Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, February 14, 2014

Week ending February 14, 2014

Armstrong, Kelley. Omens. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470363895 $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Though best known for paranormal romances such as the “Women of the Otherworld” series, Armstrong here departs that genre to produce a strong mystery with only a touch of the supernatural. Olivia Taylor Jones’s world is shattered when she learns she was adopted as a toddler and that her birth parents were notorious serial killers. Hounded by the press and abandoned by her mother and fiancé, Olivia flees Chicago for the isolated rural community of Cainesville, IL, where she learns exactly how guilty her birth parents were. Murder, suspense, well-developed characters, a touch of romance, and a slight paranormal edge combine to produce an unpredictable and compelling novel. Carine Montbertrand capably voices Olivia, while Mozhan Marnò narrates sidebars and background.
Verdict Certain to please Armstrong’s current fans and earn her new ones.—Janet Martin, Pinehurst, NC

Cabot, Sam. Blood of the Lamb: A Novel of Secrets. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. S. & S. Audio. ISBN 9781442363489. $39.99; digital download. F
bloodofthelamb021414This work takes a very different look at the history of Jesus and the Roman Catholic Church, but if it is simply viewed as a work of fiction designed to entertain, it shouldn’t be offensive. Those listeners who like the novels of Dan Brown will be pleasantly surprised by this story about the search for a missing Concordat, signed in 1431 by Pope Martin V, that was stolen from the Vatican Archives. American Jesuit Thomas Kelly joins Noantri (vampire) art historian Livia Pietro on a quest across Rome to find a document that if revealed will supposedly “shatter the Church.” Even those listeners who aren’t fans of the supernatural will enjoy this audio production—Jason Culp’s narration adds much to the recording—and hope this is the first of many more in this series.
Verdict Recommended.—Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.

Forsyth, Frederick. The Kill List. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781470368005. $77.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Narrated adroitly by George Guidall, Forsyth’s (The Day of the Jackal) latest tells the story of a son seeking to avenge his father’s death. During an assassination attempt on a U.S. senator, retired marine general Alvin Carson is killed. The assassin is inspired by an Islamist clergyman known as the Preacher. Unfortunately for the Preacher, the marine’s son, LTC Kit “The Tracker” Carson, is a member of the Technical Operations Support Activity whose job it is to track and kill enemies of the United States. Guidall gives a marvelous performance in the narration of this work. His deep, resonant voice effortlessly gives life to the text. His pacing is spot on, and he reads both description and dialog with the same skill. A very nice marriage of voice and text.
Verdict Public libraries should purchase.—Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll. Lib, Lynchburg

Hawkins, Rachel. School Spirits. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068904. $59.99; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Read in a convincingly youthful voice by Cris Dukehart, Hawkins’s (“Hex Hall” series) new release tells the story of Izzy Brannick’s adventures in high school. Izzy is new to the high school scene—she’s spent her life in the family business, which is hunting vampires, ghosts, and other magical creatures. But her sister Finley has gone missing, and now it’s just Izzy and her mother—oh, and the warlock trapped in the mirror. Izzy’s mom moves to Mississippi and enrolls her in high school so she can have a taste of normalcy…and catch the ghost haunting the school. Izzy makes some friends, for the first time, along the way, and they help her out on her ghost hunt.
Verdict Recommended for YA readers of all ages.—Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA

Mott, Jason. The Returned. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480529892. $59.97; 9 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Mott’s debut novel will have listeners pondering life and death as an older couple, Harold and Lucille Hargrave, cope with the arrival of their deceased son, Jacob, back to the land of the living. Around the world, people are coming back from the dead healthy and whole, causing societal disruption and provoking moral, emotional, legal, spiritual, philosophical, and existential questions. Fear, confusion, and the increased strain on world resources lead to killing the Returned or moving them to internment camps. Tom Stechschulte lends his charming voice to this superficial treatment of a complex premise. The title is in production as an ABC television series, Resurrection, which will air in March 2014.
Verdict Recommended where there is demand.—Denise Garofalo, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib, Newburgh, NY

starred review starRichler, Nancy. The Imposter Bride. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452615431. $39.99; 1 MP3-CD/9 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Richler (Your Mouth Is Lovely) opens her engrossing, multilayered tale in 1946. Lily Azerof has come to Montreal only to be spurned by the man she arranged via correspondence to marry. Impulsively, her fiancé’s brother, Nathan Kramer, decides to marry Lily himself. Nathan’s friends and neighbors would be rejoicing for him if it were not that Lily’s identity is false and she possesses a diamond and journal whose owner vanished in wartime Poland. Lily subsequently abandons Nathan and their baby, Ruth, leaving the family with a dilemma: When, if ever, should they disclose their revelations about Lily’s past to her daughter? Narrator Tavia Gilbert, adept in voicing Ruth at different ages, masterfully evokes the depth and endurance of a community where all have suffered and surmounted crushing losses. Blending well-written prose, nuanced characters, a postwar setting, and a gripping mystery, this audio will have wide appeal.
Verdict Highly recommended for all audio collections. [“Richler…illuminates through her introspective and incisive writing the postwar Canadian Jewish community and how the ties with those loved and lost in Europe are never broken and how the past never relinquishes its hold on us…. Readers will enjoy feasting upon this compelling work,” read the review of the St. Martin’s hc, LJ 11/1/12.]—Linda Sappenfield, Round Rock P.L., TX

Spindler, Erica. Justice for Sara. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 12 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427230751. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
When an automobile accident kills Sara and Katherine McCall’s parents, Sara becomes guardian of her rebellious 17-year old sister. One morning after a particularly heated argument Kat wakes up to find Sara beaten to death and she a prime suspect. After her trial and acquittal, Kat leaves town but returns ten years later, determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice. Spindler (Watch Me Die) provides plenty of suspense as Kat moves from one dangerous situation to another in her frenzy to identify the murderer. Unfortunately, the characters lack development, their behavior often seeming contrived and implausible. Tavia Gilbert’s versatile narration brings the characters to life, regardless of age or gender.
Verdict Recommended for Spindler fans and those who enjoy mystery with a touch of romance.—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo

Troost, J. Maarten. Headhunters on My Doorstep. 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470377489. $102.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR
Humorist Troost (The Sex Lives of Cannibals) returns with another travel adventure set in the South Seas. He follows in the footsteps of his hero, Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson. The most fascinating parts of the memoir are the tidbits about Stevenson’s writing and life. However, Troost, a recovering alcoholic, makes too many references to his road to recovery, and the many places he visits come across as depressing rather than must-see destinations owing to natural disasters and grinding poverty. However, Simon Vance is a star, beautifully voicing the text; he’s the best part of the endeavor.
Verdict Recommended with reservations.—Susan G. Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL