LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Audiobooks by Patterson & Hayley (and Patterson & McLaughlin), Ribowsky, and Roberts | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 24, 2017

Hayley, Elizabeth & James Patterson. Exquisite. (Diamond Trilogy, Bk. 2). 3 CDs. 3 hrs. Hachette Audio. Jan. 2017. ISBN 9781478968092. $10. F
The final entry in the BookShots Flames “Diamond Trilogy” (Dazzling; Radiant) wraps up the story of artist Siobhan Dempsey and billionaire Derick Miller. While it’s not necessary to have read the first two entries, readers will feel they are missing a lot of the history of this couple by not doing so. The story is clichéd and lacking depth, with oddly explicit and intense sex scenes. Almost the entire last third of this book could have been condensed into a few minutes without losing context, the book does deliver what many readers want: angst, steamy sex, and a happily ever after. Kristin Kalbli provides an adequate narration, although a stronger male voice for Derick would be more in character.
Verdict Buy only where the first two series titles have done well, as most readers who are willing to invest nine hours in a romance will prefer one with more development than three novellas.—Donna Bachowski, Orange Cty. Lib. Syst., Orlando, FL

McLaughlin, Jen & James Patterson. A Wedding in Maine. (McCullagh Inn Story). 3 CDs. 3:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. Jan. 2017. ISBN 9781478969365. $10. F
This follow-up to McCullagh Inn in Maine finds Jeremy and Chelsea trying to move forward with their lives, planning their wedding, when a series of odd occurrences make them wonder if their past has come back to find them. When Chelsea’s father gets out of prison, things ratchet up even more. Part of the BookShots Flames imprint, this is a quick listen, with a stripped-down plot. While the premise isn’t bad, the necessary brevity makes it reminiscent of a made-for-TV movie: high drama, high passion, low character development. Narrator Erin Bennett provides a suitable performance, albeit with less accented character voices than expected.
Verdict Limited appeal, but with a low price point; try it where those perennially popular short romance paperbacks are heavily read.—Donna Bachowski, Orange Cty. Lib. Syst., Orlando, FL

Ribowsky, Mark. Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams. 13 CDs. 16 hrs. HighBridge Audio. Nov. 2016. ISBN 9781681683300. $39.99. MUSIC
hank022417This biography of the young doomed king of country music delves deep into his roots in small-town Depression-era Alabama, following him through his compulsive drive to headline at the Grand Ole Opry (from which he was eventually fired) to his sad death from alcohol and drug abuse. Williams (1923–53) lived a contentious and passionate life, and Ribowsky takes the reader along for the ride through marriage, divorce, the chronic pain that left him vulnerable to quack doctors’ prescription painkillers, battles over song rights, and the aftermath of his confused family legacy. The narration by Tom Perkins is comfortable, charming, and frank, inviting the listener to settle in and enjoy the roller-coaster ride.
Verdict Recommended for fans of the artist, of course, and readers interested in a story that defined the rock and roll lifestyle of excess before rock and roll. [“Improves upon I Saw the Light and is probably the greatest biography yet. Highly recommended for all popular music collections”: LJ 11/15/16 starred review of the Liveright: Norton hc.]—Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta

Roberts, Nora. Island of Glass. (Guardians, Bk. 3). 9 CDs. 11:30 hrs. Brilliance Audio. Dec. 2016. ISBN 9781601224041. digital download. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
New York Times best-selling romance author Roberts’s third book in her “Guardians” trilogy, Island of Glass brings to a conclusion the tales of the guardians and the stars. Our protagonists (a mermaid, a seer, a werewolf, an immortal, a time traveler, and a sorcerer) make their stand on the coast of Ireland against the plots and actions of villainess Nerezza and her lackey Malmon. Voice-over actress and experienced audiobook narrator Saskia Maarleveld adroitly handles the various accents and dialects of the characters seamlessly.
Verdict Although the book’s focal romance lacks spontaneity and feels forced, and the story sounds rushed at points, fans of the author as well as lovers of supernatural fiction will enjoy this title. [“Compelling…. An engaging page-turner that should appeal to fantasy and romance fans alike”: LJ 12/16 review of the Berkley hc.]—Denise A. Garofalo, Mount St. Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY

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