Posts Tagged With: Audible

Shorties: 3 Audiobooks, 3.5 hours

I dunno about any of you, but right now I’m buried under a pile of incredible books and a million other things (WNBA All-Star weekend, here I come!). My attention-span is also scattered to the four winds, so what I really need are bite-sized (audio) story morsels. One of my favorite things is being read to. The Seattle Public Library hosts a bag lunch story time for adults (I’ve always wanted to go!). Audiobooks are, for the most part, the closest I get to replicating that wonderful feeling of being told a tale. In honor of the busy and multi-tasking folks out there, I scrounged up a few stories that you can listen to in a half hour, an hour, and two hours. They’re great for one sitting; while finishing up odious household chores; noshing on munchies and crunchies; or running around doing errands!

Use the advanced search on Audible to sort by length. If you do a search for “lesbian” in the less than one hour search, you’ll come up with a list that includes M/M romance, sensationalist erotica, and titillating titles. I had to dig around before I found anything that I wanted to listen to, though. Searches for “bisexual” short titles proved even less inspiring. But. You may find more in these results that are to your liking. I’d love to hear from folks who have listened to these stories or have audiobooks under three hour recommendations to share!

*Denotes To Be Listened (TBL) audiobooks.

I’ve listened to Rift Jumpers twice. Once on a lunch break and the second time this morning on my commute. It’s a short story prequel, to what, I can only assume is going to be a fantastic cosmic adventure series. Jane Henningsly, Commander of the research ship, Dauntless, and her crew, embark on a voyage of discovery across the cosmos. Long divided by distance and unattainable “faster than light” space travel, they seek out “rifts”… 

Narrator Kristin James delivers another immersive performance as a crew on the cusp of exciting scientific discovery (though her Aussie and Scottish accents are slightly off the mark, I’ll chalk those characterizations up to the dilutions of years spent in outer space amongst folks from all over). She enhances humorous and tender moments between crew members as they cycle through routine, yet crucial, maneuvers, as well as creating emotional depth through her nuanced narration.

Appeals: hardish sci-fi, a touch of F/F romance, great cast chemistry (blending professionalism & personal connections), humor, kick ass female protagonists

Rift Jumpers: Faster Than Light (A Short Story Prequel) by Erik Schubach
Narrated by Kristin James
Length: 29 minutes
ASIN: B01IFGCWVU
Released: July 2016

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

North Star: A Western Lesbian Romance Audiobook

L.A.-based journalist Megan Hill is a true town mouse. She loves her permanent cell signal, her shitty public transport, and her Starbucks on every corner – and all of that is about to disappear for an entire summer. Soon, she’s going to regret suggesting a “town vs. city” article for the next magazine issue, as it’s her the magazine is sending to Iron Road, Utah to make the report.

Out there, she’ll find Jessie North, the confident and cantankerous owner of North Star Books in the small western town – and apparently the only out and proud lesbian for miles around. Jessie has no fear and no filter, and it’s gotten her into quite a few confrontations over the years. Maybe it’ll get her into a confrontation with this Barbie doll of a city girl who’s just turned up.

Only…Megan and Jessie don’t hate each other like it seems they should. There’s something pushing them together – and it’s not just Jessie’s mother. Whatever fairytale or chemistry is drawing these two women to each other, it’s drawing them pretty strong. Whether it’s strong enough to resist the hate of homophobic Iron Road residents and a cruel, cruel request from Megan’s editor, however, has yet to be seen. ©2016 Bridgette Jensen (P)2016 Bridgette Jensen

Wow, just from the publisher’s description alone, I’m ready to saddle up and head out into the country for adventure! You get well-trod match-ups: city vs. country and fast-paced career vs small town business owner. The sample of narrator Sara Lorn’s performance sounds very promising, too! 

Also, have you watched “Cowgirl Up” from Tello? It’s two seasons of city girl shenanigans on a ranch. If you grew up on Nickelodeon’s “Hey Dude” (1989-1991), City Slickers (1991), and other humorous Westerns pitting unlikely cowgirls and cowboys against the elements, then definitely check out this series! 

