Category Archives: audio review

The Third Plate by Dan Barber

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Living in the age of more creates some unique opportunities.  While we are enjoying going out and eating larger than ever portions with meals that fill platter size plates and every fast food joint now not just offering you up the fries, but also asking you if you want to SUPER SIZE that, or more sneakily, “what size would you like?”

Mmmmmmm…

choices.

Do you know how hard it is it so stay “I will take the small” at that point?

Beyond the quite obvious obesity problem parts of the world is having there are other things to consider as well….

supply and demand.

The number of chicken, cows, pigs, and fish to sustain our every growing need to have it available at restaurants and at the local markets is not only staggering, but in this reviewers opinion… disgusting.  As Author and Chef Dan Barber says, that we are being fed (literally) a false promise of the future of food.

The First Plate is the classic meal most of us grew up with; the prime focus being on a large piece of meat, with very little vegetables on the side.  The farm to table movement reflects the current, and second plate where we are becoming more conscious of what we are putting into our mouths.  Looking for more local and organically grown choices, however as Dan points out in his book, is not long-term sustainable.

The Third Plate is based on a system featuring vegetables and grains and working with what the local farmers have at different seasons.

 

At the restaurant I serve a parsnip steak that was soil-aged for 14 months. We roast it like a steak, carve it like a steak and serve it with a rich bordelaise sauce made from beef bones. We flip the classic arrangement on its side. The anatomy of the first or second plate is there, but in keeping with what our landscape can provide. ~ Dan Barber

 

Dan Barber feels there is a healthy way to make this a win for our bodies, the farmers, and make it delicious.

 

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I am fascinated by foodie books.  I love to read about restaurants, cooking, chefs, and new ways to do things.  When I stumbled across The Third Plate while looking for my next audio I was intrigued.  We have local friends who gave up meat 2 years ago using the logic that some day, it will not be offered to us anyway as truly the world can not keep up n the ever-growing population and the ever-growing demand.

Seriously, kudos to them… but I am not ready for that day to come.  Sheila loves chicken!

Author Dan Barber is not proposing a non meat society, what he is offering up in The Third Plate is a radical change on how we look at the dinner plate.  His unique way of looking at the plate and how we can use local resources is fascinating.  He proposes how each area of the world uses the resources the land gives them to create delicious meals and support local growth and support.

I wish I took better notes when listening to this audio.  There are so many interesting facts as Dan visits sheep farmers, fisheries, and more.  The numbers are staggering… the supplies required to complete the demand are almost heartbreaking to me.  What people have learned about how a goose dies affects the taste of the meat is amazing.

This is one I will need to purchase the book because I hope to refer to this one time and again.  I was truly fascinated with everything I learned.  While at points it felt drug out in audio format, I imagine the book would not give the same feel.

Recommended for those who love foodie books like me, people interested in trying new things, and healthy eaters.  Dan Barbers thinking makes a lot of sense to me.

 

I am linking this post up to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

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Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews, Save The Date, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Cara Kryzik is the owner of a Savannah flower shop called Bloom.  She truly loves her job but with her father on her case for the money he loaned her to start her business, a landlord that will not return her calls when things in her store are not working, a walk in flower cooler that is unreliable, irate mother of brides, and an assistant who is acting stranger and stranger….

what is going to be her breaking point?

When a good-looking guy steals her dog, Cara does not have time to deal with him and manage her flowers for the upcoming weddings… and when this cool drink of water shows up at the wedding Cara is working, she can not believe his gall.  Is he following her???

While Cara is working out the kinks of her own life living event to event knowing that she is one cancelled wedding away from calling it quits… Jack the dog thief has other plans.

 

 

 

Save the date was another fun romp of a read by Mark Kay Andrews.  I enjoyed the protagonist who could not catch a break and the cast of characters that surrounded her flower shop.  I could imagine this as a fun movie.

