Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, April 26, 2013

Week ending April 26, 2013

Brown, Rita Mae. Fox Tracks. (Sister Jane Foxhunting Mysteries, Bk. 8). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2012. ISBN 9781464020308. $92.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Brown’s latest (after Hounded to Death), “Sister” Jane Arnold and her friend Tootie Harris are in New York City for a meeting of hunt clubs. Unfortunately, Adolfo Galdos, a personable Cuban tobacconist, is murdered minutes after Sister and Tootie leave his shop. When a similar murder occurs in Boston, Sister looks into the matter. As narrator, Brown does an inadequate job bringing her characters to life, though her tone is uneven. Sometimes she raises her voice for no apparent reason, while at others her pitch is high and squeaky. It is difficult to differentiate among characters as the Brown fails to modulate or change her voice with each one. Her animal characters cannot be distinguished from her humans.
Verdict Recommended for libraries whose patrons are interested in foxhunting or who are fans of the series. Other patrons will find the audiobook uninteresting.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

Erdrich, Louise. The Round House. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Harper Audio. 2012. ISBN 978006273857. $24.99; 10 CDs. library ed.; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Thirteen-year-old Joe lives happily on a reservation in North Dakota with his tribal judge father, his mother, and their close-knit community. A single act of violence cleaves his family, leaving his mother an isolated rape victim, his father preoccupied with an unattainable justice, and Joe, reeling in the aftermath, left to draw his own conclusions about what must be done. This New York Times best seller is undoubtedly well written, with carefully crafted, believable characters who evolve throughout the story. Gary Farmer provides solid narration, with the exception of a few irksome mispronunciations of local place names.
Verdict The book is highly recommended for all collections. Read-a-likes include previous works by the author, some of which share characters with this work, or those by David Treuer, who also writes on Native American themes. [“Erdrich skillfully makes Joe’s coming-of-age both universal and specific,” read the review of the New York Times best-selling Harper hc, LJ 8/12.—Ed.]—Lisa Anderson, Omaha P.L.

Haskin, Leslie. Between Heaven and Ground Zero: One Woman’s Struggle for Survival and Faith in the Ashes of 9/11. 4 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 4¾ hrs. Christian Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781610456562. $14.98; digital download. MEMOIR
Haskin recounts in graphic detail her escape from Tower One of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She attributes her renewed Christian faith to the experience and disjointedly attempts to share memories of her trauma while entreating readers to pursue their own relationships with Christ. The author reads the text in an occasionally choppy and emotional voice. Chapter breaks and quoted scriptural passages are awkwardly read by a computerized voice that yanks the reader out of the rhythm of the text.
Verdict The poor quality of the recording makes this audiobook an optional purchase.—Amy Koester, St. Charles City-Cty. Lib. Dist., Wentzville, MO

Jennings, Ken. Because I Said So! 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 5½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452609744. $34.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. HUMOR
All-time Jeopardy champion Jennings (Maphead; Brainiac) tackles the veracity of old wives’ tales that will likely be familiar to most listeners: feed a cold and starve a fever; sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes; if you cross your eyes, they’ll stay like that; never run with scissors. Jennings uses medical case histories and evidence, scientific studies, and even sometimes experiments on himself to prove or disprove each saying.
Verdict Hilarious, entertaining, and surprisingly informative, Jennings’s volume is recommended for young and old alike and anyone who’s ever wondered about the warnings their mother gave them when they were a child. Great fun.—Gloria Maxwell, Metropolitan Community Coll.–Penn Valley Lib., Kansas City, MO

Kinghorn, Judith. The Last Summer. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452609751. $44.95; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Clarissa Granville and Tom Cuthbert begin an illicit love affair in post–Edwardian England. She is the only daughter of a rich merchant family, he the intelligent but illegitimate son of the head housekeeper. Their lives and love flare and shine in the soft glow of a countryside summer in1914, strain during the horrors and loss of World War I, and intertwine again during the gaiety of the early 1920s. They are destined to be together, but society and class keep them apart. This novel is rich in language and description of the time period, the people, and the context. The narration is excellent, with Jane Wymark transforming Clarissa from a naive girl of 15 to a rushed maturity and then a postwar weariness.
Verdict For Downton Abbey devotees and other fans of early 20th-century England.—J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA

Maron, Margaret. The Buzzard Table. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2012. ISBN 9781470329433. $92.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Maron (Three-Day Town) once again combines characters from two long-running series with the 18th in her mysteries featuring Judge Deborah Knott. Lt. Sigrid Herald and her mother, Anne, are in Cotton Grove to visit Sigrid’s dying grandmother. While there, they meet a long-lost cousin who is supposedly researching and feeding vultures at a neighboring property. Anne is sure she recognizes him from an incident in Somalia, and  after a young woman is murdered near his home, the mystery deepens. A troubled teen is also nearly murdered when he is observing airport traffic. Series readers will enjoy reuniting with Deborah’s large extended family, as well as watching her relationship with her stepson develop. Veteran reader C.J. Critt’s narration helps bring the characters to life.
Verdict Recommended for Maron’s many fans and for readers who enjoy ongoing mystery series with familiar casts of characters.—Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI

