Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, January 17, 2014

Week ending January 17, 2014

Barlow, Toby. Babayaga. 12 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452615875. $39.99; 2 MP3-CDs/12 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
This imaginative novel set in Paris during the 1950s features Will Van Wyck, a young American advertising agent working for the CIA, as he becomes increasingly caught up in a series of events involving the Cold War, LSD experimentation, and witchcraft. A parallel plot follows Zoya and Elga, witches from Russia, as they seduce, manipulate, and generally cause trouble. Barlow (Sharp Teeth) has succeeded in writing a fast-moving though somewhat tangled tale. Especially enjoyable are the detailed accounts of the witches’ centuries-long history. Dan Miller’s versatile voice captures the various accents believably, although the uneven audio requires frequent volume adjustments.
Verdict Recommended for listeners of contemporary fiction interested in an entertaining and complicated story.—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo

Brodrick, William. The Day of the Lie. (Father Anselm, Bk. 4). 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470362546. $123.75; digital download. F
Brodrick’s (A Whispered Name) latest takes listeners into the dangerous world of post–World War II communist Poland. Anselm, a lawyer-turned-monk, is investigating the life of Roza Mojeska, a case he has taken at the request of an old friend. Roza was a key participant in the distribution of an antiterrorist underground newspaper written by the legendary “Shoemaker.” Her involvement led to her imprisonment and torture as well as to the execution of her husband. Anselm’s biggest challenge is getting the alarmingly silent Roza to provide evidence against those involved. Anselm’s faith is tested by facing such evils head on. The story drags at times, but listeners will likely appreciate the monk’s deliberate approach and the story’s jaw-dropping twists. Gordon Griffin’s narration is passionate, but listeners may need to adjust to his accent.
Verdict Best for John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth fans.—Sean Kennedy, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib.

Caputo, Philip. The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Highbridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622311958. $36.95; 10 CDs. library ed.; digital download. TRAV
Caputo (Crossers), acting on an idea he had during an Alaska hunting trip years earlier, decides to travel from the tip of the Florida Keys to Deadhorse, AK. Along the way he asks the people he meets what unites America and keeps it together. In places the book seems to be merely a recitation of the route and Caputo’s daily life as he travels. In other sections, however, listeners will hear thoughtful discussion with people who articulate interesting concerns about our country. The most captivating sections occur in North Dakota when Caputo travels to the site of Custer’s Last Stand and speaks with a local Native American history buff. Pete Larkin is the perfect choice to represent Caputo, sounding both matter-of-fact and interested.
Verdict Recommended for library collections where travel memoirs are popular.—Karen Perry, Greensboro, NC

Doiron, Paul. Massacre Pond. (Mike Bowditch, Bk. 4). 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427235183. $39.99; digital download. F
massacrepond011714Game Warden Mike Bowditch of the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is called to the scene of a horrific animal crime on an unseasonably hot October day. The crime scene is on the massive estate of a despised entrepreneur who wants to turn more than 100,000 acres of remote Maine into a national park—stopping all logging on the land. The tightly constructed plot provides enough possible suspects to keep the action moving quickly. Doiron (Bad Little Falls) also easily evokes the atmosphere of rural deep woods and the people who live and survive there. Henry Leyva has a keen ear for the various accents of the Northeast, but the voice of the main character is too neutral in comparison.
Verdict Overall, this is a great addition to the series. Recommended for mystery collections.—J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA

Osteen, Joel. Breakout! 5 Keys To Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life. MP3 digital download. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781609418267. $30; Playaway digital; digital download (no CD edition). REL
Christian minister Osteen (I Declare) continues to write inspirational books that aim to help the listener improve his or her life through a combination of action and faith. Here he takes some of his sermons and combines them into stories that showcase examples of how God has our best interests at heart and wants all of us to achieve our dreams and desires. Examples from Osteen’s personal life plus stories from the Bible highlight the possibilities as long as you have faith. The author’s smooth voice increases the text’s impact. The book is designed to be listened to a chapter at a time, which works better than hearing several chapters at once.
Verdict When taken in small doses to avoid some repetition of material, this is a great audio experience for both Osteen’s fans and those who are new to his work.—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.

Relin, David Oliver. Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest To Restore Sight and Save Lives. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385359917. $40; digital download. SOC SCI
Relin (coauthor, Three Cups of Tea) investigates the personal and professional histories of two maverick ophthalmologists on a quest to eradicate preventable blindness in developing countries. Sanduk Ruit, from Nepal, and American Geoffrey Tabin were deeply affected by people living with the consequences of preventable cataracts in the Himalayas where many impoverished people work outdoors in harsh light and have no access to medical care. They perfected a simple, effective surgery that could be performed for pennies on the dollar and that requires only a short recovery time. Eventually, the project grew to become self-sustaining, and Ruit and Tabin were able to build an intraocular lens factory. Rob Shapiro’s even, fluid narration effectively captures Relin’s intent: well-written journalism about cultural inequality and hope.
Verdict The individual journeys of the two earnest physicians and their unlikely success will appeal to listeners who are inspired by stories in which relatively small efforts make big differences.—Douglas C. Lord, Middletown, CT