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. BookTrib, thanks to our partnership with AudioFile, offers this month’s picks of the newest, not-to-be-missed titles. Don’t forget your earbuds!
Narrator Julia Whelan inhabits the first-person point of view of January Andrews, a bestselling romance writer who was a hopeless romantic until her father died and she learned of his mistress. Listeners share January’s despair as she faces a summer of failing to write her next romance novel while packing up her father’s secret beach house. She’s dismayed to discover that her grumpy neighbor is her college rival, Augustus Everett, an acclaimed author of literary fiction. Whelan perfectly captures January’s defensiveness, which soon gives way to laughter and yearning.
Narrator Jonathan Keeble’s mastery of Tim Pears‘s quietly beautiful and evocative writing is one of the many pleasures in this final installment of his West Country Trilogy. Following the intertwining lives of Leo, the carpenter’s son, and Lottie, the daughter of the local estate, this volume brings us to WWI and beyond in a story that is absorbing, undramatic and deeply satisfying.
Elizabeth Acevedo, the author and narrator of the multi-award winning The Poet X, co-narrates this highly anticipated audiobook. Acevedo is joined by Melania-Luisa Marte in an alternating dialogue between two sisters, neither of whom knows the other exists until their father’s death in a plane crash. These two voices create a beautiful duet of the girls’ raw and lingering grief, forgiveness of their beloved and imperfect father and nascent sisterhood. Fans of Acevedo, as well those new to her work, will not be disappointed.
Vera Chok delightfully narrates this ambitious debut fiction about a woman haunted by dreams of a mysterious creature. With her charming voice, Chok becomes Jia Jia, whose husband, Cheng Hang, is found dead at their lush Beijing apartment; beside him is his sketch of a creature with the body of a fish and the head of a man. Chok’s smooth narration will have listeners hooked on the drama and intrigue surrounding Cheng Hang’s sketch.
Emily Woo Zeller’s melodious voice, clear diction and thoughtful pacing shape these dispatches from the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. She emulates Fang Fang’s tone whether she discusses daily life, takes officials to task for an insufficient response to the pandemic, or vigorously defends herself from the Internet trolls and ultra-leftists who attack her. This audiobook presents a heroic writer.
Narrator Bahni Turpin gives a tour-de-force performance in this strange allegory featuring a nondescript person found sleeping on a church pew in a small, unnamed Southern town. Pew refuses to speak, so the townspeople pass them from one institution to another as they debate their identity. PEW is a strange ride, but trust Turpin to steer the ship.
In this delightful audiobook, Juliet and Reverend Brooks’s wedding day has arrived, and it seems that anything that can go wrong does so. The next morning candymaker Bailey King goes to inspect the church and finds the murdered body of a woman who tried to crash the wedding. The murder leads to Bailey’s most dangerous investigation yet. But, listeners, beware! The frequent descriptions of various types of candy will leave you craving Bailey’s delicious-sounding sweets.
Julia Whelan and Lauren Fortgang perform a near-perfect duet narrating this utterly absorbing psychological thriller. Whelan’s Nina is a grifter. Nina’s mark is Vanessa, a socialite media influencer, apparently all entitlement and vanity, whose family once did a terrible thing to teenaged Nina. Or so Nina believes. Somehow the worst people come across as most appealing, a hugely effective diversion as you unravel who the real cons and marks are.
Narrator Caitlin Davies reflects the terrible confusion of 18-year-old Zofia, who has recently been liberated from Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Germany. She is haunted by memories of her younger brother, Abek, who may be her only family member still alive. Davies’s narration doesn’t hold back on emotions as the story reveals Zofia’s past hell, broken present and future hopes.
Theo Solomon’s narration is astounding in this story of a ruined future in which humanity is slowly dying and technology is viewed as magic from the past. While the audiobook is outstanding in its examination of humanity’s struggle in an evolving world, it’s the authenticity of Solomon’s voice that makes it so emotionally compelling and deeply personal. Listeners will be spellbound by the aural depiction of a complex and bitter society in which hope and innocence are precious gifts.
This story appears through BookTrib’s partnership with AudioFile.
AudioFile (www.audiofilemagazine.com) is the magazine for discovering more about audiobooks. It reviews and recommends the best listening, most interesting performances, and what audiobooks are worth your listening time. AudioFile reviews about 50 audiobooks per week, features narrator profiles, and awards exceptional performances with AudioFile’s Earphones Awards. AudioFile publishes in print, newsletters and a blog, and podcasts daily recommendations on "Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine."