The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz; narrated by Bahni TurpinWhat happens: Billie James has just inherited a ramshackle home in the Mississippi Delta from her father, a respected (if underrated) African American poet who died when she was four. When she visits, she learns of the mysteries surrounding the night of his death.
Narration: Bahni Turpin's curious tone, delivered in a well-rendered Southern accent, embodies Billie's growing unease.
Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg; narrated by Andi ArndtWhat it is: the intricately plotted story of a young woman who unknowingly steps into a complex web of political power and shifting allegiances after taking a job that seems too good to be true.
Narration: Andi Arndt's halting narration escalates the tension in this menacing thriller.
Naturally Tan by Tan France; narrated by Tan FranceWhat it is: a witty memoir from Queer Eye fashion expert Tan France that tackles topics both affecting (the racist bullying he endured as a Pakistani Muslim teen in England) and amusing (his penchant for no-nonsense sartorial advice).
Narration: France's earnest, well-paced narration will resonate with listeners who enjoy candid coming-of-age stories.
The Shallows by Matt Goldman; narrated by MacLeod AndrewsWhat it's about: When a prominent lawyer is found dead in a pond with a fishing stringer hooked in his mouth, multiple people (the man's wife, her lover, and the cops) want Minneapolis PI Nils Shapiro's help.
Narration: Having narrated all three books in the Nils Shapiro series, MacLeod Andrews offers a lived-in performance of this twisty mystery's jaded protagonist.
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali; narrated by Mozhan MarnòWhat it's about: In 1953 Tehran, aspiring poet Roya Kayhani and political activist Bahman Aslan meet at a stationery shop and fall in love. But before they can wed, Bahman disappears during a CIA-instigated coup d'état. 50 years later, Roya is unexpectedly reunited with Bahman in Boston, who reveals what happened.
Narration: Mozhan Marnò imbues this AudioFile Earphones Award Winner with a steady cadence that underscores Roya's complicated feelings for Bahman.
Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us by Ruth Kassinger; narrated by Xe SandsWhat it's about: the 3.7 billion-year history of algae, "Earth's authentic alchemists" -- powered by sunlight and water, these organisms play a vital role in turning carbon dioxide into organic matter.
Narration: Xe Sands enriches her engaged reading with a playful tone.
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian; narrated by Lauren Ambrose, Michael Crouch, and Vikas AdamThe characters: talented fashion designer Judy; her best friend Art, the only out gay student at their high school; and new student Reza, who’s petrified by the idea of coming out; all living in 1989 New York City in the midst of the AIDS crisis.
Narration: Told in alternating chapters, this young adult novel features a trio of narrators who vividly convey the friends' search for belonging.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal; narrated by Judith IveyFeaturing: sisters Helen and Edith, who haven't spoken since an inheritance came between them, and Edith's granddaughter Diana, who brings them back together.
Narration: Judith Ivey's folksy delivery and authentic character accents capture the complicated dynamics of this heartfelt multigenerational novel.
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull; narrated by Janina Edwards and Ron ButlerWhat happens: The alien Ynaa occupy St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, causing tension between the newcomers and the locals.
Narration: Janina Edwards and Ron Butler evocatively alternate between Caribbean accents for the islanders and hushed voices for the Ynaa.
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