As a fan of domestic fiction, I read a lot of what I call “parent’s worst nightmare” books. (Why I am drawn to these books is another story for another issue…) A large subset of parent’s worst nightmare books are about disappearing kids. I think there are a few reasons why authors are driven to write so frequently about that topic. First, until the mystery of the disappearance is solved, there is a lot of suspense and tension to propel the action forward. Also, the disappearance of a child understandably puts a big strain on a family, so there are plenty of relationship dynamics to explore. Third, the author has a great deal of freedom to explore different possible explanations – a child running away, an abduction, an accident – which makes the story unpredictable. And finally, let’s face it, a disappearing child is such a painful scenario that it’s likely to get a reader emotionally involved, quickly.
Looking back on the books I’ve read on this topic, here are a few that stand out:
The Local News by Miriam Gershow (Spiegel & Grau) The Local News is about a 16-year old high school student whose older brother disappeared at the start of his senior year. While her parents sleepwalk through their grief, their daughter tries to come to terms with the disappearance of a brother about whom she was deeply ambivalent. There’s a lot going on – the mystery of what happened to the brother, the effect of his disappearance on his family, the narrator’s search for identity in a household in which she is practically invisible, and the question of whether one is obligated to love their family members. Gershow’s explorations of the ways in which public and private grief intersect – who is truly allowed to mourn the loss of this boy? who really knew him? – and her meticulous analyses of the politics of high schools and small communities are very compelling.
The Year of Fog by Michelle Redmond (Bantam Discovery) The Year of Fog focuses on the painful days and months following the disappearance of a photographer’s fiance’s daughter. It is very readable, and the suspense of the mystery propels the reader along. In addition to simply telling an engrossing tale, Richmond explores the nature of memory and photography, and how they can each trick people in believing different things and shaping their perspectives on life.
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan (Viking) This isn’t a mystery novel, but is instead a painstaking depiction of the days, months and years that follow the disappearance of a beloved child. O’Nan is extremely gifted at achieving realism – in all of its mundane and plodding glory – by recreating a scene or exploring a character’s inner thoughts with precision and understatement. Songs for the Missing is unflinchingly honest about the swings between hope and despair that the missing daughter’s parents experience in the tortuously slow days and months after she disappears. O’Nan shifts perspective throughout the book, which further highlights the impact that each member of the family has on the others’ grieving process.
Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin) In Is This Tomorrow, set in the 1950s, the disappearance of a neighborhood boy deeply affects his sister, best friend, and best friend’s mother, a single woman who has been shunned by the Boston suburb where she lives. Ultimately this book is about disconnection and isolation, and how secrets held for years can have terrible implications for those kept in the dark. The simplicity of Leavitt’s writing, the way that five characters’ lives are so seamlessly integrated throughout the book, and the fact that the reader has no idea how the book is going to end, all make this a very good read.—Gayle Weiswasser
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (Ballantine) Beryl Markham grew up in colonial Kenya, a place of questionable morals and fascinating people. Although she was too young and too poor to be at the core of the Happy Valley set, she was old enough to know the principals (Karen Blixen, Denys Finch Hatten, Berkeley Cole, Lord Delamare) and to be a part of their world. McLain’s Circling the Sun perfectly captures the personalities of the European expats, the complexities of colonial culture, and the details of the African landscape. Told from Markham’s perspective, the novel resembles a well-crafted memoir, taking readers on a roller-coaster adventure of incredible successes and deep sorrows. Despite an unprecedented string of professional achievements, Markham was nearly lost to history; now, thanks to McLain’s riveting account, the world will once again be talking about this intriguing, strong woman.
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans (Harper) Many readers are finding stories set in World War II to be incredibly overdone these days, but from time to time the right story gets through and is still able to dazzle. Crooked Heart is just one of those books. Although the events of World War II inform the plot, the story is really about the brilliant, orphaned Noel Bostock and under-educated and under-employed Vera Sedge who takes Noel in when he and the other children are evacuated. Together Vera and Noel are more than the sum of their parts, each one’s strengths compensating for the other’s weaknesses. The result is a book which is poignant and moving while at the same time wryly humorous. Whether you love World War II or are tired of the setting, Crooked Heart is so richly imagined and meaningful that you won’t be able to put it down.
