AudioFile’s March Earphone Award Winners

AudioFile Magazine gives Earphone Awards to the best new audiobooks: listens that combine blow-you-away narrations with standout writing. Read these AudioFile reviews for the March 2019 winners and find your next listen!

A Woman Is No Man

By Etaf Rum
AudioFile Review: “Three female narrators work together in this Palestinian family epic. Ariana Delawari, Dahlia Salem, and Susan Nezami provide variations in accent, rhythm, and speed so listeners can distinguish between the main characters. Delawari is the voice of teenage Isra, a daydreaming village girl who leaves behind all she knows in a move to America after an arranged marriage. Listeners are moved by Isra’s plight, which grows worse as she tries to meet the unrelenting demands of her mother-in-law in Brooklyn. Salem assumes the hurt, confused voice of Deya, Isra’s teenage daughter, who finds herself in the same scenario of arranged marriage several decades later. Nezami is the older, mature, and dominating Fareeda. Listeners will become enmeshed in the overlapping ambitions of these fascinating women.”

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

By Marlon James
AudioFile Review: “This African-inspired epic fantasy becomes an immersive experience as told by Dion Graham, whose deep-voiced narration makes listeners feel like they are walking in the shoes of the protagonist. Tracker’s powerful sense of smell leads him through dangerous cities and wild lands in pursuit of a child he has been hired to find. He has lovable and loathsome allies who help, but many others seek the child for harmful purposes. Tracker himself isn’t sure of what he will do when he finds the child. At times, Graham’s raspy timbre resembles a growl, which works perfectly for Tracker. Overall, Graham’s rich character voices and accents, as well as his singing ability, will leave listeners itching for the next volume.”

Elsey Come Home

By Susan Conley
AudioFile Review: “Cassandra Campbell’s lyrical, flowing narration beautifully supports this story about a woman’s journey of self-discovery… At once urgent and contemplative, this new work focuses on Elsey, a painter and married mother living in China who has taken to drinking instead of creating art. Urged by her husband to find help, she attends a yoga retreat and discovers many truths, not the least of which about herself. Campbell’s lovely performance colors the characters with accent and personality, while also maintaining an audible neutrality. In doing so, she provides a narration that reflects Elsey’s attitude and offers listeners a respite from the increasing tension of this timely and timeless story.”

The Cold Is in Her Bones

By Peternelle van Arsdale
AudioFile Review: “Narrator Candace Thaxton conjures up a world both familiar and hauntingly foreign in this adaptation of the Medusa myth. Milla’s lonely and confined life is changed when charming Iris comes to live near her family’s remote farm. When the rumored local curse of snakes and demons seems to take possession of Iris, Milla must fight to save her friend and her future. Thaxton’s expert narration creates a feeling of timelessness, and the contemporary setting doesn’t clash with the fantasy aspects of the story. Her portrayal of Milla is by turns wistful, sardonic, and firm in her resolve. She gives distinct voices to a largely female cast, including a deliciously shivery reptilian tone for the demon girls.”

The Suspect

By Fiona Barton
AudioFile Review: “An ensemble cast narrates a splashy front-page story about British teens dying in Bangkok. Clichéd roles come alive, each with its own narrator. Susan Duerden is the reporter; her BBC tone is broken up by adept accents for Thai and Dutch characters and the spiraling despair of a woman turned from an observer to a player. Fiona Hardingham gives the mother of a girl found dead in a dirty Thai hotel a fragile, exhausted misery spiked with fierce anger as the investigation grinds on with hideous pressure from the press. Nicholas Guy Smith voices the weary detective following up in England, and Katherine McEwan gives us the vulnerability and angst of victims in flashbacks. This one will keep you up at night.”

How to be Heard

By Julian Treasure
AudioFile Review: “Apart from his clear-toned voice and flawless delivery, what makes this audiobook so seductive is the visceral way the author’s narration pulls in listeners and kindles interest in his thinking.The British communications expert and magnetic TED speaker knows a lot about how humans react to all forms of sound. His broad knowledge of the neurology of sound is also part of this pleasing presentation, but the most valuable part is his wisdom on connecting with others when speaking and listening. More or less a compilation of Treasure’s most popular TED offerings, these are crafty, practical insights that will elevate the way listeners connect with others, whether they’re giving a professional talk, persuading a colleague, or deepening a personal relationship.”

The Raven Tower

By Ann Leckie
AudioFile Review: “Narrator Adjoa Andoh lends diverse accents and impressive power to this compelling fantasy from the author of space operas. Andoh portrays an ancient god, called the Strength and Patience of the Hill, with a subtle accent and a tone of growing curiosity as it describes changes over millennia. The god also addresses a certain aide, Eolo, using the second person to describe Eolo’s role in current political intrigue surrounding a stolen throne. The Raven God demands the sacrifice of the Lease, or the ruler, every generation in exchange for protecting the country of Iraden. When the Lease goes missing, Eolo needs to figure out why in order to protect the rightful heir. Andoh’s skill with a dynamic range of voices will propel listeners through the tales of powerful gods, complex political machinations, and revenge.”

Ninth Street Women

By Mary Gabriel
AudioFile Review: “Narrator Lisa Stathoplos maintains a steady pace throughout this lengthy and interesting story of five female abstract expressionist painters who were often overshadowed by their more famous husbands and fellow artists. Stathoplos’s thoughtfully placed emphasis on the many quotes taken from interviews, journals, and critical writings keeps the narrative exciting. Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler lived and painted their own way, never behaving as women of their time were expected to. Intimate and juicy details abound of their alcohol- and jazz-fueled interactions with the avant-garde painters and poets, writers and thinkers of their day. The audiobook, enlivened by this superb reading, educates and entertains on several levels–New York’s post-WWII art scene, history as seen through the eyes of artists, and women’s studies.”

Mother Country

By Irina Reyn
AudioFile Review: “This audiobook unfolds so quietly, so gently that its impact lingers long after it ends. Kathleen Gati narrates the story of Nadia, a Ukrainian woman who is struggling to make her way in the U.S. and to bring her daughter to this country. Her quest is punctuated by flashbacks–deftly negotiated by Gati–that detail what brought Nadia herself to New York. The audiobook’s expanse is engrossing. Gati’s voice is warmly appealing, and her investment in the story, superb. She creates colorful characters with an energy that pulls the listener in. What especially shines is her skill with accents and vocal shifts. Gati gives all the characters in this audiobook distinctive voices, accents, and energy.”

Nevertheless, We Persisted

By Amy Klobuchar and In This Together Media
AudioFile Review: “Listeners are presented with an audio collection gathered and introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar as she correlates a moment on the Senate floor to a rallying cry on the importance of standing up for what is right. The 48 stories in the book represent different forms of persistence, whether for love or against grief, depression, prejudice, societal constrictions, or bullying. The voices are well matched to the essays in terms of age, making it seem as though the authors are reading their own works. This is true whether the narrator is expressing frustration over bullying or the heartbreak of someone with a relative at Sandy Hook. These are powerful stories of resilience that are well worth sharing.”

Written By

Madi Mullen

Madi Mullen is the Social Media Manager at Libro.fm She enjoys reading and listening to books, writing, and playing beach volleyball. As a PNW native, she loves every season and gets outside as much as possible to enjoy it with her family and friends.

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