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February 2020 Earphones Award Winners

The award is given by AudioFile to truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.


200 WOMEN
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

This inspiring audiobook is composed of short interviews with women who represent a range of ages, backgrounds, and accomplishments. The interviews are delivered in 18 chapters that listeners can choose at whim. Musical interludes between contributors give listeners moments to digest the deep answers to profound questions. From "What makes you happen?" to "What one thing would... Read More

THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY
Earphones Award Winner
Poetry & Drama

James Lecesne's performance is campy, poignant, funny, and sad. This short one-man play, told through an investigating detective's eyes, begins with a missing 14-year-old named Leonard. It becomes clear from the start that flamboyant Leonard was determined to be himself no matter who in his Jersey Shore town didn't like it. Relying on stereotypical Jersey accents and... Read More

AND THEN WE GREW UP
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Rachel Friedman's sweet delivery of the introduction and coda of her memoir complements narrator Jennifer Rubins's engaging delivery. A serious violist as a child--she even attended the renowned Interlochen Arts Camp--Friedman left behind her music in college and is now a writer. She argues that our current zeitgeist makes it easy to feel like a creative failure. In an upbeat... Read More

ARGUING WITH ZOMBIES
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Rob Shapiro delivers long, fluid strokes, perfectly paced to draw the listener into Paul Krugman's latest compilation of columns, blog posts, and essays on macroeconomics. Shapiro captures Krugman's passion for explaining the economic implications of political actions. His warm tones breathe life into "zombie" economics, the ins and outs of the housing bubble,... Read More

AUDIENCE OF ONE
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Matthew Josdal's delivery style--low-key, neutral, and occasionally skeptical--makes him the right voice for this fresh perspective on Donald Trump. The premise: Trump is a brand mascot, not much different than Mr. Clean or Colonel Sanders, who has "jumped off the cereal box" and into the White House. This triumph of brand over man has its roots in TV's populist... Read More

THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

Full-cast romance is rare, but THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING requires it and makes ideal use of it. In the fantasy world of Triton, four royal couples must marry to fulfill a prophecy and defeat a feared Beast. Aramus (Jakobi Diem) and Ha-Lah (Joniece Abbott Pratt), Cassius (John Hartley) and Elena (Stella Bloom), True (Hartley) and Farah (Clara Francesca), Mars (Lance... Read More

BIRTHDAY SUIT
Earphones Award Winner
Romantic Fiction

An ensemble of talented narrators performs a romantic comedy involving a love triangle with equal parts heart, warmth, and chocolate. A love of chocolate has driven Lulu and Leo into respectable careers--but away from each other. Leo's love is unrequited, and nothing happens between the two until a fateful scavenger hunt across New York City. Andi Arndt and Sebastian York's... Read More

BREATHE AGAIN
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Author Niki Hardy gives a stellar performance in the audio version of her book about life lessons she learned while fighting rectal cancer. With humor and wit, Hardy acknowledges the many challenges in life, refusing to be trite in her narrative. In doing so, she connects to listeners in a unique way that few authors who are not professional narrators are capable of doing.... Read More

CALM THE F*CK DOWN
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Sarah Knight's latest "No F*cks Given Guide" is, like its predecessors (THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF NOT GIVING A F*UCK and GET YOUR SH*T TOGETHER), funny, irreverent, and filled with good advice. Knight's excellent sense of comedic timing shines in her brisk, well-paced performance. She is completely comfortable with the salty language that peppers her no-nonsense text outlining... Read More

COLOMBIANO
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

The history of Colombia is filled with violence, terror, and heaping doses of revenge, all of which are present in this exceptional audiobook. Narrated primarily by Brian J. Ramos, with an assist from author Rusty Young, the novel focuses on 16-year old Pedro Gutiérrez, who cares little about his country's internal conflicts until guerrillas execute his father before his eyes,... Read More

CROOKED RIVER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Jefferson Mays gives a sensationally entertaining performance of this latest entry in Preston and Child's Pendergast mystery series. Mays's dry cultured elocution perfectly represents Pendergast's personality, which seems appropriate even when the story is following Pendergast's new partner, Agent Coldmoon, off on some tangent, or his ward, Candace, with her valises full of... Read More

DEAR EDWARD
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Narrator Cassandra Campbell's exemplary skills keep this novel's many characters and time-shifts in focus. During the Adler family's flight to L.A., where Mrs. Adler writes for television, listeners will become acquainted with the family and other travelers. Campbell introduces the Adler parents, 15-year-old Jordan, and 12-year-old Edward as a close and loving family. Others on... Read More

DEATHLESS DIVIDE
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Two narrators portray the dynamic relationship of the heroines in this compelling sequel to DREAD NATION. In an alternate history, zombies risen from Civil War battlefields are turning folks into undead across the country. Alternating chapters reveal the viewpoints of two African-American characters, both trained assassins who struggle to find their true identities. Bahni... Read More

