Audiobooks by Cussler & Frost & Hayder & Kenyon & Lu | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 25, 2014

Cussler, Clive with Jack Du Brul. Mirage. (Oregon Files, Bk. 9). 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470300104. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Juan Cabrillo and his crew are trying to locate and destroy an invisible ship capable of releasing an enormous magnetic field that can destroy any vessel on the sea or in the air. Rumors link the ship to inventor Nikola Tesla, who was working with the navy when he died in 1943. Was he responsible for the experiment? Scott Brick does an excellent job of reading Cussler’s follow-up to The Jungle. Brick captures the excitement and suspense of Cabrillo’s narrow escapes, the various foreign accents of the characters, and the repartee and camaraderie of the Oregon’s crew.
Verdict Highly recommended for all Cussler and action adventure fans.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

Ford, Jamie. Songs of Willow Frost. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780307876232. $40; digital download. F
In 1934, all the boys from Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage take a trip to the movies. On the way, 12-year-old William Eng sees a movie poster featuring the famous singer and actress Willow Frost. He becomes convinced that she is the mother he thought was dead and immediately sets out to find her. Flashbacks to his mother’s past explore being a Chinese woman—and a single mother—during the Depression. William learns that in order to protect him, his mother made heartbreaking choices. While the story is dramatic and emotional, Ford’s (Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) characters seem somewhat melodramatic, and his explanations for their various plights are uneven. For example, he explains paternal rights, but not why Willow was sterilized after her miscarriage.
Verdict Still, this book, well read by Ryan Gesell, will appeal to fans and listeners of general fiction.—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence

Hayder, Mo. Skin. (Jack Caffery/Flea Marley, Bk. 4). 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624067792. $59.99; 2 MP3-CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
skin042514Where Bristol the police see a string of individual self-inflicted deaths, maverick DI Jack Caffery sees something much darker, a savvy predator who knows how to stage a believable suicide. Caffery investigates even though his boss would prefer he spend time searching for a high-profile missing person. Police diver Flea Marley is recovering from the loss of her parents when another personal disaster hits close to home. Jack and Flea are tough yet appealing characters, and Hayder (Ritual) knows how to maintain suspense. Reader Andrew Wincott brings skill and verve to a variety of British dialects.
Verdict Highly recommended.—Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA

Kenyon, Sherrilyn. Styxx. (Dark-Hunter, Bk. 22). 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427230942. $49.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
If you thought that Acheron was tortured, wait until you hear what his twin, the “real” heir, endured. In 11,000 years, Styxx has asked only for someone to love him back. There has been no gentleness in his life, no softness, no hope, but suddenly it is his responsibility to keep the world from ending. Surely he deserves love. Fred Berman is a welcome addition to the stable of readers in this world. He transitions Styxx from child to man gracefully. Since the character remains ageless once in his twenties, so does his voice, while other characters, such as his beloved weapons master Galen, have aged. Berman effectively vocalizes the female characters, keeping their voices pegged to their behaviors.
Verdict Although the torture and abuse get repetitive, this is a solid story, well read. Expect demand.—Jodi L. Israel, Birmingham, AL

Lu, Marie. Champion. (Legend, Bk. 3). 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781629230085. $59.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
After convincing the people of the Republic to support Elector Anden, June eases into the Princeps Elect role, while Day fills a military command position. Just when they begin to see the benefits of their hard work and sacrifice, a mutated plague sweeps the country, ending the peace treaty between the Colonies and the Republic. The Colonies blame the Republic for the outbreak and threaten to wage war unless the Republic hands over a cure. Although Eden’s blood might be the key to creating the antiserum, Day struggles with the decision to send his little brother back to the labs for experimentation. Running out of time, Day faces not only the battle in the streets as the Colonies attack but also the brain tumor that is slowly robbing him of his memory and abilities. Given only three months to live, Day sets off without June to save the Republic and all he holds dear. The work is read with great feeling and inflection by Mariel Stern and Steven Kaplan.
Verdict Suspense, unexpected twists, and unrequited love make for an action-packed, heart-rending series finale (after Legend and Prodigy) for young adult readers.—JoAnn Funderburk, South Garland Branch Lib., TX