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Becoming Kareem: Growing Up on and off the Court

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, read by Kareem Abdul-Jabba. Hachette Audio, , unabridged, 5 CDs, 6 hrs., $25 ISBN 978-1-4789-2340-4

Basketball legend Abdul-Jabbar awkwardly reads the audio edition of his memoir aimed at young listeners. The book recounts his childhood and timid teenage years in NYC, his transformation into a basketball phenomenon, his success on the court, and his spiritual growth and conversion to Islam. Throughout, he talks about the people he met and admired—such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Wilt Chamberlain—who left enduring marks on his political views and life on and off the court. Unfortunately, Abdul-Jabbar’s performance lacks confidence and too often sounds like he’s reading off the page rather than telling his life story. Abdul-Jabbar’s story is fascinating, but the audiobook is frustrating to listen to. Ages 10–13. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks

Stephen Davis, read by Christina Delaine. HighBridge Audio, unabridged, 11 CDs, 14 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-6816-8891-6

For the audio edition of Davis’s authorized biography of Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks, Delaine doesn’t impersonate Nicks’s distinctive voice, but she captures enough of the singer-songwriter’s essence to complement the material nicely. When quoting Nicks or reading anecdotes from her life, Delaine finds just the right tone to match a particular facet of the superstar’s complex identity: a breathy, ethereal quality in relation to her creative life, a take-no-prisoners delivery in matters of business, and a vulnerable sisterly cadence with regard to her close friends and family and the wounded soldiers who have become her greatest philanthropic passion and the motivation behind the Stevie Nicks Soldier’s Angel Foundation. Delaine also channels the turbulence inside Fleetwood Mac, particularly in regard to Nicks and her boyfriend turned personal and professional nemesis, Lindsey Buckingham. British bandmates Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie, meanwhile, are voiced with a convincing accent. It’s hard to imagine a better performance for this audiobook. A St. Martin’s hardcover. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-To Book

Dan Harris and Jeff Warren, with Carlye Adler, read by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren. Random House Audio, unabridged, 7 CDs, 8.5 hrs., $35 ISBN 978-0-525-63101-9

Both authors of this practical guide to meditation have experience with public speaking, and it pays off in the excellent audio edition of their book. Harris, an anchor on ABC’s Nightline, sounds clear and affable as he reads his sections, which consist of anecdotes from his time traveling the country and extolling the benefits of meditation to parents, cops, and former prison inmates. Warren, a meditation teacher from Toronto, intervenes intermittently to lead a series of guided meditations designed to address common obstacles—such as a lack of time—that prevent people from pursuing a regular practice. Warren sounds fittingly tranquil and reassuring as he leads listeners through quick and easy exercises. At various points, the authors refer to previous sections, which are difficult to navigate to in the audio edition, but the added benefit of learning the meditations in the audio format with Warren softly imploring “breathe in, breathe out” more than mitigates this problem. Listeners looking for an easy introduction to meditation will be more than satisfied with this audiobook. A Spiegel & Grau hardcover. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Typhoon Fury

Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison, read by Scott Brick. Penguin Audio, unabridged, 10 CDs, 12 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-525-49730-1

Veteran actor Brick’s dramatic rendition of book 12 in Cussler’s Oregon Files series enhances the nonstop action on board Capt. Juan Cabrillo’s camouflaged vessel, the Oregon. The book, which opens in the battle of Corregidor in 1945, features a double dose of villains—the sadistic Filipino Communist leader Salvador Locsin and his foe, sociopathic South American mercenary Gerhard Brekker—each with his own horde of homicidal minions. Both Locsin and Brekker are searching for the long-secret formula for typhoon, a steroid concoction that turns humans into superbeings, albeit with horrific withdrawals. They want to use the drug, whereas Cabrillo wants to destroy it. Actor Brick uses his natural speech for Cabrillo and company, adds a touch of Tagalog to Locsin’s threats, and employs a snarling if undetermined accent for Brekker’s ripostes. Both female leads are effectively represented in his performance—ex-Interpol art historian Beth Anders, searching for a half-billion dollars’ worth of stolen paintings, sounds eager and vulnerable, while her bodyguard, Raven Malloy, is impressively confident and tough. Brick’s best moments are during the novel’s slam-bang final confrontation, with the villains battling Cabrillo and each other and the Oregon suffering severe damage while a genuine typhoon rages. This rollicking audiobook will leave listeners bracing for more. A Putnam hardcover. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

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