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May 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.


AFTER HOURS
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrators Aiden Snow and Lidia Dornet open the doors to a sinful organization that operates in the high-rises of San Francisco's elite. The story doesn't let up until everyone has their happy ending. When Avery Fast accidentally walks in on a secret sex club, she doesn't realize her conservative approach to the bedroom is about to be turned on its head. Carson Haggert is there... Read More

AKATA WITCH
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Nigeria and the world of the Leopard people come to life with Yetide Badaki's engaging multi-accented narration. Sunny Nwazue is Igbo and American, albino, and about to discover she is magic. Badaki smoothly switches between Sunny's and her friend Sasha's American accents and the voices of her new Nigerian friends, cheeky Chichi and solemn Orlu. Chapters start with briskly read... Read More

ALL SYSTEMS RED
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

The creature telling this story, a security unit tasked with protecting a planetary survey team, calls itself "Murderbot." It's depressed and withdrawn, and Kevin R. Free performs the character perfectly, giving its voice languid tones and a slow-speaking pace, layered with an unsettling tension that hints at dangerous rage. There are similar subtle notes in the other... Read More

AMBERLOUGH
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Mary Robinette Kowal narrates a gripping historical fantasy, inspired by 1920s Weimar-era Berlin, but with broader political implications. Cyril DePaul is a spy who sells out his country, Aristide Makricosta is a masterful performer both on and off the cabaret stage, and Cordelia Lehane is a dancer who gets caught up between them. Kowal delivers a stellar performance, imbuing... Read More

THE ANGRY TIDE: A NOVEL OF CORNWALL, 1798-1799
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Narrator Oliver Hembrough enhances Winston Graham's stellar writing in this seventh installment of a 12-part series set in eighteenth-century England. Ross Poldark, who lives in Cornwall and owns a mine, becomes a member of Parliament. Hembrough effectively delivers the vivid descriptions of Poldark's two different lives, one in cosmopolitan London and the other in Truro, where... Read More

BARBED WIRE HEART
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator and author Tess Sharpe's debut story of backwoods crime and the ongoing struggle to survive against powerful rivals is enhanced by her emotional and evocative delivery. Harley McKenna has been involved in the family crime business since she was 16. Sharpe's voice mimics the existential terror of a teenager who is forced into life-or-death situations when she's too... Read More

CIRCE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Author Madeline Miller and narrator Perdita Weeks transform the ancient Greek drama of Circe, witch of Aeaea and daughter of Helios, into a fresh and vibrant tale for contemporary listeners. Long depicted as a villainous foil for male heroics, the witch is redeemed and enriched by Miller's nuanced writing. Weeks's cool British intonations and attuned performance capture Circe's... Read More

CLAIMED
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Computer romance has never been so adorable as it is when narrated by Summer Morton and Jay Crow. In Riley's third For Her novel, Jay Rose and Jordan Chen engage in a workplace romance at Osbourne Corporation. Crow's deep voice makes Jordan's computer security job seem sexy and alpha. He also shows Jordan's abiding love for Jay and the depth of her feelings without sounding... Read More

THE CREATURE OF THE PINES
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator January LaVoy shows off her many voices while portraying Elliot, the fact-loving new kid at school, and Uchenna, a free spirit with a sense of adventure. The two become fast friends during a field trip to the Pine Barrens. While there, they have a run-in with the mythical Jersey Devil, who follows them home and escapes soon after. To rescue the mythical creature, they... Read More

DRACULA
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

There have been many audio versions of this classic novel, but it's hard to imagine a better one than Nick Sandys's. His pacing is gripping, his skill with accents and voices impressive, and he is respectful of the text, of what it's trying to do, and what it succeeds at so well after all these years. Bram Stoker's style is sentimental and hyperbolic by current standards, and... Read More

DREAD NATION
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Bahni Turpin brings to life the barely restrained sarcasm of Jane McKeene, the bold heroine of the first in this alternate history series. Jane was born to and educated by the white mistress of a Kentucky plantation. When the dead of the Civil War rise from the battlefields and become a threat, Jane, like all blacks and Native Americans, must train in weaponry to... Read More

FATAL THRONE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Seven talented YA authors and gifted narrators embrace the personalities, foibles, dreams, and philosophies of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives. First-person narratives reveal each queen in her own right, not eclipsed by the famous king or distorted by stereotypes. Portraits are distinctive and individual. Varying tones properly represent the power and struggles of... Read More

