The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert; narrated by Rebecca Soler What it's about: After years on the road with her mother, running from their freakishly bad luck, Alice is resourceful, tough, and angry -- qualities she'll need after her mom is kidnapped. Desperate to rescue her, Alice looks for clues from a forbidden source: Tales from the Hinterland, the cult classic book of sinister fairy tales written by her grandmother.
Narration: Rebecca Soler convincingly conveys the perspective of teen protagonist Alice.
Census by Jesse Ball; narrated by Chris Andrew Ciulla What it's about: The widowed father of young man with Down syndrome is dying -- and must figure out how to provide for his son after his death.
Narration: In this AudioFile Earphones Award-winning recording, Chris Andrew Ciulla's gentle narration highlights author Jesse Ball's allegorical and poetic prose.
The Grave's A Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
What it's about: This 9th entry in a charming series set in 1950s England finds Flavia and her two older sisters at a crossroads even as Flavia once again sets out to solve a murder. Newcomer? Start with the 1st book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
Narration: Jayne Entwistle, narrator of all nine Flavia de Luce mysteries, skillfully deploys her familiarity with the characters to delightful effect.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers; narrated by Dion Graham What it's about: Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco's notorious Tenderloin district, lived with his grandparents in Yemen as a teen, and later moved back to the U.S. to pursue a career importing Yemeni coffee. Then, a 2015 civil war left Mokhtar stranded in Yemen, trying to get home via any path he could.
Narration: Listeners will find Dion Graham's stirring narration as nail-biting as Alkhanshali's remarkable true story.
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn; narrated by Ann Marie LeeWhat it's about: Anna Fox, agoraphobic and alcoholic (which doesn't mix well with her medications), likes to sit by the window and spy on her neighbors. When she witnesses what looks like a murder, no one will take her seriously. In fact, they claim the victim doesn't even exist.
Narration: Ann Marie Lee believably portrays Anna's descent into paranoia, modulating the pace and pitch of her voice to heighten the tension.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper; narrated by Stephen Shanahan What it's about: Whistleblower Alice Russell disappears while on a corporate retreat with four other women in the Australian Bush. Federal agents Aaron Falk and Carmen Cooper, who were working with her on a money laundering case, uncover plenty of possible suspects, including a serial killer's son.
Narration: Stephen Shanahan's Australian accent is perfectly suited to the setting of this intriguing whodunit.
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala; narrated by Prentice Onayemi and Julia WhelanWhat it's about: Star athlete Niru is bound for the Ivy League...until his loving but traditional Nigerian parents discover that he's gay. The repercussions are violent and far-reaching.
Narration: Prentice Onayemi sympathetically captures Niru's fraught life, alternating between a light tone for his public persona and a brooding tone for his private doubts and insecurities. Julia Whelan's performance as Niru's best friend Meredith emphasizes the girl's struggle to reconcile her role in Niru's outing.
Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith; narrated by Nikki Amuka-BirdWhat it is: a collection of essays from novelist Zadie Smith, on topics ranging from social media and British politics to pop culture and American race relations. She also writes about books, paintings, and people (like singer Billie Holliday, comedy duo Key and Peele, and author J.G. Ballard).
Narration: British actress Nikki Amuka-Bird's confident narration is well-matched to this sprawling collection, traversing disparate topics with ease.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover; narrated by Julia Whelan What it's about: Raised in a fundamentalist Mormon family who prepped for the "end of days," Tara Westover grew up without a formal education. Hungering for knowledge, she began educating herself, eventually pursuing an academic career at Harvard and Cambridge.
Narration: Julia Whelan's smooth, straightforward narration underscores the traumas described in this gripping memoir.
Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates; narrated by Dan Bittner, Will Damron, Graham Halstead, and Saskia MaarleveldWhat it's about: In this dark, chilling literary tale, a terrible crime in the woods links Patrick, Hannah, and Matthew together -- and 26 years later, when all three reunite, the results are devastating.
Narration: Shifting perspectives are conveyed to captivating effect by narrators Dan Bittner, Graham Halstead, and Saskia Maarleveld; Will Damron provides tight omniscient narration of the characters' unsettling reunion as adults.
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