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February 2018 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.


THE ADVENTURES OF PELLE NO-TAIL
Earphones Award Winner
Children

This Swedish children's classic was first published in the mid-twentieth century. Narrator Rupert Degas's voice is rich, mellow, and inviting as he introduces Pelle No-Tail, the cat who lost his tail to a rat as a kitten. He left his farm in the back seat of a car quite by accident, was taken in by the driver and his daughter, and now navigates a myriad of adventures with his... Read More

THE ARSONIST
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

This complicated novel--told in three points of view through letters, essays, and a diary--brings three teenagers together. Morgan Hallett narrates Molly's letters to Pepper with an edgy defiance in her voice that fits a girl who is considered a freakish loner by her peers. Pepper writes a series of school essays. Despite Pepper's academic failure and personal tragedy, narrator... Read More

THE COLOR OF LAW
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

With confidence and clarity, narrator Adam Grupper describes discriminatory laws governing the actions of the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other government agencies that have shaped African-Americans' ability to gain wealth, health, education, and voting power, not merely in the past but in the present day. Author... Read More

THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Kirby Heyborne is in his element as he treats listeners to an audio adventure that abounds with expertly paced escapades, colorful accents, and snarky humor. Twelve-year-old Prosper Redding thinks he's the only unexceptional, unlucky, downright forgettable Redding, until he discovers that a 4,000-year-old demon who is intent upon annihilating his entire family is... Read More

EVERLESS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Listeners will be drawn in and left wanting more by Eileen Stevens's engrossing narration of Sara Holland's fantasy, the first of a pair. Jules is a girl from the kingdom of Sempera, where blood is the source of both money and time and the poor people's only hope for survival is to sell their future years. Jules returns to Everless, the capital, in spite of her dying father's... Read More

THE FAMILY PLOT
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

There isn't an accent or a personality type--no matter how quirky--that Joel Froomkin doesn't nail in this third John Pickett mystery. Pickett is called to Scotland to investigate the mysterious return of the Kirkbrides' prodigal daughter. Froomkin turns up the heat when Pickett checks into a hotel and learns that Mrs. Pickett is in residence. Listeners will chuckle to learn... Read More

THE FIRST DAY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Gerard Doyle dons his finest Belfast accent in narrating this intense and tangled story of an affair between a married evangelical pastor and his independent-minded lover, a graduate student. When she bears him a son, their two families' destinies are forever altered. The prose is poetic and wise, and Doyle's clear and easy delivery ensures that every phrase, every paragraph,... Read More

FORCE OF NATURE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

In this second powerhouse audiobook from Harper, five women go on a corporate retreat, and only four return. The setting is the Australian Outback, not a location where most people would expect a corporate retreat to take place. Narrator Stephen Shanahan puts his clear Australian accent to good advantage as he portrays Aaron Falk, the lead investigator in the search for the... Read More

THE HEMINGWAY FILES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This is the an audiobook that makes an extraordinary piece of literature better. Harold K. Bush's debut novel focuses on the revelations that mysterious Professor Goto slowly divulges to American English Professor Jack Springs, who is teaching at Goto's university in Japan. Narrators Joe Barrett and Andrew Eiden read with precision. Their realistic Japanese accents define... Read More

THE KILLING ROOM
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Scott Brick's sense of drama plays up the tension in parts of this dark thriller full of foreboding. Brick's narrations are always top-notch, and he shows off his considerable vocal talents here. He differentiates characters with small changes to his voice and is truly involved in the complex plot, which has a religious bent. Philadelphia detectives Kevin Byrne and his... Read More

THE LARGESSE OF THE SEA MAIDEN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The audio version of Denis Johnson's posthumous short story collection has an eye-popping cast of celebrity narrators. Actors Nick Offerman, Michael Shannon, Dermot Mulroney, Will Patton, and Liev Schreiber are simply terrific. In the title story, Offerman, as an ad man in his 60s, delivers lines like, "Have I loved my wife? We've gotten along . . . " with a sublime blend of... Read More

LAST BUS TO WISDOM
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This final novel by Ivan Doig, an iconic author of the American Northwest, has received the star treatment it deserves in David Aaron Baker's empathetic and imaginative narration. Instead of mourning Doig's 2015 death, we have one more chance to celebrate his unique writer's voice while hearing the marvelous adventure of 11-year-old Donal on a Greyhound bus in 1951. He's been... Read More

THE LOST PRAYERS OF RICKY GRAVES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Multiple narrators reveal the lives of ordinary people who are caught up in the aftermath of tragic circumstances. The story is told through alternating first-person accounts, email exchanges, and chat room transcripts. When high school student Ricky Graves, who is thoughtfully portrayed, shoots a classmate and himself after a prank, the shock reverberates throughout his New... Read More

