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December 2016 Earphones Award Winners

The award is given by AudioFile to truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.


AL CAPONE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Al Capone's reign as the gangster king of Chicago lasted only six years, yet he retains a storied place in American culture decades after his death. In this audiobook, the author explores the myth and reality of Capone's life and expands the story by examining members of his larger family. Her style is straightforward, with heavy use of declarative sentences. This adapts... Read More

BAKER'S MAGIC
Earphones Award Winner
Children

A full cast works together seamlessly in this charming magical adventure. As the story's narrator, Tavia Gilbert is crisply engaged, and she's spirited as young Bee, the baker's apprentice. Kenneth Cavett, with his rich and resonant voice, is a standout as kindly baker Master Bouts, and Robin Miles is a hoot as pirate captain Zafira Zay. The care in the production is... Read More

BLOOD FOR BLOOD
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Christa Lewis, who narrated Graudin's first WWII alt-history, WOLF BY WOLF, narrates this companion. Lewis immediately picks up the dramatically intensity she built at the end of the first audiobook. Shape-shifting Yael's murder of a doppelganger Hitler has been discovered. The police track Yael while brutally torturing her companion, Felix. Lewis creates tension anew, and it... Read More

THE CHEMIST
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

If you've ever avoided pressing the play button for fear a favorite character won't survive the chapter, this audiobook isn't going to be comfortable listening. Early on, narrator Ellen Archer signals that Meyer's characters are on borrowed time. Alex--not her real name--is being hunted by the government that once lauded her for her ability to interrogate terrorists with... Read More

THE CRUSADES
Earphones Award Winner
History

This lengthy audio history of the medieval Crusades spans centuries, and generations upon generations of kings and generals. It is an investment of more than a full day of one's life--and it's rewarding on a number of levels. Derek Perkins is, as always, a matchless narrator. One could relish this production entirely for the music of his pronunciation. Asbridge is a skilled... Read More

THE CRYSTAL CAVE
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

The opening volume of Mary Stewart's classic novels of Merlin and Arthur is at last available as an audiobook, and it was thoroughly worth the wait. Stewart was a scholar of the literature as well as a riveting and original storyteller, and Derek Perkins is her match. His delivery is faultlessly fine, conveying the heart-pounding excitement of Stewart's tale and the gorgeous... Read More

THE DISPATCHER
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

The hero of this book is narrator Zachary Quinto, who makes a potentially confusing story simple and compelling. With a voice that sounds trained, he reaches right through the speakers and grabs listeners, making them want--no need--to listen. It's hard to talk about the audiobook without giving up a massive plot twist that occurs early on. Suffice it to say that our hero, Tony... Read More

DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This audiobook marries a haunting, compelling story and a memorable performance by its narrator. Angela Lin reads with assurance, confidence, and a gentleness that captures the mood of the story. Lin has a thin, high voice, and she uses it to set the scene in China. The timeframe alternates between the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and the present, and Lin guides listeners... Read More

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Laura Snyder investigates the fact that two famous Dutchmen living in Delft at the same time just a stone's throw from each other were both using optical devices to see the previously unseen. Narrator Tamara Marston clearly understands the important points of the text and with impeccable pacing and her lovely and accessible voice proves an able and engaging guide through the... Read More

JERUSALEM
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Alan Moore's vivid imagistic prose, which touches all the listener's senses, has the perfect partner in Simon Vance, who delivers this epic mellifluously. From the opening scene, one's awareness of the sheer length ahead falls away because each moment absorbs one's attention. Many characters' viewpoints emerge as the narrative recounts the past 200 years of impoverishment in... Read More

THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Who would have thought that the race to produce a workable light bulb could serve as the basis of a gripping historical novel? The story of the late-nineteenth-century battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, as narrated by Johnathan McClain, is the best kind of can't-turn-it-off listen. Coils, wires, direct and alternating current, and the strange inventor Nikola... Read More

LOCKWOOD & CO. THE CREEPING SHADOW
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Emily Bevan's narration is as spine-tingling as the adventures in this fourth Lockwood & Co. story. The quirky mix of chills and humor continues as Bevan deepens the character of heroine Lucy Carlyle. Bevan shows Lucy's frustration at her decision to work apart from her colleagues. Lucy is annoyed with the adults who control her world, in which only the young have the power to... Read More

THE MOTION OF PUPPETS
Earphones Award Winner
Horror

In their strolls around the Old Town of Quebec, a newlywed couple often wanders by a shop displaying puppets in the window. She is mesmerized. He isn't quite sure about them. One night she disappears without a trace. Narrating with understated conviction, Bronson Pinchot leads the listener through this dark, fantastic, highly original tale of a man who never doubts he'll be... Read More

OMARI AND THE PEOPLE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Like Robin Hood, the Phantom Thief, Omari, robs from the wealthy and give to the poor. But he's changed when flames engulf his City on the Sea of Providence, somewhere in Arabia. Curt Simmons has a great baritone voice with a charming timbre. He adds a subtle Middle Eastern accent to his narration of this atmospheric action-adventure. Besides Omari, the magical tale is peopled... Read More

