Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, April 15 Edition

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

Run, Hide, Fight Back by April Henry; Narrated by Amy McFadden
Tantor Audio
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
ISBN: 978-1977306616
Shooting breaks out in an Oregon mall, and amid the death of many, 6 teens manage to hide in a storage room behind a fashion store.  As others in the mall are killed or taken hostage, the teens need to choose, do they run? hide? fight back? As we learn about each teen’s background story, including addiction, racism, loss, and illness, they come together as a group to survive this deadly nightmare.

This suspenseful novel has the listener anticipating the fate of the teens, and others in the story.  Rather than a straight forward shooting survival story, there is a great twist behind the terrorist act. Amy McFadden’s narration, including great differentiation when voicing police communications make this a truly exciting listen.

Readers who enjoy Henry’s other suspense and mystery novels will not be disappointed in Run, Hide, Fight Back. Those that like stories about teens coming together to survive terrible odds such as When We Were Lost by Kevin Wignall will find similar themes here.

-Cathy Outten

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia; Narrated by Amir Abdullah
Rick Riordan Presents/ Listening Library
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
ISBN: 978-0593167236 

Shortly after his best friend Eddie’s death, and losing a boxing match that has his family pressuring him about, Tristan Strong is sent to live with his grandparents on their farm in Alabama for the summer. He has taken with him Eddie’s journal, which is full of stories of African-American folk heroes like John Henry and Brer Rabbit.

His first night there, a talking doll named Gum Baby steals the journal from him. Tristan chases him to the mystical bottle tree and in the fight to get it back, Tristan somehow tears hole between the farm and the mythological lands of Alke. In Alke, he meets up with a variety of folk heroes, and realizes that he is responsible for unleashing an evil spirit, and to make things right, he and his new friends need to find the missing trickster god Anansi.

Abdullah’s narration, and his ability to bring distinction to a variety of characters, is on par with Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter series, which adds to the richly drawn world Mbalia has created. Mbalia has infused the book with such incredible humor, and Abdullah perfectly lands all the jokes. Listeners will find it hard not to fall in love with many of the characters, especially the hilarious Gum Baby. 

This is an easy handsell to any Rick Riordan fan or other titles from Rick Riordan Presents. Those that enjoy retellings from folklore, fairytale, and mythology such as Nafiza Azad’s The Candle and the Flame, Julie Berry’s Lovely War, Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn, Julie C. Dao’s Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, and many of Shannon Hale’s retold stories will find a lot of listening pleasure here. A great follow up for older teens would be Lenny Henry’s brilliant narration of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. 

Danielle Jones