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And the Mountains Echoed. By Khaled Hosseini. Read by Khaled Hosseini and others. 2013. 14hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781470361457).
In authentic Middle Eastern accents, author Hosseini, Navid Negahban, and Shohreh Aghdashloo sensitively narrate this complex novel of Afghanistan’s history, traditions, and far-flung families in richly textured, interconnected stories set between the 1950s and 2010.
Back to Blood. By Tom Wolfe. Read by Lou Diamond Phillips. 2012. 21hr. AudioGO, CD, $99.99 (9781619695283).
Phillips’ spot-on reading, accompanied by Latin and rap music, captures the erudite language, the less-than-admirable characters, and all the gossipy and witty social commentary of Wolfe’s latest romp set in Miami’s cultural melting pot.
Beautiful Ruins. By Jess Walter. Read by Edoardo Ballerini. 2013. 13hr. Harper, CD, $19.99 (9780062268365).
Audie award–winning Ballerini masterfully transports listeners through time and place, from Italy during the 1962 filming of Cleopatra to current-day Hollywood, immersing listeners in characters, events, and emotions in this sweeping, cinematic saga.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. By Daniel James Brown. Read by Edward Herrmann. 2013. 14hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781470352509).
Herrmann’s reading shines in his masterful performance of Brown’s powerful, affecting story. With a steady pace and commanding tones, he involves listeners in the story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing team, “rough-and-tumble country boys” who shocked Hitler with their sensational victory. (Top of the List winner—Adult Audio.)
Brilliance. By Marcus Sakey. Read by Luke Daniels. 2013. 13hr. Brilliance, CD, $49.97 (9781480504370).
Daniels takes listeners to a dystopian U.S. in which “Brilliants” make up one percent of the population but dominate the “Norms.” Through subtle shifts in vocal intonations and pace, Daniels intensifies the uneasy sense of menace in this disturbing, provocative, action-packed story.
Good Kings Bad Kings. By Susan Nussbaum. Read by Emma Galvin and others. 2013. 7.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $32.95 (9781622311347); lib. ed., CD, $69 (9781622311361).
Based on an award-winning debut novel, this audio features seven exceptional narrators who portray disabled teens and their caretakers in a Chicago nursing home. These skilled narrators breathe life into an intriguing range of characters, from the heartbreaking portrayal of an abused teen to the disabled but feisty data-entry clerk.
How the Light Gets In. By Louise Penny. Read by Ralph Cosham. 2013. 15hr. Macmillan, CD, $39.99 (9781427233011).
Cosham’s hypnotic reading effectively depicts the edgy and emotionally charged intensity of this ninth series entry as it builds to a dramatic conclusion. Inspector Gamache investigates two murders while setting up a final confrontation with his nemesis in the Sûreté, a man who plans to destroy more than Gamache’s career.
Midnight at Marble Arch. By Anne Perry. Read by Davina Porter. 2013. 12.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781470348311).
Series narrator Porter excels in her portrayal of Victorian-era characters, from aristocrats to servants, in Perry’s latest Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery. She skillfully distinguishes all the subtleties of the English class system while following a case that centers on the sexual assault of two women.
My Beloved World. By Sonia Sotomayor. Read by Rita Moreno. 2013. 12.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780307913128).
Moreno proves an ideal narrator for this memoir. She is completely attuned to the demands of the text, correctly pronouncing the Spanish words and names and responding to every nuance of mood, stress, and tone. Her compassionate reading makes it seem as if listeners are hearing the justice herself.
Night Film. By Marisha Pessl. Read by Jake Weber. 2013. 23hr. Books on Tape, CD, $50 (9780307932679).
Weber’s compelling voice perfectly suits this eerie, haunting story. From his spot-on and distinctive characterizations to his ability to incorporate memos, photo descriptions, and news clippings into the story, he creates a memorable listening experience, perfect for a dark, rainy evening.
Too Bright to Hear, Too Loud to See. By Juliann Garey. Read by Dan Butler. 2012. 11hr. AudioGO, CD, $74.95 (9780792792611).
Butler’s first-person reading takes listeners on a roller-coaster ride through studio executive Greyson Todd’s emotions, from manic euphoria to near-suicidal depression, mapping his downward spiral from bipolar disorder. The carefully modulated reading creates a performance that superbly translates this absorbing debut novel to audio.
Unnatural Habits. By Kerry Greenwood. Read by Stephanie Daniel. 2013. 10hr. Brilliance/Bolinda, CD, $49.97 (9781743187371).
Daniel’s bright voice personifies Phryne Fisher, dashing flapper-era sleuth with a social conscience, in this excellently plotted mystery series. Her breezy portrayal of the sassy, frank, and flamboyant sleuth gives listeners a wonderfully rich view of an intriguing feminist detective and of Australia between the world wars.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette. By Maria Semple. Read by Kathleen Wilhoite. 2012. 9.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $28.98 (9781478977353).
Wilhoite expertly mines the humor and pathos in this quirky story of a woman on the brink of a breakdown. Navigating e-mails and various documents through which part of the story is told, she also portrays a range of characters and emotions, from Bernadette’s escalating anxiety and daughter Bee’s youthful energy to obnoxious school mothers and Bernadette’s unflappable virtual assistant in India.
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