Like Music to My Ears

Solve: Capturing the vibe with the right accent

I'll Keep You Safe

There I was in the visitors’ gallery of the Old Bailey (London’s famed criminal courthouse made famous by Rumpole of the Bailey). The male and female barristers were indeed dressed in black robes with white collars and wigs of various shades of off-white, with tight rolls of curls and little ponytails down the back. The prosecuting barrister, with his elegant British accent, was reading the testimony of a young gang member accused of murder, with every third word being “like” (just as young folks do in the U.S.) and saying the “F” word with emphasis every other sentence.

I'll Keep You SafeThe situation made me realize how a charming, easy on the ears accent can really enhance the listening experience by capturing and projecting the right vibe for the characters and the story. But the intriguing thing is that it doesn’t necessarily mean the narrator’s accent has to match the location.

For example, I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE, the most recent in Peter May’s Lewis series, takes place on a Scottish island and is narrated by Peter Forbes with a strong but very easy to listen to and understand Scottish accent. Forbes ALSO narrates the recent re-recording of May’s THE FIREMAKER, the Chinese Thriller series which takes place in Beijing. In an Audible Sessions interview with May and Forbes, author May comments that he has come to view Forbes as his voice. May says that it doesn’t matter if the narrator is Scottish, Chinese, American, or English, it is the way the narrator is able to make the subtle changes in character that does the book justice. For the listener, this allows for a wonderfully engaging listening experience. Read more…

Ellen Quint
A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

Ride a Magic Carpet with 6 Historical Fiction Audiobooks

Robin’s Roundup May 18

6 New Historical Fiction Audiobooks

6 New Historical Fiction Audiobooks

Something I love about audiobooks set outside our current time and place is that the historical details make the listening experience so rich. We get a sense of the history of  the time—1920s Bombay, the Soviet Union in 1958, colonial America—but also details of customs, costume, and conventions. Wrapping these in the storytelling medium of audiobooks is the perfect way to transport the listener. I’m reminded of a vivid passage in THE WATER DIVINER, the brilliant Australian audiobook about a father and his sons who are lost at Gallipoli in 1915. The father transports the boys with stories of the magic carpet of THE ARABIAN NIGHTS. Narrator Jack Thompson took me aboard as well, and I’ve always liked the episode as a perfect example of what the best historical fiction audiobooks can do. 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.

Let’s Flip Jane on Her Head

Six Austen-Inspired Audiobooks and One Perfume

Jane Austen photograph

See the yellowed pages in my copy of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?  That’s to prove that I am a true Janeite.

Bona fides established, let me tell you about the literary mashup PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, by Seth Grahame-Smith, in which the basic P&P plot line and tone are intercut with zombies roaming the 19th-century English countryside. Yes, Jane and zombies are ridiculous, but I listened during one of those complicated family summers, and its occasionally gruesome silliness was a magic diversion.  Author Steve Hockensmith has written two subsequent mashups of the mashup, which are also crazy funny: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DAWN OF THE DREADFULS and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DREADFULLY EVER AFTER. Most importantly for us, all three were narrated by the amazing Katy Kellgren, who won an Earphones Award for the second volume.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Longbourn
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.

Under Questioning: Listening to Formal Hearings

In Our Time

Mastergate

MastergateCongressional hearings are a process of information gathering—both orally and aurally. Hearings might be called for  democracy-threatening political disagreements, huge calamities with manmade elements, or the approval of candidates for important non-elected offices. This formal, often public, investigatory medium, with its spoken and heard nuances as important as the words transmitted, is very friendly to audiobook publishing and listening. Hearings have been recorded in sound media, as well as in transcript form, for over a century now. These recordings, as they relate to events included in audiobooks, may be in the form of archival clips, re-enactments, or elements of wholly fictional drama.

Among the past century of such Congressional hearings, events ranging from disaster at sea to dubious secret intelligence programs have given rise to such hearings. And the hearings have given rise to audiobooks for a variety of ages and in a variety of narrative styles. You can choose your concern or choose your genre to get a taste of listening to how hearings are realized by professional narrators and actors. 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.

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Robin’s Roundup May 4

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Jazz is on my mind. Just a few weeks ago, I attended the tribute to the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters—Todd Barkan, Joanne Brackeen, Pat Metheny, and Dianne Reeves—at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It was such a treat—first listening to podcasts from the NEA, “Art Works,” about each musician, and then getting to be part of the tribute celebration—you can actually watch it in full:

When I got home, I looked up which audiobooks about jazz and jazz musicians we could recommend. Jazz books, and audiobooks, are a bit scarce—perhaps we listen to jazz more than we read about jazz. And in many cases, actual music is not included in audiobook programs. Nevertheless, I’ve put together a list of 15 audiobooks that explore and celebrate Jazz in America.  There are some biographies and memoirs of jazz greats; a few histories on the culture and music of jazz; and, not to be overlooked, engaging jazz stories for young listeners and families.