Looking for a great summer read or in my case, listen?  Do not hesitate to add Save The Date to your list.  Narrator Kathleen Mcinerney does a wonderful job managing a cast of southern fun voices!

 

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 47 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 3, 2014

 

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorthea Benton Frank

The Hurricane Sisters, Dorthea Benton Frank, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

 

Three generations of southern women, Maisie who is eighty years old and set set SET in her ways.  Liz, Maisie’s daughter is taking care of a career, middle age, and one eye on her adult children, especially Ashley, and the other eye on her husband who makes more and more frequent trips to their apartment in New York.  Then there is Ashley, in her twenties she is sweet and innocent but has her eye and her heart set on the cute young senator; despite her roommates warnings.

Ashley has her older brother Ivy who cheers her on from afar when he is not able to visit from his San Francisco home where he lives with his partner.  Ashley lives in one of the family homes with her roommate Mary Beth; living on a shoe string budget but having dreams (and ideas) of how to make some big money to help them reach their dreams… as long as Ashley’s family doens’tfind out and then render her homeless.

These women love each other fiercely but you wouldn’t always know each.  Each woman has their secrets….  and like the hurricane sisters they are about to become… things are about to get crazy.

 

 

 

WOW OH WOW OH WOW OH WOW OH WOW.  I adore Dorthea Benton Frank and her books too!  If you are an audio person – I highly HIGHLY encourage audio for this one.  Robin Miller has a fantastic variety of voices that clearly define each of the southern characters of this book, both male and female.  I seriously had moments I laughed out loud during this one.  I can only imagine that narrating it was just as fun.

A perfect summer read that makes you think of summer flings and summer parties.  But this book is no fluff… in fact I am very impressed with Dorthea Benton Frank’s handling of a hard topic mixed within this story line.

This is a book that will leave you looking for more of Dorthea Benton Frank.  I have read her before… and I am already looking through her books to see what I may have missed.

Fantastic through and through!

 

 

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The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner, Herman Koch, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

The Dinner is a deliciously disturbing read that tells the length that some of us will go to protect our children. ~ Sheila

 

It is a lovely summers eve in Amsterdam and Paul and Claire Lohman are meeting Paul’s brother and his wife for dinner.  Paul’s brother, Serge is well on his way to being Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Paul finds his brother to be full of himself and cringes at the thought of spending dinner at a restaurant where everyone will be watching them and treating them like royalty.

But there are bigger things to discuss at dinner.

Each of the two couples have a 15-year-old son and through appetizers to dessert it will become clear that the two boys have been involved in a horrific act involving the death of a homeless woman.  Some of the guests at this table know all about it… others are just starting to figure out what happened.  Through forced politeness and forks full of delicious food, this family tries to unite on what the right thing to do is…

and are they willing to do it.

 

 

 

I have been wanting to read this book for a while now – since I first heard about it.  First of all it is a foodie type book and I do love my foodie books.  It is also very intriguing that the entire book is set around this one dinner.  Told through flash backs and present time, from pleasant chit-chat around the subject of politics, menu choices, family and then…

We need to talk about our children.

 

I really enjoyed this book on audio.  Narrators Sam Garrett and Clive Mantle were appropriately chilling in their telling of this story that is fed to the reader/listener forkful by forkful.  I am glad I listened to it on audio, I feel it gave the story line a higher level of understanding and I especially enjoyed having the story unfold from Paul’s perspective.

Witty and a bit dangerous ( a little bit of a Jo Nesbo tamed down feel)… I did enjoy The Dinner.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 55 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: AudioGO
  • Audible.com Release Date: February 13, 2013

 

 

This is probably a stretch but I really want to connect this review to Weekend Cooking over at Beth Fish Reads.  :D  It wasn’t really cooking… but it was foodie and it was listened to over the weekend :D

 

 

Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg McKeown

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Do you ever feel stretched too thin, flitting from one project to the next, feeling over extended and really enjoying nothing because you are already thinking of your next “to do”?

Do you ever feel overworked and underutilized?

