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Audiobook DJ
Friday
Nov252016

Making Out Like a Virgin

 

Title: Making Out Like a Virgin: Sex, Desire & Intimacy After Sexual
Trama
Editors: Catriona McHardy and Cathy Plourde
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 5 h 1 m
Published by Animal Mineral Press
Genres: Sexuality


The prevalence of sexual violence and abuse in our society is staggering. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted and 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. This type of violence is inflicted on people of any age, gender, or sexual orientation.

Becoming more aware of the debilitating impact sexual trauma can have on its victims is a starting point for understanding how to cope with the aftermath of sexual violence. However, Making Out Like a Virgin goes a step further by sharing the personal stories of victims who have moved beyond the trauma to reclaim their sexuality as a positive, fulfilling part of their lives.

The seventeen people who share their stories in this anthology are made up of women, men, and transgender individuals from 6 countries, ranging in age from their mid-twenties to their late sixties. For some, it is the first time they have written about their experiences. Others are seasoned advocates against sexual abuse because of what happened to them.

These stories offer hope of recovery and healing while discussing a very dark subject. Narrator Tavia Gilbert voices each story with a sense of respect and compassion, bringing these survivors’ memories vividly to life. Her vocal style allows listeners to more comfortably approach a topic that is decidedly uncomfortable to hear. Below are brief clips from four contributors to this anthology.



In spite of the subject matter, the overall message of this book is extremely positive. It is one of encouragement to overcome the trauma of sexual violence, of the possibility of success in removing the debilitating effects of that trauma, and the expectation of joy in life as past victims focus on their new, future selves.

While this may not be the kind of book you can’t wait to listen to,  it is definitely one you should hear. The stories are powerful and leave a lasting impression on just how devastating sexual trauma can be to individual lives. If you have been a victim of sexual violence or abuse, these stories will, at the very least, let you know that you are not alone and things can get better. If you have been fortunate enough to not experience sexual violence in your life, you will have a better perspective on a topic with which everyone should be familiar.

Wednesday
Aug242016

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps

Title: The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps
Author: Kai Ashante Wilson
Narrator: Kevin Free
Length: 5 h 8 m
Published by Macmillan Audio
Genres: Fantasy



I'll admit that I've been in a listening slump for the past few months, but Tor.com and Macmillan Audio have come to the rescue with a new novella, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. This story woke me from my mental slumber, reminding me why I enjoy fantasy and science fiction so much.

The story begins as a band of merchants are traveling with their wares across dangerous territory. They have hired bodyguards to protect them, and it becomes immediately apparent that this society, whatever or wherever it is, has a similar black/white racial dichotomy as our current American culture. Fair skinned merchants form the upper-class, while those of a darker shade are expendable mercenaries whose lives are worth much less than those of their rich employers.

The use of the N-word at the beginning of the story was a bit off-putting and confusing at first - was the setting in present-day America or in some parallel universe? What was going on? But confusion was brief, as it was soon apparent that this was a clever device to help readers easily understand the social dynamic of an alien world.

Leading the band of dark-skinned "brothers" is the enigmatic Captain, a leader who demands 100% effort from his men, while giving 200% of himself. Although the Captain is admired by his men, he seems unhappy with his role as a respected and powerful warrior. 

Another individual in the caravan is Demane, a brother whose skills at healing and other unexplained abilites have earned him the moniker of sorcerer, although that is not what he actually is. He, like the Captain, is a demigod, decended from supernatural beings who have left the planet for higher exestential delights not found in the physical realm.

This short novella is a mind-blowing, gut wrenching experience that manages to squeeze out all kinds of emotions in a very short length of time. I'd not heard of the author before listening to this book, but I'll be keeping my eye out for him and looking forward to more of his stories.

The adventures of the Captain and Demane culminate in the Wildeeps, a dangerous jungle that is traversed on a solitary road. An ancient magical spell prevents wild animals from touching the road and  travelers are warned to never stray from the road's protection.

While crossing the Wildeeps, a demon creature stalks the caravan.  It craves the taste of human flesh and the road's magic can't protect against this enchanted carnivore. It will take all that the Captain and Demane have to defeat this abomination, and in spite of their god-like powers, those powers may not be enough to defeat the magical beast.

