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September 2017 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 ALMOST SISTERS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A comic illustrator struggling to develop her character's origin story learns her own family's origins when she's suddenly summoned to the small Southern town of her childhood to care for her grandmother. That summary hardly does justice to this multifaceted story, rich in heart and significance and showcasing Joshilyn Jackson's double talents as author and narrator. Jackson... Read More

AMATKA
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

In this audiobook's bleak future, words shape the existence of objects. When items aren't labeled, or their identity isn't confirmed aloud, they begin to dissolve. Narrator Kirsten Potter's voice is concise and clear, precisely evoking the cold, flinty environment of the colony called Amatka, in which an "information assistant" named Vanja finds herself. Vanja is sent to... Read More

ARROWOOD
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

A top-notch performance by Malk Williams makes Mick Finlay's debut novel as good as it gets. The setting is the London of Sherlock Holmes. A woman comes to ex-journalist turned private investigator Arrowood because she can't afford Holmes. Her brother has vanished, and she wants Arrowood to find him. The story is told by Arrowood's partner, Barnett, who soon makes it obvious... Read More

BLACK DOG BLUES
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Listeners enter two worlds, human and elfin, that were violently thrown together ever since the merging of Earth and Underhill a generation ago, which resulted in a messy and uneasy compromise. Narrator Greg Tremblay relishes layering tiny yet essential vocal details in his performance. When elfin bounty hunter Kai Gracen accepts what should be a simple run up the coast, his... Read More

THE BODY ON THE DOORSTEP
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Mystery lovers, rejoice. THE BODY ON THE DOORSTEP is an intelligent, well-written, cleverly plotted historical whodunit given an expert reading by Ric Jerrom. In this debut novel, A.J. MacKenzie (the pseudonym for Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife team Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel) creates the flesh-and-blood residents of St Mary in the Marsh, a small village in Kent,... Read More

CAESAR'S LAST BREATH
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Sam Kean opens with the classic argument that the "ghosts of breaths past" are still in the air we breathe today. It's not just Julius Caesar's assassination that's recalled by the gases of our atmosphere, though. Narrator Ben Sullivan makes the stories of scientists like James Watt, Joseph Priestley, and Alfred Nobel entertaining, reading with humor, humanity, and drama.... Read More

CITY OF SAINTS & THIEVES
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Tina is a 16-year-old Congolese refugee turned Kenyan street gang member and thief. Narrator Pascale Armand's convincing portrait captures Tina's many contrasts--her toughness and tenderness, duplicity and honesty, questioning and certainty. Armand also makes clear Tina's unswerving determination to care for her half-sister, Kiki, and to discover who murdered her mother. Armand... Read More

COMING RAIN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This audiobook, superbly performed by Paul English, is unlike anything you've ever read. Daisley's characters include a pair of itinerant Australian sheep shearers, a pregnant dingo bitch, a Malayan-Chinese cook, and a roughneck sheep farmer who takes himself for outback aristocracy. Daisley details the feelings and behaviors of all these earthly beings with astounding... Read More

DEATH AROUND THE BEND
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Narrator Elizabeth Knowelden gives a vivaciously entertaining performance of this mystery, set in the English countryside in 1909. She splendidly portrays Flo, lady's maid to Lady Hardcastle. The two forward thinking, spirited, capable women have become known for their sleuthing skills. This comes in handy when there's a murder at Lord Riddlethorpe's personal racetrack during... Read More

THE DESTROYERS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Graham Halstead's narration of Bollen's novel is quite an accomplishment. As the main character, Ian Bledsoe, Halstead embodies the voice of a man down on his luck and looking for opportunities. His old friend, Charlie, lives in Greece and appears to embody the life Ian thinks he wants: He's wealthy and surrounded by interesting people. Ian also struggles with the ethical... Read More

DOG WALKER
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Narrator Travis Baldree inhabits kindhearted, funny Ben Carter, an aspiring screenwriter who is currently employed as a dog walker for Windy City Waggers. Listeners will enjoy the breezy Carter as he cajoles shy or reluctant dogs, encounters a fierce pit bull, and meets Toby, a born-to-kill Japanese shiba inu posing as an ordinary dog. Baldree's tone changes when Carter... Read More

FAIR, BRIGHT, AND TERRIBLE
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Narrator Nicholas Boulton's imposing presence lends authority to the scheming heroine of this historical novel. Facing the utter collapse of Wales, which has fallen to the English, Eluned accepts an arranged marriage in order to avenge her late husband's death by killing the man most responsible for it. But she soon discovers that her fiancé is an old flame. Boulton commands... Read More

GENUINE FRAUD
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Rebecca Soler's riveting narration and the engrossing writing of E. Lockhart make for gripping listening--even if the main character of this story is unlikable. Soler renders a perfect portrait of Jule, a detached 18-year-old who is poised for fight, flight, and inventing lies about her past. Soler shows Jule's polar traits of coldness and obsessiveness, especially when it... Read More

