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NarrationZone, where books come alive.

Hello, and Welcome to NarrationZone.com.

Dedicated to finding the best in audio book narration for your listening pleasure.

With over 10 years of audio book listening experience, our goal is to bring you the best audio narration experiences available.

If you find any issues, click on a link that doesn’t work for example, please let us know.  We are always interested in your comments, questions, and especially your narrator suggestions!

Thank you

Happy Listening!

Narrator – Alyssa Bresnahan

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Grave Surprise

Written by Charlaine Harris

Read by Alyssa Bresnahan

This is not my first Charlaine Harris novel, and as I have come to expect, the writing is superb.

This is the story of Harper Connelly.  At age 15 she was struck by lightning while getting ready for a date.

It forever changed her life.  

Along with scars, headaches, muscle weakness, phobias, and other health issues making it almost impossible to get health insurance coverage, she found she could locate dead people and see how they died.

Similar to how a dog follows a person’s trail by scent, Harper feels a vibration that gets stronger the closer she is to a body.  Once she is close enough, she can see the last moments of their life, and experience some of their last thoughts and emotions.

Now in her 20’s, she and her step-brother Tolliver make a living traveling the country and using her gift to help others find peace and some resolution. 

I have to say that this book was a good reminder to me that I have MY moments when I make assumptions without even attempting to educate myself first.

And I found many interesting issues in this story to ponder.  

For instance, how often lightning survivors share similar, life altering side effects.  I never knew that!

How some people will never believe in what they cannot prove, no matter how convincing the evidence to the contrary.  Now that…I did know.

How perceptions can be misleading, and expectations wrong.  Quite often true.

How the decisions we make, don’t always get the results we anticipate.  In other words, ‘you don’t always get your way’.

And how there are people who will do just about anything, to get what they want, no matter the consequences or the people who are hurt in the process.  Can we say ‘selfish’ here?

At the end of the story I wasn’t surprised at who committed the murders, but I was surprised at the ‘why’.

And ultimately, whenever reading or listening to a mystery, it is of course nice to be surprised.  So I have to say that I was pleased on SO many levels with this story.  

And that doesn’t even count the wonderful narration by Alyssa Bresnahan.  This is my first book with this narrator, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Her portrayal is right on point of Harper’s patient resignation at the scepticism that she has to contend with each time she is successful.

The knowledge that her gift will always make her and Tolliver suspects in any crime related to the bodies they find.

How they constantly have to prove the validity of Harper’s gift, too often to people missing the capacity to accept what’s right before their eyes.

Sometimes I believe my biggest shortcoming is that I think entirely too much.  Sometimes I also believe that a lot of people don’t take the time these days to stop and think enough.

We live in a rushing world.  

Rushing to take care of our needs.

Rushing to be the first…to get our share…to not be left out.

Rushing to blame and criticise others when we don’t know the whole story.

 We all do at some point, it’s part of being human.  Not necessarily the BEST part of being human.  Yet we as humans also have the capacity to rise above our base instincts. 

Well, I loved the writing, I loved the narration, I loved the characters and the story line, and I loved being reminded to try to be a better person by not making rushed decisions.  

Whether you are looking for just a good mystery, or if you would like to read something that might make you think a little, this book could be right for you.

Happy Listening!!

Renee Raudman – Narrator

 

Blue-Eyed Devil, written by Lisa Kleypas

Narrated by Renee Raudman

Typically, I am not a ‘romance’ reader or listener.  I have nothing against romance, it just isn’t my ‘thing’ as it were.

Especially when the romance gets graphic, as it does in this story.  I’m a ‘less is more’ kind of person.  I like to leave a few things to the imagination, or what’s the point of having one. Continue reading “Renee Raudman – Narrator”

Help for Slow Readers

My children have never been avid readers.  Growing up and trying to get through school, it was always such a struggle for them to complete their reading assignments. 

Especially as they got into the upper grades.  The books were longer and on topics they had absolutely no interest in whatsoever.  

Think about it.  Reading Romeo and Juliet for today’s teen is like having to read a book on airplane construction.  Admittedly there are a few people out there who would find that reading very interesting indeed, but probably less than 3% of the public.

For the rest of us, that would be a book to help you fall asleep fast!

So, having experience with audio books, I started getting the audio versions as well as the physical books from the local library to help my kids complete their assignments.

