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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, July 29 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Burn cover art

Burn by Patrick Ness; narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
HarperAudio
Release date: 06-02-20
ISBN: 978-1094167534

In 1950’s rural Washington state, mixed race Sarah’s father hires a dragon as a last ditch attempt to save their farm.  Meanwhile she doesn’t realize she is the coming end of an ancient dragon prophecy.  Meanwhile a boy trained to be her assassin is on his way, and the local policeman has his cruel eye on her and her Japanese boyfriend.

In the same style of other books by Ness, this book features people of different ethnicities, differently abled and LGBTQ+ characters and in this case a lovable wise dragon as well. With wild situations, dragons, and more he still spotlights societal issues of discrimination and abuse of power, of racism, homophobia, LGBTQ+ self discovery and police overreach/brutality.  Plus a terrifying set up for a sequel.

Readers of Ness’s other books will find elements from all of them in Burn.  Give it to dragon fans, readers of Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston and the Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman. Those looking for YA fantasy with a quirky edge and unexpected turns of plot, without an overarching hero/ine romance storyline but rather a collection of intriguing characters and situations will find that here. 

-Cathy Outten

How to build a heart cover art

How To Build A Heart by Maria Padian; narrated by Almarie Guerra
Recorded Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
ISBN:   978-1616208493

Sixteen year old Izzy Crawford wants to feel that she belongs somewhere. Izzy’s family has moved to a new town every year since her father, a marine veteran, died six years ago.

When Izzy’s mother moves the family to Virginia, the future begins to look brighter. Izzy likes her new school. She has even made friends and has a boyfriend, carefully hiding that she is a scholarship student. Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a new home. Izzy finally feels that she is beginning to belong, until her carefully held secrets begin to surface. How to Build a Heart is an outstanding coming of age story combined with romance.

The narrator’s performance makes it hard to believe that all characters are narrated by one person. Almarie Guerra does a fantastic job of giving each character a unique and distinct voice. Teens will identify with Izzy as she navigates through her relationships and attempts to face her problems. 

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway addresses similar issues focusing on belonging and finding your place in the world.

Beth Slade

One of Us is Next: The Sequel to One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus; narrated by: Maria Liatis, Holly Linneman, Fred Berman, and Karissa Vacker 
Listening Library
Release date: 01-07-20
ISBN: 978-0525707967

Taking place 18 months after the end of One of Us is Lying, a dangerous game is happening, this time via text. Students are being challenged to Truth or Dare and as secrets are revealed, they are learning to always take the dare.  While some characters from the earlier book do appear in bit roles here, this is a new group of Bayview students being tortured by a new harrowing game that is threatening to hurt or even kill students.

Read by a cast of narrators from the points of view of several different characters, the intensity of the story and the toll the fear takes on the kids is brought to life.  A highly suspenseful novel, similar to the first book, fans will not be disappointed.

Readers of suspense like McManus’s other books, will like this. Other similarly suspenseful titles include Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarzand and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. For a similar book where a game goes too far, look at All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban.

-Cathy Outten