TJ Richards is an audiobook narrator with a love for diverse LGBT+ fiction and damned fine stories!  She is also an LGBT+ activist, National Co-Chair of the LGBT+ Embrace Network, a Trustee for Q:Alliance and on the founding committee for RoundabOUT; Milton Keynes' Inter Company LGBT+ Network.  A busy woman indeed!

Audiobook Review: Fairy Tales for the Fiercer Sex – by Alison Larkin, narrated by Alison Larkin

Hailed by the Times as "hugely entertaining", award-winning narrator Alison Larkin selects fairytales of strong, brave, independent, at times irreverent girls and women who take charge of their lives, go on their own adventures, rescue themselves, and sometimes even save the men they love.

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Audiobook Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – By Becky Chambers, narrated by Patricia Rodriguez

Amazon Summary


When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.


But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.


Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years... if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.


But Rosemary isn't the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.



The Story


I have rarely read a sci-fi book of such depth and obvious talent – and for this to be Becky Chambers’ debut novel is a feat in and of itself.  The focus of the story is more on the stories of each of the characters, their backgrounds, how they got here, and how they will move forward together.  Each crewmember on the Wayfarer is beautifully written and infused with emotion.  As the relationship between Rosemary and Sissix blooms you will find yourself cheering them on.  Without giving any spoilers, I was full on sobbing at one part and snort laughing at others.  And at times I was absolutely floored by the philosophical questions it was leading me to, right up to and including the meaning of life!



The Audio


Patricia Rodriguez was the first narrator I really listened to when I got into audiobooks and in my mind she is a queen amongst a highly skilled and lovely group of narrators.  She gets into each character and gives them a voice that brings them to life in a way that makes them real in your head.  If you had told me this was a production involving several narrators I would have believed you, she is that good at giving distinct voices to each character. 





Honestly, what are you waiting for?  This is a gem of an audiobook and well worth a listen!



5 stars

Audiobook Review: Just Three Words – By Melissa Brayden, narrated by Felicity Munroe

Amazon Summary


Sometimes the one you want is the one you least suspect...


Accountant Samantha Ennis craves order and structure. As the bookkeeper at the boutique advertising agency she owns with her three best friends, it's her job to apply logic to the chaos. When one of those best friends, laid back Hunter Blair, moves in to share her loft apartment, Sam's carefully organized world is thrown wildly askew.


Hunter Blair's been the coolest one in the room since elementary school. Until recently, her biggest worry in the world was which of the girls in her cell phone to call on a Saturday night. But it's not long before Samantha sparks a fire in Hunter that has her questioning her old habits and longing for new ones. Isn't it a bad idea to fall for one of your best friends? Samantha and Hunter are about to find out.



The Story


This was my first Melissa Brayden book, (which is probably not something I should say out loud lest my lesbian card be revoked) but I was intrigued after listening to an interview with her on the Lesbian Talkshow podcast and decided to have a listen.  I was not disappointed!  The scenes were deftly described, the characters were nuanced and interesting, and the dialogue was hilariously witty and fast paced.  It was also nice to have a bit of diversity amongst the cast, and Sam’s bisexuality was presented brilliantly. 


The Audio


This is what a professional and highly talented audiobook narration sounds like – and I took copious notes so I could glean a few lessons from a master!  Felicity Munroe was the perfect choice to pair with this story, and she effortlessly brought each character to life and added a level of snark that fit the story perfectly.  Her Hawaiian accent was spot on and reminded me instantly of my Hawaiian friends - she didn’t go over the line into impressions but kept it authentic and believable. 





There is honestly nothing I can think of that was not brilliant with this audiobook.  If you’d like an introduction to Melissa Brayden or Felicity Munroe’s work, this is a great audiobook to get your ears on.  Highly recommended!




5 Stars

Audiobook Review: Daughter of Dust and Bone by Laini Taylor, Narrated by Khristine Hvam

When Brimstone calls, you always listen.  That’s a lesson that Karou, the blue haired and mysterious art student in Prague, has learned well in her 17 years.  She keeps her two lives separate, practicing her art at school and in her spare time running errands for monsters that live in a shop – a shop that doubles as a portal between earth and “Elsewhere”.  Brimstone and his band of monsters are the closest thing to a family she’s ever known.  Karou has no idea where “Elsewhere” is, or how she came to be part of this strange little family.  She is plagued by the feeling that she isn’t whole, and that secrets are being kept from her.  When the doors to “Elsewhere” start to close forever she is faced with a choice – stay in the earthly life she knows or risk the war-torn world on the other side of the portal?

