Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
The Penderwicks in Spring

Jeanne Birdsall, read by Susan Denaker. Listening Library, unabridged, 8 CDs, 9.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-553-55215-7

In the fourth installment to the Penderwick family series, fifth grader Batty Penderwick is doing her best to be a good big sister to siblings Ben and Lydia, while mourning Hound, her beloved dog. A new music teacher at school discovers Batty's wonderful singing voice, and Batty is anxious to tell her honorary brother Jeffrey (a beloved friend of the family) and perhaps arrange a grand concert for her family on the occasion of her upcoming 11th birthday. Then Batty overhears an argument between her sister Skye and Jeffrey, and all her birthday plans are scrapped as she tries to cope with the enormous emotions the argument brought to light. Birdsall's excellent prose is tremendous and enjoyable, especially when read by Denaker, who gives each of the siblings related yet distinct voices—maternal and grown-up for the eldest, Rosaline; dreamy for Jane; no-nonsense for Skye; and quiet and shy for Batty. Little brother Ben has a nasal twang, and toddler Lydia singsongs her way through life. Hearing Denaker perform them all is a delight. Most impressively, Batty's enormous anguish is embodied in Denaker's assured performance. Ages 8–12. A Knopf hardcover. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal

Hubert Wolf, trans. from the German by Ruth Martin, read by Paul Boehmer. Tantor Audio, , unabridged, 8 CDs, 10 hrs., $49.99 ISBN 978-1-4945-0913-2

This book focuses on the imprisonment of a German princess by a Catholic convent in Rome in the 1850s, exploring the intersection of politics, religion, sexuality, and a changing modern world. Wolf provides a vivid discussion of the events and the larger implications for Catholicism, Italy, and the world beyond, by delving into the history books, journal entries, church documents, and other sources that he weaves together in a captivating narrative. Boehmer’s performance of the audio edition is nothing short of fantastic. He executes his typical lilting rhythmic delivery, with almost hypnotic results that keep the listener engaged. Most impressive is his pronunciation of foreign languages, jumping from English to Italian to German, pronouncing long and complicated phrases without missing a beat and keeping the narration engaging. A Knopf hardcover. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat

John McQuaid, read by Tom Perkins. Tantor Audio, unabridged, 8 CDs, 9 hrs., $37.99 ISBN 978-1-4945-0702-2

In this fascinating journey through the science of taste, McQuaid observes that “everyone lives in his own flavor world,” and that taste is the most subjective of the senses. He explains how taste is formed and experienced as a result of one’s genetic disposition and how flavor is perceived by the brain. The book will leave listeners with ample food for thought. Reader Perkins’s performance of McQuaid’s rich prose sounds lackadaisical. He’s capable at conveying transitions and emphasis, and he shifts comfortably from complicated scientific language to literary references to anecdotes. Yet his energy never really captures listeners. The book is a rich exploration of the science of taste, but the audio edition leaves much to be desired for one of the other senses: sound. A Scribner hardcover. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Just Kids from the Bronx: Telling It the Way It Was; An Oral History

Arlene Alda, read by the author and full cast. Macmillan Audio, , unabridged, 6 CDs, 7.5 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-6236-3

Memories of the serenity and cleanliness of the Bronx river and its population of snapping turtles; taking turns answering the one phone in the building; lively congregations on rooftops; playing outside at a time when sports were spontaneous and free, in a culture of letting kids play outside: these are just a smattering of the memories in the 60-plus stories shared by a myriad of people who grew up in the Bronx. The storytellers range from 92-year-old Carl Reiner to 23-year-old Eric Zeiglerand and include political figures such as Colin Powell and celebrities such as actor Al Pacino and author Mary Higgins Clark. Though the stories are as diverse as the people telling them, there is a common thread of warmth and fondness in their childhood memories. The stories highlight America’s rich roots and a core attitude that schools and parents, as well as teachers and temples, were an important part of the storytellers’ communities and lives. The numerous voices presenting these oral histories are flowing, velvety, glib, humorous, and always passionate. Though not all the narrators have as clear or resonant a voice as one of the main narrators, actor Alan Alda (the author’s husband), the variation adds to the overall sense of diversity and the authenticity of the stories. This is an informative and heartwarming retrospective of life in the Bronx, in addition to an enlightening look at the changes in our society and culture. A Holt hardcover. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Laszlo Bock, read by the author. Hachette Audio, unabridged, 10 CDs, 11.5 hrs., $35 ISBN 978-1-47898087-2

Bock is a director of human resource at Google, though the company itself uses the term people operations. His delivery of his new book is consistently pleasant, engaging, and conversational, as he details the ways in which Google’s sometimes quirky culture—including such novelties as free gourmet meals for pet dogs in the cafeteria—contributes to both employee fulfillment and a profitable bottom line. Bock’s style does not embody the intense passion and persuasion of the more motivational offerings of the business genre; instead his reading is focused and straightforward. Listeners hoping for an experience to pump them up into a frenzy of inspiration should probably look elsewhere. One very minor oddity of the recording is that extra voices are provided to quote a few women in the narrative, though the practice is inconsistent and seems at odds with the overall presentation. A Hachette/Twelve hardcover. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ambrose Fountain

Brian Sieve, read by Tobin Bell. Audible Studios, , unabridged, digital download, 4.5 hrs., $14.95 ASIN B00QMSC6II

