Ah, the joy of sun hats and short sleeves, palm trees and warm blue waters. Yes, that’s me, escaping the icy Maine weather last month for some time on Florida’s gulf coast. I prepared by listening to a fun mix of audiobooks (and by forgetting to pack my swimsuit and my husband’s sneakers).
Lauren Groff set the scene with an Earphones Award-winning narration of FLORIDA, her arresting and quirky collection of beautifully told short stories, which was a National Book Award finalist. Her light, musical voice contrasts disarmingly with the dangers that lurk in her tales, which span characters, places, and centuries. They’re captivating and dangerous, like peering close at a winking flower that’s actually the eye of a camouflaged alligator. Read more…
Flavia de Luce always makes me smile. Alan Bradley’s 11-year-old sleuth has just solved her tenth mystery, THE GOLDEN TRESSES OF THE DEAD. Flavia lives in the village of Bishop’s Lacy, in 1950s England. She’s passionate about poisons—although she’s almost as interested in old churchyards and the fascinating chemistry of decay.
Jayne Entwistle inhabits the irrepressible and intrepid Flavia in all ten of the audiobooks. For listeners she IS Flavia, with all of her bright-voiced curiosity and charming cleverness. Jayne has garnered lovely reviews and Earphones Awards and is a brilliant example of how a narrator can fully inhabit not just a single character but an entire series. This great author and narrator duo had never actually spoken until AudioFile brought them together on the Behind the Mic podcast.
Our Staff Picks this month represent our own wide and varied listening tastes. We’d love to hear from AudioFile listeners, too — what are you listening to now? Share below in the comments or post a picture of you listening and tag us on Twitter or Facebook!
In happy anticipation of seeing the movie Love, Simon, I was glad to revisit the YA book it’s based on, Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. Since I’ve already read it twice in print (ahem), this time I decided to listen to the audiobook version. Narrator Michael Crouch brings out all of the novel’s humor, charm, and swoony sweetness. Now I’m looking forward to the sequel (all about Simon’s BFF Leah), LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT.
—Jenn Dowell, Managing Editor 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…
What I remember most about my childhood attempt to ski is cold feet. Mine were so painful that I whimpered. That’s why, after one frozen season on the slopes, and several ineffectual years trying to be Peggy-Fleming-figure-skating’s-darling, I designated winter as my spectator season. Thus the current Winter Olympics suit me perfectly. I can admire the athleticism free from the urge to try it myself.
Take bobsledding, which bears no resemblance to my start-and-stop progress down Heaton Hall Hill on a Flexible Flyer at age twelve. Instead, teams of two or four fling themselves onto a super-fast sled in order to plummet down a twisting ice-chute. Insane. Yet the sport is huge fun to watch, and in Eric Meyers’s gripping narration of SPEED KINGS: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World by Andy Bull, vicariously thrilling. Read more…
Janet Evanovich goes beyond her quirky characters . . . to zombies, and a boa constrictor. No worries, Lorelei King has it handled!
Lorelei King knows what Janet Evanovich’s listeners love about the Stephanie Plum audiobooks, and you can tell when you listen. Lorelei’s fabulous skill brings alive all of the lovable and despicable characters and will make you laugh out loud — and so will her Behind the Mic video for HARDCORE TWENTY-FOUR.
“It has all the things you’ve come to expect from Janet—the quirky humor, the zany characters, and it has a boa constrictor, it has zombies . . . what more could you want?”—Narrator Lorelei King
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…
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.
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…
“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…
Have you noticed that this year’s books have been on fire? It seems every time I turn around, there’s another audiobook with the word fire in the title; in fact, there are LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (Celeste Ng). From kids’ stories to fantasy and politics, 2017 has been the year of the red-hot audio. Want to share in a little of the heat? Here are 5 audiobooks across the genres to get you started.
Historical fiction listeners should put A COLUMN OF FIRE at the top of their audiobook list. The combination of author Ken Follett’s complex storytelling with narrator John Lee’s believable characterizations and “crisp, rich” delivery can’t be beat. The audiobook is the third in a series about the people of Kingsbridge, England, but can easily be enjoyed as a standalone journey back to the 1500s. Read more…
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.