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November 2018
Why audiobooks?
The wonderful advantage about audio books is not only that they are great entertainment during driving, cleaning or raking leaves. A great narrator can turn any book into a mesmerizing performance.
Here are three of my most popular narrators.
Image result for grover gardner
Grover Gardner has read more than 1000 audio books in his career, among others the Inspector Montalbano series, hugely popular in Europe. I love his performance of the Andy Carpenter Series written by David Rosenfelt. Andy Carpenter, the narrator of the stories, is a very wealthy, down-to-earth public defense attorney who made it his mission to help those less fortunate than he. Mr. Gardner gives Andy the perfect voice with just the right amount of humor and self-deprecation. TDL owns some of the printed books in the Andy Carpenter series. The audio books can be streamed on hoopla.

Image result for scott Brick
Scott Brick is an American actor and writer with over 800 audio book performances. I like him especially narrating the Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry. Cotton Malone is an antique book seller living in Copenhagen who manages to stumble in all sort of mysterious trouble based on real historical events. Mr. Brick has great talent for foreign languages and reads them quite perfectly which makes listening to him such a delight. TDL owns all of the Cotton Malone books in print and most of them in audio also. Some can be streamed through hoopla or obtained from another library via our interlibrary loan system.

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Rory Kinnear draws from a prolific career in British theater and listening to his reading is like attending a performance without a view. I discovered his outstanding talent in Anthony Horowitz’s newest mystery The Word is Murder. The story is written in the style of Agatha Christie novels, lots of twists and turns that keep the reading sleuths on their toes. Each character is brilliantly brought to life through Rory Kinnear’s amazing reading. The audio book and the printed book are available at TDL.

December 2018
I freely admit it; I am a huge fan of romance books, contemporary as well as historical. I love to read all genres, but after so many biographies, dysfunctional family fiction and gruesomely dark Scandinavian mysteries, it is always a thrill to come back to a well-written, witty romance where violins play and rose petals fall from the sky -after the misunderstanding and the obligatory fight, of course. Here are three romance novels I enjoyed immensely, some of them over and over… and over….

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, read by Kate Reading
In this delightful novel, we find a deeply flawed hero, a brute one might say, and a wonderfully determined heroine, definitely not prone to attacks of the vapors.
The story is set in Regency England. Lord Sebastian Ballister is the bain of his family’s existence due to his brutish manners and appearance. Enter Miss Jennifer Trent, a sensible, no-nonsense lady whose wit and fighting spirit (with hats and guns alike) will soon drive this sworn bachelor to the brink of sheer despair.
This book is a real gem among historical romances. The hero is flawed and the heroine has so much spunk which result in such hysterical scenes that I could not help but laugh out loud more than once. The narrator, Kate Reading, is reading the story with such perception, that you will find yourself starting right back at the beginning, once the last word has been read… at least that’s what I have done, more than once. TDL owns the book on CD or it can be streamed on hoopla.
 
Venetia by Georgette Heyer, read by Phillida Nash (unabridged version) and Richard Armitage (abridged version)
Patrons always want to know, if I have a favorite book of all times. Believe it or not, I do. My favorite author is Georgette Heyer, the queen of historical romances, whose books actually created the genre in the mid-1900s. I have read all her books many times, but the one I will always turn to – 2 or 3 times a year – is Venetia.
Quick-witted, beautiful Venetia has lead a quiet country life, keeping house for her father and her little brother. The siblings have grown up in the shadow of the neighboring estate of the elusive Duke of Damerel. Dark stories are being told behind closed doors about the duke’s horrible antics until one day Venetia finds herself eye to eye with the rogue.
A lot may be said about the dark and brooding lord, but he has a few principles left in life, one of them being that he will not seduce a pure and wholesome country damsel. Which leaves only one thing to do for spunky Venetia; she must find the flaw in her life that will make her unworthy enough to become the duke’s duchess.
There are two versions of this story on audio and I love both of them equally. The unabridged version is read by Phillida Nash with such heart and talent that it feels like serving chocolate to your ears. The abridged version is read by British actor Richard Armitage whose velvety timbral voice gives Lord Damerel just enough of a threatening edge to give you shivers.
Even though this book is so brilliant in its own right, Ms. Nash and Mr. Armitage lift it up to another dimension. Both versions can be streamed on hoopla.
 