A lawyer uproots his wife and daughter from Los Angeles and buys a vineyard, where the former owners died in their beds from a gas leak. They struggle to raise their first crop of grapes, and nothing goes right. On a whim one evening, the husband tosses a coin into the old fountain that gives the property (and the book) its name. The next morning, a previously broken harvester starts up without a hitch. The husband, Carter, becomes obsessed with the fountain, convinced that by feeding it coins, he can turn his family’s fortunes around. He also becomes preoccupied with the former owner’s journals, reading them incessantly. At first his obsessions seem harmless, but soon several people who clashed with Carter go missing, and his wife begs him to stop feeding the fountain. Reader Bell has a wonderfully deep voice, which emphasizes the story’s spookiness. He is not afraid to sigh deeply or breathe heavily to show emotion. At the story’s over-the-top climax, Bell growls, whispers, shouts, and gives it his all. He’s an actor familiar with the horror genre and knows when to be calm, when to be fierce, when to stretch the suspension, and when to be light in tone. He squeezes everything out of the story. An Amazon/SL e-book. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Richard III

William Shakespeare, read by a full cast. S&S Audio, , unabridged, 3 CDs, 3 hrs., $19.99 ISBN 978-1-4423-8154-4

At the core of one of Shakespeare’s most recognizable plays is the self-admitted villain Richard III, the misshaped humpback, who with malice aforethought works his way up the royal family tree to become the tyrannical bloodstained King of England, only to be undone in the end by the future King Henry VII at the battle of Bosworth Field. From his opening soliloquy to his final plea for the never-to-arrive horse, Richard is a riveting character whose actions have intrigued, seduced, and repulsed audiences for centuries. Unfortunately, this audio production suffers from perfunctory performances that fail to engage the listener at an emotional level. Production values are top notch, and judiciously used sound effects enhance the scenes and settings, but the performances are a mixed bag—the words are well enunciated and the meter of the dialogue preserved, but the richness and depth of the bard’s characters is never fully realized. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Prudence

Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quirk. Hachette Audio, unabridged, 11 CDs, 12.5 hrs., $30 ISBN 978-1-4789-3014-3

A spinoff of Carriger’s popular Parasol Protectorate series, this new steampunk fantasy series centers on 20-year-old Prudence “Rue” Akeldama, a feisty young aristocrat who is also a “meta-natural,” able to temporarily drain and use the otherworldly powers of any supernatural being she touches. In a Victorian England, where high society is full of vampires and werewolves, this is a distinct advantage. Always in search of fun and adventure, Rue is delighted when her vampire uncle gives her a dirigible and sends her on a mission to India to obtain a highly desirable secret new brand of tea. Narrator Quirk combines a “veddy proper” posh British accent with Rue’s spunkiness and fun, bringing the flavor of the novel to life. She delightfully voices a variety of characters—upper-crust English aristocrats, a sexy Frenchman, Scottish werewolves, Cockney servants, secretive Indians—with perfect timing and a witty sense of humor. Her entertaining reading is a perfect match for Rue and her colorful adventures. An Orbit hardcover. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Too Bad to Die

Francine Mathews, read by Matthew Brenner. Penguin Audio, , unabridged, 9 CDs, 11.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-1-61176-367-6

Combining historical fact with thriller fiction, Mathews’s nonstop novel takes us to wartime Iran in 1943, when Allied world leaders Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin are about to meet in the Soviet Union’s Tehran embassy to discuss opening a second front against Hitler’s Germany. A Nazi assassin known as The Fencer has access to the three world leaders, and the only man aware of this peril is dashing Royal Navy Intelligence Officer Ian Fleming. The problem is that Fleming deduced the situation using info gleaned by his pal Alan Turing’s code-breaking machine, considered an unreliable source. Using the pseudonym James Bond, he struggles through an adventure filled with action, a little romance, and a lot of ghastly torture. Meanwhile, Mathews shifts her focus to the novel’s other key players—Roosevelt struggling with his legs, Stalin indulging in paranoid rants, and Churchill suffering a debilitating bout with bronchitis. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s promiscuous daughter-in-law, Pamela, occupies almost as many pages as Fleming/Bond, indulging in affairs with an assortment of beaux. Shakespearean actor Brenner reads the novel’s factual and fictional elements with a staunch-upper-lip British accent, being careful to treat Roosevelt and Churchill with a news anchorman’s respect, while getting considerably more dramatic for the chapters featuring Fleming and Pamela. He doesn’t try to imitate the distinctive sound of these two world leaders’ voices, other than to shift from American to English accents when appropriate. His Fleming hasn’t even a playful hint of any of the actors who have played Bond. And his Turing speaks with a tortured stutter that will remind no one of Benedict Cumberbatch. A Riverhead hardcover. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Cuba Straits

Randy Wayne White, read by George Guidall. Penguin Audio, , unabridged, 8 CDs, 9.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-1-61176-388-1

White’s popular series hero, Florida-based marine biologist Marion “Doc” Ford, is drawn into his 22nd adventure by General Juan Rivera, a larcenous “frenemy” who smuggles Cuban baseball players into the U.S. when he isn’t wheeling and dealing in valuable artifacts. His latest human import, a dim-witted shortstop named Figueroa Casanova, has gone astray with a briefcase full of love letters penned by Fidel Castro in the 1950s and early ’60s. When Doc learns that the briefcase contains not only a young rebel’s billet-doux but something more significant, which homicidal Russian KGB agents desperately covet, he’s compelled to head to Cuba to find Tomlinson and warn him. Serious danger and slapstick humor await. Reader Guidall’s avuncular growl is a perfect fit for Doc, who’s beginning to express middle-age musings of self-doubt. The Cubans, notably the general and Figueroa, as well as the Russians, natter in acceptably accented English. And as an added plus, Guidall expresses convincing enthusiasm while delivering White’s loving descriptions of Florida’s flora and sea fauna, as well as the fascinating bits of local history that give this series its gravitas. A Putnam hardcover. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.