Robin’s Roundup: December 8 Best Audiobooks of the Year #2

Cozy up for a variety of brilliant listening from our Fantasy & Nonfiction lists

AudioFile Best Audiobooks of 2017We continue to celebrate the Best Audiobooks of the year, and we appreciate all the shares & retweets from our narrator and publisher friends & audiophile partners—thank you, and keep spreading the word!

My Roundup today looks at our Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror list and also the Nonfiction & Culture list. My immediate take is all the contrast! Will the same reader who settles in for a comforting listen with THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE also choose to contemplate the intangible menace of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX? Who knows, but I do love the variety of our choices.

Read more…

Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Tease: Best of Romance

How well do you know this year’s best audiobooks?

Chasing Down A DreamAudiofile Magazine is proud to present its 2017 Best Romance Audiobook list. These fifteen audiobooks represent a snapshot of this year’s best listening. Many reviewers helped make this list possible — thanks to all of them for being wonderful listeners. Since it’s impossible to choose a favorite from among these stellar titles, I thought I would prepare a little quiz for you as an introduction to the titles (see the end of the post for the answers!). And don’t forget to Love Your Listening!

Best of Romance Audio Quiz

1. Twelve of the titles are part of a series. Which 3 titles are standalone audios?

2. Of the historicals, one is set in the reign of King George IV of England, one during King Edward I of England’s reign, and one during King George III of England’s reign. Which is which?

3. Of the paranormals, one is set in a magical upstate New York and one is set in a magical Houston, Texas. Which is which? Read more…

Caitlin is a librarian from Connecticut who enjoys great narrators and happy endings. She has been reviewing audiobooks for Audiofile Magazine since 2006, and she has had the privilege of judging numerous Audie Award categories since 2009. Her favorite authors are Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and whatever she's listening to right now!

Solve: Going Back in Time

Escape the present with crime fighters of the past

I was always a little smitten with history. I’m not exactly sure what originally ignited my fascination with the past—watching “Little House on the Prairie” as a small girl, reading GONE WITH THE WIND for the first time, having great teachers in school . . . probably a combination of all that—but it’s as strong today as ever. And I’m not even obsessed with a certain time period. The Roaring ’20s period in the U.S. is as intriguing to me as Ancient Rome. So it should come as no surprise that historical mysteries also captivate me.

Even though I’m not particular about time period, some folks are. But mystery can cover virtually any era on any point of the globe. And sometimes you might be surprised. You might think you don’t care for that period but then the mystery is so riveting, you find yourself looking up details to see what is fact and what is a little creative license on the part of the author.

David Taylor - Night Work

David C. Taylor’s detective protagonist, Michael Cassidy, works in New York City in the mid-Twentieth Century. Don’t worry if that feels unfamiliar to you. By the time you finish hearing Keith Szarabajka’s killer narrations, you’ll feel like you lived it personally. Dark and gritty, historical police procedural at its finest. Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Thankful for Great Narrators

Giving thanks for amazing storytellers

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the U.S. And as we have been thinking about all that we’re thankful for, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for great stories, creative story writers, and amazing storytellers. When the craziness of the world just feels overwhelming, it’s a gift to be able to escape into the realms of these books that their creators and performers so generously share with us.

George Guidall by Joanna Perrin
Photo by Jo Anna Perrin

As audiobook fans know well, the narrator can make all the difference in a book. A so-so tale can become amazing, while a good one can fall flat, leaving the listener disappointed. Interpretation, nuance, and delivery are as important in an audiobook as a strong plot. For that reason, I wanted to pay homage today to narrators who have reminded me how I first learned to love stories and who make me love listening to them every day.

Anyone who follows my posts here should not be surprised to see George Guidall’s name on my list. He is, of course, the voice of Walt Longmire. Guidall is no stranger to mystery and crime novels. Some of his recordings in the genre include Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee series, Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp novels, and Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who books. His credits are far too lengthy to list here, but some other highlights of my personal listening history include his reading of Caleb Carr’s THE ALIENIST and Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS. Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Robin’s Roundup: November 24 New Audiobook Reviews

Dance, Danza, Ballet, Folklore, Fables: Seasonal Traditions

One of the great traditions of the season is the many live performances that families can attend. The glamour and excitement of dance events are my favorite. Two new audiobooks we just reviewed, DANZA! and THE NUTCRACKER MICE, can put your youngsters in the mood . . . for Mexican folkloric music or the traditional Nutcracker ballet. And there’s a classic audiobook that should be on every dance-loving family listening list, BALLET STORIES. This classic from 2001 is an Earphones and Audie Award winner and is punctuated with Naxos AudioBooks’ signature music, and meticulous attention to detail. And for anyone who watched CALL THE MIDWIFE on PBS, Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne) narrates this wonderful program. Read more…

Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Audiobooks and Literacy: Purposeful Performances

6 audiobooks with narrations that will thrill you, comfort you, and send you off to bed

Every day we read, listen to, or watch a variety of media with specific purposes in mind: to gather information, find entertainment, explore a new culture, or participate in our own. Each should vary in delivery if we are to satisfy our goal: to learn, to relax, or to share in a sense of community. There is no one-size-fits-all presentation for a certain kind of content, and no one way of engaging with that content that will work for everyone.