This book is the first in a trilogy, and sets the scene perfectly for the larger story arc.  Laini Taylor uses beautiful language to weave together the threads of her tale, and expertly pulls the reader in with just the right amount of intrigue and action.  The character’s conflicts are laid out at just the right pace to have the reader crossing their fingers hoping that things work out – and set their heart pounding at the thought that they might not! 

Khristine Hvam was the perfect pick to narrate this book - her inflections, tones and voices were spot on and made it easy for the listener to completely lose themselves in the story.  The production quality of this audiobook was also top notch, without any issues of background noise or poor audio.  Kristine Hvam didn’t just read this book to the listener, but performed it in that way that brought each character to life in their individual uniqueness.

This knockout team of Laini Taylor and Khristin Hvam meant this audiobook easily earned 5 stars, and had this reviewer instantly purchasing the rest of the trilogy to continue the adventure.  But a word of warning, dear listeners, don’t expect to get much sleep when listening to this as you won’t be able to put it down for long!

Audiobook Review: Fortunate Sum by M Ullrich, Narrated by Ruby Rivers

Catherine Carter is a successful and driven financial advisor who aims to find happiness by following her life plan and ticking every goal off her list.  Her next deadline is looming – to find her ideal man and settle down before she turns 30.  Following a chance meeting with a psychic at a birthday party, the skeptical Catherine agrees to a reading and isn’t sure if what she’s told has any value, or is just the vague rantings of a con artist.  But a few things she’s told stick in her head and she starts to wonder what the future holds in store for her and her life plan.  Soon, Catherine agrees to meet with a private client as a financial advisor, and her world gets turned upside down when she meets the outgoing and quirky Imogene Harris, who isn’t keen on letting a perfect stranger help her with her inheritance.  As the women spend more time together their relationship starts to shift from working to flirting, Catherine is faced with a choice – continue following her life plan, or take a leap and follow her heart?

M Ullrich has written a great story with lively and believable characters.  It moves at a rate that keeps the reader begging for more – and never quite able to put it down for long.  At times the story moves in a way that feels like the reader knows what is going to happen next, before the author suddenly throws the trope completely out the window and leaves your head spinning.  It’s refreshing and exciting and utterly addicting.  When the reader inevitably reaches the end of the story, a book hangover is sure to be in store!

The audio format was slightly harder to embrace as the pace of Ruby Rivers' narration felt very rushed in the first half, and there were some issues with sibilance early in the recording.  The speed settled down about half way through the book and the story was so engaging that the listener is likely to forgive this and allow the narrator to find the flow of the story.  And while a few of the character voices were difficult to distinguish from one another when they were speaking in the same scene, one certainly can’t fault the narrator for their enthusiasm to perform the story, and overall it is not an unpleasurable experience. 

The audiobook format of this book earned itself a solid 4 stars, and is well worth a listen.  This reader will definitely be looking for more from this author!



Audiobook Review: The Secret King Lethao by Dawn Chapman, Narrated by Greg Tremblay

It's not often that you come across a well crafted fully formed universe within a story, but that's exactly what Dawn Chapman has achieved here - an entire civilisation with an ancient and nuanced culture.  If your geek level is on par with mine, think Sword of Truth crossed with Mass Effect.

They must race to escape their dying planet and the aliens bent on their annihilation.  Then they must try and survive the journey to find a new home.  There are those within their own ranks who want to topple the king and his carefully laid plans, and you are left on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens next.

The narration is delivered by Greg Tremblay, who pulls off a large number of characters, alien languages, and a range of emotions in a way that will pull you directly in to Dawn's creation.  There were a couple of brief moments where you became aware of a bit of background noise, possible pages turning during the recording stage, but overall the level of production and performance are great value for money.

I won't spoil it for you, but I do highly recommend you have a listen and judge for yourself.  Available for download on iTunes, Audible and Amazon.