Every month, AudioFile Magazine reviewers and editors select the best new audiobooks just for BookTrib’s readers. This month, listeners will take a ride with a hitman with a conscience, wield ancient and forbidden magic, explore the creative skills of musicians and more. So, grab your earbuds and queue ’em up!

 Hell of a Book

by Jason Mott | Read by JD Jackson, Ronald Peet
Penguin Audio | 9.75 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

If ever there was a piece of fiction suited to becoming an audiobook, this is it. The novel’s two protagonists tell distinct but interlocking stories of what it is like to be Black in America. Narrator JD Jackson’s inspired portrayal of an unnamed author on a boozy book tour has the sandy sadness of a man coming to terms with fame, race and death. Ronald Peet, whose voice has a fine magisterial sound, delivers the parallel story of “Soot,” a 10-year-old Black boy. This bittersweet audiobook is moving and memorable.

 Billy Summers

by Stephen King | Read by Paul Sparks
Simon & Schuster Audio | 17 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Stephen King built a career on horror, but his latest crime drama venture is scary good. Billy Summers is a hitman with a conscience; he only goes after “bad men,” even though he has no compunction about being paid to kill. Narrator Paul Sparks’ performance is so perfect it challenges the listener to stop listening. While Billy’s character is a tad far-fetched, it fits the definition of antihero — think Showtime’s Dexter. And because the story is told in the first person, listeners see the decent person inside the man with blood on his hands. 

 No Hiding in Boise

by Kim Hooper | Read by Devon Sorvari, Stephanie Willing, Hillary Huber, Stephanie Einstein, Madeleine Maby, Nick Mondelli, Michael Brusasco, Patrick Lawlor, Adam Barr, Pete Cross, Neil Hellegers
Dreamscape | 9.5 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Kim Hooper’s ripped-from-the-headlines story is brought to life by a stellar team of narrators. Hillary Huber displays a wide range of emotions as a mother whose son has committed a horrific violent act. She searches for a way to deal with her grief, suffers blame by the community, and works to support her son’s victims. Devon Sorvari, as Angie, expresses anger, confusion and love as she struggles to understand why her now comatose husband, Cale, was in a bar instead of home in bed with her. The cast gives powerful voices to all of the characters, including the shooter himself, making them all seem real.

 Six Crimson Cranes

by Elizabeth Lim | Read by Emily Woo Zeller
Listening Library | 12.75 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller immerses listeners in this fairy-tale-inspired fantasy. Shiori, who is uninterested in her arranged engagement, learns to wield forbidden magic from a shape-shifting dragon. After stumbling upon her stepmother’s secret, Shiori is exiled and cursed to remain mute — every word uttered means death to one of her six brothers, who have been transformed into cranes. Zeller’s vocal versatility shines as she adjusts tone and cadence to capture a large cast of characters and their personalities. This trope-defying audiobook, rich with European folklore and Asian mythology, is not one to miss. 

 My Garden World

Written and read by Monty Don
Two Roads | 14.5 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

It is a joy to spend time with famed English horticulturalist Monty Don as he watches wildlife, tends to his garden, and generally appreciates the natural world. Don, who received an O.B.E. for service to Great Britain, has been the lead presenter of the BBC series “Gardeners’ World” since 2003. Don has a pleasant, slightly throaty voice; his accent is educated without sounding pretentious, and his timing is comfortingly practiced. Consisting of observations and short essays on everything from moles to primroses to wrens, as well as the fragrance of warming soil, this is an audiobook to cherish and gift.

 One Two Three

by Laurie Frankel | Read by Rebecca Soler, Jesse Vilinsky, Emma Galvin
Macmillan Audio | 15 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

On their own, Emma Galvin, Rebecca Soler and Jesse Vilinsky are accomplished narrators; as an ensemble, they are outstanding at capturing the emotional dynamics of the Mitchell triplets. Sixteen-year-old Mab, Monday and Mirabel are on a mission to save their town. Before their birth, Belsum Chemicals, owned by the Templeton family, knowingly polluted the town’s drinking water, causing deaths, birth defects and economic devastation. Now, the Templetons are back, wanting to reopen the company. All three narrators successfully convey the emotional and sometimes humorous situations the teens find themselves in. 

 The Forest of Vanishing Stars

by Kristin Harmel | Read by Madeleine Maby, Kristin Harmel
Simon & Schuster Audio | 11.5 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

In this compelling coming-of-age story, narrator Madeleine Maby portrays the mysterious Jerusza in a wise and foreboding tone. The intuitive woman kidnaps Yona from Berlin just before her second birthday and raises her in the Naliboki Forest of Poland. Maby’s depiction of Yona, initially brimming with curiosity and wonder, evolves to reflect the girl’s growth into an increasingly self-assured young woman after Jerusza’s death. As WWII approaches, Yona’s purpose becomes clear: She is to help the Jews who are hiding in the forest.

 On the Road Less Traveled

by Ed Hajim, Glenn Plaskin | Read by Rob Shapiro
Skyhorse Publishing | 7.25 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Author Ed Hajim narrates the introduction to his memoir. Regardless, when narrator Rob Shapiro takes over for the body of the work, listeners will completely buy into his performance. He inhabits the work and perfectly paces the financier/philanthropist’s rags-to-riches story. Shapiro’s tone is always on target, especially when Hajim discusses his strained relationship with his father. During Hajim’s self-effacing, humorous references, one can hear the smile in Shapiro’s voice. Additional narrators read excerpts of letters, which give a documentary feel to the production. (Read BookTrib’s review here.)

 Two Beats Ahead

by Panos A. Panay, R. Michael Hendrix | Read by Landon Woodson
Hachette Audio | 7.75 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Two executives offer a lively explanation of how the creative skills of musicians can be applied to today’s businesses. Landon Woodson delivers this audiobook with an urgency that fits the authors’ exciting ideas. His vocal tone, rhythms and comfort with the music world make his performance sound hip. The musicians the authors interviewed offer many insights, and they test their ideas with others and master the conflicts of all creative enterprises: blending improvisation with structure, individual creativity with teamwork, artistic expression with commercial strictures. A fun listen for musicians and executives alike. 

 Tower of Babel

by Michael Sears | Read by Richard Poe
Recorded Books | 12.25 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Richard Poe commendably presents Queens, NY, with its cross-section of cultures and residents, including onetime top lawyer — now foreclosure profiteer — Ted Molloy. Listeners will enjoy the action as Molloy tackles real estate moguls and Russian mafia between visits to Mets home games and Gallagher’s Pub. Splendidly rendered descriptions of the locale, people and food add texture, while snippets of Molloy’s life add dimension and levity. Poe’s superb delivery, including his ability to deliver multiple accents, enhances the story’s fascinating personalities. 


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