Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, October 11, 2013

Week ending October 11, 2013

Coulter, Catherine. Afterglow. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Dreamscape Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781624066023. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
When David and Chelsea first meet via their best friends, they despise each other, but that tension disguises something simmering under the surface. Can they overcome their divergent backgrounds and animosity to reach the mutual attraction that lies beneath? Published in 1987, the novel is filled with dated slang, unrealistic dialog, and unnatural exclamatory tags. Couple this with excessive and tedious squabbles between the main characters, and narrator Laural Merlington has her work cut out for her. Alas, she does not rise to the challenge presented by this tired romance. Merlington’s voice reads far older than the main characters’ 28 and 36 years; this, in tandem with the prehistoric slang, makes the audio version of the novel sound like great-grandma recorded it on her Victrola.
Verdict Librarians and listeners alike would do well to pass on this offering.—Erin Forson, Bradford Sch., Columbus, OH

Haygood, Wil. The Butler: A Witness to History. 2 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 2½ hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442368958. $14.99. HIST
The Butler is a very popular and well-reviewed movie, and this audiobook is clearly intended as a companion to the film. However, it is a less than satisfactory compilation, despite an impressive list of celebrity readers, including Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker. Haygood’s original essay, which was the inspiration for the movie, is not included; instead, there is a first-person account of his meetings with White House butler Eugene Allen and his wife. Winfrey’s segment is an interesting but somewhat out-of-context history of blacks in film.
Verdict This will be popular with fans of the film, but they will be disappointed by the brief and disjointed narrative. Not recommended.—Mary Knapp, Madison P.L.

starred review starJensen, Liz. The Uninvited. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2012. ISBN 9781470362553. $92.75; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Listeners will be surprised by the denouement of this intriguing apocalyptic thriller and fascinated by the journey. The setting is present-day England, where the world is suddenly beset by strange events, such as children fatally attacking adults and industries falling prey to acts of sabotage. Hesketh Lock, a tall, dark, and handsome anthropologist living with Asperger’s syndrome (this latter quality undermines his love life as much as the former traits help it), is hired to investigate the incidents. The narrative is by turns ruminative and haunting as Hesketh navigates his own responses to the crisis, most strikingly revealed as he watches his ex-girlfriend’s son fall sway to the same behavior affecting other children. Colin Mace’s emotionally connected narration is pitch-perfect—he captures Hesketh’s struggle to understand both the interior lives of others and the causes of the catastrophe in a way that brings the man to life.
Verdict Highly recommended. [“Jensen creates a wholly original character in Hesketh Lock while building a spooky, foreboding landscape where children can’t be trusted, free will is under siege, and the line separating past, present, and future is not as finite as one might think. Part sf, part thriller, and totally eerie, this is recommended for readers who enjoy dystopian tales, thrillers, and sf,” read the review of the Bloomsbury hc, LJ 10/15/12.]—Victoria A. Caplinger, NoveList, Durham, NC

MacNeal, Susan Elia. His Majesty’s Hope. (Maggie Hope, Bk. 3). 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. Books on Tape. 2013. 10½ hrs. ISBN 9780385362696. $40; 9 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. F
This latest Maggie Hope mystery (after Princess Elizabeth’s Spy) is as exciting and enjoyable as the first two. BBC/Masterpiece Theater fans will recognize the “Benchley” references from The Benchley Circle series. Just like those intrepid heroines, Maggie Hope started off as a code-breaker for the British government. Now Maggie is the first British woman spy dropped behind Nazi lines. Maggie thinks she is simply there to plant a microphone in the office of a high-ranking Nazi. But she finds a half-sister who is working with the German resistance and must face the mother who abandoned her years before—and who is now part of Hitler’s inner circle. MacNeal keeps the suspense tight and does an excellent job of pulling listeners into the Berlin of World War II through references to music and clothing.
Verdict Get your hands on this latest installment of the Maggie Hope saga. Fill up the car’s tank and plan a long trip. You will not want to stop listening along the way.—Kathy L. Bell, Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Lib., Brenham, TX

Walters, A. Meredith. Find You in the Dark. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452613550. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Clay crashes into Maggie’s predictable world at the start of her senior year in high school. As their friendship quickly develops into a more intimate relationship, Maggie stubbornly strives to navigate her friends’ concern, her family’s disapproval, and Clay’s flaring temper and addict past. He says he needs her love, but can she really help him overcome the issues that complicate his life? Reader Madeleine Lambert stumbles on her voices for the male characters, which seem a bit caricaturish and distract from the narrative.
Verdict Maggie’s strong emotions and determined devotion to her first love may appeal to romance readers and those exploring the new adult genre.—Amy Koester, St. Charles City-Cty. Lib. Dist., Wentzville, MO

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"