And for those of you who think that this is cheating….I say no. You do what you can to peak their interest and keep their attention for more than 5 minutes, which is a hard thing to do these days.

Now I’m a big supporter of encouraging people to read, in school as well as after. I once read that only about 3% of the population continue reading for pleasure AFTER they finish school.

That is a disappointing, if not scary statistic if it’s true.

So to truly build a lasting love of reading, first you have to grab their attention. Then you have to experiment with different works, and styles until you find something that they don’t want to put down.

And then, help them find more books to love. Hopefully at some point, they will continue on the path that you opened up for them.

Now there is a place and time for audio books, and a place (or time) where a physical book (ebook, etc.) is better suited.

I don’t like to fall asleep with earphones on, so I tend to read the physical books when others in the house are sleeping. Late at night, early in the morning. And when I plan on being in one place for a little while.

But when I’m on the move, say…doing housework or driving in the car, and need a little distraction to make the time fly by or something to keep me awake, that’s a great time for an audio book.

With the kids, we would put on their audio book while I was fixing dinner. They would read along as we listened, 30 minutes to an hour each night.

Then over dinner, we would talk about what had happened in the book that day. It would give us something to talk about as a family, and give them an opportunity to keep the information fresh in their minds and ask questions about what they had heard.

Sometimes it would lead to long conversations on some major life issues that we might not have ever thought or had the chance to discuss.

There are some books that I know my kids never would have finished in school had it not been for audio books and this process. And quite possibly some classes or tests they would not have passed, but they did.

It also gave us more family time, and I truly believe that family time is important at all ages. Sometimes I felt I learned more than they did, either from the story, or about them.

Those discussions certainly taught me a lot about how my children learn and process information, and a little about the way they think.

I don’t know if my children will end up avid readers (or listeners), but they know how to read and write, and they can communicate with confidence. And that’s something any parent can be proud of, right?

Let me know if your children are familiar with audio books, and if so, in what way? Do you find them helpful? What is your family’s favorite audio book to share?

And as always, from my family to yours…Happy Listening:)

Joel Brooks – Narrator

Born December 17, 1949, Joel has been acting since the 70’s on stage, tv, and movies.  

In movies he was in Indecent Proposal, Smithereens, Protocol, Stir Crazy and many more.  

In TV he had roles (some recurring) on shows such as M*A*S*H, Taxi, Three’s Company, Deep Space Nine, Without a Trace, Six Feet Under, and even celebrity spots on gameshows.

Whittingtonby Alan Armstrong.  Narrated by Joel Brooks

Whittington is a children’s story about a cat and his barnyard friends, including a duck known as ‘The Lady’.   There are stories told by different animals, fights and partnerships built.

Bernie, the property owner, takes care of his 2 grandkids Abby and Ben, and the grandkids help take care of the animals.

When Ben has trouble learning to read, the animals step in to help.

This is a story about family, getting along, friends, and learning from the stories of others.

As a Narrator, this is the only book that I have found read by Joel Brooks.

Joel really does a great job as the narrator.  He definitely has a talent for children’s narration, and I believe he would be great in other genre’s as well.  And I’m trying to figure out why this is the only one.

I’m kind of excited though as well.  This is more like what I wanted to share with others.

Most audio fans know the good and great narrators, because the names get around.  Yet there are new voices coming in all the time, and others who only have one or a very few projects available and may not be known for their skill.

I love finding these and sharing them with you.  If you know of any other books narrated by Joel Brooks, let me know.  If you have any other narrators that you feel are not well represented or known, let me know.  I would love to give them a try.

And I will continue trying to bring you something new as well.  Keep reading, keep listening, keep learning and growing.  And from my family to yours…Happy Listening!

 

 

Stephen King – Narrator

Stephen King – Narrator

LT’s Theory of Pets

Written by, Stephen King

Yes, everyone knows Stephen King the Author.   Born in Portland Oregon, in 1947.   Married to Tabitha, who he met while at college.  They have 3 children, Joe, Owen, and Naomi.  His first hit story Carrie, was the beginning of many horror stories such as Pet Semetary, IT, The Shining, The Stand, The Dead Zone, and many, many more.

He began directing movies in 1985 with Maximum Overdrive, based on his story, Trucks.  Many of his stories have become popular and even iconic movies.