Narrator Kevin Free does an outstanding job with this audiobook, vocally traversing a strange landscape with ease. He offers multiple dialects and accents to identify characters, and his delivery is confident, yet not overpowering. Some reviews discuss the strange punctuation or grammatical structure of parts of the story, but this was not apparent at all with the audio production. My only complaint is that at times, when the story breaks away from the present to share Demane's memories of his past, there is no cue or lengthened pause to let listeners know a time-shift is about to occur. This is only a minor complaint, as it becomes obvious fairly quickly what is happening with the story.

This is one of those stories that will stay with you long after it's over. I wanted it to be longer, wanted to know more about the culture, the people, and the world Wilson created. Alas, as that is not to be, it is a nice consolation to be able to listen to the relatively short story presented in this novella. The audio production provides a powerful listening experience that left me feeling as if I were a part of the story. I am so glad Tor.com decided to offer their new novellas in audio, as well as print formats. A big thank-you to Macmillan Audio for providing a review copy.

Thursday
May052016

Battlefield Earth


Title: Battlefield Earth
Author: L. Ron Hubbard
Narrator: Multiple narrators
Length: 47.5 hours
Publisher: Galaxy Press, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction



Battlefield Earth was first published in 1982. I remember seeing the huge book sitting in the local bookstore's window display. Its girth was the main reason I decided not to read it back then. But I'm a real push-over when it comes to audio, especially audio drama. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review the new audiobook production of this title, I jumped at the chance.

This is the story of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, one of the few humans left on Earth after its conquest by the Psychlos, a cruel alien race interested only in exploiting the planet's natural resources. The Psychlos consider humans to be nothing more than animals, a level to which they have almost succumbed since the arrival of the aliens hundreds of years before the current year, AD 3000.

When one of the aliens captures Jonnie, he is exposed to the barbaric culture of the Psychlos and decides he must do whatever he can to rid the world of these merciless tyrants. Jonnie's tale moves back and forth like a hyper-tense game of chess, with aliens and humans trying to out-manuever each other for control of the planet.

While this back and forth flow of the plot is effective in providing tension for the story, it can also have the effect of making various outcomes somewhat predictable. This might have been irritating if I was reading the text, but the audio production was so well done that it really didn't matter. All I wanted to do was keep listening to see what would happen next.

From the deep, rumbling voice of the sadistic alien Terl to the sweet, adoring voice of Chrissie (Jonnie's love interest) the narrators' interpretation of the characters are spot-on. Told through the voices of 67 actors performing 198 different characters, along with sound effects and music, I cannot imagine the amount of coordination and technical expertise required to create an audio production of this magnitude. It's an exceptional combination of old-time radio adventure, stellar voice acting, and cutting-edge audio technology.

As with any recording of an older title, hearing the words seems to highlight differences in writing style and use of stereotypes that the passing of years will inevitably emphasize. Here, women are not strong characters. They need to be rescued or they are secondary, sexual objects. In the case of the aliens, if Psychlos females are asked to do math, they immediately fall into a deep coma. Maybe I should be upset with this, but how can I be offended when math triggers the very same reaction in me? 

Producing a quality audio drama is not easy, but Galaxy Press has been doing an exceptional job for years with their Golden Age series of short stories. Now, they've taken everything they learned to produce an audio masterpiece. If you enjoy the audio drama format, break out the good earphones and listen to this one - you'll be amazed.  

Sunday
Jul122015

The Diamond of Jeru - Audiobook Review

Title: The Diamond of Jeru

Author: Louis L'Amour

Narrator: Multi-cast

Length: 3 h, 5 m

Published by Random House Audio, 2015

Genres: Drama, Adventure


Mike Kardec has traveled a long way to escape haunting memories of the Korean War. The ex-Marine finds himself in the jungles of Borneo, working on oil rigs scattered across the island. He is befriended by a young native man named Raj, who works with him in the oil fields and teaches him about local culture and beliefs. Mike already knows about the supposed wealth of diamonds which can be found in the island's interior, and he soon learns about a magnificent diamond in the posession of a notorious pirate named Jeru. 

When an American scientist and his beautiful wife arrive on the island to begin a diamond hunting expedition, Mike offers to be their guide. The jealous husband declines Mike's offer of help and ignores his advice regarding the dangers of Borneo. When the couple sets out on their own to find rare diamonds, it's up to Mike, Raj, and Raj's grandfather to find the pair before they fall into the hands of head-hunting natives.