Do your days tend to get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?

Do you say yes to fill a need or because you feel you should only to stress and regret it later?

 

Greg McKeown shares in this enlightening book that you can say no to things – you can do less, feel better about it, and produce a better outcome.  It is about regaining control of our own choices where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others permission to do it for us.

Essentialism isn’t one more thing – it’s a different way of doing everything.

 

 

 

First up – I loathe self-help books.  I think, probably more accurately I loathe the category “self-help”.  It implies (IMO) that we are unable to help ourselves… it makes me personally feel weak-minded.  And not to say that there is anything wrong with these books – I just do not like how they are categorized.

This is NOT a self-help book.

This book is a way of tweaking how you do life, and more specifically what you say yes to, and evaluating why you say yes.

Family obligation

you feel if you don’t do it, who will?

There is a need and no one else is offering

It’s not a big commitment

 

I do all of his… ALL THE TIME.  I have turned into a yes person, and it is not all bad – by saying yes to things I have really experienced some awesome things.  I do have to admit though I have also taken on too much, been bitter about my commitments, missed out on things I wanted to do because I said yes to something else…. you get the picture.

I wanted to listen to this audio because I find the whole concept interesting.  Our world we live in is full of choices and commitments and opportunities… oh my!  I can not even imagine how many choices I make in a day.

What Greg is saying in his book, that saying no does not have to be a bad thing.  If saying yes to something at work is going to overextend you, make you stay late, put pressure on your other projects – then politely decline.  While it may cause irritation in the beginning from those who are used to you saying yes, in the long wrong it will gain your respect.

(for the record I am that person who will say yes, stay late to get it done, be upset with myself because now I have made myself late to whatever was next….  vicious circle!)

I enjoyed listening to this audio.  Greg McKeown narrates this himself (great accent!) I did pick up some things from it that I can apply and hope to. I like to learn, and by listening to this audio I did pick up on some tips I can apply to my own life and know that you should say yes…

to the right things :)

 

Publisher:  Crown Business

Release date: April 15, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Do you feel motion sickness instead of momentum?
  • Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
  • Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

The Way of the Essentialist involves doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less.

- See more at: http://gregmckeown.com/essentialism-the-disciplined-pursuit-of-less/#sthash.QpirtZky.dpuf

  • Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
  • Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Do you feel motion sickness instead of momentum?
  • Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
  • Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

The Way of the Essentialist involves doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less.

- See more at: http://gregmckeown.com/essentialism-the-disciplined-pursuit-of-less/#sthash.QpirtZky.dpuf

How To Become A Narrator by Narrator Robert Fass (included in the June Audio Month Giveaway)

Audio month

Yes, yes… I know it is July.  If you read my morning post you will know that I inadvertently missed posting one of our awesome narrators responses for the June Audio Book Month features.  Robert Fass was also one of the narrators that was at the Narrator Luncheon in New York in May.  I had the pleasure of meeting him, but did not have enough time to really chat much with him.  Now, Robert has graced Book Journey with his thoughts on Narrating – a question that seemed to pop up frequently throughout the comments last month.  How does one become a narrator?  Please welcome, Robert Fass.

 

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I’m Robert Fass, and I started narrating professionally in 2005, though it took a number of years before I started making a living at it.

I have completed around 80 titles at this point, across just about every genre, including:
  • THE UNWINDING by George Packer (2013 National Book Award winner for nonfiction)

  • DOUBLE DOWN: GAME CHANGE 2012 by Mark Halperin & John Heilemann

  • SNOW WHITE MUST DIE by Nele Neuhaus (bestselling German crime thriller)

  • SAY HER NAME by Francisco Goldman (fictionalized memoir – listed in AudioFile Magazine’s Top Ten

  • Audiobooks of 2011, Earphones award winner)

  • IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini (YA)

  • THE LIEBERMANN PAPERS series of historical mysteries by Frank Tallis

  • EMPIRE OF LIBERTY by Gordon S. Wood (Audie winner for history, 2011)

