In Our Time: An Inebriate New Year

From Prohibition to marijuana’s budding legalization

Reefer Madness

A century ago, the United States experimented with a federal mandate prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor. Enforcement turned out to be a Sisyphean task, and repeal of Prohibition was legislated less than 20 years later. The remainder of the 20th century turned legal enforcement against other potentially intoxicants  (called vaguely “drugs”) and included a kind of unevenness in enforcement that punished poorer communities, often of color, while turning an increasingly blind eye, across the ensuing decades, to wealthier ingesters of coke, marijuana, and prescription pharmaceuticals taken beyond a regulated relationship between prescribing physician and patient.

Reefer Madness

In the past few years of the 21st century, while marijuana cultivation, sale, and use continue to carry federal criminal penalties, several states have passed laws that, at first, legalized marijuana for medical use, and, more recently, for recreational use as well. With New Year’s drinking behind us and contentious legal paths ahead on the federal level for changing standards of acceptable marijuana use, here’s an audiobook path from Prohibition through marijuana’s budding legalization. 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.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Audiobooks for a New Year

Using audiobooks to make — and keep — your resolutions

Good Health, Good Life

Last year, about 40% of Americans surveyed reported that they usually make New Year’s resolutions. The most common resolutions, according to several sources, have to do with health and fitness. But many people also hope to make smarter financial decisions, find more happiness, be more organized, and have new experiences.

Good Health, Good Life

Regardless of whether we make formal resolutions, most of us consider the new year as a chance for fresh starts. Yet, no matter how optimistic or determined we seem, few of us manage to follow through and accomplish our goals. What can we do to better our chances of success?

According to Psychology Today, “the most important factor in predicting success [is] the belief in one’s ability to get the job done.” One great way to gain self-assurance and chart a path to victory is to take time to learn from the experts.

Here’s where audiobooks come to the rescue. There’s an audiobook for helping you succeed at almost every New Year’s resolution, from improving health or finances to getting a handle on time management. The audiobooks I recommend in today’s Take 5 focus on popular self-improvement goals; if your 2018 goals are different, be sure to search our Personal Growth review database to find the perfect audiobook for your own needs. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Tease: Pairing Up for the New Year

Finding that perfect match

Lady Traveler's Guide to Scoundrels and other Gentlemen

My niece (a smart cookie!) received a matching game for Christmas. All of her animal shapes in neat matching pairs made me think about how none of us like to be alone for New Year’s. If we’re going to jump into this brand new, perilous endeavor of 2018, we want company.

Surely, the same must be true of your audiobook collection. If one audiobook is good, then a pair must be better. So, in the spirit of starting the new year off right, here are some romance audiobook pairs. They all have something in common, some reason to be together in your playlist. And, if you have no other New Year’s resolutions, then keep it simple and Love Your Listening.

Pair THE LADY TRAVELERS GUIDE TO SCOUNDRELS & OTHER GENTLEMEN by Victoria Alexander, read by Marian Hussey
with VIRGIN’S SECRET by Victoria Alexander, read by Xanthe Elbrick

Both Victoria Alexander titles share her signature naughtiness. Her heroines manage to skirt the edges of proper behavior while remaining a part of society. THE VIRGIN’S SECRET was my first Xanthe Elbrick audiobook, and I still have fond feelings toward the book because of her superb accents and smooth-as-silk voice. If you like historical romance that keeps you on your toes, this pairing will suit nicely. 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: New Year’s Resolutions for Crime Fighters

What resolutions would your favorite crime fighters embrace in 2018?

Craig Johnson - The Western Star

Welcome to 2018, friends! I’ll still be writing 2017 for at least another month or so. This weekend, though, I was writing resolutions. The idea of resolutions always brings mixed reactions. You have those who are steadfastly against them, “I NEVER make resolutions! Those never work.” And others who are super creative or need them for motivation. The flurry of gym memberships in January always reflects those who resolve to get in shape, and the garbage collectors probably have to work harder the first month of the year due to all those who want to de-clutter.

For the past several years, I’ve seen people creating one-word resolutions. The idea, I believe, originated with Mike Ashcraft and his “My One Word” initiative. The concept is to choose one word that you want to represent you and to focus on it the whole year. This idea made me wonder about what words would be appropriate for our favorite characters in crime fiction. So here are my ideas:

Walt Longmire – Justice
The honorable lawman from Wyoming is always in search of justice, but by the end of THE WESTERN STAR, he’s a man on a mission, and no one had better stand in his way.

