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May 2019 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.


AN AFFAIR OF POISONS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Accomplished narrators Emily Woo Zeller and Tim Campbell impressively narrate Addie Thorley's debut historical fantasy, in which King Louis IV and much of his court are poisoned to death. Mirabelle, a thoughtful young alchemist, is inadvertently caught up in her mother's plans to overthrow the monarchy. Zeller portrays her with anguish and hopefulness befitting the brilliant... Read More

AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD
Earphones Award Winner
Philosophy & Religion

Author and narrator Barbara Brown Taylor's welcoming tone and spot-on phrasing combine perfectly in this engaging consideration of nature and the divine. In chapters with such titles as "The Practice of Getting Lost" and "The Practice of Carrying Water," the theology professor and former Episcopal priest blends discussions of the mystical with the everyday. She is an engaging... Read More

AMERICAN DREAMER
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Sean Crisden wraps listeners in the warmth of food truck owner Nesto Vasquez, whose Dominican heritage inspires his delicious Afro-Caribbean food. Nesto parks his truck opposite the Ithaca Library and strikes immediate sparks with librarian Jude Fuller. Both men have to balance work priorities and family baggage before they get their sweet and steamy... Read More

AMERICA'S JEWISH WOMEN
Earphones Award Winner
History

Narrator Suzanne Toren employs her considerable vocal talent to help listeners view America's history through the lens of the female Jewish experience. The work begins in 1654 with the first arrivals and spans more than 350 years. Toren's steady voice and empathetic tone, clear diction, and comfortable pacing engage listeners with this survey of the personal stories of... Read More

BAND SINISTER
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Cornell Collins delivers a spirited narration of a charming love story. Siblings Guy and Amanda Frisby are living in the country in genteel poverty when an unexpected series of events leaves them at the mercy of their neighbor, Sir Philip Rookwood. Guy and Amanda have been chafing at the restrictions placed on them for many years, although in different ways. Collins perfectly... Read More

CEMETERY ROAD
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Those who listen to this marvelous audiobook discover quickly that Bienville is not a sleepy Mississippi town. Rather, Scott Brick's masterful narration highlights every nuance of Greg Iles's captivating novel about Marshall McEwan, a Bienville native who left the town and became an award-winning journalist. When McEwan returns to care for his ailing father, he renews... Read More

THE COILHUNTER CHRONICLES: OMNIBUS (BOOKS 1-3)
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

R.C. Bray narrates the legendary Coilhunter's adventures through the Wild North in an engrossing omnibus. Nox patrols the desolate wastes of the land as an unofficial lawman meting out justice with lead and violence as he seeks his family's murderer. Bray juggles several distinct voices throughout the three books but none so distinguished as Nox's. The Coilhunter speaks with a... Read More

DEAR GEORGE, DEAR MARY
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Audiobook listeners can travel back to the eighteenth century and hear a youthful George Washington recount British military blunders. Later, they hear a romantic Washington's frustration over being kept apart from his first love, Mary Eliza Philpse, the belle of Yonkers. Narrator Raphael Corkhill captures the essence of Washington--his sense of honor, his dignity, his... Read More

FIGURING
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

It's difficult to imagine a better narrator than Natascha McElhone for this exploration of how art, music, writing, science, and love intersect across time and space, folding in on themselves and changing our worldviews and self-images. McElhone's soft voice and poetic cadence guide listeners into the personal and professional lives of groundbreaking women such as astronomer... Read More

A GENTLEWOMAN'S GUIDE TO MURDER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Heather Wilds delivers an intense narration that never slows down. Emmeline St. Germaine, in the guise of the "Avengeress," sneaks through nighttime London of 1810 to rescue a 13-year-old scullery maid from being raped at knifepoint by her master, Sir Henry Claybourne. The next morning Emmeline awakens to the news that Sir Henry has been murdered--with the Avengeress as the... Read More

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

The mature character of narrator Erin Bennett's voice adds authority to the author's insights on friendship and never dampens the emotional immediacy of her stories. While Barth purports to focus on the experiences of women, she's actually talking about elements that are common to all friendships--emotional sharing, loyalty, trust, and forgiveness. She explains how friends are... Read More

LESSONS FROM LUCY
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Often, comedian Arte Johnson narrates Dave Barry's novels, but this time Barry narrates himself, which turns out to be an excellent idea. The "Lucy" in the title of Barry's latest audiobook is his elderly dog. And, as any dog owner can affirm, old dogs are great teachers. Barry injects just the right amount of self-deprecation into the humor. Who else but the author could... Read More

MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Katherine Fenton is the ideal narrator for Hustvedt's latest novel, which explores familiar themes of the unreliability of memory, academia, social isolation in urban settings, and sexual politics. The story is told by middle-aged S.H. as she reflects on her time as a young graduate student in late-1970s New York City. Fenton's clear enunciation and skilled phrasing help... Read More

NO HAPPY ENDINGS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Author and podcaster Nora McInerny narrates this story of finding something new and unexpected in the aftermath of great loss. Her second memoir focuses on the reverberations of three deaths over a short time period. First, she loses a baby to miscarriage, and then both her father and her young husband die of cancer. McInerny's narration captivates the listener with its depth... Read More

