09 February 2018

12 Audies Award-Nominated Audiobooks: An Annotated List

12 Audies Award-nominated audiobooksTuesday was an exciting day for audiobook fans. It was the day the Audio Publishers Association (APA) announced the nominees for this year's Audie awards.

If you're unfamiliar with the Audies, you can think of them as the audiobook world's Academy Awards: the biggest honor in the industry. You can find the full list of nominees in 26 categories at the APA's website. The final four categories, including Best Audiobook of the Year, will be announced next month.

Today I'm featuring a dozen of the nominated audiobooks: some I've already listened to and others have been recommended to me multiple times. Be sure to check out all of APA-honored audiobooks, and start adding to your listening/reading list. (The book descriptions in quotation marks are taken from the publishers' summaries, unless otherwise noted.)

  • 12 Audies Award-nominated audiobooksWe're Going to Need More Wine, written and narrated by Gabrielle Union (Harper Audio; Best Autobiography/Memoir): A "collection of thought-provoking essays" that "tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame." Union's acting experience makes her an excellent audiobook narrator, especially of her own, very personal stories. The difficult subjects, some related to the #MeToo movement, are tempered by Union's honesty and humor.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin (Harper Audio, Best Female Narrator, Best Young Adult): This is one of those audiobooks that everyone is talking about. The story is about a teenage girl who balances her life "between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends." She may be doing okay, until her best friend is killed by a cop right in front of her eyes. Turpin's performance is dramatic and emotional and her broad range of characterizations makes you forget that there's only one narrator.
  • The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles (Hachette Audio, Best Female Narrator, Best Science Fiction): This audiobook is the third in a science fiction / fantasy series about a world that is physically changing in response to awakened forces from the broader universe. In my own review of Miles's performance I said she was "a-maze-ing in giving voice to the characters, picking up on the emotional atmosphere, and keeping me glued to my earbuds." You'll need to start the Broken Earth trilogy at the beginning (The Fifth Season), but the good news is that Miles narrates all the books.
  • Glass Houses by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst (Macmillian Audio; Best Male Narrator, Best Mystery): This 13th entry in the much-loved Three Pines series starts at Halloween and ends in the summer and involves a murder, folk lore, and a trial. Bathurst had the difficult task of following the late Ralph Cosham, whose narration developed the characters' voices and the pace of the stories over the first 10 books. This nomination is proof that Bathurst not only met the challenge but excelled at it.
  • 12 Audies Award-nominated audiobooksBeartown by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland (Simon & Schuster Audio; Best Fiction): You might think this book is about hockey, but you'd be wrong. It's really about "the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain." When I raved about reviewed the audiobook, I predicted there'd be awards for Ireland's pitch-perfect characterizations and not-to-be missed delivery. I truly can't say enough good things about her.
  • I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiashi, narrated by Susan Bennett, Dan Bittner, and Therese Plummer (Macmillian Audio; Best Fiction): This is the story of a loving wife and mother who jumps off the top of a building, "leaving her husband and teenage daughter to redefine their understanding of family," meanwhile, she has thoughts from the afterworld. I loved the way Bennett, Bittner, and Plummer's performances blended together, bringing the characters' personalities to the fore and realistically rendering their full range of emotions.
  • Code Girls by Liza Mundy, narrated by Erin Bennett (Hachette Audio, Best History/Biography): This audiobook reveals the little-known story of the "10,000 women [who] served as codebreakers during World War II." Their work was vital to the Allies' successful war effort, yet few people are aware of their contribution. Bennett's clear, straightforward delivery makes it easy for listeners to absorb the information, and her few characterizations enliven the performance. The audiobook is supplemented with downloadable materials.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by 166 performers (Random House Audio; Best Multi-Voiced Performance): When Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son died, the president was so devastated, he actually returned to the cemetery vault several times to be with his boy. This incredible audiobook imagines that time of limbo for both the living and the dead. When I wrote about the full-cast performance, I noted that it turned a good book into "an amazing experience. Sometimes it was tough to listen to (sad, raw) but there was humor too, and it made me think."
  • 12 Audies Award-nominated audiobooksMagpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, narrated by Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner (Harper Audio, Best Mystery): This engrossing mystery within a mystery starts with a contemporary book editor who becomes way too involved with her manuscript, which describes a 50-year-old murder but fails to end conclusively. Bond performs the contemporary sections and Corduner takes on the text of the manuscript, each creating a distinct atmosphere, enlivening the twisty plot.
  • Norse Mythology, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman (Harper Audio, Best Narration by the Author or Authors): I would listen to Gaiman read absolutely anything, so it's no surprise to me that his performance has been nominated for an Audies award. His collection of tales includes stories about powerful Norse gods, evil beings, jealousies and loves, Valhalla, battles and drink, the beginning of time, and the end of the world. Gaiman, a master storyteller, keeps us spellbound.
  • This Fight Is Our Fight, written and narrated by Elizabeth Warren (Macmillan Audio, Best Narration by the Author or Authors, Best Non-Fiction): In this well-thought-out and well-presented treatise, Warren explains the origins of the American middle class, its current rapid decline, and specific steps we can take to reverse this trend. She's a natural behind the mic and the stories of both her own life and the lives of struggling citizens are heart-felt. In a review of her performance, I noted that she "is expressive and passionate. Her conversational tone makes it feel as if she were talking just to you."
  • Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles, narrated by Scott Brick (Harper Audio, Best Thriller/Suspense): This 6th installment in the Penn Cage series, a family saga set in Natchez, concludes a story arc that involves murder, rivalries, love, racial violence, and crimes of passion. This story revolves around a trial, complete with courtroom drama and a few surprises. Brick's noteworthy performance includes a range of believable characterizations. His perfect pacing and ability to build the tension hook listeners almost from the get-go.


rhapsodyinbooks 2/9/18, 8:08 AM  

I really have to get to the Jemisin books. Sounds like audio is the way to go, too!

bermudaonion 2/9/18, 8:36 AM  

I've listened to two of them - The Hate U Give and I Liked My Life - and both were excellent audio productions.

sherry fundin 2/9/18, 10:34 AM  

I haven't read any of them, but there are a couple I wouldn't mind giving a listen.
sherry @ fundinmental

Daryl 2/9/18, 11:34 AM  

they all sound good, no pun intended .. but when it comes to Louise Penny and Three Pines, the only voices i want to hear are the ones as i am reading, thats one series i wont ever give up in book form

have you watched Gaiman's American Gods on Starz ..

Kay 2/9/18, 3:06 PM  

The only one of these that I've listened to is Magpie Murders and it was a lot of fun. Samantha Bond's voice (is that her real name? since she played Moneypenny in the old bond films? LOL) is familiar and the book itself was great. My mystery group enjoyed discussing it in January. I've read Glass Houses, but not listened to it. Look forward to that when I do a reread.

Unknown 2/10/18, 12:26 AM  

I have never tried an audio book. These all sound interesting thought

Margot 2/10/18, 10:26 PM  

I've listened to four of these books - all very good. Thanks for sharing these award nominees as I've added several to my library holds list.

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