Best Audiobooks of 2015

At ListenUp Audiobooks, we publish, produce, and distribute audiobooks. For the ones we publish, we are involved in every step of the process – we select the narrator, we record the story, listen to the whole thing while reading along to find any mistakes, fix any problems through re-recording and editing, master the files, and upload it to distribution servers.

We’re also hired by publishers and authors for any of those steps – sometimes we do it all, sometimes we just listen for mistakes and edit. Because of this relationship, our narrators, engineers, editors, quality control technicians, and mastering professionals get to read and listen to amazing books, some of which have been overlooked.

Here are, in no particular order, our favorite books of the year.

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The Passion of Marie Romanov: A Tale of Anastasia’s Sister, by Laura Rose, narrated by Lillian Webb & Travis Smith

The Man From Muscle Shoals: My Journey From Shame to Fame, by Rick Hall, narrated by Rick Hall & Jeremy Arthur

It was surprising to hear some of the heartache, loss, and personal struggles these men endured, while still managing to bring beautiful, memorable songs to our record collections. – Chris, editor

The Only Ones, by Carola Dibbell, narrated by Sasha Dunbrooke

Mine is obvious. The Only Ones. Because it was a natural story for me to tell, to become. I loved my character. So much. – Sasha, narrator.

Bitter Blood, Blood GamesBefore He Wakes, and Death Sentence – all by Jerry Bledsoe, narrated by Kevin Stillwell

Those were all good. Kevin gave great nonfiction performances on all of them. I became seriously immersed in the craziness of the true story murder mysteries. Especially since all occurred in semi-rural southern towns. – Delia, QC

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Bury Me, by Tara Sivec, narrated by Stephanie Willis

Stephanie Willis was the narrator and she KILLED it. It was so creepy and intense. Great thriller! – Kristin, director

Those Girlsby Lauren Saft, narrated by Analysa Gregory, Casey Holloway, and Amy Talmadge.

It was pretty raw and even uncomfortable at times, while still having moments of humor. It’d be a great “beach read” or “guilty pleasure” book. – Amy, narrator
Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu, narrated by Kevin T. Collins
Unbreakable, by Thom Shea, narrated by Brian Troxell

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A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, narrated by Oliver Wyman

The Anatomy of a Calling: A Doctor’s Journey from the Head to the Heart and a Prescription for Finding Your Life’s Purpose, by Lissa Rankin, M.D., narrated by Erin Moon.

Buddy Boys: When Good Cops Turn Bad, by Mike McAlary, narrated by Dan Triandiflou

Buddy Boys was a great title I worked on with Dan, great story about good cops turned bad and an inner look into a crooked cops world! Plus it’s based on a true story on NYPD. – Jacob, editor.

Bull Mountain, by Brian Panowich, narrated by Brian Troxell

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The Words We Live By, by Linda R. Monk, narrated by Marianne Fraulo

I really enjoyed working on Words We Live By — a study of the U.S. Constitution and the ensuing legislation that has shaped our society.  It was a joyous challenge to make the legal language come alive and to inspire readers –particularly, I hope, young readers and new immigrants — as they learn about the Constitution as a living document whose provisions have been argued, interpreted and illuminated by debate in the public arena, and which has reflected the growth of our republic’s commitment to civil liberties. – Marianne, narrator

Taking a Stand, by Rand Paul, narrated by Brian Troxell

The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America, by D. Watkins, narrated by Brandon Rubin

The Dead Saintby Marilyn Brown Oden, narrated by Cassandra Livingston

Compelling story, good characters, it was an utter [bear] to research, but I respect that. – Cassandra, narrator

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Destroyer, by Brett Battles, narrated by Vikas Adam – will be released January 12.

I’d have to say, one that sticks out as fresh in my mind is the book Destroyer. Wow! Very riveting. Once it got going, it had me on the edge of my seat to the very end. It’s a time traveler science fiction thriller. The main character is ripped repeatedly through different historical events of the past, (WW2, WW1, the Civil War, ect.) in a desperate attempt to preserve our timeline, all why his nemesis aims muck it all up. Very thrilling. Very Entertaining. – Thomas, editor

From Russia Without Love, by Stephen Templin, narrated by Brian Troxell

The Head, The Heart, and the Home, by Kaitlyn Wylde, narrated by Barbara Benjamin-Creeel

