School of the Dead by Avi; narrated by Michael CrouchJuvenile Fiction. Tony's Uncle Charlie has always been odd -- it's one of the things he has in common with seventh-grader Tony, who shares his interest in the supernatural. After Uncle Charlie dies suddenly, Tony is so heartbroken that he's actually comforted when he starts seeing Uncle Charlie's ghost. Less comforting is Tony's new school, where students go missing, spirits haunt secret passageways, and no one is what they seem. Pairing a suspenseful plot with otherworldly chills, School of the Dead is just creepy enough to please fans of mystery and horror alike, and Michael Crouch's narration supplies the right touch of uncertainty and anxiety.
The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close; narrated by Jorjeana MarieAdult Fiction. Though happy in NYC, Beth follows her husband Matt to Washington, DC so that he can pursue his political ambitions. Without political dreams of her own, she's a bit lonely until she meets fellow outsider Ash and her husband Jimmy, another politico. The four maintain a close friendship that is tested by Jimmy's success and Matt's frustrations with his career path. Eventually, all four end up in Texas, where the pressure intensifies. Narrator Jorjeana Marie distinctly voices the different characters as they discover what happens when your friends get what you want.
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan; narrated by Erin Spencer and Will DamronJuvenile Fiction. Ever since her mother was drowned in one of the Cleansings designed to rid Spira City of witches, Julia has lived with a motley gang of thieves and con artists. Her unusual ability to become unnoticeable makes Julia an ideal candidate for undercover jobs, like posing as a maid in order to learn the secrets of the wealthy Och household. What she discovers there is more shocking than she could have suspected, setting up a conflict that will unfold far beyond this page-turning trilogy-starter. In the audio version, characters and plot twists remain clear throughout Erin Spencer's narration, while the alternating chapters resonate with menace in Will Damron's voice.
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart; narrated by Ryan Gesell and Michael CrouchJuvenile Fiction. Which is more important: being yourself, or fitting in? Eighth graders Lily McGrother and Norbert "Dunkin" Dorfman hit it off because they're both trying to answer that question. For Lily, who's transgender, being herself is thrilling but also scary, since the "Neanderthals" at her school are quick to harass her even for little things like wearing nail polish. For Dunkin, who has bipolar disorder, fitting in as a member of the basketball teams is important, even if it means going off of his meds. Narrated by Michael Crouch as Lily and Ryan Gesell as Dunkin, this thoughtful book is perfect for readers who want to dive into the lives of compelling characters.
Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas; narrated by Mary Jane WellsAdult Fiction. Once a shop assistant, now proprietor of the department store that bears his name, Rhys Winterborne has become accustomed to getting what he wants. And Rhys wants Lady Helen Ravenel, the shy beauty who nursed him through his recent illness. But Lady Helen, however willing, is an aristocrat, while Rhys, for all his wealth and influence, remains the son of a Welsh grocer. And society's disapproval is nothing compared to the couple's fears that love doesn't necessarily conquer all. Mary Jane Wells' convincing narration enlivens the personality differences between Rhys and Lady Helen in this 2nd book in the Ravenels series (after Cold-Hearted Rake).
Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick; narrated by Vanessa JohanssonJuvenile Fiction. From the moment she opens The Bubblegum Reaper, Nanette is changed. The cult classic novel speaks directly to her uneasiness about the comfortable conformity of her life. Desperate for more insight, Nanette reaches out to the reclusive author, who connects her with Alex, a troubled teen poet and fellow die-hard fan. As Nanette and Alex's relationship deepens, her feelings about the book (and about herself) develop as well, and in equally unexpected ways. Every Exquisite Thing offers a provocative look at big questions and the (possibly futile) search for answers, while narrator Vanessa Johansson’s narration creates "an engaging and thoughtful listen" (Publishers Weekly).
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley; narrated by Michael UrieAdult Fiction. Lily is a short, happy 12-year-old who loves mint chocolate-chip ice cream. Ted is a fortyish writer who's been in therapy since he split with his last boyfriend. He also loves Lily -- his dachshund -- with all his heart, and is unable to bear the tumor (called the Octopus) that is stealing Lily's sight and will eventually take her life. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious (Lily's contributions to the conversation are priceless), this debut is a "funny, ardent, and staunchly kooky" (Kirkus Reviews), account of the love between humans and their pets, vividly realized by narrator Michael Urie.
I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman; narrated by Nadja Spiegelman Adult Nonfiction. Author Nadja Spiegelman's father was Art Spiegelman, who created the ground-breaking Holocaust memoir Maus, and her multi-talented, Paris-born mother Françoise Mouly was the New Yorker's art director. As a child, Spiegelman would ask her mother about her earlier years, but she always responded with "I'm supposed to protect you from all this." Once Spiegelman had reached 16, she began to draw her mother out about her life; after college she also traveled to Paris to learn more from her grandmother Josée. She has crafted the answers she found into this compelling memoir about daughters and mothers, which AudioFile calls "an absolute pleasure to listen to" in the author's "thoughtful and charming" voice.
Smoke by Dan Vyleta; narrated by Allan CordunerAdult Fiction. Set in an alternate Victorian England, this novel introduces a world in which "sinful" thoughts and actions physically manifest on the body as Soot, thereby creating a class system based on moral purity. Best friends Charlie Cooper and Thomas Argyle are enrolled at a boarding school established to rid pupils of their Soot-producing tendencies. Neither has ever questioned the system that rules their lives -- until unexpected events force them to challenge the status quo. This intricate Dickensian tale comes to life in narrator Allan Corduner's distinct voicing of multiple characters.
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters; narrated by William DeMerittAdult Fiction. In these particular United States, the Civil War never happened, and slavery is still legal in four states. Sent to Indiana, where he's tasked with locating Victor, a fugitive slave, an African-American U.S. Marshal infiltrates abolitionist circles and risks blowing his cover when he decides to aid a struggling family he meets along the way. Don't miss this thought-provoking novel, expertly narrated by William DeMeritt, which Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, describes as "Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner."
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