Recorded Books Blog

Audiobooks and digital databases for public libraries and schools – OneClickdigital for eAudio and RBdigital for databases.

Starred review for outstanding audio!

Layout 1Thursdays in the Park *. Written by Hillary Boyd. Read by Joanna David.

Boyd’s insightful and entertaining story of finding love at a certain age is engagingly narrated by Joanna David. Her ability to portray Jeannie, a woman of almost 60, and her husband and other family members (including a 2 year old granddaughter) convincingly is craft of the highest sort, as she employs changes in tone and pace to seamlessly inhabit the story with its myriad characters.

Jeannie is living in a loveless marriage (her husband left her bed without explanation 10 years ago) and it is only when she meets Ray, another grandparent visiting a London park with his grandchild—as she is with hers—that she realizes that there are feelings and emotions she has never experienced that can transform and uplift her life into something very different from everything she has ever known.
The listener/commuter will have many driveway moments with this book as Jeannie’s love story with Ray unfolds. Highly recommended. (Melody Moxley, SoundCommentary, March 2014 Issue)


Hilary Boyd grew up in London. Educated at Roedean, an all-girls boarding school in Sussex, she went on to become a nurse and marriage counselor. In her 30s, she went back to school to earn a degree in English Literature from London University. After graduating, she became a health journalist, writing a Mind, Body, Spirit column for the Daily Express. She has published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects such as depression, step-parenting, and pregnancy. She has been writing novels in her spare time for 20 years. Thursdays in the Park is the first to be published. Her second novel, Tangled Lives, was released in the UK in early 2013, and she is working on her third, Straight To The Heart, about a middle-aged nurse who falls in love with a mountaineer. Hilary is married to film director and producer Don Boyd (Aria,Scum and War Requiem).


Discovery Monday: Prisoner 88 – Leah Pileggi

When facing a new week, you deserve a new book!
This week on ‘Discovery Monday‘ we introduce Leah Pileggi‘s debut book Prisoner 88.

Untitled-1Ten-year-old Jake Oliver Evans is the newest—and youngest—inmate at the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary. It’s 1885, and he’s been sentenced to five years for shooting a man who had threatened his pa.

Alone in a dark cell at night and ordered to muck out hog pens by day, Jake makes the most of prison life. A boy among men, he refuses to be bullied by hardened criminals and lifts the spirits of the inmates who befriend him. Mostly, though, he’s just happy to be fed. But when Jake finds himself caught in the center of an explosive escape attempt, it becomes clear that a penitentiary is no place for a young boy.

Inspired by an actual ten-year-old boy who served time in the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary, Prisoner 88 tells the story of a courageous boy who faces danger and finds friendship under the most unusual circumstances.

The Idaho Penitentiary was closed in the 1970s, and it’s now a historic site known as The Old Pen. Click here to view photos the author took of what remains.


This series is only getting better …

RB Web StampThe Last Word. Written by Lisa Lutz. Read by Christina Moore.

At the end of the previous Spellman file, Izzy had staged a hostile takeover of the family business with the help of her two siblings. We open The Last Word with Izzy at the helm. It’s a disaster. There isn’t anything that isn’t crashing down. Her parents are on strike. Her niece, now dubbed Princess Banana, has been indoctrinated against anything Izzy. Her brother is attempting reverse psychology. It isn’t working. Both Izzy and her boss, Mr. Slayter, are being set up. Izzy is watching everything go down in flames and it only gets worse when her father gets sick. If she can’t use her detective skills to solve these issues maybe she doesn’t deserve the business, even if it means she has to grovel to a porn-loving tech-geek to get her computers back on line. Christina Moore continues to elevate this series to something more than just another mystery. Her deadpan delivery gives Izzy her three dimensionality. Moore could easily sub for any three year old as she issues commands with the surety of royalty. At the same time, Moore embodies Izzy’s parents during her father’s battle with leukemia; the fear, the exhaustion; the determination. This is not as comical as the prior book but it’s a strong entry in a series only getting better. (Jodi L. Israel, SoundCommentary, March 2014 Issue)


Lisa Lutz is the author of the bestselling, Edgar Award- and Macavity Award-nominated, and Alex Award-winning Spellman series. She is the coauthor of Heads You Lose, written with David Hayward. She lives and works in upstate New York.


“De Ocampo’s craft is our good luck.”

RB Web StampDiary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck
Kinney, Jeff (Author) and de Ocampo, Ramon (Reader)

Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has ditched him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg’s life destined to be just another hard-luck story?

