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September 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.


28 DAYS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

This history of black culture performed by a talented ensemble of eight voices is a listening treasure. Cleverly presented in 29 short episodes, the verse and soundscape elucidate a chronological account of events and people who played small and monumental roles in the history of black America--black astronauts, political leaders, business entrepreneurs. Listeners can enjoy the... Read More

ALL THE MISSING GIRLS
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Rebekkah Ross uses a coolly detached voice to narrate this spellbinding mystery. The story is told backwards, starting on the fifteenth day after the disappearance of Annaleise, neighbor of Nic and girlfriend of Tyler. Ten years earlier Nic's friend, Corinne, also went missing from Cooley Ridge. At that time, Nic and Tyler, among others, were the focus of the unsolved... Read More

AND I DARKEN
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Fiona Hardingham's commanding narration steers a clear path through this densely woven tapestry of mid-fifteenth-century intrigue, rife with conspiracy, assassination, and the varied courses of love and loyalty. With measured pacing and a somber tone, Hardingham unfolds White's sweeping tale of Lada, daughter of the infamous Vlad Dracul, and her younger brother, Radu, who are... Read More

ANOTHER BROOKLYN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A slow jazz interlude sets the tone for Robin Miles's performance of this long-awaited new novel for adults by children's author Jacqueline Woodson. As August's father dies, she takes time away from studying funeral traditions around the world to come home. Returning brings myriad memories of "growing up 'Girl' in Brooklyn" in the 1970s--a time when the borough seemed idyllic... Read More

THE BLACK WIDOW
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

The audio brotherhood of narrator George Guidall and Silva's spy Gabriel Allon is hard to beat. Sixteen episodes of the exploits of this international assassin, spy, and art restorer have not dulled the tension and originality of this thriller, which seems ripped from the headlines. In fact, Silva's foreword notes that the recent Paris bombings seemed hideously similar to the... Read More

BRIGHT LINES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

With great energy, Soneela Nankani performs this audiobook so beautifully that the listener is transported to the Saleem home in Brooklyn. This is a family story filled with complex relationships; Nankani makes all these clear with her vocal flexibility. Each character has a strong voice: Matriarch Hashi is no-nonsense and sharp-tongued, daughter Charu is sassy and bold,... Read More

A BUCCANEER AT HEART
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Steve West adopts a rich rolling style for nineteenth-century sea captain Robert Frobisher as he searches for a kidnapper's lair in a West African settlement. West's proper diction eschews a clipped style but establishes a slower pace that allows listeners to absorb detailed historical settings. West's voice for Aileen Hopkins, whose brother has gone missing, is light,... Read More

CAPTAIN TO CAPTAIN
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

This audiobook could not have been more perfect. Featured are more voyages of the original Star Trek crew, Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, and all the rest. NarraEarphonestor Robert Petkoff is able to sound enough like all the cast members to allow listeners to settle back and imagine the adventures that never made it to television. And the simple sound effects are... Read More

FIRST COMES LOVE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrators Catherine Taber and Emily Foster give a compelling performance as two sisters struggle to move through a family tragedy that has impacted their lives and their fragile relationship with each other. Taber's high pitch and energetic voice define 37-year-old independent and headstrong Josie Garland, whose sweet tones and beauty make her a popular first-grade teacher but... Read More

GRACE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The conceit of a narrator speaking from the grave has been done before, but rarely has it been as emotionally wrenching as in Natashia Deón's mesmerizing debut novel. Narrator Lisa Renée Pitts delivers the intricately woven story spanning 30 years in the lives of a family of women slaves. After scenes of sexual violence and a murderous bloodbath, 15-year-old pregnant Naomi... Read More

THE GREAT POETS: WALT WHITMAN
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

The Naxos Great Poets series has finally gotten around to Whitman, and Garrick Hagon's readings are worth the wait. He is declamatory at some points, soft and tender at others, and almost always rhapsodic. If you're not familiar with Whitman's poetry, this selection is an excellent introduction. It includes some of Whitman's most renowned works (such as "Crossing Brooklyn... Read More

A GREAT RECKONING
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Robert Bathurst puts his own indelible stamp on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in Louise Penny's twelfth Three Pines puzzle. His Gamache is a bit brusque, but Bathurst also allows his softer, gentler side to show. Gamache comes out of retirement to become Commander of the Sûreté Academy du Québec. The future of the Sûreté depends on Gamache's ability to clean out the... Read More

HARMONY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Desperate to help their older daughter, Tilly, Alexandra and Josh partner with Scott Bean, an unconventional child behavior expert, in founding Camp Harmony, a community for families with autistic children. The principal storyteller is younger daughter Iris, performed by Abigail Revasch, whose rhythms and pitch sound authentically preteen. Iris's bubbly curiosity and inherent... Read More

THE HOPEFULS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Jorjeana Marie's lively performance and perfect pacing make this audiobook a compulsive listen. The story features an up-and-coming couple and their involvement with Washington, D.C., society and the underbelly of political ambition. Beth is reluctantly swept up in a campaign season as her husband puts aside his own dreams to manage their best friend's race for office.... Read More

