Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, November 8, 2013

Week ending November 8, 2013

Barnes, John. The Last President. (Daybreak, Bk. 3). 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781441862297. $89.97; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In Barnes’s (Daybreak Zero) third offering in the “Daybreak” series, his postapocalyptic world is just plain scary and original in concept. Covering numerous areas of the globe and a whole litany of characters, the story is difficult to follow at times, but the twists and action are almost palpable. Add some commentary on the American political process, and it is a good listen. The narration of Angela Dawe is pleasant; most accents were done well, especially the female ones.
Verdict Recommended; listeners will look forward to continuing the adventure.—Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.

Hubbard, L. Ron. King of the Gunmen. 2 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 2 hrs. Galaxy Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781592123483. $9.95. digital download. F
If there is a revival in interest in Hubbard’s literary products, credit has to go to these new recordings of stories written in the 1930s. This volume takes listeners on a two-hour journey back to a time when radio was the sole source of entertainment in most homes and imaginations ran wild with thoughts of space aliens, jungle journeys, and frontier shoot-outs. Kit Gordon is the so-called king, and his reputation has been earned through numerous encounters with the scum of the Wild West. But even he is not invulnerable, and when listeners first encounter him, he is near death after being shot. A lawman called Rainbow saves him and nurses him back to health only to find himself in danger from a gent named Kettle-belly. A tense showdown ensues, and the sheep herder rabble throw down against the noble cattlemen. Also included is the story “The No-Gun Gunhawk.” Both are read to perfection by R.F. Daley, along with a sizable cast. This audiobook takes listeners back to when it was easy to accept cheesy sound effects and corny dialog as a way to spend time with pure, simple, and thoroughly enjoyable fiction.
Verdict Recommended.—Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base Lib., Lompoc, CA

Hubbard, L. Ron. The Lieutenant Takes the Sky. 2 CDs. retail ed. 2 hrs. unabridged. Galaxy Audio. 2013. ISBN 97815823018. $9; digital download. F
Sure, the lurid cover art and the atrociously dated prose may cause some to turn away, but anyone who remembers spending an afternoon listening to radio dramas (“Sgt. Preston of the Yukon,” “Bobby Benson of the B-Bar-B,” etc.) will get a fun couple of hours reliving those exciting days. Capt. Mike Malloy escorts a beautiful young American girl and some French academics into the hostile Moroccan desert in search of a rare book. There are plenty of thrills—complete with somewhat corny sound effects—to entertain listeners. Narrators Jim Meskimen, Corey Burton, Richard Rocco, Christina Huntington, and John Mariano do a good job of keeping the whole nostalgic pastiche on course.
Verdict For nine bucks, you can’t go wrong. Recommended.—Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base Lib., Lompoc, CA

Ryan, Hank Phillippi. The Wrong Girl. (Jane Ryland, Bk. 2). 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427232038. $44.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
In her follow-up to The Other Woman, Ryan returns to Boston as Jane chases a story about a murder and at the same time a former coworker asks for help verifying information about her birth mother. Bodies pile up on one side and questions on the other, but it’s all about finding family connections as the two plotlines converge. DNA analysis can identify any valid relationship, a fact ignored but for a single offhand comment several hours into the book. A sense of urgency is created by frequent viewpoint changes but fails to compensate for the illogical core problem. Ilyana Kadushin’s slow delivery emphasizes the singsong quality of short sentences.
Verdict Will be of interest to some who enjoy fast-moving, plot-driven thrillers. [“The thrills are…abundant, and the plot takes a left turn when the reader is sure it’s going right. Ryan has a gift for writing superb thrillers, and this one is sure to be a big hit with her growing fan base,” read the more positive review of the Forge: Tor hc, LJ 8/13.—Ed.]—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC

Tremain, Rose. Restoration. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781482927702. $84.95; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Tremain’s (The Swimming Pool Season) 1989 release, newly available on audio, is about a 17th-century physician, Robert Merivel, who falls out of favor with the king and tries to rebuild his life. The medical facts are interesting and seem to be spot-on with the time period. Merivel can be self-centered and doesn’t seem to care about anyone or anything except for the one person he can’t be close to. There is some gratuitous sex, but the story isn’t action packed; it is more a day in the life, which does slow down a bit after the middle of the book. The narration by Paul Daneman is at times absolutely brilliant and at other times cartoonish; some listeners will be annoyed by occasional loud mouth clicks that aren’t constant but are noticeable.
Verdict This historical novel—very well written, sometimes humorous, and sometimes a bit sad—is recommended with reservations.—Susie Sharp, Eddy-New Rockford Lib., New Rockford, ND

Vachss, Andrew. Aftershock. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624066085. $59.99; 2 MP3-CDs. 9 CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
The first in a new thriller series from Vachss (This Is How I Roll) will please fans of his series featuring New York City investigator Burke. Dell, a former French legionnaire and mercenary, and his love, Dolly, live quietly in a small Oregon town. When a high school softball star shoots and kills a popular classmate and injures two others, Dolly asks Dell to use his unique skills to find out why. The novel culminates in a compelling courtroom drama, and Vachss’s background as a legal advocate for children and youth shines through. Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross share narration duties based on characters’ gender, which is fine, but probably doesn’t add enough depth to the program to be worth it. Gigante notably does solid work with a variety of accents. For fans who’ve been missing Burke, Aftershock won’t disappoint. And for those new to Vachss, this is a good place to start.
Verdict Recommended.—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA

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. Dear Ms. Fox, I enjoy your posts and am sending our newest production, Stefanie Powers reading One From the Hart, her autobiography. She is a most engaging and courageous person, whose life experience, both onscreen and off makes for compelling listening.

    Sincere best wishes,
    Alex Hyde-White