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April 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.


10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Susannah Jones's high-speed pacing conveys Maeve's jangly thoughts and obsession with every potential scary outcome of her life--complete with research that feeds her anxiety. Jones does an equally fine job portraying minor characters. Whether calm, compassionate, or frustrated, these secondary characters allow listeners a bit of relief from Maeve's intensity. Maeve... Read More

ALMOST HOME
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Bauer has hit a home run with Sugar Mae Cole, who--in spite of homelessness and her mother's breakdown--meets life's challenges with grit and determination. Narrator Brittany Presley gives mom Reba the accent of a Southern belle, with a hint of grit even at her lowest points. When Sugar quotes words of wisdom from grandfather King Cole, Presley's gravelly voice reflects the... Read More

AMERICAN STREET
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

When American-born Fabiola Toussaint's Haitian mother is taken by U.S. immigration officers, the teenager is left on her own to make a new life with her aunt and cousins in Detroit. Narrator Robin Miles glides silkily through Haitian Creole, Detroit street talk, and standard American English, infusing the dialogue with authentic-sounding accents and age-appropriate sass and... Read More

BATTLE HILL BOLERO
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

The author narrates the third and final volume in his Bone Street Rumba trilogy, bringing the series to a satisfying conclusion. The trouble that has been brewing between the Council of the Dead and the supernatural beings they govern has finally come to a head, leading to open rebellion. Older's narration is fast and tight yet fluid, allowing for quick shifts between... Read More

CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION
Earphones Award Winner
History

This centenary year of the Russian Revolution promises a string of new audio histories, but not many will surpass this one for impact. Xe Sands is a subtle and empathetic narrator--not the voice you'd immediately think of for a story of violent upheaval. Helen Rappaport's narrative, too, told from the perspective of Westerners in the Russian capital in 1917, might initially... Read More

A CRIMINAL DEFENSE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Peter Berkrot's stern and deliberate tone is well suited to this puzzling mystery packed with plot twists and well-crafted complex characters. Berkrot deftly portrays Mick McFarland, a top-shelf attorney who is defending his close friend from law school, David Hanson, who has lots of skeletons in his closet--surprising even Mick. The diverse characters include flawed... Read More

THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

This debut audiobook will grab listeners' hearts and not let go. Ethan and his family have moved from Boston to Pine Knot, Georgia, supposedly to help his grandfather, but really to help Ethan recover from "the incident" involving his best friend, Kacey. Narrator Kirby Heyborne is extraordinary in the way he inhabits the character of 12-year-old Ethan, vocal cracks and all. He... Read More

FENDER BENDERS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Colby Elliott exuberantly presents this wild and crazy story, set in Mississippi and Nashville. It focuses on the country music industry--its stars and occasional instances of behind-the-scenes corruption. Elliott's expert rendering of characters includes music executives, including raspy-voiced cheater Bill Herron and his silver- tongued partner, Franklin Peavy; their... Read More

FROGKISSER!
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Marisa Calin has a marvelous way of interpreting this story's characters--human, animal, and fantastical. Calin expresses Princess Anya's conflicted emotions as she becomes a heroine. Anya's unwillingness to be distracted from her studies is transplanted by horror at her evil stepfather's plans to transform her sister's suitor from a frog to a prince. Facing nonstop... Read More

THE HARLEM CHARADE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Bahni Turpin provides complex portraits of this audiobook's three heroes, the way their lives intersect, and the engaging mystery that unites them. Observant, curious Jin is a Korean-American who was orphaned early in life and raised by strict elderly parents. Jin is intrigued by prickly Alexandra, who appears to be poor--but Jin sees that she funds good deeds for... Read More

THE HATE U GIVE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Starr is from a gang-ridden neighborhood but attends a private, mostly white, school. Differences between these worlds widen when Starr is the sole witness of the murder of her childhood friend by a white policeman. Bahni Turpin's narration of this scene is poignant and horrific as unarmed Kahlil questions the officer's stopping him and the officer becomes aggressive and shoots... Read More

HIDDEN BODIES
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

In this stand-alone sequel to YOU, smart and droll listeners are reintroduced to Joe Goldberg, a full-on sociopath with an incongruous tendency to fall in love. Unfortunately with Joe, love inevitably leads to murder. Joe is unlikable, yet, as portrayed by narrator Santino Fontana, he's also transfixing. Fontana spends most of this lengthy revenge narrative with a hardened... Read More

