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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Men Reading Romance? Audiobook Suggestions

Posted by Alana T., EPL patron and guest blogger

If you read the Meet the Staff Interviews on this blog, you may have seen the question,  "What is your guilty reading/listening pleasure?".  Mine was, and still is, listening to romance novels.  The funny thing is, I can't read them.  I have zero patience for the characters and plot on the page, but I love to listen - it's more like eavesdropping on a conversation.  
As with other literary genres, romance is categorized into multiple sub-genres.  I don't listen to contemporary,  Amish,  fantasy or inspirational romance.  I am flabbergasted by paranormal romance.  My favorite sub-genre is good 'ole historical romance, specifically regency romance.  I am especially fond of stories with a simple mystery and maybe something supernatural wrapped in.  I recommend anything by Amanda Quick (the pen name of Jane Ann Krentz). 
When listening, narrators are crucial to the interpreting the pace of the story and emotion of the characters.  The vast majority of narrators in romance novels, even those with male main characters, are women.  Every once in a while I'll run across a book narrated by a man and it is a special treat - especially those with female main characters.  Why?  It's hilarious!  The love scenes are too funny!  I have to stop whatever I'm doing, rewind the audio and listen again.  I'm usually laughing so hard, I might miss part of the story.  I'm sure this wasn't the intended effect, but it adds a special dimension to the listening experience. 
There aren't many of these gems out there and most are older.  However, romance is romance and a "good" story lasts forever. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick, narrated by Michael Page.  The wealthy and handsome Earl of St. Merryn hires the penniless Miss Elenora Lodge to pose as his fiancĂ© for a few weeks.  He is trying  to solve his uncle's murder and a fiancĂ© will keep society at bay until he's solved the mystery.  Of course, Miss Lodge proves to be headstrong and ... surprisingly enticing.

Anything in Stephanie Lauren's Cynster Series, narrated by Simon Prebble, is a good choice.  There is usually a murder, some type of social scandal, and really long love scenes.  The main characters are men (in the Cynster family), so the narration isn't quite as funny, but still, those long love scenes!  If you want a female main character, try Where the Heart Leads.  Simon Prebble is actually a really good narrator, I don't know how he can read this stuff and not break out laughing. 

Say You Love Me by Johanna Lindsey, narrated by Michael Page.  The penniless orphan, Miss Kelsey Langton, is responsible for her younger sister but without any resources or options.  She sells herself at auction to handsome, roguish and wealthy Derek Malory.  Miss Langton struggles to hide the secrets of her past, all the while learning about the dangerous rivalries and pleasures of her new life.  Will she find true love...?

The Importance of Being Wicked by Victoria Alexander, narrated by Michael Page.  The disreputable, but somehow quite desirable, Viscount Stillwell needs to find a wife, but he also needs to renovate his family's mansion.  The firm he has hired for repairs sends their representative, the equally desirable, but not disreputable, Lady Miranda Garrett, for consultation.  She moves in to oversee "the work."  Will the house repairs ever be completed?  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

You CAN Handle the Truth: New Non-Fiction Picks February 2015

Posted by the Information Services Department (Gwen B., Amanda E., Lisa E., Kristen R., & Joyce D.)

Here's the latest list of our new non-fiction book picks! Listed below, along with their Dewey Decimal classification, are our top picks of the non-fiction books that looked most interesting, ultra-informative, or just plain fun.

From high heels to protective boots, shoes are powerful objects of desire as well as a practical necessity. They are also fascinating indicators of the fashions, social attitudes, and economic backdrop of the times in which they were made and worn. This lavishly illustrated volume takes the reader on a glorious journey through many centuries of footwear from antiquity to the present, showcasing a dazzling array of shoes from all over the world. 

In a nation where religion plays such a big role, how can you raise a child without God? How do you instill morality, answer questions about mortality, and handle believers who expect to get a one-way ticket to heaven by converting you? Deborah Ann Mitchell, who has blogged and written columns on the subject, provides guidance to agnostics and atheists struggling with how to assert their beliefs in a reasoned, nonconfrontational, and honest manner.

