Audiobook Reviews September 2016 by Jonathan Lowe


New studies show that Alzheimer’s disease is the number three cause of death in developed countries, behind heart disease and cancer. But there is good news. We now have the knowledge to extend both lifespan and mindspan, helping to ensure that our minds and bodies stay in peak form at any age. Studying the diets of the “mindspan elite,” those populations that live longest with low levels of dementia—as well as the ways that certain food additives and ingredients interact with our genes—Dr. Preston Estep (of the Harvard genetics program) explains how some recent books on the brain and aging have steered us down the wrong dietary path. Shattering myths about which foods are and are not beneficial to our brains, The Mindspan Diet reveals a simple plan to slow cognitive decline. Startling in its revelations about healthy eating for those over the age of forty, it challenges us to rethink our approach to many common staples: Iron) While iron-fortified foods sound healthy, high iron intake can be toxic, especially for people over forty, as it increases the risk of adult-onset diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Whole grains) Processed non-fortified grains such as white rice, pasta, and flour are actually staples in the diets of cultures with the best cognitive health. Protein) Though it’s considered by some to be a miracle macronutrient, high levels of protein are actually hard on the kidneys and may promote cancer and accelerate the progression of dementia. (Most meat is also high in iron.) Complete with food recommendations, shopping lists, advice on reading nutrition labels, and more than seventy delicious recipes, THE MINDSPAN DIET shows that you can enjoy the richest flavors life has to offer and remain lean, healthy, and cognitively intact for a very long life. Narrator James Foster was born and raised on the west coast, and even though he’s lived in the midwest for over a decade now, he still considers Oregon “home.” Nominated for Voice Arts Awards for best audiobook narration in the science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery categories, James has been praised for his conversational delivery and ability to sound exactly like the voice you were imagining in your head.


It is interesting to imagine what our current jingoistic culture would do with John Lennon, if he arrived in America today. A pot smoking hippie way back when, he was despised by Republican politicians, who sought to deport him. Young people loved him for resisting the Vietnam War and Nixon. Today, even after America’s having never “won” a war in the WWII sense, instead of being shot by a lone gunman, Lennon might be called upon to be put in front of a firing squad for treason, like Snowden. A new audiobook, JOHN LENNON vs THE USA by Leon Wildes (a lawyer for an immigration related law firm) details the attempts to get the Beatle out so he couldn’t join Jerry Rubin in a “Dump Nixon” rock rally prior to the 1972 RNC. Strom Thurmond was in on it, as was John Mitchell (attorney general in charge of illegal alien deportation.) Nixon also listened to John Dean, and wanted (with expletives not deleted) to deport Lennon and Yoko Ono. But Lennon had an expert on immigration on their side: the author of this book. Wildes found a loophole in the law to grant an exemption for the couple, even after stays were denied and applications for “outstanding artists” were postponed for consideration by the INS until after they were gone. Nixon was not done killing young men for no reason, and wanted to get more blood on his hands. Lennon and Ono were in the way. So was Hunter S. Thompson, as revealed in FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA. No matter what your political affiliation, these are worth a listen, and both audiobooks are narrated by one of my fav voiceover artists, the always engaging and mellifluous Malcolm Hillgartner. Wilde’s book is an interesting look at how custody battles and the politics of greed worked back then, and they are both relevant to today. What was at stake then is at stake now. Can we learn from history, or not?

THE NIX is a hilarious and deeply touching debut novel about a son, the mother who left him as a child, and how his search to uncover the secrets of her life leads him to reclaim his own. Meet Samuel Andresen-Anderson: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of an online video game. He hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, since she walked out when he was a child. But then one day there she is, all over the news, throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. The media paints Faye as a militant radical with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother never left her small Iowa town. Which version of his mother is the true one? Determined to solve the puzzle—and finally have something to deliver to his publisher—Samuel decides to capitalize on his mother’s new fame by writing a tell-all biography, a book that will savage her intimately, publicly. But first, he has to locate her and second, to talk to her without bursting into tears. As Samuel begins to excavate her history, the story moves from the rural Midwest of the 1960s to New York City during the Great Recession and Occupy Wall Street movement to the infamous riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention, and finally to Norway, home of the mysterious “Nix” that his mother told him about as a child. And in these places, Samuel will unexpectedly find that he has to rethink everything he ever knew about his mother—a woman with an epic story of her own, a story she kept hidden from the world. Narrator Ari Fliakos is sometimes television actor and Audie award winner. Bottom line: this is an offbeat comic novel well read by a guy who can bring the quirky characters to life.

When Lane Coolman’s car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield—the eponymous RAZOR GIRL—and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There’s Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys—a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another … Dominick “Big Noogie” Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear … Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren … a street psycho known as Blister who’s more Buck Nance than Buck could ever be … Brock Richardson, a Miami product-liability lawyer who’s getting dangerously—and deformingly—hooked on the very ED product he’s litigating against … and Andrew Yancy—formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover’s husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can single-handedly solve a high-profile murder, he’ll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy’s future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way—including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections. Carl Hiaasen is a successful journalist and novelist. He is a writer and investigative reporter for the Miami Herald, and his work has appeared in Time, Life, Esquire, Playboy, Gourmet, and Sports Illustrated. Narrator John Rubinstein is the son the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and a longtime character actor, composer, and director. From Los Angeles, the Tony Award winner is best known in the audiobook world for reading Jonathan Kellerman’s novels, which are set there. He has a gift for odd voices, and a reporter-like style used in contrast for the exposition.

(Footnote: Any young ladies with a flair for fashion and style, and who might like to try narrating a short passage from a book on Youtube, please see my new blog for details. Why just take selfies when you can show your personality and change the world like #GirlBoss?)

Recommended for you