Robin started AudioFile magazine in 1992 because she thought listeners should have more information about the performance aspects of audiobooks. Now 25 years later, she still wants to share the magic of the listening experience.
Robin’s Roundup: New Audiobook Reviews for March 23
When I see a dazzling cast in films like Murder on the Orient Express, it reminds me how much I appreciate the dramatized programs that come to our audiobook ears. An audio drama brings the sound and lights into your personal soundspace. Whether it’s the footsteps behind you on a dark night, the tinkling of glasses as your heroine mixes a drink, or the bioengineered cat’s meow sound, effects and aural detail amplify the experience.
We are still in the chill of winter here in Maine, so these new Scandinavian suspense titles seem right in line. Audiobooks are the perfect medium for Scandi-crime for several reasons, but having the narrators do the heavy lifting with the impenetrable names is a top one for me. Even the authors I’m about to mention— Indriðason, Sigurðardóttir, Sjöwall & Wahlöö—slow me down, and we haven’t even gotten to the characters’ names yet! Simon Vancehas been showered with awards for his narrations of The Millennium Trilogy, and now the continuing Lisbeth Salander saga with THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE. Simon completely removes any barrier to staying within the story with his smooth delivery of every Scandinavian name. Read more…
As you might guess, Women’s History is big this month at AudioFile! Each month we brainstorm about audiobook titles that we can recommend around themes, holidays, or current events—think Women’s History, Groundhog Day, or immigration. Our newsletters, Twitter posts, and website use the titles to suggest listening. I’m also excited about using the “playlist” option of our Soundcloud channel. We have 16 clips from, and about, Outspoken Women and will be adding more each week through the month. I love the fact that this is an ongoing project, so we keep adding new voices. Read more…
Take comfort from series continuity, and then add a change-up challenge
If you are a listener who loves series, one of the worst moments is when a new episode arrives and the long-time narrator is replaced. It’s a little like losing old friends . . . not only the narrator’s voice but the way he or she creates all the recurring characters. We do survive . . . think Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, where we lost beloved narrator Ralph Cosham. Luckily, the new narrator, Robert Bathurst, has turned out to be just as much of a delight. In one case of the same narrator remaining at the helm, Jan Karon’s Mitford series started with AT HOME IN MITFORD in 1994, and narrator John McDonough introduced me to this lovely slice of small-town America (nearly 25 years ago!). Read more…
Listeners can celebrate the Lunar New Year with Grace Lin’s THE YEAR OF THE DOG. Recently re-released, Lin’s debut novel was first published in the previous year of the dog, 2006. The combination of part story and part memoir makes the audiobook welcome for family listening.
As most of you know, Maine has quite a lot of “weather.” For anyone who can’t stand cold and doesn’t like to experience the elements, this state may not be for you. In my family, we have a mantra about that that’s just turned up as the title of Linda Åkeson McGurk’s audiobook: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER. In the pictures below are my hearty son and grandson, and on the right, Alex Johnston, Denny’s second grade teacher who espoused what’s now called the No Child Left Inside movement in the 1990s.
Hello, universe, check out the spectacular listening in the Newbery and Odyssey Awards
In the midst of awards season, I’m always looking out for those that specifically celebrate audiobooks, like the Spoken Word Grammy (Carrie Fisher’s THE PRINCESS DIARIST) and The Odyssey Award (THE HATE U GIVE). Also, I love finding the audiobook companion of books that are being celebrated—the American Library Association awards announced this week offer a wealth of great listening. The Newbery Award, for example, given for the year’s “most outstanding contribution to literature,” honored HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly. We’ve talked about and celebrated the audiobook for months—check out narrator Ramon de Ocampo in one of our Behind the Mic videos telling us how swept up he was in this book. It’s thrilling to know that it has received the great Newbery honor. You’ll be hearing more about one of the Newbery Honor titles, Jason Reynolds’s LONG WAY DOWN—we have an exciting interview with Jason about recording his audiobooks for our upcoming print issue. (Look for it April 1.)Read more…
Pairs: two identical, similar, or corresponding things that are matched for use together
This week I noticed an impressive crop of nonfiction audiobooks reviewed. Thoughtful and powerful audiobooks on immigration, politics, abuse, and race give us the chance to listen to important and varied perspectives. We often see some of these complex topics handled in both nonfiction and fiction. Listeners usually have a specific preference—a factual account, or the same topic with imagined historical or emotional detail. Here are some thoughts on audiobook pairs from our recent reviews.
Russell Shorto’s new history REVOLUTION SONG takes a look at the American Revolution through the stories of six people. I’ll pair that with IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA, a collection of short stories by Richard Russo, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, and thirty other contemporary authors.Read more…
Actor John Lithgow’s long career is studded with awards—Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe—for his many roles as varied as the undercover extraterrestrial professor in “3rd Rock from the Sun” to Winston Churchill in “The Crown.” He is currently appearing on Broadway in his one-man show, STORIES BY HEART.
Lithgow puts a lot of heart into all his work, and as author and audiobook narrator he’s a consummate storyteller. Reviewed this week is a charming children’s audiobook, THEY ALL SAW A CAT. Lithgow has written for children and recorded other audio, including Dr. Seuss’s OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Ten years ago Lithgow’s memoir, DRAMA, was celebrated on the October/November 2011 AudioFile cover, and was one of the year’s Best Audiobooks. I love the interviewwe did with him, and he has an array of audiobooks to explore.Read more…
The Spiritual Journeys of Mountains and Mountaintops
Looking at some of the new audiobook reviews this week, I see a theme of personal journeys—some fictional and some biographical. In an original audio adaptation, Susan Trott’s THE HOLY MAN is transformed into a full cast performance as THE MAN ON THE MOUNTAINTOP. Headlining the cast of this pilgrims’ tale are British actor Toby Jones and Stanley Tucci, who said the project “blends parable, myth, and morality with powerful and thought-provoking storytelling.”
At first, I confused Trott’s mountaintop andTHE MOUNTAINTOP, the play by Katori Hall about Martin Luther King, Jr. This L.A. Theatre Works production is also an excellent listening experience, and a spiritual journey. A memoir of a slightly different type of journey, AN ODYSSEY: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn, is also reviewed this week. Narrator Bronson Pinchot receives an Earphones Award for this memoir. Listening to even the briefest of sound clips lets you hear Bronson’s engaging style. Read more…