Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, December 20, 2013

Week ending December 20, 2013

Campbell, T. Colin with Howard Jacobson. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781470897543. $90; 1 MP3-CD/9 CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. SCI
Humans should eat only the whole food, plant-based diet for which their bodies are designed. All animal products and/or added fats are bad. Repeat. Tell a few interesting stories, oversimplify a few biological concepts, and repeat. This sequel to the author’s extremely popular The China Study is more a personal examination of political and social constraints on Campbell’s diet crusade than true science. It should be no surprise that the coauthor Jacobson is a marketing expert. Don Hagan gives a beautifully clear reading.
Verdict Readers looking for “scientific” support for radical diet choices will probably love this book; however, a more skeptical approach might be safer.—I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA

Crouch, Blake. Wayward. (Wayward Pines, Bk. 2). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480538153. $49.97; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. F
A mystery wrapped in sf wrapped in dystopia best explains Crouch’s follow-up to Pines. Two thousand years in the future, the few people who remain are living in a controlled society where they are told whom to marry and where to work. Sheriff Ethan Burke knows it isn’t normal that his town, Wayward Pines, is surrounded by miles of tall, electrified fence—and he knows why. Find out what happens when the rest of the townspeople learn the terrifying secret he’s been keeping. Paul Michael Garcia’s narration maintains the suspense.
Verdict Recommended for adult fans of dystopian lit as well as Stephen King followers.—Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA

Day, Alyssa & others. Enthralled. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452611730. $44.99; 1 MP3-CD/8 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
These three novellas teem with extraordinarily gorgeous mystical beings who are lusty yet lonely, equally imperiled and saved by their uniqueness. In “The Curse of the Black Swan,” Day (“Warriors of Poseidon” series) introduces a new series, “League of the Black Swan,” with two characters who have vowed not to pass on their separate cursed blood. Meljean Brook’s steampunk romance “Salvage” adds to the “Iron Seas” series with a lot more steam than punk, as a woman fights to keep her husband. “Ecstasy Under the Moon” provides background on earlier events in Lucy Monroe’s “Children of the Moon” titles. Justine Eyre’s reading is unlike the voice that won her various audio awards. It’s hard to distinguish among the male characters. All of the men sound alike, husky and smirking regardless of the scene’s mood.
Verdict Recommended for die-hard fans of the authors only.—Deb West, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Harding, Paul. Enon. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385363044. $35; 6 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. F
enonHarding’s new novel is the first-person account of the “monotonous personal apocalypse” Charlie Crosby descends into after his daughter, Kate, is struck by a car and killed. Charlie is the grandson of George Crosby, who readers will remember from Harding’s Pulitzer Prize–winning first novel, Tinkers. The novel is made up of Charlie’s almost oddly clear-eyed descriptions of his memories of both Kate and his earlier life in the small town of Enon, woven into an elaborate, unrelenting picture of misery so lyrical that Charlie’s growing drug addiction and alienation is at times more affecting than his love for his daughter and grief over losing her. Ultimately, this reveals Charlie’s character and illuminates the choices he makes immediately after Kate’s death, upsetting listeners’ expectations for the grieving dad in a way that may be instructive. Harding himself reads, and his steady, persistent voice suits the character well, only falling short of professional narrators when called upon to voice the very few other characters who speak in the book.
Verdict Enon is a rough go, in large part owing to Harding’s skill. Those who read for language will appreciate this audiobook, as will readers with the kinds of empathy and curiosity that make room for the dark experiences of life that don’t always make it convincingly into print. Harding and his book’s narrator have struggled mightily to put something unspeakable into words, and with Enon, at times, they succeed.—Heather Malcolm, Bow, WA

Kilworth, Gary. Attica. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781470882334. $90; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Alex and Chloe’s mom has recently married Jordy’s dad, and they all move in together. While they are exploring the attic of their new home, they realize the attics of all of the houses on the street are connected. Strange sights soon make it apparent that they are no longer in a regular attic. A simple search for a neighbor’s old pocket watch turns into a quest that pushes the characters to identify their true desires. Kilworth (Windjammer Run) meanders a bit and the listener may be confused about the characters’ motivations. It is not until more than halfway through the story that a sense of purpose is restored and the plot picks up speed. Simon Vance’s narration brings the story to life.
Verdict British colloquialisms such as lorry (truck) and torch (flashlight) might perplex some American listeners. However, the fantasy elements may please fans of that genre.—Samantha Matush, Clara B. Mounce P.L., Bryant, TX

Kulp, Adrian. Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Dad. 4 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 5 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452614229. $34.99; 1 MP3-CD/4 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR
Blogger Kulp (dadoralive.com) takes listeners into the life and mind of a first-time dad. Kulp explores the struggles of turning the man cave into his daughter’s room, navigating his pregnant wife’s hormonal roller coaster, and shifting gears from executive to stay-at-home father. Many parents will relate to the issues of strangers mistaking their children’s gender, having to change the baby in the car because a changing table cannot be found for miles, and everyone wanting to put their germy hands on the infant. Kulp provides his own capable narration.
Verdict Recommend to fans of humorous parenting memoirs.—Jessi Brown, Huntington City Twp. P.L., IN

Thor, Brad. Hidden Order. (Scot Harvath, Bk. 12). 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781442361843. $39.99; digital download. F
The Federal Reserve at first seems an odd topic for Thor’s 12th Scot Harvath thriller (after Black List), but the inventive author finds ways to make this august body compelling. It does not hurt that a seemingly deranged serial killer is knocking off potential candidates for head of the Fed, with most of the murders staged at the locales of significant Revolutionary War events in Boston. Harvath teams with a luscious Boston homicide cop to unravel a plot that grows more complex as the proceedings bloodily advance. Armand Schultz’s smooth reading, including a delightful Boston accent, helps propel the breakneck tale.
Verdict Highly recommended for fans of Thor and conspiracy yarns in general.—Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib.