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July 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.


ADOLFO KAMINSKY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

The skill of Simon Vance, narrator of this audiobook, is his ability to take a memoir that opens during the French Resistance in WWII and fully capture its suspense-filled drama. Adolfo Kaminsky, the daring and heroic document forger, helped hundreds of Jewish families escape Occupied France with his perfectly created passports. Although his talent for creating them could have... Read More

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

Listeners will relish this production of L.M. Montgomery's classic. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are expecting to foster a boy, who will help on their farm, but it's 11-year-old Anne (with an "e") who arrives from the orphanage. Narrator Rachel McAdams illuminates Anne's anxiety as she voices her fears and expectations to Matthew and Marilla. McAdams's words tumble out of her... Read More

AUTUMN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Ali Smith's moving, dreamlike novel, the first in a planned quartet, is made even lovelier by narrator Melody Grove's consummate narration. Smith weaves the friendship of a young woman and an old man, the tragic life of a British pop artist, and the Brexit vote into a complex narrative that explores isolation and unexpected connections. Grove never loses the plot's twisting... Read More

THE AWAKENING OF H.K. DERRYBERRY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

You never know when a 25-cent cup of coffee will forever change your life. That was the case for Jim Bradford when he met young H.K. Derryberry, a kid born blind and with numerous nearly fatal health concerns. Milton Bagby narrates this amazing story with excitement and eagerness. It's as though he can't wait to catch the listener up on all God has accomplished through this... Read More

THE AWKWARD THOUGHTS OF W. KAMAU BELL
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

The author, political satirist and comedian W. Kamau Bell, is the best person to narrate this look at race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary America. Bell infuses the contradictions and confusion of his youth, when he was a burgeoning intellectual, with his signature sardonic delivery, which will be familiar to fans of his CNN show. Listeners will appreciate his casual... Read More

THE BLACK WITCH
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

This debut fantasy introduces listeners to Elloren Gardener, granddaughter and spitting image of the powerful, celebrated Black Witch. This ambitious story is impressively narrated by the talented Julia Whelan, who creatively details its world of intricate magical practices and diverse inhabitants. Studying at cosmopolitan Verpax University, naïve Elloren must question the... Read More

CAMINO ISLAND
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

This languid, innovative mystery begins with a carefully planned rare manuscripts heist from Princeton University's library by a group of experienced crooks. January LaVoy's expert narration engages listeners as debt-ridden novelist Mercer Mann reluctantly becomes involved in the case. The prime suspect is successful Florida bookstore owner and bon vivant Bruce Cable. LaVoy's... Read More

THE CHOSEN
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Jim Frangione raises the stakes in this tense installment in Ward's epic urban vampire series. New mother Layla's love for renegade vampire Xcor betrays her community, but her heart tells her that he's an honorable warrior. Frangione lives the violent arguments between Layla and her baby daddy, Qhuinn, as he spirals into violent retribution that endangers everyone. As... Read More

COME SUNDOWN
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Elisabeth Rodgers and author Nora Roberts create a gripping romantic suspense set in western Montana. In the audiobook's opening, young Alice Bodine has a terrifying encounter with a stranger when she runs away from home. When she doesn't return, her family believes her to be dead. Flashing forward to the present, Alice's niece, Bodine, is running the family dude... Read More

DIRTY
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

When Lydia Green's wedding day becomes her fiancé's coming-out announcement, guitarist-on-hiatus Vaughan Hewson's comforting presence soon becomes much more. Narrator Andi Arndt highlights Lydia's deadpan humor, traversing her changing feelings with elegant proficiency. Vaughan and Lydia's conversations and sexual encounters feature distinct voices that match their genders and... Read More

THE ESSEX SERPENT
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

An array of adjectives comes to mind at the opening words of this audiobook: alluring, poetic, with an air of exactness and aged wisdom. The setting is late-nineteenth-century England, and the story involves a young widow, a vicar, and a serpent. But it's really about so much more as it asks questions about independence, faith, and love. Narrator Juanita McMahon expertly... Read More

EVERYTHING THAT REMAINS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

In a culture that embraces rampant consumerism, the authors, who call themselves the Minimalists, are on a quest to convince others that less is truly more. Following the death of his mother and the dissolution of his marriage, Millburn convinces his childhood friend Nicodemus to embark on a journey to pare down their lavish lifestyles in exchange for a more meaningful... Read More

