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Jerusalem by Alan Moore

In the epic novel Jerusalem, Alan Moore channels both the ecstatic visions of William Blake and the theoretical physics of Albert Einstein through the hardscrabble streets and alleys of his hometown of Northampton, UK. In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap housing projects. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative, among its saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts, a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-colored puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them.

Jerusalem‘s dizzyingly rich cast of characters includes the living, the dead, the celestial, and the infernal in an intricately woven tapestry that presents a vision of an absolute and timeless human reality in all of its exquisite, comical, and heartbreaking splendor.

*** Here is the Earphone award winning AudioFile magazine review:***

Alan Moore’s vivid imagistic prose, which touches all the listener’s senses, has the perfect partner in Simon Vance, who delivers this epic mellifluously. From the opening scene, one’s awareness of the sheer length ahead falls away because each moment absorbs one’s attention. Many characters’ viewpoints emerge as the narrative recounts the past 200 years of impoverishment in Northampton, England. Vance treats each person’s story and language—some of a time and status that visual readers might be hard pressed to re-create—with respect and enough humor to keep it all from becoming a deluge. Here’s a monument to a place, a people, a writer whom too many have dismissed as “a mere graphic novelist,” and a narrator who provides the author’s text with all it deserves. F.M.R.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine

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Black Prism by Brent Weeks

The first book in the blockbuster fantasy epic from New York Times bestselling author Brent Weeks.

THE BLACK PRISM begins an action-packed tale of magic and adventure . . .

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

So far in the Lightbringer series:
The Black Prism
The Blinding Knife
The Broken Eye
The Blood Mirror

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League of Dragons by Naomi Novik

With the acclaimed Temeraire novels, New York Times bestselling author Naomi Novik has created a fantasy series like no other, combining the high-flying appeal of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern saga and the swashbuckling derring-do of Patrick O’Brian’s historical seafaring adventures. Now, with League of Dragons, Novik brings the imaginative tour de force that has captivated millions to an unforgettable finish.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all—if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country—and the ferals, loyal only to themselves—vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa—and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready—one that that may win him the war, and the world.

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In Search of Thomas Browne by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

thomas-browneThe extraordinary life and ideas of one of the greatest?and most neglected?minds in history.

Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) was an English writer, physician, and philosopher whose work has inspired everyone from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Jorge Luis Borges, Virginia Woolf to Stephen Jay Gould. In an intellectual adventure like Sarah Bakewell’s book about Montaigne, How to Live, Hugh Aldersey-Williams sets off not just to tell the story of Browne’s life but to champion his skeptical nature and inquiring mind.

Mixing botany, etymology, medicine, and literary history, Aldersey-Williams journeys in his hero’s footsteps to introduce us to witches, zealots, natural wonders, and fabulous creatures of Browne’s time and ours. We meet Browne the master prose stylist, responsible for introducing hundreds of words into English, including electricity, hallucination, and suicide. Aldersey-Williams reveals how Browne’s preoccupations?how to disabuse the credulous of their foolish beliefs, what to make of order in nature, how to unite science and religion?are relevant today.

In Search of Sir Thomas Browne is more than just a biography?it is a cabinet of wonders and an argument that Browne, standing at the very gates of modern science, remains an inquiring mind for our own time. As Stephen Greenblatt has written, Browne is “unnervingly one of our most adventurous contemporaries.”

Here is the Earphone award winning AudioFile magazine review:

This fine audio production illustrates the great appeal of audiobooks today, not just for mainstream titles but also for those pockets of interest that seemingly target only a narrow range of listeners. Essayist, stylist, and prolific word-maker Sir Thomas Browne is almost forgotten in literature today, but he’s a fascinating personality, and his life and writings prove highly illustrative of his age, especially its medical practices and beliefs. Simon Vance is adept at balancing the author’s contemporary approach with Browne’s famously baroque style. This reflective biography is probably not for everyone, but for those who love the unique and obscure and odd, as Browne did, this title offers many pleasures. D.A.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2016 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Mainered_earphones

