Audiobook Spotlight | “Dante’s Gift” by Aubrey Wynne, narrated by Tom Jordan

Posted Sunday, 4 March, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Dante’s Gift” via Audiobookworm Promotion in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to listen to this story:

When I first read the premise of this audiobook – what drew my attention to it is the fact it was a time slip / time shift between the Contemporary setting and the Historical. I have a passion for dual time-lines in stories and I was hoping this would be a good fit for me in regards to an audiobook. There are several stories I’ve read in the past which have handled this vein of interest which have not only pulled me into their narratives but it’s how deftly in-tune the writers were to bridge the gap between both eras in time they focused on which left me wanting ‘more’ of their stories!

Sadly, though, as I will talk about below – what I was hoping to find inside this story was hindered by the performance of the narrator – whose narration truly affected how I was interpreting the story and finding it an uncomfortable experience due to how he had approached it.

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Audiobook Spotlight | “Dante’s Gift” by Aubrey Wynne, narrated by Tom JordanDante's Gift
Subtitle: A Chicago Christmas (book one)
by Aubrey Wynne
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Tom Jordan

Kathleen James has put her practical side away for once and looks forward to the perfect romantic evening: an intimate dinner with the man of her dreams and an engagement ring. She is not prepared to hear that he wants to bring his grandmother back from Italy to live with him.

Dominic Lawrence has planned this marriage proposal for six months. Nothing can go wrong-until his Nonna calls. Now he must interrupt the tenderest night of Katie's life with the news that another woman will be under their roof.

When Antonia's sister dies, she finds herself longing to be back in the States. An Italian wartime bride from the 1940s, she knows how precious love can be. Can her own story of an American soldier and a very special collie once again bring two hearts together at Christmas?

Genres: Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, War Drama

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07847MDS3

Published by Plato Publishing

on 27th November, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 3 hours and 5 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Plato Publishing

A Chicago Christmas series:

Dante’s Gift | Book One

Paper Love | Book Two | Synopsis

Merry Christmas, Henry | Book Three | Synopsis

Formats Available: Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook

About Aubrey Wynne

Aubrey Wynne

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trailriding and all things Christmas.

Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete's Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards and Dante's Gift received the 2016 Golden Quill, Heart of Excellence, and Aspen Gold award, as well as being a Maggie finalist.

Aubrey’s medieval fantasy series launches in 2017 with Rolf's Quest. Besides the Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will also release "A Vintage Romance" series inspired by tales of her stepfather, who served for the British Air Force in WWII. The stories will be set in the 40s & 50s.

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why i am choosing to spotlight this audiobook:

I had a certain idea about what I was going to find inside Dante’s Gift due to how often I am reading Historical narratives in fiction. I am an avid reader of both war dramas and dual time-lines, wherein they broach into my favourite trifecta of literature: time slip, time shift and time travel – therefore, I understood what I’d expect to find due to prior readings by other authors who have tackled similar themes and perspectives whilst creating a comfortable duality within their stories.

As we enter into Katie’s life – she’s fraught with anxiety sorting out what she should wear when she meets with Dominic which is why she enlists a bit of a moral boost of encouragement from her best friend Jasmine. Katie has high expectations about this evening out with her beau – she is expecting an engagement but her idea of romance is not the same as Jasmine’s. Her friend still believes in the magic of true love but Katie has a more realistic impression about it all. Jasmine hopes her friend will be more affectionately honest with Dominic than she generally does – as she points out one cardinal error in her life. Apparently, Katie is a bit more reserved than other women – to where it is hard to understand what she is feeling or thinking at any given time. This is something Jasmine hopes she can overcome – if only for one night.

This initial entry into Katie’s life was compelling in of itself – however, there are issues within this short scene for me – some of the dialogue between the friends felt a bit forced or were too predictable – meaning, it didn’t feel like a real conversation, but the kind of conversation you might expect to overhear whilst someone was getting ready to go out for a date. In of itself that isn’t so bad, but I’ve come to find I attach myself to stories more when they feel authentic to their own setting and style of narrative – meaning, the dialogue in this story could have been inserted elsewhere – it just didn’t feel individual to the characters.

There was the strange moment too, as Katie was leaving where Jasmine’s voice felt like it was ‘outside’ the house or as if the narrator had stepped away from the microphone or simply ‘thrown’ his voice to sound at a distance. I am unsure if this was a ‘trick of sound’ to infer Jasmine was trying to give last minute advice to Katie or if it was supposed to sound just as it did – the confusing bit here is that the narrator didn’t alter his voice as much as I had hoped he might. Some male narrators can alter their voices to conceive of a feminine style of voice which allows you to believe the illusion there is a fuller cast to the recording. In this instance, I was growing a bit impatient with the story because I couldn’t quite conceive the concept of who Katie or Jasmine were – they just did not feel real to me.

As we moved forward to where Dominic and Katie were going to be meeting up for their date – the more the choices in words and dialogue were irking me. Partially because it wasn’t necessarily the story itself (although a few things about it rankled me a bit – such as the choices in spoken dialogue passages and a few other throw-away phrases which felt either forced or cliche) even if it had some issues, no, it had more to do with the performance of the narrator. As I’ve noted below, there were key issues in the narrator’s approach which changed how I was listening to the story – so much so – I could not feel myself motivated to continue hearing the rest of it.

