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March 2017 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.


AFTER TUPAC & D FOSTER
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Voice actor Susan Spain eloquently captures the story's unnamed narrator, a middle school girl whose life changes when D Foster walks onto her block in Queens, New York. Although our protagonist and her best friend, Neeka, must confine themselves to their neighborhood, to their surprise and envy, D has the freedom to roam the city. Complex relationships, growing independence, a... Read More

ALLEGEDLY
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Bahni Turpin’s stunning narration of this audiobook at some points seems like a multivoiced performance. As a 6-year-old, Mary was jailed for killing an infant, and at 16 she’s pregnant, living in a halfway house and ending years of silence. Mary is unsure of many things, and Turpin catches every nuance. More amazing, she expresses the many layers of all the characters. For... Read More

THE BEAUTIFUL DEAD
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

This thriller brings together two outstanding British talents, award-winning crime writer Belinda Bauer and narrator Andrew Wincott. The combination is deeply satisfying. Ambitious crime reporter Eve Singer catches the attention of a moodily brilliant psychopath, and there begins a wrenching cat-and-mouse pursuit, with death lurking in the shadows. Skillfully written as it is,... Read More

BRIKES HILL
Earphones Award Winner
Children

David Pollitt's gem will have children of all ages spellbound. When Otto refuses to attend his mother's wedding, he's sent to stay with his grandfather, the inventor of the "brike," which is half bike and half dinosaur. Pollitt, who also cowrote the production's music, is stupendous as brilliant and witty Grandad and engaging as many other characters. Lively music and realistic... Read More

THE CONFIDENT PARENT
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

A pediatrician offers back-to-basics tools for helping parents relax and feel more confident about raising their children. Narrator Susan Boyce provides elegant articulation and appealing emotional tones. Her performance captures every ounce of meaning and context in this useful guide. The author was four times a parent before she was a doctor, and her discussion is also... Read More

A CRACK IN THE SEA
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Bouwman weaves a fascinating story of brothers and sisters, history and fantasy in this incredible tale. Narrator Bahni Turpin is extraordinary in bringing this fantasy world and its characters to life. Her pace is consistently smooth, moving from The Island in 1978 to the Zong slave ship massacre in 1781 and to Vietnamese refugees in 1976. Pip and sister Kitchen sound like... Read More

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Phoebe Strole’s commendable vocal range underscores Ingrid’s story. At 17, Ingrid’s mother has sent her to a three-week wilderness camp for at-risk teens. Strole’s rendition of Ingrid’s sardonic letters home are pitch-perfect as Ingrid recounts her revulsion of survival experiences. Strole’s dramatization is just as strong in the other chapters, which describe Ingrid’s... Read More

FLIPPED
Earphones Award Winner
Children

When Juli and Bryce meet at age 7, she falls for him, and he runs. Half a decade later, Bryce is still running--or is he? Ryan Gesell and Tara Sands take turns narrating this young adult romance, which explores a number of contemporary themes, especially the idea that first impressions aren't always what they're cracked up to be. Gesell and Sands hook listeners with their... Read More

FOUR-FOUR-TWO
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

During WWII, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed solely of Japanese-American soldiers, became one of the fiercest and most highly decorated units in the U.S. Army. Finding a fine vocal balance between youthful confidence and understandable apprehension, narrator Kirby Heyborne completely draws the listener into the story of two Japanese-American men, boys really, who... Read More

GOODBYE DAYS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Michael Crouch's tonal changes are crucial to the story of Carver, a 17-year-old whose texting has contributed to the death of his three best friends. Crouch expresses Carver's regret and grief. Fear adds to this uncomfortable mix when a judge, one of the boys' fathers, demands a criminal investigation. Crouch relieves Carver's anguish with glints of humor that are... Read More

HEARTBREAK HOTEL
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator John Rubinstein has portrayed child psychologist Alex Delaware, LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis, and Alex's live-in girlfriend, Robin Castagna, for several years. This police procedural is really historical research on the murder victim, nearly 100-year old Thalia Mars. Rubinstein delivers the excellent descriptions of the luxurious Aventura hotel, various bars,... Read More

IDAHO
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Justine Eyre captures listeners from the very first words of Emily Ruskovich's poignant exploration of family, loss, grief, and the intangible quality of memory. Wade's life is upended when a tragedy leaves him with one daughter dead, the second missing, and his ex-wife imprisoned for murder. Wade eventually marries Ann, who works diligently to help Wade cope with the... Read More

IN HARM'S WAY
Earphones Award Winner
History

With a delivery like a seasoned storyteller, Mark Boyett makes this riveting story of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis even more compelling. The combination of Boyett's reading and the author's straightforward style and heavy use of declarative sentences creates a presentation that will fully engage listeners. The Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in July... Read More

THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Robbie Daymond's soft, calming tone is appropriate for the peaceful world of 17-year-old Sal. Sal's father, Vincente, is a gay Mexican-American who has a thoughtfulness and compassion reminiscent of Atticus Finch's. Vincente has always cared for Sal, having adopted him at age 3, when his mother died. A letter left by his mother leaves Sal wondering about his biological... Read More

