Four Reasons Writers Should Love Narrators

Hint: Narrators can make amazing books even better

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall
Bring Up The Bodies

Hilary Mantel’s historical novels about Henry the Eighth’s chief fixer Thomas Cromwell, WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES, may have been hugely popular, but I never made far into either tome. Judge me if you will, but the long, phrase-filled sentences and constant present tense put me off. Then I turned to the audiobooks, and sure enough, narrators Simon Slater (WOLF HALL) and Simon Vance (BRING UP THE BODIES) captured me immediately. The expressiveness of their voices, scenic pacing, and vivid vocal portraits welcomed me into Mantel’s blend of prodigious fact and colorful imagination. Thanks to Slater and Vance, each of whom won an Earphones Award for their performances, I read two books I loved, and Mantel gained a fan. 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: Staff Picks and Mystery Favorites

Wondering what we’re listening to lately? It’s a mystery.

Munich

A lot of us here at AudioFile happen to be mystery fans, so for our inaugural staff picks post, of course we had to share the thrillers that have been keeping us glued to our earbuds. We’ll be sharing more staff picks in a variety of genres in the coming months. But please do tell us—which mystery audiobooks are keeping you up listening late into the night?

MUNICH

Munich

This weekend I treated myself to listening to David Rintoul narrate MUNICH by Robert Harris. David has been one of my favorite British narrators over many years, though we have not heard as many of his performances in the U.S. in recent years. David simply immerses you in the story. He becomes every character like a shapeshifter—as a listener, you hardly know he’s there; it’s just the story, alive. The history surrounding the 1938 Munich Agreement is fascinating and makes an interesting companion to the recent film The Darkest Hour.
— Robin Whitten, Founder & Editor Read more…

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Robin’s Roundup: March 2 New Audiobook Reviews

Take comfort from series continuity, and then add a change-up challenge

To Be Where You Are

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…

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.

Solve: Audie Award Nominees for Mysteries and Thrillers

Captivating and compelling listening all around — but who will win?

Don't Let Go

Don't Let GoAs fans of mystery audiobooks, we’re looking forward to this year’s Audie Awards and are excited to share the nominees for the Mystery and Thriller/Suspense categories. If you missed any of these audiobooks, there are a still couple of months for you to listen and root for your favorites before the winners are announced on May 31. Do you think Louise Penny and Robert Bathurst will take home an Audie this year? They were nominated for A GREAT RECKONING last year, but didn’t take home the prize. What about Harlan Coben and Steven Weber, nominated for HOME? Will the winner also have an AudioFile Earphones Award, like MAGPIE MURDERS or THE CHEMIST? Listen to clips of all the nominees in the 2018 Mystery and Thriller/Suspense categories and place your bets, theoretical or otherwise. Read more…

We're the editorial team at AudioFile Magazine!

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!

Solve: Christmas Mysteries

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good crime story!

The Usual Santas

To all those observing today, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday is filled with joy and love, that you’re surrounded by friends and family—or if you’re like me, that you’re getting some down time to quietly enjoy your audiobooks.

Christmas is a popular setting for crime novels, believe it or not. In the festively fun new collection of short stories from SoHo—THE USUAL SANTAS—Peter Lovesey explains why in his foreword:

The Usual Santas“The seasonal shopping spree provides rich pickings for thieves and fraudsters. Well-stocked stores become tempting targets for stick-up men and shoplifters. Pockets are picked, shoppers mugged, cars broken into and Christmas tree plantations raided. Cyber criminals relieve the unwary of their savings. Scam emails masquerade as greeting cards. Empty homes ransacked. Drink-fueled assaults are common. And even when the run-up to the holiday ends and the streets become more peaceful, domestic violence increases behind locked doors. Family feuds are revived by stressed-out, not-so-merry merrymakers. All of this is rich material for crime writers.” 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!

Solve: Mystery Awards Galore

Congratulations to the winners at this year’s world mystery convention!

Louise Penny: A Great Reckoning

Louise Penny: A Great ReckoningOnce a year, the mystery community gathers for Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. This year, writers and readers of the popular genre met up October 12-15 in Toronto to celebrate everything mystery. There were panel discussions, auctions, signings, parties, and more. Several different awards are presented throughout the Bouchercon weekend each year, including the fan-voted Anthony Awards, Mystery Readers International’s Macavity Awards, and Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine’s Barry Awards.