THE ORPHAN MOTHER
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The heartbreaking story of former slave and midwife Mariah Reddick is intelligently presented by narrator Adenrele Ojo. Mariah navigates the shifting relationships between Southern owners and former slaves during the the Reconstruction era. Ojo reflects Mariah's joy at her newly won freedom and the fear and horror she suffers as her only son exercises those new rights. A tone... Read More

PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Smooth performances by narrators Fiona Hardingham, Susan Duerden, Jayne Entwistle, Olivia Mackenzie-Smith, and Katharine McEwan bring out serendipity's sweet surprises and sometimes ironic influences in these stories about love and self-discovery. In the title story, 26-year-old Nell's seemingly doomed weekend in Paris leads to a serendipitous meeting. Nell's initially anxious... Read More

PICKPOCKET'S APPRENTICE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

It's impossible to choose which of narrator Joel Froomkin's skills is better--his expert narrative or his spirited portrayals of a vast array of eccentric figures in this historical novel, set in 1800s London. Froomkin inhabits the principal character, mouthy 14-year-old John Pickett, who is brought before Magistrate Colquhoun, whom Froomkin renders in an appealing portrayal as... Read More

THE QUEUE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

In an unnamed city in Egypt, people wait in a colossal line for justice, for absolution, and for common decency from an authoritarian government known only as The Gate, which thus far has kept its doors shut. Mark Bramhall's deep voice and stoic tone carry this story, which cuts close to the bone of real-world atrocities, and his Middle Eastern accents are most impressive in... Read More

THE RISEN
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Richard Ferrone's gravelly timbre is perfect for this tightly written mystery, set in a North Carolina backwoods. The story is told by Eugene, a once-promising writer in his sixties whose alcoholism doomed his career and family life. As a teenager in 1969, Eugene and his overachieving brother, Bill, fell in with Ligeia, a free-spirited, adventurous girl with whom they... Read More

RUBBERNECKER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Ever since he saw his father die, medical student Patrick Fort, who has Asperger's syndrome, has struggled to grasp how death shifts us instantly from "is" to "is not." While looking for answers to this mystery in his autopsy class, he stumbles across another: murder. Rather than adopting some affectation to convey Patrick's autism, narrator Andrew Wincott lets other... Read More

A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Kate Reading is masterful in her portrayals in this clever historical mystery with a fabulous twist. It's centered around Charlotte Holmes, a young woman with a gift for "discernment" and getting into trouble, and who has secrets worth protecting. Reading's aristocratic British voices are spot-on, and her acting is outstanding. She depicts all types of... Read More

TALES OF THE PECULIAR
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

British actor Simon Callow delivers a delightfully whimsical performance of the collected stories that comprise this companion to the hugely popular Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series. His refined pronunciation gives the impression that the stories are, in fact, revered folklore handed down through the ages. Even as Callow maintains the scholarly tone of the... Read More

TELL THE TRUTH & SHAME THE DEVIL
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

This production robs one's breath while bestowing enlightenment. Michael Brown was the teenager who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, during the summer of 2015. This memoir is by Brown's mother. Narrator Lisa Renee Pitts delivers a performance so believable and emotionally authentic that it reaches inside listeners and shakes their very souls. From the quiver in her... Read More

THE TERRANAUTS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This audio performance captures the intensity that is typical of Boyle's work. Lynde Houck, Joy Osmanski, and Charlie Thurston take turns at the helm of this riveting production, each taking the role of a "terranaut"--a scientist selected to take part in an alternative community prototype called E2--as Earth itself feels the pain of climate change. Each narrator manages a fully... Read More

THE VELVET HOURS
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Two remarkable performances grace this romance inspired by true events. Tavia Gilbert and Kate Reading shine as Solange and her grandmother, Marthe. Alternating between Belle-poch Paris and pre-WWII, Marthe slowly reveals the story of her life, from her unfortunate childhood to her years as a courtesan among Paris's demimonde. Gilbert delivers a youthful Solange, filled with... Read More

VICTORIA THE QUEEN
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

With impeccable phrasing and a voice rich with the style and color of nineteenth-century England, narrator Lucy Rayner captures the essence of Queen Victoria. She was Great Britain's longest reigning monarch until the contemporary Queen Elizabeth broke that record. Rayner creates mystery and intrigue with her performance of Victoria's mother, who plotted to become regent should... Read More

WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Carmen Rose captures heroine Poppy Fairchurch's vulnerability and hero Struan Mackenzie's no-nonsense temperament and virility in this historical romance. After Poppy saves the Duke of Autenberry from being killed by a runaway carriage, he slips into a coma. When she's mistakenly believed to be his fiancée, his friend demands that she keep up the farce for the good of... Read More

THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Titus Welliver has developed a great voice for detective Harry Bosch over several titles, and here again in twin investigations that touch on Bosch's family, especially his daughter, Maddie. While working on a serial rapist "screen cutter" case in the small community of San Fernando, Bosch is asked by a reclusive aviation billionaire to find an heir who may or may not... Read More

WTF?!
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Graham Halstead gives a top-notch performance of this entertaining and comprehensive commentary on the cultural, social, and political quirks of the French. Halstead's dry delivery and subtle intonation deftly infuse a delicate balance of irony and seriousness into a myriad of observations including how the French language has been dumbed down and why the French... Read More

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