Delicious Foods by James Hannaham; narrated by James Hannaham (Little, Brown & Company) Many audiobook lovers shy away from author-narrated titles, but James Hannaham’s performance of his latest novel is emotionally engaging, pulling listeners into his dark tale of a young mother’s fall from grace. Darlene’s downward spiral is set in motion after her husband’s lynching and is helped along by her new best friend, Scotty (aka crack cocaine). After she is conned by a recruitment team for a shady agricultural company, she finds herself virtually enslaved and separated from her son, Eddie. Hannaham’s sensitive reading augments the dark humor, which he uses to lighten Delicious Foods deeper themes of poverty, addiction, grief, and prejudice. Listeners won’t soon forget Hannahm’s rendition of one of literature’s cleverest characters: the energetic, jive-talking Scotty, who speaks for Darlene throughout much of the book. From the opening minutes, listeners are caught up in young Eddie’s desperate quest to find his mother and set her free.
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon; narrated by Alana Kerr (Audible Studios for Bloomsbury) Fans of Shannon’s alternate history / urban fantasy series will be happy to learn that Alana Kerr returns to narrate The Mime Order, which picks up the story just after Paige Mahoney’s escape from bondage at the end of the first book. In 2059, the London that Paige is returning home to is ruled by two factions: the Scion, who kills any citizen displaying psychic ability, and the not-so-secret gangs of psychics, who have created their own underworld culture. Despite having enemies in both arenas, Paige, a clairvoyant, finds herself at the center of escalating sociopolitical events that threaten to undermine the government. Kerr highlights the many moods of this action-packed, twisty story, using whispery soft tones as Paige works out friend from foe and switching to quicker, sharper notes when Paige is fighting for her life. Shannon has created a series trifecta: a unique world, complex characters, and pulse-pounding action.