This year, Louise Penny’s A GREAT RECKONING, the twelfth Three Pines mystery, made a grand sweep in the best novel category, taking home all three awards. Penny was also the convention’s guest of honor. The audiobook world loved A GREAT RECKONING as well. It earned an Earphones Award and was an Audie Award nominee in the mystery category. If you missed this one, time to get it loaded up on your iPod. Robert Bathurst had big shoes to fill with the loss of Ralph Cosham, and he succeeded. 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!

Solve: Curmudgeons in Crime

Cantankerous characters we love on audio

As kids, no one ever wants a curmudgeonly neighbor who’s regularly chastising them to “stay off my lawn.” That messes up all the games of kick-the-can and hide-and-seek. And what happens when your baseball accidentally goes in their yard? Lost. For. Ever.

But in other realms, the curmudgeonly characters are often some of the most well-loved. They’re the comic relief, the unfiltered voice, the personality we secretly hope we’re brave enough to embrace one day. And typically, there’s a pretty good heart buried deep inside as well. TV is full of these grouchy personalities: Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS, Dr. Gregory House as the title character in HOUSE, and for those who can remember, Jonathan Higgins in MAGNUM, P.I.

Glass Houses

Crime fiction also claims a number of delightfully cantankerous characters.

Louise Penny, whose new audiobook in the Three Pines series is GLASS HOUSES (and an Earphones Award winner), has crafted an excellent curmudgeonly specimen in Ruth Zardo. Penny’s expletive-spewing poet may walk around with a rain cloud over her head, but she brightens every scene she enters. Both Ralph Cosham in the early recordings and now Robert Bathurst illuminate her cranky disposition with aplomb, allowing that hidden softie to peek out just around her sharp edges.

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!

Solve: Canadian Crime

Recognizing excellent and essential Canadian crime authors

This October, the world mystery convention, Bouchercon, is going to take place in Toronto. That got me thinking about Canadian crime fiction and Canadian writers of crime fiction. They offer a significant contribution to the genre; after all, it’s hard to imagine the mystery aisle at the bookstore without Louise Penny’s beloved Three Pines series or the heart-racing thrillers from Linwood Barclay.

Never Let You GoMy teenage niece has taken an interest in mysteries recently, and one of her favorites is Canadian author Chevy Stevens. Have you listened to her new thriller, NEVER LET YOU GO? Now that lady knows how to write creepy stories. Do you think the cold climates have anything to do with that?

Some Canadian authors I was already well aware of. Sean Chercover is one of my favorites, and he just released the final installment in his Daniel Byrne trilogy. Marriage brought Hilary Davidson to the U.S., but the author of the Lily Moore series is still very strongly tied to Canada. And of course, Alan Bradley won the Debut Dagger award with his first Flavia de Luce story, THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE.

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: August 25 New Audiobook Reviews

No escapes this week—activism in my listening queue

SevenSo many great listening choices this week, I could make a long list! Astronomy, history, education, political activism . . . it looks like nonfiction is catching my eye. For teachers and students getting ready to go back to school, here’s a welcome message. MAKE IT STICK is ready to toss out “learning the hard way.” Two cognitive scientists have teamed up with storyteller Peter Brown for a highly listenable audiobook offering some powerful strategies. Another work that addresses totally different educational challenges, THE BATTLE FOR ROOM 314 is an important, though harrowing, memoir from Ed Boland’s year of teaching at a New York City high school. Alongside this audiobook is Gwendolyn Brooks’s biography, A SURPRISED QUEENHOOD IN THE NEW BLACK SUN. Brooks, brilliant American poet, Poet Laureate, and first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize, is often known for her poem “We Real Cool.” As I was looking at details about Brooks, I found her reading of the poem.

A sad endpoint to Boland’s story, but learning about Brooks’s legacy offers listeners inspiration and admiration. Another dynamic listening experience is L.A. Theatre Works’ live-audience production of SEVEN, based on interviews with women activists from around the world.

For anyone who was wrapped up in this month’s solar eclipse, AMERICAN ECLIPSE, which is about the 1878 eclipse, has some fascinating history and scientific detail, as well as an astroid hunter. Narrator Jonathan Yen adds a lot to the listening experience. I can’t wrap up this week’s roundup without mentioning my nostalgia on seeing Louise Penny’s GLASS HOUSES. I love the Inspector Gamache books and admire the success of the change of narrators in the middle of the series. Robert Bathurst gets his second Earphones Award for his narration with the newest title. He took over for my lovely friend Ralph Cosham, who recorded the earlier titles and brought the series to listeners’ attention.

What are you listening to this week?

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.