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In the stacks: New audiobooks

Posted: November 3, 2011 - 12:04am

We’re rolling out a new format for audiobooks this week: now, in addition to books on cassette and CD (and, of course, in downloadable formats) you’ll be seeing mp3 disks on the shelves. These are specially-formatted disks that most newer CD players and computers can read, but older ones can’t. The big advantage to mp3 audiobooks is that generally, one or two disks can hold an entire audiobook. This means space on our shelves for more titles. Our current collection nearly mirrors the titles in our other formats, but there are some unique books, too. Look for bestsellers by Alexander McCall Smith, Ann Patchett, and Jodi Picoult, as well as the titles below.

Pirate King, by Laurie R. King, read by Jenny Sterlin. This is one of the few titles that doesn’t duplicate an existing audiobook (though we do own the book). The latest in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series finds Mary going undercover to investigate illegal activities on a film set of The Pirates of Penzance. Aside from a few budding romances, it’s smooth going at first as she chaperones the film’s thirteen actresses around Lisbon , but once the crew sails for Morocco, the tension and terror build. For one thing, there are the real-life pirates who have been hired to provide authenticity, but who are now ignoring the director and answering only to their leader. For another, she’s sure there is a spy aboard, and Holmes is nowhere to be found.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell, read by Jonathan Aris and Paula Wilcox. Hailed as one of the best historical novels in years, and likened to War and Peace, this takes place largely on a Dutch trading post set on a manmade island in Japan’s Nagasaki harbor. It is 1799, and Jacob de Zoet is part of a small army of Dutch Indies officials charged with cleaning up the corruption that has taken root in the company. Jacob’s dream is to make his fortune quickly and return home to his waiting fiancé, but then he meets Orito Aibagawa, a Japanese midwife living on the island while being trained in Western medicine. Slow to start, this picks up speed and becomes utterly absorbing as it moves from the insular culture of Japan to the even more circumscribed life on the island.

Khan: Empire of silver, by Conn Iggulden, read by Richard Ferrone. Opening after the death of Genghis, this follows his son and successor, Ogedai, who seems more interested in building a monument than in maintaining and extending his father’s empire. Ogedai narrowly escapes a coup by his brother Chagatai just before he is made khan, and knows many disapprove when he forgives Chagatai and gives him a khanate in the west. But Ogedai knows something no one else does: he is dying – in fact, he is surprised he is still alive - and Chagatai is the only brother strong enough to succeed him. Neither brother fully trusts the other, though, and each has made plans and hidden heirs from the other. Full of political intrigue, brutal battles, and fantastic characterizations, the intricacies make it worth it to start from the beginning (Genghis: lords of the bow).

The Aloha Quilt, by Jennifer Chiaverini, read by Christina Moore. With her quilting shop going out of business, her marriage ending, and winter setting in, Bonnie Markham is looking at a bleak upcoming season. But a plea for help from her friend Claire turns things around: Claire is opening a retreat for quilters at a bed-and-breakfast in Hawaii and needs Bonnie’s help. And Hawaii, Bonnie finds, is just what she needs to get a little perspective on her life, her soon-to-be ex-husband, and her art. With help from Claire’s Hawaiian assistant, Midori, she learns the art of Hawaiian-style quilts. And with Midori’s nephew, Hinano, she discovers the history and culture of the Islands. When the time comes, will Claire go home to Elm Creek or will she have made a place for herself in Hawaii?

•••

Join us at 1 p.m. Saturday, at the downtown library to welcome Ernestine Hayes and Wanda Culp, and to listen to their book, “The Story of the Town Bear and the Forest Bear/Aanka Xoodzi Ka Aasgutu Xoodzi Shkalneegi” read in Tlingit by reader Marsha Hotch and in English. Stay after the reading for discussion.

Also Saturday is the NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month) Kick-off party and orientation – come to the Downtown Library at 3 p.m. with questions and enthusiasm.

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