Check It Out Category: Audiobooks

Narrator Spotlight: Davina Porter

Davina PorterReaders (and nonreaders) try audiobooks for a variety of reasons. Once hooked, however, it doesn’t take long to form strong opinions about which qualities of voice acting are most important. Truly skilled narrators inspire devotion to the point that listeners will follow a favorite reader to any book s/he records, no matter the plot! One such talent is the celebrated Davina Porter.

Porter’s graceful, lilting expression brings warmth to every book, and her skill with accents and dialects is nothing short of astounding. (After a taste, you won’t want to hear anyone else read anything that begs for a brogue!) Though Porter’s voice is “surely one of the most elegant and refined in audiobooks,” don’t mistake that for being stuffy. She is game for all sorts of storytelling. Hear for yourself:

Outlander audiobook coverOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

Porter is best known for narrating this popular series.  When a WWII combat nurse is transported back to 1743, she soon finds herself married to a young Scotsman. Will she find her way back to her own time, or is her destiny forever entwined with the gallant Jamie Fraser?

 

 

Just One Evil Act audiobook coverJust One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

In this gripping child-in-danger story, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and her partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, investigate the kidnapping of a friend’s little girl from an Italian marketplace. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she’s willing to go to protect it.

 

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Overcoming a life of hardship and loneliness, Gemma Hardy, a brilliant and determined young woman, accepts a position as an au pair on the remote Orkney Islands where she faces her biggest challenge yet in this imaginative re-telling of Jane Eyre set in Iceland.

 

 

Tess of the DUrbervilles audiobook coverTess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

A ne’er-do-well exploits his gentle daughter’s beauty for social advancement in this masterpiece of tragic fiction. Thomas Hardy’s impassioned story tells of hope and disappointment, rejection and enduring love, and Porter’s magnificent reading offers a new accessibility to a true classic.

 

Dinner with Churchill audiobook coverDinner with Churchill by Cita Stezler

Dinners for Churchill were about more than good food, excellent champagnes, and Havana cigars. He loved using the dinner table both as a stage on which to display his brilliant conversational talents and an intimate setting in which to glean gossip and diplomatic insights and to argue for the many policies he espoused over a long life.

Sunday Philosophy Club audiobook coverThe Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher by training, and an amateur sleuth by choice. When a young man falls from a balcony to his death in this first of a series, Isabel does not believe it was an accident. Plunging deep into the shady business community of Edinburgh, she is determined to root out the truth.

 

 

Invasion of the Tearling audiobook coverThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

In this second of a celebrated series, with each passing day Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers.

Audiobook: Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men We Reaped book coverCrafted in near-novelistic style, Men We Reaped may tempt you to forget that the vivid vignettes are from National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward’s own life rather than from her imagination. Even if so, the poignancy with which she describes the abrupt loss of five young men in a period of a few short years will reveal that this is a writer who knows tragedy firsthand and, even more dishearteningly, knows the struggle to believe that their lives matter to others.

Narrator Cherise Booth is an ideal partner for Ward’s prose, reading with grace and conviction. She skillfully toggles among characters and tones, never losing sight of the harsh truths of the author’s personal experience. Her performance underscores the resignation, strength, uncertainty, and stubborn hope that make this layered, lyrical memoir unforgettable.

Nancy’s Pick: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Picture of NancyH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a deeply personal memoir about grief, falconry, and T. H. White.  A unique combination for sure, but Macdonald masterfully blends these threads into an engrossing work of art.  I highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by the author herself for a particularly mesmerizing experience.

Audio is also available on Hoopla.

Audiobook: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mue

Behold The Dreamers book coverLife is brimming with potential for Cameroonian immigrant Jende Jonga and his family. Set in New York in 2007, Jende has just gotten a new job chauffeuring for the rich, white Edwards family and his wife Neni is on her way to becoming a pharmacist. Their journeys are about to get harder however, as they face the realities of living in a new country on the brink of recession and the Edwards family’s own hardships start to bleed into their lives.

Prentice Onayemi is the versatile narrator of this 2016 debut, changing tones and cadences to take on the different characters’ accents and genders to fully bring the characters alive. A story simultaneously of hope and heartbreak, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is all about the turbulence of trying to achieve your dreams no matter where you reside in life.

Audiobook: The Broken Ones by Stephen M. Irwin

Broken Ones book coverThe dead have risen, and they are shadowing us. Three years ago the earth’s poles inexplicably switched, plunging the planet into chaos. One effect was the appearance of personal ghosts, usually with a close connection to the haunted. Detective Oscar Mariani, however, can’t place the 16-year-old boy who is now his otherworldly companion. His unit specializes in those who are driven to murder by the presence of spirits, and he’ll need all his faculties intact to solve the latest gruesome killing.

Horror tales (or horror-blends) are especially heightened in audio, and Australian narrator Grant Cartwright shows how a strong performance can intensify the crawling of our skin. His skill in intonation, emotion, and pacing keeps us listening even though we’re tempted to hide under the covers. The Broken Ones by Stephen M. Irwin is both fascinating and creepy, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.