Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, January 10, 2014

Week ending January 10, 2014

Abe, Shana. The Sweetest Dark. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470301941. $102.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Eleanor “Lora” Jones is a teenage orphan sent into the British countryside during World War I. Lora has always been different, hearing music and voices others don’t hear and not understanding what her abilities mean. When she gets to the exclusive Iverson girls’ school, she starts to learn about her destiny. Lora is drawn to earthy Jesse and aristocratic Armand for different reasons, though it turns out that both hold keys to parts of her history. Bianca Amato, Elizabeth Sastre, and Rich Orlow provide the narration, which effectively portrays the story’s differing points of view.
Recommend to fans of YA literature.—Sharon Redfern, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT

The Betches. Nice Is Just a Place in France: How To Win at Basically Everything. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs.Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452614120. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD/7 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. HUMOR
Read by Arika Rapson, this collection of advice for the twentysomething woman is by the authors of the popular blog BetchesLoveThis.com. According to the introduction, “betches” are not mean women but edgy ones who always get what they want. Rapson reads expressively along over profanity, slang, and large numbers of abbreviations in the best “betch” style. For collections where the college-age audience is targeted, this may be a popular title, riding on the familiarity of the blog. However, it is a trendy purchase destined for a short shelf life.
Recommended as an optional purchase for large public libraries and university leisure listening collections.—Karen Perry, Greensboro, NC

Butler, Nickolas. Shotgun Lovesongs. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427236357. $39.99; digital download. F
Told from alternating viewpoints, this full-cast audio brings Butler’s portrait of male friendship in rural Little Wing, WI, to life. Henry, Lee, Kip, and Ronny grew up together and then went their separate ways. Farmer Henry is tied to the land, but Lee has become a famous musician. Kip is a successful commodities trader, and Ronny is riding high as a rodeo star. But they are inexorably bound and one by one are drawn home for reasons that include serious injury and a failed marriage. The women surrounding these men cannot totally understand or enter this male camaraderie. Even Beth, Henry’s wife, who is important to each of these men and is as tied to Little Wing as any of them, marvels at and envies their connection. Sure, there is conflict, culture clash, even heartbreak among them, but the ties that bind are strong, and their friendship will endure. Narrators Ari Fliakos, Maggie Hoffman, Scott Shepherd, Scott Sowers, and Gary Wilmes do an excellent job of portraying the various characters.
Lyrical writing paints a portrait of friendship in a small town that will seem familiar to any Midwesterner. Recommended. [“While not ignoring the economic hardships of contemporary rural life, Butler stacks the deck a bit in favor of small-town values vs. big city shallowness. Overall, though, this is a warm and absorbing depiction of male friendship,” read the review of the Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s hc, LJ 12/13.]—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., Temperance, MI

starred review starEmson, Thomas. Pariah. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452611471. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD/9 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
pariah011014An ancient evil has always preyed on the darkness in men’s hearts. In London’s gritty streets, the monster finds plenty of criminals and malcontents to commit atrocities in its name and to complete its age-old quest for release. In 2011, successful writer Charlie Faultless returns from exile to investigate the horrific murders of his mother and girlfriend. He is confronted by not only another rash of violence but also the truth about his own shocking fate. Using well-placed passages from the past and a cast of criminals, thieves, perverts, and other ne’er-do-wells, this novel reveals its macabre secrets slowly and methodically. Reader Simon Vance gives a stellar voice performance filled with nuance and mystery. With deliberate and varied pacing and a smooth delivery, Vance deftly leads the listener into this dark world where history and the supernatural collide. Listeners will revel in the building horror of this chilling twist on the Jack the Ripper story.
An essential purchase for libraries with listeners clamoring for a good scare.—Lisa Youngblood, Harker Heights P.L., TX

Pekkanen, Sarah. The Best of Us. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470344597. $102.75; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed. S. & S. Audio; digital download. F
Pekkanen’s (These Girls) story follows four women and their respective spouses on a once-in-a-lifetime all-expenses-paid vacation to Jamaica. As the characters enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of the island, a looming tropical storm threatens to disrupt their trip and forces the women to reevaluate their relationships. Cassandra Campbell gives additional life to the story with her well-paced, versatile narration. Campbell’s portrayal of Savannah is particularly enjoyable.
Recommended for fans of Pekkanen and those looking for a fun read. [“A solid entry in the “women’s fiction” genre (aka chick lit that skews slightly older),” read the review of the Washington Square: S. & S. hc, LJ 3/15/13.]—Saori W. Herman, Southern California Coll. of Optometry Lib., Fullerton

Peterson, Tracie. The Icecutter’s Daughter. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470341282. $123.75; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Peterson’s “Land of Shining Water” series opener is set in 1898 Minnesota and imagines the quandary of likable, über-capable Merrill Krause. Dazzling her German Lutheran community with her resourcefulness and industry, Merrill nevertheless frets that a pack of overprotective brothers and her diminished femininity (she sturdily assists in the family’s ice business) deflect potential suitors. Besides, marriage would impede fulfillment of Merrill’s pledge to her dying mother to care for the Krause men as long as they require. Enter intriguing Swede Rurik Jorgenson, who brings unfinished business from back home in Kansas—shocking issues provoking moral dilemmas that challenge loyalties heretofore unquestioned. Narrator Stina Nielsen enhances the townsfolk’s charm with accented dialog, avoiding caricature and lending warmth to the presentation.
This engaging synthesis of historical detail, romance, and Christian faith is certain to please Peterson’s multitude of fans. Also recommend to readers of Ginny Aiken, Lori Wick, Tamera Alexander, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.—Linda Sappenfield, Round Rock P.L., TX