Luke Daniels – Narrator

My first foray into the work of Luke Daniels, was actually the novella So Long, Lollipops, by Sarah Lyons Fleming.  However, my favorite of Sarah’s book, including narration is Mordacious.  I just love this audio book!

Luke (and Terese Plummer), do such a great job of bringing life, emotions, and realism to this story.  They work extremely well together also.

The production and editing on this audio book, makes the listening experience effortless.  This is a great example of how great an audio book can be when all the components are there and aligned for perfection.

The writing is tremendous, the performances outstanding, and all the pieces put together to create the optimal listening pleasure.

It sounds funny to say that last, when I think about the story line itself, which is pretty much the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ theme.  But when it’s ‘The End of the World’,  a somewhat OFF perception, and a sense of humor will be invaluable.  So forgive me if I’m just trying to get a head start:)

So back to Luke Daniels.  Luke comes from a family of actors.  He grew up with his both his mother and father performing and teaching in the Theatre.

Currently he has over 450 audio books to his name.  He has received numerous awards including 13 Audio File Earphones Awards, and Audible’s 2012 Narrator of the Year Award.

He has a deep love and passion for story telling, which can easily been seen by checking out his YouTube videos or viewing his Facebook or Twitter posts.

He is just such a fun loving sort of personality, that you can’t help but appreciate the fact that he has obviously found his passion.

His wide range of works ensures that there will be something for any type of audiobook listener.  So check out his available works, and give Luke a try.

Luke can be found through his main website, www.luke-daniels.com , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Luckylukeekul/ , and on Twitter @luckylukeekul.

Happy listening!

 

Mordacious – Book Review

Mordacious – definition – Of a person or animal given to biting.

Author Sarah Lyons Fleming
Narrated by Terese Plummer and Luke Daniels

I love, love, LOVE, this book!  Actually all 3 in the series that I have heard so far, and I know of at least 2 more to go.

If you like the Walking Dead TV show, then you should like this series.  It’s the ‘End of the World’, ‘Zombie Apocalypse’, type story.

But I find Sarah’s books much more than that.  The characters seem so real, and alive…and funny…and flawed.  You just can’t help but root for them to make it.  To find a SAFE place.

Every time there is a happy homecoming, and someone is reconnected with family previously assumed lost…you just want to applaud and celebrate with them!

And when someone is lost, you wish you could be there to help the rest  pick up the pieces and find the strength to carry on.

There are multiple stories in this series and each book is told from different perspectives.

In the case of ‘Mordacious’, the story follows the paths of two separate individuals, Silvie and Eric.

I like that each time the perspective changes the audio book lets you know who is talking.  Even though we have 2 narrators, and it’s obvious from the narration whose story we are following, I still like that it states it plainly as well.  It’s like…setting up the stage and I like that.

The narration is Great of course.  I wouldn’t recommend this in audio format if I didn’t enjoy the narration as well.

I usually prefer to listen to single narration, but I find this collaboration of   male and female narrators works really well.  You can still get enough examples of their abilities in the various characters that each portrays throughout the story, to hear that they are both very talented.

In fact, I will be researching both for future posts, but for now I just wanted to get this story out to all of you.

I love that this is part of an interconnected series, so that the stories don’t end when the book does.  I have 3 down and as far as I know, 2 more to go.  I am so looking forward to hearing those as well!

So if you like ‘End of the World’ stories, you should really give Sarah Lyons Fleming a try.  I love her writing, and I hope you will too.

Happy Listening!

I’m Not Lonely if You’re Reading This Book – book review

 

Bare Bones – I’m not lonely if you’re reading this book – 2016

Written and Narrated by Bobby Bones

I have been a Bobby Bones Show radio listener for years now.  I love the show, and I love the team, but mostly I love the family dynamic of the show.  They are not perfect, but still family.  In other words….real.

In this Autobiography by Bobby, there are few true secrets revealed since most of Bobby’s life has been covered publicly on his radio show over the years, due to two of the popular appeals of the show, authenticity and openness.

However, it is nice to get a condensed, yet more detailed version of Bobby’s story all in one shot as it were.  To hear about the influences in his life, and to see that you don’t have to be someone’s parent to make a difference.