I am one of only two narrators approved by the authors’ estate to narrate the Ellery Queen mysteries (I’ve narrated 10 so far), plus works by John Steinbeck, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Carlos Fuentes, Jeffery Deaver and more.  Along the way, I’ve had 7 Audie nominations and won twice.
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I have been a professional actor for over 30 years – a longtime member of the performers’ unions, trained in the classics, studied for many years with the great Uta Hagen – and I have always loved the spoken word. My mother was a librarian and my dad was a volunteer narrator for the blind for over 25 years. When my dad passed away in 1997, I began volunteering in his honor at a local radio reading service for the visually impaired here in NYC. I lucked out the first week I showed up: one of the readers for THE NEW YORKER magazine was out and I was asked to step in. It became permanent and I spent nearly every Wednesday for the next 11 years reading the best fiction, journalism, criticism, and poetry around to a national audience. It was the best training ground anyone could wish for.

My mother was a librarian and my dad was a volunteer narrator for the blind for over 25 years.

Around 2005, a fellow volunteer offered me her invitation to a seminar given by the Audio Publishers Association (APA). They were at that time seeking to bring more theatrically trained performers into the narrator community. I went and was given the opportunity to record a sample and send it to the senior producer at Brilliance Audio, which is a large producer in the mid west (now owned by Amazon). His response was that while I didn’t have the richest voice in the world, he thought I was a very good reader and might expect to find a small amount of work in this field. That was enough encouragement for me to create a professional demo CD – and I sent it to every single producer and publisher in the APA member directory.  A handful of producers were impressed enough with it that they wanted to give me an opportunity to narrate for them. I was lucky to get to narrate works by some major authors right out of the gate, my first couple of titles got reviews (positive ones) and I started to make fans within the producing community. That put me firmly on the path and I chose to pursue it from there.

So… You Want To Become A narrator…

1. Know that narrating audiobooks is a craft. If you’re serious about it and you aren’t a trained actor, start taking classes in acting and vocal production.
2. Don’t think you can be a narrator simply because people tell you that you have a nice voice.
3. Get good before you cut a demo.
4. Join SAG-AFTRA so that if you are fortunate enough to find work in this field, you can begin receiving pension and health benefits.
5. Be prepared to spend long periods of time alone working your ass off in a little box. And loving it.
6. Unless you are in one of the major markets, you will very likely need to invest in a home studio which – even if you do it on the cheap – ain’t cheap.
7. Be aware that any narrator starting out today also has to be an engineer and a director, because it’s just you in the booth doing everything.
8. Know that you rarely have a choice in the material you are offered.
9. Be patient and tenacious.
10. There are many versions of this next basic piece of advice, but if you think you would like to be an audiobook narrator, the first thing you should do is to take a book off the shelf at random, open it to a random page, take it into the closet and read the entire page aloud. Then go back to the top of the page and read it again. Then do it two or three more times. If that’s your idea of a good time, you might think about taking a first step into narration. There is a more comprehensive version of this point in a video by narrator/instructor Sean Allen Pratt.

 

Amazing Narrator Happening… oh yes…. IT HAPPENED

 

An illustration of the need to be patient when starting out: when I sent my original demo around, a very senior, highly respected producer responded with tremendous enthusiasm. “You’re on my A-list! You can obviously do everything! I can’t wait to work with you!” She was quite sincere about it. But at least a year went by before a project came along that she felt was a good fit for me to audition. It was going to be a big deal, a new series that was hoping to be the next Harry Potter. We worked in the studio for a long time together, but in the end I didn’t get it. And I didn’t hear from her again for months. But one day, I got a call from her out of the blue. Unbeknownst to me, she had been circulating an excerpt from that audition as a voice sample for consideration in various projects, and it turned out that Ray Bradbury had selected me to narrate what turned out to be the last book published in his lifetime, FAREWELL, SUMMER (which was the sequel, 50 years in the making, to his beloved classic DANDELION WINE). That was the second book I ever narrated.