Set in Sarawak in 1955, this story is filled with intriguing characters, a little romance, and a lot of action! Produced as an audio drama, it includes stellar voice-acting from a 21-member cast, as well as original music and sound effects. Arranging all of these elements together in a seamless, cohesive production is the real challenge of audio drama and Beau L'Amour, Louis' son, has done a masterful job of creating this listening adventure.

Neither the sound effects or music overpower the dialog. Instead, they complement the narration and help pull the listener into the story. In fact, this production was so compelling that I could not listen in the car because I couldn't pay attention to my driving. Also, the car speakers did not do justice to the sound. I highly recommend a quiet spot with a good set of earphones to fully appreciate the music and sound effects - believe me, you don't want to miss any of it! 

What it took to create this audio drama also makes for a good story. From the time that Louis's son found the unpublished story after Louis' death, to it's metamorphosis from a printed story to a movie to an audio drama,  it's obvious lots of love and attention has accompanied this story through the years. If you would like to read more about the history of The Diamond of Jeru, an excellent web site has been created which shares all of the details at http://thediamondofjeruaudio.com/

In the past, when Louis L'Amour's name is mentioned, I've always thought of the Old West - but that's not the case anymore. Now, I will think of lush rainforests, gurgling rivers winding through uncharted jungle, and -- DIAMONDS!  

Sunday
Dec142014

Safari - Audiobook Review

Title: Safari: Stanley Hastings, Book 19

Author: Parnell Hall

Narrator: Johnny Heller

Unabridged Length: 6 h, 6 m

Published by Blackstone Audio, 2014

Genres: Mysteries & Thrillers

 

From the Publisher:

The new Stanley Hastings mystery caper takes the ever-loquacious private detective on safari in Zambia—what could possibly go wrong? Stanley Hastings on safari? I don’t think so. Neither did Stanley, until Alice’s small inheritance—coupled with scrimping on a few luxuries like food and rent—allowed them to book a group trip to Zambia. Now the New York PI is hiking with lions, canoeing with hippos, and having close encounters with elephants and giraffes. It’s a dangerous safari. The leader is a reckless, gung-ho great white hunter who delights in leaping from the jeep with a hearty, “Come on, gang, let’s see where this lion is going!” And a series of bizarre accidents quickly dwindles the group’s numbers. Why was the guide’s young spotter foolish enough to walk under a sausage fruit tree just as one of the huge fruits fell? And how did the leaves of a poisonous plant wind up in a tourist’s salad? Are these really accidents? A stabbing tips the scale. It’s murder, and the only policeman in a hundred miles is a park ranger whose only murder case was that of an ivory poacher shot dead in plain sight. It’s up to Stanley to crack the case—if he can just avoid being eaten by a lion.

Review 

Recently my husband and I took a trip that required many hours of driving. We decided to invite another couple along for the ride so we could hear all about their safari adventure. I'm happy to report that Stanley and Alice Hastings are one of the most entertaining fictional couples I've had the pleasure to meet and Johnny Heller's telling of their tale is hilarious.

Alice is a woman who knows what she wants and is not about to let anyone, including Stanley, prevent her from getting it. She has carefully planned for her dream vacation and tried to prepare for all contingencies. Unfortunately, murder isn't on her list.

It isn't on Stanley's list either. Of course, Stanley doesn't have much of a list. He's mainly just trying to stay out of trouble and not lose too many "husband points" by doing something of which Alice disapproves. This becomes more difficult than anticipated when he meets a very attractive young woman at the airport. Assigning her the moniker of Lolita, he has no idea she is headed for the same safari vacation as Alice and Stanley.

Lolita is only one of an interesing assortment of vacationers and half of the fun is seeing them through Stanley's eyes. Although he may be a private investigator, his social ineptness often gives him a distorted view of reality, which is a great source of humor throughout the book. Narrator Johnny Heller uses his well-honed sense of humor to make every funny passage shine. 

Of course, this is a murder mystery, so when the body count starts to climb, Stanley is called upon to identify the culprit. Thankfully, his powers of observation are more astute at a crime scene than when exchanging pleasantries around a campfire. 

This story was just plain fun to hear. While travelling, there were many laugh-out-loud moments that I'm glad we could share. When we stopped for lunch or dinner, we'd discuss favorite scenes or our thoughts on how Johnny interpreted certain passages or pieces of dialog. Yes, we are audiobook geeks.  Although this was the 19th title in this series, it stood on its own quite nicely. There are only two other titles in the series that have been recorded. This was the first one recorded by Johnny and I certainly hope it won't be the last! Johnny's voice fits this character perfectly - it's that wonderful combination of good writing and great narration.  He brought Stanley and his escapades to life and I can't wait to hear more.

