Stephen Briggs – Narrator

Stephen Briggs is an actor, narrator, playwright, artist, and more.

Winner of many awards including an Audie, Audible Download Book of the Year, Best Voice of the Year, and Earphones Awards to name a few.  

Member – Oxford’s Studio Theatre Club

Author of Children’s fiction

Artist

Stephen Briggs is an experienced and extremely accomplished Narrator.   He is also an actor, and accomplished playwright.  However, in respect to this site, NarrationZone.com, we will focus on his Narration skills.

As you can see from the impressive list of sample works listed below, there are many audio books to his credit.  But more than the number of books, is the complexity of the characters that are portrayed in these stories.

We are talking not only different accents, both female and male voices, but also vampires, trolls, zombies, talking dogs, and so much more.  Each distict, separate, and totally unique unto themselves.

Once you have listened to one book, I have no doubt that you will do just like I have, and you will come back for more.

In my personal narrator rating scale, Stephen is without a doubt a definite 4.  I almost want to say a 4+ even.  Currently Stephen is in my top ‘3’ favorite of ALL time narrators, so if you haven’t experienced one of his works, just check out any of the items listed on the below sample listing, and you will be coming back for more.

I started with Terry Pratchett’s ‘Thud’.  Of course I love Terry Pratchett’s writing, but combine that writing with Stephen’s narration….and I could, and have listened to that book over and over again.  Truly sensational!

So, go pick up something outstanding.  And from my house to yours, Happy Listening!

Sample work listing;

A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction Terry Pratchett

A Hat Full of Sky: Discworld Childrens, Book 3 Terry Pratchett

Children of the Different S.C. Flynn

Darwin’s Watch: The Science of Discworld III Terry Pratchett

Diggers: The Bromeliad Trilogy #2 Terry Pratchett

Dodger Terry Pratchett

Eric: Discworld #9 Terry Pratchett

Going Postal: Discworld #29 Terry Pratchett

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Propecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch Terry Pratchett

I Shall Wear Midnight: Discworld #38 Terry Pratchett

Judgement Day: Science of Discworld IV Terry Pratchett

Making Money: Discworld #36 Terry Pratchett

Monstrous Regiment: Discworld #31 Terry Pratchett

Nation Terry Pratchett

Night Watch: Discworld #27 Terry Pratchett

Raising Steam: Discworld #40 Terry Pratchett

Slave Soldiers William Butler

Snuff: Discworld #39 Terry Pratchett

Strata Terry Pratchett

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents: Discworld Childrens Book 1 Terry Pratchett

The Carpet People Terry Pratchett

The Fifth Elephant: Discworld #24 Terry Pratchett

The Globe: Science of Discworld II Terry Pratchett

The Last Hero – A Discworld Fable Terry Pratchett

The Science of Discworld Terry Pratchett

The Sheperd’s Crown: Discworld #41 Terry Pratchett

The Truth: Discworld #25 Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men: Discworld Childrens, Book 2 Terry Pratchett

Thief of Time: Discworld #26 Terry Pratchett

Thud: Discworld #34 Terry Pratchett

Truckers: The Bromeliad Trilogy #1 Terry Pratchett

Unseen Academicals: Discworld #32 Terry Pratchett

Wings: The Bromeliad Trilogy #3 Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith: Discworld Childrens, Book 4 Terry Pratchett

Ron McLarty – Narrator

Ron McLarty is an Actor, Playwright, Narrator, and Novelist. Originally from East Providence, RI, he now lives in New York City and Elizaville, NY.  He is married to actress Kate Skinner.

Author of The Memory of Running, Art in America, The Dropper, and Traveler.  The Memory of Running, Ron’s first published work, is believed to also be the first work to be published in audiobook format before being accepted and published in book format.  

As explained in the video above, Stephen King called it, “the best book you can’t read”, when it was first released.

As an actor, Ron has over 100 TV appearances including his recurring role as Judge Wright on Law & Order. Two recent film roles include St Vincent, and How Do You Know.

There are over 20 David Baldacci’s books narrated by Ron including Last Man Standing, Hour Game, The Whole Truth, Deliver Us from Evil, Simple Genius, The Sixth Man, and First Family.

Stated by David Baldacci, “Hail to the King, Ron McLarty, who brought his incredible talents to my works, and gave the listeners a whole new way to experience “reading.” “

Other Authors with McLarty narration include Stephen King, Anne Rice, Richard Russo, Scott Turow, Ed McBain, and many others.

While Ron has moved on from narrating other books, to writing and narrating his own, there are over 100 narrated works available for your listening pleasure.  

I recently experienced Ron’s narration from David Baldacci’s book Zero Day.  As expected, a great story by David with great co-narration by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy.

I’m always curious when I find a Narrator that I like and I research their stories.   Often times I am surprised to find that they are in some way or another, unexpectedly familiar to me.

