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August 2020 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.


ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Robert Bathurst is just about perfect delivering the 16th Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel. The Gamaches have left Three Pines, Québec, for Paris for the birth of their newest grandchild. Gamache spends time with his godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz, and with his estranged son, Daniel, a Paris banker. When Horowitz is nearly killed in a deliberate hit-and-run,... Read More

ALLIANCE
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Kirby Heyborne narrates a captivating fantasy romance centered on an unlikely place: a magical circus in which creatures are forced to perform for humans. Elven Ranamayve, who stands out even among her kind, finds herself thrust into a world of brutality. But she finds solace in the warm heart of a half-orc named Bozek. Heyborne commands listeners' attention with a careful tone... Read More

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF WASPISH WIDOWS
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

The second installment of Waite's Regency and Victorian-era series, called Feminine Pursuits, features Morag Sims's narration talents. Agatha Griffin, the resilient widowed owner of a London print shop, and Penelope Ford, an affable amateur beekeeper, meet after a hive takes up residence in Griffin's warehouse. Sims's textured characterizations enliven the women's chemistry as... Read More

THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Nigerian-American author Akwaeke Emezi's lyrical and heartbreaking third novel is brought to life by the extraordinarily gifted pairing of narrators Yetide Badaki and Chukwudi Iwuji. This story of grief, family, transgender identity, and societal expectations is set in the turbulent political landscape of the late-1990s Nigeria. Iwuji depicts Vivek and his cousin and close... Read More

EMPIRE OF WILD
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Canadian actress Michelle St. John narrates this exhilarating novel with a sure sense of pace and a strong grip on its intense emotions. Her characterization of the protagonist, Joan, gives her nuance yet reveals her toughness. The rendering of the Indigenous descendants of Ontario's Métis people is done expertly. The plot focuses on Joan's quest to bring back her wayward... Read More

THE EXILES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Caroline Lee offers an outstanding narration of Kline's well-researched novel, which depicts a shameful moment in Australia's colonial history. Seduced, pregnant, accused of stealing, and convicted on slight evidence, Evangeline is marked for transport from Newgate Prison to Australia. Onboard the ship, fellow prisoners Hazel and Olive help her cope with various hardships and... Read More

THE FALCON ALWAYS WINGS TWICE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Listening to Bernadette Dunne perform the Meg Langslow audiobooks gives listeners a sense of coming home to a beloved family. In this installment, Meg and her family hold a Renaissance Faire at her grandmother's craft center. Dunne builds up listeners' ill will toward a particularly vicious performer, bringing it to a climax when he carries out his most dramatic and malicious... Read More

FEED YOUR MIND
Earphones Award Winner
Children

David Sadzin's stellar narration and sophisticated production values are all the art necessary to bring this picture book biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson to life. The story of how and where Wilson found his muse is told in two acts. Each "scene" is composed of free verse set to music and enhanced by the sounds of Wilson's world--city noises, ringing... Read More

GHOSTING THE NEWS
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Listening to this book, one might think narrator Amanda Carlin is the author. Her narration is filled with the emotion and emphasis the author brought to the work. She stresses the important points without sounding strident and largely overcomes the fact that this book was written for the eye, not the ear. She breaks complex sentences into easier to comprehend segments without... Read More

GIRL, UNFRAMED
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Alexandra Allwine maximizes the tension in this YA page-turner. Sydney Reilly is planning to spend her sixteenth summer in a mansion in San Francisco with Lila Shore, her movie-star mother. But her heavenly summer soon turns to hell, and Allwine's depiction makes that clear as Lila's tones range from helplessness to fury, with notes of egotism beneath both. Allwine... Read More

THE GREAT MORTALITY
Earphones Award Winner
History

John Kelly's richly detailed history of the medieval Black Death was published in 2005 but comes into its own as an audiobook in the age of COVID-19. Critics and readers have criticized Kelly for personifying the plague as a sensate being racing hungrily from town to town and country to country. But with polished elegance, narrator Matthew Lloyd Davies captures the grim ironies... Read More

