audio book trip

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We remembered the audio books this time. Natalya and I browsed the considerable audio book collection at the library and left with more hours of reading than the trip should need–just in case one of the narrators was awful, which has happened in the past. Perhaps as we listen to more audio books we will remember the good readers.

When N and I were perusing the three sections of audio books, I noticed Tonya Hurley’s Ghostgirl on the Teen Shelf and was tempted to pick it up. Maybe next time. Because I am familiar with the story or am tempted by the cover copy? No. The book is read aloud by Parker Posey–I mean, how fabulous is that? N didn’t know better and nixed the idea, but Sean agrees–next time.

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We began with Faeries of Dreamdark : Blackbringer [unabridged] by Laini Taylor, read by Davina Porter. You may recall how I raved on this and its second book Silksinger. Davina Porter is a fantastic reader! I am going to remember her for future books. She changes her voice so seamlessly, so perfectly. I was immediately drawn in.

Just the same, we didn’t get too far into this very long reading because we were needing more overt humor over the chilling imagery of a terrible demon on the loose. (The Dreamdark series would be a fun RIP read.)

I picked up Skulduggery Pleasant because I thought it was funny, very Doctor Who-ish. Written by Derek Landy, this audio book version was read aloud by Rupert Degas. When I had read Skulduggery Pleasant I had had very definite sounds of Skulduggery and Stephanie (the two protagonists) in my head. In effect, they were David Tennant and Billie Piper (of Doctor Who). Imagine my distraction when the talented Mr. Degas presented two very different voices. His softened, lilting voice for the daring and sassy 12-year-old Stephanie Edgley sounded remarkably like Billy Boyd as Peregrine “Pippin” Took of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films.  I also felt that Skulduggery would have been a bit more animated, less like Brendan Gleeson suffering exhaustion and a scratchy throat. Fortunately, Sean and Natalya thought the reading was great and really enjoyed the six discs as it carried us across North Texas.

Except…there are musical/sound effect transitions between chapters here that we had come to mock, but were otherwise not amusing. Really, that they all start with weird music (minus Blackbringer) was startling and slightly icky.

The third book we listened to upon the return trip was Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl : The Eternity Code. Only Natalya and I have read the first book in the series. The Eternity Code, I believe, is the third book. Sean had a passing idea of who Artemis Fowl was.

The reader for this audio version is Nathaniel Parker. The reading was a wonderful experience and the flashes of Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane (as Rubeus Hagrid) were not too distracting. Actually it was kind of funny trying to picture the Hagrid figure as the dwarf Mulch Diggums.

I marvel over the voice memory for each character an audio-book reader can employ. I remember trying to assign each character a voice (as recommended by their description) when reading aloud to N when she was much smaller. I would forget and get them mixed up if there were more than 5 characters. N, however, always remembered how the voices were supposed to go. My greatest success is still Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

We would have liked to have gotten to Neil Gaiman’s Coraline as read by the author–except we are glad to have not been on the road that much longer. Neil Gaiman was our fail-safe. He softens his voice for the female characters, but does not reach for the falsetto like the previous two mentions. His alterations are more slight. And well, Sean and I adore his reading of The Graveyard Book. Gaiman will be sure to come along with us again.

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How do you prefer your audio-books? Dramatic vocal changes between characters? Female or Male Narrator? Author over Actor? Musical entrances? Warnings that the disc is finished, a ‘would you please change it or you’ll be experiencing two full minutes of deja vu and forget where you’d left off’? Do you have fail-safe readers/series?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. The narrator must be engaging, and I love it when they add little inflections to the voice (like a rasp or a cough from a smoker). I like voice acting and thinking that the Narrator is having fun reading aloud, and I think this is conveyed on the story. The sex matters not, though I tend to prefer Male to predominately male POVs and Female to predominately female POVs. Music is nice, as long as its fitting and unobtrusive. But I loathe when a disc does not play continuously onto the next disc, stopped with a “PLEASE INSERT DISC X TO CONTINUE…” and then beginning again five paragraphs before the previous disc ended.

    I’m blown away by Jim Dale’s performance for Harry Potter. Each character is unique and marvelously done. I also was a ginormous fan of Jayne Entwistle’s reading of Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I could easily stand to hear more from either of these people.

    1. L says:

      I will look into the performances you mention. I should keep a list, so I will.

      I’ve not encountered a “insert disc x” that I can recall…but I would like a chime or something, only because I am usually doing something else at the time of listening and it takes me a bit before realizing the disc has cycled back. With the Artemis Fowl, Colfer is known to move onto some separate but parallel piece so I can’t anticipate a next chapter. and with Skulduggery, Landy is prone to restart a sequence where main characters had split off to track parallel events so when I hear a repeated scene it could be he is about to take off with the other set. There was a moment with Artemis Fowl, the disc had restarted and it took a good three minutes and a thought to look at the “display” to realize we needed to change disc–we had a good self-deprecating laugh over that one.

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention Anansi Boys. Lenny Henry has this exotic, Jamaican voice that fit this story perfectly, and it was an absolute delight to listen to this book. While I normally prefer Gaiman with Gaiman-stories, Henry was great.

    And I didn’t realize that Eric Carle wasn’t both author and illustrator of Brown Bear…. Thanks for pointing that out to me!

    1. L says:

      I could see where a Jamaican voice would be fitting, and good for Gaiman to support the narrator choice. Will definitely have to look into this one for me and Sean.

      I always have to verify the writer, because it is such an Eric Carle book to my mind. I should have an Eric Carle day. anyway, ‘Brown Bear’ and Dr. Seuss’ “My Many Colored Days” were among my favorite board books when N was little.

  3. Kailana says:

    I never finished my audio book experience of Skulduggery Pleasant. I really enjoyed reading them… I actually bought the new one and am waiting very impatiently for it to arrive.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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