Thursday, August 7, 2014

Audiobooks That Make the Miles Fly By with J.J. Lyon

We're proud to share Book One of J.J. Lyon's Truth Inducer Mystery Series!

Truth is Relative
Anthony Blackwell’s “gift” compels people to confess their deepest secrets.

It corrupts his relationships, derails his career and drives him toward eviction—until he becomes Anthony Bishop, private investigator. His first case drops him into a deadly family drama that will save him financially, if it doesn't kill him first.  

Praise for Truth is Relative
"What a fun, great read! I loved the characters and the concept was one I'd never heard of. Reading was an absolute pleasure."
--Rebecca Belliston, author of Sadie and Augustina

"Even though Anthony’s "gift" makes him an effective detective, it is almost impossible for him to establish meaningful relationships. Anthony finds himself in situations fraught with danger, but tinged with humor. His charm and good looks draw people to him, but they quickly regret revealing their darkest secrets. I found myself laughing out loud and reading to find out what happens next. It’s easy to get caught up in the fresh and intriguing story. Lyon has so much imagination and skillful writing, I look forward to reading whatever she comes up with next."
Carole Warburton, author of A Question of Trust and Poaching Daisies

Audiobooks That Make the Miles Fly By

Audiobooks helped the family I grew up in survive road trips. We needed all the help we could get, packed like sardines in a hot station wagon as we made our way across the sagebrush flats of Wyoming.

Because sometimes to get to this . . .
. . . You have to go through hours of this.
At the time we called them talking books. They came on cassette tapes in plastic cases from the US Library of Congress, addressed to my dad, who is legally blind.

He had a talking book player--a glorified tape player with big buttons that had raised markings, so a user could feel the difference between "play" and "rewind." That machine played at high volume during our summer trips. Those road stories--recorded before most bookstores in our area had much to offer school-age readers—are part of the reason I love books. They are also the reason I know how gruesome the original fairy tales used to be. (That's a great conversation-ender around your Disney-loving friends, by the way. Don't get me wrong, I love Disney too, but those original stories... well, they're called Grimm for a reason.)

Today, a well-read story is still an important part of my own family's vacations. Once we've decided where to go, the book we listen to is the next most important decision. I'll list some vacation favorites below.

But first, I'm going to assume everyone knows about how fantastic the Harry Potter audio series is and skip ahead to some others. Sadly, I am unable to find audio downloads for them (or the Chronicles of Narnia series, either). It seems classic audiobooks may be a bit behind the mobile tech curve... But you can find these.

The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull is a middle-grade fantasy, and great summer fodder. It’s full of adventure, strange creatures and plenty of brother-sister bickering, so most families can relate. Narrator E. B. Steven's style is geared toward younger listeners, but he gives each character a distinct sound, captures the mood of a brother-sister duo who disagree on just about everything, and does the best troll I've ever heard. You'll just have to listen for yourself to see what I mean.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is the story of a teenager on the verge of adulthood who has spent his whole life seeking justice against the Epics. (Epics were mysteriously given superpowers, but instead of behaving like heroes, they destroyed the lives of ordinary people.) Macleod Andrews gives each character their own sound, while narrating in a voice that is young adult, smart, eager, vulnerable and totally conscious that he can't spin a good metaphor.

Eragon is a dragon story (Hmm. I'm realizing we listen to a lot of fantasy at our place, so if you can recommend a well-read audio mystery, please do so in the comments). Reader Gerard Doyle didn't just have to portray human characters--he also had to do the voice of Sapphira the dragon, who only speaks in Eragon's head. Doyle's portrayal of the dragon is wonderful, though I wonder how many throat-soothing techniques he had to use to get himself through it. Interestingly, he also portrays another character who is only heard in Eragon's mind, and the similarities and differences in the two voices are pretty cool.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson was another stellar read--one I'd recommend in any form.  This YA romantic fantasy story is for anybody who has a confident person inside her, trying to get out--and Books and Benches readers will be glad to know there are heroes and horses as well. (But there is not much horseback riding until the subsequent books in the series.) Narrator Jennifer Ikeda enhanced the words with subtle expression that makes Elisa, the main character, that much more real. I especially loved how the characters' accents changed as Elisa traveled between cultures. (Note: I told my 14-year-old daughter I was recommending this book, and she pointed out it might not be the best for really young listeners. There's kissing and conflicted relationships. The violence, while not terribly graphic, is wrenching in a couple of places. So you've been warned--but I totally love the book.)

Those are our favorites. What are yours? (Include a mystery if you can!)

Alternate ending: So there are my favorites. And because I love road trips and the written word, here's my contest: write a haiku about road trip memories and leave it in the comments. The first-place winner will receive a paperback of my new novel, Truth is Relative (it's a western mystery). The second-place winner will receive an ebook.

I'll leave an example with yet another memory from riding in a car across I-80:

Watch the scenery.
That's how you beat car sickness.
I look. Wow. Sage brush.

Connect with J.J. Lyon at  
& don't forget to like her Facebook Page.


  1. Thanks so much for the introduction!

  2. Is it awful that I've never listened to an audiobook? My husband does a lot of driving for work and he loves to listen to them, though. One of these days I will do it. I was hesitant about eBooks at first, but now I love them. It's always good to try to new things. :)

    1. Leigh, sorry for the late response--I was in the mountains. I just wanted to say you should still write a haiku :)

  3. Curving, twisting, roads.
    Eyes on the blue horizon.
    Mantra? Do not vomit.

    I LOVE audio books and listen to them during my yearly 28-30 hour each way road trip. Sadly, the memory locked in the scar tissue of my mind, is the year my son threw up 28 times crossing the country. We can laugh now, but it wasn't as funny at the time.

    1. I'm sure it wasn't... and it's amazing how many travel stories involve the consequences of a queasy stomach....

  4. I always liked audiobooks, but it wasn't until my last couple of cross-country road trips that I began to truly appreciate them. Now, I can't get enough of them. I prefer CD's, which aren't always as easy to find, but they really do make the miles fly.