But, do you know Stephen King……the Narrator?  Well, this is the first time that I ever heard his narration.

On a short story called LT’s Theory of Pets, written of course, by Stephen King!  And I have to say, I love it:)

Of course the story is great, but I have to say that I truly enjoyed the narration as well.

Often times I find that authors think they know their book so well that only they can give it the value it deserves.  However, I usually find the opposite to be true.  Professional narrators can flesh out characters in ways that authors typically can’t duplicate in voice.

Yet there are those rare occasions when an author can also narrate their works in stellar fashion, and this is one of those occasions.

There is a bit of the ‘horror’ story here, but for the most part I found the story to be funny and entertaining.  (Sorry to disappoint if you are only in it for the Horror!)

Even the preview (of my copy) when Stephen explains where the idea for the story came from…it was laugh out loud funny.  You have to love the way the man thinks!

I laughed when Stephen said, most of his stories started with ‘wouldn’t it be funny if…?’  Which is ironic considering that most of his stories end up horror stories, not comedies.  But as he states, they ‘don’t start out as horror, they just sort of drift that way’.

The whole premise of this story I found sort of sad.  A marriage that starts out happy, drifts to some regular conflicts after the addition of some pets, and leads to an unresolved ending.  Yet the tone still remains funny and slightly sarcastic.

I felt that Stephen did a credible job separating the character’s voices.  I really loved the accents chosen, and how the characters are portrayed.  Not as good or bad, just different and slightly flawed.

When the couple split up, neither one is angry or vengeful, just understandably unhappy.  I’m not going to tell you what happens, but it’s especially sad what happens to the dog.  (You will have to pick up the story to find out what that is.) 🙂

It’s a short story, but as much of King’s work does, it gives the reader a lot to contemplate.  The ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ in life.

Brilliant as usual, I enjoyed this narrated short story by The wonderful and extremely talented, Stephen King.  Try it yourself, and let me know what you think.

Keep reading, and as always, from my family to yours..Happy Listening!

 

Jenny Sterlin – Narrator

With the recent passing of the renowned author Ursula K Le Guin, I thought it would be appropriate to try one of her books.  I chose, Tehanu from the Earthsea series, which is how I found Jenny Sterlin.

Jenny is a mother, and grandmother.  She has also been an actress since early in her childhood, and she has continued acting throughout her life.

As an actress she has played children to elderly, women and men, so she has a lot of characters to draw on for her narration.  And it shows.  Her characters are distinct and consistent, as well as realistic.  

Jenny says with audiobooks, she loves envisioning the book characters. Whether they are tall or short, fast or slow, or if they have an accent as an example.  She says it helps to keep the characters pertinent and consistent throughout the story.

She has over 100 audiobooks to her credit, as well as multiple audio awards including, the AudioFile Best of 2017 Children & Family Listening, AudioFile Best of 2011 (and 2009) Mystery & Suspense awards.  

It is truly a pleasure to listen to a narrator with Jenny Sterlin’s talent.  I have tried multiple reads lately that just do not match the skill that I found with this book.  You can always tell when a narrator loves what they do, because they make it so easy for us to come along for the ride.

Some other books narrated by Jenny include;

The Other Queen, by Phillippa Gregory

A Monstrous Regiment of Women, by Laurie R King

The Touch, by Colleen McCullough

Lost, by Gregory Maguire

For more on Jenny Sterlin, please visit her website – www.jennysterlin.com

So, give Jenny a try, and I’m sure you will enjoy the experience.  

From our family to yours, Happy Listening!

Dick Hill – Narrator

Worth Dying For – A Jack Reacher Novel

By Lee Child

Narrated by Dick Hill

Dick Hill comes from a true audio book family.  He AND his wife, Susie Breck, are both award winning Narrators.

He is reported to have narrated over 1000 audio books and has received several Audie Awards, and a Golden Voices award.

Along with the Jack Reacher novels, Dick is also well known for his narration on the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly.

Dick’s narration has been described as ‘robust, smooth, but with just enough grit to make it interesting’ by AudioFile Magazine.  This applies exceptionally well to the Jack Reacher character from this story, Worth Dying For.  

He is noted as being extremely talented with both men’s and women’s voices as well.  This book is a great example of that talent.  