IT SOUNDED BETTER IN MY HEAD
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

The spectacular narration and skillful writing work so well together in this debut audiobook that listeners will enjoy both the adorable and uncomfortable moments that come with teenage romance. Narrator Katherine Littrell delivers a delightful performance with an authentic-sounding Australian accent as she portrays Natalie--an introvert whose personal life is in shambles. Her... Read More

LIFE IS IN THE TRANSITIONS
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Author and narrator Bruce Feiler draws powerful lessons from more than 200 life stories from diverse individuals across the U.S. His genuine interest in finding meaning in change and his depth of understanding make him the perfect narrator for his audiobook. While Feiler doesn't have a traditional narrator's timbre, he masterfully conveys authenticity and emotion while sharing... Read More

A LITTER OF BONES
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Angus King introduces Detective Chief Inspector Jack Logan, who is sent to the Scottish Highlands to investigate a child abduction similar to one he solved earlier. Logan is confident and tough but also vulnerable; his transition from Glasgow to the countryside is amusing. Listeners will meet his engaging and conscientious team and feel themselves to be in the middle... Read More

THE LOST GIRLS OF DEVON
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

An ensemble cast of Sarah Naughton, Helen Lloyd, Esther Wane, and Pearl Hewitt delivers this well-crafted mystery. Accompanied by her daughter, Zoe Fairchild travels back to her home village of Devon, England, after her grandmother's caregiver goes missing. While there, Zoe meets up with her estranged mother, thus bringing together four generations of women who go about... Read More

MALORIE
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

Narrator Cassandra Campbell exquisitely evokes the existential dread that permeates Josh Malerman's well-wrought follow-up to his popular sci-fi suspense novel, BIRD BOX. America remains rife with creatures that drive viewers insane. Blindfolded and hooded, Malorie has kept her now-teenage children safe for 16 frightening years. Then they learn that Malorie's parents may be... Read More

THE MARRIAGE GAME
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Soneela Nankani enhances this witty story with her fantastic accents. Due to a misunderstanding, Layla and Sam find themselves sharing an office above her family's restaurant. This is not an easy feat for two people with vastly different styles. Newly single and busy with her new business, Layla is unaware that the 10 suitors who show up for blind dates with her have... Read More

QUEENS OF THE RESISTANCE: MAXINE WATERS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

The four audiobooks in this series celebrate the lives of noteworthy female politicians. This one focuses on the life and political career of U.S. Representative Maxine Waters. From her humble beginnings in St. Louis, Missouri, where she was one of 13 children raised by a single mother, to her political career spanning more than 40 years, Representative Waters has never been... Read More

THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF H
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

With its nontraditional heroine and harrowing twists, this audiobook is so absorbing that listeners will be hooked from the very beginning. "H" is our guide to her own life's adventures in seventeenth-century London, and narrator Karen Cass is so agile in her performance that the action flies past as if this were a film. Punctuated by events like the plague and a conflagration,... Read More

THESE WALLS CAN TALK
Earphones Award Winner
Audio Theater

A full cast of experienced narrators frolics in Mallon's hilarious meta play about romance audiobooks. Andi Arndt voices frustrated wife Vera, whose secret obsession is a narrator, read by Joe Arden, whose magical performances have earned him the nickname "the Narwhal." Shane East portrays her confused yet adorable husband, Cameron, whose interactions with a romance writer,... Read More

TRUE STORY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Three narrators deliver a tremendous performance of Kate Reed Petty's remarkable debut novel about the long-term reverberations of a venomous high school rumor and the power of storytelling to harm and help. Combining multiple genres--thriller, letters, essays, and memoirs--the bulk of the story is carried by Kristen Sieh as Alice, who's spent 15 years trying to figure out what... Read More

VERITAS
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

A good story well told cuts across every category of audiobook listening. This remarkable tale of a high-profile fraud combines elements of scripture studies, academic politics, investigative journalism, and true-crime reporting. Narrator Robert Petkoff is pitch-perfect in delivering author Ariel Sabar's examination of "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife," a forged parchment of dubious... Read More

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