Craig Johnson - The Western Star 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!

The Sound Stage in the Closet

What It Really Takes to Be an Audiobook Narrator

Xe Sands

As we close out our December celebration of the Best Audiobooks of 2017, I wanted to share some of our winning narrators’ lesser-known skills and challenges.

Xe Sands
Xe Sands, photo by Charles Tarnowski

These are tidbits of information that enhance my admiration for their ability and occasional bravery. Such as not panicking when a spider lands on your hand while you’re trapped in a recording booth voicing a romantic scene. Xe Sands, who read Helen Rappaport’s CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION, is officially terrified of eight-legged creatures. Yet professional that she is, she didn’t react until she’d finished her sentence, exited the booth, and closed the door. That’s when she screamed her head off. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Robin’s Roundup: December 22 Best Audiobooks of the Year #4

Getting an inside look at some biographies

Suzanne Toren

AudioFile Best of 2017

Looking this week at our choices for the BEST titles in the Biography & History category, I’m excited that we have the narrators’ Behind the Mic videos for so many of these titles.

Christian Baskous talking about recording Richard Ford’s BETWEEN THEM; Mark Bramhall on Ron Chernow’s GRANT biography; Jonathan Yen giving us a wonderful teaser to explore A MIND AT PLAY and discover the man who is called the father of the information age, Claude Shannon; and Rob Shapiro talking about recording THE WORLD REMADE, a timely look at America in World War I.

Read more…

Robin Whitten
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: Explore Behind the Microphone for Lifetime Possibilities

Audiobooks to inspire and inform

Moonbird

Over the past two decades, American education has reduced teens’ exposure to careers they might find engaging and worthy of pursuit without a post-high school degree. As a result, many high school students would be hard pressed to name more than a dozen career options open to them, even though they may already possess both skills and interests that speak to over a thousand different job types.

MoonbirdThere are some outlets where students can learn more about their interests and develop skills. Libraries, who have makerspace areas for hands-on learning; community theatre groups; and social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Tumbler, allow for budding crafters, writers, artists, actors, and photographers to create their works and share them with others.

Audiobooks can be a great catalyst in the search for new interests and possible career paths. In addition to their content, high-quality audiobooks lead us to appreciate the several skills beyond the writing that have gone into them: acting, voice training, recording, sound engineering, and more—not to mention the publishing and marketing and publicity skills that get them into the ears of consumers. 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.

The Narrator Makes All the Difference

What Qualities Set the Best Audiobook Performances Apart?

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient ExpressAfter months of persuasion, my friend Dory finally listened to her first book during a nine-hour drive from Virginia to Maine last month. She chose Kenneth Branagh’s performance of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded when she arrived, as if I’d been keeping audiobooks a secret. “I’d never realized how witty Christie is until I heard it. And those amazing accents!” Then she uttered the classic line. “Listening to the performance made the story come alive.”

One more audiobook convert, all because of the narrator, which is how it should be. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Solve: The Best Mysteries of 2017 and a trip Behind the Mic

Plus a special video of narrator JD Jackson on the award-winner BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD

Bluebird Bluebird

Bluebird BluebirdOur fine editors at AudioFile Magazine have hemmed and hawed and pulled some hair (mostly their own) to come to a consensus on the Best Audiobooks of 2017! If you haven’t had a chance to check out the complete lists—they’re broken down into genre categories—you can do so here.

The mystery choices are good ones, including some of my personal favorites: Louise Penny’s GLASS HOUSES, Jo Nesbø’s THE THIRST, and Craig Johnson’s THE WESTERN STAR. You can see the whole list here.

I’m especially excited to see Attica Locke’s BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD on the list. I mentioned Locke’s newest, narrated by JD Jackson, in my celebration of crime fighters post back in October, and I’m excited to share this fun Behind the Mic video from JD Jackson. He says BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD read like a “brown liquor blues song.” Maybe he should be reviewing for us!

“This is an amazing mystery and suspense novel, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about regret, it’s about honor, it’s about redemption, and it’s about racial tension that has festered in this small town.”—Narrator JD Jackson

Please enjoy the video and be sure to check out AudioFile Magazine’s Best Audiobooks of 2017. There’s so much good listening in these lists. You can start stockpiling for the cold winter months coming our way. Happy Listening!

Best Audiobooks 2017

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!

Tease: Best of Romance

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

Chasing Down a Dream

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!