Dick says that he enjoys the challenge of performing multiple roles and building credible, yet distinct characters.  He calls audio narration an ‘opportunity’ to play various parts in one project.

He finds joy in his work, and works in all categories including Suspense, History, Biography, Young Adult, Romance, and many more.  Regardless of which category you prefer, you can likely find a book narrated by Dick Hill that you will enjoy.

For a small sample of other books narrated by Dick Hill, see below.

The Power of Negative Thinking – An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results, by Bob Knight

The Death of Santini, by Pat Conroy

Johnny Carson, by Henry Bushkin

Never Go Back, and A Wanted Man, (and many,many more) by Lee Child

The Hatfields and the McCoys, by Otis K Rice

With both experience and passion in his work, Dick Hill is a talent worth checking out.  So give his work a try.

Let us know what you think when you do, or let us know your favorite Dick Hill project.

And as always, from our family to yours, Happy Listening.

Jen Taylor – Narrator

 

Jennifer Lee (Jen) Taylor graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Theater.  She has worked a lot in radio, including being a Seattle radio disc jockey.  

She has voiced tv commercials, narrated numerous books, and voiced video game characters.  

My first Jen Taylor experience (known experience anyway), was in Carol Goodman’s audiobook Arcadia Falls.

This is the story of Meg Rosenthal, who must start over again after her husband’s unexpected death.  She has to sell off everything to pay off their debts.  

So when she lands a teaching position that includes room and board for herself as well as a spot in the school for her daughter Sally, Meg hopes that this will give them a chance at recovery.

Jen’s narration is terrific, and the story is compelling. A great choice for the narration on this one.  

Once I started my research on Jen, I was a bit surprised though.  I didn’t know that she is perhaps best known for being the voice of Cortana in Halo, as well as Cortana the virtual assistant in Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 and 10.

Check out this short interview:)

That is amazing.  Halo has been a family favorite for many years now, so I was pleased to be able to put a face to the voice.  

Also, I previously posted a review for Susan Bennett, who is perhaps best known as being the voice of Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

It is a small world after all:)

Once again, a great narrator shows how multi-talented she is.  So here is a list of some other audiobooks narrated by Jen Taylor.

Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu by Stephanie Rosenfeld

Twelve by Lauren Myracie

Winter Wonderland by Elizabeth Mansfield

Three Wishes by Barbara Delinsky

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau

Mismatch by Tami Hoag

Perfected by Girls by Alfred C Martino

And many, many more.

Give Jen Taylor a try.  I believe, regardless of the subject matter, that you will be pleased with her performance.  

Thank you for visiting our site, and we hope you come back often.  

Please leave a comment if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, and as always….from our family to yours, Happy Listening!

Don’t be a Wimp!

So you probably are NOT a Wimp, but I guess I still am sometimes.

If you have read any of my previous posts, then you know that I am addicted to audiobooks.  It is rare for a day to go by that I am not listening to a book at some point throughout the day.

As a single working parent I don’t have much in the way of ‘free time’, or for that matter ‘me time’.  I also don’t have much of a spending allowance for personal wants.  (Although for me, audiobooks could possibly be classified as a need, but certainly not with a large budget.)

And New audiobooks, are not cheap, and understandably so.

So, with the number of audiobooks that I can go through in a month, I have to be creative.  I subscribe to different services to be able to purchase a few new books per month.  

I will also borrow books from our local library, and sometimes buy old books from them when they are pulled out of circulation.

And I buy used audiobooks from yard sales and even online, sometimes in random batches.  Now random batches are a little like a treasure hunt, you never know what you will find.  And that brings me to my point.

The good part of randomly getting audiobooks is that I have listened to works I probably never would have found on my own, and yet they become some of my all time favorites.  

The bad part of random audiobook picks, is that sometimes I really feel like I have wasted my time.  And that’s where I want to implore you not to be a wimp like me.  Or like I have been.

While we should always be open to new ideas and experiences, we should also not lose track of the things that we enjoy.  

I am one of those people who will sit through a bad movie, because I hope at some point that it will get better.  And it’s the same with audiobooks, I like to finish what I start.  But I realized after trying 2 books in a row that for different reasons were not suited to me, that I really need to be more direct in my approach.  

I need to get in with the new crowd and understand that it’s ok to say ‘No’.  No, I’m not going to finish this book.  No, I’m not going to waste my time again.  And No, I’m not going to feel bad about that.

