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November 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.


AN ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE THING
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

In his first novel, Hank Green proves his writing gift is equal to his vlogger fame. Kristen Sieh's breezy narration fits the fast pacing of the story and the quick wit of self-absorbed, acerbic April May. Life changes (and so does Sieh's adept portrayal) when April May discovers that a ten-foot-tall statue has suddenly appeared on a Manhattan sidewalk. A YouTube video of the... Read More

ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Eric Idle telling his own life story? Can it get any better than this? I think not. In one of the funniest audiobooks of the year, Idle uses funny voices, Monty-Pythonesque routines, and his own god-given distinctive British accent to talk about his life--the good times and the hardships (but mostly good times) before, during, and after his time with Monty Python. Idle's... Read More

BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY BURN AGAIN
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Ron Butler puts forth a bronze-star-worthy effort in the face of this relentless barrage of facts and anecdotes describing the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Fountain's disturbing yet salient distillation of that time, in the form of essays written more or less contemporary with the events, deserves an audience--but in print it could be a depressing read and... Read More

THE BELOVED WORLD OF SONIA SOTOMAYOR
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Sonia Sotomayor invites listeners to learn about her journey to becoming the first Latina Supreme Court Justice of the United States in this middle-grade adaptation of her memoir, MY BELOVED WORLD. Sotomayor narrates the prologue of her captivating story in an inspiring voice full of determination. Narrator Jamie Lee Ortiz then takes on Sotomayor's storytelling role, guiding... Read More

BROCA'S BRAIN
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrating this collection of writings from the late astronomer and media darling, Dion Graham uses an impressive array of tonal patterns and phrasing tools to capture the meaning and wonder in Carl Sagan's poetic writing. Graham's fluid and nuanced performance shines an admiring light on Sagan's reverence for science and gift for teaching. The writings sampled here are from the... Read More

BURIED BENEATH THE BAOBAB TREE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Robin Miles's powerful emotional tone carries listeners to Nigeria and the life of an unnamed narrator in the 2010s. She is bright and beloved by family and friends. Cheer balances her worries about hiding menstrual blood, and she dreams of meetings with her first crush. Short chapters mark small moments of daily life and introduce rumors about Boko Haram. When the militants... Read More

THE COST OF LIVING
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

With a poet's eye and a playwright's gift for compression, Levy's observations range from philosophical ponderings to elegant details of the quotidian. Henrietta Meire's intimate narration gives flesh and blood to Levy's sketches. Just as her marriage is crumbling, Levy loses her mother. The stress of these developments forces her to reflect on her place in a world in which she... Read More

THE COUNTERFEIT CRANK
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Hearing David Thorpe narrate this mystery set in the sixteenth century is akin to seeing a play being performed by an entire ensemble. Lord Westerfield's Men is the name of the troupe of performers at the Queen's Head Theatre. Listeners will appreciate hearing the actors' witty yet literate arguments and sharing their personal lives. The two subplots are equally well rendered:... Read More

DARK SACRED NIGHT
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Michael Connelly brings together young, fierce police detective Renée Ballard, whom he introduced in THE LATE SHOW, and Harry Bosch, the tough-minded, justice-seeking, semiretired detective he's featured in many of his novels. Christine Lakin skillfully performs the chapters written from Ballard's point of view, and Titus Welliver returns to confidently narrate Bosch's... Read More

ELIZA HAMILTON
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

This richly detailed audiobook attempts to explore all aspects of the life of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton. The author concentrates on Eliza's life after Alexander's death, particularly her efforts to help families, especially children, in need. Narrator January LaVoy takes the many facets of Eliza described and creates a fully fleshed-out character with... Read More

EVERYTHING'S TRASH, BUT IT'S OKAY
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

If current events have got you down, Phoebe Robinson will ease the doldrums with her second collection of laugh-out-loud sardonic essays. Robinson narrates her insights with the sharp wit that had listeners tuning in to her cohosted podcast. Listeners can escape from the bleak daily news feed by choosing to hear Robinson giggle in their ears at her own outlandishness. Her style... Read More

