Audiobook Fan Goes Gaga for Golden Voices: Narrator January LaVoy’s Audiobook Mysteries

January LaVoy and Ellen Quint
January LaVoy and Ellen Quint
January LaVoy (l) and Ellen Quint

One of the privileges of being part of the AudioFile team is the opportunity to rub elbows on special occasions with stars of the audiobook universe. Imagine being in a New York recording studio surrounded by the people who have thrilled you with their performances again and again. That was me this week at the reception in honor of our five new Golden Voice recipients who have joined this very special class of narrators. A full cadre of Golden Voices was there to welcome their fellow narrators.

Let me focus on new Golden Voice honoree January LaVoy. You can read more about January in the latest issue of AudioFile Magazine and in her narrator profile. January has recorded more than 200 audiobooks: biographies as diverse as ELIZA HAMILTON and QUEEN BEY (about Beyoncé and Jay Z); science fiction, including VERSION CONTROL; and, of course, mysteries. January has one of those voices you would follow anywhere. As with her Golden Voices colleagues, she can make any genre come alive for the listener. That takes true talent. 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).

Gaining Insight Through Mysteries

In Celebration of Black History Month

As we close out Black History Month, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the contributions of African American authors, narrators, and characters to the mystery/thriller genre. There is such a wealth of audiobooks to focus on.

The Real Cool Killers
Cotton Comes to Harlem

Let’s start with the late author Chester Himes, who wrote a series of nine hardboiled crime novels featuring Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones set in the 1950s to the late 1960s.  The audiobooks, released in 2011 and 2012, were recorded by Golden Voice narrator Dion Graham and include THE REAL COOL KILLERS and COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (made into a movie in 1970). 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).

Coretta Scott King Award-Winning Audiobooks

Beauty, intelligence, courage, and ingenuity

A Few Red Drops

Coretta Scott King 50th AnniversaryIn her speech accepting the 2018 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, author Eloise Greenfield said, “Children need to know, and to see in books, the truth — the beauty, intelligence, courage, and ingenuity of African and African American people.” 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, given annually to African American authors and illustrators who demonstrate an appreciation of or affirm African American culture and universal human values. Many of this year’s Coretta Scott King Award winners and honorees are also excellent audiobooks. Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

A Season to be Thankful—And Yes, That Includes Audiobooks

Which Audiobooks Are You Thankful For?

Wrecked

The Punishment She DeservesI know I’m dating myself, but I got hooked on audiobooks when I put cassette tapes into my “Walkman” and had to turn them over after 30 minutes to listen to the other side. I am a grateful witness to the evolution of audiobooks in the digital age that allows me to listen to Elizabeth George’s THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES—and just to have narrator Simon Vance’s voice in my head for 22.75 hours—without having to pause to switch over a single cassette. 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).

Solve: Finding humor in crime

When authors and narrators make me laugh so hard I cry

Lisa Lutz: The Spellman Files

I love to laugh, probably because all the endorphins my body releases when I do makes me feel better no matter what my mood is. It’s certainly good for me: reduces stress, burns calories, improves my immune system, and protects my heart. Which is especially helpful this time of year when the snow piles up and the sunshine is scarce. There are plenty of health reasons to support laughing, but sometimes it’s simply just fun. So I also appreciate humor in the audiobooks I listen to. And over the many, many audiobooks I’ve listened to, I’ve discovered that humor can be quite tricky. There is definitely the chance it won’t be appreciated by all listeners, but there’s also the real possibility that author and narrator won’t be on the same page and the humor will be missed. So when a production nails the humor and leaves me laughing tears of joy, I savor it all the more.

MacLeod Andrews
Narrator MacLeod Andrews

One truly great example of this is MacLeod Andrews narrating Jutta Profijt’s Morgue Drawer Four series. When I listened to the first book in this series (MORGUE DRAWER FOUR), I could not stop telling people about it. It was smart and funny and Andrews’s delivery was perfect. What was even more astounding was the added layer of a translation from the original German. A lot of the humor arises from slang, idioms, and Profijt’s invented words, which make for tricky translations. But the trio involved in this production—author, translator and narrator—makes it seem effortless. If you haven’t listened to this series, I highly recommend it. 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: New Year’s Resolutions for Crime Fighters

What resolutions would your favorite crime fighters embrace in 2018?

Craig Johnson - The Western Star

Welcome to 2018, friends! I’ll still be writing 2017 for at least another month or so. This weekend, though, I was writing resolutions. The idea of resolutions always brings mixed reactions. You have those who are steadfastly against them, “I NEVER make resolutions! Those never work.” And others who are super creative or need them for motivation. The flurry of gym memberships in January always reflects those who resolve to get in shape, and the garbage collectors probably have to work harder the first month of the year due to all those who want to de-clutter.

For the past several years, I’ve seen people creating one-word resolutions. The idea, I believe, originated with Mike Ashcraft and his “My One Word” initiative. The concept is to choose one word that you want to represent you and to focus on it the whole year. This idea made me wonder about what words would be appropriate for our favorite characters in crime fiction. So here are my ideas:

Walt Longmire – Justice
The honorable lawman from Wyoming is always in search of justice, but by the end of THE WESTERN STAR, he’s a man on a mission, and no one had better stand in his way.