Meyer, Stephenie. The Host. 20 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 23 hrs. Books on Tape. 2008. ISBN 9781415955864. $129; digital download. F
After Earth is invaded by a small, sluglike species that uses human bodies as hosts, a small group of unhosted humans survives in hiding. When rebel Melanie is caught by alien police “seekers” while on a raid, she is implanted with an alien. Wanderer, the “soul” now in Melanie’s head, expects her to fade away. Melanie refuses, eventually winning over her captor with memories of her lover. Melanie convinces Wanderer to go in search of her human family hiding somewhere in the Arizona desert. Meyer questions the definition of what it means to be human as well as what it means to love. The narrative is told entirely from Wanderer’s viewpoint, which offers a unique perspective.
Verdict Kate Reading’s excellent narration aside, the plot drags for far too long with little action and less romance. Recommended to fans of Allie Condie’s Matched and Meyer’s “Twilight” series. [“The Host will likely appeal to readers interested in supernatural romance or character-driven science fiction. Questions of what defines humanity and love add a philosophical angle to an engaging and entertaining title,” read the more accepting review of the New York Times best-selling Little, Brown hc, LJ 6/1/08. A motion picture adaptation was released March 29, 2013.—Ed.]—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L.

Morris, Errol. A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452609379. $44.99; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; digital download. HIST
Joe McGinniss’s true-crime book Fatal Vision famously blamed physician Jeffrey MacDonald for the 1970 murder of MacDonald’s wife and two young daughters. Here Morris (Believing Is Seeing) argues for MacDonald’s innocence. The narration is superb; John Pruden changes accents and tones dexterously, navigating the book’s wealth of material—interviews, crime lab reports, and court testimony—with finesse. Only one of the possible narratives about MacDonald is true, and readers who have followed all accounts will come away with less rather than more clarity. Still, the book raises fascinating questions about the nature of truth and journalistic responsibility.
Verdict Highly recommended for those familiar with this story. [“The Academy Award–winning director of films like The Thin Blue Line, Morris bravely goes where others have dared to go before…. Bound to be in demand,” read the review of the New York Times best-selling Penguin hc, LJ 3/1/12.—Ed.]—Victoria A. Caplinger, NoveList, Durham, NC

Patterson, James & Mark Pearson. Private London. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781611130232. $24.98; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Here Patterson and Pearson (Private Games) follow the story of Dan Carter, head of renowned investigation firm Private London, and Hannah Shapiro, a student with a horrific past. The police and Private are investigating a case that involves kidnappings, murder, and mutilation. Can it be Hannah’s past coming back to get her? Rupert Degas does a spot-on job voicing English, American, and Scottish characters.
Verdict It goes without saying that Patterson fans will enjoy this book, but readers who enjoy thrillers with a twist will want to give it a try as well. [The Grand Central hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Jessi Brown, Huntington City-Twp. P.L., IN

Proust, Marcel. The Fugitive. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Naxos AudioBooks. 2012. ISBN 9781843796145. $67.98. F
This, the penultimate book in Neville Jason’s lengthy (150-hour) recording of Proust’s seven-volume, early 20th-century masterpiece, Remembrance of Things Past, shares many features with the other recordings in the set. There is Proust’s complex and psychologically difficult plot, Jason’s beautifully voiced but rather slow reading, and the use of the almost archaic mid-20th-century Scott Moncrieff translation. The combination is not likely to appeal to most listeners. Those willing to put in the necessary effort would probably prefer to listen to one of the newer, more accurate translations.
Verdict Recommended only for patient devotees of classic French literature who are unable to read French. [The final volume, Time Regained (ISBN 9781843796169. $73.98), is also available from Naxos.—Ed.—I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA

Wodehouse, P.G. Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best. 4 CDs. retail ed. abridged. 5 hrs. Canongate. 2012. ISBN 9780857865762. $18.96; digital download. F
These nine stories, all but two written in the 1930s when Wodehouse was arguably at the height of his powers, are delightful. While the Blandings Castle stories are not as perfect as the Bertie Wooster or Mr. Mulliner tales, they still display the master’s verbal wit and unrivaled skill at plot contrivance. Clarence Threepwood, the ninth Earl of Emsworth, and his son Freddie are bumbling but charming oafs constantly getting into spots of bother over a butler, a gardener, a small girl, a pig, several attractive young women, and numerous dogs. The material could be deflated by a hammy delivery, but the sublime Martin Jarvis both understands and respects the benighted characters. Probably the best interpreter of Wodehouse, Jarvis outdoes himself here with an amazing variety of voices.
Verdict Even those unfamiliar with Wodehouse should be entertained.—Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr.

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"


  1. John Pruden says:

    Regarding the audio review of Errol Morris’s “Wilderness of Error,” [http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2013/04/media/audio/xpress-reviews-audiobooks-first-look-at-new-books-april-26-2013/] the narrator’s name is JOHN Pruden, Jeff Pruden. Is it possible that could be corrected? Thanks! =)