The clip below is the first chapter - it's only 5 minutes long. It shows the personalities of Alice and Stanley and how Johnny voices these characters. It's a great intro to the rest of the story. Give it a listen!

 

Thursday
Jun262014

Superman: The Men of Tomorrow

It's been a long time since I picked up a comic headlining Superman. As a result, I was afraid I might be a little lost, but familiar characters like Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Lois Lane welcomed me back to familiar territory.

Clark Kent no longer works for The Daily Planet, but editor Perry White is trying to covince him to come back as a reporter for the paper. While Clark considers his options, an ominus, dark spaceship invades Metropolis and begins attacking the city. As Superman attempts to neutralize the alien piloting the ship, he becomes alarmed to discover the creature may be his equal in power and fighting tactics. 

With Superman on the ropes, another entity appears out of thin air and helps Superman defeat the menace. Tall and blonde-haired, with a physique to match Superman's, the stranger calls himself Ulysses. The appearance of Ulysses on the scene opens to door for lots of questions and possibilities, and is a great way to create interest in a new series.

Geoff Johns is the writer who will be guiding Superman fans through new scenarios in this series that's marked with the distinction of having artist John Romita, Jr. interpret the story. After over 40 years at Marvel, Romita, Jr. has taken his first job at DC Comics to draw "The Man of Steel" and it's a pleasure to see how he visualizes the story. 

This series looks like a winner. Once you read the first issue, I'm betting you'll be anxiously waiting for the next installment.

 

Tuesday
May062014

The New 52: Futures End - Issue 1

The future is a grim landscape of Frankenstein cyborgs intent on wiping out humanity. Under the control of the artificial intelligence, Brother Eye, mere mortals and even super-heroes don't stand a chance. The only hope is to return to the past and try to avert the events which lead to this tragic future. As one of the few left standing, Batman Beyond accepts the challenge. Unfortunately, he doesn't travel back far enough, and events are already in place that may doom the future. Issue one is really a series of vignettes to show the unexpected dangers the planet faces as the Future End series begins.

Batman Beyond is followed through time by one of the grotesque cyborgs, and, unknown to Batman Beyond, a mysterious stranger records the battle between the hero and the mindless machine.

Meanwhile, deep in space, the members of Stormwatch are surprised when their flight is interrupted by a alien force far superior to anything they've yet encountered. So superior, in fact, that it may be the last thing they ever encounter.

Back on Earth, it seems that Grifter has decided to declare his own war on humanity, but there's more here than meets the eye - at least the eye of normal people. Grifter can see the aliens inhabiting the bodies of innocents and he's determined to stop this unique brand of alien invasion.

And if that wasn't enough going on to keep your curiosity running rampant, there's been a massive explosion in Seattle and Firestorm answers the call for help. Unfortunately, he answers the call a little late, and now it may be too late for his friend, Green Arrow.

It's impossible to tell where all of this is going, but it's easy to enjoy the ride with the fantastic artwork of Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Zircher, Aaron Lopresti, Art Thibert, Dan Jurgens, Mark Irwin, Jsus Merino, and Dan Green. Writers include Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen. Can't wait to see where all of this is headed, and after you take a look, I'll bet you'll feel the same way.

 

 

Saturday
May032014

Free Comic Book Day - The New 52: Futures End

If you like comics, then today is a great day to get out amd go to your local comic store. Hopefully, there will be lots of free titles to to choose from on Free Comic Book Day! One title you should definitely check out is the free kickoff issue to DC Comics' weekly new series - THE NEW 52: FUTURES END. Issue #0 sets the stage for a conflict that threatens all of humanity.

The issue begins as the artificial intelligence known as Brother Eye is winning in his quest to destroy humans by changing them into a mix of man and machine. These hybrids, who are horrific, zombie-like creatrues, mindlessly follow orders from Brother Eye. Things look particularly grim as numerous super-heroes fall before the onslaught, becoming unwilling tools of the new world-order. 

In an effort to prevent this future from even happening, Batman Beyond agrees to travel back in time to stop Brother Eye before he can put his plans for conquest into motion. Of course, there's no guarantee that this will solve the problem, or that Batman Beyond will even end up at the right place or time.