“In particular, the Magic 8 Ball is voiced like a silky-smooth radio announcer. De Ocampo’s craft is our good luck. This is an excellent addition to the titles in this series, all of which are all read by de Ocampo and available from Recorded Books.” — Sharon Hrycewicz [Booklist, Issue: March 15, 2014]


Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson – Jeff Guinn

RB Web StampManson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, by Jeff Guinn, read by Jim Frangione

Award-winning journalist Jeff Guinn’s highly acclaimed Manson has won rave reviews and is a top-pick on must-read lists everywhere. This superb biography answers lingering questions about the Manson Family murders, while delivering stunning revelations about the life of America’s most notorious psychopath.

“True crime aficionados will welcome this well-written and well-read account of the 1969 Manson murders …” —Victoria A. Caplinger, NoveList, Durham, NC [Library Journal, March 1, 2014 Issue]

Listen to NPR’s interview with Jeff Guinn on the bio. 


Travel back to yesteryear …

RB Web StampSweet Thunder (Morrie Morgan, #3)
Doig, Ivan (Author) and Hogan, Jonathan (Reader)

Travel back to yesteryear . . . Pull up a chair by the fire and listen to this nostalgic western tale. As with the previous audiobooks in this series (Whistling Season, 2006, and Work Song, 2010, both also available from Recorded Books), narrator Hogan gives the production an easygoing, storytelling feel. This time around, former con man turned librarian Morrie returns from his honeymoon to Butte, Montana, to find himself acting as a journalist battling the local mining company. The book is set in 1920, the time of speakeasies and Prohibition, and Hogan’s voice lends credibility to the tale by being virile, confident, daring, and dauntless. There is but a subtle difference between male and female voices. His female characters’ voices, especially Morrie’s wife, Grace, are engaging, smooth, clear, and strong. The cadence of Hogan’s telling is much the way a great storyteller of that time may have spouted the words, neither slow nor fast, at the correct pace to lead the listener through to the end. — Marna Rundgren (Booklist, Issue: April 1, 2014)


Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill is the son of American immigrants — a black father and a white mother — who came to Canada the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C. On his father’s side, Hill’s grandfather and great grandfather were university-educated, ordained ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His mother came from a Republican family in Oak Park, Illinois, graduated from Oberlin College and went on to become a civil rights activist in D.C. Growing up in the predominantly white suburb of Don Mills, Ontario in the sixties, Hill was greatly influenced by his parents’ work in the human rights movement. Much of Hill’s writing touches on issues of identity and belonging.

picHill’s first passion was running, and as a boy he dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal in the 5,000 meters. But despite years of intense training and thousands of kilometers, he never managed to run quite fast enough. As a teenager, he consoled himself by deciding to become a writer instead, and at 14 he wrote his first story on his mother’s L.C. Smith typewriter. It was a bad story, and a good beginning.

Hill is now the author of nine books of fiction and non-fiction. In 2005, he won his first honor for his work, a National Magazine Award for the article “Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden?” published in The Walrus. But it was his third novel, The Book of Negroes— published in some countries as Someone Knows My Name and in French as Aminata —that brought his writing to broad public attention. The novel won several awards, including The Rogers/Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, both CBC Radio’s Canada Reads and Radio Canada’s Le Combat des livres, and The Commonwealth Prize for Best Book, which came with a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II. Since 2008, Someone Knows My Name has quietly sold over 150,000 copies.

For nearly five years, the publishing world has been waiting for Lawrence Hill to deliver his next great novel. The IllegalKeita Ali has nothing: no bank account, no papers, no legal identity. A runner, he has fled home—a brutal dictatorship that produces the world’s fastest marathoners—to live as an illegal refugee in a wealthy western nation, surviving on winnings from local races. But the government is cracking down on illegal immigrants, so Keita—who will be executed if he is deported to his homeland—goes underground. Now, a series of crises call for him to earn quick money: an unscrupulous businessman targets him, a serious health problem erupts, and, most troublingly, officials in Keita’s native country kidnap his sister, threatening to execute her unless he pays a ransom. As Keita struggles to resolve these problems, he discovers a troubling political connection between his native and his adopted country. The Illegal is a rich, riveting novel that weaves a complex moral and psychological web.