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This is the final audio book month post.  For every post you comment on in June (and this one on July 1st) that has this audio book symbol:

Audio month, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantalI will put you into a drawing for a $25 book certificate for each comment (Barnes and Noble or Amazon – your choice).  Winner will be drawn this week!

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedwick

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Seven stories though separated by centuries somehow intermingle as though merely breaking the surface of something much larger that lies just beneath… just out of vision…

An archeologist, an airman, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking… center around an island called Blessed.  Eric and Merle show up within the stories in different forms of their name as the stories unfold.  What is this tale that binds?

 

 

Midwinterblood is a rhythmic tale appropriately read by the narration of Julian Rhind-Tutt.  While short stories have never been something I was drawn to, always wanting “more to the story”, Midwinterblood unfolds in such a way that while the stories are separated by time and tale that I found myself looking for the clues that drew them together. That, as it turns out; was a good thing.

Midwinterblood is marketed as a children’s book but I felt it would have a stronger calling to more of the YA listeners and readers.

While I adore the cover that was on the copy I listened too; it was interesting to see the others covers on-line.. each engaging in their own way:

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5 hours and 49 minutes

Publisher: Square Fish (April 22, 2014)

 

 

Audio Book Month – The Wrap Up and YOUR Thoughts w/ Giveaway!

Audio month

Is it  wrong that now that we are at the end of June and audio month sadly draws to a close that I want to take this above picture and cross out the word June and put July?  *sigh*  All good things must come to an end.

It seems like audio book month went so fast!  I had a blast being such an active part of it this year and I hope that you enjoyed the posts here from audio book discussions, audio book reviews, and the amazing narrators who chimed in with their thoughts and experiences with audio.  Special thanks to our narrators who hung out here:

Johnny Heller

Therese Plummer

Allyson Johnson

Tavia Gilbert

Xe Sands

Karen White

Patrick Lawlor

Ellen Archer

Khristine Hvam

Good times people… good times. :)

And now as I wrap this up I would love to hear some feedback from you on these posts. This posts comments also go into the giveaway that has been running all month for commenting on Audio Book related posts..

Here is what I would love to know:

1.  Did any of the posts from this month encourage you to try an audiobook?  (New or a long time listen of audio, which audio, and which post?

1a.  If you did try an audiobook how was it?

2.  Was there a particular post that you enjoyed out of all the audio posts.  If so, which one?  Why that one?

3.  Did you learn anything from the posts by the Narrators?

4.  What would you like to know more of about audio books?

 

 

As a refresher – here are the posts once again for the last time:

Intro to Audiobook Month

The Acting Of Narration with Johnny Heller

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

A Day In The Life Of Narrating by Narrator Therese Plummer

The Beginning of Narration by Narrator Allyson Johnson

The BEST audiobooks according to the listeners

If I Can’t Have You by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris

Top 5 audiobooks according to narrator Tavia Gilbert

Look Ma!  NO hands!  Audiobooks MY Way!

Things To Look For When Picking Your Next Audio by Narrator Xe Sands

Then and Always by Dani Atkins

Beyond Books by Narrator Karen White

The Other Story by Tatiana De Rosnay

The Narrating Life by Narrator Patrick Lawlor

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Woods

The Art Of Secrets by James Klise

The Best Part Of Narrating By Narrator Ellen Archer

That’s Narrating!  By Narrator Khristine Hvam

 

Please watch this site for June audio book related posts like this one.  For every post you comment on in June that has this audio book symbol:

Audio month, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantalI will put you into a drawing for a $25 book certificate for each comment (Barnes and Noble or Amazon – your choice).  Winner will be drawn in July.

That’s Narrating! By Narrator Khristine Hvam

Audio month

Welcome again to another fun chat with a Narrator.  Today I would love to introduce the talented Khristine Hvam!