THE FAR EMPTY
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Part crime story and part contemporary Western, THE FAR EMPTY blows the West Texas dust off a town's skeletons (literally), causing a deputy sheriff to take on the powers that be. The confident style, masterful descriptions, and sturdy plot structure resonate as the work of a seasoned author, which is why it's hard to believe that this is J. Todd Scott's debut novel. It's also... Read More

FIVE PIECES OF JADE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

This fourth in the Virgil Tibbs mysteries, first published nearly 50 years ago and now recorded as a complete series, gains unexpected new life in Dion Graham's narration. The plot's working parts include the black homicide detective's discussions with a young woman of mixed Japanese and African-American descent who speaks minimal English; a variety of Chinese,... Read More

FREEDOM OVER ME
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Based on an 1828 estate appraisal that included 11 enslaved men, women, and children, this audiobook is a heartrending exploration of what slavery meant to those who were deemed "property." It leaps from the pages through the commanding performances of Patricia R. Floyd and Kevin R. Free. Their emotionally connected narration leaves no doubt as to the cruelty of a system that... Read More

THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Fair warning--it'll be hard to press pause once narrator Christian Coulson begins sweeping you along on this breathless historical adventure. Henry (Monty) Montague; his younger sister, Felicity; and his best friend, Percy, set out from England for a grand tour of Europe, their last youthful fling before surrendering to adulthood. Coulson flawlessly gives voice to Monty's... Read More

THE GOLDFISH BOY
Earphones Award Winner
Children

This story is an emotional roller-coaster ride, and narrator Leon Williams treats each twist and turn with depth and passion, holding listeners in rapt attention to the end. He provides a spectacular portrayal of 12-year-old Matthew, who's so crippled by OCD that he rarely leaves the house. One minute Matthew rhythmically catalogues his cul-de-sac's happenings from the upstairs... Read More

THE GOLD-SON
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Noble creates a fantasy world worthy of a Grimm fairy tale, and narrator Gerard Doyle delivers it with energy and style. Young Tommin Kelly is cursed by Lorcan Reilly, a leprechaun whose ambition is to become king of the leprechauns. Portraying the ruthless villain blinded by greed, Gerard oozes evil into every syllable he speaks, yet he controls his performance so that the... Read More

I'M JUDGING YOU
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

"Who does that?" This central question running throughout Luvvie Ajayi's comic memoir is asked again and again in her signature tone of mock horror. Listeners who enjoy pithy humor will laugh out loud as she describes violations of social codes and her version of heaven. Do not drink liquids (hot or cold) while listening to this rumination on all that is wrong with the current... Read More

IN THE SHADOW OF DENALI
Earphones Award Winner
Inspirational Fiction

Christina Moore's impressive performance sounds like a multicast production. Listeners hear the story of Alan Brennan, a man on a quest to find answers about his father's suspicious death while climbing Denali. Once in the Alaska Territory, Alan meets the guide for the expedition, John Ivanoff, and his lovely daughter, Cassidy. He soon begins to realize that the story of John's... Read More

LONG BLACK VEIL
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Jennifer Finney Boylan performs her mystery novel, infusing each of the characters with his or her own rhythm, pace, and pitch. In doing so, she makes it easier for listeners to distinguish between the six main characters, their present worlds, and the flashbacks to the day in 1980 on which they experienced a life-altering tragedy. In particular, the story features a travel... Read More

MAGPIE MURDERS
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Listen straight through--or savor slowly? That will be your struggle because Horowitz's delicious mystery-within-a-mystery is, as they say, "fiendishly clever" and terrifically narrated. Samantha Bond begins enticingly with her husky vibrato and fully realized performance as a contemporary book editor who's been given a murder-mystery manuscript. Soon, we're in the midst of... Read More

THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

If Arundhati Roy's lyrical prose, melodic voice, and lilting accents aren't enough, the stories of Anjum, Tilottama, and a cast of society's misbegotten--interwoven with India's social and political growing pains--will keep listeners captivated. Born with both male and female genitalia and raised male, Anjum is a woman trapped in a man's body. She leaves her family home and... Read More

MIRACLE CURE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Rob Shapiro's resonant baritone carries the listener smoothly through this fascinating history of the chemicals and the personalities that helped create contemporary medical culture. While a handful of words are oddly pronounced, Shapiro effortlessly articulates the names of chemical compounds, bacterial species, French scientists, and German companies. Whether... Read More

THE PEARL THIEF
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Maggie Service's Scottish accents reflect this novel's strong sense of place. Those who wept at the fate of Julie, heroine of CODE NAME VERITY, will delight in meeting her 15-year-old self in this prequel. Service embodies all the emotions in the first-person narrative--Julie's sadness at the sale of her family's Scottish estate, curiosity about sexuality, envy at the... Read More