A Necessary End by Holly Brown (William Morrow) If this were real life and Adrienne were your friend, you’d be hard pressed not to advise her against the course of action she takes in Brown’s rich, suspense ridden novel. Craving a child, the way she once craved her husband Gabe, Adrienne persuades him to adopt a baby he doesn’t want from a hasty and suspicious young woman who proves to be a veritable doppelganger for the young Adrienne. Leah complicates an already tense arrangement when she insists on living with the couple for a year before signing away parental rights to her child. While Adrienne is still recovering from their last failed adoption, she and Gabe share a menacing past which threatens to simmer over. It’s a twisty mess for sure but the kind readers love to unravel. Secrets abound and tragedy is all but inevitable in this taut and wily tale of two women who would give anything to have the perfect family.
All Together Now by Gil Hornby (Little, Brown) Bridgeford doesn’t have much going for it, other than proximity to London. Even that seems like a double-edged sword as younger residents flee for either a more urban or more rural experience. The only thing holding together even some of the residents of Bridgeford is the choir, a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can, conceivably, come together. When even that seems to fall apart its members take charge, enlisting new members with a vigor that just might bode well for their little community. Hornby excels at contradictions, making Bridgeford both cozy and confining, making characters pathetic or annoying in the views of others but strong or persevering in their own right. This level of nuance that Hornby brings makes All Together Now a complex and thoroughly enjoyable book.
To cap off our June is Audiobook Month coverage, we at Readerly asked Karen White, one of our favorite narrators, to share with us a little more about the process of narrating an audiobook.
On May 30th, Readerly published an article to kick off Audiobook Month with what I thought were wonderfully practical tips on getting started as an audiobook listener.
The first three suggestions: using audiobooks to re-read books and choosing books which are engaging and fast paced but not overly complex. These make a lot of sense to me. In our current age, we take in information primarily through our eyes and in short bursts. Audiobooks demand that we take in information only through our ears, concentrating for long periods of time. In Shakespeare’s day, 400+ years ago, it was the opposite. People talked of going to “hear” a play. A written sentence at that time averaged over twenty words in length. When I was studying all this as a young teaching artist twenty years ago, the average sentence’s word length was seven. Today, I imagine it’s even shorter.
All this is to say that our brains are certainly capable of the kind of concentration that audiobooks require, but many of us may never have developed these neural pathways. But they are there for the using, and many devoted audiobook fans report that building up this particular muscle is relatively painless and worth the effort as they are rewarded with an intimate performance that is like no other.
And that brings me to the final suggestion: listen to the best narrators. As a narrator myself, I hope I can give you a backstage peek as to what skills and talent are involved in creating an excellent audiobook performance, and why it makes a difference.
I have been privileged to serve on a few panels on the topic in the past few years. In April, a group of narrators recorded a chat for the AudioGals blog moderated by Lea Hensley and in May a group of nine narrators, led by the indomitable Johnny Heller, taught a workshop to a group of more than eighty narrators in New York. I learned a few things from my colleagues, but also realized that there are values we all share in our work.
Audiobook narration is a subset of the acting profession. While some non-actor narrators may get away with innate storytelling instincts, having a solid base of actor training is considered the professional standard. Learning to break down a script into playable actions, studying a wide variety of genres, and training one’s body and voice so that they are as expressive as possible are all necessary components. And while “good acting is good acting” whether you’re on stage, screen, or behind a mic, audiobook narration requires a unique set of skills in addition to basic acting training. New narrators mistakenly believe that since they can read and act, they can do audiobooks. Most are disabused of this fallacy on the first day of recording. Not only is recording an audiobook a marathon versus the sprint of working in commercial or animation voice over but, as many listeners know, it requires one to “play all the parts”. Theatre actors have experience with creating a character that is believably going through some sort of psychological journey in a fictional reality, night after night. Audiobook narrators have to keep the through-lines of every major character going, as well as keep every single character consistent and distinct from the others. This does require some practice. And while in the theatre and sometimes in film and TV there’s a rehearsal process to develop the character and overall story, there’s no rehearsal in audiobooks.
What narrators have instead is preparation, another essential element of audiobook excellence. While we all may have different techniques for marking our scripts or remembering various character voices, everyone reads the book, carefully, at least once, before beginning to record (unless time pressures or secrecy makes this absolutely impossible). This preparation not only allows us to make character choices that are built on the author’s words, but it allows us to get to know the author’s writing style. As a director of new narrators, I’ve found that the hardest thing to learn is not the recording of dialogue, tricky in that you have to play both sides of a conversation, but the recording of narrative, where we have to find a way to make the author’s voice our own. This requires a somewhat academic understanding of literary styles and genres, listening to audiobooks to get an appreciation of what works, and something perhaps a bit more difficult to pin down.
