Rachel Smalter Hall – Audible Editor

AUDIBLE EDITOR

Rachel Smalter Hall

Rachel is a past librarian and bookseller, and a lifelong book worm. She has a soft spot for memoirs that are narrated by the author, and she loves anything that can make her laugh – the weirder, the better. Audiobooks have dramatically improved her quality of life, as they leave one hand free for coffee and the other free for an almond croissant.

Rachel's Favorite Listen of Winter 2018

Rachel's Recent Reviews

    • The Changeling

    • A Novel
    • By: Victor LaValle
    • Narrated by: Victor LaValle
    • Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 695
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 647
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 643

    When Apollo Kagwa's father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word improbabilia....

    • 3 out of 5 stars
    • Fractured Fairytale

    • By Diane on 08-07-17
    • A Novel
    • By: Victor LaValle
    • Narrated by: Victor LaValle
    • Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
    • Release date: 06-13-17
    • 4 out of 5 stars 695 ratings
    • My Favorite Book of 2017
    • The Changeling is by far the book I want to shower all my love on in 2017. I want to hug strangers in the street and whisper in their ears how amazing this audiobook is, that it’s one of the weirdest, most wonderful damn books I’ve listened to in a long time. At the heart of this modern-day fairy tale is Apollo Kagwa, a scrappy book dealer and devoted dad who wears a Baby Bjorn all over New York City and takes his infant to the playground at 4:30 every morning. After a horrific chain of events, Apollo loses his wife and son, and—wrecked with grief—sets out across the 5 boroughs on an epic quest to rescue and redeem them. The path is strewn with witches, monsters, and trolls (both the fairy tale kind and the internet kind), and Kagwa’s New York is both recognizable and completely fantastical. Victor LaValle is one of those unicorn novelists who happens to be a fabulous narrator of his own work, and as he reads you this story, his voice is like magic and butter. Above all, The Changeling is one black man’s ode to fatherhood and the lengths to which he will go to protect his family.
    • The Book of Unknown Americans

    • A Novel
    • By: Cristina Henríquez
    • Narrated by: Various
    • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 545
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 477
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 476

    A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny....

    • 3 out of 5 stars
    • Maudlin and predictable story, great narration

    • By Lisa on 06-03-15
    • A Novel
    • By: Cristina Henríquez
    • Narrated by: Various
    • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
    • Release date: 06-03-14
    • 4 out of 5 stars 545 ratings
    • Sweeping Up the Broken Pieces of My Heart
    • Please excuse me while I sweep the broken pieces of my heart up off the floor. This was the most amazing audiobook, and I listened to it by total accident. You know when you finish one audiobook but you haven’t queued up the next one yet? (Gasp, the horror.) Well, that just happened to me! I had no choice but to pray for an old forgotten audiobook on my phone.

      I asked, and the universe answered.

      The Book of Unknown Americans has already gotten heaps of love and praise. But what we still need to talk about is how fantastic it is on audio. Performed by six actors, we meet a striking teenager whose family has left behind their comfortable life in Mexico in hopes of getting treatment for her traumatic brain injury in the US. Some of their new neighbors are great (like the boy from Panama who’s got a little crush), and some are… not great. Ultimately, their new life sets in motion a chain of events that is at turns beautiful, at turns tragic.

      I especially loved the cool little vignettes between the main chapters that tell the stories of immigrants from all over the Americas. The narrators breathe so much texture into these stories, and the simple, beautiful language works perfectly on audio.
    • See You in the Cosmos

    • By: Jack Cheng
    • Narrated by: Kivlighan de Montebello, Brittany Pressley, Graham Halstead, and others
    • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 127
    • Performance
      5 out of 5 stars 119
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 120

    A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel....

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Out of this world!

    • By Lisa on 08-01-17
    • By: Jack Cheng
    • Narrated by: Kivlighan de Montebello, Brittany Pressley, Graham Halstead, Michael Crouch, Jason Culp
    • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
    • Release date: 02-28-17
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 127 ratings
    • Inspired by Voyager II's Golden Record
    • This middle grade novel just begs to be listened to on audio. Inspired by the true story of Carl Sagan and Voyager II’s Golden Record (which I've been obsessed with for years), 11-year-old Alex creates his own golden iPod to show aliens what life on Earth is like. Each chapter is presented as one of Alex's “recordings,” and the audiobook team ran with this opportunity to create a very original audio production complete with a full cast, sound effects, and the whole shebang.

      I especially love that they cast a young boy to read the main part — Kivlighan de Montebello gives a hugely heartwarming and hilarious performance as Alex. From what I understand, it's very rare to cast such a young person as an audiobook narrator just because of the skill and sheer endurance it requires.

      This had enough crossover appeal for me to enjoy listening to it on my own as an adult, but it would be fun to listen to with a kiddo, too. Don't miss this one if you want to experience the cutting edge of audiobook production!
    • If You Could Be Mine

    • By: Sara Farizan
    • Narrated by: Negin Farsad
    • Length: 5 hrs and 19 mins
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 74
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 70
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 70

    Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love - Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.....

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Revelant and Realistic Queer YA

    • By Erin - Audible on 09-30-13
    • By: Sara Farizan
    • Narrated by: Negin Farsad
    • Length: 5 hrs and 19 mins
    • Release date: 08-20-13
    • 4 out of 5 stars 74 ratings
    • Angsty and Unexpectedly Hilarious
    • If You Could Be Mine is about two young women who’ve been in love since childhood. But they live in Iran, where being a woman who loves another woman is punishable by death. Sex reassignment surgery is perfectly legal, though. Could this be the answer to their predicament? This story has all the ingredients of a great YA book: angst, secret smooching, forbidden love, heartache. But it’s also unexpectedly hilarious! Sara Farizan has the BEST deadpan humor in person, and Negin Farsad brings this out in spades in her narration of the book. Farsad is an Iranian-American comedian, and she just gets Farizan in a way that allows her to wring every last drop of humor from an otherwise heartbreaking story. One of my fave listens of the year!
    • Assassination Vacation

    • By: Sarah Vowell
    • Narrated by: Conan O'Brien, Stephen King, Dave Eggers, and others
    • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
    • Abridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 3,079
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,476
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,462

    Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor....

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • extremely entertaining and informative

    • By Rachel on 08-17-05
    • By: Sarah Vowell
    • Narrated by: Conan O'Brien, Stephen King, Dave Eggers, Jon Stewart
    • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
    • Release date: 04-05-05
    • 4 out of 5 stars 3,079 ratings
    • Adorably Nerdy History With Pop-Culture References
    • For the brainy set, I can't think of a better first audiobook experience than Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. I go weak in the knees for non-fiction, humor, and first-person narrative, making Sarah a triple threat and me the cheapest audiobook date ever. How adorably nerdy is she for planning a road trip vacation to sites of presidential assassinations? Interspersed are smart-alecky anecdotes about the free-love, cultish origins of the Oneida silverware company, and Important Observations about Stephen Sondheim's Assassins musical. And you can always count on Sarah for a well-placed Brady Bunch reference. But no matter how hard she tries, her deadpan voice and glib humor will never mask Sarah Vowell's enduring love of country and civic pride.