With the billions of books out there, it’s safe to assume that there will be many books that just won’t be a good fit for me.  And every moment that I waste on one that I don’t like, I’m missing something that I could potentially LOVE.  

Like some of the wonderful audiobooks that I have found and added to my list of FAVORITES such as Mordacious, The Quacker Cafe, Midnight Crossroad, and more.

I’m not going to list the books that I consider ‘fails for my purposes’.  One, because I don’t want to waste more of my time or any of yours.  And Two, because I do understand that what I don’t like, is in most cases a matter of preference.  

And that’s where I want to stress again, that we all look for audiobooks that excite, entertain, inform, or maybe just make us laugh.  Life is a rollercoaster ride, and you never know when it’s going to end.  

If you love Histories, then make sure that you have plenty of those on your reading lists.  If vampires get your blood pumping, then by all means, enjoy them.  

Yes, step out of your comfort zone from time to time, and open yourself up to something new and you may be pleasantly surprised.  Yet, if what you’re reading isn’t lifting you up but rather bringing you down….stop.  If it’s become a chore to listen…it’s ok to move on to something else.

Most subscription services will let you trade in books that don’t work for you, so make sure to use that service to find a good fit for you and make good use of that hard earned dollar.

If you Love it, keep it.  If you don’t….return it, sell it, or donate it to someone else who might.  

There is a market for everything, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have everything in your basket.  

So, I’m going to take my own advice and go find something that I can really enjoy.  Then I will be back here with a new review for you.  You don’t have to love the same things that I do, but I hope you can find something you love.

From my family to yours, remember to make time for some truly Happy Listening!

Terese Plummer – Narrator

Another outstanding narrator!  What can I say?  I love being able to bring talented people like Terese Plummer to you.

My first experience with audio book narrator Terese Plummer, was with Mordacious by Sarah Lyons Fleming.

If you haven’t experienced Sarah Lyons Fleming, or her ‘Until The End of the World (UTEOTW)‘ series yet, and if you like zombies…. you really need to give these books a try.

I am a ‘Walking Dead’ fan because of the characters and the whole ‘what if the world ended?’ search for answers.  And if you are too, then these books will be perfect for you.

Now, I read some of the book reviews for Mordacious, and one of the comments was that this book, the first in ‘The City Series’ books from Sarah took a little longer to get hooked into than the original UTEOTW series.

I haven’t read the actual book, so that may be true when reading the actual pages, but it wasn’t true for me when listening to the audio book version.

Surprisingly enough, it was Mordacious that got me into the whole UTEOTW series (as well as the novella So Long, Lollipops).

So the whole story is that I listened to So Long, Lollipops first and really liked it.  But it being a novella I didn’t realize that it was a sub part as it were, of an actual series.  I didn’t have much time for research at that time, so I just moved on.

Then, I got Mordacious! And after Mordacious, I just HAD to find out if there was more.  And that’s how I found the UTEOTW series, and went through all 3 books in about 1 week.  Keep in mind that I have a full time job and am a single parent household, so that’s pretty devoted listening!

Back to the subject of this post though, one of the reasons that I think this story was so compelling to me, was of course the outstanding narration.  Mordacious is co-narrated by Terese Plummer and Luke Daniels.  I think that this was a really great pairing of talented narrators.

Terese has over 300 audio books to her credit, and Luke has over 250.  Both have been nominated and/or won numerous awards including Earphones, and Audie awards.  They are young, extremely talented, and prolific narrators.

As many amazing narrators do, Terese has an acting background including guest spots on Law and Order SVU, and The Good Wife.  She has worked in regional theatre.  She is a commercial voice artist, and a comic voice artist in Ironman Extremis, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

She received Audiofile’s Best Voices of the Year 2015, for her work on Robyn Carr’s, A New Hope.

I mean, seriously, this is what Terese does for a living… and it shows.

Some other award nominated/winning projects are; Robyn Carr’s The Wanderer, Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home, Jennifer Haigh’s Faith, Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, Carson McCuller’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Peter Cline’s The Junkie Quatrain.

If you haven’t heard Terese Plummer’s narration, and you are looking for someone great, give her a chance to impress you.  You can find more info from her website, www.tereseplummer.com.

And as always, from my family to yours, Happy Listening!