Craig Johnson - The Western Star 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: December 15 Best Audiobooks of the Year #3

Look at some Audiobook “Besties” for Kids & Teens

She Persisted

AudioFile Best of 2017If you are looking for audiobooks for Kids & Family listening or for a Teen in your life, our 2017 Best lists have great choices. Last week in my picks from the Nonfiction list, I singled out a couple of choices to inspire writers from John McPhee and Colum McCann. There’s a title for kids to add to this group—Jack Gantos’s WRITING RADAR: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories. Jack’s engaging style and involving ideas really connect with young writers.

Two audiobook choices on our list give another sort of inspiration. Chelsea Clinton’s SHE PERSISTED: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
aims at tiny feminists (ages 4-6), with mini-biographies of Nellie Bly, Helen Keller, Maria Tallchief, Sally Ride, and Sonia Sotomayor, among others. (Aren’t you curious who the other 8 women are?) Kwame Alexander’s THE PLAYBOOK: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life will appeal to audiences ages 10+. Kwame’s rules come from a variety of sources, particularly star athletes like LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Steph Curry, but the wisdom goes beyond the young athlete. Great family listening.

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.

Solve: Series: IQ

A phenomenal series from Joe Ide and Sullivan Jones

Joe Ide: IQ

A couple weeks ago I wrote about contemporary crime and mystery writers who have been influenced by Sherlock Holmes. Another author to add to that list is relative newcomer Joe Ide.

Joe Ide: IQIde worked for many years in the screenwriting world. While he was selling his work, nothing was actually being made, and eventually he burned out. That’s when he turned to novel writing. His personal background, coupled with his intense love of Sherlock Holmes, drove Ide’s decision on the subject matter of his debut—he would write “Sherlock in the Hood.”

“Sherlock in the Hood” turned out to be IQ. Isaiah Quintabe, a young genius living in East Long Beach, is Ide’s Sherlockian character. The death of Isaiah’s older brother, his only living relative, while he’s still in school turns IQ’s world upside down, ultimately resulting in him solving mysteries and crimes for people in his neighborhood. But those in the ‘hood don’t have much money. They pay with things like casseroles or even live chickens. To offset this, IQ takes on jobs that pay well, but these jobs are the ones that lead him into a lot of trouble. 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: Mystery Awards Galore

Congratulations to the winners at this year’s world mystery convention!

Louise Penny: A Great Reckoning

Louise Penny: A Great ReckoningOnce a year, the mystery community gathers for Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. This year, writers and readers of the popular genre met up October 12-15 in Toronto to celebrate everything mystery. There were panel discussions, auctions, signings, parties, and more. Several different awards are presented throughout the Bouchercon weekend each year, including the fan-voted Anthony Awards, Mystery Readers International’s Macavity Awards, and Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine’s Barry Awards.

This year, Louise Penny’s A GREAT RECKONING, the twelfth Three Pines mystery, made a grand sweep in the best novel category, taking home all three awards. Penny was also the convention’s guest of honor. The audiobook world loved A GREAT RECKONING as well. It earned an Earphones Award and was an Audie Award nominee in the mystery category. If you missed this one, time to get it loaded up on your iPod. Robert Bathurst had big shoes to fill with the loss of Ralph Cosham, and he succeeded. 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: September 15 New Audiobook Reviews

Dark or bright? Are you looking for real-world challenges or a fantasy escape?

Hue 1968My choices from this week’s new audiobook reviews seem to have a yin and yang approach. The dark and the light. We have history and biography that stare hard challenges straight in the face, like HUE 1968, Mark Bowden’s extensively researched account of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. I like reviewer Bob Grundfest’s comment on narrator Joe Barrett: “He sounds like an old boot and offers no quarter when detailing the battle’s ravages, both in terms of men and American strategy.” If you are planning on watching Ken Burns’s PBS documentary or listening to the audiobook edition, THE VIETNAM WAR, Bowden’s work is an excellent companion. The biography of Israel’s former prime minister, Shimon Peres, NO ROOM FOR SMALL DREAMS, covers important decades of Israeli history. Narrator Mark Bramhall clearly gets into the author’s voice and brings listeners a direct and inspiring reflection. For another type of challenge, the biography of English cardiologist and surgeon Dr. Stephen Westaby looks at his career and many high-risk surgeries in OPEN HEART.

To counterbalance the nonfiction choices, what about a little fantasy? M.T. Anderson is a master of the invented world, and LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND is his newest young adult novel. Hearing about the aliens called “vuvv” may actually be easier than encountering the words repeatedly in the text—an unexpected bonus of audiobook listening. Anderson narrates the audiobook himself as he did with his celebrated SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD. While I’m on words that might be easier to hear rather than read, how about NYXIA, a sci-fi thriller by Scott Reintgen. The North Carolina teacher offers his novel for the “front-row sleepers and back-row dreamers of his classrooms.” That should be enough to pique your interest, but narrator Sullivan Jones delivers with action and emotion for the teens in a competition aboard a spaceship.

Is your approach to listening this week dark, or bright?

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.