THE FIFTH TO DIE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Entertaining from start to finish, this is a thriller listeners will remember. Narrated superbly by Edoardo Ballerini and Graham Winton, the story focuses on Detective Sam Porter and his colleagues' hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, whom they believe is responsible for the many dead bodies that turn up. The story juxtaposes the search for 4MK and the attendant... Read More

A GIRL DIVIDED
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller provides a masterful storytelling experience as she takes listeners from the wilds of China to the hustle and bustle of WWII-era Los Angeles. This coming-of-age story is also lushly written historical fiction with inspirational elements. Genie Baker is forced to flee from the only home and family she's ever known to the other side of the world in order... Read More

A GIRL'S GUIDE TO MISSILES
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Karen Piper's fascinating memoir is brought skillfully to life by Rebecca Lowman's intimate narration. Piper recounts her Cold War-era childhood and adolescence at the naval research facility at China Lake, California, where both of her parents worked on missile development. She weaves military, political, and cultural history with important moments in her own life--Reagan's... Read More

GROW WHEREVER YOU WORK
Earphones Award Winner
Business & Finance

In this inspiring audiobook, narrator Eva Kaminsky's phrasing clarity and intentionality are so appealing that she comes close to overpowering this sometimes meandering lesson, but she never does. Instead, she provides a continuous supply of vocal tones and grace notes that help listeners stay tuned into this potpourri of personal stories and insights. The career... Read More

HERETICS ANONYMOUS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator Michael Crouch demonstrates a wholly satisfying range of teen and adult voices in his performance of Katie Henry's dialogue-rich debut novel. Each of the five boys and girls in the eponymous club, along with assorted family members of various ages, receives a distinct and consistent tone and pitch, making it easy to recognize every speaker in the moment. Although moods... Read More

IN THE HURRICANE'S EYE
Earphones Award Winner
History

A talented narrator combined with fascinating material makes for enjoyable listening. While Scott Brick probably could make a dictionary sound interesting, his voice exactly suits this work about the key role the French navy played in the American Revolution. He narrates with an even tone but varies his pace and adds touches of excitement in key passages, especially battle... Read More

JEREMIAH BOURNE IN TIME
Earphones Award Winner
Audio Theater

Through a wonderful twist on time travel, energetic, charming Jeremiah Bourne finds himself arguing with his teenage sister one moment and then waking up in 1910 London the next. Can he figure out how to save himself and save the day at the same time? With sly, self-effacing humor, BBC character actor Sebastian Armesto leads a stellar cast, including Phyllis Stokes as the... Read More

THE LAW OF FINDERS KEEPERS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Lauren Fortgang's varied accents and voices give even more personality to Turnage's cast of zany, lovable characters in this final book in the Tupelo Landing series. Sixth-grader Mo and the Desperado Detectives are investigating a new lead on the whereabouts of Mo's mother. Meanwhile, a treasure hunter enters the town to find lost pirate's booty, and the townspeople... Read More

LETHAL WHITE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

For those who revel in broad-canvas, socially conscious, plot-driven delicious reads recalling the pleasures of Dickens or Thackeray but with utterly contemporary themes, language, and sensibility, break out the banners. J.K. Rowling's good friend Robert Galbraith has delivered a Cormoran Strike novel you hope goes on forever, except that you really, really want to know how it... Read More

THE LIBRARY BOOK
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Susan Orlean is a wonderful narrator for her terrific new book--part memoir, part paean to libraries and librarians, with a focus on the Los Angeles Public Library and the unusual man who may or may not have caused the library's catastrophic 1986 fire. As she has proven in such books as THE ORCHID THIEF, and in her work for THE NEW YORKER, Orlean is an amazing writer. At... Read More

THE LOST QUEEN
Earphones Award Winner
Historical Fiction

Set in sixth-century Scotland, Pike's debut novel is the first of a planned trilogy exploring the Arthurian legend. The story is told from the point-of-view of Languoreth, a historical figure and twin sister of Lailoken, the man who inspired the Merlin legend. Narrator Toni Frutin does equally well with female and male characters, imbuing them with the strength to survive the... Read More