A HUNDRED THOUSAND WORLDS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator MacLeod Andrews's warm voice weaves this complicated story of real and imaginary worlds as characters attend various Comic-Cons, national conferences that promote comic books and the spin-off products associated with them. A number of characters are featured--ex-TV series actress Valerie Torrey; her 8-year-old son, Alex; comics illustrator Bret; and writer Gail--as... Read More

ILLUMINATIONS
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Given up by her mother to the care of the Church at the tender age of 8, Hildegard von Bingen is a German saint whose life is a testament to the tenacity of the human soul. Tavia Gilbert delicately voices von Bingen, maturing the character appropriately as the listener follows her from childhood into old age. Jutta von Sponheim, the disturbed and overly righteous young woman... Read More

LADIVINE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Marie NDiaye offers a generational story of a family of women who seem to be living under a cloud of ill fortune. Narrator Tavia Gilbert illuminates the thoughts and emotions of Ladivine Sylla, an immigrant to France from a third-world country, as well as those of her female descendants. In this elegant translation by Jordan Stump, Gilbert makes NDiaye's exquisite lyrical prose... Read More

THE MIND CLUB
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator David Marantz elevates the message of this audiobook without calling attention to his outsized talent. His appealing tones and intellectual comfort with the material allow his phrasing to sound authentic, compassionate, and always in sync with the authors' themes. This ambitious audiobook examines how individuals and groups communicate thoughts and feelings and, thus,... Read More

THE NAZI HUNTERS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Adolf Eichmann was responsible for creating the logistics for Nazi Germany's "Final Solution," the annihilation of the Jewish people. With ruthless efficiency, he organized the roundup, degradation, and transportation of millions of Jews from their homes to the death camps. Jason Culp reads this well-researched account of the sixteen-year ordeal to find Eichmann and bring him... Read More

OLD AGE
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Political journalist Kinsley, who revealed he has Parkinson's disease in 2002, reads the foreword and introduction of his surprisingly uplifting meditation on aging. When narrator Danny Campbell takes over, his tone and vocal maturity sound a lot like Kinsley's. Adding the appealing texture of his utterly authentic phrasing, Campbell's performance is ideal for this intelligent... Read More

SCARY SCHOOL
Earphones Award Winner
Children

This fun audiobook kicks off a series playfully written and narrated by "Derek the Ghost" (a.k.a. author Derek Taylor Kent). Scary School is run by monsters, and its students are both humans and monsters. Derek the Ghost, who is listed as narrator, is a deceased 11-year-old former pupil. Each chapter is buoyantly presented by school personnel, such as Principal Headcrusher and... Read More

TRULY MADLY GUILTY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Caroline Lee with Liane Moriarty makes one of the great pairings in audio publishing. Moriarty constructs a plot the way God builds an onion. The characters are human and interesting in the outer layers, though in ways opaque, like the behavior of strangers whose inner lives we don't understand. Here, Clementine, her family, and their friends, Erica and Oliver, have been... Read More

UNEARTHED
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Hillary Huber's narration of this memoir of repairing an enormous run-down garden unexpectedly located in downtown Toronto is nothing short of marvelous. Her voice is rich, warm, expressive, and humorous. As Alex describes the process of restoring the pagoda, beating back invasive weeds, discovering primroses and sugar maples, watching deer without taking a breath, or... Read More

WATCHING EDIE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

If unreliable narrators are your thing, Camilla Way's chilling debut novel will absolutely satisfy. Skilled performances by Heather Wilds and Fiona Hardingham give psychological insights into the two main characters, Edie and Heather. In sections of "before" and "after," each woman tells her perception of the events that began their unlikely friendship and the tragedy that... Read More

WEST MOUNTAIN EPILOGUE
Earphones Award Winner
Poetry & Drama

In most recordings of poetry, the poet reads the text, and that's all. In this audiobook, however, Jay Parini selects poems from his book and introduces them, just as he would standing in front of an audience. In any recording, we get the poet's interpretation of how the poem should be read, but here we also get some thoughts about what inspired each poem and, sometimes, why it... Read More

THE WRECKAGE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

A well-performed thriller is a particular pleasure in audio, and Sean Barrett brings a rich, value-adding performance to Michael Robotham's complex new tale. Ever wonder how zillions in aid money wind up in the hands of corrupt regimes or in private pockets? Robotham's plot comes at the subject from two angles. In one, a retired British police detective, Vincent Ruiz, is trying... Read More

YOU WILL KNOW ME
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Lauren Fortgang gives this gripping audiobook a supple and quietly dazzling performance. Every character has a recognizable and appropriate voice. When a 16-year-old appears in a flashback, you recognize her voice, but it's younger. (Wow.) Fortgang shifts fluidly from female to male, old to young in this high-stakes family drama set in the world of competitive gymnastics.... Read More

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