Appeals: city mouse vs country mouse, Western setting, F/F romance

*North Star: A Western Lesbian Romance by Bridgette Jensen
Narrated by Sara Lorn
Produced by
Length: 56 minutes
Released: August 2016

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

Pomegranate Audiobook

What if everything you thought you knew was a lie?

Crafting spells, running her shop, and hanging with her lover, Hayden, was all Persephone Carraway wanted out of life. The future was filled with endless possibilities as long as it was with the girl of her dreams. But Hayden has a secret and, it turns out, so does Persephone.

One night in the Underworld will change things forever….

Demi, Persephone’s mother, has developed a designer pomegranate, infusing it with her daughter’s blood. A single act of betrayal will craft war with the old gods and the fae, leaving destruction in its wake. Persephone is drawn into a web of myth and magic where nothing is at it seems, even herself.

Myth. Magic. Pomegranates….

©2015 Erzabet Bishop (P)2015 Erzabet Bishop

Oh my dear, Persephone, what have you gotten yourself into? This will be the second audiobook featuring a retelling of Persephone and Hades (aka Hayden), that I’ve listened to this year. My finger is poised above the play button and I look forward to another version of Greek god and goddess drama! Hollie Jackson’s narration sounds like her standard style, but is still very enjoyable so far.

Appeals: Fantasy, erotica, F/F romance, mythology, retellings

*Pomegranate: Myth & Magic, Book 1 by Erzabet Bishop
Narrator: Hollie Jackson
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Length: 2 hours
ASIN: B015S1FVUE
Audiobook production date: December 2015

Available as an audiobook from Audible. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

Shadows of the Heart – audiobook review

Shadows of the Heart

While it has been a while since I’ve read a Gothic romance, pressing play on the audiobook for Patty G. Henderson’s Shadows of the Heart made me feel like I never left that world. It’s full of my favorite elements: secret passages; an isolated, ailing, and neglected young wife; stolen kisses and forbidden romance; dark visages hiding darker deeds; a strong and strapping woman astride a steed, hair and mane flying in the face of convention; stodgy dowagers; a duplicitous lady’s maid; dinner parties and masquerade balls; poisonous plants; a cavernous, dank and oppressive castle; and, of course, a heroine of former social standing who must couple her wits with opportunity, while also standing up for those in need and staying true to herself! *Phew! Take a breath.*

The novel unfolds through the eyes of Annalee Stewart, amidst early 1820’s England social conventions and the atmospheric grounds of Blackstone Castle. Our heroine must accept a position as a companion to Lady Lenore Blackstone, the Earl’s wife. At once, Annalee finds the situation strange and disconcerting. If there is a Gothic term for “Spidey sense”, it would aptly describe her feeling of unease as soon as she sets foot on the premises. Lady Lenore does not benefit from medical care and is confined to her quarters by her lady’s maid. Lord Blackstone, for his part, keeps a fair distance between himself and his estate, leaving his wife to the attentions of his mother and sister, Victoria, who becomes a trusted confidante and ally. When he does return, events spiral quickly out of control. 

Henderson is a masterful storyteller. She paints a vivid world, full of intrigue and dark corners; brooding servants and duplicitous spouses; and of course, inquisitive heroines and vulnerable dames. I also love Annalee’s romantic pragmatism. Her uncertain financial situation balanced with her love for Lenore feels appropriate to her personality and the time period. The story is also wonderfully paced, essential to maintaining a moody, romantic atmosphere.

Narration

Cathy Conneff delivers terrific characterization of the leads and secondary cast members. Her vocal range and pacing plunges listeners into the rolling emotional terrain. Aside from her strong performance as Annalee, there are several strong characterizations that stand-out. As the dour dowager of Blackstone and as Annalee’s godmother (referred to in flashbacks), Conneff’s voice uses a crotchety register and entitled intonations. The ailing Lenore is a blend of delicate eagerness and vivacious affections. And Veronica is pure velvet seduction.

