Every month, AudioFile Magazine reviewers and editors select the best new audiobooks just for BookTrib’s readers. This month, listeners will befriend artificially intelligent lifeforms, navigate hilarious romantic schemes, revisit the beloved works of a renowned British playwright, ride shotgun throughout a 1940s-style whodunit, and more. Grab your earbuds and queue ’em up!

Klara and the Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro | Read by Sura Siu
Random House Audio | 10.25 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Sura Siu will be a fresh voice for many listeners, and her wonderfully subdued narration proves perfect for portraying Klara, the all-too-observant “AF” (artificial friend) purchased by a mother for her ailing child. Assigned to look after Josie, Klara slowly discovers she is being groomed to be the failing child’s replacement. Novelist Kazuo Ishiguro builds a complex story while Siu conveys a range of contrasting voices, proving herself a performer of rare grace, subtlety and virtuosity whose haunting portrayal of Ishiguro’s more than human main character will linger in listeners’ minds for days. (Read BookTrib’s review here.)

Accidentally Engaged

by Farah Heron | Read by Soneela Nankani
Hachette Audio | 11 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Soneela Nankani narrates this delightful contemporary romance with her whole heart, drawing listeners in with her enthusiasm. She embodies Reena Manji, capturing her anxieties about her meddling Indian Muslim family, her boring finance job, and failed relationships. When she meets her new neighbor, Nadim Remtulla, she’s initially intrigued by his British accent and easy charm — and then appalled when she discovers their parents have informally arranged their marriage. Nankani takes listeners on an emotional roller-coaster ride as Reena and Nadim navigate their growing attraction, a fake engagement scheme, a Canadian reality-TV cooking contest and explosive family secrets. 

When the Moon Is Low

by Nadia Hashimi | Read by Sneha Mathan, Neil Shah
Harper Audio | 12.5 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrators Sneha Mathan and Neil Shah work together to recount the harrowing events that take place as an Afghan family attempts to find a peaceful place to live. Mathan voices Fereiba, who must flee with her three children when the Taliban murder her educated husband. Shah evokes the growing desperation of Saleem, Fereiba’s teenage son, who is accidentally separated from his family in Greece. Listeners are drawn into this ever-changing story of family, danger and loss by the performances of this talented pair. Mathan and Shah keep us on the edge of our seats to see if, against all odds, the family will be reunited. 

A Gambling Man

by David Baldacci | Read by Edoardo Ballerini, Brittany Pressley
Hachette Audio | 12 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Edoardo Ballerini steps smoothly into the role of Archer, an ex-con who is looking for work as a private investigator. Narrator Brittany Pressley portrays Liberty Callahan, a sexy beauty who craves stardom. As they travel to California, they fall knee-deep into a 1940s-style whodunit with more dead bodies than they can count. Ballerini and Pressley’s delivery of dialogue is inspired. They are a duet of perfection, smoothly switching tone and timbre when necessary. As the twisting plot keeps listeners engaged, Ballerini and Pressley’s performance — to use a 1940s expression — “takes the cake!” (Read BookTrib’s review here.)

The Last Garden in England

by Julia Kelly | Read by Shiromi Arserio, Marisa Calin, Danielle Cohen, Katherine Littrell, Siobhan Waring
Simon & Schuster Audio | 10.75 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

The inviting performances of Marisa Calin, Shiromi Arserio, Katherine Littrell, Danielle Cohen and Siobhan Waring add to the immersive pleasure of this engaging historical novel centered on the women of England’s Highbury House. Venetia, the estate’s 1907 garden designer, struggles to balance social expectations with her career desires. When WWII turns the estate into a convalescent hospital, estate owner Diana, cook Stella, and land girl Beth fight to preserve the gardens while building fulfilling lives. Modern-day garden restorer Emma uncovers the past’s hidden secrets while navigating challenges that echo Venetia’s. This is a listening experience to savor. 

Win

by Harlan Coben | Read by Steven Weber
Brilliance Audio | 10.5 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

There is no denying the talent that narrator Steven Weber brings to this audiobook. With a slow, deliberate cadence, he becomes Windsor Horne Lockwood III, an eccentric protagonist with a penchant for violence. Weber’s lush characterization allows listeners to know this affluent, bored antihero. Twenty years ago, his cousin, Patricia, was kidnapped, and at the same time, two of his family’s famous paintings were stolen. Listeners will delight in Weber’s performance as he unravels this plot, launching new characters into the mix as Windsor takes on both of these cases in his own way. (Read BookTrib’s review here.)

Tom Stoppard

by Hermione Lee | Read by Stephen Crossley
Random House Audio | 37.75 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

British actor Stephen Crossley is the right narrator for this intense, informative biography. Crossley delivers Hermione Lee’s thorough investigation of playwright Tom Stoppard’s life, covering his early years — his escape from Nazi Germany to England at the start of WWII — and leading to his eventual recognition as a renowned British playwright. Lee’s insightful explications of Stoppard’s plays are handled with intelligence and sensitivity by Crossley. From Rosenkrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead (1966) to Travesties (1974), each play is given careful scrutiny, and, thanks to Crossley’s narration, each is approachable.

Lone Stars

by Justin Deabler | Read by Michael Crouch
Recorded Books | 10.25 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Michael Crouch’s narration expresses the emotional peaks that highlight Deabler’s moving story of a Texas family across several generations. Lacy, a college student, and her future husband, Aaron, meet through a pen pal program while he serves in Vietnam. The sweetness of their connection is undercut as their marriage comes apart. Their son, Julian, grows up gay in a world in which men suffer physical attacks for not acting sufficiently masculine. Julian’s departure from Texas carries the audiobook to its moving conclusion. Crouch’s thoughtful delivery nails quiet and heartbreaking moments, intensifying the novel’s impact. 

My Broken Language

Written and read by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Random House Audio | 10.75 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes brings warmth and exuberance to her narration in this memoir of family, language, home and coming of age as an artist. Her narration embodies the rhythms of her beloved North Philly neighborhood; the love and familiarity she uses to capture the voices of the many women in her big Puerto Rican family create an unforgettable intimacy. This is a memoir about language — how it shapes lives, how it lives in the body — and Hudes’s voice is as powerful as her words. It’s a gorgeous mix of English and Spanish, open and musical, full of laughter and sighs, a spoken-word celebration vibrant and overflowing with life.

Exit

by Belinda Bauer | Read by Rupert Degas
Dreamscape | 9.5 hrs.

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

This darkly humorous mystery is expertly narrated by Rupert Degas. What seems to be an ominous story of suicide and murder turns into a lovely romp through England with Felix, a thoughtful older man. In the panic of a monumental mistake, Felix — remembering his dog’s behavior at having done something wrong — flees the scene of the crime. Thus begins this comedy of errors. Degas portrays the cast of characters with zeal, and listeners will appreciate his crisp enunciation and deft ability to animate the lives that fill this story.


This story appears through BookTrib’s partnership with AudioFile and contains material originating from the AudioFile website.