So audio! My favorite topic. Finding my favorites can be a tricky thing, because it has to be a great story, but the narrator also has to nail it. Failure on either end will result in something unsatisfying. Yes, a phenomenal narrator can make an average book good, but to be a five star favorite, everything has to work perfectly.
I had no issues finding a few of these. In fact, to assuage my guilty heart, I have a few at the end that ALMOST made the list. So here we are, in no particular order:
11/22/63 - Stephen King: Uncle Stevie is an audio addict, so I never worry that his books are going to be narrating by some goober. But the brilliance of the voice of Craig Wasson, combined with an amazing story of time travel and love and death, with Uncle Stevie behind the wheel doing his story-telling best? By far, this book would be on my top 10 books EVAH. I even wept at the end.
Broken Harbor - Tana French: There are two givens in this world, complementary of Ms. French. First, that she will always give us smart, literary thrillers with tangible, electric characterization. And two, that her narrators will rock our world with their gorgeous little Irish accents. She doesn't disappoint with this one. Stephen Hogan, our narrator, had me riveted from the first word to the last.
Every Last One - Anna Quindlen: I'm a little embarrassed to admit that this was my first Anna Quindlen book, but it certain won't be the last. I'd heard all about how this story pulls the rug out from under your feet, and does it ever! I was shocked to the point of nausea, but the silky smooth voice of Hope Davis (who also expertly narrated "State of Wonder") made this one of the easiest but emotional reads in a long time.
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green: Another first, if you can believe it, even though I think I've got most of his books sitting around the house. I initially was tentative to listen to it because, do I REALLY want to hear about kids dying of cancer? But it was so much more than that. It was heartwarming and clever and it left me with a residual of hope and love, the narrator Kate Rudd completely embodying these young people. I will eventually read all of Green's books, but I can't help but imagine this one will always be special to me.
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton: This one slipped right under the wire at the end of the year! I'd been waiting years for my library to get this book on audio, and was so excited when they finally did. And it delivered everything I've come to expect of Morton...a gothic, twisted, multi-generational story of secrets and tragedy. While her other books felt like they needed a hundred pages edited from the story, this one needed every glorious word, all spoken by Caroline Lee, who narrates all the Morton books. Definitely my favorite Morton so far.
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty - Joshilyn Jackson: I'm not sure what more I could say about Joshilyn Jackson that I haven't already said, like, a hundred times. She writes the best Southern women's fiction. Gritty stuff, not this poofy flowery mint julepy stuff. Laugh to keep from crying stuff. And this little treasure measures right up there with "Gods in Alabama". Dire topics with humor that only Jackson can deliver...AND NARRATE HERSELF. If you haven't read her yet, you must. Read this one, and do it on audio. Now. You will thank me later.
Runners up (because I have a guilty Catholic heart):
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh (narrated by Tara Sands)
The Invisible Ones - Stef Penney (narrated by Dan Stevens)
The Chaperone - Laura Moriarty (narrated by Elizabeth McGovern)
Heft - Liz Moore (narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Keith Szarabajka)
Perfect - Ellen Hopkins (narrated by Aya Cash, Heather Lind, Aaron Tvelt, Tristan Wilds)
Well folks, that is it for 2012. I am signing off now until some future time in 2013. I'm going to take some time off, get caught up, and come back rejuvenated. I may still post on Sundays...we will see. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Years!!!