I think I most enjoyed working on The Head, The Heart, and The Home by Kaitlyn Wylde. She has a beautiful way with words – and, that’s all really. – Barbara, narrator

The Lotus Crew, by Stewart Meyer, narrated by Fleet Cooper

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Space Chronicles, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, narrated by Mirron Willis

Very interesting and informative book, written by a smart/bright man, and about things that matter.  I’ve learned quite a bit working on this.  It made me think… Still does. – Gregory, editor

No Mardi Gras for the Dead, by D.J. Donaldson, narrated by Brian Troxell

Petty: The Biography, written and by Warren Zanes

Renegade, by Joel Shepherd, narrated by John Lee

Renegade was my favorite book I worked on this year. It was lengthy, well written, great characters, SciFi with action, memorable plot that wasn’t predictable. – Philip, QC

What were your favorite audiobooks of the past year?

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Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop

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We are participating in the Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop, hosted by Hot Listens, Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog, and The Book Nympho.

Here are our Top 5 Audiobooks of 2014, in no particular order.

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Kinda Like Brothers is our favorite middle grade audiobook of 2014. We loved Coe Booth’s authentic characters and found her story real and relevant. John Clarence Stewart’s narration was perfect and we can’t wait to hear more from him.


Call Me Grim ACXCall Me Grim was our favorite young adult audiobook of 2014. Libbi was likable and reasonable, and she won our hearts with her quick wit. Kelly Collins Lintz narrated Elizabeth Holloway’s novel and was just the right voice for this story. We are looking forward to the sequel, out in the fall.


Funny Story-coverFunny Story: the Incomplete Works of Topher Payne is a ListenUp Original and was intended only for audio. Each story in this collection was made to be heard and it shows. The stories range from laugh-out-loud funny to heartbreaking and each narrator captures the essence of his or her story beautifully.


Picketts_Charge_ACXPickett’s Charge is one of those incredible Southern novels that stays with you long after you’ve finished it. Charles McNair’s main character, 114-year-old Threadgill Pickett breaks out of an Alabama old folk’s home on a quest and we loved listening to his adventure. Jeremy Arthur’s narration is flawless.


PrintWe’re not sure exactly how to categorize Nine Kinds of Naked, but trust us, it’s a good one. Tony Vigorito explores chaos theory and the butterfly effect through interconnected stories spread over the centuries. It’s an absurd masterpiece and Kristin Kalbli excels at bringing the stories to life.


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For your chance to win 3 audiobooks of your choice, Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

We are so excited to see what everyone else chooses as their favorite audiobooks of 2014. Click the button below to see other participants’ choices!

Best of 2014: Narrators’ Choice – Non-Fiction

 Our amazing narrators intimately know the books they read, so we trust their recommendations for which ones are the best. Today, we are highlighting our narrators’ favorite non-fiction titles of 2014. Check out their suggestions below and let us know your favorite non-fiction book of 2014.

“What I love about working on non-fiction is how much I discover about the subject in the process of research and narration. This book, about how women can find productive ways to work together and empower each other, moved me greatly. I’ve recommended it to all of my friends.” – Narrator Elisa Carlson on Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together, by Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas.

  

The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the Middle East, by Marc Lynch, narrated by Nick Edwards.

The Accidental Super Power:  The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder, by Peter Zeihan, narrated by Peter Zeihan.

Over Our Dead Bodies: Undertakers Lift the Lid, by Kenneth McKenzie and Todd Harra, narrated by Gregory St. John, Brian Troxell, and Reay Kaplan.

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall was my favorite book. It also received a Golden Earphones Award from Audiofile Magazine in June.” narrator Cynthia Barrett on her favorite book of the year.

  

A Voice From Old New York, by Louis Auchingloss, narrated by Gregory St. John.

Factory Man, by Beth Macy and Charity & Sylvia, by Rachel Hope Cleves, both narrated by Kristin Kalbli.

“I really enjoyed working on Plunder of the Ancients, the most recent book I read. I got to talk to the author, learned so  much about native American culture.” – narrator Susan Larkin on her favorite book of the year, by Lucinda Delaney Schroeder.

  

Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found, narrated by Reay Kaplan.

Coach, edited by Andrew Blauner, narrated by Robin Bloodworth, Brian Troxell, Marianne Fraulo, & Susan Larkin

The Rogue’s Road to Retirement, by George S. Rider, narrated by Allan Robertson. (To be released January 6, 2015).

