Posts Tagged With: audiobooks

June is Audiobook Month!

June heralds the start of summer, Pride events, Nootka roses, and Audiobook Month! Many of us plug into a good story during our daily commutes to work, as we chip away at endless household chores, or reclining on the couch. During June, however, we get more opportunities to enjoy great stories en plein air, enter giveaways, and receive additional discounts. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Audiobook Month 2017

Up to my ears in fantastic audiobooks! 

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The Teahouse Fire – Audiobook review

the teahouse fire


 In 1865, nine-year-old Aurelia Caillard sails across the ocean, leaving behind her dying mother and the familiar terrain of New York City for the unknown world of Japan, in the charge of her uncle Charles, a Catholic priest on assignment to Japan.  Not long after arriving, a series of events send Aurelia fleeing into the dark night of Kyoto and into service of a renowned tea master family.  Now an elderly woman, Aurelia revisits her youth, leading the reader/listener through a time in which Japan experienced tumultuous change.  A gifted student of languages, Aurelia quickly absorbs what she hears, though she is considered simple because she is not fluent in Japanese when she joins the tea master’s household.  Tensions between cultural expectations and the changing times mount as the story reaches its climax.  Despite Aurelia’s many years in Japan, she is never truly considered much more than a foreigner, even to Yukako, the woman she serves and adores.  Another jarring event will force Aurelia to make a difficult decision about her place in the world.

The Teahouse Fire is full of linguistic flavors and communication challenges, making it a perfect audio-tale.  It’s in great hands  with narrator Barbara Caruso.  She guides listeners on a wonderful journey, back in time to the changing landscape of late 19th/early 20th century Japan and New York.  She provides Aurelia’s mother with French-accented English that avoids sounding exaggerated.  When Barbara speaks as Aurelia, I’m reminded of Audrey Hepburn’s accent and diction.  Language-wise, a really fascinating part of Aurelia’s journey involves veering away from the language she was born with to the point she finds it a stranger in her middle age.  As Aurelia disembarks from the crowded cityscape of New York, Barbara skillfully alternates between clear characterizations of the men and women who people the periphery and inner sanctum of the tea world.  The range of tone, inflection, pitch, and pace are reflected in the voices of the people as they navigate complex social interactions.  The overall effect is engaging, making it difficult to press the pause button.

Aural enrichment of the novel: Traditional Japanese music plays during pivotal scenes. The instruments don’t barge into a moment, disrupting scenes and moods; rather, they mark key moments and guide listeners through transitions.  It’s a wonderful supplement to the listening experience.

I highly recommend this listening experience, especially for listeners who enjoy transport to other shores and other times; revel in historical fiction; possess a keen interest in exploring culture and language; and savor tales that unfold over decades.

The Teahouse Fire
Author: Ellis Avery Narrator: Barbara Caruso
Produced by HighBridge Company, a division of Recorded Books
Length: 17 hours, 36 minutes

Audiobook production date: 2007

Available as an audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other vendors.  Be sure to check your local library for copies, too.  I listened to it as a library eAudiobook via OverDrive.

ISBN-13: 9781598870787

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, historical fiction, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lesbian Librarians – Audiobooks

Part of Pop Sugar’s 2016 reading challenge is to read a book starring a protagonist who shares your profession.  Librarians face a lot of stereotypes.  We’re often shown transforming from prudish spinsters to sexy temptresses, but rarely anything in between or multidimensional.  It can be a cringe-inducing experience to watch a movie or reading a book with a cardboard cut-out of a librarian stamping books, shushing kids, or somehow knowing everything.  Most people I’ve met who view librarians this way haven’t set foot in a library in years, or read/watched much online about how librarians currently engage their  communities.  Do you find yourself nitpicking a character whose profession you share?   


That being said, I’m searching for audiobooks featuring lesbian librarians.  I was browsing Audible this morning (because the avalanche of books I’m reading somehow just isn’t enough ^^) and found a handful to get me started.  The Lesbrarian Books list on Goodreads gave me a helpful boost, though sadly not all of the books listed have audiobook versions.  

If you have any recommendations to add, please let me know in the comments.  Thank you!

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

The Language of Hoofbeats – audiobook review



When the opportunity arises for Paula to take on a Veterinarian practice in the small California town of Easley, she and her wife Paula round up their menagerie of animals, along with their adopted son, Quinn and two teenage foster children, Mando and Star.  Before the movers have a chance to unload the first box from the truck, taciturn Star angers their neighbor, Clementine (though Vern, her husband, weary of his wife’s unrelenting unhappiness, has other concerns on his mind), when she trespasses to visit the horse, Comet.  Jackie and her family struggle with Clementine’s behavior.  A tragic past event plunged Clementine into a dark, bitter place and she seems determined to stay that way.  It takes another jarring event to allow the wounds of these families to begin to heal.  The novel explores family relationships,  humanity’s connection with animals, and dealing with intense grief and disappointment.


 Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing paints a range of emotions and promotes a deeper understanding of human behavior.  The Language of Horses (LoH) is complex, yet accessible.  Seasoned narrators Kate Rudd and Laural Merlington are a perfect fit for this story.  LoH alternates between Jackie’s and Clementine’s points of view.  Rudd narrates the “Jackie” chapters.  Merlington narrates the “Clementine” chapters.  They craft distinct primary and supporting characters.  The pacing of the dialogue appropriately reflects the differences between the characters and where they are on their personal journeys.  It is quick or slow, high or low, varying as needed, to bring the world into focus.  Listeners will look forward to this wonderfully engaging production.

Narrator Kate provides youthful buoyancy and intensity to the children’s voices, as well as a mixture of levity, uncertainty, and strength for Jackie and Paula.  We hear the emotional journey the characters take and how they evolve as the events unfold.  Kate’s voice hitches when eight year old Quinn is seized by the fear that he will lose his family, again, if they ride together in one vehicle; rises when tempestuous Star talks about Comet, the neighbor’s horse; and descends into a deeper, hesitant register as Clementine flounders with her anger.  Kate masterfully lifts the characters off the page and infuses them with life.

Narrator Laural gives additional weight to the complicated emotions swirling through Clementine’s heart and mind.  The older woman has an insistent need-to-know everything-about-everything (and hate it)-right-now personality that has her voice rising, with quick repetition of her words when she wants to make sure she’s heard.  Vernon, her husband, speaks with a more measured cadence and has a thoughtful tone to his voice. Although Vernon is a man of few words, Laural’s skillful narration amplifies his every word.  It is because of Laural’s nuanced narration, that I found myself empathizing with the almost impossible to like Clementine.  No small feat!


There is a slim selection of audiobooks featuring lesbian protagonists in the three public library systems of which I am a member.  Perhaps I just need to fine-tune my search strategy.  Aside from Sarah Waters complete catalogue, I find titles if they have record tags for “lesbian” or if I know a specific title, author, or publisher.  I purchased The Language of Hoofbeats from

My goal this year is to locate as many sources for lesbian audiobooks as possible, without breaking the bank.  If you have a favorite narrator, story, or audiobook production company, drop me a line in the comment box below.  

Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Narrators: Kate Rudd, Laural Merlington
Produced by Brilliance Audio
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible, iTunes, and your local bookseller.
Join the conversation on Goodreads.

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fiction, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LGBT Audiobooks 2015 Listen List

The following is not a comprehensive list of LGBT audio books.  It’s a small selection of the audio books that I listened to in 2015.  Since I spend a large part of my week commuting to work, I listen to a lot of audio books.  If I don’t enjoy a narrator’s style or find them wrong for the story, I don’t waste time and move on to the next one.  As a rule of thumb, I recommend listening to at least the first disc (or Part 1 if it’s an e-audiobook) before deciding on whether you want to listen to the rest.


Landing by Emma Donoghue, read by Laura Hicks

A benefit of listening to someone else read a story is learning the correct way to pronounce a name.  I had pronounced Síle as See-leh when it actually sounds like Shee-luh.  Laura Hicks bridges both worlds the listener travels to as the story unfolds.  She creates interesting and distinct characters in Dublin, Ireland and Ireland, Ontario.

Síle is never in one place for very long.  Life as a flight attendant keeps her on the move: a layover in Toronto, Canada; home for a few days in Dublin, Ireland; or an overnight somewhere else.  For the most part, she’s okay with her life as is, even if it no longer fits in the same way as it once did.

Jude enjoys life in her small town (Ireland, Ontario), curating for the local history museum and living with her mother.  However, Jude’s life is upended when her mother falls ill and forces her to board a plane to bring her home (and only a deep love can make her set even one pinkie toe on a plane).

The two women meet in the middle (literally, thousands of feet in the air).  At first, they’re just pen pals, but then their relationship evolves into much more.  Emma Donoghue conveys the emotional challenges that falling in love with someone who lives in another country brings.  There are all manner of hurdles (small town vs big city; Ontario vs Ireland; homebody vs wanderlust) that could halt the romance.  However, the novel leads the women through them, in a relatively believable fashion, and it would have felt right for the women to go their separate ways or stay together.