We seek to honor the author’s words. We achieve this by being “present” while recording every single word. Some narrators practice meditation or yoga to exercise this particular muscle; some find it through the process. Thorough preparation plus a well-developed storytelling instinct allow the top pros to get lost in the words, immerse completely in the story and achieve that highly sought after sense of creative flow. This not only makes recording a book more efficient, but more fun. Most importantly, being present when recording creates a product that is not only excellent but unique. It allows an intimate collaboration between at least three people who may never be in the same room together: author, narrator and listener (of course others are involved along the way including publishers, casting associates, directors, engineers, editors, proofers, and more). Because you, as listener, have an important role to play as well. Your imagination is engaged as you take in the author’s words, spoken by a single voice. They move through your ears directly into your mind where your imagination takes the words, the performance, your memories and experiences and builds something new: a whole new world complete with sound, color, smell, texture, even taste.
Karen White has been narrating audio books since 1999, with more than 200 to her credit, and is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. Honored to be included in Audiofile’s Best Voices and Speaking of Audio’s Best Romance Audio 2012, 2013 and 2014, she’s also a two-time Audie Finalist and has earned multiple Audiofile Earphones Awards and Library Journal starred reviews. She currently lives with her family in Wilmington, NC.
Learn more about Karen and explore her audiography at her website, Home Cooked Books.
Many of wonderful titles we’ve loved and recommended are now out in paperback. Enjoy!
A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel (Willam Morrow Paperbacks) A groundbreaking legal case and the latest scientific research on the brain and attention combine in this compulsively readable pageturner about a devastating accident affecting several families and the perils of multitasking in today’s digital world. There are no villains in Pulitzer Prize winning author Richtel’s moving story of tragedy and redemption.—Ann Walters
Empire of Sin by Gary Krist (Broadway Books) At the end of the 19th century, New Orleans was perhaps the most integrated city in the South. Empire of Sin recounts the story of the culture war between New Orleans’s underworld of vice and its elite that resulted in a city segregated like any other Southern town. Krist tells this history by weaving together the stories of a number of individuals, structured in such a way that all of the stories are easy – and fascinating – to follow and all illuminate each other.—Nicole Bonia
Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen (Vintage) Set in the wilderness of Minnesota, this sophomore novel follows three generations of family, each beset with incidents that challenge their resolve and dedication. Beginning with a young bride moving to the wilderness to join her husband, followed by two generations of women struggling to understand why they were abandoned by their mothers, this eloquently written novel captures the bonds between mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, and the love that binds us all together. —Jenn Lawrence
How to tell Toldeo From The Night Sky by Lydia Netzer (St. Martin’s Griffin) George Dermont knows his soul mate is a brownhaired astronomer who also happens to be a dreamer, but he doesn’t know how he knows, or why he sees ancient gods. How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is a wonderfully weird blend of science, love and fate set against the trials of family and friendship.—Shannon Nemer
Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle (Simon & Schuster) Critically acclaimed historical fiction author Elizabeth Fremantle returns with Sisters of Treason, a dazzling account of Catherine and Mary Grey, the sisters of England’s famous nine day queen Lady Jane Grey, who find themselves precariously close to the crown following their sister’s execution in 1554. Fremantle presents a captivating portrait of two young women whose Tudor blood led only to anguish and misery in this finelytuned novel.—Michele Jacobsen
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage) Mandel’s fourth novel is a gripping journey through the present and into the future. It’s easy to become absorbed in her tale of a pandemic that devastates the world, but it’s the vivid characters and their mysterious and complex linked stories that will hold you for the entirety of the novel and beyond.—Swapna Krishna
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Random House Trade Paperbacks) In The Bone Clocks, readers meet Holly Sykes, a fifteen year old runaway who finds herself on the threshold of a centuries long war. Over one weekend, events transpire which have consequences for all who encounter Holly, as the countless threads connecting them produces a ripple effect that transcends time and space. Mitchell’s latest novel is both epic and ambitious, containing a fearful, awe inspiring world that is both distinct and unforgettable.—Jenn Lawrence