Montgomery Ward's Mail-order Homes includes a field guide to Wardway Homes, with easy-to-read drawings and floorplans, vintage illustrations and original catalog images, contrasted and compared with contemporary photos. Organized by housing style, this field guide will allow readers to quickly determine if their home could be a Wardway Home. This book provides a fascinating look into early 20th Century kit homes that were ordered from the Ward's catalog.

Timeless Toys represents one of the finest documentaries and displays of modern toys ever written. Author Tim Walsh, a successful toy inventor himself, reveals a world of commerce, toys, and wonder that is equally fun, fascinating, and nostalgic. Readers of every age and background will find it impossible to pick up this book, turn a few pages, and not become spellbound by its insightful stories and the personal memories that the text and 420 brilliantly colored photographs bring forth.

In his sci-fi epic Interstellar, Christopher Nolan takes on the infinite canvas of space to deliver a cutting-edge, emotionally charged adventure that will amaze audiences of all ages. Interstellar: Beyond Time ad Space documents the making of Nolan's latest masterpiece in fascinating detail and features interviews with the acclaimed director, along with screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, producer Emma Thomas, and other key members of the production team. Delving into the science and philosophy behind the film, Interstellar: Beyond Time and Space dynamically showcases its incredible concept art, including costume designs, storyboards, and other fascinating preproduction elements.

The African-American actors and actresses whose names have shone brightly on Broadway marquees earned their place in history not only through hard work, perseverance, and talent, but also because of the legacy left by those who came before them. Like the doors of many professions, those of the theater world were shut to minorities for decades. While the Civil War may have freed the slaves, it was not until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's that the playing field began to level. In this remarkable book, theater producer and historian Stewart F. Lane uses words and pictures to capture this tumultuous century and to highlight the rocky road that black actors have traveled to reach recognition on the Great White Way.

A 1977 assignment for Look magazine took Stephen Shames to the Bronx, where he began photographing a group of boys coming of age in what was at the time one of the toughest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States. The Bronx boys lived on streets ravaged by poverty, drugs, violence, and gangs in an adolescent "family" they created for protection and companionship. Shames' profound empathy for the boys earned their trust, and over the next two-plus decades, as the crack cocaine epidemic devastated the neighborhood, they allowed him extraordinary access into their lives on the street and in the homes and "crews."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Actors Turned Audiobook Narrators?

Posted by Jacob D.

Every audiobook fan will tell you that the narrator will make or break an audiobook experience. Listen to enough audiobooks and you’ll start to pick favorite narrators, and you might start searching for audiobooks by narrator over other criteria.

When I hear about established actors doing audiobook narrations, I’m always curious how they’ll turn out. I've found mixed results. Here are some actors turned narrators that I've listened to:

Ron Perlman of Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy, and Beauty and the Beast fame has done a few audiobooks. His Hellboy and Beast characters are known for their voices, so I thought Mr. Perlman’s voice would lend itself to a 10 hour long audiobook. After listening to his narration of City of Thieves by David Benioff and The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro, it seems that he thrives off of working with other actors because he sounds bored and detached in these audiobook recordings.

Will Patton is an actor that you might not know by name, but you’d recognize him from TV shows like Falling Skies or 24. He’s also been in a number of films. He has narrated most of the recent James Lee Burke books and Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep and Mr. Mercedes. In his audiobook performances, Will Patton sounds like an eloquent member of the working class. He sounds a bit more enthusiastic than Ron Perlman, and the audiobooks are much more engaging.

Bronson Pinchot is another television personality you might recognize as Balki from 1980s series Perfect Strangers.  He also played Serge in the Beverly Hills Cop movies. Bronson Pinchot is one of the better audiobook narrators I've heard—not just of the screen actor-turned-narrator bunch. If you want a meaty novel set during the Vietnam war, check out the audiobook for Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Bronson Pinchot’s narration on Matterhorn earned him the Narrator of the Year award from