Julia Whelan – Narrator

 

Julia Whelan, born 1984 in Oregon, has been acting since she was 5 years old.  She is best known as teenager Grace Manning in the family tv drama ‘Once and Again’.

However my introduction to Julia’s work was through her audio narration of the Sarah Lyons Fleming ‘Until the End of the World’ series.

If you like the show Walking Dead, then you will likely love this Zombie Apocalypse series too!

I have (and have listened to) all four books, including the novella ‘So Long Lollipops‘, that were narrated by Julia Whelan.

The series order goes; Until the End of the World, And After(book 2), All the Stars in the Sky(book 3).  The novella So Long, Lollipops should be read between books 1 and 2, for the best chronological order, but it’s not required.

Also from Sarah Lyons Fleming (but not narrated by Julia), is the side story Mordacious.  Much like the novella, the story of Mordacious occurs in the same timeline as the Until the End of the World series, but it follows the struggles of a different group of people, including some  characters originally introduced in book one.

Once again the best combination of outstanding writing, and amazing narration.  This is truly a great example of how AWESOME audio books can be.

Julia’s narration on the whole series is just stellar.  In my 1-4 narrator rating scale, she definitely comes in as a 4!  Her timing is so eloquent, the emotion so real.  For me, this set is an all-around KEEPER.

You know some books you listen to once, and they may be great, but once is enough.  This set though, I just don’t want to put away.  I keep playing them, and will no doubt re-visit them like some of my other favorites, every year.

You just can’t help but fall in love with these characters.  Cassie, Nelly, Penny, Anna, Peter, Bits, Adrian, John, Dan……the list just goes on and on.

So if this sounds interesting to you, give this series a try.  If not, there are many other types of books in which you can enjoy Julia Whelan’s narration.  Including the mystery novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, that was turned into a movie in 2014.

To follow Julia on twitter click here.

Let us know what you think of Julia’s work, and as always, Happy Listening!

 

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!

 

Emily Durante – Narrator

Emily has been acting since her first performance at age 7.  She has been working in audio books for over 15 years with nearly 200 books to her credit, including fiction and non-fiction works.

She enjoys challenging herself with new characters, dialects, and languages which shows in her beautiful performances.

She is talented versatile and has many different types of books to choose from.  On my scale of 1-4, I would say that Emily is a 4.

One of my first experiences of Emily’s work came from her readings of one of my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey.

If you love dragon’s, especially dragons of the intelligent, not violent species, then you can’t do much better than Anne McCaffrey’s Pern Series dragons.

These 2 books come later in the series and are written by Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd McCaffrey.  Published in 2011 and 2012, these are a continuation of the original series that I began reading in the 1980’s.

Books – Dragon’s Time, and Sky Dragons – by Anne McCaffrey.

The Pern series is a great example of books that audio narration raises to a whole new experience level.  Especially when you have an experienced fiction narrator such as Emily Durante.

Whether you enjoy fantasy/sci-fi fiction or not, Emily is one narrator that you should give a try.

Some other books narrated by Emily that might interest are;

The Midnight Twins trilogy by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

Chicken Soup for the Soul; Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog

Last Exit in New Jersey by C.E. Grundler

Just to name a few.  With over 200 to choose from, that’s a trifling few, but doubtless there is something for everyone.

So give Emily a try and let us know what you think.  We are always interested in your comments and concerns.

Thank you for reading and as always, 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!

Wendy Dillon – Narrator Review

 

 

Wendy Dillon has worked as an actress in New York theatre.  She is a voice and acting teacher.  She has done narration work in commercials, and animation as well as audio books.

My first Wendy Dillon narrated experience was Jeanne DuPrau’s book, The City of Ember.  

I found this story in the young adult fiction.  I’ve found several excellent authors and narrators in this category.  One thing I really like about the young adult books is that they actually have stories.  Real stories!

I love this story. So much that it probably deserves its own review!  For now though, we will discuss Wendy’s narration.

 

As a teacher of audio technique, you can imagine that her skills are expansive.  And it shows in her work.

The City of Ember has a full cast of characters, and Wendy voices them all superbly.  In my 1-4 Narrator Rating Scale, she definitely qualifies for #4 status.  An extremely talented multi-character, narrator.

Some other Wendy Dillon narration books to try;

The People of Sparks – (book 2 of the City of Ember) by Jeanne DuPrau

A Dog’s Life – by Ann M Martin

It Had to be You: Grace and Favor Mysteries #5 – by Jill Churchill

Wendy Dillon is truly a top of her field Narrator, whose clarity and rhythm, and ability to successfully voice multiple characters is outstanding.

If you have run out of top talent narrators, or are just looking for someone new to try, put Wendy Dillon on your list.

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments, and as always… Happy Listening!

For the next book in the City of Ember series, try The People of Sparks.  Once again, another great story!

 

 

Stephen Lang – Narrator Review

 

Stephen Lang is an actor, playwright, and audiobook narrator. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in English Literature.  Married to Kristina Watson for over 35 years, they share four children.

As discussed in the above video, he recently played the blind man Norman Nordstrom in the 2016 released ‘Don’t Breathe’.

For me, his most memorable role was Commander Nathaniel Taylor in the 2011 TV show (regretably only one season), Terra Nova.  I know actors often like to play the ‘bad guy’, but I really like him in this straight forward, ‘guy trying to do the best he can for his people’ kind of role.

