Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, February 7, 2014

Week ending February 7, 2014

Dietrich, Karen. The Girl Factory: A Memoir. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452615783. $34.99. 7 CDs. library ed.; digital download. MEMOIR
When Dietrich was eight years old, an employee at the Anchor Glass factory where both her parents worked went on a shooting spree at the workplace, killing four others before shooting himself. Dietrich is a lonely, unpopular girl who early on has a preoccupation with her body and sexuality and an inclination toward ritual and routine. Cassandra Campbell’s deliberate, rhythmic tone accentuates the feeling of melancholy that permeates Dietrich’s account, which spans the 14 years from the shooting onward. When a shocking medical file comes to light late in the work, listeners may be disappointed to see the life-altering revelations it contains folded neatly into the narrative; however, it is likely a realistic portrayal of Dietrich’s reaction after so many years of secrecy.
Verdict Recommended for those who enjoy coming-of-age memoirs.—Erin E. Forson, Columbus, OH

Delaney, Rob. Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. MP3 digital download. library ed. unabridged. 4 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804128452. $38; MP3 digital download. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital. (no CD edition.) MEMOIR
robdelaney020714Stand-up comedian Delaney tells humorous stories from his life in his self-titled, self-narrated, self-deprecating, and lengthily subtitled work. His stand-up work makes him a natural narrator, and the nature of the stories is such that they would be much more difficult to listen to if they were told by someone else. Delaney begins with a drunken (and failed) attempt to cross between telephone poles by shimmying across the telephone lines and ends with a car accident that left him with four incapacitated limbs and rapid moves between jail, the hospital, and a halfway house. His life goes downhill and then is rebuilt during his recovery. Delaney maintains a sense of humor the whole time, inviting the listener to laugh with him at his folly. Delaney is vulgar and hilarious; the disasters in his life are carefully selected to maximize his own spectacularly idiotic choices while minimizing the damage to others who feature in his tales.
Verdict Highly recommended for Delaney’s fans or anyone looking for a raunchy laugh.—Tristan M. Boyd, Westbank Community Lib., Austin, TX

Fainaru-Wada, Mark & Steve Fainaru. League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth. 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804128193. $45; 12 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; digital download. SPORTS
Brothers Fainaru-Wada (Game of Shadows) and former Washington Post reporter Fainaru here investigate the NFL’s concussion crisis. Listeners will learn of the shockingly long era of football where doctors were “handling ankle injuries better than brain injuries.” The actions of the executives, doctors, researchers, and players involved in the off-the-field research and denial are chronicled masterfully. Well-reasoned comparisons of the NFL to another multi-billion-dollar industry that denied health problems related to their product, Big Tobacco, will leave fans saddened and angered. This book will change the way its listeners experience football. David Lawrence’s narration has a conversational feel and is a very easy listen.
Verdict A must for football fans.—Sean Kennedy, Cleveland Marshall Coll. Law Lib.

Franzen, Jonathan. Strong Motion. 18 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 21 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 97810480518124. $49.97; 18 CDs. retail ed.; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Franzen (Freedom) published this, his second novel, in 1992, well before his prize-winning work The Corrections. Despite Scott Aiello’s fine narration, the stories within stories and sprawling nature of this novel make the audiobook a challenge at times. Franzen juggles plotlines dealing with environmentalism, abortion, dysfunctional families, and capitalism as his hero, Louis Holland, and Louis’s girlfriend, Renee Seitchek, work to discover what is causing a series of earthquakes in Boston. Franzen make a good effort, but eventually the novel falls apart under the weight of all he has packed into it.
Verdict Recommended for listeners interested in Franzen’s early work. [“Franzen may push an occasional metaphor too far, but distractions fade in the face of fine characterizations in a context of science grounded in history with well-integrated social messages,” read the more positive review of the Farrar hc, LJ 11/15/91.]—Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn

Grodstein, Lauren. The Explanation for Everything. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781622312511. $32.95; 8 CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Rick Adamson provides the perfect voice for Grodstein’s study in love, loss, and faith. Atheist Andy Waite, reeling from the death of his wife through the actions of a drunk driver, has thrown himself into caring for his two daughters and his work as a professor of biology. He’s trying his best, but Andy can’t take his late wife’s place in the girls’ lives, particularly while he struggles with his own grief. He reluctantly agrees to advise evangelical student Melissa on her intelligent design independent study. Melissa begins to babysit for his children and becomes important to Andy and the girls before the two of them become involved intimately. Along the way, Andy begins to question his atheism, his life’s work, his lack of forgiveness, and his inability to let anyone in. Andy’s internal drama is superb.
Verdict Grodstein captures the face of grief in Andy’s struggle to find comfort and move on. The secondary characters are well drawn and add interest to the story. Recommended. [“This engaging, and provocative novel is hard to put down,” read the starred review of the Algonquin hc, LJ 9/1/13.]—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., Temperance, MI

Kent, Kathleen. The Outcasts. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611134193. $30; Playaway digital; digital download. F
outcasts020714Hoping to build a new life for herself, Lucinda Carter escapes from a Texas brothel and runs to a Gulf Coast bayou to meet her buried treasure–hunting lover. At the same time a Texas lawman moves east tracking a merciless killer. Painting a portrait of a woman determined to start over, Kent’s (The Heretic’s Daughter) 19th-century action-packed Western includes drawn guns and various debts owed and paid. Actress Ellen Archer’s pleasing, professional reading includes distinct, nicely paced speech and a voice range and timbre that easily accommodate both male and female characters.
Verdict Will appeal to Western, historical fiction, and Kent fans. [“Kent has built a well-paced story, filled with twists and turns that will surprise most readers,” read the review of the Little, Brown hc, LJ 7/13.]—Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX

Ward, J.R. Possession. (Fallen Angels, Bk. 5). 12 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470390181. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
The latest entry in Ward’s series (after Rapture) is not a pivotal book, although there is a battle for a soul. Fallen angel Jim Heron is so distracted by Devina, the demon, and by the soul of the young college student whose murder he couldn’t prevent that he forgets the soul for which they are currently playing. Eric Dove does a credible job of sliding beneath the skins of the characters. Devina, who’s obsessed with owning stuff, is suitably spoiled and haughty. Jim and the other fallen angels are stressed and defeated, the way soldiers sound as they describe the daily impact of war. Ward’s writing style is too similar to her “Black Dagger Brotherhood” books but without the outrageousness that makes that series a success.
Verdict Fans will want, popularity will likely demand purchase, but it’s not a hand-sell for first-time listeners of the author.—Jodi L. Israel, Birmingham, AL