As editor and founder of AudioFile magazine, Robin Whitten comes across a LOT of audiobooks. She started AudioFile 25 years ago and was an avid listener even before that—so she knows the world of audiobooks! Every week in “Robin’s Roundup,” she recommends fresh titles that have caught her ear—the quirky, the trendy, and the most interesting new audiobooks of the week. Look for her posts each Friday on the blog to get your weekend listening picks!
New Swedish noir from Anders de la Motte and a curious gem performed by Derek Jacobi
A couple of the audiobooks in this week’s new reviews have European provenance. THE SECRET DIARY OF HENDRIK GROEN: 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen is a Dutch bestseller published in 2014. The brilliant Derek Jacobi performs pseudonymous author Groen’s diary as a listener’s delight, delivering the emotional beats and subtle layers of humor.
For listeners who relish Swedish noir mystery, Anders de La Motte may be an author to check out. MEMORANDOM follows his successful GAME trilogy. Narrator Peter Noble does a great job leading listeners into an intriguing thriller that reflects the clear authenticity of de la Motte’s law enforcement background.
Being in the midst of summer, I would think we’d be seeing more baseball audiobooks. THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES sounds like a real nostalgia piece, and will take many listeners back to 1942 with the story of Lou Gehrig and the making of the Gary Cooper movie. The season is long, so more choices for baseball may come along.
We do seem to be in love with book covers with dogs . . .and COLLARED is no exception. Of course, it’s not just the cover—David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series is owned by narrator Grover Gardner. An Earphones Award here, but definitely not the duo’s first. I love this comment from AudioFile reviewer Brian Price: “Gardner’s wonderful combination of the rhythms of Sam Spade and the irreverent tones of Mark Twain make this diverting whodunit a listening treasure.” That’s my listening for this week.
A little laughter, a little love, new thriller pairings & another set for McEnroe
This week two new audiobooks that caught my eye, and ear, are filled with humor, warmth, and family dynamics. Mother and daughter author duo, Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella, are pretty irresistible in their latest essay collection I NEED A LIFEGUARD EVERYWHERE BUT THE POOL. Smile from the title on in. Another writer who keeps me in stitches is Adrianna Trigiani. Her new audiobook KISS CARLO looks like a winner. With Edoardo Ballerini as the narrator, how could this sojourn with a postwar Italian-American family not be a delicious listen? (The story does include culinary specialties!)
When I talk about author-read memoirs, I always reserve the right to dispute whether the author IS actually the best narrator. In the case of John McEnroe’s BUT SERIOUSLY it seems like this just had to be the author. McEnroe gives the full-on assault of voice and personality. It’ll be love it or leave it, for sure.
The mash-up of MATCHUP sounds really intriguing to me. Lee Child edited a collection of short stories in which A-List thriller writers pair up their series’ protagonists: Lee Child and Kathy Reichs match Jack Reacher and Temperance Brennan; Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille pair their Benny Rosato and John Corey. Add in talented narrators and, what a gang!
In the week when I had eyes on the G-20 meeting of world leaders, I should have listened to BEHAVE, Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky’s audiobook on the science of human behavior—the good and bad. Narrator Michael Goldstrom gets top marks for getting listeners through this dense and fascinating topic. (And you have to love Sapolsky’s author photo from a 2007 Stanford News article.)
Talk about bad behavior—Bonnie Parker of Bonnie & Clyde gets a splendid backstory from Jenni Walsh in BECOMING BONNIE. Susan Bennett gets Earphones for her performance. And Henry VIII ranks right up there in bad behavior . . . something to think about while listening to ANNE BOLEYN: A KING’S OBSESSION by historian Alison Weir. Narrator Rosalyn Landor delivers both pitch-perfect characters and Tudor atmosphere.
An interesting audiobook of debut fiction that caught my eye was Alexandra Fuller’s QUIET UNTIL THE THAW. Fuller, known for her memoirs of pre-apartheid Africa (DON’T LET’S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT), tells an intense story of two Lakota Oglala Sioux cousins. Listen to Fuller’s recent interview on NPR for more insights into the research and story behind this novel.
Quiet Until the Thaw
Look for more highlights in next week’s Robin’s RoundUp!
A snapshot of audiobooks worth your listening time from reviews published this week
It’s hard to stay up with the 40 new audiobook reviews we publish each week, so here are a handful of titles that caught my eye, and ear!
Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir THE SECRETS OF MY LIFE gives listeners a glimpse into a life that has been fully in the spotlight, but offers listeners aspects we can find relatable.
Two young adult titles have appeal beyond the so-called target audience. THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, Mackenzi Lee’s romp of a grand tour, is perfect for audio, “an absolute delight of a listen.” A detail of Cath Crowley’s WORDS IN DEEP BLUE won my heart—a used bookstore where notes are passed inside the pages of favorite books. Two new narrators give an Earphones Award-worthy performance.
My nod to the most intriguing title this week goes to ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY. Neil deGrasse Tyson, StarTalk Radio host and director of the Hayden Planetarium, really does have a knack of making even the densest of topics interesting—and audio is the perfect medium to make them accessible.
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