As with Ron here, who I never put much thought into when I saw him in the TV show Law & Order.  He is quite accomplished, quite talented, and according to his impressive list of works, been very busy.

I think that we tend to forget that the actors we see on TV and in the movies are real people.  Especially those who play supporting roles.  Yet seeing it broken down into all these respective jobs from audio, to TV, to film and theatre, is just inspiring.

I would have to place Ron as a 3 in my 1-4 Narrator scale.  If you would like to learn more about Ron, please visit his website, http://www.ronmclarty.com.

And as always, Happy Listening!

 

 

My Narrator Rating System Explained

Books, bookcase, sci-fi books
Books on shelves

How my Narrator rating system is determined here at NarrationZone.

Ok, I have been thinking for a while on a rating system for the Narrators that I write about.  It’s a tough issue with me, because so many things cannot be so easily categorized.  Or they fall somewhere in between.

Maybe I am just an ‘everything is grey’ kind of person.  You know, that annoying person who can see both sides of each argument and so therefore can’t pick a side.

I don’t really think that I am that bad. I am not a ‘MY way or the highway’ kind of person true, but I can put my foot down now and again when I believe it’s needed.

It’s just that I want to see the good in all and not waste my time focusing on the bad.

So you won’t (or shouldn’t anyway) see me posting about Narrators that I truly don’t like.  It’s a waste of my time, and I think a waste of yours as well.  I would rather focus on those that show talent in some format, and share that talent with you.

Realistically I look at in these terms.  If they can at least do a better job that I could, then they deserve at least a #1.  I love to read, and I have always read out loud to my kids who seemed to enjoy it, but I know my talents have not been developed there.

So a #1 would be one step above me reading it.  I think I am good, so that would make a #1 say…a good+.

My #2 spot would go to someone who is more skilled in Narrating, by perhaps using good timing or pronunciation.  Possibly someone who has a smooth flow or rhythm to their narration, but typically in a one person setting.  So a good natural voice narrator.

This could be someone reading their own book.  Since it’s more personal for them, they read it with a more natural sense of timing that possibly wouldn’t show up in someone else’s work.  Or someone who only does good in one voice settings. Documentaries, histories, memoirs, etc.

My next rating #3 is for talented individuals, usually professionals, who read exceptionally well.  Tone, inflection, timing, and understanding and talent for engaging the reader’s attention and keeping it.

These individuals are easy to listen to, and they can usually do more than 1 voice accurately and consistently.  Often times they are trained actors. However, they are not as strong when doing voices too far outside of their natural voice.

As an example, a man who can do multiple male voices, but when doing female voices, may not be as convincing.   Or perhaps a British women, trying unsuccessfully to do an Irish accent, etc.

And then there is my top rating #4. These individuals have to show significant talent in creating multiple voices from men to women, to creatures great, small and imaginary.

They are few and far between, but they ARE out there.  It is the search for these talents in particular, that gets me truly excited.  And excited to share my finds with you.

In this, the first day of 2017, I wish for you health, happiness, and many more Happy Listening days to come.

Nigel Planer – Narrator

Nigel Planer – Bio

Born February 22, 1953

Westminster, UK

English actor, comedian, novelist, and playwright.  

Best known for his role as Neil in the BBC TV show The Young Ones.

Wife, Roberta and 2 sons Stanley and Harvey.

Nigel has professed in interviews that he gets bored easily.  I think that aspect of his character is definitely part of what makes him such a great Narrator.

I found Nigel through the works of Terry Pratchett.  As listed in my Special Mention post for Terry, one of my all time favorite authors.

Nigel’s narration is outstanding.  Currently he is in my top 5 of the absolute BEST narrators out there.  No joke!

Nigel can take multiple characters, from broadly separated backgrounds, and turn them into strong, interesting, and completely separate  individuals.

I get caught up in the stories because of his narration and credible characters, and the books are never the same.  They’re so much better!

A great surprise for me, in researching more of Nigel’s narrated products, I have found some Terry Pratchett books that I will definitely have to track down.  Yeah!

The down-side for you is that it will take a long time to listen to every one of the many books narrated by Nigel.  The up-side is that you won’t be bored for a long, long time to come:)

I would place Nigel as a 4 in my 1-4 Narrator rating, which puts him in my current top 10!

If you like Fantasy Fiction, and you haven’t given Nigel a try, my recommendation is that you shouldn’t let this truly exceptional talent pass you by.

From my library to yours, 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.

Jennifer VanDyck – Narrator

Jennifer Van Dyck – Bio

Born December 23, 1962 in Scotland

Actress and Narrator, also known as Jennifer Van Dyke

Graduated from Brown University with a double major in Religious Studies and Theatre Arts.

Recipient of three Audiofile Magazine Earphones Awards

Jennifer Van Dyck, also known as Jennifer Van Dyke has hundreds of audio books to her credit.  Another prolific female narrator, Jennifer is probably better known for her acting.  On television, Broadway, and in movies she has performed in various avenues.