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Euphoria by Lily King

euphoria-book-cover-flatRead with the wonderful Xe Sands

From Booklist

Just after a failed suicide attempt, Andrew Bankson, English anthropologist studying the Kiona tribe in the territory of New Guinea, meets a pair of fellow anthropologists fleeing from a cannibalistic tribe down river. Nell Stone is controversial and well respected. Her rough Australian husband, Fen, is envious of her fame and determined to outshine her. Bankson helps them find a new tribe to study, the artistic, female-­dominated Tam. Nell’s quiet assurance and love of the work, and Fen’s easy familiarity, pull Bankson back from the brink. But it is the growing fire between him and Nell that they cannot do anything about. Layered on top of that is Nell’s grasp of the nuances of the Tam, which makes it clear that she will once again surpass Fen. Set between the First and Second World Wars, the story is loosely based on events in the life of Margaret Mead. There are fascinating looks into other cultures and how they are studied, and the sacrifices and dangers that go along with it. This is a powerful story, at once gritty, sensuous, and captivating. –Elizabeth Dickie

 

Here is the Earphone award winning AudioFile magazine review:

In a perfect marriage of words and voice, narrators Simon Vance and Xe Sands join author Lily King to produce an extraordinary audiobook experience. Inspired by events in the life of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, King has fashioned a haunting novel of love, ambition, and obsession, focused on three anthropologists off-map in New Guinea just before WWII. Delivering the alternating chapters of Mead’s stand-in, American Nell Stone, and Englishman Andrew Bankson, Sands and Vance perform the stupendous feat of creating memorable versions of the same characters. Their performances offer nuanced interpretations of the different personalities and echo, but do not copy, each other’s approach. Also, each uses a unique narrative pace that enhances the listener’s understanding of this unforgettable tale. A.C.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2015 Audies Winner © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Mainered_earphones

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The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock_HolmesSir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales are rightly ranked among the seminal works of mystery and detective fiction.  Included are all four full-length Holmes novels and more than forty short masterpieces—from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes and more. At the center of each stands the iconic figure of Holmes—brilliant, eccentric, and capable of amazing feats of deductive reasoning. By his side is Dr. John Watson, his steadfast assistant and our trusty narrator.

About the Author

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered for the creation of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous fictional detective, though in his lifetime Doyle also penned essays, poems, short stories, science fiction, nonfiction, historical novels, political treatises, and lectures on Spiritualism.

It was in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet that Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion, Dr. John Watson, first appeared. Doyle eventually became weary of the stories, hugely popular with both British and American readers, and killed off Holmes in the 1893 short story “The Final Problem”—only to resurrect the character years later in The Hound of the Baskervilles. On July 7, 1930, Doyle died in England of heart failure. His stories of the very logical Sherlock Holmes, which so precisely reflect the latter part of nineteenth-century Victorian England, still capture the imaginations of readers today.AW logo

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The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

Elephant_WhispererIn 1999, Lawrence Anthony welcomed some troubled wild elephants to his game reserve. Simon Vance’s British voice takes on a gentle reminiscing tone that makes for an inviting account of a man’s growing relationship with the elephants. Vance captures Anthony’s concern early on when an escape almost cost him the herd and his joy as he realized the elephants were becoming accustomed to–and even welcoming–his presence. Occasionally, there are lighter moments, as when a kitten fearlessly tangles with the elephants. Listeners will find themselves rooting for Anthony–and his herd as well. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine [Published: MARCH 2013]

From Publishers Weekly

In 1998, prize-winning conservationist Anthony (Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo) purchased Thula Thula, “5,000 acres of pristine bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa,” transforming a rundown hunters’ camp (dating to the 19th century) into a wild animal preserve and a center for eco-tourism. In 1999, Anthony agreed to take in a herd of “troubled” wild elephants, the first seen in the area in more than a century. Winning their trust, becoming deeply attached, and even learning how they communicate (deep, rumbling “whispers,” sensed rather than heard), Anthony took enormous risks in the form of enraged elephants, distrustful neighbors, and poachers. Over time Anthony succeeds in his larger goal, winning support from the six Zulu tribes whose land borders the reserve (“most Zulus … had never set eyes on an elephant”); they eventually join Anthony’s venture as partners in a larger conservation trust. An inspiring, multifaceted account, Anthony’s book offers fascinating insights into the lives of wild elephants in the broader context of Zulu culture in post-Apartheid South Africa. 8 page color photo insert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