Another appeal of the show is the connection that most listeners have with Bobby’s struggles.  We have all felt that we don’t belong at times.  Most of us, most people in general, have experienced loneliness at times.  And many of us feel broken in some way, yet we still carry on with our lives and our days, trying not to be consumed by what we feel we are lacking.

That is why I am inspired by the time and effort that Bobby has attempted, through years of therapy, to understand the reasons behind his emotional difficulties.  His efforts to learn how to have a healthy and secure relationship that will last, and not let his past decide his future.  

I admire the work that has gone into being the best that he can be, and knowing that it will be an ongoing process.

I also agree with Bobby’s belief that great things can happen given the right effort and respect, or in Bobby’s terms ‘ be reliable and on time’.  

I have often found it funny that in a time when jobs can be hard to find, basic courtesies can be so scarce and the idea of being ‘on time’ can truly distance a prospect from the rest of the pack of hopeful candidates.  Why is this such a mystery to so many?

If you have a passion, you should follow it.  That’s what Bobby did.  He knew from an early age what he wanted to do, and by showing up regularly and on time, he was able to get into radio without any formal training.   Then he kept the momentum going by focusing on what he loved and continuing to learn more and more of his chosen craft.

There were bad decisions made along the way.  Mistakes made that most of us can relate to in our own fashion.  Yet learning from our mistakes is another way in which we grow.  

It’s not the mistakes we make, it’s our response that makes the difference in who we become.  

I really enjoyed Bare Bones.  So, if you are a fan of the show, give it a try.  Or if you just like autobiographies, give it a try and maybe you will become a fan of the show as well. Either way, I think you will enjoy it.  

And in the words of Bobby, ‘every day that I’m moving forward, is a day that I’m not moving backward’.  So keep moving forward (also from the Robinson’s), and whatever your listening choice, from my ears to yours…Happy Listening!

Echoes of Betrayal – book review

Echoes of Betrayal

By Elizabeth Moon

Narrated by Jennifer VanDyck

I am always in for an Elizabeth Moon book, especially in the Pakesenarion series, so this was a real treat for me.  

I read the first 3 book series many years ago, so when I found out that Elizabeth had written 3 more from the same realm after such a long hiatus, I was so excited to give them a try.  

I love that she has taken supporting characters from the original series and expanded on their stories.  

In particular I really enjoyed learning about Dorrin, and following her story as she takes over the Verrakai family and battles to destroy the last of the evil Magelords that have given her bloodline a bad reputation.

As an unmarried woman, and previous mercenary with new-found forbidden magic, she fights to dissolve the fear and prejudices that surround her, and prove her loyalty to the crown.

While young King Mikeli fights to keep his kingdom’s peace as doubts are raised about his lineage and claim to the throne when magic is found in his cousin Becklan.

We see more of King Kieri, including his struggles with elves and the suspicious behaviour of the Lady of the Ladysforest.  His wedding to half-elven Arian, war with Pargon, and warnings from the spirits of his ancestors of treachery yet to come.

As usual, Elizabeth’s story telling combined with Jennifer VanDyck’s talented and compelling narration combine for the perfect mix in audio books.  

Great characters, surmounting terrific and sometimes terrifying challenges, all delivered through superb narration.  Everything you could want and more.

Special Mention – Anne McCaffrey – Author

Anne Inez McCaffrey, born April 1st 1926 in Cambridge Massachusetts, died November 21st 2011 in her home, Dragonhold, in Ireland.  She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award, and the first to receive the Nebula Award.  Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.  The White Dragon, published in 1978, was one of the first science fiction novels to appear on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Here is just a sample of the Anne McCaffrey books that I have in my library. Primarily from the Dragonriders of Pern series.  I believe I have read or heard all in this series over the years.  I have read many of her other works outside of the Pern sets as well.  Several from the Crystal Singer series, and several of her short stories.  And still there are so many more to go!

Bookshelf with books
Sample of Anne McCaffrey books

mccaff3-1  mccaff4

I was introduced to Anne McCaffrey’s work one summer when I was about 12 I believe.  (It might have been 13.)  My first book was Dragonsong.  Of course that’s not the first one in the series, but it was the beginning for me to Anne’s work, as well as a beginning into the fantasy fiction realm.  And I have been hooked ever since!

I used to re-read her books (those that I owned anyway) about every 2 years.  And then I found audio books and I started all over again.  There have been new books to add to the family as the years have passed, including new books preceding the original ones.