Best Audiobooks of 2014: Narrators’ Choice – Fiction

We asked our narrators which books, of those they recorded this year, were their favorites. Narrators spend a lot of time getting to know a book’s storylines, characters, and nuances and we trust their recommendations. Check out some of the stories our narrators loved that you may have missed in 2014!

Today, we’re looking at our favorite fiction of 2014. Check back for our narrators’ non-fiction picks tomorrow!

“Well, I love me some Topher Payne and having the opportunity to record “Groom’s Cake” may just be the highlight of my career. The people Topher creates or shares in his plays and stories are so…um…colorful, you can’t not believe they’re real because your relatives are just like them – or you wish they were.” – Narrator Jo Howarth on Topher Payne’s Funny Story: The Incomplete Works of Topher Payne.

   

Butterflies in November, by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, narrated by Angéle Masters.

The Free, by Brian Ruckley, and High Midnight, by Rob Mosca – both narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark.

Angels Make Their Hope Here, by Breena Clarke, narrated by Love Carter.

“When my engineer asked me, “What’s it about,” my response was – “It’s about absolutely nothing and – at the same time – it’s about everything.” The book is a sort of stream of conscious from the perspective a a 70-year-old woman looking back over her life as the wife of a private school headmaster – a life of privilege she did not originally think would ever be hers. A quiet and deeply moving book, we had to stop recording a couple of times because I teared up. I loved Peter and Ruth dearly.” – Narrator Jo Howarth on The Last First Day, by Carrie Brown.

   

Wading Home: A Novel of New Orleans, by Rosalyn Story, narrated by Brad Sanders.

The Fault Tree, by Louise Ure, narrated by Kara Bartell.

Mr. Tall: A Novella and Stories, by Tony Earley, narrated by Kevin Stillwell and Courtney Patterson

Blood in Snow, by Robert Evert, narrated by Fleet Cooper

“I really loved Courage for Beginners. I could identified with the characters and I think the story is an important one.” – narrator Casey Holloway on her favorite audiobook of 2014 – Courage for Beginners, by Karen Harrington.

“My favorite was Talk, by Michael Smerconish. It’s now being developed into a television sereies by Warner Bros.”. – Narrator James Edward Thomas

   

Whack Job: An Elliot Libson Mystery, by Kendel Lynn, narrated by Rachel Frawley.

In Cuba I was a German Shepherd, by Ana Menéndez, narrated by Maria Rodriguez Saravia.

Pickett’s Charge: A Novel, by Charles McNair, and The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, by Breece D’J Pancake and Andre Dubus III, both narrated by Jeremy Arthur.

“This is a historical fiction about Laura Bridgman, the first deaf, mute, and blind woman who became famous because she learned to communicate. She predated Helen Keller by 50 years and was, in fact, Annie Sullivan’s teacher. Laura Bridgman was – in her day – as famous as Queen Victoria and yet, no one has ever heard of her. Besides a keen and always active brain, Laura’s only remaining in-tact sense was that of touch. Using Laura’s contemporaries’ diaries and papers as well as her own imagination, the author takes us into Laura’s rich and often feisty inner life. I loved living these people as I narrated the book and was very sad to come to the end of their story.” Narrator Jo Howarth also loved What is Visible, by Kimberly Elkins.

Our Favorite Fiction Audiobooks of 2014 (so far!) and Giveaway!

June is Audiobook month and, to celebrate, we are presenting our favorite audiobooks of the year so far AND giving away a free copy of High Midnight, by Rob Mosca! Check out the list below and enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post.

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Our Favorite Fiction:

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Sereis: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, & Imago, narrated by Aldrich Barrett.

The Story: In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is “awakened,” she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction’s finest writers.

Narrator Review: “Her pronunciation of a fictional language was brilliant. She was easy to understand, she did very well with the subtle nuances that indicated a different character was speaking, especially considering how many characters ended up being introduced.”

Michael Smerconish’s Talk, narrated by James Edward Thomas

The story: An explosive novel exposing the inner workings of conservative talk radio and campaign politics from New York Times best-selling author and one of America’s leading talk-radio hosts and political commentators, Michael Smerconish.