I wish I could have moved past how the narrator’s voice was delivering the lines – if only to get to the point where the story would shift to the past – however, if I couldn’t connect to the contemporary couple, I had a strong feeling I’d feel just as disconnected from the couple of the past. It’s quite a shame too – as these are the type of stories I love to find – the ones where you get caught inside both time-lines and nearly don’t want to exit either of them even though you need to in order to better understand the fuller scope of the plot. Sadly for me – I lost traction too early-on to understand how the two dual eras tie together.

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About Tom Jordan

Tom Jordan

Some babies were born with a silver spoon in their hand. Tom was born holding a microphone. Well… almost. From the age of 10, Tom was carrying his trusty cassette recorder and microphone with him everywhere - conducting interviews, doing impromptu skits with friends and family - he even took it to school and narrated plays that he wrote with friends.

Without any idea where this would lead, other than the obvious radio DJ jobs, Tom stumbled upon voice acting in 1994 through a friend who worked at a local, Los Angeles radio station. She helped him get a few gigs and opened a whole new world - beyond his portable recorder. Family and a “real job” took over for almost two decades, however, as Tom had to temporarily put this part of his life on hold.

When podcasting started in 1995, Tom jumped on the chance to build a modest home recording studio and create his own shows without having to take time away from his family or job. One of these podcasts, The Unreal OC, he did with his wife, Elizabeth, and there are still dozens of hilarious episodes you can check out online.

Tom didn’t start recording audiobooks until early 2017, so he’s a relative newcomer to this field; but, as you’ve read, he’s no stranger to narration, in general. Tom loves audiobook narration - and has produced all 22 of his books “in the margins” surrounding a busy life with a full time job as a marketing copywriter, three kids living at home, and his wonderful, supportive wife who, among other crucial things, “helps keep the chaos controlled,” according to Tom.

Tom’s audiobooks are all on and you can listen to some samples of his narrations as well as his commercial demo on his website.

I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is my first time listening to Mr Jordan’s narrations.

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

Katie: Her voice wasn’t as forced as Jasmine’s – but her voice didn’t seem like a girl. The transitions between Katie and Jasmine sounded strange as did the narrative bits which were in-between their conversations. Nothing about them felt like the kind of exchanges you’d expect two best friends to have but I think this had more to do with how they were voiced than the actual dialogue exchanged.

Dominic: His voice was just as awkward as the girls’ – even the way he expressed himself felt strange – it was slightly uncomfortable listening to his scenes because he wasn’t rounded out like other boyfriends are in Romance. He was a bit too predictable and one dimensional.

Secondary Characters:

Jasmine: Her voice didn’t quite sound feminine – the voice dropped a bit but it felt masculine. It would almost sound like how a guy might think a girl would talk? Which made it really strange to be listening too.

How the story sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

I would have to say this was more narrative rather than theatrical – as it felt like a spoken play or at best a novel being read aloud. What felt strange whilst I was listening to the story is how the narrator simply didn’t feel like a ‘good fit’ for the story-line or the characters. Or maybe it was his interpretation of the story? It’s hard to say but I had to suspend focusing on the characters as they were being spoken and listen a bit more intently towards ‘hearing’ the story behind the voice which wasn’t working for me in this narration.

Regards to Articulation & Performance of the novella:

The best part of what was being articulated was the narrative sequences – when the dialogue was inserted, the awkwardness shined as the transitions were off. It’s hard to put into words – as I was listening to Mr Jordan’s voice narrating the story, it just felt like it was a ‘miss’ rather than a ‘fit’ for both the story, the characters and the pacing of the plot. There were some sequences which felt a bit rushed rather than sounding as if they ‘fit’ the rhythm of the story or rather, the story as it was being narrated.

Performance wise? I have to admit it’s not my favourite – I wasn’t sold on Mr Jordan performing the characters nor of feeling attached to the story itself. I suppose that is what is wrong with this narration – the voice feels removed from the story; almost as if this is simply a script which needs to be spoken aloud but it lacks feeling and connection.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

As the audiobook began, the narrator’s voice felt awkward – almost as if the words were blurring together or ‘hitching’ in delivery. Something was off about the pacing and timing of the words. This did correct itself a bit when I attempted to re-listen to this section but it was still having it’s own set of issues afterwards.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

Hmm,… I think reading the story might change my opinion of it – as it was a struggle to feel connected to the characters and the timeline of the story. In part due to the narrative voice and in-part because some of the story felt a bit choppier than others. I’m unsure if this was only able to be heard through the narrator’s impression of the story or if there were pacing issues in the print edition, too. Hard to tell – therefore, I might pick up a print copy one day and see if the story reads differently to me than how it sounded as it was being read.

In closing, would I seek out another Tom Jordan audiobook?

Not at this time. I just couldn’t draw myself into to his narration nor his style of approach.

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 This blog tour is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

Audiobookworm Promotions Event Host badge provided by Audiobookworm Promotions

Whilst participating on:

Dante's Gift (audiobook) blog tour via Audiobookworm Promotions

My apologies for posting this spotlight after the blog tour – I accidentally confused my *Saturday & Sunday* dates this week – wherein, I was planning on sharing my thoughts about ‘Dante’s Gift’ on Sunday! Generally speaking, I don’t host tours on Saturdays and due to this, I think my mind automatically shifted dates and thereby, I ended up posting this just after the blog tour concluded. I apologise for the misunderstanding and look forward to visiting the tour route.

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2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Cover art of Dante’s Gift”, book synopsis, author & narrator biography, photograph of Aubrey Wynne and Tom Jordan, as well as the Audiobookworm Promotions badge and the audiobook tour badge were all provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Spotlight banner, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 4 March, 2018 by jorielov in Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Indie Author

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