reread Middlemarch throughout her life, she found it always had something new and relevant to say to her. verdict Rich with information about Eliot’s life and work and beautifully read by Kate Reading, this title will delight Eliot enthusiasts, contemporary memoir fans, and those who enjoy “books about reading books.” [“Even the reader who has never heard of George Eliot will find Mead’s crisp, exacting prose absorbing and thought-provoking,” read the starred review of the Crown hc, LJ 12/13.]
Varty, Boyd. Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804165570. $40; 7 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. MEMOIR
This passionately spiritual memoir by the son and nephew of the founders of the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa is both highly personal and properly historical. It truly captures the beauty of the wild and the human struggles to restore a nature reserve that is a sanctuary for a wide variety of animals—elephants, leopards, lions, and others that most listeners usually get to see only on the Nature Channel or caged in a zoo. Varty and his family, including film documentarian John Varty, dealt with these creatures daily as they carved out a life that helped redefine “safari.” Primarily re-created from Boyd’s memories of his childhood and adolescence, this work will immerse listeners in the highs and lows of a complicated and unconventional upbringing that might serve as an intriguing guide to parenting as well as a travel adventure. Varty’s family are missionaries of conservation, true examples of antiapartheid living, and ecological heroes. The story is told with humor, even in its darkest moments. Few memoirs approach its sense of warmth and intimacy, aided by the narration of the author. verdict Highly recommended for all audiences.
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Aaronovitch, Ben. Broken Homes. (Peter Grant, Bk. 4). 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2014. ISBN 9780756409920. $39.95; digital download. F
Barr, Nevada. Destroyer Angel. (Anna Pigeon, Bk. 17). 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781427235480. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Harun, Adrianne. A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 7½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781494500283. $37.99; 6 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Neggers, Carla. Cider Brook. (Swift River, Bk. 3). 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781482950274. $105; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Offill, Jenny. Dept. of Speculation. 3 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 3¼ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. ISBN 9781629231839. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Pratchett, Terry. Raising Steam. (Discworld, Bk. 40). 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804164559. $40; 10 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Scottoline, Lisa. Keep Quiet. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781427236159. $34.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Siegal, Nina. The Anatomy Lesson. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804190619. $35; 8 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Zevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781622313532. $29.95; 6 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Feinstein, John. Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804192071. $40; 9 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. SPORTS
Jacobsen, Annie. Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America. 16 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 19½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781619691537. $35; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
Levingston, Steven. Little Demon in the City of Light: A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Époque Paris. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780449012994. $40; digital download. HIST
Lewis, Sarah. The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781442370456. $29.99; digital download. PSYCH
McEwen, Scott & Richard Miniter. Eyes on the Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781478952404. $30; digital download. HIST
Perez, Rosie. Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother and Still Came Out Smiling. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780385360739. $45; 10 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. MEMOIR
Stafford, Rachel Macy. Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection To Grasp What Really Matters. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 7¾ hrs. Oasis Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781613755839. $19.99; digital download. PARENTING
Stone, Douglas & Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781611762518. $39.95; digital download. Comm