The Map Thief by Michael Blanding (Gotham) In 2005, the small world of antiquarian map collectors was shocked to learn one of their own had been stealing maps from libraries around the world. This book illuminates the true story behind this highrisk crime and, along the way, engagingly explores the complicated history of cartography, where maps have served as tools for navigation, props for political propaganda and, more recently, been coveted as works of art.—Kim Ukura
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean (Back Bay Books) Dueling neurosurgeons, schizophrenic assassins, LSD, and art all play a role in how neuroscience got its start. Kean ties these seemingly disconnected dots together to give readers an engaging and fascinating read. Those familiar with Kean’s writing won’t be disappointed in his newest nonfiction read, while new readers will want to flock to his earlier books.—Natasha Vasillis
Us by David Nicholls (Harper Paperbacks) When his wife announces that she will leave him after their son leaves for college, a devoted but emotionally inept husband is desperate for a reprieve. By turns hilarious and thoughtful, Us is the poignant examination of the joys and heartbreak of marriage as one man tries to save his relationship on what could be his family’s last holiday.—Nicole Bonia
Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, MD, T.J. Mitchell (Scribner) Melinek spent two years in training to become a medical examiner, and Working Stiff is her story. Spanning everything from her very first autopsy, which failed to yield any conclusive cause of death, to the mass death that Melinek witnessed after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, Melinek’s account of her years training in forensic pathology is one part science, one part story, and one part medical history–and all parts fascinating.—Kerry McHugh
Dark Aemilia by Sally O’Reilly (Picador) Set in the early 1600s in Elizabeth’s glittering court, O’Reilly’s debut is a sensual, earthy, and bold novel that imagines a real woman at the heart of William Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’ sonnets. Poet Aemilia Lanyer, famed beauty and wit, struggles to keep love in her life, her son safe, and publish her verse amidst tragedy and tribulation. Supernatural elements, exquisite ambiance, feminist themes, and unique narrative voice make this a gripping read.—Audra Friend
Adults reading books for young adults has become more and more acceptable, partially due to the glut of amazing young adult literature available now. If you stop in the young adult section, though, you’re missing out. This is a great time to be a middle grade reader, no matter what your age. The bookstores are brimming with wonderful selections featuring both boys and girls and from a wide range of genres. There are so many choices, it was difficult to narrow down our recommendations to just 10. Here, in a nutshell, are some of the best new books for you and your young readers – or just for you. Although all of these are chapter books, many include fabulous illustrations.
Fantasy with a contemporary setting: Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder’s A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans takes a delightful twist by allowing Miss Drake, a thoroughly modern dragon, to tell the story of how she attempts to tame headstrong 10-year-old Winnie, who insists on thinking she’s the one in charge. In Ratscalibur, by Josh Lieb, young Joey is bitten by his pet rat and is magically transformed into a New York City rodent. This action/adventure story is full of funny take-offs on King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, and other popular classics.
Modern-day stories: Kelly Jones’s Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer follows the adventures of Sophie Brown after her family moves from Los Angeles to the country. Told entirely through letters, this heartfelt novel focuses on family and issues faced by Hispanics in the American Southwest. Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff, is the story of Trent, who is struggling to come to terms with the accidental death of a friend during a hockey game. Told from Trent’s point-of-view, this is a moving tale of family, friendship, and redemption. In Will Walton’s Anything Could Happen, a teenage boy must find a way to tell his family and friends he’s gay. While the story is emotionally strong, it remains upbeat.
A girl and her dog: Cynthia Lord’s A Handful of Stars takes readers to Maine’s blueberry fields, where Lily, a local girl, meets Salma, the daughter of Hispanic migrant workers, and the two bond over Lily’s blind dog. This is a coming-of-age story that explores friendship and prejudice. Spencer Quinn’s Woof, set in Louisiana, opens when 11-year-old Birdie adopts pound mutt Bowser. Told from Bowser’s point of view, this first in a new mystery series is full of fun escapades and quirky characters.
