Audiobook Review: Murder in Keswick by William Todd

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While on a well-deserved holiday in the Lake District to get away from the toils and troubles of London, Holmes and Watson find no respite. As soon as they exit the train, they hear news of a grisly murder making its way around the murmuring commuters. A local aristocrat, Mr. Darcy, has been found missing his head!

And that very night, the wealthy widow finds a stranger in her home who, upon seeing her, abandons his plans and quickly leaves. She believes the intruder to be the murderer of her husband who is now after a large sum of cash she keeps in the house safe.

Unsure if the would-be thief is the murderer or an opportunistic burglar, Holmes devises a plan to catch the burglar, all the while investigating the murder of Mr. Darcy. Follow Holmes, Watson, and the local constable Mr. Wickham as they untangle the mystery surrounding a Murder in Keswick.

©2018 William Todd (P)2018 William Todd.

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The great Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson attempt a holiday and a bit of respite on a train to Keswick, but little do they know what awaits them. Holmes’ brain craves stimulation of every sort when not actively “solving crimes”. Well, he’s delighted what they stumble across in Keswick. This should please many fans of of Holmes.

Narrator Ben Werling does a great job portraying Watson and Holmes throughout the book. His pacing is a bit fast for my taste, but I thought it appropriate given the characters especially Holmes. Sound production was pretty decent with a nice touch of cinematic sound effects. Very entertaining!

*I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Audiobook Review: Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot

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Widow’s Island Novella Series, Book 1

 

 

FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde is back home on a remote Pacific Northwest island when she gets the call: a teenager’s skeletal remains have been found on a nearby island.

Together with Tessa Black, a childhood friend turned local deputy, Cate confronts dreary weather and bleak leads to make sense of the death. The complications pile up as Cate is distracted by the coroner on the case—and by nagging memories that draw her twenty years into the past. The remains suggest eerie similarities between this victim, and Cate and Tessa’s friend Samantha, who disappeared when she was fourteen.

Cate finds herself up against closemouthed locals, buried town secrets, and even her own heart. As the case unravels, will she be able to cut through the fog and find justice for the missing and the dead.

 

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Review Concept

 

 

Bestselling author Kendra Elliot kicks off a great beginning to the Widow’s Island series! This was so well written it didn’t really seem like a novella. It had all the necessary elements of a full novel complete with mystery, suspense, crime, character, and a touch of romance. I thought the idea for the Widow’s Island setting was genius; the culture, secrets, history of families, it made the story very appealing.

 

 

NARRATOR PERFORMANCE:

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection: 8/10

Narrator Christine Williams fully embodies the story in her performance. I could tell

she was absorbed by it and displayed good skill.

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over: 7/10

There wasn’t much variation as far as voice creation goes for different characters. Didn’t know if if was deliberate or not because it’s a novella. However, the narrative voice was so compelling it was hardly noticed. If the book was longer then there’d be room for improvement here.

 

  • Pacing 8/10

Pacing throughout the book was good, consistent, matching they mysterious nature of the book. Very smooth performance.

 

  • Emphasis 7/10

There could’ve been more emphasis on character traits, or subtle things that help the listener distinguish who’s speaking, but still effective enough for the story.

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  8/10

When it’s all said and done, I was drawn into the story and finished quickly, which is always a good sign.

 

  • Emotional Intensity  6/10

This is a new category I’ve been wanting to add for some time now. The numbering doesn’t mean either good or bad. It reflects on the narrators style of displaying emotion overall.  For instance, a 1 or 2 would be monotone seriously lacking in variation. And on the opposite side of the spectrum 9, 10 would be too much emotion. 5-6 is moderate and 7-8 would be ideal in my opinion.  This only applies to emotional intensity and not to the other aspects of the performance.

 

  • Sound Quality: 10/10

Publisher:   Brilliance Audio

Great sound quality and production.

