Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Growing Up with the Vietnam War

Audiobooks that offer perspective on a long war and turbulent time

The Vietnam WarSoldiers lunged muddy, exhausted, and wide-eyed across our kitchen table most evenings when I was a teenager. It was the Vietnam War, in all its fear and confusion, playing in black-and-white on the nightly news. I wish we’d had Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward’s audiobook, THE VIETNAM WAR: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, to support our viewing, as it’s every bit as informative and wide-ranging as their recent PBS documentary. Though the audiobook is abridged, Burns won an Earphones Award for his clear and serious narration, which helped me concentrate on the hard story without turning away.

You see, in 1969, while waiting for my ride outside the San Francisco airport, I did look away when a soldier dropped a bulging duffle at his feet, and said, “I’m just back from Vietnam.” Such were my muddled emotions that to my eternal regret, I couldn’t even manage a “Welcome home.” Between them, Steve Sheinkin’s MOST DANGEROUS: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR, read by Ray Porter, and Howard Means’s 67 SHOTS: KENT STATE AND THE END OF AMERICAN INNOCENCE, read by Alan Sklar, help explain the mess we were in during those tumultuous times. They don’t absolve my rudeness to that soldier, but they put my reaction in context. 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: Mystery Series Week

Celebrating favorite mystery series on audio

Police at the Station and they Don't Look FriendlyDid you know that it’s Mystery Series Week? I stumbled on this little gem while doing some research and learned that Purple Moon Press, a small independent publishing company, created Mystery Series Week to celebrate those continuing characters who return time and again to solve the case. It’s celebrated annually during the first full week of October. After all these years, I’m still learning something new every day.

I warn people when they start asking me for recommendations that I can talk for a long time about books and audiobooks I love. This is especially true of series. I have my reliable go-tos, my new discoveries, my new-to-me discoveries, and some that I dip into every now and again when the mood strikes me.

I was glancing back over the series I’ve highlighted so far here at the AudioFile blog. There have been female sleuths (Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski), non-American crime fighters (Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy), damaged detectives (James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux), and a little of everything else in between. And I’m sure I’ll continue to highlight great crime series. But in honor of this little-known week, I want to mention some series I love that maybe don’t get quite as much notice as others do. 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: 5 Iconic Audiobook Series

25 Years of Iconic Audiobooks—Part 1

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneIn celebration of AudioFile’s first 25 years, we collected a list of 25 Iconic Audiobooks. We asked our reviewers and editors and heard your nominations on our social platforms for titles that stand out as truly memorable listening experiences. Our notion of  “iconic” is that they’re “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence” and have withstood the test of time. Within our final cut of 25, there are 5 amazing series.

It’s impossible to talk about iconic audiobooks without several world-building fantasy series being on the list. HARRY POTTER and THE GOLDEN COMPASS are examples of the power of listening to audiobooks, though for different reasons. The entire HARRY POTTER series was masterfully narrated by the “bewitching, astonishing, brilliant, peerless” Jim Dale. He’s able to bring a whole cast of characters to life—134 characters in HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX alone. His narration may mark a turning point in how listening to audiobooks was viewed. 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.

Tease: Intro to the Genre

The best titles to suck you into romance listening

Oh, dear. You know how you have an idea, and you think it’s a good idea, and then after a while, you realize you didn’t know what you were getting into? This is that time.

The Firebird

It was supposed to be simple (sigh). Introduce audiobook listeners to the romance genre with a few touchstone titles. These are audiobooks that epitomize the best of the genre and would appeal to a wide range of listeners. I thought I would organize it by category — for example, if you’re a mystery reader, you can jump into a romantic suspense listen and barely notice the landing. I had a few titles and narrators in my head. I started to organize them on paper to make categories. I jotted titles on the first paper. Quick and easy, right? Not so. I ran out of paper, had to start a second sheet. I thought of more suggestions. Then, I had to turn both of the sheets sideways in order to scribble more titles. Then, I was squeezing them in between the lines on both notes. Did I mention I don’t have good handwriting to begin with?

Long story short, there are MANY gateways to romance audio, and they are all worth entering. Here are a FEW to get you started. (Yes, this is a much shortened list from the original notes.)

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!

Robin’s Roundup: September 22 New Audiobook Reviews

George Smiley, Malachy McCourt, and my favorite Aussie narrator

A Legacy of SpiesA week for old friends—that’s audiobook friends we’ve heard before, but we’re oh so glad to hear from them again. The newest John le Carré novel, A LEGACY OF SPIES, is a perfect example. Not only do I celebrate any new title from British master spy novelist le Carré, but LEGACY also brings back George Smiley. Ok, I admit it, I see actor Alec Guiness, but narrator Tom Hollander brings alive the Cold War spy masters and their craft. Le Carré, now in his 80s, read his memoir THE PIGEON TUNNEL magnificently just last year, but it seems right to hand the mic to Tom Hollander here.

Malachy McCourt brings back different sorts of memories, but his new memoir, DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL, sounds like a lot of fun. He sings, he jokes, he talks about his life in Brooklyn and Ireland and his saintly mother, Angela, and his equally famous brother, Frank, who wrote ANGELA’S ASHES. I hope listeners are still discovering the great audiobook of Frank McCourt’s 1996 memoir. It is certainly an audiobook that “sold” many readers on the format 20+ 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.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: My Grandfather’s War

Revisiting WWI through Fiction and Nonfiction Audiobooks

The World RemadeAt age twenty-two, my grandfather looked a hero in his WWI pilot’s uniform. Peaked cap at a rakish angle, hand on his father’s shoulder, arm around his mother, he smiled broadly for the Brownie camera. Only the bulge of a service revolver beneath his jacket hinted at upcoming danger.