THE LOVERS
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Jim Daly's narration of this intelligent, intriguing story is nothing short of outstanding. Forty years after Brian de Courcy Cavanagh spent a summer crewing for a wealthy American on a yacht cruising the Mediterranean shortly after WWII, he receives a summons from beautiful Italian princess Guiliana Farnese, one of the passengers from that fateful summer, one with whom he had... Read More

MEMOIRS OF A DRAGON HUNTER
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Hillary Huber's narration rescues MacAlister's complicated demon universe, achieving excellence with self-aware humor and empathy for MacAlister's motley characters. Ronnie James, a teacher and would-be writer, struggles with OCD and a fear of germs. So she's definitely out of her comfort zone with the dragon hunter powers and urgent mission bequeathed to her by her sister.... Read More

THE OTHER WOMAN
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

In this audiobook of psychological suspense, Emily meets Adam, her perfect man, and things go swimmingly until she meets his diabolical mother, Pammie. Narrator Clare Corbett gives each character in this engrossing thriller a genuine personality and unique voice. Adam growls at Emily for making a joke about his mother's taste in music and becomes enraged whenever she mentions... Read More

THE PATH TO THE SPIDERS' NESTS
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Edoardo Ballerini gives a scintillating performance of Italo Calvino's (1923-1985) first novel. The novel tells the story of Pin, a cobbler's apprentice in Italy during WWII who becomes involved with a group of partisans. Pin's perception colors our image of each character--from grotesque to erotic to cruel. Ballerini inhabits each character so deeply that we forget... Read More

PONTI
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Vera Chok delivers an outstanding performance of this debut novel about family, friendship, and memory in Singapore. The story is told from the perspectives of three women: Amisa, a former film star who is now a medium; her isolated daughter, Szu; and Szu's nouveau-riche best friend, Circe. A social media consultant, Circe is tasked with promoting a remake of a horror... Read More

THE RELUCTANT DRAGON
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Jim Weiss's narration of this beloved story is full of his distinctive style and vivid characterizations. Leave it to Weiss to enthusiastically deliver the initial background material on the setting and history of the St. George legend. He then welcomes listeners into the tale with a voice that places them right in the story. His elongated words, pauses, and emphasis focus... Read More

ROSIE REVERE AND THE RAUCOUS RIVETERS
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Rachel L. Jacobs's dynamic voice along with expert sound effects and music combine to delight listeners who love Rosie Revere and her fellow Questioneers. Rosie, a young engineer, has been asked by her great-great Aunt Rose to help with a fellow riveter's engineering emergency. Along with friends Ada Twist and Iggy Peck, Rosie tries, fails, tries, and fails, over and... Read More

THE ROYAL RABBITS OF LONDON
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Mike Grady's deep, gentle British voice welcomes listeners to a tale that spans British history from the time of King Arthur to the present. When Shylo Tawny-Tail, the runt of a rabbit litter, uncovers a plot to compromise the Queen, he decides to thwart the scheme. His ancient and outcast rabbit friend, Horatio, blesses him as he embarks on his journey to the... Read More

SADIE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Courtney Summers's powerful story of love, neglect, abuse, and revenge is narrated with irresistible urgency by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner, along with an ensemble of supporting narrators. The daughter of a drug-addicted mother, Sadie was left to care for herself and her younger sister, Mattie. When Mattie is murdered, Sadie sets out to identify the killer. Summers's writing... Read More

SCARFACE AND THE UNTOUCHABLE
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

This audiobook is a fascinating examination of the terrible times when the Mob ruled Chicago, with Stefan Rudnicki doing a pretty solid job of substituting for Walter Winchell's staccato "Untouchables" delivery. Thoroughly researched and expertly executed, the story's most surprising revelation is how little Eliot Ness and Al Capone had to do with each other. They met only... Read More

SEVERANCE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Nancy Wu delivers an outstanding performance of this cheeky satirical novel, which has unusual but thoroughly entertaining premise. Candace reminisces about the ordinary life she had as an office worker until a plague swept New York City. As the population dwindled, she was hired to photograph the abandoned city for a blog--until worsening conditions put a stop to... Read More