Fantasy with a make-believe setting: The Whisperer, by Fiona McIntosh, is an action-packed fantasy (with roots in The Prince and the Pauper) about a mind-reading carnival worker and a high-born prince caught up in a family power struggle. When their paths cross, the two boys—both on the run—discover their futures are surprisingly linked. In Megan Morrison’s Tyme #1: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel, the familiar long-haired heroine leaves her sheltered tower with Jack, the first boy who manages to slip through her window undetected. This funny, smart fairytale retelling recounts Rapunzel and Jack’s adventures in the wide world beyond the tower. The Fog Diver, by Joel Ross, is a clever and very different dystopian story in which the only inhabitable places of the world are on the tops of mountains and in airships. When 13-year-old Chess and his crew cross the wrong people, they find themselves in a dangerous fight for survival.—CANDACE B. LEVY
We love recommending the latest and greatest books to you, but there are always books that slip past us for recommendations because they’re already out, or our space is just too limited. As such we’re thrilled to let you peek onto the nightstands of our editors to see what they are all reading and what prompted them to pick it up.
Jenn Ravey, Contributing Editor: Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle and Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley/ It’s summer! I’m on a brief break before my summer classes begin, and I have already devoured the first three books in Kate Carlisle’s bibliophile mystery series. I even ordered the next four and am reading Flyboys while I wait for their arrival. Summer reading for me equals cozy mysteries with nonfiction interludes.
Candace Levy, Contributing Editor: Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf/ One of my most anticipated books for late spring was Haruf’s Our Souls at Night. Finished just days before the beloved author died, this short novel is our last visit to the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Get out a box of tissues; this is an emotional read on many levels.
Jen Karsbaek, Editor: The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles/ I’ve been on a big comics kick recently and have been reading a lot of great titles, but the one I just finished (and which blew me away) is The Wicked + The Divine by Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles. About twelve gods who return every 90 years for a mere two years before they die, The Wicked + The Divine is gorgeously illustrated and absolutely fascinatingly written and now I need to go and find out when I can get the second volume.
Nicole Bonia, Editorial Director: Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams/ Beatriz Williams is one of the names I’ve come to depend on for an engaging summer read, and Tiny Little Thing is no exception. I’m intrigued by the idea of a political wife, especially one who may have married the wrong man.
Book lovers count summer as the perfect time to indulge in escapist reading. What better way to while away a poolside afternoon than to get lost in a zany cozy mystery? In these light whodunits you’ll meet amateur detectives and quirky characters, be transported to small town living, and even find a recipe or two. No need to fret about catching up with an established protagonist’s backstory; instead here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor by reading one of these first-in-series mysteries, fresh off the presses in time for your warm-weather enjoyment.
Tracy Kiely’s Murder with a Twist: Hollywood socialites, Nic and Nigel Martini are in New York City visiting family for the winter holidays. When one of Nigel’s cousins asks for help tracking down her missing husband, Nic comes to the rescue, with her husband and bullmastiff in tow. The madcap fun, headstrong dog, and witty dialogue–not to mention more than a few cocktails–will keep you guessing until the end.
Carlene O’Neil’s One Foot in the Grape: When Penny Lively moves back to Cypress Cove, California, to take over her family’s wine business, she is looking forward to peaceful days in the vineyard. But when someone starts to sabotage the neighbor’s wine and an employee is found dead in the wine press, Penny is forced to put her photojournalism skills to good practice to find the killer. A twisty plot and a handsome winery manager complete this series debut.
Amanda Flower’s The Final Reveille: Civil War reenactment is supposed to be a fun way to bring history alive. For Kelsey Cambridge, director of a living history museum in Ohio, playtime ends when her funding is threatened and the benefactor’s nephew is murdered before the last battle cry has faded. Can Kelsey save the museum, keep the history buffs happy, and solve the case all before she either becomes the next victim or is arrested for murder?
Linda O. Johnston’s Bite the Biscuit: Because veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly has developed a glowing reputation for her homemade dog treats, she can’t resist the opportunity to open a unique bakery: one that caters to both humans and their dogs. The future looks bright until the owner of a local pet store is found dead, and Carrie is pegged as the killer. A tricky plot, a little romance, and some loveable sidekicks will have you reading this in one sitting.
Linda Reilly’s Fillet of Murder: After surviving a bad job and a failed relationship, Talia Marby returns to her Berkshires hometown to work in a friend’s fish and chips shop. Unfortunately, a dispute among business owners results in murder, and it’s up to Talia to keep her friend out of jail. Complex characters and a few red herrings make it hard to ID the killer. Be warned: you might be craving a deep-fried meal before you reach the last page.