 

Khristine

 

Well hello! I’m Khristine Hvam. Audibook narrator and voice over actress. I started narrating audiobooks in 2008.  To name a few of the books I have narrated:

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue,
Astray by Emma Donoghue
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor
The Jane Yellowrock Series by Faith Hunter
The Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggot
The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens
The Cast in Shadow series by Michelle Sagara
The Iron Daughter series by Julie Kagawa

 

How did you begin narrating?

I always say, I sort of tripped and fell and landed (perfectly) in narration. I started as a voice over actor. I was working on some dubbing work and the director thought I would be a good fit for audiobook narration. He set up an audition for me with Audible and the rest is history.

Narration and other voice over work are my full time job. However, being mommy to an eleven month old is my latest full time job. Both are dreams come true.

 

That first narration….

My first book was a steamy sexy romance novel. WOW was that awkward! Not only had I never recorded a book before (the recording of a book takes place over several hours a day for several days) but the name of the steamy sexy male character was the same name as the engineer recording for me. That was kind of humiliating. “Oh Rick, OH RICK!!” … I was several shades of red. “Rick” of course, wasn’t bothered at all.

In the few years I’ve been doing this amazing work things have changed a bit within the inner workings and politics of the business. More and more home studio recording requests come my way and I’m fortunate that I have a home studio and can accommodate. However, it’s challenging to record at home alone and it can be isolating at times. I have to play the role of narrator, engineer, and director, and I think that can sometimes have a negative effect on the narration. I miss the comradery of working with a producer/director and engineer. But the work is still the same. My approach to the work hasn’t changed. I still go into every new project excited and ready for the adventure.

More and more home studio recording requests come my way and I’m fortunate that I have a home studio and can accommodate. However, it’s challenging to record at home alone and it can be isolating at times.

I’ve grown up quite a bit in these last six years. I have more confidence in my choices as a narrator now. I think that translates into being able to branch out into new genres of work. And I’m really looking forward to that!

Favorite Narrations…..

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I think all narrators have a favorite and I have several. My latest is “Frog Music” by Emma Donoghue because it kicked my butt. It was the HARDEST book I’ve ever worked on. And because of how much it pushed me to grow as a narrator IT is one of my favorites. The “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” series by Laini Taylor was just a blast to record. Its filled with incredible characters, it’s written well, and it gave me an opportunity to explore new “voices”… I basically showed up and played all day while recording it. And that’s why I got into this biz in the first place!

 

Please watch this site for June audio book related posts like this one.  For every post you comment on in June that has this audio book symbol:

Audio month, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantalI will put you into a drawing for a $25 book certificate for each comment (Barnes and Noble or Amazon – your choice).  Winner will be drawn in July.

 

The BEST Part Of Narrating, by Narrator Ellen Archer

Audio month

Ellen Archer was also at the luncheon we had in New York In May.  Audio book listeners may know here from her work on audiobooks such as ROOM by Emma Donoghue, Sunday’s At Tiffany’s by James Patterson, The Penny by Joyce Meyers, and more.  Please welcome Ellen to Book Journey.

 

Ellen Archer, Book Journey

My name is Ellen Archer.  I am a New York City based actor and voice – over artist.  I’ve been narrating books for over 12 years and have recorded somewhere around 175 titles.  I say “somewhere” because I used an alias for some of my earlier raunchy titles and I’ve “forgotten” what the alias is.  Now I’m on the straight and narrow and use my own name.  I recently finished MIRROR SIGHT, the latest book in the GREEN RIDER series by Kristen Britain. These fantasy books are seriously good.  She’s a wonderful writer.  ROOM by Emma Donoghue and WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS by Kate Atkinson are also great books, and I loved recording them.

 

How are the books chosen? 

About half the time, my agent sends me auditions for specific titles that I have requested to audition for by the publisher or the producer.  These days, more often than not, the author chooses the narrator from the auditions submitted to him or her. Other times, publishers call my agent and offer me a book or series without my having to audition.  I think I’ve only turned down 3 books in 12 years.  That either reeks of desperation or is a testament to how well publishers and producers know me.  

