Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2020) Nominees Round Up, July 25 Edition

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

The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina; Narrated by Miranda Tapsell
Listening Library / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
ISBN: 978-1984884398 

A car accident may have killed Beth Teller, but her spirit lingers to help her detective father cope with the overwhelming grief of her loss.  When a small-town arson case meant merely to distract him leads both of the Tellers to interview a prophetic witness, Isobel Catching, life and death connections are formed.  Catching can see Beth, too, and from her hospital bed Catching spins for the Tellers a convoluted tale of grayness, shimmering beasts, indescribable pain, and The Other Place.  Meanwhile, bodies continue to collect around town as Catching’s poems intensify.  Can the Tellers see the horrifying truth of the case unfolding before them before anyone else gets hurt?  Told in alternating perspectives, Beth through prose and Catching in verse, this gripping thriller by Aboriginal siblings shines a light on cultural bias and trauma while affirming the indomitable spirit of young women.

A taut psychological thriller with supernatural elements, this compelling story brims with intensity despite its mere four-and-a-half-hour unabridged production length.  Miranda Tapsell’s subtle — yet distinctive — affect shifts successfully guide the listener between the teen protagonists, lending an innocence and an edge to Beth and Catching, respectively.  Tapsell manages to be at once quiet, transportive, and suspenseful, a difficult balance to strike in narration.

Readers who enjoyed The Marrow Thieves should connect with the Kwaymullinas’ sharp examination of Indigenous issues and the way in which they shine a light on the destructive legacy of colonialism.  Beth’s narration from beyond the grave may remind older readers of The Lovely Bones or Shallow Graves.  Fans of Sadie, We Were Liars, and Allegedly surely will appreciate this book’s strong female characters and its somewhat labyrinthine plot development.

This discreet and suspenseful novel begs to be consumed in one sitting, but prepare yourself for the final pages — they pack an unnerving punch that lasts far beyond the book.

–Kit Ballenger


Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali, narrated by S. K. Ali, Priya Ayyar, Tim Chiou
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1508295396 

After getting suspended for speaking out against her Isomaophibic teacher, hijabi high school senior, Zayneb, is sent to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, to start her spring break early. On the plane ride over she crosses paths with Adam, a college student who after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis has stopped attending classes, and is returning to Doha to visit his father and little sister. Their paths continue to cross as the Doha spring break continues, and feelings and a connection blossom.

Set up as journal entries alternating between the characters, the Priya Ayyar and Tim Chiou’s narration brings the characters full-frontal, and as their paths continue to cross in hopes of a happy ending. S.K. Ali’s narration of the few chapters that come from an omniscient narrator brings her as author into the listening experience.

This elevated romance will hit you in the feels with both its swoony moments and emotional trials like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and authors like Deb Caletti and Jordan Sonnenblick, and will appeal to fans of both book and movie fans of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, and Love, Simon by Becky Albertalli. Strong character development and focus of family will appeal to fans of You Bring the Distance Near by Mitali Perkins and the Dairy Queen series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Folks hungry for travel after Crazy Rich Asians will enjoy the depictions of Doha, and with its underlying social justice theme, fans of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Dear Martin by Nic Stone will appreciate Zayneb’s fight against Islamophobia at her school.

–Danielle Jones