Although she has written a number of books for adults, Judy Blume is best known for her books for young adults, such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Blubber or even her middle grade books like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Fudge. When her adult books are referenced it is typically people who loved her young adult books giggling about having found Wifey as teenagers and being completely shocked by the racy content.
All of this is set to change with the publication of Blume’s wonderful new novel for adults, In the Unlikely Event. Based on a series of true events – three passenger planes either going to or coming from Newark airport crashing over Elizabeth, New Jersey in a span of less than two months in the 1950s – In the Unlikely Event is a richly realized portrait of a very idealized time in American history. Perhaps partly because Blume herself was growing up in Elizabeth at the time of the crashes, there is a sense of veracity that comes with the story; So much so that some reviewers and interviewers have mistakenly referred to this book as a kind of memoir, a charge which Blume adamantly denies.
The mistake is understandable, since Blume’s main character is, as Blume was, a teenager trying to come to grips with inexplicable events that coincide with a turning point in American history. Blume does not stop her narrative with the teenage Miri, however. Miri’s mother, boyfriend, and a myriad of other characters provide their points of view as well. Blume even includes characters who will only be seen once, because they are on a plane which is about to crash and leave no survivors. Amazingly, each of these characters, even the ones seen only for a few minutes, seem fully human, with fears, hopes, dreams, and motivations expertly and interestingly brought forth to round them out. Miri and the other primary characters feel so real that readers will easily forget that they are fiction.
Kathleen McInerney is a consistently good narrator who does a consistently good job with In the Unlikely Event. She enhances the personalities Blume brings out in each character to make them even more vibrant than they already were. McInerney also knows exactly when to assert herself in her narration and when to disappear into the well-written and intriguing story, which makes for an absolutely superb listening experience.
At Readerly, we love to listen to books while we commute, clean, run, garden, and generally live our lives. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer we find more time to listen, but that means we need to get more audiobooks in our queue. If you, like us, are always looking for your next great listen, here are a few titles to get you started.
Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova, narrated by Skipp Sudduth (Simon & Schuster Audio) Everyone knows that Joe O’Brien’s mother drank herself to death, it is accepted neighborhood lore. When Joe starts exhibiting similar symptoms – involuntary movements, outbursts of temper – similar rumors begin to circulate about him. Except that Joe knows that he does not have a problem with alcohol. After visits to a couple of different doctors, Joe has an answer that explains not only his problems, but the ones that his mother had as well: Huntington’s disease. Genova builds the tension in Inside the O’Briens beautifully and establishes terribly high stakes while Sudduth so convincingly becomes Joe that the listener cannot help but be incredibly invested not only in Joe’s life, but in what his disease means for his family, and especially his children who each have a 50/50 chance of having inherited the gene themselves.
The Well by Catherine Chanter, narrated by Nicola Barber (Simon & Schuster Audio) It should have been a bad time to move from the city to a farm, what with the persistent drought throughout not only the UK but all of Europe. But Ruth and her husband Mark are plagued by rumors and bad memories, and they are assured that the farm they are buying has a persistent water table. It is more than that at The Well, though. Here there is rain, crops grow prolifically. It doesn’t take long before their neighbors begin to resent them and their land becomes a magnet for the desperate. Nicola Barber’s narration is enchanting, spinning Chanter’s tale into a web which ensnares listeners quickly into Ruth’s life and the dramatic events caused by the catastrophic drought.
Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice From Yesteryear by Elizabeth P. Archibald, narrated by Graeme Malcom and Elizabeth P. Archibald (Hachette Audio) There is some advice that has stood the test of time and some advice that has, well, not. With Ask the Past, Archibald specializes in the latter. After finding some very entertaining advice about all manner of things in what basically amount to antique self-help books, historian Elizabeth P. Archibald began collecting them first for a blog, then for a book. Although you may not want to simply listen to Ask the Past straight through, the often bizarre advice is a great deal of fun while you are waiting in line, running a quick errand, or simply need a short palate cleanser between audiobooks.
Disclaimer by Renee Knight, narrated by Michael Pennington and Laura Paton (HarperAudio) We’ve already recommended Disclaimer to you in print, plus it is the sort of story about which you don’t want to know too much ahead of time, so we’ll just skip ahead here specifically to the audiobook. Pennington and Paton escalate the intensity of their narration in a way that perfectly mirrors the ever-heightening intensity of the story itself. The result is an absolutely all-consuming listen.