HOME SWEET HOME
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

With an upbeat narration, Cady McClain sets the tone for this timely look at a shameful episode in American history, the McCarthy era. After a violent attack on a family in South Dakota in 1985, the novel flashes back to the 1950s. Cal and Betsy Kusek and their children leave New York City for the Midwest, hoping for a better life. A systematic persecution of the family, based... Read More

I LIKED MY LIFE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Listeners won't want to miss this surprisingly positive yet truthful novel. Teenager Eve and her father, Brady, struggle to understand why seemingly happy mother-and-wife Maddy committed suicide. Susan Bennett's soft, gentle voice is perfect for Maddy's sections, and her self-assured narration highlights the character's practicality as she questions her circumstances and tries... Read More

IF NOT FOR YOU
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

After Beth flees from an awkward blind date with a mechanic named Sam, she's in a horrible car accident, which he witnesses. On her own in Portland, Oregon, Beth is determined to recover, and Sam feels compelled to help. Soon, Beth reconnects Sam with his past and unknowingly risks their future. Narrator Khristine Hvam brings out all the terror of the accident, and makes the... Read More

IN THIS GRAVE HOUR
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Listening doesn't get much better than the newest Maisie Dobbs mystery performed by the series's longtime narrator, Orlagh Cassidy. She brings pristine pacing and a deep understanding of the regular characters combined with an ever-fresh perspective on new characters and the action. The book begins in London at the start of WWII, amid sandbagged buildings and the departure of... Read More

ISAAC THE ALCHEMIST
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Using primary sources and reasoned conjecture, Mary Losure chronicles the difficult formative years of Isaac Newton. Narrator Steven Crossley has a professorial-sounding English accent but bubbles with reverent enthusiasm for his subject, sometimes with humor. In the age before the development of physics, the prickly and solitary young Newton worked tirelessly to use... Read More

LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

This audio production provides a master class in inhabiting character, interpretation of text, and vocal technique. Think that an abridgment of a modern English period drama based on an eighteenth-century French novel about a pair of amoral libertines who ruin their lovers for sport might not be your cuppa? You're not factoring in Janet McTeer's cello voice or outrageously... Read More

THE LESSER BOHEMIANS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Eimear McBride was an actor before she was a writer. Her novels, especially as performed by her, are breathtakingly effective both as literature and as theater. The writing is elliptical but not confusing; she just clips out the bits of the sentence that don't need saying. The technique packs her characters' emotions more densely and gives you the sense of being inside another... Read More

A LIST OF CAGES
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Two excellent narrators deliver the alternating first-person accounts of this audiobook's two protagonists. Graham Halstead depicts confident, kind 18-year-old Adam. Adam may have ADHD and severe clumsiness, but friends flock to him. Christopher Gebauer's portrayal of 14-year-old Julian, Adam's former foster brother, stands in stark contrast. Gebauer depicts a withdrawn,... Read More

LITTLE BOY BLUE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

The fifth in the Detective Inspector Helen Grace series also works as a stand-alone. It's a dark fictional journey into crime and personal demons. Narrator Elizabeth Bower does a simply outstanding job with this audiobook--from creating characters' voices to using pauses between words for emphasis. Grace is definitely a flawed protagonist, and when a friend from the bondage... Read More

LIVIA LONE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Author Barry Eisler narrates his own work with the skill of a professional voice actor. Years ago in Thailand, 13-year-old Livia and her younger sister, Nason, were sold to sex traffickers and shipped overseas. Livia was rescued and raised by the Lones, a prominent American family, but she never saw her sister again. Now she's a cop with the Seattle Sex Crimes Unit and remains... Read More

LOVEMURDER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

This is the second audiobook in the Valerie Hart series, but new listeners are quickly brought up to speed. Valerie, a homicide detective, is called to the scene of a murder that bears all the hallmarks of a killer she got sent to prison six years earlier. Christina Delaine narrates this complicated story of violence, sex, and suspense at a breakneck pace. Delaine demonstrates... Read More

