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.

Go West for Romance

Tease: Western Romance Audiobooks

Cowboy Up

Cowboy UpFor those of us who live in the cold, rainy northeast, the setting of a Western romance audiobook holds huge appeal. Large ranches and farms are outside our everyday reality, and I always take an extra moment while listening to a western to soak in the descriptions of plants and trees we don’t have here. I’ll never forget driving through the fairly flat, mostly treeless highways of Kansas. In focusing on what was missing (our verdant, rolling hills covered with leafy trees and winding roads that twist around a varied landscape), it took me a while to realize what I’d gained — sky. Giant, overwhelming sky stretching from horizon to horizon. I remember talking to someone who said he felt claustrophobic without that unobstructed view, while I felt frighteningly small underneath it — it’s all what you’re used to! So this week we share some awe-inspiring western romances. A place to call home, independent characters who rely on friends and family to get by, a sense of belonging — narrators have to speak from their heart to capture the true spirit of the western happily ever after.  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!

Rogue Security Unit activates All Systems Red

Behind the Mic with Kevin R. Free

All Systems Red

Narrator Kevin R. Free has convinced us to listen to ALL SYSTEMS RED by Martha Wells, a Nebula & Hugo Awards finalist told by “Murderbot,” a depressed rogue security unit. Let’s interface with Kevin for our latest Behind the Mic.

“It was really one of the coolest experiences of my career, narrating a coming-of-age story about someone who was not a person.”—Narrator Kevin R. Free

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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.

Discover Someone to Wed

Tease: Discovery series

Someone to Wed

With a new mini-series here on Tease that we’re calling our “Discover” series, we’re including images that will help take you deeper into the world of the romance audiobook we’re recommending. Consider it inspiration for a more immersive listening experience.

19th century British glass jug made by Apsley Pellatt & Co
Wine glass

To go along with SOMEONE TO WED by Mary Balogh, narrated by Rosalyn Landor, I’ve chosen a pair of images from the Victoria and Albert museum of London, including this 19th-century British glass jug made by Apsley Pellatt & Co.  Pellatt was an experimental glassmaker who perfected the technique of sulphides, or medallions in glass. In Balogh’s story, Wren owns a glass factory in Staffordshire, so I wanted to reflect Wren’s love of beautiful glass creations. 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!

Nine audiobooks for Earth Day

Taking care of our planet

The Seabird's Cry

Today, on Earth Day, I’ll be taking my kids out to pick up trash around the neighborhood — something I remember doing with my friends and family growing up in rural Vermont. Every year, after the snow melted and all the accumulated garbage started appearing along with the crocuses, we would have our “green-up day” and go along the roads and in the woods picking up the trash we found. In my memories, we could trade in our full bags for donuts at the general store, which was a pretty magical experience.

The Seabird's CryIn the spirit of Earth Day, I’ve found some conservation-themed audiobooks that celebrate protecting the magic of the earth — and the ocean — for everyone from four-year-olds to your David Attenborough-loving mom.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for seabirds, so THE SEABIRDS CRY: The Lives and Loves of the Planet’s Great Ocean Voyagers seems like the perfect way to learn more about the often overlooked but essential creatures who live their lives on top of the ocean. This audiobook shares the natural history of ten species of seabirds, and how humans have impacted them. Read more…

Emily Connelly
A former wildlife biologist, avid reader, and parent to two book-loving kids, Emily is excited to be jumping into the world of literature, and happy to be working with AudioFile’s wonderful team of reviewers.

Career Advice for the Romance Listener

Tease: Audiobooks featuring women in unconventional locales, careers, and callings

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? (I wanted to be a superhero with a purple shirt, but I’m still waiting on that one.)

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing StrangerRegardless of your age, the scope of work for women has changed drastically during our lifetimes. Ask your grandparents or great-grandparents what jobs were available for women. Perhaps they went to college, or perhaps they raised a family. Perhaps they went to work during the Great Depression or during wartime. And what about your mother? Perhaps she became a teacher, a secretary, or a nurse, or perhaps she pursued part-time work when you and your siblings were little. Are there women in your family who are in the military, the sciences, or in government? And it goes on. In the past few years, women in our time have been pushing for equal inclusion in technology and corporate cultures. No matter what, I imagine the women you know and love have some stories to tell, for sure.

Speaking of stories, these romance audiobooks feature women in unconventional locales, careers, and callings. Whether it’s a historical romance where the woman wishes to define marriage and happiness on her own terms, the fast-paced world of journalism in the early twentieth century, a forced engagement via social media, or women breaking barriers in combat and law enforcement circles, these narrators create likable, authentic female characters who define their futures on their own terms. 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!

A Narrator’s Journey on the Road to Tara

Insights from narrator Karen Commins

Road to Tara

Film star Clark Gable once called author Margaret Mitchell “the most fascinating woman I ever met.”

Road to TaraI’m an Atlanta native, and GONE WITH THE WIND has always been my favorite book and movie. However, I didn’t know much about Margaret Mitchell until I read ROAD TO TARA: The Life of Margaret Mitchell by Anne Edwards.

As I read the book, I found myself agreeing with Gable’s assessment. The many quoted passages in ROAD TO TARA illustrate Mitchell’s terrific gift in captivating her audience and reveal her sharp grasp of publishing legalities.

This book became a map for a spiritual quest. I visited several Atlanta tourist spots associated with Miss Mitchell, including her tiny apartment where she wrote GWTW, her grave, and a GONE WITH THE WIND museum.

The more I learned about her, the more I felt called to narrate this audiobook. I hosted a webinar for other narrators to learn with me how to acquire audio rights and then negotiated the licensing with the publisher. Read more…

Karen Commins
Karen Commins is a professional audiobook narrator, producer, and publisher in Atlanta who has given voice to over 50 audiobooks. In addition to earning a BA in broadcast journalism and MS in computer information systems, Karen has completed extensive specialized training in voiceover and audiobook narration technique, as well as in digital audio production. In 2016 and 2017, Karen was selected as an audiobook juror for the Voice Arts Awards competitions. She spoke about audiobook creation at VOAtlanta 2018. She has written numerous articles about audiobook production for Digital Book World, InD’tale Magazine, the ACX blog, and her web site.

Opening Doors Beyond the Binary

In Our Time

The 57 Bus

In my work with library staff working to improve their reference interviewing skills, I regularly need to provide coaching to those who persistently (and inadvertently) shut down clients by offering them either/or options instead of open-ended questions. This binary view of possibilities is endemic in our culture as well: The person before us can identify themselves as this or that, black or white, straight or gay, right or wrong. In fact, identities match spectra, rather than simply opposite points, and allowing ourselves the opportunity to become aware of realities that go beyond what we already imagine as likely, or even possible, enlarges our own world as well as admitting more variety into it.

The 57 BusAn increasing number of authors address this concern, and many of these books are coming to audio format with successful performances. To be successful in this regard, narrators must be sensitive to the fact that humanity is much broader than a binary, and win listeners to greater possibilities through careful interpretation in their performances.

Among recent audiobooks that demonstrate such wider realities, Robin Miles’s reading of journalist Dashka Slater’s THE 57 BUS: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives is a fine example. There are surface-level elements in this account that clearly spotlight neither/nor, such as the crime victim’s identity as genderqueer. There are more subtle aspects, too, including the true reason behind the perpetrator becoming presumptively identified with a hate crime when, in fact, hate did not inform his motivation. Miles, for her part, does not add a fictional layer to Slater’s carefully balanced reporting by presuming character voices. Instead, she allows each and all sides to be heard unweighted, leaving the listener to consider all the mitigating points along the spectrum of gender identity, class, and racial histories. 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.