From Booklist

Anthony, conservationist and author (Babylon’s Ark, 2007), owns a wildlife reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. A former hunting preserve, rumored to be part of the legendary Shaka’s exclusive hunting territory, it has become a game reserve with a lodge for ecotourists. Home to Zululand’s full suite of wildlife, Thula Thula had everything—except elephants. When he was offered a herd from another game reserve Anthony accepted wholeheartedly, despite the fact that these elephants were known escape artists. During their first night at the park the traumatized elephants broke out, and after days on the run had been given a death sentence by the local wildlife authorities, only averted when the author pleaded for one more chance. The story of how Anthony saved his elephants by making friends with them, reversing their negative perceptions of humans and earning their trust, is both heartwarming and heartening. Life on a game reserve is never easy, particularly when elephants are added to the mix, but Anthony’s enthusiasm and obvious love for the bush shine through in hair-raising, sad, and funny tales. This life with elephants is a real winner. –Nancy Bent AW logo

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The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope

This is #5 in the Palliser series by Anthony Trollope:

Despite his mysterious antecedents, an unscrupulous financial speculator, Ferdinand Lopez, aspires to marry into respectability and wealth and join the ranks of British society. One of the nineteenth century’s most memorable outsiders, Lopez’s story is set against that of the ultimate insider, Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium, who reluctantly accepts the highest office of state, becoming “the greatest man in the greatest country in the world.” The Prime Minister is the fifth in Trollope’s six-volume Palliser series and a wonderfully subtle portrait of a marriage, political expediency, and misplaced love.

AudioFile Magazione Review:
This substantial text is the fifth in what is known as Trollope’s Palliser Novels, but one needn’t wait to enjoy THE PRIME MINISTER for it doesn’t require an understanding of the earlier installments. Initially, this audiobook may intimidate the listener with its lengthy sentences and majestically voiced narrator. However, before long, the listener will be immersed in all the elements of good storytelling, especially Simon Vance’s superior narration. Vance’s performance underscores this timeless study of human nature with its interwoven subplots, social commentary, political intrigue, and well-developed characters. There are subtle notes of humor and irony as well. Vance’s character distinctions are nuanced and effective, much like Trollope’s prose style. L.B.F.AF logo

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Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The sequel to Hilary Mantel’s 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn.

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne’s head?

AudioFile Magazine Review:
This second volume in Hilary Mantel’s planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, right-hand man to Henry VIII of England, is a perfect marriage of the written and spoken word. As her awards and wide readership attest, Mantel writes wonderfully. She also writes long. Thus, we hail Simon Vance, whose silken tones and expert pacing keep us engaged throughout. In this volume, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. While we all learned the outcome in high school history class, Mantel still fascinates with Cromwell’s view of the machinations of king and court. Vance enhances the story with instructive vocal portraits of key players and a listenable tempo that keeps us clear and entranced until the end. A.C.S.AW logo

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Dracula by Bram Stoker (Multivoice)

Because of the widespread awareness of the story of the evil Transylvanian count and the success of numerous film adaptations that have been created over the years, the modern audience hasn’t had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker’s original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we’ve tried something different. By returning to Stoker’s original storytelling structure – a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters – with an all-star cast of narrators, we’ve sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
This production of Dracula is presented by what is possibly the best assemblage of narrating talent ever for one audiobook: Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry plus an all-star cast of Audie award-winners Simon Vance (The Millenium Trilogy), Katherine Kellgren (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Susan Duerden (The Tiger’s Wife), John Lee (Supergods) and customer favorites Graeme Malcolm (Skippy Dies), Steven Crossley (The Oxford Time Travel series), Simon Prebble (The Baroque Cycle), James Adams (Letters to a Young Contrarian), Nicola Barber (The Rose Garden), Victor Villar-Hauser (Fun Inc.), and Marc Vietor (1Q84).

AudioFile Magazine Review:
Followers of the popular vampire literary and film interpretations of recent years might be blasé about another performance of the exquisitely written novel that started it all. But listening to this full-cast performance turns out to be remarkably suspenseful and chilling. The superlative cast lends this powerful production the diversity that is required by the structure of the novel, which includes journal entries and letters. Each actor employs various accents, infusing into the characters vibrant emphasis, urgency, and dread. The famed vampire Count Dracula leaves a swath of exsanguinated bodies in his wake as he attempts to relocate from Transylvania to England in 1897, stalked by the brave Van Helsing. A.W.

This book received 2 Audie 2013 nominations and won in both:AW logoAW logo

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