 

  • Overall Performance: 7/10

Overall I really enjoyed the book and narrator performance by Christine Williams. She has a very effective, smooth style of narrating that helps bring out the story.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Borderline by Joseph Badal

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About the Audiobook

Author: Joseph Badal

Narrator: Pamela Almand

Length: 8 hours 40 minutes

Publisher: Suspense Publishing⎮2016

Genre: Police Procedural; Mystery

Series: Lassiter/Martinez Case Files # 1

Release date: May 17, 2016

 

Synopsis: Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez, two New Mexico homicide detectives, are assigned to investigate the murder of a wealthy Albuquerque socialite. They soon discover that the victim, a narcissistic borderline personality, played a lifetime game of destroying people’s lives. As a result, the list of suspects in her murder is extensive.

The detectives find themselves enmeshed in a helix of possible perpetrators with opportunity, means, and motive – and soon question giving their best efforts to solve the case the more they learn about the victim’s hideous past.

Their job gets tougher when the victim’s psychiatrist is murdered and DVDs turn up that show the doctor had serial sexual relationships with a large number of his female patients, including the murder victim.

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve heard a police procedural and I absolutely loved this one. Having two well written female lead detectives was a breath of fresh air. Creative, fascinating characters you like to get know better if they were real. The story itself was a powerful one given the subject material; and the way that Joseph Badal tells it only leaves you wanting to more.

 

 

NARRATOR PERFORMANCE:

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection:  

The way that Pamela Almand narrates makes it easy to enter right into the story. I think those who narrate books have an extremely difficulty task. They not only have to read and portray a cast of characters with distinct voices, accents, but also learn how to tell the story in the process. Pamela Almand has done just that.  When she narrates you have the sense she’s completely enveloped in the story.

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over:  

The list of accents was superb. The voices of Barbara and Susan were quite entertaining!

 

  • Pacing 

Almand is a pleasure to listen to.  The pacing is spot on.

 

  • Emphasis 

Exceptional.  It was almost like watching a hit TV series from the 90’s. I’m still not sure how all the good narrators do it.

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  

I was completely sucked into this book. Hook, line, and sinker.

 

  • Sound Quality: 

Publisher:   Suspense Publishing

The recording volume was great as opposed to some other audiobooks. Almands voice fills up the sound booth very well.

 

  • Overall Performance: 

I’ve never heard of Pamela Almand before this—but now I’m a fan. She has a great voice worthy listening to and her skill is clearly evident.

 

 

 

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About the Author: Joseph Badal

Joseph Badal is the author of 13 suspense novels: Borderline & Dark Angel (Lassiter/Martinez Case Files series); Evil Deeds, Terror Cell, The Nostradamus Secret, The Lone Wolf Agenda, Death Ship, & Sins of the Fathers (The Danforth Saga); The Motive & Obsessed (The Curtis Chronicles); and stand-alones The Pythagorean Solution, Shell Game, & Ultimate Betrayal.


All of his books draw on personal experiences and historical events. Joe has been judged “One of the 50 Authors You Should Be Reading” and has received 3 Gold Medals and 2 Silver Medals from the Military Writers Society of America, and The Tony Hillerman Award for Best Fiction Book of the Year in 2014 and 2016. He also writes a blog titled Everyday Heroes. See past postings at www.josephbadalbooks.com


You can read more about Joe at www.josephbadalbooks.com and email him at josephbadalbooks@aol.com

 

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About the Narrator: Pamela Almand

The daughter of a cattle rancher, Pam Almand grew up in the tiny town of Brush, Colorado. Her dad, a former Air Force fighter pilot, sparked her interest in flying, and after graduating Colorado State University in 2 1/2 years with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Pam took a flying lesson “just for fun.”

That first lesson turned into a lifelong passion, and one month later she had her Private Pilot’s License. Though there were no female pilots in the airline industry at that time, she set that as her career goal. In 1976, Pam started a small aircraft ferry service to build flight time and in that capacity, delivered new and used aircraft all over the world, including two-seat Cessna 150s she flew solo across the Atlantic!

Pam was the first woman flight test pilot for Cessna Aircraft Company’s multi-engine turbo-prop and jet division and eventually became the company’s national spokeswoman for their Learn To Fly programs.

