STAFF PICK: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Post by Miranda Winters-Sayle

Title: Tin Man
Author: Sarah Winman
Narrator: Sarah Winman

The first thing I noticed when I began Tin Man was the beautiful prose. The author, Sarah Winman, gives detailed descriptions of everything in her novel. By the time I finished the book, I could easily visualize every character, place, and object of importance in my mind’s eye. Every character felt real, as though I could easily have passed them in the street. This aspect is especially important for a novel like Tin Man, which introduces itself as a romance but turns out to be more of a character study of two men who found love.

Tin Man allows us to get inside the heads of Ellis and Michael who befriended one another in their teen years and quickly developed their relationship into something more. However, we discover at the beginning of the novel that Ellis married a woman named Annie, and Michael doesn’t seem to be in the picture. The rest of the novel is unravelling the threads to their story. What happened as they grew from young boys to men?

I wish I could say more, but this story greatly relies on mystery. When I began, I had nothing but questions.

Reading tin man was almost like putting together a puzzle — you slowly build towards answers, but nothing makes complete sense until you get to the heart of it.

Winman does a fantastic job of making sure to answer every question. Her reveals are surprising, and sometimes heartbreaking.

Tin Man relies on memory to tell the story. Time is not linear through the novel, as we begin in the present day and work our way backwards. Winman’s beautiful writing executes this perfectly: there is never any confusion over whether you are reading the past or present.

It was a real treat to have Sarah Winman narrating her own title. Having a female read a novel in which both protagonists are male can sometimes be jarring, but Sarah encapsulated the tones in which Ellis and Michael would speak. I think this is something special that only an author narrating their book can accomplish.

Tin Man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more and sample the audio.

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STAFF PICK: The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

The Language of Kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: The Language of Kindness: One Nurse’s Story
Author: Christie Watson
Narrator: Christie Watson

 

When both of my grandmothers were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was warned that their declining memories would mean that they could confuse the past with the present. In both cases, they talked about their lives as nurses as though in real time, unearthing stories that were once too intimate to share at family parties and Sunday dinners.

During a recent conversation with my maternal grandmother, she rattled on about what she was cooking for dinner that night and, in nearly the same breath, told me she had to go check on her patient. These memories confirmed what I always knew, and what anyone who loves or is a nurse knows — it is more than a career, but a lifelong passion defined by resilience, kindness, and compassion.

Christie Watson was a nurse for 20 years. In The Language of Kindness, she shares the powerful details of beloved patient relationships, including nursing a premature baby who defied its odds of surviving the night, washing the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire to remove the toxic smell of smoke, and comforting a patient suffering from an excruciating heart-lung transplant.

Like all nurses, Christie is there during some of our most vulnerable moments. The Language of Kindness is made even more compelling as Christie narrates it herself. Her steady and assured tone, even when narrating the most emotional parts of the audiobook, demonstrates her ability to remain calm under stormy circumstances, a trait she shares with my grandmothers.

I’m grateful to Christie for both her dedicated career and for giving me the perfect gift to give the nurses in my life. For too long, the only books for people in the medical field have been for doctors. This audiobook is easy to understand even if you haven’t taken Nursing 101, and will give listeners a new appreciation for one of the toughest and most overlooked professions.

Sample the audio and get the whole story.

New to Audiobooks.com? Get a free audiobook when you sign up for our one month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobook!

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STAFF PICK: Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Title: Speak No Evil
Author: Uzodinma Iweala
Narrators: 
 Prentice Onayemi and Julia Whelan 

Speak No Evil is a new release from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation. Protagonist Niru is a successful student. He received early acceptance to Harvard, is a star track athlete, and is gay. The last bit was a secret, but when it’s accidentally revealed to his conservative Nigerian father, Niru’s life turns upside down.

As this plays out, there is friction with his best friend. Niru tries to cope with the World’s expectations and his conflicting desires without the support of the one person he’s always had by his side. The book brims with confusion and pain. He juggles his father’s shame, his pastor’s preaching, and his personal desires. When he begins to find happiness, his family’s words resonate in his head and he distances himself. His torment piles onto the pressure of high school, and despite Niru’s conscientious attitude, it gets to be too much.

The narrators are excellent. I’ve listened to and enjoyed Prentice Onayemi‘s narration before, and his performance here does not disappoint. The transition between American and Nigerian accents is smooth and clear, and he amplifies the story’s emotion. When the perspective changes and Julia Whelan takes over, the emotion is not lost. 

Uzodinma Iweala brings hard topics front of mind, and left me feeling somber but thoughtful. The writing is elegant and despite the difficult subject matter, I rushed through it. Have you read it? Share your thoughts!

Speak No Evil

 

 

Read more and sample the audio here!

