audiobooks

Safe Passage – audiobook review

Safe Passage [Audiobook]

 

Jules Delacroix, a former Olympic rower, now math teacher & rowing coach at an all-girls high school, inherits her great-aunt’s New Orleans home in the Garden District. She also inherits a safe full of her great-aunt’s secrets. Encoded letters, with what Jules at first mistakes for French, give her an excuse to enlist the translation services of the sexy French teacher, Gen. Once they figure out that the letters are layered in ciphers (drawing out Jules love of and skill at numeric codes) and then in French (not that Gen needs an excuse to stay on with the project; it’s très intriguing and damn, that Jules is one tantalizing package!). The safe also contains other clues, such as a sketch of a beautiful black woman, a journal, and an antique pistol. Together, the two women develop fantastic chemistry as they delve deeper into the secrets.

Jules receives emotional grounding from her friends Beth and Becs. The rapport between the friends flows naturally throughout the story, infusing the day-to-day, mystery, and romance with love and humor. One of my favorite moments comes when Jules refers to her friend Beth as a “Wal-Mart sports bra of support”. Jules’ friend Becs, a New Orleans police officer, calls her “the world’s most useless butch” in college, though Jules is an amazing cook.

E.V. Grove delivers an engaging, enjoyable performance. While I’m not an expert in the differences between regional Southern dialects, Grove’s voice places me among trellises, creeping vines, and humidity. Aside from being a bit quick at the beginning of the story, Grove provides great characterization and tone. Each woman springs to life, radiating charm, uncertainty, teasing, straight-forward, and eagerness.

There are also many instances in which there is not enough space in narration to denote change between sections. However, I think that is likely the result of editing. Overall, the production quality is good, pulling you into the listening experience, rather than popping you out. By the end of the two hours and twenty minutes, Owen’s storytelling and Grove’s narration left me wanting more.

Safe Passage
Kate Owen
Narrated by E.V. Grove
Published by Less Than Three Press and Produced through Audible
Length: 2 hours, 19 minutes
ASIN: B00SLW82PY
Released: January 2015

Available as an audiobook from Less Than Three Press, AmazonAudible, and iTunes. It is also available as Spanish and French language ebooks! I think that’s a sign to brush up on my French 😀

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Reading Resolutions for 2017

 Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Buffering by Hannah Hart – audiobook review

hannah-hart-audiobook

Buffering is that time you spend waiting for the pixels of your life to crystallize into a clearer picture; it’s a time of reflection, a time of pause, a time for regaining your composure or readjusting your course.

Hannah Hart, host of “My Drunk Kitchen” on YouTube and author of My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut (2014), shares her life experiences in her new memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. Hart infuses her memoir with the warmth and humor that endears her to fans. The author shares her experiences of growing up in California with a fractured family; her struggles with sexuality, self-harm, faith, and fame; and more. Her conversational style of writing made me feel like she was riding in the passenger seat of my car as I commuted. All of the exclamation points, italics, and caps found in the text are brought to life as she reads.

Readers and listeners who have never watched her videos or read her previous book, will still find connection through the trials and triumphs of Hart’s life.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
Hannah Hart
Produced by HarperCollins
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes
ISBN-10: 1441719202
ISBN-13: 978-1441719201
Released: October 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Barnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

***Quotes come minus pagination because I do not have a text copy of the book. Remember rewinding a cassette or CD in an attempt to write down song lyrics? Yep, this was just like that.***

Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Eleanor & Hick

Two audiobooks have been released this year about the 30+ year relationship between former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena “Hick” Hickok. The relationship began as a romance and mellowed into a sustaining, supportive friendship.  

Volumes have been written by and about Eleanor and to a more limited extent, you can find writings by and about Hick. Every nook and cranny of Eleanor’s life poured over by historians, journalists, critics, and politicians. Happily, however, these two books contribute to a more complete view of the women behind the personages. I’m miles behind folks, though, since I have only just now got my hot little hands on a copy of Empty Without You, a collection of the letters, annotated by Rodger Streitmatter. I recommend listening to Loving Eleanor and Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady. It isn’t necessary to start with one over the other, though. Enjoy!