THE SCRIBE OF SIENA
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Cassandra Campbell's performance transports listeners to medieval Italy as this story straddles modern-day and fourteenth-century Siena. As neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato is transported from the present back to the Middle Ages, Campbell's well-considered diction and vocal timing create suspense, while her Italian accents for various characters and place names, though not always... Read More

THICK AS THIEVES
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Turner adds to her Queen's Thief series with a story that can also stand alone. Narrator Steve West portrays the two heroes of this audiobook. Kamet is charting his way through foreign lands with mysterious Attolian, who may be his captor or his companion. The story is told through the eyes of Kamet, and West fully differentiates him in his narration. Kamet is an invaluable... Read More

THE THIRST
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

John Lee at his best is about as good as it gets in audiobook narration. Jo Nesbø in top form is a showstopper, and when they're together, perfectly in sync as here, you may need a Valium to get through the final chapters. Nesbø's specialty is gore-filled serial-killer puzzles. If that's your meat, you're in it for the bizarre imagination and plot twists, so be fair, you can't... Read More

THE TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE SEARCH FOR HUMAN HAPPINESS
Earphones Award Winner
Humor

Comedian Paula Poundstone wanted to know if there's a secret to happiness, so she became the test subject of her totally unscientific research. Listeners are the beneficiaries. In each chapter, she tests a new hypothesis for happiness, starting with getting fit with taekwondo and moving to camping with her daughter, dancing, and spending more time with her family. Along with... Read More

TRAJECTORY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

In this collection of short stories and novellas by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, a team of talented narrators--Amanda Carlin, Arthur Morey, Fred Sanders, and Mark Bramhall--takes to the task of portraying Russo's troubled male protagonists, who believe they're special when, in truth, they're, most times, just slightly above average. Morey shines brightest with dramatic... Read More

THE VANISHING MIDDLE CLASS
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

The mildly cheery tone in Stephen Thorne's performance helps the medicine go down in this astute and timely overview of why our rich and poor are so economically divided. Along with effortless-sounding enunciation and phrasing, his narration has a personality that connects with the author's progressive ideals without discernible outrage or hectoring. The author, an MIT... Read More

WHITE HOT
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Nevada Baylor, a private investigator in a magical Houston, teams up with the dangerously magical Connor "Mad" Rogan to put a stop to the evil being perpetrated by a murderous cabal. Narrator Renee Raudman enchants listeners with this unforgettable duo. She nails Nevada's plainspoken manner and resigned humor and captures her empathy for the vulnerable as it evolves into a... Read More

A WOMAN IN BERLIN
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

In 1945, as Germany prepared to surrender, Berlin was overrun by Russian soldiers. These "Ivans" controlled the city, and life for the residents was worse than in any fictional dystopia. Narrator Isabel Keating manages to convey the frustration, hunger, depression, and exhaustion faced by the author, a journalist, who somehow manages to maintain her sanity despite several rapes... Read More

THE WOOD FOR THE TREES
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Everything about Fortey's unusual memoir is distinctly British. Narrator Michael Page's precise, stately, and almost courtly British accent perfectly suits Fortey's observations. After retirement from the British Natural History Museum, author Fortey purchases a small beech wood colorfully named Grim's Dyke Wood and closely observes the natural environment for a year. As Fortey... Read More

WORDS IN DEEP BLUE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

An achingly beautiful tale of love, loss, and literature from Australian author Cath Crowley is given an engrossing narration by Chelsea Bruland and Hamish R. Johnson. Rachel Sweetie's inconsolable grief over her younger brother's death opens a story that unfolds in multiple layers. Returning to the town where she grew up, Rachel reconnects with old friends, particularly Henry... Read More

YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Sherman Alexie narrates his powerful memoir with acute emotion and vulnerability. His story of his grief after the death of his mother is rooted in the brutal experiences of Native Americans in the United States. He has composed a repeating patchwork of stories inspired by his family, life on and off the reservation, and poems born of his visceral reaction to his loss. Alexie's... Read More

YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Hallie Ephron has achieved a riveting suspense novel, and Amy McFadden's narration is compelling. Forty years ago, Lis and Janey were playing outside when Lis ran after a puppy, leaving 4-year-old Janey alone. When she returned, Janey, and her one-of-a-kind porcelain doll, were gone. On the anniversary of Janey's disappearance, their mother places a photo of Janey's doll in the... Read More

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