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Star Trekkin’

Redshirts audiobook coverAll action stories need minor characters who are somewhat expendable. When bad things happen to them, it makes the danger feel more real and raises the stakes for the heroes. In science fiction the label redshirts has become shorthand for these doomed roles, and John Scalzi has imagined a world where they refuse to play along with the script. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas is both a hilarious adventure in space exploration and a playful tribute to the quirks of serial storytelling. Fans of the films Galaxy Quest and Stranger Than Fiction will find this an appealing mix of affectionate nitpicking and fun reinvention, especially as performed by veteran sci-fi actor and author Wil Wheaton.

By Readers' Advisor on July 8, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Humor

LISTS: British Classics on Audiobook

Wuthering Heights book coverWuthering Heights is a must-read. Even Bella from Twilight was obsessed with it. But for some people, books like Wuthering Heights can be hard to read because of their thicker language and plot lines. Have no fear! Relax as someone else reads a British classic to you.

Click here for British classics on audiobook.

By Readers' Advisor on June 14, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Lists

A Beautiful Telling of an Ugly Aftermath

Round House audiobook cover

National Book Award winner The Round House is an iron fist in a velvet glove. In this intimate stunner, Joe is a thirteen-year-old living with his parents on a North Dakota reservation. When his mother is raped, he cannot bear to watch her waste away in a self-imposed prison of silence and suffering. Instead, he determines to do what he can to bring peace to his family, even as he struggles with understanding his own place in a complicated intersection of worlds. This powerful tale gains even greater impact in the measured pacing and authentic cadence of performer Gary Farmer. With an eye for detail and an ear for language, author Louise Erdrich masterfully crafts a layered, thoughtful narrative that exposes both beauty and truth.

By Readers' Advisor on June 10, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Literary

Best Audiobooks of the Year

Age of Miracles audiobook coverCelebrate June is Audiobook Month by turning a ready ear to the brand new winners of the 2013 Audie Awards. Whether on a sunny walk, a cross-country road trip, or even a daily commute, you will find the journey to be all the better in the company of an expert story. Audiobook listeners can also earn chances for prizes in MPPL’s summer reading program, Have Book, Will Travel, so why not start with one of these?

Science Fiction: The Age of Miracles (Walker) – read by Emily Rankin
Literary Fiction: Bring Up the Bodies (Mantel) – read by Simon Vance
Mystery: The Beautiful Mystery (Penny) – read by Ralph Cosham
Romance: The Witness (Roberts) – read by Julia Whelan
Solo Narration – Female: Katherine Kellgren for The Boy in the Suitcase (Kaaberbøl and Friis)
Solo Narration – Male: Edoardo Ballerini for Beautiful Ruins (Walter)
Teens: The Fault in Our Stars (Green) – read by Kate Rudd
Children’s Title for Ages 8-12: Same Sun Here – written and read by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Children’s Titles for Ages Up to 8: The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case (McCall Smith) – read by Adjoa Andoh

By Readers' Advisor on June 1, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Awards, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Literary, Romance

Who Needs a Bookstore at 2 AM?

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore audiobook coverOut-of-work graphic designer Clay Jannon stumbles on an unusual bookshop and impulsively asks for work. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore seems innocuous enough, but soon it becomes apparent that there is a strange plot that can’t be contained by the towering shelves of unusual tomes. It will take a love of books, complex data visualization, connections at both Google and Industrial Light & Magic, and a motley crew of friends with unusual skills to complete this quest, and even then the victory may not be theirs. Author Robin Sloan crafts a modern lit-tech adventure, and reader Ari Fliakos brings it to life, honoring the wit, geekery, and enthusiasm that make decoding the secret of immortality hard to resist. The glow-in-the-dark cover helps, too.

By Readers' Advisor on May 20, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books

A Girl You Won’t Forget

Salvage the Bones audiobook coverTwelve days before Hurricane Katrina lands in Bois Savage, Mississippi, we meet 14-year-old Esch Batiste, a most unlikely heroine. Living in dire poverty with three brothers and her oft-drunken father, her attention is divided between a hidden pregnancy and a new litter of pit bull puppies. Winner of the National Book Award, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward is an evocative story of an already-embattled family faced with incomprehensible forces of nature. Narrator Cherise Boothe fascinates as the heartbreaking Esch, a girl used by boys since she was twelve but who dreams of being the strong women of mythic tales. Under Boothe’s skill, what might otherwise be a difficult story to hear is transformed into a lyrical narrative with universal resonance.

By Readers' Advisor on April 15, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Awards, Literary

Do Readers Make the Best Spies?

Sweet Tooth book coverIn Cold War-era Britain, compulsive reader Serena Frome is unexpectedly recruited by MI5. Her big chance comes with the launch of Operation Sweet Tooth, one designed to fight Communist propaganda by secretly supporting writers with the right ideals. Serena’s beauty and interest in books puts her in an ideal position to befriend rising author Tom Haley. From the first paragraph of Ian McEwan’s latest, we already know that the mission doesn’t end well, but it’s easy to be distracted by the earnest narration of actress Juliet Stevenson. Through her voice, Serena feels her way through perception, deception, and manipulation. Exposure is imminent, but who, by whom, and how? Just wait for the final reveal, one that will especially gratify fans of Atonement.

By Readers' Advisor on March 18, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Historical Fiction, Literary

The Best Crime Fiction You’re Not Reading

Seven Days audiobook cover“Today I will shoot a policeman. In the leg. And every day I will shoot a policeman, until you charge the murderer.” It isn’t enough that Cape Town homicide detective Benny Griessel is tasked with the cold-case stabbing of Hanneke Sloet; he also has to contend with the ticking clock of a sniper who insists the police are engaged in an active cover-up. South African sensation Deon Meyer writes tense crime thrillers against a backdrop of racial conflict and complex personality. With no apparent motive, no viable suspects, and no new leads, how will Benny solve a 40-day-old mystery while at the same time protecting his colleagues? British narrator Simon Vance steers listeners through Seven Days of dire circumstances to create a riveting audiobook experience.

By Readers' Advisor on February 25, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

A Little Night Music

Nocturnes audiobook coverIt is a gifted writer who can compose sentences that remind you of haunting melodies. Kazuo Ishiguro is one such author, and his collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall boasts charms that will soothe the savage breast. Set in different cities worldwide, each story is shared from the perspective of a single musician, all struggling to balance the idealism of music’s promise with the colder realities of making one’s way in the world. A sense of humor lightens many of the characters’ exploits, especially in the title story, in which an aging jazz musician undergoes plastic surgery to improve his image. Narrators Mark Bramhall, Simon Vance, Kirby Heyborne, and Lincoln Hoppe each take their turns at the podium to orchestrate Ishiguro’s symphony in words.

By Readers' Advisor on February 11, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Literary

Cathleen’s Pick: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Cathleen staff picks pictureThe Flight of Gemma Hardy transports the story of Jane Eyre to twentieth-century Iceland and Scotland, successfully honoring the source material while still offering a few surprises. The graceful, lilting narration of reader Davina Porter perfectly renders Gemma’s progression from neglected waif to independent young woman.

By Readers' Advisor on January 29, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Picks by Cathleen, Romance, Staff Picks