Every month, AudioFile Magazine reviewers and editors give “Earphones Awards” to the best new audiobooks — the listens that combine blow-you-away narrations with standout writing. Thanks to our new partnership with AudioFile, we have this month’s picks of the newest do-not-miss titles – memoirs and bios first, some fiction and a history book that reads like the best thriller. Don’t forget your earbuds.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

Alice Isn’t Dead

By Joseph Fink, read by Jasika Nicole (Harper Audio)

Jasika Nicole’s subtle narration shows off the full-blown scariness of this shiver-inducing story about Keisha’s search for her wife, who is presumed dead.  Nicole also colors her voice with hope to get you past the most terrifying moments of the search along dark streets and past untrustworthy police. Listen in one gulp and don’t turn out the lights.  

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

Desolation Mountain

By William Kent Kreuger, read by William Chandler (Recorded Books)

William Chandler’s intense reading complements this gripping whodunit, #17 in the Cork O’Connor series. Full of crackling dialogue, the novel follows O’Connor’s investigation of the death of a U.S. senator in a plane crash on Desolation Mountain. Seems simple, except that the plane’s black box and some first responders have vanished. Whoa.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

Forest Bathing

By Qing Li, read by Ramon Tikaram (Penguin Audio)

Narrator Ramon Tikaram’s deeply resonant voice, British accent, and dignified delivery invite listeners into the message that most of us don’t get outside enough. Really outside, among trees and other plants. Australian-trained academic Qing Li has created a convincing argument that time in forests is essential for happiness and overall well-being. See you out there.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

By N.K. Jemisin, read by Gail Nelson-Holgate, Shayna Small, Robin Ray Eller, Ron Butler, Kevin Stillwell, Je Nie Fleming, Jeanette Illidge (Hachette Audio)

A stellar cast of seven narrators takes turns performing this collection of shorter pieces by science-fiction novelist Jemisin.  Jemisin opens the audiobook with an explanation of how she came to write these pieces, some of which were later expanded into novels. The stories stand on their own but share themes such as feminism, otherness, relationships, motherhood, power, fertility, and dreams. This outstanding audiobook is one of the season’s must-listen titles. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

How To Be A Good Creature

By Sy Montgomery, read by Sy Montgomery (Recorded Books)

Naturalist and bestselling author Sy Montgomery narrates her memoir on animals that have shaped her life, including her pets as well as the animals she studies — from Octavia the octopus to her pet pig Christopher Hogwood to a pinktoe tarantula. Her stories are engaging and touching, humorous and sometimes sad. Every word of this production captures Montgomery’s reverence for the world we share with other creatures.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

Milkman

By Anna Burns, read by Brid Brennan (LLC Dreamscape Media)

Brid Brennan offers an arresting performance of Burns’ 2018 Man Booker Award-winning novel set in Northern Ireland. Focused on a young woman known for her devotion to reading who draws the unwanted attention of a paramilitary officer. Brennan’s pacing and full immersion in the text illuminate this challenging novel, smoothing out the roughest parts and lighting up its virtues.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

Once Upon a River

By Diane Setterfield, read by Juliet Stevenson (Simon & Schuster Audio)

Juliet Stevenson is her usual extraordinary self in this stellar performance of a tale about a river and its neighbors. Oh, what a tale.  A young girl is retrieved from the river, apparently dead. Somehow, she revives and lives.  But why does she not speak?  Stevenson convincingly portrays everyone in the large cast. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

Seven Ages of Paris

By Alistair Horne, read by Derek Perkins (Tantor Audio)

Vividly and eloquently written by an engaging popular historian, this unique history of the City of Light is read by one of the most accomplished of narrators, Derek Perkins. This simpatico match travels the busy centuries of Paris’s founding, growth, and survival, a story in which architecture plays as important a role as kings and armies, and in which the human comedy is always center stage.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest  Prison Break of the Great War

By Neal Bascomb, read by L.J. Ganser (Recorded Books)

L. J. Ganser offers a spot-on performance of this amazing true story about Allied soldiers who broke out of Holzminden, a German prison camp under the control of an brutal commander.

Whether he is highlighting the leadership of pilot David Gray or the frustrations, fears, and hopes of Gray’s colleagues, Ganser delivers the story in a style as intense as the men who are being celebrated.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is authorbuzz.png

The Light Between Worlds

By Laura E. Weymouth, read by Fiona Hardingham and Moira Quirk (Harper Audio)

In this YA novel meant for everyone who ever loved Narnia, we meet two sisters, beautifully read by Fiona Hardingham and Moira Quirk.  Evelyn is lost between two worlds: the magical Woodlands, where her heart feels truly at home, and post-WWII England, where her family remains. Older sister Philippa does what she must to find a place again in their current world. With distinct voices and accents for each of the characters, both Hardingham and Quirk bring the listener into the worlds shared by the siblings.

Want more BookTrib? Sign up NOW for news and giveaways!