Her dream was finally realized when she was hired by Northwest Airlines and began a career which spanned the globe, on aircraft from the Convair 580 all the way to captain of the Boeing 747 flying Asia and Europe routes. Pam had over 25,000 hours of flight time at retirement two years ago.

She is a past director of the International Society of Women Airline Pilots and organized conferences for that group in Bangkok and Fort Worth. She is a member of the Ninety-Nines, Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Air Line Pilots Association.

When arthritis and multiple joint replacements curtailed her flying, she started a company as a professional voice actor. Appearing in a national Tylenol commercial in 1995 sparked her interest and The Captain’s Voice was the result. She is now an award-winning SAG/AFTRA narrator and voiceover talent and has done commercials, videogames, e-learning, audiobooks, and phone messaging for clients including Microsoft, Brilliance Audio, Johnson & Johnson, Audible, La Costa Resort, Jet Blue, Delta Airlines, Dell, Blackstone Publishing, the American Red Cross, Canadian Realtors…all the way to being the English voice for The Hotels and Casinos of Monte Carlo!

She was nominated for an Audie Award for her 5th audiobook narration (Come To Me Alive, by Leah Atwood) and went on to also earn a Voice Arts Award for non-fiction for In Movement There Is Peace, by Elaine and Joseph Foster; another Voice Arts nomination for Cyber Crisis: It’s Personal Now, by William Kieper; and recently was awarded an Earphones Award by AudioFile Magazine for Husbands and Other Sharp Objects, by Marilyn Simon Rothstein for Brilliance Audio.

She has served on the board of several charities, including Patrons of the HeArts and local Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministries (BEAM) and lives with her husband Amos in Atlantic Beach. Pam plays piano for her local church, still returns to Telluride, Colorado every summer, loves biking, golf, hiking, and-though she’s been all over the globe!- she still counts world travel among her most-loved hobbies.

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Audiobook Review: The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson

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The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery

 

About Audiobook #2

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery

Author: Jennifer S. Alderson

Narrator: Carol Purdom

Length: 10 hours 42 minutes

Publisher: Jennifer S. Alderson⎮2017

Genre: Mystery

Series: The Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 2

Release date: Oct. 2, 2017

Synopsis: Missing masterpieces, Nazi blackmailers, and a pesky amateur sleuth.



When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.

After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it all.

Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

Chill with a Book’s January 2018 Book of the Month
One of TripFiction’s 10 Favorite Books set in Amsterdam
One of The Displaced Nation’s Top 36 Expat Fiction Picks of 2016
Number 14 in the BookLife Prize for Fiction 2016, Mystery category
Silver Cup Winner of Rosie’s Book Review Team Awards 2017 in the Mystery category

The Lover’s Portrait is the perfect novel for those who love art, history, and mystery. The Adventures of Zelda Richardson series are stand-alone novels and can be listened to in any order.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #2

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The Adventures of Zelda Richardson Teaser

 

 

The Lover’s Portrait art mystery is top notch and worthy of 5 stars. The mystery is highly cerebral, the characters entertaining, and the writing is well done. Very satisfying book. Narrator Carol Purdom does a skillful job of bringing Zelda Richardson fully to life. I though she was a perfect match for the protagonist. Carol’s voice is very sweet and potrayed Zelda as a innocent, determined, amateur sleuth who should’n’t be taken lightly. The book has great suspense and sufficient tension throughout the story which made it much better in my opinion.

 

 

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About the Author: Jennifer S. Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her ongoing mystery series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, Jennifer can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

There are currently four books in the stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover Zelda Richardson. In Down and Out in Kathmandu, Zelda gets entangled with a gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen his diamonds. The Lover’s Portrait is a suspenseful “whodunit?” about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to wartime and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Rituals of the Dead, a thrilling artifact mystery set in Dutch New Guinea (Papua) and the Netherlands. Her short story set in Panama and Costa Rica, Holiday Gone Wrong, will help fans better understand this unintentional amateur sleuth’s decision to study art history and give new readers a taste of her tantalizing misadventures.
The Lover’s Portrait was Chill With A Book’s January 2018 Book of the Month and won the Silver Cup in Rosie’s Book Review Team 2017 Awards, Mystery category. TripFiction recently named it one of their 10 Favorite Books set in Amsterdam. It also won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award, Readers’ Favorite 5 star medal, was one of The Displaced Nation magazine’s Top 36 Expat Fiction Picks of 2016, and came in at 14 in BookLife’s 2016 Prize for Fiction in the Mystery category. The Lover’s Portrait was also one of Women Writers, Women’s Books magazine’s Recommended Reads for April 2017.