Let’s start with an iconic audiobook: MILES by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe. For many listeners, the brilliant performance by Dion Graham epitomizes the way that an audio experience can engulf you. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? offers a different approach to a life portrait with Alan Light’s carefully researched biography. Yet Adenrele Ojo’s performance is no less riveting. 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.

The Future of Humanity: What is our destiny beyond earth?

Behind the Mic with Feodor Chin

The Future of Humanity

Narrator Feodor Chin takes AudioFile listeners Behind the Mic to learn about THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY — and much like Feodor, we don’t remember much of high school physics, but are glad to hear that Michio Kaku’s audiobook is accessible for all levels of interested listeners.

“Dr. Kaku takes complex, scientific ideas and makes them totally accessible, easily understandable, and even pretty exciting.”—Narrator Feodor Chin

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Get It Together

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Five Audiobooks that Will Put Your Life in Order

Spark Joy

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpSo how did your tax preparation go this year? Personally, I only cursed twice. First when I dropped the file of medical receipts. Second when I learned that despite what my husband and I had spent on doctors, it wasn’t enough to be deductible. I discovered that after adding it all up on a recalcitrant calculator.

That’s when, inspired by Marie Kondo’s runaway bestseller, THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP, I shredded those useless receipts and resolved next year to keep only that which I truly need (in one pouch as she does). Emily Woo Zeller’s Earphones Award performance makes Kondo’s quirky, precise guide to living tidily endearing as well as helpful. (Watch Zeller’s delightful Behind the Mic chat about narrating the book – she too folds her shirts differently!)  Her friendly tone warms the exacting tea-ceremony aspect of Kondo’s approach and animates her appealing eccentricities, such as thanking her possessions. Then again, who’s calling whom eccentric?  I’ve always talked to my stuff. 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.

8 Short Collections to Listen to Now

Robin’s Roundup: New Audiobook Reviews April 13

8 Short Story Collections to Listen to Now


Short stories have often gotten the short straw in audiobooks. With audio publishers producing more titles each season, and podcasts gaining more and more listeners, short story collections may be getting more attention. Eight new collections, just reviewed, are worth your listening time. I’ve split them into essays (nonfiction) and fiction stories.

Awayland
A Perfect Universe

Ramona Ausubel’s AWAYLAND showcases the voices of a dozen narrators in a collection that’s both fantastical and familiar. Scott O’Connor’s stories in A PERFECT UNIVERSE are all set in California. Two narrators, Bronson Pinchot and Thérèse Plummer, take us outside the bright lights of Hollywood with very human and complex characters, and pick up an Earphones Award for their performances. 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.

Before you fly, don’t forget to download these audiobooks

Solve: Getting Ready for Take-Off

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock HolmesIn a couple of days, I am off to the United Kingdom. I am packing clothes, lots of good walking shoes, an umbrella, and several audiobooks, some new and some already well-listened-to, to accompany me on the long flight across the pond.  I find that on overnight journeys, when my eyes tire from the screen (watching a movie or reading a book), audiobooks entertain, relax, and make the time fly by.

I need look no further than this year’s Audie Award finalists to find audiobooks to set the mood for my trip. For a mystery buff going to London, the first choice has to be Sherlock Holmes.  In the best male narrator category is Stephen Fry reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s SHERLOCK HOLMES. I’m looking forward to listening on my long plane trip, and then paying a visit to Baker Street and the Old Bailey.  I’ll be taking pictures for my upcoming blog post. Read more…

Ellen Quint
A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

4 Women Who Changed Our World

Robin’s Roundup: April 6 Audiobook Reviews

Visionary Women

VISIONARY WOMEN is made up of four mini biographies of women who changed the way we look at our world. As I thought about this interesting group—Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters—I realized that essays by each of them are also available on audio. Several preserve the voices of the authors themselves.

Chef, food activist, and founder of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters recorded her memoir COMING TO MY SENSES last fall. I love what our reviewer said: “Alice Waters’s narration is so approachable that it’s as if she walks up to your table wearing an apron, carrying an enticing plate of food, and says, ‘Eat this while I tell you my story.'” Jane Goodall has written and read several volumes on conversation, botany, and animals many years after her pioneering work with chimpanzees. Her last volume, SEEDS OF HOPE, did not record Jane’s voice, but in her mid-70s she did record HOPE FOR ANIMALS AND THEIR WORLD. 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.