Posts Tagged With: Audible

The Roundabout – audiobook review

Image result for the roundabout audiobook

Leah Rollins rolls (yeah, I went there ^^) into town with the vague idea that she wants to start a business.What kind of business? Well, she hasn’t gotten that far, but at least she’s shed a tech career that no longer fits. Casting off from California, a small town in the Ozarks gives her a fresh start far from her known universe. As long as she can find bottles of her favorite California wines at the grocery store, she’s content. Megan Phenix and her older sister Nancy run a popular restaurant, The Phenix Grill. Eureka Springs being a pond with a limited selection of fish to choose from, Megan often finds herself the recipient of unwelcome advances from other women. After two relationships in which her girlfriends cheated on her, she’s more than happy to never date again. Yet, no matter how many times she tells women she is not interested, at all, they persist. “Oh, you’re just playing hard to get” they tell her.

When the two women first meet, Megan is running red from Mary Beth’s attempts to blackmail her into a date. The last thing she wants to deal with is the parking spots in front of the business next door. Leah treats Megan’s rage over the parking with a sort of bemused tolerance. The older woman seems like a solid oak tree weathering Megan’s tempest. However, both women share a desire to avoid dating. They soon devise a plan to faux date, hoping to lead women off their scent. The more they struggle to convince Mary Beth and the rest that they really are a couple, the more they learn about each other. Romance isn’t far behind.

Mary Beth drove me crazy (“crazy” being a very mild term for how I feel), especially whenever Nancy would brush off her sister’s irritation and concerns with an “Oh, she’s just playing around, don’t take it so seriously”. Some variation of this refrain was oft repeated by Nancy when Megan was struggling with her stalker/harasser. Everyone in town cackles and gapes over the photos of Megan that Mary Beth posts on Facebook. Photos that were taken of a woman undressed without her consent. Only an outsider, Leah, attempts to intervene. At least Megan never let Nancy talk her into accepting this outrageous behavior. Through to the very last second, Megan held everyone accountable. If this had not been the case, I would have been very disappointed. A small dating pool does not equal an “anything goes” environment, as far as toxic actions and comments go.

Thankfully, Gerri Hill creates a compelling, frustrating interplay that makes Megan and Leah’s dating charade convincing. I also enjoy how the characters examine their thoughts on age and their reasons for dating certain types of people. I love how Megan stood up for herself, even when everyone around her seemed to tell her that she deserved to be treated in a way counter to positive mental health. Leah’s character demonstrates how (when some folks might consider 51 “too old”) it’s never too late to shed what doesn’t work anymore for a newer, truer path. 

Nicol Zanzarella delivers an engrossing listening experience as she embodies the story through strong characterization. The emotional weight bore by the main characters reveals itself through her versatile narration. Leah’s voice reflects the strength and patience inherent in a person who truly knows who they are, no matter the situation or location. Zanzarella’s portrayal of Megan, on the other hand, conveys agitation and annoyance through quickened pace and a raised, insistent pitch. Mary Beth’s manipulative and infuriating behavior is enhanced two-fold. If I thought I couldn’t loathe her more, Zanzarella’s narration proves otherwise. The rest of the cast is similarly formed, attention paid to their individual quirks flavoring the identity of the small community. 

The Roundabout takes listeners on a satisfying, roundabout route to love and affirmation. It is an emotionally engaging story paired with fantastic narration. Gerri Hill is an author that I can pick up and know a satisfying literary experience awaits. Make sure to add this one to your TBR (TBL – listen) list today!

The Roundabout by Gerri Hill
Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella
Produced by Audible Studios
Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
ASIN: B01MU81ZCG
Released: February 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon and Audible

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

A Knight to Remember – audiobook review

 

Dragons and damsels, turrets and turkey legs, colorful banners and noble knights. Holly’s life is not the fantasy adventure story she curls up with most nights at home. She’s a Boston librarian who loves her job, enjoys hanging out with her brother on his coven’s meditation nights, and on occasion ventures out to medieval fairs with her best friend, Carly. Life is pretty peachy, with the exception of her extremely toxic girlfriend of four years, Nicole. A single-minded businesswoman who schedules sex and treats Holly like a turd stuck to her shoe, there isn’t much in the way of redeemable qualities in Nicole. In fact, she’s a stain that just won’t come out, though Holly clings to the ghost of what their relationship once was. Part of her wants to gut it out with Nicole because she’s already lost enough in her life.

It takes a dark and stormy night for Holly’s life to spin on its axis. Out in the night, under cloak of darkness, two figures emerge from the thunder claps and lightning. A knight and an enormous beast battle in her backyard. In an instance, the raucous is over and Holly is left with the imposing form of the now wounded knight, Virago. As their adventure to find and slay the beast unfolds, the two women grow closer. No matter the outcome, however, they must answer the question: can people from two different worlds (literally, there’s a magic portal and everything!) establish a lasting relationship? There is a moment in the book in which Virago pitches woo that puts Heath Ledger’s Patrick Verona from 10 Things I Hate About You to shame! Is that a sword strapped to your back or are you happy to see me? 