Her travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler, is a must read for those interested in learning more about—or wishing to—travel to Nepal and Thailand. It was also awarded a Readers’ Favorite 5 star medal.

 

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About the Narrator: Carol Purdom

Carol Purdomis a retired System Analyst. She has many years of experience performing in community and dinner theater and currently writes for and directs her church Drama Ministry team. She received training in commercial and audio book recording from ADDY award-winning voice actor Leonard Dozier (SAG-AFTRA, AEA, ASCAP, Actor, Singer, Songwriter). She has recorded 8 audiobooks.

 

 

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City

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About the Audiobook

Author: Christine Evelyn Volker

Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir

Length: 12 hours 6 minutes

Publisher: Christine Evelyn Volker⎮2018

Genre: Mystery

Release date: Mar. 27, 2018

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, 40-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend – but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?

A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth – before it’s too late.

“A riveting whodunit that makes full use of its dramatic setting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

 

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This novel was quite an Italian treat. Taking place in the city of Venice, the flavor of this story is exquisitely Italian. The names, places, idioms all displayed an authenticity in the setting of this mystery. Anna Lucia Lottol is a memorable character trying to cope with a bad marriage, a murder mystery, Venetian romance,  while dealing with her own demons. This was more a like a literary murder mystery full of red herrings. Excellent.

 

 

 

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NARRATOR PERFORMANCE: 9/10

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection:  10/10

 

Gabriella de Cuir is completely enveloped in the story which make for a great book. Excellent.

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over:  10/10

Great character voices in this one! The Italian was off the charts and loved every bit of it.

  1. Anna Lucia Lottol is such a memorable character with an innocent personality. She reminds me of some of the old school actresses from the 60’s.
  2. Roberto’s voice and character were also memorable. A player and womanizer who has all the finesse to fully employ his lustful nature.
  3. Detective Niccolo Biondi. Not sure if I’m spelling his name correctly, but he also was a memorable character. You’ll see this often in detective mysteries, or even crime fiction. A law enforcement official hell-bent on uncovering the truth- one way or the other.

There were a slew of characters but these were some who stood out. The narrator does a flawless job of switching voices/characters throughout the book.

 

  • Pacing 9/10

The pacing throughout was spot on.

  • Emphasis 9/10

Knowing when and how much to emphasize with each character was great. I think this distinguishes an ordinary narrator and the better ones. It really brings out the personality of the character and makes them more believable. Anna was so adorable!

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  8/10

Initially I had a harder time locking into the story for some reason. By this I mean, focus. Some stories are easier than other for different reasons. But once I zeroed in on the form of storytelling and narrative voice, it was sensational.

 

  • Sound Quality: 10/10

Publisher: Christine Evelyn Volker – Excellent sound quality.

 

  • Overall Performance: 9/10 

Gabriella de Cuir is a pleasure to listen to. She has great skill in many areas and I’d definitely listen to her again! Highly recommended.

 

 

 

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A few questions with author Christine Evelyn Volker

 

 

  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

 

Yes. But it didn’t enter the choices that I made. If you’re a writer doing your job, you’re already making decisions based on the cadence of words, their sounds, how realistic your dialog is and how it would be spoken. All of these factors are critical for a good audiobook. After the first few drafts, I read the book out loud to hear how the words sounded and made changes if they didn’t work well together.

 

 

  • How did you select your narrator?