 

loving-eleanor

 

 Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert is told with through the framework of a fictional memoir written by Hick and left with the voluminous correspondence she shared with Eleanor (known to her, fondly, as Madam, ER, and Eleanor). The letters were donated to the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, with the provision that they remain sealed until ten years after Hick’s death. Albert, known for The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter and mystery series, draws from extensive research to pen a vivid story surrounding the the two women’s romance and friendship. Albert includes information at the end of the story for readers who want to find out more. She also clarifies which parts of the novel are creative license. These additions reflect important truths that were hidden away or reinterpreted by persons who found the letters unpalatable. Albert highlights Doris Faber’s 1980 biography of Hick, which demeans its subject; a result, Albert writes, of Faber’s disapproval and disgust with the relationship revealed by the letters. The novel spans four decades, covering the women’s first meeting prior to FDR’s term as Governor of New York until Hick’s death in 1968. It’s an engrossing read. Told through Hick’s eyes, it takes on an especially personal, candid tone.

Karen White narrates this story with a wonderfully straight forward style suited to the personality of it’s primary voice. Lorena eschewed jewelry for suits; built a successful career as a journalist; and relished solitude, a stark contrast to the life she lived while active and as part of Eleanor’s life. Skilled narrators resist exaggerated imitations of real persons. Eleanor Roosevelt has a very distinctive voice. White’s performance of ER reflects the cadence produced by a patrician upbringing. I enjoyed the depth of her delivery, as the emotional weight of ER’s experiences, hopes, and passions, pour through the speakers.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of these audiobooks via the links below.

Loving Eleanor
Author: Susan Wittig Albert
Narrator: Karen White
Produced by Tantor Media
Length: 10.5 hours
Release date: March 22, 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Barnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

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eleanor-and-hick

Eleanor and Hick is a sympathetic, well-researched exploration of the relationship between the two women. While not all readers will agree on the weight or interpretation of the materials sources, the book will definitely inspire spirited conversation.Author Susan Quinn delves into primary source material and other resources from collections housed at the FDR Library, the Library of Congress, and universities, in order to present a balanced, informed, and contextual look at the women’s lives together and as individuals. 

Narrator Kimberly Farr delivers a solid performance. Her frank tone, with upticks of emotion for direct quotes, draws out the public and private personas of Eleanor and Hick.

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady
Author: Susan Quinn
Narrator: Kimberly Farr
Produced by Penguin Audio
Length: 13 hours, 44 minutes
Release date: September 27, 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, Barnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

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Rodger Streitmatter curated and annotated a collection of letters Hick and Eleanor wrote to each other. He provides important context and discussion of their relationship. Prior to her death in 1968, Hick donated thousands of these letters to the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, with the directive to keep them sealed until ten years after her passing. When the cache became available to researchers, some were dismayed and unsettled by what they discovered. One of Hick’s biographers, Doris Faber, produced a less than favorable book after she read them, according to the author’s note at the end of Loving Eleanor. I’ve just picked up a copy for my own library and look forward to reading them.

Empty Without You
Editor: Rodger Streitmatter
Published by Free Press
Originally published in 1998
Hardcover, paperback, and ebook copies are available. Don’t forget to check with your local public library for availability.

Categories: audiobooks, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies, primary sources, romance, romantic friendships | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As I Descended – audiobook review

as i descended.jpg

 

It’s barely fall, but the early mornings are darker and colder. Every sound in an empty room makes me jump a little. Amielynn Abellera’s narration plays a huge role in bringing out the full richness of the story. The eerie atmosphere, setting, and murky moral territory infiltrate every nook and cranny, like fog. As I Descended by Robin Talley draws some inspiration from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Listening to the story with headphones on in a quiet library intensifies the creep factor. 

I don’t believe in Ouija boards, yet I won’t touch one with a twenty foot pole. The story is a deliciously chill, vicarious thrill for those of us who looked under the bed as a kid. It pulls readers into the supernatural and what happens when a trio of friends — Maria, Lily, and Brandon— lay their hands on an antique Ouija board. Be careful what you wish for and never forget to say goodbye.