EC COMICS PRESENTS...THE VAULT OF HORROR!
Earphones Award Winner
Audio Theater

AudioComics' deliciously grisly full-cast recording captures the campy horror of EC Comics' 1950s stories, filled with werewolves, vampires, gravediggers, and other unsavory creatures. The perfectly selected cast features Phil Proctor, Denise Poirier, and an outstanding performance by Kevin Grevioux as the Vault Keeper, whose rumbling voice and wicked laugh nearly steals the... Read More

ELDERHOOD
Earphones Award Winner
Personal Growth

Eliza Foss offers a masterful narration of Louise Aronson's revelatory new work about old people (a.k.a. elders) and Western medicine. Don't skip on! You will be old one day. Your friends and family may be old right now. You need Aronson's humane and engaging reflection on what she has learned during her decades as a gerontologist and primary care physician. It's full of... Read More

EVIL EYE
Earphones Award Winner
Poetry & Drama

Madhuri Shekar's play is a truly original and entertaining genre-bending story of a New Delhi mother who is desperately trying to steer her Americanized daughter into a proper marriage. It's full of wonderfully comic lines like "Do not use that American voice with me" from the award-winning breakout playwright. When the daughter thinks she's found the perfect match, the fine... Read More

A FOOL'S ERRAND
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

JD Jackson's exemplary narration draws listeners into this account of the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is part of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. With his warm and inviting tone, Jackson fully inhabits the thoughtful and perceptive persona of the author, who was the museum's founding director, to such a degree that... Read More

GENIUS & ANXIETY
Earphones Award Winner
History

Jonathan Davis's sensational narration engages listeners with this volume on noteworthy contributions by Jewish artists, scientists, and politicians from 1847 to 1947. His narration significantly enhances listeners' enjoyment of this audiobook, which is intended for a general audience. Davis's clear enunciation and assured pacing help listeners absorb the abundant research, as... Read More

GRACE WILL LEAD US HOME
Earphones Award Winner
History

This audiobook achieves an exceptional performance of an important work on a difficult subject--mass murder and its aftermath. Karen Chilton seamlessly moves from rendering narrative of the horrific Charleston Church massacre to a chilling delivery of killer Dylann Roof's monotone. Her skill with Southern accents makes the people involved with this event come alive. She... Read More

HERE IN THE REAL WORLD
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Narrator Noah Galvin's dreamy tones depict the introversion of 11-year-old Ware, who enters medieval worlds more readily than he takes part in the "normal" life that surrounds him. Faced with a summer of attending a chaotic rec program, Ware discovers peace and quiet in a deserted church next door. It doesn't remain peaceful for long. He soon meets the cynical Jolene, a girl... Read More

HOUSE ON FIRE
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Holter Graham narrates the fourth Nick Heller novel, in which the private investigator infiltrates a powerful family hiding a sinister secret. At the funeral of an army buddy who suffered from opiate addiction, Nick is approached by a member of the Kimball Pharmaceutical family who offers credible information suggesting his friend was murdered. Graham imbues Nick with youthful... Read More

THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

This audiobook combines an extraordinary story with narrator Karina Fernandez's captivating performance, creating an unforgettable experience for listeners. The seemingly perfect Bird family, led by mother Lorelei, is at the center of Jewell's novel. One Easter their storybook existence is torn apart, and what follows is a series of conflicts and tragedies that transform their... Read More

HOW RORY THORNE DESTROYED THE MULTIVERSE
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

Nicole Poole narrates a familiar fairy tale transported to a galactic stage. Rory Thorne is the first princess born into the royal family of Thorne in 10 generations, and she is destined to save (or possibly destroy) both herself and the multiverse, despite the many obstacles placed in her way. Poole imbues the stock fairy-tale characters who populate the story with life and... Read More

I EAT MEN LIKE AIR
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Up-and-coming voice talent Elizabeth Evans brings a tough noir intensity to this story of a true-crime podcaster's investigation of the apparent suicide of an ultra-rich party-boy scion during a boozy wedding-rehearsal weekend. As the investigation unfolds through the voices of seven of the deceased's confidants and Ivy League classmates, the podcaster becomes infatuated with... Read More

INTERIOR CHINATOWN
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Joel de la Fuente gives a spectacular performance filled with drama, theatrics, and razzle-dazzle that beautifully showcases Charles Yu's satire of Asians in America, told in a funky screenplay format. Willis Wu's life unfolds like a movie in which he is "Generic Asian Man." Each night he returns to his crowded Chinatown highrise hoping that the next day will bring him closer... Read More

KING AND THE DRAGONFLIES
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Ron Butler lends expertise, elegance, and an unerring expressiveness to his heartbreakingly beautiful performance as King, a black tween living in Louisiana who is coping with the death of his older brother. When his ex-best friend, Sandy Sanders, goes missing and King finds him hiding in his backyard, he is forced to confront questions about himself and his grief. As the story... Read More

THE KING OF CROWS
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Narrator January LaVoy returns for the final installment of Bray's Diviners series. The dead are rising, and only a band of supernaturally gifted people can stop them. The producers of this audiobook might have been tempted to hire a full cast as there are more than 25 characters in this story. They range from an African-American boy to an adult woman with a Russian accent. The... Read More