THE OTHER AMERICANS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

The mosaic of American experiences is expertly captured by an ensemble reading of Pulitzer Prize winner Lalami's superb new novel. Moroccan-American Nora is summoned to her family home in the California desert after the hit-and-run death of her beloved father. The tragedy resonates among a circle of people: Nora; her mother and sister; Efrain, an illegal Mexican immigrant who... Read More

THE PATH MADE CLEAR
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Fans of Oprah Winfrey's TV show, or more recently her two podcasts, will have this title on their playlist for months. She dips in and out of interview clips with trailblazers across various industries with her characteristic warmth, wit, and candor. Winfrey draws us close in this inspiring topical guide focused on self-motivation. We feel as though we are sitting in the living... Read More

PERIL BY POST
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Listeners travel to Regency England in the company of Bow Street Runner John Pickett and his new wife, Julia, through the excellent narration of Joel Froomkin. Summoned to the countryside by an anonymous letter, the Picketts take the honeymoon they never had as cover for John's activities. Soon after their arrival, listeners experience Julia's horror as she witnesses a man... Read More

THE PIONEERS
Earphones Award Winner
History

Those who count the works of David McCullough among their richest listening experiences will welcome what is sure to be one of this year's most popular and lauded audiobooks. As narrator, John Bedford Lloyd possesses many of McCullough's familiar virtues, in particular, a deep-throated calm and a balanced tone free of dogma and bias. Lloyd shows what a skilled narrator can do... Read More

SAL AND GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Anthony Rey Perez dives in and out of English and Spanish, giving this audiobook the ambiance of Cuban-American culture. He skillfully interprets the mix of realistic and fantastic events and maintains the fast pace of this compelling listen. He is outstanding at portraying hero Salvador Vidon, a magician with a secret. Since his mother died, Sal has created tears in... Read More

SAVE ME THE PLUMS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Like her lively writing, Ruth Reichl's performance is inviting and engaging. Reichl's latest memoir is a juicy account of her decade as the editor in chief of the fabled culinary magazine GOURMET. Her fans will be happy to discover that, once again, she narrates her own work, and new listeners are in for a treat. Her clear affection for her co-workers, her passion for food and... Read More

THE SECRET WISDOM OF NATURE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Sean Barrett's warm baritone is perfect for Peter Wohlleben's fascinating final installment in his Mysteries of Nature trilogy. Following THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES and THE INNER LIFE OF ANIMALS, Wohlleben now considers the connection of all living things. A former German forestry official, he writes with an enthusiast's thrill and a scientist's precision. And if the... Read More

SHORTEST WAY HOME
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

It seems almost contradictory to describe the narration of an autobiography as exuding a sense of humility--but that is the best description of this work by the youngish mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg writes intelligently in a way that nearly any listener will understand. He is soft-spoken, yet it's clear what's important to him. Sections about his family and personal... Read More

SISTERS MATSUMOTO
Earphones Award Winner
Poetry & Drama

With poignant grace, Keiko Agena, June Angela, and Suzy Nakamura lead a stellar cast, playing three Japanese-American sisters who find hope, heartache, and hard-won humor when they return to their family farm in California after four long years locked away in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. They had planned to pick up where they left off, but their father and mother are... Read More

THE TEST
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

Providing memorable, distinct, and believable voices for every character, narrator Neil Shah creates the atmosphere of the live stage for this chilling dystopian story. A third-world immigrant who believes he's taking a British citizenship test so that he and his family can safely stay in England soon finds himself plunged into a nightmarish world. Shah is especially adept at... Read More

WE MUST BE BRAVE
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Narrator Jayne Entwistle outdoes herself with this moving story, which takes place in England from WWII to 2010. Ellen Parr methodically assists bombing survivors brought to her village. Entwistle captures the kind, childless Parr when she discovers abandoned 4-year-old Pamela. Descriptions of the rattled evacuees, kindly townsfolk, and bewildered Pamela are atmospheric.... Read More

WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Audie winner Kyla Garcia delivers a thrilling Latinx-themed fantasy debut by Tehlor Kay Mejia. Dani Vargas has finished her training to become a Primera, one of two wives every husband must take in the nation of Medio. The second wife, a Segunda, is the emotional and passionate nurturer, while Primeras like Dani are rational and intelligent partners. Garcia gives Dani an... Read More

WICKED SAINTS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Two narrators deliver the dual perspectives of Nadya, a Kalyazi cleric capable of casting spells, and Serefin, high prince of Tranavia and an immensely powerful blood mage. Tristan Morris captures Serefin's lighthearted charm and Russian-inspired accent, but Natasha Soudek steals the show as Nadya. While running from Serefin and his soldiers, Nadya reluctantly allies herself... Read More

THE WOMAN IN THE LAKE
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Nicola Cornick's spellbinding gothic romance is graced with outstanding narrations by Malk Williams, Imogen Church, Charlie Sanderson, and Rebecca Courtney. In 1763, Lady Isabella is trapped in a hateful marriage to sadistic Lord Eustace Gerard. Gerard has a dress made for Isabella, a magnificent, if mysterious, gold silk gown, which he orders her to wear. In 2004, Fenella... Read More

WOMEN ROWING NORTH
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Narrator Suzanne Toren's mature pitch and thoughtful phrasing are perfect for this memoir-like review of the various ways women transition into their later years. Her sensitive interpretation of this nuanced writing will make many listeners feel like they are being invited into the author's life as they hear her intelligent observations and advice. The 71-year-old psychology... Read More

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