Snow Falls by Gerri Hill, read by Sara Hawthorne

A run-of-the-mill romance involving a curmudgeonly writer hiding in the mountains and a self-help author.  The two women are trapped together in a cabin after an avalanche blocks the roads.  Hawthorne’s narration is enjoyable and makes for a pleasant 5 hours+


Tipping the Velvet by Sara Waters, read by Juanita McMahon

I had watched the BBC miniseries a million times before I listened to the audio book (I know, I know, I’m a terrible philistine for not having read the book first or even second before viewing the video version ^^).  Juanita McMahon seamlessly travels from one character to the next, drawing distinctions between different neighborhoods in England.  I felt the whole novel come to life between my ears.

Nancy Astley wends her way through Victorian England, winning hearts onstage as Nan King and offstage stumbling through various romances.  Each part of the novel finds Nancy struggling to figure out who she is and where she is going in life.


Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by  Carrie Brownstein, read by the author

When it comes to memoirs and autobiographies, who better to narrate than the person who lived through the events unfolding between the listener’s ears?  In the audio version of a life, it feels much more intimate to hear all of the emotions unfolding as they recall past events.  Carrie Brownstein leads you through her musical journey with Sleater-Kinney.  She includes the highs and lows, not excusing herself for missteps along the way.  Rather, you hear how her choices build to bring her to where she is now.  And that’s a good thing.


The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman, read by Donna Postel

Lillian Faderman’s latest non-fiction chronicles the gay right’s movement from the witch hunts of the Cold War era up through present-day.  It is by no means extensive, but will make a good supplement for any LGBT history collection.  Donna Postel narrates the events in a clear, easy-to-follow fashion.


Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, read by Thérèse Plummer, J. Brian Hutchison, Michele O. Medlin, Mia Barron, and Ellen Wilbur

This production combines the dual talents of narrators Thérèse Plummer and J. Brian Hutchison, and original musical compositions that enhance the storytelling.  Zoe and Max Baxter grow apart after the stress of trying to conceive, among other factors, and divorce.  Later, when Zoe tries to have a child with her wife, Vanessa, he ex-husband and his family try to intervene.

Hild by Nicola Griffith, read by Pearl Hewitt

This novel illuminates Hild of Whitby, a little known public figure made flesh and blood in this imaginative retelling.  Pearl Hewitt gives voice to the different dialects and social lives of the men, women, and children who people the early Middle Ages.  I highly recommend this one!


A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, read by Simon Prebble

George, a British ex-pat and professor in Southern California during the 1960’s, loses his longtime partner.  We live through the eyes of George as he lives with his grief.  Simon Prebble blends snark, disdain, cynicism, sorrow, pain, and a touch of happiness as he gives voice to George’s thoughts and observations.


Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr, read by Pam Ward

A thoughtful, well-researched account of Sally Ride’s life.  If you love outer space and Sally Ride, then strap your ears in for blast off in 5…4…3…2…1…!  Pam Ward’s voice takes the listener on a matter-of-fact, intimate journey of the woman we only knew before from a distance.  The author included the recollections of Ride’s partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, as well as the astronaut’s friends and family.


Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris, read by author

A Choose Your Own Adventure type story on audio book, you ask?  Well, Mr. NPH explains the wonders of how it works.  He alternates between options, fact and fiction, both entertaining and informative.  Charming, funny, and a bit dishy at times, just like the man himself.


Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming, read by author

Alan Cumming invites the listener in on very personal territory: his evolution as a person and his relationship with his family.  The highs and lows of his life are evident on every syllable.  And his Scottish accent is icing on the cake.  Thank you for sharing, Alan.


Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, read by Scott Campbell

It’s hard for me to listen to this story without picturing Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger riding up into the mountains.  It’s a short story/novella, but the emotional journey that both author and narrator take you on will last a long, long time.


Carsick by John Waters, read by author

This is one hitchhiker that you will definitely want to pick up.  What better way to enjoy Waters account of thumbing his way across the country than by listening to it in your car (or on your smart phone while you travel by plane, train, foot, or bus)?  The memoir is divided into three parts: best case scenario, worst case scenario, and the actual account.  It’s hilarious and awesome!  Go listen, go listen now!


The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, read by Juliet Stevenson

Not all actors are capable of voicing animated characters or narrating novels.  Juliet Stevenson possesses the range to give life to Sarah Waters’ latest piece of historical fiction.

It’s 1922 and Frances Wray and her mother are struggling to make ends meet.  They rent out a room in their middle class home to a young couple, Lillian and Leonard Barber.  Lillian and Frances begin a romance that slams into more than one hurdle.  Disaster or a new beginning?  Tune in to find out!  Waters does a wonderful job drawing out class conflict, sexuality, and ethical and moral dilemmas.  The second half of the novel really put me in mind of Crime & Punishment.  The Paying Guests felt weighed down with intense emotions and difficulties, but there was enough levity and pinpricks of light to lift it up.


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

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