LUMBERJANES: UNICORN POWER!
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Amanda Leigh Cobb nimbly voices a full cast of larger-than-life characters in this exciting story of summer camp and friendship to the max. When the Lumberjanes set out to climb a mountain that isn't there, they find new friends, unicorns, and adventure. Cobb excels at creating distinctive voices for all five members of Roanoke Cabin, and even during long dialogue... Read More

THE MAN ON THE MOUNTAINTOP
Earphones Award Winner
Audio Theater

Hollywood stalwarts Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones get behind the microphone and bring their versatile talents to this story of a holy man whom long lines of pilgrims desperately want to meet but few come to understand. In honest and soothing tones, Jones, as "Old Man Joe," skillfully draws out the hopes and fears of a number of troubled travelers, played by an excellent ensemble... Read More

MERCY STREET
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Michael Veitch's thoughtful delivery enhances this sublime story, set in 1970s Australia. Seventy-five-year-old George Johnson is having difficulty coping with his beloved wife's death. When he's attacked by muggers, streetwise 19-year-old Angie comes to his rescue. Veitch inhabits both curmudgeonly Johnson and tough Angie. Johnson's interfering yet helpful sister, Shirl, is... Read More

NO OTHER DUKE WILL DO
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator James Langton gives a dynamic reading of Book 3 in the Windham Bride series. Langton charms the listener while introducing the lords and ladies at the Duke of Haverford's house party at his castle in Wales. To tell the story of the dashing duke, Julian, and the bluestocking heiress, Elizabeth, Langton uses his immense talent with accents and stylish wordplay to... Read More

NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

The first-person point of view, coupled with a skilled narration by Xe Sands, immediately draws the listener into Nora Stuart's story. Nora, a doctor, is hit by a van, and as she lies in the ER thinking she's dying, she overhears her boyfriend hit on another woman. This sends her home to Scupper Island, Maine, to recuperate and reconnect with her mother and niece. Sands smartly... Read More

AN ODYSSEY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Narrator Bronson Pinchot hits a home run as he recounts a timeless story of adventure--brought to life anew through the touching experiences of the author and his 81-year-old father. After the father enrolls in his son's college course on Homer's ODYSSEY, the pair decide to re-live Odysseus's journey throughout the Mediterranean. Pinchot recounts their story with all the... Read More

PADDINGTON ON TOP
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Hugh Bonneville's wholehearted narration begins with when a local official arrives to summon the beloved, good-natured Paddington Bear to school. Paddington, Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Bird, the housekeeper, scramble to get Paddington ready. Bonneville jumps into these roles with gusto. Paddington's adventures include his first and only day at school, waterskiing, the purchase of an... Read More

RIGHTEOUS
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

This follow-up to Jones's award-winning title, IQ, once again features protagonist Isaiah Quintabe. This time, IQ may have taken on one too many thugs as he tries to solve his brother's murder and save the sister of the woman his brother loved. Narrator Sullivan Jones, reprising his role as IQ, consequently takes on every manner of thug himself: Mexican street gang members,... Read More

THE TRICK
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Author Emanuel Bergmann weaves a tale that elegantly moves from pathos to humor and smoothly transitions from present-day Los Angeles to flashbacks of Nazi-occupied Europe. Narrator Jonathan Davis provides a stellar performance, infusing each character with unique passions. Max is desperate to keep his parents from divorcing and seeks out a magician called The Great Zabbatini,... Read More

THE WEIGHT OF IT ALL
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

When Henry's boyfriend dumps him for being too fat, Henry joins a gym and meets personal trainer/Greek god Reed Henske. Narrator Joel Leslie pushes all the right buttons with this Australian import. His baseline voice for Henry is slightly panicked, and during Henry's gym sessions he delivers Henry's tortured quips with snort-out-loud humor. Leslie makes Henry seem both... Read More

THE WOLF HOUR
Earphones Award Winner
Children

The narration of this audiobook is spectacular. Thérèse Plummer brings power, venom, and precision, and David de Vries demonstrates equal power, along with warmth and humor. They transport listeners into the Polish Puszcza--a forest cold, dark, and full of magic. And wolves. And stories. Young Magia desperately wants to follow the footsteps of her woodcutter father into the... Read More

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Anna Fox is 38 and lives alone in uptown Manhattan. An agoraphobic who never leaves the house, she resorts to binge-watching noir movie classics, spying on neighbors, and drinking a lot of wine. Narrator Ann Marie Lee delivers the tightly wound heroine with precision, increasing her pace and raising her pitch when Anna believes she sees an act of violence in a neighbor's house.... Read More

ZERO SUM
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Author Barry Eisler serves as his own narrator for his fascinating novel about a professional assassin who is called upon to stop another assassin from killing a friend. But the hero, John Rain, soon learns that his target, a Russian-Japanese psychopath named Victor, is the most evil and formidable opponent he has ever faced. Eisler performs the work perfectly, right down to... Read More

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