DragonsDawn for example goes back to the first settlers on Pern, and the original creation of the great dragons, but the book itself wasn’t published until 1989.  That was about 10 years after I had read Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums, Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and A White Dragon!

I saw an interview with Stephen King where he said that for him the stories come and they have to be told (or something like that).  It wasn’t as if he sat down and had to fight writer’s block to come up with something.  Rather he would get ideas that would simmer in his mind, often mingling with other ideas until a story developed that pretty much wrote itself.

From the interviews that I heard with Anne, it appears that it was very similar for her.  The stories just tumbled out.  Of course the hard part was making sure that the timelines, and specifics remained consistent, but she had a lot of help with that.

She surrounded herself with family, friends, and fans who helped to keep the details accurate.  I guess most prolific writers can be summarized as being ‘big picture’ people who can soar when they have detail driven people to keep them tethered to the ground.  Funny!  I’m claiming that as an original quote unless someone wants to prove me wrong:)

Anyway, Anne McCaffrey has always been one of my favorite authors, and I will continue to enjoy her life’s work for many years to come if I am that lucky.

Anne’s son Todd co-wrote with Anne on the Pern series before her death, and here Todd McCaffrey talks about Anne at the San Diego Comic Con.

Thank you Anne for leaving us such beautiful stories!

Day Shift – Book Review

Day Shift – By Charlaine Harris

Narrated by Susan Bennett

I found the above Youtube video book review to be quite good.  This is of course book 2 in the Midnight TX series.  For our purposes, we will be reviewing the Narrator primarily, not the book itself.

This is my third Susan Bennett narration.  The first was a non-fiction work, then book 1 in the Midnight TX series as noted on my previous post.

I really enjoyed Susan’s narration.  Her cadence and rhythm are exceptional as always.  It’s great getting to know these characters in more depth in book 2, and I think that Susan does a wonderful job of bringing out the nuances that help to understand the true conflicts experienced by each person.

You feel Manfred’s frustration when he experiences the prejudices that surround his profession as a psychic.  And Olivia’s battle to contain the rage that threatens to overcome her time and again, especially while Lemuel is away and not around to drain the excess emotions and ease the tension.  I do hope that we get to explore Lemuel’s history more in book 3, but that gives us something to look forward to.

I keep reading in my research about the Sookie Stackhouse series, and how some of these characters have showed in that series, but I can’t really say anything about that.  I haven’t read/listened to that series or watched the T.V. series that is based on it.  Typically I am not much on the ‘vampire’ scene, so that is not a big surprise.

One of the things that I love about this book series however, is that although we have a vampire, witch, psychic, shape changers and more, they are not the typical representations most people have become accustomed to.  I find them more realistic I would say here.  If you can call any of these characters realistic that is.  Subtle but believable might be a better take on them in this series.

If you are not prejudice, and like good mysteries, then you should find this series (Midnight TX) a good fit, and Susan Bennett’s narration compelling and a comfortable read.  Some books are hard to listen to, (point in fact one that I am trying to make it through right now, ugh!) but you won’t have that problem here.  A great listening experience, so give it a try.

And as always, Happy Listening!

 

Midnight Crossroad – Audio Book

Hello Listeners!  Ok, I just finished this book, Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris.  As usual I picked a book based on a Narrator, in this case Susan Bennett.  As I have said before, my favorite books to listen to are Fantasy Fiction, but I also try to give a good portion of my time to non-fiction works.  Especially anything in the Self-Help or Personal Growth areas.  And that was how I found Susan.

She narrated a book called, Excuse Me, But I Was Next…, by Peggy Post.  It’s all about practical tips on how to handle different situations with tact and good manners.  I am like most people these days, and I can skimp on my manners without really realizing it, and I get impatient at times.  It’s because I am aware of this, that I picked up this particular book.  And I was not disappointed.  It is a very informative and well written book with tons of valuable tips.

But one of the surprises for me from this audio book, was that I really liked the narrator as well as the book.  Reading non-fiction work in a compelling way can often times be more challenging than reading fiction, because it can be hard to break out of the monotony.  When I researched what other work was available by Susan, I found that she does a LOT of fiction work as well.  Yippee for me!