I recommend pairing it with a foggy morning and a strong cup of tea! I think I’ll revisit the story in October so that I can perch atop the bluff and gaze out upon the gray horizon and white-capped waves.

Bluff Julie

Shadows of the Heart (Gothical Historical Romances #4) by Patty G. Henderson
Narrated by Cathy Conneff
Produced by Audible Studios
Length: 6 hours, 29 minutes
ASIN: B06XNJ94TK
Audiobook version released: March 16, 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

Hallowed Murder – audiobook spotlight

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The Mystery Writers of America recently bestowed the title of Grand Master upon Ellen Hart, author of the Jane Lawless and the Sophie Greenway mystery series. Grand Master is bestowed upon writers who have made outstanding contributions to the genre. My first introduction to Hart was when I happened upon Hart’s long running mystery series, stars Minneapolis restaurateur, Jane Lawless, on the shelf at my local public library. The amateur sleuth has languished in my TBR pile ever since. When I read about Hart’s literary distinction on Women and Words, last week, I put most of my other in-progress books aside and bought an Audible copy of the series first installment, Hallowed Murder (1989).  

The series introduction finds Jane volunteering as an alumnae advisor at her old sorority house at the University of Minnesota. On a morning walk along the river, Jane and her longtime pal, Cordelia, stumble upon the drowned body of the sorority’s social chair, Allison Lord. The police readily dismiss the young woman’s death as a suicide, because in their dim view lesbians are all suicidal and otherwise loathsome creatures. Jane, however, believes that something foul is afoot and pursues a twisting road of secrets, prejudice, homophobia, loaded motives, and more, in order to learn the truth. 

A few days prior to hearing about the award, I finally acted on my longstanding desire to learn how to play chess. Grand Master in mystery and in chess are two different things, but they do share commonalities. Both require plotting several moves ahead, taking into account as many outcomes as possible. As a new piece of potentially vital intel came into play in the story, I mentally moved another chess piece ahead. Sometimes a piece was removed from play; other times, a piece made an unexpected move. He did what? She spoke with so-and-so? Someone wasn’t where they said they’d be? Hmm… It was fun to try and figure out the murderer’s identity. I loved finding plausible motives for several characters, too. There are twenty-three additional novels in the series and many of them are available on audiobook. 

I enjoyed Aimee Jolson’s narration. In Hallowed Murder, she adopts a straightforward style suited to Jane Lawless’s pragmatic personality and understated sense of humor. Even with a maelstrom of emotion (confusion, anger, fear, love, etc.) swirling around her, even when her own life comes into the culprit’s cross-hairs, Jane never loses her cool. Jolson also infuses her narration with subtle characterization of the sorority sisters and household staff. Cordelia, on the other hand, is a woman who abides no subtlety. There are a few minor points that, while not detracting from my enjoyment of the story and narration, could enhance the audiobook. I would like a beat more spacing between sections, to better differentiate a change of scene. Jane’s vocal nuances were underrepresented. Her formative years were spent in England with her American father and British mother. Later, in high school, Jane moved to the United States, remaining a resident afterwards. I did not detect the accent blend, though it is mentioned early on in the novel.

This has nothing to do with the storytelling or narration, but I’ve never listened to an audiobook that gave me a 30 minute preview of the next book in the series, Vital Lies (1991). That was a very pleasant surprise! Bonus points to Griffindor!

Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart
Narrator: Aimee Jolson (Goodreads and a few other places online list Carol Jordan Stewart as narrator. She seems to be the narrator of the 1995 release. The Audible copy I have is narrated by Jolson. Maybe someday I’ll be able to compare their performances.)
Original print edition released in 1989 by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House
Length: 8 hours, 25 minutes
Audiobook release date: 2014

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/AudibleiTunes, and other retailers. Check your local public library for availability in print and/or audio.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, mystery, series | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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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