Every month, AudioFile Magazine reviewers and editors select the best new audiobooks for BookTrib’s readers. Get ready for days in the sun with these award-winning May audiobooks.
THE DISENCHANTMENT by Celia Bell
Read by Madeleine Leslay | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Random House Audio | 14.5 hrs.]
Madeleine Leslay’s appealing voice draws listeners into seventeenth-century Paris and the world of abused wife Baroness Marie Catherine; her lover, Victoire; and the seemingly limitless decadence of posh Parisian nobility. When Marie Catherine’s brutish husband is murdered, the police expect to find his killer among the many occult practitioners scattered about Paris. Leslay’s French is impeccable, and her storytelling skills are masterful. Whether dealing with forbidden passion, repressed women, or murder, Leslay gives a performance that lights up the City of Lights.
THE EAST INDIAN by Brinda Charry
Read by Vikas Adam | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 10.75 hrs.]
Vikas Adam’s narrative skills are on full display in this unique historical novel based on a real-life figure. “Tony” is an Indian boy working as an indentured servant far from home in the American Colonies. Adam evokes a range of emotions as he presents this entertaining—and at times painful—story. Evoking a range of emotions, Adam captures the range of Tony’s adventures, balancing Tony’s quiet inner monologue and the brash Europeans he encounters. Fans of international fiction, and those looking for something new in the historical genre, will fall in love with Tony and his narrator.
YELLOWFACE by R.F. Kuang
Read by Helen Laser | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Harper Audio | 8.75 hrs.]
Helen Laser gives a mesmerizing performance in this poignant novel. When June Hayward and Athena Liu get together to celebrate Athena’s success as an Asian writer, Athena ends up dead, and June ends up with Athena’s manuscript. Ensuing events include June’s rise to fame after selling Athena’s novel as her own and her subsequent descent into guilt and delusions amid social media fallout and increasing accusations of theft and cultural appropriation. Laser captures all of it with compelling crispness that brings out the novel’s themes. This is a riveting production of a thrilling and thought-provoking story.
IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS by TJ Klune
Read by Daniel Henning | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Macmillan Audio | 15.5 hrs.]
Narrator Daniel Henning demonstrates perfect comedic timing and impressive vocal versatility in this queer sci-fi retelling of “Pinocchio.” Vic, a human, lives with three androids: Miss Ratched, a nurse with a dry humor; Gio, an inventor with a fatherly tone; and Rambo, an anxious vacuum cleaner. Then, Vic discovers Hap, a powerful decommissioned android who speaks with a deep-voiced stutter. When Gio is seized, Vic teams up with the unlikely android trio on a cross-country odyssey to rescue him. This laugh-out-loud, emotional audiobook asks listeners to question what it means to be human.
WHY FATHERS CRY AT NIGHT: A Memoir in Love Poems, Recipes, Letters, and Remembrances by Kwame Alexander
Read by Kwame Alexander | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Hachette Audio | 3.5 hrs.]
Kwame Alexander, poet and narrator of several of his own books, brings poignancy to his “snapshots of a man learning to love. Again.” His memoir is a savory-sweet mix of poems, letters, and recipes shot through with a poet’s rhythms, sensory memories, and unique experiences that strike a universal chord. Candidly, Alexander brings authenticity to remembering his and other family members’ failures, loves, and wisdom. Strong emotional tones reflect the devotion he feels for his daughters; his mentor, Nikki Giovanni; and his beloved mother.
FRACTAL NOISE: Fractalverse, Book 2 by Christopher Paolini
Read by Jennifer Hale | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Macmillan Audio | 10 hrs.]
Jennifer Hale’s narration of this sci-fi novel is exemplary work. Her variety of voices and characterizations, as well as her grasp of the intense drama, is stunning. And just when you think she can’t get better, she sings in character, and it transforms her entire performance into art. Hale is known best for her work in video game franchises as well as her prolific work in animation. This addition to her repertoire brings her talent to new audiences. The combination of Paolini’s gripping drama and Hale’s voice acting should not be missed.
ZORA BOOKS HER HAPPY EVER AFTER by Taj McCoy
Read by Adenrele Ojo | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Harlequin Audio | 10.25 hrs.]
Adenrele Ojo goes above and beyond in her portrayal of bookstore owner Zora as she finds herself in a love triangle with bestselling author Lawrence and his brooding friend, Reid. Both men are perfect on paper, but she can’t help thinking there is some “Zora-lock Holmes” mystery behind each of them that needs to be solved. Ojo’s characters laugh their dialogue when the story calls for it, project anguish, and are attractively sultry during passionate scenes. The voice acting in every line is impeccable and moving.
BEETHOVEN IN THE BUNKER: Musicians Under the Nazi Regime by Fred Brouwers, Translated by Eileen J. Stevens
Read by Grover Gardner | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Blackstone Audio | 6.25 hrs.]
Hitler loved serious music and hated the Jews, so he had a conflict: The best composers and performers in Germany and around the world were Jewish. Students of German history and classical music during the Third Reich will be fascinated by the diverse ways Nazi authorities and notable musicians danced around this conflict so that the country’s music culture could be preserved. Narrator Grover Gardner performs with genuine engagement, a broad pitch range, and a rich lower-register voice. He keeps the focus on the human conflict and interesting personalities, rather than letting the unspeakable injustices of the times dominate the tone of this audiobook.
INDEPENDENCE SQUARE: Arkady Renko in Ukraine; Arkady Renko, Book 10 by Martin Cruz Smith
Read by Jeremy Bobb | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 5.75 hrs.]
Jeremy Bobb provides an exceptional narration of Smith’s latest Arkady Renko procedural. Detective Renko, who originally appeared in GORKY PARK, is tasked with finding a missing woman who may have been persecuted for her anti-government political stance. The action occurs against the backdrop of Putin’s aggressive moves toward Ukraine, giving a tone of real-time urgency to the proceedings. Bobb’s performance embraces the audiobook’s noir tone, providing a weathered, world-weary pacing to the proceedings while deftly handling the various Russian accents.
CITY OF DREAMS: City on Fire, Book 2 by Don Winslow
Read by Ari Fliakos | AudioFile Earphones Award
[Harper Audio | 8 hrs.]
Ari Fliakos uses his skill with accents, pacing, and ratcheting up narrative tension to deliver this second novel in a trilogy. In the first, CITY ON FIRE, Irish mobster Danny Ryan led a mob war against a rival Italian gang. The war continues, and Fliakos allows Ryan’s desperation and exhaustion to creep into his narration. He portrays Ryan with intelligence, humanity, and flashes of vocal fireworks. The story is one for the ages, and this audio version is one of the best ways to experience its violent and heartbreaking world.
This story appears through BookTrib’s partnership with AudioFile and contains material originating from the AudioFile website.