THE FEMALE PERSUASION
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Avid readers of Wolitzer's work won't be disappointed by this new audiobook. The subject matter is timely, and Rebecca Lowman's narration is perfect. Similar to Wolitzer's previous novel, THE INTERESTINGS, this piece follows a realistic cast of characters from youth to adulthood, capturing their trials and triumphs along the way, particularly from a feminist point of view.... Read More

THE FLOWERS OF EVIL
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

Mid-nineteenth-century poet and translator Baudelaire is one of the great progenitors of modern poetry. Jonathan Keeble's excellent narration reminds us just how radical this work was and why parts of it were banned in France as late as 1949. Keeble restrains some of the passionate excesses that are part of Baudelaire's radicalism, preserving the contrasts that let the heights... Read More

FOR EVERY ONE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Jason Reynolds performed this poem at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Now he brings its stirring words to audio, his voice as rich as his powerful message. He wrote this lyrical letter when he believed he might never succeed. At this low point, he speaks to himself, and to "every one" ready to give up dreams. His deep voice is as... Read More

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Listeners will be fascinated by these original stories from Hans Christian Andersen--no Disney adaptations here. They're richly voiced by F. Murray Abraham and enlivened by a cast of acclaimed narrators who add playful differentiation to the many characters. The tales range from the familiar "Thumbelina," "The Little Mermaid," and "The Princess and the Pea" to those less well... Read More

HOW TO THINK LIKE A CAT
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

George Newbern's persuasive performance highlights how cats can teach us how to live better lives, ideas based on the author's observations of his cat, Ziggy. Newbern clearly articulates the compelling argument to be inspired by cats--to adopt their view of life to learn how to let go and focus on our well-being and the essential things in life. Newbern is calmly convincing... Read More

I HAVE LOST MY WAY
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

The narrators give individual strength to three characters who are all lost on their life paths. The narrators' intense deliveries project the characters' shared sense of isolation and the bonding that occurs after a freak accident. Famed singer Freya, portrayed by Nicole Lewis, loses her balance and falls on Nathaniel, who is portrayed by Michael Crouch. Lewis captures Freya's... Read More

I'VE BEEN THINKING . . .
Earphones Award Winner
Philosophy & Religion

Broadcast journalist Maria Shriver gives a commanding narration of her meditation on how to live a meaningful life. Shriver's soothing delivery has a gentle tone as she shares her personal reflections on life's work and how to make a difference in the world. At times, when she's conveying her immense respect and gratitude for her family and her role as a mother, she gets choked... Read More

THE LOST ART OF GOOD CONVERSATION
Earphones Award Winner
Philosophy & Religion

In an intelligent and sincere tone, Edoardo Ballerini narrates timely and insightful words on the art of conversation. Setting a pace that is sometimes thoughtful, sometimes passionate, Ballerini woos the listener into discovering why good conversation is disappearing in contemporary life and how to develop relationships with those we care about. Conversation with people whose... Read More

THE LOYALIST TEAM
Earphones Award Winner
Business & Finance

Using vivid stories of functional and dysfunctional teams they've worked with, four consultants describe the values and practices that characterize high-performing work groups. Elisabeth Rodgers's performance captures the authors' confidence and delivers their advice with fsensitivity to the arc of each story and the principles behind their recommendations. She speaks to... Read More

MAKE TROUBLE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Cecile Richards, longtime president of Planned Parenthood, delivers a terrific performance of her inspiring new memoir. While not a professional narrator, Richards is a practiced public speaker who reads with energy, enunciation, excellent pacing, and emotion as she tracks her career in rabble-rousing from its start at home in Waco, Texas. The child of political activists--her... Read More

NEVER LOOK AT THE EMPTY SEATS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Raw. Southern. Insightful. Colorful. This memoir about the life and career of one of Southern rock's pioneer bands is as unique and unpolished as the music for which the Charlie Daniels Band is known. The experience is even more so with Daniels delivering his own reflections. Listeners will hear the sadness of regret and the laughter of joy as Daniels can't help but stay... Read More

