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Cowboy Up

Go West for Romance

Cowboy UpFor those of us who live in the cold, rainy northeast, the setting of a Western romance audiobook holds huge appeal. Large ranches and farms are outside our everyday reality, and I always take an extra moment while listening to a western to soak in the descriptions of plants and trees we don’t have here. I’ll never forget driving through the fairly flat, mostly treeless highways of Kansas. In focusing on what was missing (our verdant, rolling hills covered with leafy trees and winding roads that twist around a varied landscape), it took me a while to realize what I’d gained — sky. Giant, overwhelming sky stretching from horizon to horizon. I remember talking to someone who said he felt claustrophobic without that unobstructed view, while I felt frighteningly small underneath it — it’s all what you’re used to! So this week we share some awe-inspiring western romances. A place to call home, independent characters who rely on friends and family to get by, a sense of belonging — narrators have to speak from their heart to capture the true spirit of the western happily ever after.  Read more…

Mastergate

Under Questioning: Listening to Formal Hearings

MastergateCongressional hearings are a process of information gathering—both orally and aurally. Hearings might be called for  democracy-threatening political disagreements, huge calamities with manmade elements, or the approval of candidates for important non-elected offices. This formal, often public, investigatory medium, with its spoken and heard nuances as important as the words transmitted, is very friendly to audiobook publishing and listening. Hearings have been recorded in sound media, as well as in transcript form, for over a century now. These recordings, as they relate to events included in audiobooks, may be in the form of archival clips, re-enactments, or elements of wholly fictional drama.

Among the past century of such Congressional hearings, events ranging from disaster at sea to dubious secret intelligence programs have given rise to such hearings. And the hearings have given rise to audiobooks for a variety of ages and in a variety of narrative styles. You can choose your concern or choose your genre to get a taste of listening to how hearings are realized by professional narrators and actors. Read more…

All Systems Red

Rogue Security Unit activates All Systems Red

Narrator Kevin R. Free has convinced us to listen to ALL SYSTEMS RED by Martha Wells, a Nebula & Hugo Awards finalist told by “Murderbot,” a depressed rogue security unit. Let’s interface with Kevin for our latest Behind the Mic.

“It was really one of the coolest experiences of my career, narrating a coming-of-age story about someone who was not a person.”—Narrator Kevin R. Free

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15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Jazz is on my mind. Just a few weeks ago, I attended the tribute to the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters—Todd Barkan, Joanne Brackeen, Pat Metheny, and Dianne Reeves—at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It was such a treat—first listening to podcasts from the NEA, “Art Works,” about each musician, and then getting to be part of the tribute celebration—you can actually watch it in full:

When I got home, I looked up which audiobooks about jazz and jazz musicians we could recommend. Jazz books, and audiobooks, are a bit scarce—perhaps we listen to jazz more than we read about jazz. And in many cases, actual music is not included in audiobook programs. Nevertheless, I’ve put together a list of 15 audiobooks that explore and celebrate Jazz in America.  There are some biographies and memoirs of jazz greats; a few histories on the culture and music of jazz; and, not to be overlooked, engaging jazz stories for young listeners and families.

Let’s start with an iconic audiobook: MILES by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe. For many listeners, the brilliant performance by Dion Graham epitomizes the way that an audio experience can engulf you. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? offers a different approach to a life portrait with Alan Light’s carefully researched biography. Yet Adenrele Ojo’s performance is no less riveting. Read more…

The Soul of an Octopus

Five Audiobooks Celebrating Nature

I know I’m not alone in welcoming warmer weather. Like so many others in the Northern Hemisphere, I couldn’t be happier to finally see spring. I love opening the windows and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors. Whether I’m on the beach or in the woods, in my garden or relaxing on my deck, I’m all about enjoying the natural environment.

When Mother Nature won’t cooperate, and I’m cooped up inside because of rain or cold, I can still get my nature fix thanks to audiobooks. Sometimes I’m looking for a novel set in a remote locale or an outdoor adventure story; other times I want to be inspired to be a better advocate for planet Earth.

Today, however, I want an upbeat nonfiction audiobook that will teach me more about plants and animals or help me to better appreciate the world around me. Today’s Take 5 recommendations meet these requirements and take us from ocean to farm to sky. Read more…