 

Gabrielle de Cuir auditioned, and I loved her voice – its pitch and expressiveness. She brought out the characters’ emotions while also creating interest in paragraphs of pure description. Once I heard her Italian pronunciation (I also speak it), I knew she could handle the super-challenging text I had written: lots of Italian and Spanish words, plus six types of accents in English. I checked her background. She had won awards, and was highly experienced. She didn’t have to learn the craft via my book. I used Audiobook Creation Exchange (acx). Despite the audition and the first fifteen minutes where the author listens to the narrator’s recording and provides feedback, going forward there’s a lot riding on faith. Faith that the rest of the voice actor’s work holds up to the standard of the first part. Given the linguistic and emotional complexity of my book it would have been easy for someone with less talent and experience to go astray.

 

 

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  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?  

 

We worked together very smoothly. I spent a lot of time at the beginning by preparing six pages of written character descriptions, including minor ones. I boiled the key characters down, their attitudes, what made them tick, and where important, how I thought their voices could sound. This allowed her to reflect before she started, to figure out how she’d breathe life into their words. Since Gabrielle grew up in Rome, I didn’t need to give her Italian pronunciation tips. That was a huge boost. We did have a back and forth, surprisingly to me, about the first name of the main character, Anna. I didn’t have to consider this at all when writing the book. But Anna’s name would sound different when pronounced by Italians or Americans (“Ah-na” vs. “Anna.”) This could confuse listeners. Gabrielle needed to nail it down. We decided on the “Ah-na” pronunciation, no matter which character was saying it.

 

 

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  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

 

Certainly there’s my visceral love for Venice which becomes a character in the novel. I tried to bring out the city’s rich and storied past, its faded glory and its contradictions. Venice still exists, against all odds. Then there are bits of my own life hidden away in the pages. In 1992, I went to Italy for work but also to seek space from a troubled first marriage, so I fused pain with my love of Venice and the desire to create. The time period for the book is the same. Also, wildlife is a sub-theme in the book; nature and the future of the earth are important to me.

 

 

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

 

Definitely when there are two characters engaged in a suspenseful or moving dialog, like Anna being grilled by Detective Biondi, Anna and Pablo confiding in her about Sergio – the dead man, Anna, Margo and Agatha together later in the book when Agatha reveals shocking secrets. I’ve listened to my audiobook three times now, and its emotional punch is greater throughout. Whether it’s the fact that language is meant to be spoken, or that in our history, the spoken word came before the written one, or that many of us had the pleasure of hearing our parents tell us stories before we learned to read, or that listening is a more elemental pleasure than following dots across a page, or that hearing is something we engaged in before we were even born, or that it’s all of the above—I can’t say. But a well-narrated story is more gripping than the written one.

 

 

  • “If this title were being turned into a movie or television series, who should be cast as its characters?”.

 

Anna Lucia Lottol: Rachel Weisz

Detective Niccolo Biondi: Daniel Craig

Margo Fruhling: Jennifer Connelly

Count Alessandro Favier: Giancarlo Giannini

Pablo Morales: Javier Bardem or Edward James Olmos

Dudley Filbert: Gary Oldham

Agatha Filbert: Helen Mirren

Roberto Cavallin: Raoul Bova

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Christine Evelyn Volker

Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which propelled her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After securing a BA in Spanish and an MLS at University at Albany – SUNY, followed by an MBA at UC Berkeley, she was drawn to international banking and became a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood marks a return to her roots in the humanities, and just won the Sarton Women’s Book Award for contemporary fiction.

She is currently at work on her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru.

 

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Gabrielle de Cuir

 

 

About the Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir

Gabrielle has narrated over 400 hundred titles specializing in fantasy, humor, and titles requiring extensive foreign language and accent skills. Her “velvet touch” as an actors’ director has earned her a special place in the audiobook world as the foremost choice for best-selling authors and celebrities. Short list of those directed: Anne Hathaway, Emilio Estevez, Wil Wheaton, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Elijah Wood, Deepak Chopra, Eric Idle, Nancy Cartwright, Michael York, Ed Herrmann, and Joe Mantegna. She is the writer and director of the Award winning short film THE DELIVERY, which deals with an Alice-in-Wonderland version of audio books. She spent her childhood in Rome growing up with her wildly artistic and cinematic father, John de Cuir, four-time Academy Award winning Production Designer, an upbringing that her to be fluent in Romance languages and to have an unusual appetite for visual delights.)

 

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