In this 100th anniversary year of America’s entry into the war, I wish I’d been able to hear about his experiences. He died when I was young, though, so I was never able to ask how the French battlefields looked from his biplane’s cockpit, how the rat-a-tat-tat of aerial combat really sounded, and frivolously, why didn’t he wear a silk scarf in the photo? Or did that sartorial flourish belong only to Snoopy’s Red Baron?

The Guns of August

Instead, I’ve found a vicarious experience of my grandfather’s war in books and film, beginning with Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the war’s start, THE GUNS OF AUGUST. I read it as a teenager, and recently listened to the Earphones Award-winning performance by one of my favorite narrators, Nadia May (also known as Wanda McCaddon). That’s two prizes for one compulsively readable account of the dares and double-dares that caused so much bravery and death. 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.

Tease: Hot Listens That Pick Up The Pace

Suspenseful romances full of dark secrets, peril, and scheming

After the DarkIf you feel that the world seems to be spinning faster than ever these days, you’re not alone. AudioFile romance reviewers have selected a few fast-paced titles—newly released—that will keep listeners on their toes.

AFTER THE DARK, a romantic suspense title, is an unrelenting look at the mind of a serial killer. Narrator Summer Morton manages—somehow—to lighten this dark and gritty series with the romance between FBI profiler Samantha Dark and her old partner, Blake. This audiobook is a great crossover for mystery listeners. 

Jim Frangione narrates SHADOW REAPER, the second in Christine Feehan’s out-of-the-ordinary paranormal series. Shadow Rider Ricco Ferraro uses Japanese Shibari art to help him assuage his guilt over past mistakes until he meets the woman who shares his dark secrets. Intense is a good word for this performance. 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!

Robin’s Roundup: September 1 New Audiobook Reviews

This week 5 end-of-summer options that think about transitions

ArrowoodAs we wrap up summer with a long weekend, the audiobook reviews this week put me in two minds. I want to extend my random “summer listening” choices just a little longer, but also know many of us have already turned to the more serious efforts of fall.

ARROWOOD, set in the London of Sherlock Holmes, looks like a great choice if you’re on a mystery bent. We’ve been doing a lot of listening around the upcoming Sherlock Holmes anniversary in October. Arrowood is a scornful, anti-Holmes detective portrayed by Malk Williams. It gets an Earphones Award, so well worth attention.

An ensemble of popular young adult writers including Libba Bray and Tim Federle offer a collection to wrap up summer with some teen listening: SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS. Six narrators share the varied stories. The notion of “coming-of-age” comes to mind as I thought about the stories and how the end of summer often marks this transition.

The cultural commentary of Ben Sasse’s THE VANISHING AMERICAN ADULT has a lot to say about coming of age in 21st-century America. His friendly warning, as well as encouragement for parents, teachers, and officials, is worth checking out. Fiction is often the norm for listeners to explore coming-of-age stories, and I often think it’s a welcome way to learn about the customs, culture, and expectations of others ages and times—think Jane Austen. In a dynamic new production, Emma Thompson leads a full cast to present NORTHANGER ABBEY. The Gothic satire of Austen’s first novel makes good listening.

My Absolute Darling

This week’s current darling of the publishing world, MY ABSOLUTE DARLING, is getting reviews and comments from critics as a major debut. As an audiobook, Gabriel Tallent’s debut is harrowing in a way that is different from the distress caused when we read text of graphic violence. Narrator Alex McKenna should be commended for her fortitude to perform the work and bring it vividly to listeners.

Can you think of other audiobooks that pack a punch that’s different from the experience of reading the same text in print?

 

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.

Audiobooks and Literacy: Own Voices

Inclusivity in children’s books and audiobooks

The JumbiesThe lack of diversity in children’s books has been noted by many parents, teachers, librarians, and children who seek more new books that reflect experiences that are more inclusive than the traditional reflection of white middle-and upper-class characters and concerns.

Children’s authors, publishers, librarians, and book bloggers have written extensively through social media and editorials about the disconnect between available children’s books and potential audiences whose experiences were under-represented. Two movements, We Need Diverse Books (#WNDB) and #OwnVoices, were born.

While the We Need Diverse Books movement’s goal is to increase inclusivity overall, #OwnVoices specifically focuses on story creators. The message? Telling stories from marginalized experiences requires authenticity, and the storytellers who live outside the empowered culture are the ones whose voices need to be heard.

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.

The Download: 6 Picks for the End-of-Summer Road Trip

Some favorite audiobooks to take on the road

Travels With CharleySummer is a time to hit the road, and a good audiobook can go a long way towards making car trips not just bearable, but enjoyable. Some are actually stories about road trips.

Join Robin Whitten and Jo Reed as they discuss their picks for summer road trip listening. And before you declare summer to be over, remember that you may well have a road trip ahead of you this Labor Day weekend!

Listening to audiobooks about road trips while making your own way on the road can enhance your travel experience and make the miles speed by, whether you’re making a trek across the country or making your way into the woods for your last summer camping trip with the family.

“Whether you’re heading out in a car, in the train, or on the bus, nothing beats a good audiobook.”—Jo Reed

Read more…

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