All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz, read by Kathy Garver and David Colacci
Investigative reporter Irene Stenson returns to her hometown in California after a 17 year absence. She is shocked to find her friend, Phoebe, murdered and of course immediately sets about finding the killer, even though this brings to the surface horrible memories of her own parents’ unsolved murder so many years ago.
She books a room at a lodge owned by ex-marine Luke Danner who runs a very tight ship, does not hold back with his opinion and seems more a hindrance than help to Irene. But corps ethics dictate that he helps the reporter in distress and after their initial differences they soon realize that working together can lead to so much more than just finding a killer on the loose.
I realize that the story does sound a bit cheesy, but the plot line is very engaging, the dialogues are witty and fun and the murder mystery fits in well. The audio book is read by Kathy Garver and David Colacci and their interpretation of the banter between Irene and Luke are so wonderfully done, it seems more like the narrators are acting them out. Some scenes are laugh-out-loud funny and both readers are great fun in their roles.
TDL owns the print version and the audio book.
New Releases:
Coming soon to TDL - a very special treat. A Day In December by Josie Silver, read by Eleanor Tomlinson (currently starring in Poldark on PBS Masterpiece Theatre) and Charlie Anson (starring in Downton Abbey)

One day in December : a novel

January 2019
One Day in December by Josie Silver, read by Eleanor Tomlinson and Charlie Anson
In last month’s column, I mentioned the newly released audio book “One Day in December.”  Well, it has arrived, and I’m afraid I was a bit of a pest for my co-worker, Gina, peaking into her office in 5-minute intervals asking eagerly, “Is it done yet?” “How about now?” “Should I come back in 10 minutes or so?”
And now that I listened to it (twice already), my only regret is that I can’t find words to describe my experience, as adjectives such as, magnificent, fabulous or exquisite fall sadly short of the performance given.
My attention was drawn to this book because of the two narrators, Eleanor Tomlinson and Charlie Anson, and for all those among us who love and adore BBC Masterpiece Theatre these names ring a host of bells. Eleanor Tomlinson is currently portraying Demelza in the remake of “Poldark” (TDL owns all 4 seasons), and Charlie Anson played Larry Grey in Downton Abbey (TDL owns all 6 seasons). Since I love audio books read by more than one narrator - and with two readers of such caliber to boot- I was sure that listening would feel like being enfolded into a soft mink blanket.
Now, when I went to our director with stars in my eyes and asked her to please please please purchase this audio book for the library, I had no idea what the story was even about. Well, a day in December, obviously, but I could not have cared less if Ms. Tomlinson and Mr. Anson had read the phone book of Greater London to me. I would still have listened with happy bliss and most likely declared it riveting. So, truthfully, the content very much ranked second with me. What a surprise and utter delight it was therefore to discover a story of such heartwarming beauty!
On a day in December, in pre-Christmassy London, Laurie spots Jack at a bus stop and he looks right back at her and it is one of those moments where the earth stops revolving for just a split second. But the bus pulls away before Laurie can get off or Jack could hop on. So Laurie makes it her new year’s resolution to look for “busboy” and to not rest until she has found him. Fast forward to next year’s Christmas Season, when Laurie’s roommate and best friend Sarah introduces her to her brand-new boyfriend, Jack.
As we follow Laurie and Jack for the next ten years, a story of what-ifs and what-could-have-beens ensues that is so captivating, vivid, and real, that at times I seriously wondered, that if I sat on the CD and it would spin fast enough, would I be sucked into the story, so that I can hold Laurie and comfort her through the heartbreaks in her life or dance with her around the living room and celebrate her successes.
The author, Josie Silver, delivers a gem of a story. She has such insights into a person’s character. The decisions of her protagonists throughout the book seem real and unfabricated, and this is what makes Laurie, Jack, and the cast of characters come to life and quickly makes the reader part of the story and the circle of friends. Over a period of ten years, we get to visit Jack and Laurie three or four times each year and the author managed to make me feel as if I was catching up with friends after a couple of months over a cup of coffee. By shining a light only on certain events in the protagonists’ lives, the author eliminated the tedious “in-between” chapters with unnecessary explanations that sometimes make a story drag, and thus created this sense of reality. The exceptional perception of the narrators’ performance added the feeling of knowing Jack and Laurie and Sarah on an intimate level. Eleanor Tomlinson acted Laurie with such a compassionate voice that I wanted to reach in and reassure Laurie that her decisions were alright, that she could not have done anything different in the situation given; whereas Charlie Anson reads Jack with a slightly harsher edge and thus makes the character emerge right out of the book.
So, to cut a long review short, the book “One Day in December” and the performances by Eleanor Tomlinson and Charlie Anson is a true treat for ears and mind. I would not be surprised, if before long, we will see this story made into a movie. I have already seen it in my mind.
Next to come: Non-Fiction audio books read by their authors