IT'S OK TO GO UP THE SLIDE
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

What narrator Laurel Lefkow does best is thoroughly express the author's appealing wisdom and homespun respect for the challenges of being a parent. She clearly enjoys reading this material and connecting with her listeners. Not your traditional parenting advice, it's a softly argued manifesto that shows parents how to avoid overcontrolling risks and complying blindly with... Read More

LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Between author Rooney's story and narrator Xe Sands's craftsmanship, this WALK will sweep listeners off their feet. Sands captures the essence of 80-year-old Lillian Boxfish, who is modeled after groundbreaking advertising icon Margaret Fishback, a former Macy's copywriter and poet. On New Year's Eve, 1984, Lillian walks toward her usual New York restaurant. But this New Year... Read More

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Like an Impressionist painting that comes into focus as we soften our gaze, this first novel by the award-winning short story writer is, not surprisingly, a unique art form. "Bardo" refers to the Tibetan plane between death and rebirth; the novel, told from the multiple points of view of a cemetery community, is reminiscent of Wilder's OUR TOWN and the colorful epitaphs of... Read More

LORD OF THE PRIVATEERS
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Steve West completes the author’s Frobisher stories with his best performance yet. Ship captain Royd Frobisher seeks a second chance with his handfast bride, Isobel Carmichael, as they travel to Freetown, West Africa, to rescue captives at a remote diamond mine. West parses the story’s lyrical language for maximum clarity. He expresses Royd’s aristocratic privilege... Read More

LOVE AND FIRST SIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Pat Young delivers this audiobook about our senses and how we interpret them. Sixteen-year-old Will, blind from birth, enters a mainstream public school for the first time and, in rapid succession, finds a strong coterie of pals, discovers friendship with a bright and troubled girl who is a photographer, undergoes experimental surgery on his eyes, and faces losing his... Read More

MARRIAGE GAMES
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Sebastian York creates a world of dominance and surrender in CD Reiss's erotic romance. Diana tells her husband and business partner, Adam Steinbeck, that she wants to end their marriage. He counters by revealing his former BDSM lifestyle and challenges his wife to spend 30 days being his submissive at his house in Montauk, Long Island. York owns Adam's veneer of... Read More

MARVIN AND THE MOTHS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

The narrator of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Ramón de Ocampo, applies his hallmark enthusiasm to Marvin Watson's introduction to middle school in his pork-obsessed town, Butcherville. Listeners will cringe and laugh out loud in equal measure as Marvin is subjected to the horrors of middle school, where he's befriended only by outcasts and taunted by his cousin,... Read More

MRS PARGETER'S PRINCIPLE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Simon Brett does a sublime job of narrating his novel about Mrs. Pargeter, an elderly widow who is determined to continue her late husband's practice of taking care of his former employees--even though she's blissfully ignorant of exactly what her husband's business was. He left her his little black book of contacts, which she uses to track down former employees in need of... Read More

NORSE MYTHOLOGY
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Neil Gaiman's retelling of Norse myths is destined to become a classic for both his sure-footed stories and his captivating performance. Listeners may be familiar with the main characters of Norse mythology--wise Odin, mighty Thor, and cunning Loki--but Gaiman delves deeper, introducing listeners to the dwarves who made Thor's hammer; Loki's half-dead daughter, Hel; and a huge... Read More

OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Julia Whelan expresses this YA heroine’s sardonic tone so well that 16-year-old Petula risks becoming an unlikable character. Thankfully, Whelan is also expert at conveying the story’s witty tone, Petula’s fragility, and the chemistry she has with Jacob, “the bionic man.” That chemistry doesn’t begin well. Though Jacob seems comfortable with his prosthetic, Petula’s... Read More

OWN IT
Earphones Award Winner
Business & Finance

Financial executive and entrepreneur Sallie Krawcheck offers a finely drawn account of how women can thrive in the world of business and financial management. It's a compelling first-person discussion, not just because of the author's experience at major investment firms but also because of narrator Ellen Archer's performance. She perfectly captures the author's skill,... Read More

PAYOFF
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

After immediately drawing listeners in with his reading of Ariely's riveting first chapter, narrator Simon Jones continues to hold them close with his relaxed diction and skillful handling of this audiobook's pathos. Jones's vocal elegance and thorough understanding of the author's message promote unexpected engagement with Ariely's extended essay on what motivates people not... Read More

PEACEKEEPING
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Ben Williams's narration couldn't be more perfect for this tragicomic novel of Haiti. Williams perfectly inhabits the wry, observant, somewhat detached traveling spouse of an aid worker. Williams's talent is not just with the subtle inflections in English and Creole that give personality and heart to the colorful characters, including a failed Florida sheriff's candidate and a... Read More

PRUNO, RAMEN, AND A SIDE OF HOPE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

A diverse ensemble of voices creates a masterful program of personal essays and poems as well as the authors' detailed overview of faults within our criminal justice system. Celebrity Whoopi Goldberg's anger and indignation and journalist Bill Kurtis's more measured approach tie together the case histories of people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes and have spent many... Read More

RATHER BE THE DEVIL
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

For many longtime fans of Rankin's series, James MacPherson IS the voice of Inspector John Rebus, and with good reason. At book Number 21 in the series, MacPherson perfectly blends Rebus's tough-guy exterior and insecure interior, exposing the complex layers of Rankin's much-loved character. MacPherson's delivery of Rankin's signature wit tickles the funny bone, making... Read More

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