Audiobooks by Austen, Shinn, Vinet, and Voskamp | Xpress Reviews

Week ending March 3, 2017

Austen, Jane. Emma. 15 CDs. 18 hrs. Dreamscape Media. Jan. 2017. ISBN 9781520064048. $39.99. digital download. F
emma030317Though very practical, Emma Woodhouse is often a proper romantic, trying to match her protégé Harriet with a worthy spouse. While Emma sincerely cares for her hypersensitive father, endures the minister’s incredibly annoying wife, and maintains close relationships with family and friends, her matchmaking, though well intended, is sometimes misguided. However, Austen rewards readers with happy endings for all the story’s couples, including Emma herself. Austen’s adored classic paints a charming portrait of the social constraints of 18th-century English gentry. Anna Bentinck delivers an excellent narration, infusing a varied cast of characters with lively personalities.
Verdict This beloved and enduring novel is a wise choice for all library collections.—Barbara Wysocki, formerly with Cora J. Belden Lib., Rocky Hill, CT

Shinn, Florence Scovel. The Complete Works of Florence Scovel Shinn. 8 CDs. 6 hrs. Blackstone Audio. Dec. 2016. ISBN 9781504754774. $29.95. digital download. SELF-HELP
Shinn (1871–1940) was a spiritual teacher and metaphysical writer in the early part of the 20th century. The works on this audiobook were written between 1925 and 1940 and include The Game of Life and How To Play It, Your Word Is Your Wand, The Secret Door to Success, and The Power of the Spoken Word. In her teachings, she emphasizes the power of belief, including affirmations to a Universal Spirit. Shinn provides an instructional framework interspersed with examples of how believers overcame obstacles through the power of faith, prayer, and positive thinking. Her message is timeless and of value to readers today. Reader Cary Valentine is passionate in his narration, with a clear, strong voice.
Verdict For religious and self-help collections.—J. Sara Paulk, Houston Cty. P.L., Perry, GA

Vinet, Lynette. Pirate Hunter’s Mistress. (Virginia Brides, Bk. 2). 8 CDs. 10 hrs. Dreamscape. Dec. 2016. ISBN 9781520049113. $59.99. digital download. F
In the 18th century, a proper young lady relies on her reputation, by way of her virtue, to make a proper marriage. When a false rumor started by a disappointed suitor ruins Marlee’s honor, she knows that making an acceptable match has become severely limited; however, her solicitor suggests marriage to Lord Richard Arden, and although she knows it is her fortune that encourages the proposal, she agrees. But Lord Arden is not who he seems. Having already gambled away his funds, he has quietly assumed his wealthy dead cousin’s identity to appeal to Marlee and get her to fall for him. Narrator Tanya Hyde pulls listeners into the story. The narration flows quite well without excessive pauses or breathy sounds. There are moments listeners may get lost in trying to distinguish among the voices of the secondary characters. Unfortunately, the Virginia accents depicting the various social classes all sound too similar. Nevertheless, the production is easily listened to throughout.
Verdict Add this to your library’s collection if you have solid historical romance fans.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom P.L., MI

Voskamp, Ann. The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life. 8 CDs. 13:34. Zondervan. Oct. 2016. ISBN 9780310318620. $21.99. digital download. MEMOIR
In this sequel to her first book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are, Voskamp offers a spiritual memoir that is unique in its lyrical translation of the gospel message of the cross: “Not one thing in your life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.” This imperative is woven into the strands of her autobiography, taut with a fine balance of raw humility, insight, and fierce rage against incomprehensible sorrows that include the accidental death of her young sister; the childhood stigma and abandonment of her mother’s episodic retreats into psychiatric wards; and her own powerful sense of shame and unworthiness, unleashed in recurring bouts of self-harm. Narrator Jaimee Paul’s voice skillfully conveys this tension with a startling sense of sharp, pleading anger directed in utter abandonment at times toward God, although the effect is never a mere litany of despair or doubt.
Verdict A valuable addition to resources that address the psychology of self-harm and the toll of unacknowledged trauma and anxiety, from an inspirational Christian point of view.—Bernadette McGrath, Vancouver P.L., BC