Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, October 25, 2013

Week ending October 25, 2013

Berg, Elizabeth. Tapestry of Fortunes. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470333232. $92.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Undergoing a midlife crisis following the death of a close friend, Cece sells her home and undertakes a cross-country pilgrimage with three friends during which each one attempts to connect with her past. Her British accent ringing with warmth, emotion and energy, actress Barbara Caruso captures the listener’s attention as story and reader move effortlessly through disc changes. In this charming, enjoyable novel, Berg honors the power of female friendships and portrays the various ways women grow through their relationships.
Verdict Will appeal to listeners of women’s fiction. [“As always, [Berg’s] writing is spare and lyrical, filled with the elegant description and profound insight that is her trademark, but the story sometimes feels rushed. These characters are delightful, and Berg’s fans would relish the time to know them better. Still, her writing is luminous. Not her best, but wonderful just the same,” read the review of the New York Times best-selling Random hc, LJ 2/1/13.—Ed.]—Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX

Brennert, Alan. Palisades Park. 15 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 17½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470333324. $123.75; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Brennert (Honolulu) presents a story rich with quotidian detail of a midcentury, middle-class American family and tries to answer the question: Were the good old days so good? In 1930, Eddie Stopka begins work at the New Jersey’s Palisades Park amusement park selling fairy floss, aka cotton candy. He meets Adele, who’s working at a nearby concession. Soon they marry and begin a family. Antoinette, a proverbial tomboy, wants to be a high diver though her mother is opposed. Jack, the more sensitive child, wants to be a cartoonist. World War II changes their family dynamic; Eddie enlists, upsetting Adele, who runs off with a magician after the war. Race issues cloud the postwar park. Toni strikes out to make it as a high diver. The Korean War affects Jack, who suffers from PTSD and can no longer draw. Actor Mark McCarthy, a resident of New Jersey, brings his local ear to the accents in this nostalgic tale.
Verdict Recommended for Brennert fans and lovers of historic fiction.—David Faucheux, Louisiana Audio Information & Reading Svc., Lafayette

Brill, Amy. The Movement of Stars. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452613314. $39.99; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
On 1845 Nantucket, all Hannah Gardner Price wishes is to find a comet, but she’s been brought up in a community of Quakers who believe a woman’s path, however well she has been educated, is toward marriage and children. At 24, Hannah hopes for something more: to remain single, helping her father with their business working on nautical instruments and, perhaps, getting a government contract to map the coastline. Into her life comes Isaac Martin, a black whaler who wishes to learn navigation and hires her to help him. As the lessons progress, she finds herself drawn to Isaac. Narrator Carla Mercer-Meyer does an adequate job voicing the many characters, especially Hannah and Isaac. The odd, inconsistent mispronunciations of some words may bother some listeners.
Verdict This novel, which was inspired by the life and work of Maria Mitchell, will appeal to fans of historical novels with an underlying romantic interest. [“Brill’s debut raises thought-provoking questions on the limitations to achievement societies impose based on race, gender, or divergent beliefs. For readers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in science, who savor the unfolding of a character’s emotional and intellectual development,” read the review of the Riverhead hc, LJ 1/13.—Ed.]—Suanne B. Roush, Osceola H.S., Seminole, FL

Cussler, Clive & Graham Brown. Zero Hour: A Kurt Austin Adventure. (NUMA Files, Bk. 11). 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470351823. $102.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
NUMA’s Kurt Austin is in Australia attending a conference when a casual stroll near the famed Sydney Opera House launches him into his latest adventure. This classic Cussler (The Storm) epic is filled with environmental cataclysms, worldwide danger, and a beautiful girl. The villain this time is a mad scientist who has developed something called “zero point energy,” and if he succeeds in his mad plan, Australia will be split in two…to start. Longtime Cussler reader Scott Brick is in top form and shows his talents in handling a number of accents (Australian, Russian, South African, and Irish, among others) with exceptional skill. Brick knows how to keep a Cussler adventure rolling along, and Zero Hour is Cussler and Brick at their best.
Verdict Cussler’s wide audience makes this a must-have for all libraries. [The Putnam hc was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

James, Julie. Practice Makes Perfect. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452613123. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Both Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson are up for promotion after eight years of hard work as litigators for a big Chicago law firm. They work together well on a big case—and off the clock—but complications arise when they learn that only one of them will be made partner. Narrator Karen White’s slightly husky, mature voice fits the feisty 32-year-old big-city lawyers she portrays here. White is equally proficient as bombshell vegetarian Payton or as tall, dark, and handsome Harvard grad J.D, who enjoys fine clothes, cars, and perfection. Her suggestive, just-in-time stops before naughty words and her self-denying tone as the two refuse to admit feelings for each other are exactly what the text requires.
Verdict Highly recommended for public libraries and for college or universities with leisure collections.—Karen Perry, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro

Wallace, Daniel. The Kings and Queens of Roam. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9781620648278. $29.95; 9 CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Elijah McCallister kidnaps a man in a street market in China because the man knows how to make silk, then marches him through the isolated backwoods of America until they find a grove of mulberry trees. There the town of Roam is founded. It’s a magical and desolate place where the dead and the living coexist. Generations later, Helen and Rachel McCallister feel the brunt of the curse laid on the town by its unwilling Chinese cofounder. The distinctions between the seen and the unseen, real and imaginary, living and dead are not as clear as they might appear. Wallace (Big Fish) explores the importance one instant can have on the destiny of a family. His characters are diverse and complex. Magical realism adds an extra layer to a thought-provoking story. Beautifully read by Angela Brazil.
Verdict Recommended.—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence

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"