GLASS HOUSES
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

In his third narration of Louise Penny's popular Three Pines series, Robert Bathurst emphasizes the humanity and compassion of Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache. Throughout the series, the character has reflected an exceptional benevolence, disavowing the macho cop stereotype. However, the events in GLASS HOUSES challenge Gamache's conscience unlike any of the previous... Read More

GROWN-UP ANGER
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

If excellence in audiobook narration means doing everything right while seeming to do little or nothing, Dennis Boutsikaris sets a standard here. In a feat of storytelling, Wolff has combined his own personal history growing up in Northern Michigan with the life stories of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, and the intertwined histories of American folk music and radical politics. A... Read More

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Mia, who was adopted from Korea, discovers forbidden photos while visiting North Korea with her father and brother. When police seize their father, the siblings attempt to escape, carrying proof of government atrocities. Narrator Jackie Chung's delivery of the precise, stilted English of the government guides suggests Mia's sense of being an outsider. However, Chung truly sets... Read More

THE INFINITE AIR
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Kidman's audiobook is a fictional account of New Zealand's intrepid aviator Jean Batten, who broke several aerial records in the 1930s. Using Batten's letters and journals, Kidman details her aspirations, which were continually questioned because of her age and gender. Narrator Heather Bolton is riveting as she depicts Batten's determination and bravery during her flights in... Read More

ISADORA
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Jen Tullock is extraordinary in this superb audiobook about a terrible period in the life of the American dancer Isadora Duncan. A world-famous iconoclast, Isadora was living in Paris with the heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune when her two children were drowned in a motor accident. As Tullock plays out Gray's extraordinary imagining of the months that followed... Read More

THE JERSEY BROTHERS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

With her soft and confident voice, narrator Cassandra Campbell gives a splendid reading of Freeman's book about her father's and his brothers' experiences in WWII and how these impacted her family. The three brothers all attended the Naval Academy, with the youngest being a logistics officer in the Philippines. What was seen as a cushy assignment became the opposite when he... Read More

KITCHEN CHINESE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller's diverse accents set an international stage for this story about finding a sense of belonging. Zeller's softened tones bring out Isabelle Lee's loss of self-confidence when she's fired from her job. She decides to go to China, where she reconnects with her sister and explores her heritage and her identity as a Chinese-American. Zeller conjures the... Read More

LAST BREATH
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Kathleen Early performs Karin Slaughter's suspenseful mystery, which introduces defense attorney Charlie Quinn. With grace and apparent ease, Early leads listeners to believe she's known Quinn intimately her entire life. The balance Early maintains between Quinn's tough, intelligent exterior and her compassionate, sensitive interior easily draws listeners into the complex... Read More

THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Since his first performance as Beverly Cleverly's Detective Joe Sandilands, narrator Terry Wale has established this historical mystery series as binge-worthy listening. In this first installment, we meet Sandilands as the WWI veteran turned Scotland Yard detective--who is minutes from returning to England from assignment in India--is ordered to stay on. Several wives at the... Read More

THE LAST TUDOR
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Narrator Bianca Amato delivers another flawless performance as author Philippa Gregory reaches deep into history, using impeccable research to speculate on the hearts and minds of three Tudor women. While many listeners know the tragic story of Jane Grey, who was queen for nine days, before she was executed, fewer know of her sisters, Catherine and Mary, who were also rightful... Read More

MAKE IT STICK
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

A lot of what we think we know about learning is wrong, according to 10 years of research carried out by a team of 11 cognitive psychologists. Written by a professional storyteller, this audiobook flows with melodic sentences that are made even more appealing to hear by narrator Qarie Marshall. His effortless-sounding articulation and broad phrasing palette make this a... Read More

MERCILESS GODS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Tough and brutal yet tender, Australian narrator Humphrey Bower has no worries delivering this edgy collection of short stories by fellow Aussie Christos Tsiolkas. A man learns that the violent relationship between his gay brother and immigrant father was even more complicated than he thought, and a hitchhiker seeks out the tribal family of a lover lost to drugs. Bower... Read More

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND IN THE SEA
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Humphrey Bower transports listeners to Western Australia in the 1940s. There, Rob Coram is living a seemingly idyllic and carefree childhood, playing outdoors in beautiful settings with friends and family, looking at the world with magic and wonder, all the while surrounded by the embrace of his tight-knit family. Bower's Australian accent is captivating in its... Read More

A MIND AT PLAY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Jonathan Yen's confident, well-paced narration is ideal for this biography of Claude Shannon, the father of the Information Age. In 1948, Shannon awakened the world to information theory, the concept that all information can be quantified, stored, and transmitted in binary digits or "bits" (a breakthrough that makes possible the downloading of this audiobook, among other... Read More