While there was a lot to choose from, this book (series) stood out to me.  And once again, I was not disappointed.  I want to move to Midnight Texas now.  I think I would fit in well, loaner and recluse that I tend to be.  Although I am not a vampire, or a witch, or a psychic, or have some criminal past that I am running away from, I still think they could find a place for me.  Besides, they already have those positions filled in this small western town with only one stop light.  There’s a gas station, nail salon, restaurant, and a pawn shop.  Seriously…what more do you need?

Of course it would help if people weren’t dying all over the place.  But, then again, I guess you can’t have everything now can you?  I’ve just gotten a taste of these outcasts, and the ties that bind them closer than most families.  But lucky for me, I have Book 2 – Day Shift, to look forward to now!

Happy listening!

Special Mention – Terry Pratchett

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” Sir Terry Pratchett

2015 a great loss to the Literary world.

Special Mention to the late Terry Pratchett, the author of the Disc World Series, and many other wonderful works.  One of the most amazing Fantasy worlds ever imagined.

The first audio book I heard of Terry Pratchett’s work was ‘Thud’.  Not the first one in the Disc World Series of course.  I rarely ever seem to go in order.  But I became so intrigued with his characters, and the subtle sarcasm that permeates every conversation.  I’ve never heard a writing style that was so subtle, and so obvious at the same time.  Maybe it’s because I tend to notice details in writing that I find the humor so prevalent and simply perfect, but I’ve never heard another like it.  Of course the fact that he had the most amazing narrators to bring his written words to life, only made the experience that much more astounding to me.  I believe that was the first book that I ever listened to where one narrator portrayed so many completely different characters in such a realistic and consistent way.  It truly opened my eyes to what I had been missing for so many years.

After I listened to the audio book, I found the physical book for sale at the library, and I read it.  What I found was now that I had heard the characters created in auditory form, when I read the physical book I could ‘hear’ the conversations in my imagination, just as they had been in the original audio book.  What a happy revelation!  It’s so much more than I could have imagined on my own.

For those out there who have never read or listened to a Terry Pratchett book, if you like Fantasy Fiction, you have to give these a try.  If you noticed from my previous posts, 2 of my very favorite Narrators noted here, Stephen Briggs and Nigel Planer, have many Terry Pratchett books to their credit.  And they are a credit to the books.  This is a perfect example of combining a great writer with a great narrator to create truly exceptional works.

I was terribly saddened to hear of Terry’s passing in 2015.  He was a one-of-a-kind special talent.  However, he left a fantastic library of his creations for us and future generations to enjoy.  When you think about it, that’s one heck of a legacy!

 

 

 

Heather O’Neill – Narrator

Heather O’Neill is an author and narrator who resides in Canada.

I’ve listened to 3 of her narrated works so far, and loved each one.  There is Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch.  See the above audio excerpt. I just recently re-listened to this one.

The characters are full-bodied, even the no-so-nice characters, and  Heather does great Irish and Australian accents.  I just love listening to her voice.

I probably never would have picked up this book, although it’s become one of my favorite stories, except that I knew Heather was the Narrator.

The first story I heard from Heather was The Cry of the Icemark, by Stuart Hill.  More my style as fantasy fiction, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Then there was The Likeness, by Tana French.  A murder-mystery, once again only picked based on Narration.  This is not my favorite genre, even though it’s still better than…should I say it…Romance.

Ugh! Don’t get me wrong, romance can be great, I just find that they tend to really over-do everything in romance novels.  TMD – Too Many Details, for my preference.

But back to Heather’s narration, both of these stories were great.  I’ve yet to try one of Heather’s works that I didn’t truly enjoy.  While she does not have as many Narrated works as others listed here on NarrationZone, she has also authored some award winning books of her own.

The most well known of her written works is Lullabies for Little Criminals.  I will warn you although this is written about a 13 girl named Baby, there are drugs, gangs, abuse, and more, so it’s not a ‘children’s book’.  There is an Audio version that is narrated in part by Heather O’Neill and Miriam McDonald.

I haven’t tried this one myself because it sounds a bit dark for my tastes, but if you have, or if you do read the book or listen to the audio version, I would greatly appreciate hearing what you think about it.  See below for more listening options.

Heather is 4 out of 4 in my Narrator rating scale, and one of my current top 10!

As always, from my home to yours, Happy Listening.

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