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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
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These historical fiction series titles feature excellent readers, many of whom are well known to fans as readers of each title within the series. Excellent narrators are key to listener satisfaction, and this diverse group of skilled narrators brings consistency and personality to familiar series characters.
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. By Lauren Willig. Read by Kate Reading. 2010. 15hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9780307712769).
Willig combines vividly imagined characters, a diverting setting (colonial India), and an action-filled plot in this sixth title in the Pink Carnation historical spy series. Reading clearly enjoys portraying dashing but disgraced Penelope Deveraux and gives her a languid, smoldering, and seductive voice.
The Endless Forest. By Sara Donati. Read by Kate Reading. 2010. 23hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9781415966150).
Donati’s frontier-era Wilderness series concludes with this final volume, which is set in upstate New York and begins in 1824 as members of the far-flung Bonner clan return home. Reading’s graceful and heartfelt performance transports listeners to another time and place and into the lives of a cast of intriguing characters.
An Incomplete Revenge. By Jacqueline Winspear. Read by Orlagh Cassidy. 2008. 11hr. BBC, CD, $79.95 (9780792752448).
Winspear’s popular mystery series featuring investigator Maisie Dobbs evokes post–WWI London; the historical details and setting help attract listeners beyond mystery fans. While in Kent during the hops harvest, Maisie uncovers a guilty secret that leads to violence. Cassidy’s perceptive reading reflects the jargon and British dialects of a wide mix of social classes.
No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II. By Jeff Shaara. Read by Paul Michael. 2009. 19hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9781415966761).
Michael’s reading inhabits compelling characters from Generals Patton and Eisenhower to Hitler and others in this final title in an epic WWII trilogy. His facility with accents and details—sights, sounds, emotions—places listeners behind the scenes and on the battlefield.
The Other Queen. By Philippa Gregory. Read by Stina Nielsen, Jenny Sterlin, and Ron Keith. 2008. 16hr. Recorded Books, CS, $113.75 (9781436121729); CD, $123.75 (9781436121743).
Set on an English estate where Mary, Queen of Scots, is held captive, this sixth title in Gregory’s Tudor series features three outstanding narrators who capture the characters’ drama and emotions. Previous series titles (all available from Recorded Books) boast different narrators; all are justly praised for evoking richly drawn characters and historical details.
Sword Song. By Bernard Cornwell. Read by Gerard Doyle. 2008. 13.5hr. Recorded Books, CS, $98.75 (9781428180680); CD, $123.75 (9781428180703).
In this fourth entry in the Saxon Tales series, action vies with court intrigue as Saxons battle the Vikings for control of London in the ninth century. Doyle’s stately, compelling reading reflects the first-person perspective of hero Uhtred. Previous series titles, narrated by Tom Sellwood, are available from BBC.
World without End. By Ken Follett. Read by John Lee. 2007. 45.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $129 (9781415936160).
This sequel to Pillars of the Earth (1989) returns to a remote English cathedral town 200 years later to pick up with some of the original characters’ descendants. Lee’s rich baritone and thoughtful reading draw listeners into the story and evoke fourteenth-century England as he chronicles dramatic historical events and the gritty details of daily life.
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