THE NEXT FACTORY OF THE WORLD
Earphones Award Winner
Business & Finance

Narrator Nancy Wu's beautifully lilting speaking voice brings to mind the tone and youthful curiosity of NPR's Terry Gross. Variations in pacing and intensity make the author's complex sentences come alive and reveal great sensitivity to the pathos of the broader story of how industrialization disrupts societies. More than Chinese entrepreneurs shifting manufacturing capacity... Read More

ONE BIG JOKE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Jem Matzan gleefully takes listeners along with comedian Larry Sullivan as he leaves his wife and frustrations in New York City and heads to Key West, where his writing partner, Pat Coates, lives. Sullivan's hesitant but endearing personality is captured convincingly by Matzan, along with pleasing descriptions of the setting, as well as appealing food and drink. Most... Read More

ORPHAN MONSTER SPY
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Celebrated narrator Saskia Maarleveld offers an exceptional narration of this thrilling WWII drama. Portraying a full cast of characters, including a Jewish orphan, a U.S. spy, and the German students of an elite boarding school, Maarleveld seamlessly incorporates a wide range of European and American accents. Fifteen-year-old Sarah is portrayed with a strong and confident tone... Read More

A PERFECT UNIVERSE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This selection of ten stories set in Los Angeles but outside the Hollywood glamour is simply excellent. Narrators Bronson Pinchot and Thérèse Plummer are both captivating in their own right, bringing to life the finer points of the psychology of the characters--from the sole survivor of a building collapse to the sisters whose paths diverge, one to a successful career in... Read More

PET SEMATARY
Earphones Award Winner
Horror

Stephen King's haunting 1983 novel finally has an unabridged audiobook version. The narrator is Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), who can now add an Earphones Award to his resume. Though the horror elements are always looming, Hall warmly portrays the all-too-human Creed family, full of love for each other but also flawed, damaged, and uncertain. He molds Louis Creed into an... Read More

THE PURPOSE REVOLUTION
Earphones Award Winner
Business & Finance

Narrator Jeff Hoyt's deep pitch and carefully timed phrasing are critical to delivering the message that purposeful leadership and individual empowerment are necessary for any capitalist enterprise to be successful. His confidence and sensitivity to nuance make the authors' message memorable, their invitations hard to resist. Izzo and Vanderwielen say that the way a company... Read More

THE READ-ALOUD FAMILY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Sarah MacKenzie, who spreads her infectious enthusiasm for reading aloud to children of all ages, narrates the audiobook she wrote to accompany her blog and podcasts. Her briskly paced reading is filled with energy and warmth, gently conveying her Christian faith along with excellent reasons for reading aloud to children: bonding, delighting in a good story, enjoying time... Read More

THE SKY AT OUR FEET
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Kirby Heyborne, the perfect choice to narrate this timely, heart-wrenching story, embodies the voice Jason D, born in America to an Afghani mother and an Afghani journalist father killed while working for the Americans during the war. Heyborne's ability to get inside the the head of Jason and sound like a twelve-year-old boy brings this story to life. When Jason witnesses his... Read More

SONG OF A CAPTIVE BIRD
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-1967) is the real-life inspiration for this coming-of-age story. Mozhan Marno narrates the harrowing details of Forugh's strict childhood and forced, loveless marriage at a steady pace that softens the blows. Marno's sultry, throaty voice and narrative style bring across the persistence at the heart of this historic character. A lush... Read More

SPACE OPERA
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

Heath Miller narrates a story that is equal parts scathing social commentary and hilarious send-up of music competitions. In order to prove to the rest of the galaxy that they are sentient and avoid complete annihilation, humanity must compete in an interstellar grand prix of song--if the band chosen to represent them can make it to the competition. Miller shines as the... Read More

SUNNY
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Sunny is the third winning character in Jason Reynolds's Track series. Sunny has always seemed to have a bright disposition, that is, until the day he inexplicably gives up on winning a track race. The move isn't inexplicable to listeners, for narrator Guy Lockard reveals Sunny's true thoughts and feelings as written in his journal. Lockard's voice clouds as Sunny recounts how... Read More

YOU THINK IT, I'LL SAY IT
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This excellent collection of 10 short stories is insightful, smart, and funny, laying bare the petty concerns, inner thoughts, and vulnerabilities of their high-achieving protagonists. The two narrators, Emily Rankin and Mark Deakins, are a credit to the audiobook as they incorporate humorous touches where appropriate, even amid some of the more negative emotions on display.... Read More

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