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.

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

Take 5 with Candace: Five Fiery Listens

Discovering a red-hot trend in audiobooks

A Column of FireHave 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 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: 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!

Self: The Path to the Satisfied Mind

Finding Out What Makes Us Happy and How to Get There

What Motivates Getting Things DoneWe’ve been listening to a lot of audios about the good life—finding out what makes us happy and how to get there. Happiness is such a moving target—which might explain why so many new personal growth audiobooks appear every year and why people who like them almost never listen to just one. Another reason for the boom in such audios is that our understanding of what makes people tick has exploded with insights from neuroscientists, social psychologists, spiritual teachers, and thoughtful writers.

The audios included here run the gamut from philosophy and memoir to hard science, but in one way or another they provide us with patterns—schemas of how the major aspects of being human fit together—and guidance on what we can adjust or change in ourselves to make life better. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: December 1 Best Audiobooks of the Year

Which audiobook will you choose next?

Best Audiobooks 2017Today, we’re launching our annual celebration of Best Audiobooks. Choosing among ALL of the audiobooks we’ve reviewed this year, we selected titles that have special resonance as audiobooks. You can explore our choices from the Best Audiobooks Ezine. I love this edition because we’ve added video and sound clips to help you find your next great audiobook.

Throughout the month here in my Roundup,  I’ll be highlighting a few of our choices from each of the nine subject categories. It’s quite hard to choose just a couple from the great titles in each genre—that’s why you’ll have to explore the whole list! I’ll start with Fiction and Memoir—two categories that always get a lot of attention. 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.

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!

Solve: Series: Walt Longmire

Jen’s love for Craig Johnson’s Wyoming sheriff goes way back

This past weekend was Veterans’ Day, so it seems rather appropriate to recognize one of crime fiction’s great veterans—Walt Longmire. If you’re following my posts here at the AudioFile blog, I’m sure you aren’t surprised at all that I’m a mega-Walt Longmire fan. His popularity has grown considerably in the last five and a half years as people have discovered the Wyoming sheriff and his Absaroka crew through the popular television series aptly named Longmire.

A Serpent's Tooth

But I’m an old-school Walt fan. I fell hard and fast for the literature-loving Vietnam veteran presiding over the least populated county in the least populated state in the country when I first read THE COLD DISH. Then I fell all over again when I listened to George Guidall read the mystery to me. Oh lordy, what a treat that was. Since then, I’ve had a slew of memorable experiences with this beloved series.

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: Under the Influence of Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved Holmes has influenced many greats in the world of mystery

This past weekend was lauded as Sherlock Holmes weekend. It’s a regular celebration for the folks in Cape May, NJ, and Cambridge, OH. In the crime fiction world there is plenty of reason to celebrate. The beloved sleuth and his revered creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have shaped literature—especially the mystery genre—for ages and continue to do so even today.

Steve Hockensmith - The World's Greatest Sleuth

For those who somehow managed to get through high school English courses without some exposure to the great Holmes, there are plenty of recordings of the novels and stories, like those Aurelia mentioned in her October post about her love of Sherlock. But for those who have read, reread, listened, watched, and maybe even enacted Doyle’s detective, here are some modern works he inspired to feed your hunger for the brilliant, deducing investigator.

Steve Hockensmith takes a fun twist with his Holmes on the Range series. Including novels and short stories, he parallels his Amlingmeyer brothers in the American West with Holmes and Watson across the pond. The series currently includes five novels, all narrated by William Dufris, and a collection of the shorts called DEAR MR. HOLMES, narrated by Barry Campbell. Hockensmith also reports that a new Holmes on the Range mystery is in the works! 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!

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.