These days, more often than not, the author chooses the narrator from the auditions submitted to him or her.

 

When I am given a copy of a book, usually it is in a downloadable PDF so I can save a tree and work off my iPad.  It took me a while to get the hang of not having the actual hard copy in my hands, as I like to write little notes in my horrible handwriting, replete with scribbles and arrows and different colored highlighting. I also like to write “to do” lists and funny things my kids says.  I’ve found that the iAnnotate app, is not the enemy – now I can actually read the notes I make. Bonus!
ellen 2

This pic is just a silly one of the various drinks, lip balm and candies I have in the booth with me

 
I always read the book before recording.  I try to read it as I would a book for pleasure. I don’t stop to make a slew of notes in a separate notebook or stop to look stuff up – I just read.  I’ll underline passages that I think are important, put a question mark next to something for which I need clarification, make a quick note about a character to jog my memory later (maybe underline a particular line they speak). After I finish the book, I’ll go back through and look over all the pages on which I made notes and (try to) decipher what I meant.  I’ll make a list of the characters and something to describe them/their accent or voice/their story. If they remind me of someone I know, or a celebrity or even another character I’ve done, I’ll make a note of that.  Then, for that gem of a book for which I get a director, I make a list of questions for him or her (usually pronunciations for character names, but sometimes for regular every day words that big time smarty pants use, and I don’t know how to say).  The director calls the author to get pronunciations on character names or places they’ve made up and then looks up the rest of the stuff.   When I don’t have a director, (which is more than half the time) I do all that stuff myself.  The more complicated the book is, the longer the process.  Non fiction is way easier to prep, while a 27 hour-long fantasy book with 73 characters takes a bit more work.  I also do a fair number of books that have long passages in other languages.  Fortunately, the fine folks at the Boston Conservatory of Music required I take French, Italian and German to complete my degree in Opera and Vocal performance.  I’ve been tempted to write the alumni committee a check more than once.  They must know that somehow, because they send me a donation envelope every year.
ellen archer
What I enjoy most about narrating a book is getting lost in it. It is such a great feeling.  I love the excitement of finding a character’s voice and it feeling completely right.   I know I’ve gotten it right when I’m sad to read the last few lines and it’s over.  I remember reading an amazing and deeply personal memoir called THE ORCHARD by Theresa Weir.  It was beautifully written in first person.  The director, Suzanne Torn, the editor, Tommy Harron and I called the author to ask her a few questions before we got started.   It was a lovely two-minute conversation.  When we finished the book four days later, I had the strongest urge to call Theresa and talk about what happened to “us”  — ask how everyone was doing, how she was doing.  I nearly picked up the phone before I realized that I actually don’t know Theresa. At all.  I knew it would be completely inappropriate to ask her such intimate questions…but after reading her story for four days, it felt like we were friends.  I was that invested.  I did “like” her page on Facebook so, I guess we’re kinda friends now, right?
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While recording my very first audiobook, I kept stumbling over a word. This was a very easy and unfunny word that I couldn’t say – something like “donut.”   I’d get as far as “Let’s go grab a coffee and”  (wait for it….) “BWHAHAHAH.”   Then the engineer, Kay Ells, started laughing.  It was that same feeling you get when you start to laugh in church and it just gets worse and worse. I simply could not get through the sentence without hysterical laughter.  This went on for several minutes, as I, red-faced and gasping for air, tried to explain to the director why “donut” is so damn funny. She was unmoved.  In the end, I had to read the line with my eyes closed so I couldn’t see Katy’s shoulder’s shaking.  And, hey,  they hired me back! 
You can check out more about Ellen Archer at her website:  ellenarcher.com

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Audio month, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantalI will put you into a drawing for a $25 book certificate for each comment (Barnes and Noble or Amazon – your choice).  Winner will be drawn in July.

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