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The Download: 6 Picks for the End-of-Summer Road Trip

Travels With CharleySummer is a time to hit the road, and a good audiobook can go a long way towards making car trips not just bearable, but enjoyable. Some are actually stories about road trips.

Join Robin Whitten and Jo Reed as they discuss their picks for summer road trip listening. And before you declare summer to be over, remember that you may well have a road trip ahead of you this Labor Day weekend!

Listening to audiobooks about road trips while making your own way on the road can enhance your travel experience and make the miles speed by, whether you’re making a trek across the country or making your way into the woods for your last summer camping trip with the family.

“Whether you’re heading out in a car, in the train, or on the bus, nothing beats a good audiobook.”—Jo Reed

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Solve: Always listen in order! (Or don’t.)

Glass HousesI have a confession to make. I sometimes listen to series out of order on audiobook. As a matter of fact, I recently finished Louise Penny’s GLASS HOUSES—but I haven’t listened to the previous two installments in the series. I know some of you are gasping in horror. There was a time I would have done the same thing. As I started doing more and more reviewing, my list of absolutely-must-listen-in-order started to get shorter and shorter.

I still adore Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, which seems to grow better with each book. And starting a new one is like visiting old friends. But my schedule—especially in August—doesn’t always permit me a lot of extra time for books and audios I’m not assigned to review. So I’ve ended up reading some out of order. Read more…

Self: Current Events, Critical Thinking, and You

The Vanishing Middle ClassThe learning audios I heard this month are about a range of issues that people are thinking about today: the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the erosion of contract between corporations and labor, some important social science topics, and a timely lesson on the way we acquire knowledge of the world.

We’re all seeking clarity, and finding it requires a commitment—whether you’re working on understanding yourself or becoming better informed as a consumer, employee, business owner, or citizen. These audiobooks can help because once you decide to start listening, thinking more critically becomes a habit and a priority. By just making the time and paying attention, you can absorb the substance and stimulation you need to participate more fully in life.

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Robin’s Roundup: August 18 New Audiobook Reviews

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's DaughterIf you’re in the mood for a little escapism, this week’s audiobook reviews have some great options. The first to catch my eye, and ear, is THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER. The premise is that daughters of Victorian literary villains—Dr. Jekyll, Mr Hyde, and Rappaccini—collaborate to solve Jack-the-Ripper-like murders with some help from Sherlock Holmes. Narrator Kate Reading has a grand time with this romp.

A different sort of collaboration was the brainchild of the authors of INDIGO. Nine high-profile fantasy authors including Charlaine Harris, Kelley Armstrong, and Jonathan Maberry create a crime-fighter urban myth with super powers drawn from shadows. Just one narrator, Christina Delaine, takes this on. She gets high praise for handling the many male characters as well as the female ones, and for keeping us emotionally engaged. For X-Files fans, this one’s for you—THE X-FILES: COLD CASES. This elaborate original production with a creative soundscape and a huge cast of voices also brings back the original Mulder and Scully actors, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Just the chance to travel through X-Files land again should delight listeners.

My last choice this week is slightly different but a true AudioFile staff pick, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI. This sweet, immersive teen romance is dynamically read by two narrators, Vikas Adam and Sneha Mathan. The banter between the teens is perfected by the two actors who get the characters, and their world, just right. Dimple and Rishi both struggle with pressures and expectations from their families and society at large, and these nuances add depth to the story of ambition, romance, and tradition, while still keeping things fun.

What audiobook is taking you “out of your world” this week?

Tease: Romance is Negotiation

Author Kathleen Woodiwiss (1939-2007) owns the signature honor of creating the historical romance in its 20th-century form. Her alpha heroes dominated every situation and often gave her vivacious, intelligent heroines no end of trouble. Her novels were known for their length—happy doorstoppers every one—and her sweeping prose that delved as deeply into setting as they did into characterization. Her first novel was THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, but I would equally draw your attention to ASHES IN THE WIND, a worthy read-alike to GONE WITH THE WIND, and A ROSE IN WINTER, a Beauty and the Beast-motif historical. Always in Woodiwiss’s writing was an insurmountable difference of opinion between the hero and heroine. He married her sister first, he evicted her father, he invaded her country . . . I could go on.

The genius of Woodiwiss—and of this group of audiobooks—is the delicate negotiation from adamant disagreement to common ground and lasting affection. Romance truly is a negotiation. All you have to do is decide which title to try first.

Fair Bright and Terrible

FAIR, BRIGHT, AND TERRIBLE: Welsh Blades, Book 2
by Elizabeth Kingston, read by Nicholas Boulton
Hedgehog Inc. Productions
AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Nicholas Boulton’s imposing presence lends authority to the scheming heroine of this historical novel. Facing the utter collapse of Wales, which has fallen to the English, Eluned accepts an arranged marriage in order to avenge her late husband’s death by killing the man most responsible for it. But she soon discovers that her fiancé is an old flame. Boulton commands this medieval romance doused in political warfare.

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