She has narrated radio plays for the BBC, and documentaries for PBS.  She received Salon.com’s Best of 2013, for her narration on ‘Notes from No Man’s Land’ by Eula Biss.

Some books narrated by Jennifer that I have listened to are;

Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance, Oath of Gold, and Echoes of Betrayal  – all by Elizabeth Moon.

Elizabeth’s writing is always stellar, and Jennifer really brings her characters to life.  Her narration is clear and clean, and her character development is inspiring.

She personifies everything you want in great narration.  She is consistent with her voices, and easy on the ears.

I’ve listened to each of the above books multiple times, and each time reminds me how much I enjoy them.  If you haven’t listened to Jennifer’s work, give it a try.

So keep reading, keep listening, and always keep learning.  And spread the good word to others:)

Blind Descent by James Tabor, audio book review

 

Blind Descent by James Tabor, narrated by Don Leslie, is a non-fiction work about the search for the deepest cave in the world.  The book follows two very different extreme cavers and their teams in their search to surpass the known world record.

Bill Stone is an American caver and engineer whose primary work, hopes, and dreams were on Cheve cave in South Mexico.  And Alexander Klimchouk, a Ukrainian caver and scientist had his sights set on Krubera in the Arabika Massif, Georgia(near Turkey).

Both men caught the caving bug early on during their teens.  Both make sure that cave explorations continue to be a part of their life throughout their lives.  Both are extremely different in personality, perceptions and practices.

I read some of the reviews of this book and it seems that most people really enjoyed it.  The writing, the subject matter, and the narration.  Yet there are some scathing reviewers, who found the writing trite and the narration raspy.

For my part, I really enjoyed the audio book.  This is the second time that I listened to it.  If I really like a book, I tend to listen to it at least twice, because I always find I pick up something on the second reading that I missed on the first.

I found the writing intelligent and the subject fascinating.  Getting to know the personalities that drive these deep explorations.  Visualizing all the work that goes into preparing for them, and the dangers and hardships that deep cavers experience.

I’ve always been a bit of an explorer myself.  Hiking mountains, wading through streams, following the smallest animal trails.  Yet this long term exploration is beyond anything that I’ve ever imagined.

Just the thought of being underground for weeks at a time, for long periods without any source of light, and nothing but tons of rock between you and the sky.  Often times cold and wet for days on end, and hoping that you don’t fall off a cliff while trying to save your batteries!

I admire those who have the curiosity and drive to make such efforts for science, or just the challenge itself.  I enjoyed the audio book very much and I would recommend it to anyone whose interests lie in true life adventure stories, or scientific exploration.

If you have suggestions for truly stellar non-fiction audio books, please let me know by leaving a comment (see the link to the left of the page, or the comment section below).  And as always, Happy Listening!

Check out the links below for more detail on Alexander Klimchouk, and Bill Stone.

http://nas.academia.edu/AlexanderKlimchouk

Sally Darling – Narrator

Sally Darling – Bio

Narrator, Actress, Director, Coach, and Cabaret Performer

Over 250 Fiction and Non-Fiction books

Winner of the 2016 MAC Hanson Award (cabaret)
When I found audio books and my passion for them around 2007, one of the first book series that I had to find was Anne McCaffrey’s original Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums set.  And that is how I was introduced to Sally Darling.

(I found this GREAT YouTube review (below) of the 3 book series if you would like more detail on the actual books.  Of course, for our purposes, we are focusing on the audio portion here at NarrationZone, but this is a great book review of the full 3-book series, so check it out!)

I remember reading this series as a pre-teen (wow) many years ago.  The Dragonriders of Pern series continued after Anne’s passing in 2011, with her son Todd carrying on her work. Sally does a beautiful job on this 3-book set in the series.

Her portrayal of this set seems to show a sensitivity to the characters that invokes images in my mind of sitting around the kitchen table in long conversations with Anne.  In reading about Anne over the years, I know that she was a very social person.  Often having friends over, other authors, fans, friends of her children, to discuss books and stories.  Getting their input and views on her works and other books that caught her fancy.  I can picture Anne and Sally doing the same.

Of course, it probably didn’t happen anything like that.  There were probably emails and maybe some phone conversations, but it’s not likely that Sally went all the way to Ireland prior to completing the projects.  Still, I like to imagine that it could have been like that.

I can’t say that I’m into the Cabaret aspect of Sally’s work.  She is obviously very good at it and I do find it interesting, but not as fascinating as other art forms. I can say that I see Sally as an accomplished narrator, with an impressive line of works.  I mean, think about it.  Over 250 narrated works!  That’s awesome!

So many to choose from, and too many to list here.  However, you can see below for just a small listing of some of the narrated works that are available for your listening pleasure.  I hope that you enjoy them.

If you have a favorite Sally Darling narrated work, please feel free to list it in the comments below.

Happy Listening!

Continue reading “Sally Darling – Narrator”

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!