A Knight to Remember is a fun, well-paced fantasy/adventure romance. There were times when I wondered at how Virago could put up with playing the waiting game when a monster lurked in the shadows, such as allowing herself to spend a day at the library when Holly has to work. It was still fun to see the characters interact in various places in Boston. Author Bridget Essex leaves plenty of room to expand on character relationships and all of those what nexts in Date Knight, the second installment of her “Knight Legends” series (which was just released on audio in January 2017!). Cheers!

Narrator Rose Clearwater delivers an engrossing and entertaining performance as she guides listeners through a world both ordinary and extraordinary. Her turn as the confident fish out-of-water Virago exploring an alien world (Earth) enhances the story. Listeners view the world through the knight’s eyes: everyday items to Earth-based people, like shopping malls, coffee, and seat belts become curiosities (though she quickly acclimates to her new environment). Clearwater uses a more matter-of-fact tone when Virago tells Holly that a knight does not leave their sword behind, not even to buy new clothes. Holly’s voice is full of the pauses that mark indecision and doubt. Her tone becomes more lively when she’s nervous, excited, or upset. Clearwater does a wonderful job of charting Holly’s personal journey as she takes charge of her life. And, as if listeners needed another reason to despise Nicole, Clearwater enhances those sentiments with the brisk, dismissive, and irritated tones and pacing with which she infuses Nicole’s dialogue. Even now, as I write this, I feel a surge of loathing for this woman who seems to think so little of Holly (in those few moments she does think of her). Ugh!

I look forward to hearing her narrate the continuing adventures of Holly and Virago in Date Knight!

A Knight to Remember by Bridget Essex
Narrated by Rose Clearwater (Note: In at least one place on the author’s website, Kelly Nugent is listed as the narrator and I’ve found an alternate book cover with Kelly’s name listed.)
Published by Rose and Star Press
Presented by Audible.com
Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes
ASIN: B01J2FBO6M
Released: July 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, and iTunes

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, fantasy, fiction, lgbt, romance | 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

Boundaries – audiobook review

Boundaries Jane Retzig audiobook cover

Earlier this month, Audible released a production of Jane Retzig’s 1994 novel Boundaries. It features compelling storytelling and strong narration that will stay with you long after you finish listening.

The story unfolds in Northern England in the late 1970s and spans several years in the lives of two women, Elizabeth and Jan. Told in alternating, first person narratives, the listener is privy to how the women develop over time. At times, the listener is perhaps more aware of what is going on inside the protagonists than they themselves are. Elizabeth, a social worker in her mid-30s, takes on a younger boarder named Jan, at the behest of a colleague.  Jan is on the cusp of her 18th birthday when her parents learn of a cache of love letters between their daughter and a family friend and kick her out. She makes do with a part-time job, school (she’s a stellar student), and pints of lager at local pubs. 

Jan falls hard and fast for Elizabeth, but the older woman resists the mutual attraction. She immerses herself in university life, but continues to carry a torch for Elizabeth. Desire is always present, just beneath the surface, at times breaking to the forefront dramatically, before plunging back into the depths. They struggle with this gray territory and it has intense consequences for both women. “Ask me to stay and I will,” Jan pleads with Elizabeth towards the end, as her girlfriend waits outside to whisk her away.  It’s a heart wrenching scene, one that is far from the first shared between the two women. They won’t see each other again for many years. Can they overcome the boundaries that divide them or will they remain emotionally adrift?   

Jane Retzig crafts complex characters that I believe will resonate with listeners. Layers of uncertainty, fear, and longing are woven into social interactions and private introspection. The story gives me “took the long way home” feels; very much so for Elizabeth on her personal journey, but also for Elizabeth and Jan as a couple. Their complicated friendship points to many possible outcomes.  It provides a strong case for it never being too late to take a chance or change direction in life.   

Narrator
Jan Kramer delivers nuanced, engaging performances as Elizabeth and Jan.  I found myself entranced by her performance.  She breathes life into the women, drawing them up off the page as she gives voice to their joys and pains. When she slips back and forth between Elizabeth’s and Jan’s first person chapters, there is no confusion as to who is speaking, through whose eyes we are viewing the world. Jan Kramer’s choice of inflection, tone, and pitch suit the characters perfectly. The rest of the characters who people this world are also clearly defined.  Jan’s father leaps off the page; his anger loud and visceral as lashes out at his daughter. Elizabeth’s sister’s unhappiness haunts the pages, haunting the choices that Elizabeth makes (or doesn’t make); her voice nags and nit picks and whines. As the she takes us through the events, the changes that occur are keenly heard and profoundly felt. 

If you’re looking for an audiobook that strongly evokes a time, place, and people, consider Boundaries as a staycation travel guide. 

Boundaries
Author: Jane Retzig
Narrator: Jan Kramer – (also at)

Produced by Audible
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes

Audiobook production date: 2016
ASIN: B01DTF2PBY

Available as an audiobook from Audible.

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

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Shira Glassman

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Bridget Essex, Author

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