5 Questions with Xe Sands

Plus 5 Audiobooks from Xe!

Xe Sands

Xe SandsThis month I welcome Xe Sands to the Take 5 stage. Xe’s soft voice and emotionally deep performances have enhanced hundreds of audiobooks across many genres. She is particularly skilled at tightening the gap between author and listener while still leaving enough room to let us experience our own reactions to the story, whether it’s literary fiction, mystery, or romance.

As I picked five audiobooks to showcase Xe’s work, I couldn’t help but be biased by my own favorites, which lean heavily toward literary fiction. I should point out, though, that Xe has many devoted romance-loving fans and has earned much praise for her performances of a variety of nonfiction titles as well. 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.

Welcome to the mysteries of my Brooklyn

Solve: An introduction

Ellen Quint on the Brooklyn Bridge

By way of introduction (and confession), I am a mystery and audiobook addict. Thus, it is an honor and a fright to take on the responsibility of the Solve blog, picking up from the great work of Jen Forbus.

People ask: “When do you have the time to listen?” Since I don’t commute, there is no listening in the car.  The answer is:  I listen when I walk (and I get in my 10,000 steps every day). I listen when I load and unload the dishwasher, when I fold laundry and do any of my other dreaded housekeeping chores. Deeper confession—I listen when I can’t sleep. I told you that I’m an audiobook addict. 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).

The Sound Stage in the Closet

What It Really Takes to Be an Audiobook Narrator

Xe Sands

As we close out our December celebration of the Best Audiobooks of 2017, I wanted to share some of our winning narrators’ lesser-known skills and challenges.

Xe Sands
Xe Sands, photo by Charles Tarnowski

These are tidbits of information that enhance my admiration for their ability and occasional bravery. Such as not panicking when a spider lands on your hand while you’re trapped in a recording booth voicing a romantic scene. Xe Sands, who read Helen Rappaport’s CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION, is officially terrified of eight-legged creatures. Yet professional that she is, she didn’t react until she’d finished her sentence, exited the booth, and closed the door. That’s when she screamed her head off. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: December 22 Best Audiobooks of the Year #4

Getting an inside look at some biographies

Suzanne Toren

AudioFile Best of 2017

Looking this week at our choices for the BEST titles in the Biography & History category, I’m excited that we have the narrators’ Behind the Mic videos for so many of these titles.

Christian Baskous talking about recording Richard Ford’s BETWEEN THEM; Mark Bramhall on Ron Chernow’s GRANT biography; Jonathan Yen giving us a wonderful teaser to explore A MIND AT PLAY and discover the man who is called the father of the information age, Claude Shannon; and Rob Shapiro talking about recording THE WORLD REMADE, a timely look at America in World War I.

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 Narrator Makes All the Difference

What Qualities Set the Best Audiobook Performances Apart?

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient ExpressAfter months of persuasion, my friend Dory finally listened to her first book during a nine-hour drive from Virginia to Maine last month. She chose Kenneth Branagh’s performance of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded when she arrived, as if I’d been keeping audiobooks a secret. “I’d never realized how witty Christie is until I heard it. And those amazing accents!” Then she uttered the classic line. “Listening to the performance made the story come alive.”

One more audiobook convert, all because of the narrator, which is how it should be. 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.

In Our Time: Immigration and the American Imagination of Itself

4 audiobooks to gain an understanding of current events

All the Agents and Saints

All the Agents and SaintsFrom time to time, we’ll be publishing blog posts about listening that can advance our understanding of current events. In this initial post in that vein, we’re talking about how the much-discussed topic of contemporary immigrants and immigration in the U.S. has been shaped by a history of national and popular beliefs about what it means to be an immigrant here and how immigration makes or breaks a culture some native-born Americans find comfortable.

Frankie Corzo reads Stephanie Elizondo Griest’s examination of cultural lives that straddle borders set by U.S. governments. As a Tejano, Griest discovers her own life has been impacted by the demarcation between Texas and Mexico that has cut between generations-long movements by family members. She also finds similarity in the experience of Mohawks whose home ranges were cut asunder by the border between Canada and the U.S. In Corzo’s performance of ALL THE AGENTS AND SAINTS: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands, listeners are given the opportunity to hear appropriately accented quotations from Griest’s informants and family members. 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.

Solve: Crime Families

Criminal masterminds keeping it all in the family

Alafair Burke: The ExLast week I wrote about Partners in Crime—people who co-write their books. Some of the partners on that list were related to each other: P.J. Parrish is a pair of sisters and Charles Todd is a mother-son writing team. The crime genre also boasts families that have more than one writer, but they aren’t necessarily writing together. Do you suppose it’s something in their DNA? Or are you a supporter of the nurture school of thought—they learn to love it from exposure? Regardless of how they get there, plenty of great writers are apples from the same tree . . . chips off the same block . . . birds of a feather. O.K., I’d better stop.

One of my favorite writing families is the Burke family. James Lee Burke and his daughter Alafair Burke write in significantly different styles but they both possess tremendous talent. The elder Burke’s sense of place in the Southern locales is vibrant and alive, as integral to his plots as his emotionally damaged characters. Meanwhile, Alafair’s sense of place is also central to her novels, but her strong female characters are found in more urban settings—Portland, Oregon, and New York City. Spanning the country, the Burke family has a little something for any mystery fan. 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!