"She was standing on one of the most beautiful streets in Cedar County, maybe even the prettiest in east central Iowa, but the only thing she had eyes for was her book."
~ from Katarina Bivald's The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend: A Novel by Katarina Bivald; translated by Alice Menzies; narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King Fiction. Like The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a book for bibliophiles. Sara Lindqvist is a Swede visiting Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal, Amy, whom she knows only through letters and the books they've exchanged. Unfortunately, the day Sara arrives is also the day of Amy's funeral. To honor her, Sara decides to open a bookshop in one of the town's abandoned storefronts, with unanticipated results. A bit of romance and plenty of quirky characters round out this endearing debut novel. Narrator Fiona Hardingham brings the diversity of Broken Wheel's population to life, and Lorelei King effectively voices Amy's letters.
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker; narrated by Kaleo Griffith Nonfiction. In 1943, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi was the first person to be diagnosed with autism. This comprehensive history of the condition by journalists John Donvan and Caren Zucker traces Triplett's story (which has a positive outcome) and those of many others. The book describes unfortunate early approaches to autism and includes recent advances in diagnosis, education, and social inclusion, offering hope for people with autism and their families. For more on current views of the subject, try Steve Silberman's accessible and richly detailed Neurotribes, which is also available in audio.
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American... by Timothy Egan; narrated by Gerard DoyleNonfiction. During the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Irishman Thomas Francis Meagher achieved renown for his speeches against English rule. Banished for sedition, he eventually ended up in New York on the eve of the Civil War. He organized and led a successful Irish brigade for the Union Army and after the war tried to establish a "New Ireland" in Montana. In this gripping biography, multiple award-winning author Timothy Egan brings to life 19th-century conflicts in both Ireland and the U.S. while vividly detailing Meagher's exploits. American or Irish history buffs, Civil War aficionados, and general biography readers will find that Egan covers previously unexplored territory in The Immortal Irishman.
Like Family by Paolo Giordano; translated by Anne Milano Appel; narrated by Chris CiullaFiction. Mrs. A came into the unnamed narrator's life when his wife was put on bed rest during her pregnancy. Hired as a housekeeper, she stays on as nanny but really resembles a family member; all three come to depend upon her calm nature, amiable stories, and gentle guidance. When after several years she retires before quickly succumbing to cancer, the family is left adrift. A short novel told from the point of view of a rather detached scientist (which author Paolo Giordano is), Like Family examines the bonds that make up a family and the painful consequences of loss.
The Past by Tessa Hadley; narrated by Caroline LennonFiction. During a hot English summer, four adult siblings come together in their family's country house for possibly the last time. Their parents (and the grandparents who raised them) are gone, and though the dilapidated estate is full of memories, it may be time to sell it. Like many novels in which family reunions in close quarters bring uncomfortable memories and resentments to the surface, The Past is not particularly plot-oriented; instead, it's the characters that captivate -- the adult siblings and the children (and teenagers) they've brought along. Publishers Weekly praises narrator Caroline Lennon's "marvelous evocation" of author Tessa Hadley's language.
Once a Crooked Man: A Novel by David McCallum; narrated by David McCallumFiction. Actor Harry Murphy has just left an audition in New York when he happens to overhear three guys planning a murder. That's bad enough, but when he flies to England to prevent it, he's mistaken for a mob enforcer and nearly killed himself. With plenty of humor, a plot that threatens to careen out of control, and a large cast, this quirky thriller offers a fun read to those willing to suspend disbelief. This is actor David McCallum's fiction debut; narrating his own audiobook, he effectively distinguishes among the characters through different accents and varied qualities in their voices.
The Travelers by Chris Pavone; narrated by Paul MichaelFiction. In this complex, intelligent novel, travel writer Will Rhodes is completely unaware that his boss is running a spy agency alongside his travel magazine. In fact, he only learns about it after a strange man invades his hotel room and the woman who had seduced him gives him a one-two punch. From there, a fast-paced international chase ensues, while Will's marriage gets increasingly tense as he tries to discern the truth. If John Le Carré doesn't deliver enough wallop, and Robert Ludlum isn't cerebral enough, The Travelers might be right up your alley.
The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson; narrated by Michael KramerFiction. Legend has it that the fabled Bands of Mourning, ancient artifacts once owned by the long-vanquished Lord Ruler, bestow immense power upon their bearers. Of course, most people in Elendel believe that the Bands are just that: a legend. When evidence of their existence surfaces, Waxillium "Wax" Ladrian must travel to the city of New Seran and investigate, for if the Bands of Mourning are real, they must not fall into the wrong hands. Set in the world of author Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series (albeit generations later), this fast-paced, dramatic novel follows The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, all available as audiobooks narrated by Michael Kramer.
Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal... by Simon Winchester; narrated by Simon WinchesterNonfiction. The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water on Earth. Turning his keen eye to this behemoth, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester touches on its geological history, mainly focusing on events after January 1, 1950. Assessing not only the ocean and what's beneath its surface (diverse animals, coral reefs, etc.), he discusses the countries that border it as well as the islands in it. Winchester also addresses humanity's relationship with the ocean and its role in the future as climate change occurs and political power shifts among the countries at its margins. Winchester's own narration of the audio version enhances the personal touch provided in his accounts of traveling around the Pacific region.
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf; narrated by David DrummondNonfiction. Did you know that the U.S. state of Nevada was almost named "Humboldt," after the Enlightenment-era German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt? Though nearly forgotten today, during his lifetime Humboldt was world famous, due to his five-year expedition to South America, not to mention the 34 bestselling books he wrote about his experiences. This biography rescues Humboldt from relative obscurity, describing his life and his many contributions to science. For example, Humboldt came up with the concept of climate zones, discovered the magnetic equator, and redefined our concept of nature as a web of life connecting every organism on Earth. The audio version of this Costa Award-winning book also received an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine.
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