MR. POTTER
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Fifteen years after it appeared in print, this fictionalized account--and accounting--of the novelist's father and her childhood viewpoint of him finds a vehicle in Robin Miles's exquisite narration. She provides it with genuineness and humanity that seem lacking on the page. Employing a range of emotional tones in a consistent and accurate Caribbean accent, Miles turns Mr.... Read More

MY LIFE, MY LOVE, MY LEGACY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

This audiobook should cement the idea that Coretta Scott King was herself a major civil rights leader, in addition to being married to an icon in the field. Dictated during the final year of her life, the book gives context and background to familiar events and sheds light on Coretta's struggle to continue her husband's work while carving out a presence of her own. Phylicia... Read More

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Julia Whelan's skills as a narrator beautifully serve Jay's romantic and inspired riff on the fairy tale. She capably creates and maintains highly differentiated voices for half a dozen characters--two of whom have major narrative roles as well as dialogue between them. A princess named Isra is condemned by local politics to sacrifice her life for the perpetuation of... Read More

QUICKSAND
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Sean Barrett's performance of these 67 essays written by Henning Mankell between his diagnosis with lung cancer and his death faithfully encapsulates the Swedish author's sense of seriousness and social justice. Mankell ranges across his life, letting us glimpse childhood memories, his satisfaction with running a theater in Mozambique, embarrassment at asking a teenager dying... Read More

SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Kivlighan de Montebello's engaging young voice embodies 11-year-old Alex Petroski. Alex is obsessed with space travel and recording Earth sounds on his iPod, modeling his hero, astronomer Carl Sagan's golden records on the Voyager spacecraft. Alex's recordings become the account of his rather bizarre solo trip from Rockview, Colorado, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to launch his... Read More

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD
Earphones Award Winner
History

All of history in a little over seven hours? Christopher Lascelles's gem of compression, elegantly read by Guy Bethell in what sounds like the voice of Father Time himself, is like a fresh coat of paint in a badly lit room. You know all this stuff already, more or less, but Lascelles covers all four walls without haste or waste, without dumbing down, and with a high degree of... Read More

SWEET DREAMS
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Adult film and Bollywood actor Sunny Leone's collection of erotic stories with Indian characters is narrated by Simone Lewis and Vikas Adam. Both narrators provide nuanced performances with appropriate accents, Indian and American. They share the sensual nature of Leone's erotica, using delicate, twisting phrasing that sings with desire, longing, and love. Lewis is the... Read More

THE UNINTENTIONAL ADVENTURES OF THE BLAND SISTERS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Kara LaReau's new series is Lemony Snicket for the younger set--with humor as snarky and pun filled but not as dark. Rosalyn Landor employs a schoolmarmish-sounding voice as narrator, opening each chapter with the definition of a word that figures prominently in the chapter. The Bland sisters, Jaundice and Kale, who live on the edge of Dullsville, sound as bland as their... Read More

UNIVERSAL HARVESTER
Earphones Award Winner
Horror

What begins as a creepy horror story evolves into a melancholy meditation on loss and grief as delivered by author/narrator John Darnielle. Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. Several customers report "something else" on their tapes, so Jeremy takes them home to watch and finds eerie black-and-white footage spliced between scenes. When he realizes a farmhouse... Read More

WE ARE OKAY
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Jorjeana Marie's depiction of Marin has a haunted quality--for reasons that become evident as this story unfolds. Marie quickly conveys Marin's total adoration of her beloved grandfather, who has been her sole caregiver since the age of three. Marie also transitions smoothly between Marin's memories and her lonely winter break after her first semester of college. Over... Read More

WHITE TEARS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Kunzru's latest offers a fascinating intermingling of the mistreatment of black Americans, immorality in the music field, and magical realism--all delivered by three talented narrators, Lincoln Hoppe, Danny Campbell, and Dominic Hoffman. Seth and Carter are representative of the self-serving personal agendas of the millennial generation. They pair set up a recording studio,... Read More

THE WIDOW'S HOUSE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Cassandra Campbell's remarkable acting skills and lovely voice are perfect for Carol Goodman's engrossing gothic mystery. Clare and Jess Martin leave New York City for upstate New York, hoping to jumpstart their languishing writing careers. Financially strapped, the couple agree to be caretakers for their former professor, Alden Montague, at his family manse, Riven House. After... Read More

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