THE LION KING
Earphones Award Winner
Children

In narrating Rudnick's novelization of the movie THE LION KING, Janina Edwards paints a beautiful verbal portrait of the Pride Lands, where the lions rule justly. In a voice as warm as sunshine, Edwards introduces listeners to King Mufasa and his queen, Sarabi, on the day they present their newborn cub, Simba, to the kingdom. Throughout the story, Edwards maintains a steady and... Read More

A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Edoardo Ballerini's sensitive narration of Isabel Allende's lyrical prose touches the heart. He heightens the plight of Victor Dalmau, his mother, and his brother's pregnant widow, Roser. This intense saga spans nearly 60 years, following the Dalmaus as they are caught in the upheaval of the Spanish Civil War, when Franco's Fascists overthrow the government. Ballerini adds... Read More

LUSTILY EVER AFTER
Earphones Award Winner
Audio Theater

An ensemble cast of singers and comedians performs a hilarious and raunchy rom-com musical. Raleigh Jackson agrees to be the fake girlfriend of handsome playboy Trystan Lay. A whirlwind romance ensues with all the hallmarks of the genre--except this romance plays out with music and extended songs, pop culture references, and cheesy one-liners. The talented cast smoothly shifts... Read More

MERCY HOUSE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Alena Dillon's debut novel reveals the inequities and injustices wrought by the misuse of power. Stellar performances by an amazing cast peel away layers of pain, abuse, rage, and distrust. Three Catholic nuns in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood run a shelter for women brutalized by the men in their lives. Bishop Hawkins, who believes their work offends Catholic doctrine, is... Read More

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
Earphones Award Winner
Poetry & Drama

This extraordinary production of Pulitzer Prize winner (OLIVE KITTERIDGE) Elizabeth Strout's novel will remain with listeners long after the final words fade. The credit goes to three people: Strout; Rona Munro, whose exquisite adaptation pares the story to its core; and actor Laura Linney, who alternately transforms herself into tough yet fragile Lucy and Lucy's croak-voiced... Read More

NESSIE QUEST
Earphones Award Winner
Children

Hats off to narrator Rachel L. Jacobs! Not only does she get inside the soul of a 12-year-old girl, but she also brings lilting Scottish brogues to a cast of unique supporting characters. When Ada Ru is whisked off to Scotland for the summer, she is anything but pleased. When she arrives at Port Augustus, the pull of nearby Loch Ness treats Ada Ru to a host of new friends--one... Read More

NEVERTHELESS WE PERSISTED: ME TOO
Earphones Award Winner
Biography & Memoir

An extensive cast of writers and narrators join together to perform this collection of heartrending essays and poetry created by survivors of sexual assault and abuse. With original music by Amanda Rose Smith, a wave of acceptance and love resonates in the chorus of voices united with the message that victims are not alone and their pain is valid and important. Some pieces are... Read More

QUALITYLAND
Earphones Award Winner
Science Fiction

Narrator Patricia Rodriguez delivers a sensational performance of this dystopian satire in which the most successful company in the world uses algorithms to predict and deliver what you want before you even know you want it. When Peter Jobless receives a product he most definitely doesn't want, he commences an elaborate plan to return it with the help of his band of robotic... Read More

THE RABBIT HUNTER
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Saul Reichlin returns to narrate Book 6 in the Joona Linna series by the Swedish husband-and-wife writing team Lars Kepler. Through pace and tone, Reichlin masterfully maintains the tension throughout, making this the audiobook equivalent of a page-turner. The quiet, Finnish-accented Swedish-speaking Detective Joona Linna is rescued from his prison sentence (Book 5) to join his... Read More

REDWOOD AND PONYTAIL
Earphones Award Winner
Young Adult

Tessa Netting and Cassandra Morris offer up youthful voices and emotionally connected performances to deliver Holt's novel in verse about two middle school athletes. Netting portrays Kate, the "perfect" ponytailed cheerleader, and Morris portrays Tam, the tall, stellar volleyball player, who meet and fall in "like." Alternating between introspective and breathless pacing,... Read More

SKY DANCE
Earphones Award Winner
Fiction

Stewart Crank flawlessly narrates this extraordinary novel, which encompasses the magnificence of nature, those who want to preserve it, and the viciousness of others who are exploiting the natural world regardless of the ecological cost. Listeners will feel at home on the Scottish Highlands as they meet a variety of memorable--often delightfully eccentric--individuals through... Read More

SURFACING
Earphones Award Winner
Contemporary Culture

In this marvelous collection of essays, Kathleen Jamie meditates on time, nature, and family with lyrical prose full of wicked wit. Narrator Cathleen McCarron's performance is a perfect match. Her Scottish accent is appealing, and her timing is akin to musical phrasing that enhances a composer's intent. For example, Jamie's description of Alaskan sockeye salmon swimming as... Read More

TROUBLE IS WHAT I DO
Earphones Award Winner
Mystery & Suspense

Dion Graham offers an amazing performance of Edgar Award-winning Walter Mosley's sixth P.I. Leonid McGill outing in the badass world of crime and criminals. His dubious past allows Leonid entrée into places where upstanding citizens wouldn't go. "Catfish" Worry, a 94-year-old black blues musician, asks Leonid to deliver a letter to a seemingly white billionaire's daughter... Read More

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