NORTHANGER ABBEY
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

With her natural elegance, fine ear for the English language, and hint of mischief, Emma Thompson has the ideal voice to narrate this Jane Austen classic. The first to be written (1798) and the last to be published after Austen's death (1818), the gentle gothic satire concerns clergyman's daughter Catherine Morland, who is introduced to high society with all its manners, teas,... Read More

ORPHAN ISLAND
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Kim Mai Guest captivates listeners with her narration of Snyder's wondrous story about "nine on an island, orphans all." Jinny has become the new elder, who is responsible for teaching and protecting the island's newest inhabitant, Ess. Guest incorporates a different tone and pace for each of the story's nine (later 10) consistently portrayed characters, adjusting her voice to... Read More

THE REASON YOU'RE ALIVE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator R.C. Bray brings the contentious, gruff yet thoughtful main character of this moving novel to life. David Granger, a Vietnam combat veteran who is coping with demons from his years of active duty, is now facing life after a brain cancer diagnosis. Granger speaks to the listener about his estrangement from his wife, slowly revealing family secrets that shed light on his... Read More

REMEMBER THE LADIES
Earphones Award Winner
History

To many people, the women's suffrage movement in America begins and ends with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But the effort was far deeper and older, and this book offers a historical overview that addresses this lack of public appreciation. Suzanne Toren offers an engaging and highly listenable reading. She varies her tone and pacing effectively, keeping... Read More

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This audiobook and its ensemble of narrators bring mid-twentieth-century Hollywood to life. Stand-out performer Alma Cuervo, portraying the title character, Evelyn, excels in her understanding of the reclusive washed-up starlet. Desperation, anger, and love have all been part of Evelyn's life, and Cuervo's performance delivers them all. Robin Miles captures the vulnerability of... Read More

SHERLOCK HOLMES
Earphones Award Winner
Classics

Consummate British actor, writer, comedian, and all-round performer Stephen Fry delivers an audio experience to savor in this performance of the entire canon of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works, beginning with A STUDY IN SCARLET and ending with HIS LAST BOW. However you consume it--during a marathon car trip or by dipping in and out--you'll be entertained and will... Read More

SOHO DEAD
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Simon Vance's rough-and-tumble delivery pulls listeners right into the mysterious maze of London's Soho underground. Kenny Gabriel, a skip tracer by trade, receives a request from his old boss to find his daughter. But Kenny soon realizes he's getting himself into something more than he bargained for. Against a backdrop of torture and murder, listeners meet a number of... Read More

SOLO
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

This novel-in-verse, written by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, sings with the despair, hope, and love that wash over 17-year-old Blade, a budding musician. Alexander's affection for Blade is obvious through his narration. He wrings every drop of emotion from a poignant story of a teen who is missing his mother, who died years ago, and battling his father, a broken-down... Read More

STING LIKE A BEE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Narrator JD Jackson takes great care to articulate the story of Muhammed Ali and his refusal to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. Though he could have quickened his pace in some areas, his ability to consistently alter his voice for the various men and women quoted throughout is noteworthy and makes this controversial biography an enjoyable and informative... Read More

THE STONE SKY
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Narrator Robin Miles keeps up the suspense throughout this dramatic conclusion to the Broken Earth Trilogy, leaping right back into the final moments of the previous title, THE OBELISK GATE. Listeners will be captured by the tense story of Essun and her lost daughter, Nassun, each of whom is working towards saving--or ending--the world. They are powerful orogens who are able to... Read More

THE STRAWBERRY HEARTS DINER
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

With a feisty Southern drawl, narrator Brittany Pressley portrays Jancy Wilson, a young woman who becomes stranded in the small town of Pick, Texas, when her car catches fire right in front of the Strawberry Hearts Diner. Since Jancy has no money and no family to help her, it's lucky there's a help wanted sign in the diner's window. Also luckily, her new life soon includes a... Read More

THE VIETNAM WAR
Earphones Award Winner
History

The melancholy tone of Ken Burns's voice exactly suits the mood of this history of the Vietnam War, which precedes his newest documentary, coming to PBS in September 2017. The book takes a nonjudgmental approach, but it's clear the war's outcome was shaped by actions taken decades earlier--as if the result were inevitable. Burns adds no false drama but always reads with a tone... Read More

THE WORLD OF YESTERDAY
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

David Horovitch's sublime narration of Zweig's haunting memoir matches excellence with excellence, style with style. Completed the day before he committed suicide in 1942, Zweig's narrative is a bittersweet medley of nostalgia and despair, starting with the golden turn-of-the-century years when Vienna was the center of European intellectual and artistic activity, all of which... Read More

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