Manhattan BeachAnd so it is when you choose audiobooks for yourself or for children. Beyond content, what sort of performance might best fit the material and help listeners satisfy their immediate needs? Luckily, the audiobooks available to us today continue to show growth the in diversity of their expressive styles as well as their range of content, both for adults and children. Some performance styles particularly enhance and expand the particular kind of content you seek on audio.

Looking for a satisfying escape through story? Certainly the acting performance of a skillful narrator—or multiple narrators, like in MANHATTAN BEACH—can move a thriller or a cozy mystery or a celebrity biography from page to sound, with highly enhanced entertainment value. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Robin’s Roundup: November 17 New Audiobook Reviews

A food-centric audiobook to inspire holiday plans

Out Of Line Chef and restauranteur Barbara Lynch’s memoir OUT OF LINE: A Life of Playing With Fire may be just the ticket to inspire your holiday planning while hearing about Lynch’s bootstrap rise to extraordinary success. Narrator Christina Delaine leads us through avowed risk-taker Lynch’s memoir. I was intrigued by the New York Times interview with Lynch titled “After South Boston, a Restaurant Was Easy.” That seems like a good way to approach holiday meal planning!

One of the audiobook publishing events I’ve most looked forward to this fall is Philip Pullman’s new THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage. I’ve previously written about my affection for and admiration of Pullman’s THE GOLDEN COMPASS—the full trilogy, released nearly 20 years ago. I had the great pleasure of talking with some of the audio producers involved in creating Pullman’s terrific audiobooks, and I’ll write more about this in a few weeks. Read more…

Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Robin’s Roundup: November 10 New Audiobook Reviews

We persist—with both ferocity and compassion

Nevertheless We Persisted For a little listening to lift our spirits this week, I want to highlight this audio-first anthology of stories, poems, and essays, NEVERTHELESS WE PERSISTED, written and performed by an ensemble of authors and narrators. The collaboration between authors and narrators from around the globe resonates clearly in this labor of love and careful production. And for tiny feminists (ages 4-6) and their parents, remember to take a listen to Chelsea Clinton’s SHE PERSISTED.

For a listening choice to galvanize resolve to speak up, Gretchen Carlson’s BE FIERCE: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back is a timely choice this week. When Carlson walked away from her job as a news anchor for Fox News to fight—and win—her sexual harassment case, she discovered that her story is just one of many that deserves to be told. She suggests practical steps women can take to stand up for themselves. Read more…

Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Self: Can We Learn Anything Without a Good Story?

Audiobooks that inspire with learning tools and powerful stories

Life is Like a MusicalListening to these audiobooks, I was reminded of how important stories are to making them work as learning tools. Business and life lessons full of rigorous thinking and action steps appeal to me in a left-brain, problem-solving kind of way, but I’ve noticed that some deeper kind of attention becomes activated when the lesson is grounded in a human narrative—whether colorful historical vignettes or an author’s personal stories. Even more captivating are memoir-type audios that focus on one person’s burning vision and show how that passion expressed itself in the form of a complex, purpose-driven organization or a life well lived. These are the lessons that have the longest shelf life in my operating system—lessons with strong stories. They may also offer insights and advice along the way, but, ultimately, they’re more about the hero’s journey than analysis and logistics. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Solve: Crime in Small Bites

Investigate these 10 short story crime audiobooks and get hooked on listening

When I tell people how much I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I often receive the response, “I can’t listen to audiobooks. I can’t pay attention.” I thought the very same thing at one time. Now I constantly want someone to be telling me a story.

Craig Johnson - Wait for Signs

Listening to audiobooks is a skill, just like reading print books. Even though we eagerly listened to adults telling us stories as small children, somewhere along the way, we lost the knack for listening—personally, I blame it on television, but that’s a different blog post. Never fear, though. Listening skills can be dusted off and honed back into shape. One of the ways I recommend people work on their listening skills is with short audios, and lucky for us, there are great short works of crime fiction available.

About once a year now, I listen to Craig Johnson’s WAIT FOR SIGNS. This collection of Walt Longmire shorts is described by Johnson as the stories between the novels. He develops his well-loved characters in funny, heart-warming, and engaging short stories. It’s probably my favorite collection to recommend to someone just starting to listen to audiobooks. I often recommend it as the introduction to the Longmire series as well. When you’re confident listening to these short stories, you can move on to his novellas—THE HIGHWAYMAN and SPIRIT OF STEAMBOAT. Same great style, in a slightly longer format. By the time you finish these two, you’ll be ready to listen to the novels. All of Johnson’s work is narrated by George Guidall. There hasn’t been one time I’ve attended a book event for Craig Johnson when at least one member of the audience hasn’t gushed about how much they love the series on audio. There’s a good reason for that. Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!