This preview issue gives readers a good idea of what might follow, beginning with issue #1, which goes on sale Wednesday, May 7. The action is non-stop and the artwork is stunning. Seeing the different ways the issue's artists have chosen to portray the "assimilated" super-heroes is well-worth your time. Be sure and take a look!  

Saturday
Nov232013

Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder - Audiobook Review

Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, by Christopher L. Bennett
Multi-cast production, adaptation by GraphicAudio, 5 hours

It’s just a typical evening for Peter Parker, swinging from sky scrapper to skyscraper through mid-town Manhattan as Spider-Man. Always on the lookout for criminals, be they super-villains or the average devious crook, it doesn’t take Spidey long to find and interrupt a robbery in progress. Working hard to prevent injury to by-standers, Spider-Man successfully delivers the would-be robbers to the police, but the next day’s issue of the Daily Bugle paints Spider-Man as the real criminal. Tired of always receiving bad press from the newspaper, Peter begins to suspect that the paper’s editor, J. Jonah Jameson, has ulterior motives for continually vilifying the well-intentioned web-slinger.

Before Peter can dwell too long on the impact of bad public relations on his crime-fighting career, Electro appears on the scene. Leading an attack on Manhattan with a horde of robots intent on stealing precious jewels from the Diamond District, the robots are almost more than Spider–Man can handle. Predictably, Jameson accuses Spidey of being the one behind the Robot attack and responsible for the numerous injuries suffered by New Yorkers during the rampage.

When robot attacks continue in the city without the presence of Electro, Spider-Man begins to believe that Jameson is behind the metal-monster assaults and Jameson is convinced they are the work of Spider-Man. Both decide to prove that the other is orchestrating these events, and that’s when things get interesting.

This audio adaptation of the novel by Christopher L. Bennett offers a stellar production that combines multiple narrators, sound effects and music to tell the story. The result is a listening experience that transports listeners to the top of New York skyscrapers, the center of hard-fought battles, and the depths of guilt and self-doubt.

Tension builds throughout the story as the robots become increasingly powerful and no one can figure out who is controlling them. However, because the robots don’t talk, there’s not much banter between super-villain and Spider-Man – dialog that is particularly effective in audio. Ironically, even Spider-Man mentions that he misses the repartee during face-offs with the robots. Fortunately, this situation doesn’t last because, as we all know, super-villains can’t stand to stay out of the limelight for too long.

The dramatized style of this production really pulls listeners in, demanding their attention. I often drive while listening to audiobooks, but found I couldn’t concentrate on driving while listening to this adventure. So I listened while preparing meals for the family. Of course, I couldn’t concentrate on fixing the food either, but no one went hungry and no one became ill, so I considered my listening strategy a success.

This is the second Marvel Comics production for GraphicAudio and their dramatized audio style works perfectly for comics.  All of the narrators did an excellent job, but my favorite was the voicing of Aunt May, which was perfect! The title is available in either stereo or a 5.1 Surround Sound DTS-HD Master Audio format. The relatively short length of five hours makes it a fun listen that requires nothing more than an enjoyment of comics and an appreciation for a certain webbed super-hero named Spider-Man.

Monday
Jul012013

We Have a Winner!

Actually, we have three winners of the audiobook, THE MYSTERY BOX. It's a compilation of 21 stories by many well-known writers of the mystery genre. Seventeen different narrators perform various stories, and Jo Anna Perrin is one of them. Which is why she will be contacting the winners and giving them a code to download their free copy.

We also want to again thank Michele Cobb, AudioGo, Blackstone Audio and Downpour for their generoisty in providing three digital copies to help celebrate June is Audiobook Month. And a special thanks to Bryan Barney of Blackstone Audio who steered us in the right direction. 

If you listened to any of the wonderful stories read to you by various narrators during the month of June for GOING PUBLIC...IN SHORTS, then do yourself a favor and go to downpour and order a copy of the compilation of GOING PUBLIC...IN SHORTS. The proceeds go to a worthy cause - the REACH OUT AND READ literacy advocacy organization.

I was delighted to be a part of the celebration and want to thank Xe Sands for inviting me to host the talented Jo Anna Perrin on my site. I look forward to hearing much more of her work in the future! Until next year's celebration of June is Audiobook Month, keep tuned-in to that special kind of music you'll only hear by listening to audiobooks.