What better place to invoke the spirits than a private boarding school on a former plantation in Virginia? Ghost stories involving former tenants are dismissed by students, who enjoy being scared, but that’s about it. Maria, on the other hand, has a secret past with spirits and isn’t so quick to dismiss the tales. The story wastes no time in setting the mood with the initial events in the old cafeteria and doesn’t let up. Since the story is told in the third person, you find yourself inside the heads of the primary and secondary characters. The effect shows the increasing doubt, fear, and isolation the students experience as events unravel. The story includes a diverse cast, with no one person being singled out as a “villain” because of their social status, ethnicity, physical abilities, or sexual orientation. Though, that being said, the story shows high school kids at their best and worst…and worst.

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Amielynn Abellera is perfectly cast as the narrator. Her strong characterizations allow the story to come fully alive. The students that she voices converge on Acheron Academy from different regions in the United States, as well as Puerto Rico. Lily has a soft Southern drawl; Mateo speaks with Spanish accented English. Some students sound stoned, serious, or ditsy. The heights of elation and the depths of fear and despair will crawl under your skin. Abellera’s pacing allows the suspense to build and grab you, but never fully allows you to relax. She doesn’t rush the story or exaggerate her voice for a cheap scare, either.

As I Descended is a great companion for the long, dark nights ahead.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.

As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Narrator: Amielynn Abellera
Produced by Harper Collins
Length: 9 hours, 9 minutes
Release date: September 2016
Audio CD: ISBN-10: 1441708952, ISBN-13: 987-1441708953
Digital Audio: ISBN 9780062571823, ISBN-10: 0062571826

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, horror, lgbt, paranormal, retellings, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Know Me Well – audiobook review

 

You Know Me Well

 

You Know Me Well, an entertaining collaboration from authors Nina LaCour and David Levithan, follows a pair of teenagers as they navigate turning points in their lives at the end of the school year. The story is told in alternating, intertwined narratives through the eyes of high school students Kate and Mark. Although they have sat next to each other in math class all year, the two first really see each other at a bar during San Francisco’s Pride kick-off festivities. Despite being virtual strangers with a recognizable face, the emotional maelstrom of love and the unknown lead Kate and Mark to become instant friends.  It’s a jubilant story of new beginnings, dashed dreams, and evolving relationships. I highly recommend the audiobook version of this story as a great road trip or seaside companion.

If I didn’t already love David Levithan’s storytelling, I would have picked up this title for the sole reason that Emma Galvin narrates Kate’s sections. Previously, I enjoyed her turn as Tris from Divergent, the dystopian YA trilogy by Veronica Roth. She has the type of voice well-suited for playing strong and conflicted young women. If she reads the dictionary next, I’ll be first in line to listen. As Kate, a high school senior standing on the brink of the planned and the unknown, Emma explores the rocky terrain of desire, anxiety, friendship, and more, through skillful narration. The supporting cast of friends, family, and acquaintances are also wonderfully realized by both narrators.

Matthew Brown characterizes Mark, a high school junior in love with his best friend/secret non-boyfriend, so genuinely that I can’t imagine him as any one but Mark (and the other people he voices). Unlike Kate, Mark clings to what he wants, even when Ryan tells him that he just doesn’t feel the same way. Their relationship is complicated and it takes Kate and her outsider’s point-of-view, to help him through it all. Matthew provides nuanced characterization that aptly reflects the struggle Mark is experiencing. When the world feels like it’s falling down around Mark, the listener can’t help but feel it, too. Every awkward moment and new experience feels real.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.

You Know Me Well
Authors: Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Narrators: Emma Galvin, Matthew Brown
Produced by Macmillan Audio
Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
Release date: June 7, 2016
ISBN: 1427279500

Available as an audiobook from Audible, Audiobook, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, friendship, lgbt, romance, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your Story!

Check out my post on autobiographies and memoirs on the blog “Women and Words”!

Our Stories, Our Voices: Queer Women’s Autobiographies & Memoirs by Julie Thompson “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” – Hamilton: An American Musical “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself […]

via A Reader’s Perspective: Our Stories, Our Voices: Queer Women’s Autobiographies & Memoirs by Julie Thompson — Women and Words

Categories: audiobooks, Guest Post, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

June is Audiobook Month!