Stan Powers finds himself at a crossroads. Poised to take the last step in his unlikely ascent to the top of conservative talk radio, his conscience may not let him. Set amid the backdrop of “the most important presidential election of our lifetime”, Powers – as the most influential voice in Tampa’s hotly contested I-4 Corridor – holds the key to Florida, and therefore the Oval Office. His on-air attacks singlehandedly put an abrupt end to the top candidates’ main competitors in the primaries, and now he is in the singular position to influence who wins the highest elected office in the world. Will he continue playing the game according to his cynical advisors, or listen to his own conscience and drop an even bigger bomb than expected?

With a story that could have been ripped from the headlines, deeply developed characters and interconnected plotlines, and one of the most shocking and rewarding denouements you’ll ever experience, this is the perfect political thriller for today’s America.

Narrator review: Was Talk worth the listening time?

“Yes, I did listen to it twice.”

Alex Hughes’s Marked (Mindspace Investigations #3), narrated by Daniel Thomas May

The Story: Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death…

Narrator review: What does Daniel May bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

“I though Daniel May did a fine, fine job. He was credible with the different characters, which made them stand out. I like it when a narrator does this, it enhances the story and brings additional life to the characters.”

Kristin Scott’s Motherlunge, narrated by Leslie Bellair

The Story: Motherlunge is an eloquent and irreverent debut audiobook about first sex, true love, chronic sibling rivalry; it’s about the deepest fear of young (and not-so-young) adulthood: the fear of inheriting a disappointing life. It’s motherly advice, too – featuring wigs, dogs, road trips, and medicine – a guide to the essential experiences of being female, “born unto a librarian, named for the goddess of sight”, waiting for the future to arrive.

With sly wit and surprising joy, Motherlunge considers the flaws in the family line and celebrates the promise that staggers alongside. Funny and smart…in Thea and those around her Scott has created characters we believe in and wish well, characters who feel real – strange and sad and happy, like real people are.

Matthe Jobin’s The Nethergrim, narrated by Jeremy Arthur

The Story: Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes’ honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned!

Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together – and work apart – in ways that will test every ounce of resolve.

In a story reminiscent of the Ranger’s Apprentice epic and the Chronicles of Narnia, Matthew Jobin weaves reality, magic, and adventure into the next great fantasy phenomenon.

Narrator review: “The Nethergrim is a great book, I have already reviewed the print version. I purchased the audio version because I like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts on my commute to work, and so far I have been very pleased with the quality of the narration.”

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Rob Mosca’s High Midnight, narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark

This one just released a few weeks ago and it is one of our favorites, probably ever.

The Story: 

High Midnight is a modern day supernatural Western set against a preternatural backdrop. It is a surreal trip into a world of fanciful cryptid-creatures – a menagerie of monstrosities that literally crawl from a crater perched at the mouth of Hell. The ‘Devil’s Outhouse’ emits both a stink and an allure for vagrants, vagabonds and those wishing to be lost or forgotten – or simply left alone. It is the perfect place to build a nowhere town.

Welcome to Unity, Texas. Population: Bizarre. The only thing protecting the residents of Unity from a stream of nightmares is Laredo Beaumont, the town’s hard-drinking, ass-kicking sheriff, and Cicero, his knife-wielding chimpanzee deputy. It’s a thankless job that leaves Laredo drained and nearly broken. The only solace he can find is in the arms of his beloved Sally Mae, a ghostly soiled dove from a phantom bordello where only the most daring of men would think to step foot.

But midnight is fast approaching Unity, leaving Laredo to face not only creatures from Hell and the walking dead, but a band of homicidal clowns who have their own score to settle. A gonzo pulp Western for the 21st Century, High Midnight is a timeless tale of blood and redemption.

Review by the narrator:  “I absolutely love the pulp genres and I got to do so many fun character voices on this one that I just had a blast. Plus it’s got a drunk chimpanzee with a sniper rifle. I mean, seriously, go back and read that last sentence. How is that not the best thing ever?”

Maybe even better than a drunk champanzee with a sniper rifle – how about a free download of High Midnight? 

Enter to win a copy of High Midnight, narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark! Click here!
 

Our Favorite Audiobooks of 2012

2012 has been an incredible year for us at ListenUp. We’ve grown so much this year! We moved to a new expanded studio and worked with new authors, publishers, and voice talent. We recorded so many titles this year that it’s hard to narrow it down to our favorites, but with the help of our narrators, editors, engineers, and QCers, we’ve chosen our top picks!

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