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STAFF PICK DEAL: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Oh my goodness, this is an absolute treasure of a book. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss tells the story of monstrous women: characters from classic literature who were barely considered noteworthy, infused with lives and voices all their own. While the respectable Mary Jekyll and the untameable Diana Hyde begrudgingly explore what it means to have a sister so unlike yourself, they are joined by Catherine, the unlucky creation of Doctor Moreau; Justine, the would-be bride of Frankenstein’s monster; and Beatrice, the tragic daughter of the botanist Rappaccini. The women adventure throughout Victorian London with varying degrees of enthusiasm, trying to unravel the mystery of a secret society of alchemists that seems to hold the answers to each of their respective origins.

The book is narrated with all five distinct voices telling the same story, often interrupting themselves and each other in the margins to let us know exactly how vexing the process is. Goss manages to weave this together with a simple elegance that masks how ambitious and nuanced the writing style truly is. They bicker as fiercely as they support each other, in a way that feels purely human and heartwarming.

These “monstrous” women, all by-products of men with too much power and too little humanity, are brought together by the need for answers about their origins, and stay together with the bond of chosen family. With them, we walk through familiar male-dominated worlds of classic sci fi and horror, reanimated by the vibrancy, agency, and aspirations of these five beautifully well-rounded, engrossing characters who have finally been given the space to flourish.

And, until February 11th, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is on sale! You can get this book in a BOGO with Himself–another charming, quirky mystery that draws inspiration from classic folklore. Jump on the deal here, under “Inspired Fiction”!

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STAFF PICK: Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright

Title: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Author: Jennifer Wright
Narrator: Gabra Zackman

Disease isn’t funny. But this book made me laugh. If you listen to Get Well Soon, you’ll understand. Jennifer Wright takes us on a journey through some of history’s worst plagues, descriptively noting their symptoms, causes and cures, but more importantly noting the reaction of society and of medical professionals.

She talks about pustules and lobotomies, of death and corpses. She talks about cultures that created an atmosphere conducive to healing as well as those that made the situation far worse. She draws parallels to modern society and hints at ways we’re susceptible if another plague was afoot. That doesn’t sound amusing at all, but the ridiculousness of “cures” and “expert opinions” truly are. Wright’s matter-of-fact tone, laced with dark humor, makes it all the better. Some of the images conjured by her explanations really made me laugh aloud on my drive. Here’s one such excerpt :

‘The dancing plague of 1347 was supposedly halted by a priest holding open the mouth of each suffering person and shouting into their mouths, “praise the true God, praise the Holy Ghost, get thee hence, thou damned and foredoomed spirit.” (When your boss suggests you try new ideas and think outside the box, you could consider yelling into your coworkers mouths.)’

My entertainment was amplified by Gabra Zackman’s narration, which was both straightforward and sassy, breathing extra hilarity into the remedies of yore. Her voice is steady and very enjoyable, even when I sped her up to 1.25x.

We learn history so we don’t repeat its mistakes. This audiobook lends a hand toward that goal, describing how societal reactions to disease have not grown much since the 1600’s, despite medicine’s leaps and bounds. It will benefit any listener by spreading awareness of what helps and what harms. Even if you have a firm grasp of plague best-practices, this book will lend perspective from history. I promise it’s worth it if just for the laughs… but maybe don’t listen during lunch.

Get Well Soon Audiobook Cover

 

Listen to a sample (and then the full title) here: Get Well Soon

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STAFF PICK: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, Bahni Turpin, and Octavia Spencer

Hey audiobook lovers! I must share my latest listen with you all. I just finished The Help, which I finally downloaded thanks to my sister’s recommendation. It had been idling on my wishlist before that nudge I needed to start. The novel follows three ladies in Mississippi during the 1960’s as they embark on a risky plan to have the voices of colored maids heard. The book is set during the time of segregation in the US, and we are reminded of how much progress has been made, as well as how much has stayed stagnant. Secrets and motivations of the characters are revealed as the book unravels and it truly was hard to stop listening. I loved the three main characters; they were well developed and layered with wit, sass and smarts. 

I loved it even more as an audiobook. The narrators portray each character’s accent, background and personality to a tee. Minny, my favorite character is bold and hot-headed, and her volatile, no-nonsense attitude spills through your ears. This contrasts Aibileen, the other maid in the tale who makes decisions with level-headed calculation. The third main character, Skeeter, is a white lady from the town who uses what advantages and smarts she has to give a voice to the other ladies. Whether you’re determined with Aibileen or tense and worked-up with Minny, the narrators keep you submerged in the story. By the end of the book I was sad to see them go, but very satisfied by a good listen.

The Help is similarly adored by our listeners, with 4.5 stars for the story and a 5-star narration. If you’ve been looking for a new story to dive into, please give this one a listen and let me know what you think!

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