So imagine my surprise when I listened to Sandra Brown’s Chill Factor and recognized who the narrator was.  Not all, but a lot of the really good narrators will have some acting experience, so a narrator who is also currently acting is nothing new.  

Still, this is the first time that I can recall, that the actor was someone whose work I was very familiar with.  It’s sort of like running into a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.  Quite a pleasant surprise.

The story, Chill Factor, is a murder mystery.  Five women have gone missing over a 2 year period in a small North Carolina town.  The local police department, small and not particularly bright, has no leads or suspects until the FBI begins asking questions about a writer who has spent time off and on in town over the years.

Unexpectedly stranded with the same writer during a blizzard in the house Lily just sold, she begins to wonder herself if this man might be the murderer, and if she will make it out of the storm alive.

With a host of other local characters, the story goes back and forth between the 2 trapped in the house on the mountain, and the FBI and police working their way through the details of the cases.

While I enjoy mysteries, murder mysteries are not my favorites. They are however, big sellers and therefore, easy to find on sale at stores. By far the most common type that I find at yard sales as well which is where I bought this one.

So, taking that into account, overall I found it a good story.  There were some spots that I found the writing to be more drawn out than what was resonable to expect, as if the writer was trying to stretch out the story.  And the ending was perhaps a bit too convenient, but hey, at least you’re not left hanging.

Had I been reading the physical book myself, it might have made it a slower read.  However, with Stephen Lang’s narration,  it was less notable and a more enjoyable experience.

I would put Stephen’s narration on Chill Factor to be a solid 3 in my 1-4 scale.   Good consistent characters, both men and women.  Great technical skills (speed, pronunciations, etc.).

So if you enjoy murder mysteries, or would like to try a good sample of Stephen Lang’s narration, then give Chill Factor by Sandra Brown a chance.

Please leave any comments or suggestions, and from our family to yours, Happy Listening!

 

Carrie and Me, A Mother Daughter Love Story – Book Review

Carrie and Me - Audio book cover

Carrie and Me – A Mother Daughter Love Story

Written and read by Carol Burnett.

I’ve always loved watching Carol Burnett perform any kind of comedy act.

Growing up, there were few successful female role models around.  Of course, we didn’t have daily access to the World Wide Web then either.

So for me, mostly my role models came from T.V.  And there have always been a lot of actors, but the ones who last are rare, and Carol is definitely one.

I recently came across this audio book written and read by Carol Burnett about her relationship and struggles with her oldest daughter, Carrie.

Carrie went through many years struggling with drug addition.  She became addicted to drugs in her teens, attended several rehab programs, and finally was able to maintain a drug free life.

Unfortunately she developed cancer in her 30’s that was diagnosed late, and she passed away at too young of an age.

However, she lived her life the way she wanted, found success in her work, and created many wonderful relationships along the way.

The story starts out as a narrative, with Carol telling about her early life, having her 3 daughters, and going through Carrie’s addiction.  Then she narrates a section of communications (with added details) between herself and Carrie leading up to Carrie’s death.

And lastly Carol narrates a fiction story that Carrie was working on prior to her death. When Carrie realized that she would not conquer the cancer, she made a personal request to her mom asking that she finish the story for her if she was able.

I find the sequences interesting and quite unique coming all it one book.  Of course it’s a bit of a tear jerker at times, especially if you are a parent.

Mostly I think, as with anyone you might hold in high regard, it’s humanizing to see their personal struggles.  To be reminded that we are all human, flawed, and challenged at times in our lives.

Perhaps if we knew more about each persons individual struggles, maybe we might find ourselves struggling with each other less.  Criticizing less, and empathizing more.

I know so many of us are really into the fiction, but if you haven’t tried Autobiographies yet, I encourage you to look up someone well known that you admire.  See if they have an autobiography available, and give it a try.

It’s always a good idea to step out of your comfort zone from time to time, and you might just surprise yourself.

If you want to find out more about Carrie and Me, click on the link below.

From our family to yours, happy listening!

 

Worth Dying For – Book Review

 

Worth Dying For (A Jack Reacher Novel)

By Lee Child

Narrated by Dick Hill

I believe this is the second or third Jack Reacher novel that I have read/heard.  And as expected, a really great book.

Reacher is such a great character.  Such a complex person, yet in many ways a basic almost primitive man.

I find myself rooting for him, and wishing there was a Jack Reacher on my side for once!

This time Jack finds himself in Nebraska, hitching rides on his way to Virginia.  On his first night, he meets a drunk doctor and overhears the doctor avoiding a call from a woman complaining of a nose bleed that won’t stop.  Jack convinces the doctor to go on a house call.

Since the doctor is drunk, Jack volunteers to drive for the doctor.  What they find at the woman’s house angers Jack and as usual, he can’t help but get involved.

Yet what starts out as a suspected spousal abuse problem, quickly turns into an international incident, with multiple bad guys vying for who can catch or kill Reacher first.

Reacher with his usual flair, divides and conquers, and in the process solves a decades old mystery while saving many lives by taking a few.

Ultimately it’s a very sad story though.  Although Jack comes out the undeniable champion, we get introduced to a very seedy side of the human psyche.

One that I certainly will never understand, and hope never to experience in any way in real life.  There are souls who walk the earth filled with darkness, who commit truly unspeakable acts.

If only there were more Jack Reachers to put them all out of commission, humanity might just have a chance to reach a new and better level of existence.

For now, we will have to settle for one notch on the scoreboard for the good guys.

If you like action mysteries, give it a try and let us know what you think.

Happy Listening!

 

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!