The Highway is tentatively scheduled for an April 2015 release. Four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1942, Clayton French, a 22-year-old African-American engineer stationed in Camp Livingston, Louisiana, is ordered from his bed and barracks and put on a train with hundreds of other African-American soldiers. After nearly two weeks on a train with no idea of its destination, it turns out that 4,000 African-American soldiers are to be employed, along with thousands of other white American soldiers, in the construction of the 1,500-mile Alaska-Canada Highway. Passing through northern British Columbia and Yukon en route to Alaska, the Alaska-Canada Highway was ordered built to defend against a possible invasion by Japanese forces through Alaska. The highway brought thousands of African-American soldiers for the first time into the far north of Canada and Alaska, where they inalterably changed the social and physical landscape of northern Canada and Alaska.


Discovery Monday: The Reason I Jump – Naoki Higashida

When facing a new week, you deserve a new book!
This week on ‘Discovery Monday‘ we introduce Naoki Higashida’s debut book The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism.

Untitled-4“One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

NPR • The Wall Street Journal • Bloomberg Businessweek • Bookish


You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

David Mitchell explains how he came to translate a book written by Naoki Higashida on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. 


“This suspenseful novel had me wishing for opportunities to get in my car and listen!”

Layout 1Crash. Written by Lisa McMann. Read by Allyson Ryan.

This suspenseful novel had me wishing for opportunities to get in my car and listen! Jules sees things- visions- that she worries foretell the future. When she starts seeing the same vision everywhere she looks, she reads it as a message and realizes that it spells doom for someone very special to her. Narrator Allyson Ryan’s voice is fairly young and hesitant for the character, but reads with enthusiasm and zeal which moves the story along at a brisk pace. Crash is the first of Lisa McMann’s Visions series which now includes Bang (published October 2013) and Gasp which will be out in June 2014. (Lisa Osur, SoundCommentary, March 2014 Issue)


Starred review for oustanding audio!

RB Web StampCity of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas *. Written by Roger Crowley. Read by Edoardo Ballerini.

Historian and New York Times bestselling author Roger Crowley has added an impressive third book to his two previous studies of the Mediterranean area in the 1400/1500s. Empires of the Sea details the attack of Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent on Christian Europe in 1521. 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople is a vivid account of the end of the Byzantine Empire and the continuing clash between Islam and the West. City of Fortune focuses on five hundred years from the rise of Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic, and the paradigm shift that made it a land power rather than a naval juggernaut. The prologue finds the poet Petrarch in 1366 noting that the embarkation of Venice’s fleets is the essential metaphor of the city in the lagoon–a city of merchants and trade. Part I covers 1000 to 1204, with its trade in wool, salt, spices, timber, and slaves. In the city there was no envy, no difference between rich and poor, no agriculture and no feudalism. The doge was the head of their republic and every man could vote. The doge built a fleet to defend against pirates from Croatia in the Adriatic, thus establishing Venice’s reputation as a naval power. The citizens support a crusade and Venetians find themselves fighting other Christians in and about Constantinople. Part 2 covers 1204-1500. The competition between Venice and Genoa is fierce. There is fighting around the Bosporus, the Black Sea and the Sea of Asov, as well as attacks on Muslims at Acre and Tyre. Marco Polo and his father visit Genghis Khan. In 1348 plague reaches Venice, killing people in as little as seven hours. Two thirds of the population die. Genoa implodes in 1394 and hands itself over to the French kings. Venice acquires Dalmatia and Corfu and other Mediterranean lands. Piracy is still a problem and the punishments are gruesome. Venice’s sea supremacy is threatened. Part 3 covers 1400-1503 with the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the rise of the Turks. The sultan has his eyes on Venice. Even Pope Pius II in Rome is terrified. Bosnia collapses and trade in the Ottoman Empire is lost. This is the beginning of Venice’s decline. The Venetian fleet loses a decisive battle and in 1503 signs a humiliating peace treaty with the Turks. From then on Venice focuses on its land acquisitions. Crowley’s graphic detailed history is narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, whose fluent Italian is an asset. He brings to life the battles, politics, religious wrangling, combat operations and siege warfare as well as details of architecture and trade. The book and its narration are highly recommended. (Janet Julian, SoundCommentary, March 2014 Issue)

Preview the audiobook!

Roger Crowley is a UK-based writer and historian and a graduate of Cambridge University. As the child of a naval family, his fascination with the Mediterranean world started early, on the island of Malta. He has lived in Istanbul, walked across much of western Turkey, and traveled widely throughout the region. His particular interests are the Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman empires, seafaring, and eyewitness history. He is the author of three books on the empires of the Mediterranean and its surroundings: 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople (2005), Empires of the Sea (2008) and City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Waves (2012).

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