Julie audiobook collage 2016

 

This month publishers and book supporters shines a spotlight on LGBT+ and on Audiobooks. My ears are tuned into audiobooks five days a week. If I could, I’d have more than one set of ears and oodles of hours in a day so that I could share a broader selection of reviews. As a result, whenever I pick up a book that sounds interesting, I automatically wonder: Is there an audiobook version of this?

Thankfully, you can acquire LGBT+ audiobooks through online sellers such as Audible/Amazon, Scribd, Barnes & Noble, and Audiobooks.com, etc. Depending on your local public library, you can borrow audiobooks through Overdrive, Hoopla, and One Click Digital, as well as on CD. You can also find a selection via your local public library (CD and digital editions). I hope that not only will production increase so that more titles will be available in audio formats, but that they will be more widely available at libraries. 

Feel free to share LGBT+ audiobooks you’ve read and enjoyed, in the comment section below!

You can read more about this month’s celebration of auditory pleasures via the links below. I’ll add to the lists as I find more sources (:

General Postings celebrating Audiobook Month 2016

LGBT+ (Publishers who produce LGBT+ audiobooks)It’s not a complete listing, by any means. If you know of any audiobook production companies that release LGBT+ titles that are missing from this list, let me know in the comment section. Thank you!

 Postings about LGBT+ audiobooks (Please let me know in the comments if you’ve read any postings on this topic)

***Did you know Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz ?!!! I used Amazon as a link so that you can listen to a sample.***

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, nonfiction, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If I Was Your Girl – audiobook review

If I Was Your Girl

 

Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is the powerful and poignant story of Amanda Hardy, a transgender girl completing her senior year of high school in Tennessee. The chapters alternate between Amanda’s past and present as she struggles to chart her future. Hopeful for a fresh start in a new town, Amanda boards a bus to live with a father she hasn’t seen in years. Soon after arrival, she makes friends with Bee, an artsy outsider, and with a group of girls she meets after missing the bus on her first day of school. Despite these friendships and the attentions of a charming boy named Grant, a layer of fear and doubt, built up over years of abuse from her peers and stranger, dog her steps. The relationships Amanda has with her mother and father are like night and day and form an important part of the story. Russo paints a rich emotional landscape as Amanda journeys towards her unassailable truth that she deserves to live and deserves to love and be loved.  

It is important to note that Russo includes an author afterward to address her cisgender and transgender readers/listeners. She explains why she wrote Amanda’s story the way she did and warned against using it as a guide to trans people. Everyone’s story is different and important. Russo, herself a transgender woman, promoted the inclusion of trans people in the publishing and production of the book. She also provides contact numbers for people who are contemplating suicide.

Great narration transports readers into other worlds and into other lives. Poor narration can derail even the best stories, detaching the listener from the experience altogether. As an audiobook, If I Was Your Girl combines engrossing storytelling with a well-cast narrator, Samia Mounts. Her youthful voice is perfectly suited to a teenage girl. She delivers an engaging and emotionally charged performance. Amanda’s fears and doubts, excitement and joy, hopes and dreams. Scenes in which Amanda is afraid or nervous or disappointed vibrate in my headphones: words quiver, tremble, whisper, and soar. When Amanda is out on the town with her friends, Mounts raises her voice in excitement and adds a teasing tone to the dialogue, as well as other layers of expression. The narration for Amanda’s thoughts about and dialogue with her boyfriend Grant, are a complex mixture of doubt and fear, happiness and flirtation.

This audiobook is hard to put down!

If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Narrator:  Samia Mounts

Produced by Macmillan Audio
Length: 7 hours

Audiobook release date: May 2016
ISBN: 9781427272928

Available as an audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Overdrive (check your library), and other booksellers.

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, young adult | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

dutch_fairy_tales_1604Screenshot_2016-05-08-17-29-15~2

Hooray! Last fall I began the recording process for LibriVox’s audiobook version of Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks. Now that all the chapters have been completed, the collection is available for anyone to listen to 😃 I learned a lot about how to tinker with a recording (using Audacity) and ways to limit background noise. It’s so much fun and an easy way to get started with narrating stories.  LibriVox is a community of volunteers who record public domain stories, often sourced from Project Gutenberg.  The LibriVox forums, book coordinators, and proof listeners are very helpful during the recording process.

I narrate chapter five, Prince Spin Head and Miss Snow White.

Categories: audiobooks, LibriVox | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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