SO DONE
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Tai and Mila have always been best friends, but differing interests threaten to break them apart in the weeks leading up to the start of eighth grade. Though the audiobook alternates viewpoints between the two girls, Bahni Turpin uses the same narrative voice throughout. Tai's and Mila's perspectives are so different that listeners won't be confused by the consistency in... Read More

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

The origin story of Han Solo is a rollicking space western that translates well from the big screen to audiobook form. The immersive sound effects and iconic music create an authentic Star Wars experience, and narrator Marc Thompson continues to expertly voice the denizens of this galaxy far, far away. Thompson's young Han is wisecracking but sounds more earnest than the... Read More

THE STARS NOW UNCLAIMED
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

In a thrilling nonstop adventure through the ruins of space, listeners accompany Jane, superbly portrayed as a hardened ex-soldier by Brittany Pressley. After Jane recruits a telekinetic teenager to her sect, the Justified, hoping to prevent the coming of a second disastrous space pulse, Jane's emotions slowly bleed through her tough exterior. Facing an invasion by another... Read More

SWING
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

With a poet's passion, Kwame Alexander narrates his novel-in-verse about high school friends Noah and Walt. Alexander's strong connection to his characters shines in his enthusiastic delivery and clear distinctions between the boys' personalities. Noah, cautious and reserved, pines for a girl who sees him only as a pal; Walt, vibrant with jazz running through his veins, wants... Read More

A TERRIBLE COUNTRY
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Ari Fliakos strikes the right tone between pathos and irony in his narration of Gessen's novel. Russian-born Andrei, a struggling Ph.D. candidate living in New York City, returns to Moscow to care for his grandmother. Fliakos draws the listener in with his warm conversational tone; one can imagine oneself sitting with Andrei and Baba Seva at her kitchen table. Yet... Read More

UNSEEN ACADEMICALS
Earphones Award Winner
Audio Theater

This rambunctious ensemble production is an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's 37th Discworld novel. An oddly polite stranger, portrayed by Keith Wickham, arrives in the grimy capital city of Ankh-Morpork. He's just in time to help rewrite the rules of soccer, introduce a gorgeous young woman to the world of dwarfian fashion modeling, eat a few pies, and, of course, skewer the... Read More

THE WHITE DARKNESS
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

Narrator Will Patton's voice is gruff and raspy--perfect for evoking the isolation and fortitude of Henry Worsley as he carried out a solo expedition across the freezing landscape of Antarctica in 2008, retracing the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton. But Patton's performance is also suffused with warmth, honesty, and joy, reflecting Worsley's enduring love for his family and his... Read More

THE WINTER STATION
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

A gifted narrator can often salvage a mediocre text, but given a finely written novel, as Simon Vance has here, the result is a showcase of the unique pleasures and sublime artistry of audiobook listening. Set in one of the most remote corners of the world, Shields's medical thriller is based on an outbreak of bubonic plague in Manchuria in 1910. The voices and accents are... Read More

WITCHMARK
Earphones Award Winner
Fantasy

Samuel Roukin narrates a charming fantasy that also features intrigue and a hint of romance. Miles Singer works at Beauregard Veterans' Hospital as a doctor, but his true identity is altogether different. Roukin creates an entirely sympathetic portrait of Miles: He is overworked, underappreciated, and desperately afraid of his true nature being found out, but the most important... Read More

WOMAN OF THE ASHES
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Fans of world literature will fall headlong into this reimagining of the fight to keep southern Mozambique free of colonialism in the late nineteenth century. The pair of talented narrators work together to create the personas of Emperor Ngungunyane and teenage Imani. Bahni Turpin gives the teenager a steely voice that follows her through the tumult of the Portuguese invasion.... Read More

YOU DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING, JILLY P!
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Nora Hunter voices 11-year-old Jilly P. with skill. Jilly's world is filled with life-changing moments: the birth of a sibling who has challenges with hearing, tension-filled extended family gatherings, emerging friendships to navigate in person and in an online chat room, and the death of a friend of a friend among them. Nora Hunter matches each situation with believably... Read More

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