Audiobooks from Dietz, Howey, Mallery, & Smith | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 6, 2014

Dietz, William C. Runner. (Run, Bk. 1). 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781452619293. $44.99; 11 CDs. library ed.; 2 MP3-CDs. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
Dietz’s series first, published initially in print in 2006, is set in a postapocalyptic world of decaying technology and sentient starships. Tra Lee, a young boy believed to be the reincarnated leader of “The Way,” is being transported by interstellar runner (delivery person) Jak Rebo. Along the way they encounter Lanni Norr, a sensitive with psionic talents, as well as a succession of bad guys. What follows is a series of chase scenes and lots of action with sympathetic but unremarkable (even clichéd) characters and an ending that ultimately seems rushed. Narrator Sean Runnette handles the formulaic content and simple plot with a solidly entertaining reading.
Verdict Of interest to fans of the author and sf.—Denise A. Garofalo, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY

Howey, Hugh. Shift. (Silo Saga, Bk. 2). 15 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 18½ hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781480567993. $64.97; 15 CDs. retail ed.; 2 MP3-CDs. retail ed.; digital download. F
shift060614Escaping a nuclear holocaust, thousands of hand-picked individuals from each state take refuge in 50 self-contained underground silos built to last more than 500 years. While the inhabitants of 49 of the silos live out their natural life spans, the occupants of Silo 1 are awakened from cryogenic sleep once a century to work a six-month shift overseeing the other 49 silos until the outside world is deemed safe for human habitation. Those who seek answers find that truth is elusive, and those who question the order are silenced. Narrator Tim Gerald Reynolds holds the listener’s imagination ransom from beginning to end. Distinctly voiced and well characterized, his performance draws from an arsenal of pitches, volumes, and intonations, portraying the characters quite well.
Verdict A great purchase for fans of sf and time travel postapocalyptic fiction.—JoAnn Funderburk, South Garland Branch Lib., TX

Mallery, Susan. When We Met. (Fool’s Gold, Bk. 13). 7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781480502123. $54.97; 7 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Mallery’s “Fool’s Gold” series continues (after Three Little Words) with bodyguard trainer Angel Whittaker and public relations manager Taryn Crawford. Though neither of them is looking for a long-term relationship, they are interested enough in each other to give it a try. Angel’s past in Special Ops has left him scarred inside and out, while Taryn has her own obstacles to opening up. Yet if they can learn to trust each other, they may just find a happily ever after. Whether listeners are new to the series or longtime fans, they will be instantly drawn into Angel and Taryn’s story, which is brought to life by narrator Tanya Eby.
Verdict Romance fans should not miss this.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom P.L., MI

Schwarz, Liesel. A Conspiracy of Alchemists. 11 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 12¾ hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480537675. $59.97; 11 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; digital download. F
In her debut, Schwarz launches a series that combines genres including romance, urban fantasy, and steampunk. Audacious dirigible pilot Elle Chance, daughter of the inventor Professor Chance, has been hired to deliver valuable cargo, unaware there is a hidden purpose to the assignment. It’s this mysterious mission that embroils her in a nefarious plot involving the enigmatic warlock Mr. Marsh, the disappearance of her father, and the possible disastrous disruption of the détente between the light and shadow societies. Narrator Amy McFadden does an acceptable job reading the spunky Elle, though her voice for the absinthe fairy sounds too much like a whiny little girl.
Verdict This work has all the usual “woman in peril” romance features with the added touch of steampunk technology. Recommended for fans who adore plucky heroines who bristle at society’s conventions.—Deb West, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Smith, April. A Star for Mrs. Blake. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804166256. $50; digital download. F
Smith’s (Exceeding Expectations) latest shares the story of the “Gold Star Mothers,” the 6,693 American women who lost sons during World War I and received funding from the U.S. government to travel to France between 1930 and 1933 to visit their sons’ graves. The novel, told from multiple characters’ perspectives, centers on a fictitious group of diverse women traveling to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, along with their military personnel escort and a wounded newspaperman they encounter. Narrator Bernadette Dunn convincingly voices the many well-defined characters.
Verdict This emotionally wrenching novel would be a strong addition to any historical fiction collection. Listeners will appreciate a new perspective on the Great War.—Julie Judkins, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor