Armchair BEA: Introductions

28 05 2013

I was unsure whether I wanted to do Armchair BEA this year because I this is one of my busiest blog times, and add onto that some family issues that have been monopolizing my time, I wasn’t sure how much I could do. Right now, I am firmly in the midst of my Zombie Awareness Month Event, which while suffering some due to time constraints, has featured reviews of 20 Zombie Audiobooks and so far 1 interview, and has a bunch of cool stuff coming up this week. I am also preparing for the biggest event of the year for me, June Is Audiobook Month, and Audiobook Week, which as an audiobook blogger is my favorite time of year. I though that at least I could do an introductory post, then maybe try to slip some things in along the way.

So, here we go:

Question #1:

My name is Bob and I love to shove stories through my various faceholes for consumption. As of about 7 years ago, I began o consume my fiction primarily through my ears through audiobooks. I have been blogging for a while, but my current blog, the audiobook Blog knows as The Guilded Earlobe, has been my bread and butter for a while. I started this blog because I saw a lack of good audiobook blogs in my genres, which are horror, science fiction, thrillers, and fantasy, that actually dealt with the production and narration. Luckily, I have since discovered a plethora of wonderful audiobook bloggers.

Question #4:

I am currently reading Isolation by Dan Wells, a Partials World Novella. I am currently listening to Zombie: A Love Story by Patricia Lee Macomber and will be stating The Becoming: Revelations, book 3 in The Becoming Series by Jessica Meigs today.

My favorite books of 2013 so far are Extinction Machine, the latest Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathon Maberry and the literary Werewolf novel, Red Moon by Benjamin Percy.

Question # 7:

Honestly, I am a bit twisted. I could point you to my Top 20 Audiobooks of the Year Posts, or my Post Apocalyptic Theme lists, but truly, my favorite post is my faux April Fool’s review of a novel called Robots vs. Zombies in Post Apocalyptic Narnia.

Question #8:
I will take another tract and say which characters I wouldn’t want to eat with. Zombies. Now, I’ve been known to have some poor table manners but I rarely if ever eat my fellow human beings. Now, if I had to choose, I would love to have dinner with Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry and Chuck Wendig, but we’d probably get tossed out of any establishment when Seanan and Chuck begin yelling PENIS at each other.

Question #10:

It’s no question that my favorite part of the Book Blogging community is those wonderful audiobook bloggers. Yet, specifically, my awesome cohorts at The Armchair Audies. The Audies is a blog event where audiobook bloggers pick categories of The Audie Awards, which is basically the Oscars of Audiobooks, and listen and review them. We are currently is full sing, as the Audies Awards take place at the end of BEA, and you can find over 100 reviews is a large percentage of the categories at The Armchair Audies webpage run by the awesome Literate Housewife.

Also on the Blog Today:

A Review of Zom-B City by Darren Shan

A Zombie Awareness Month Author Roundtable featuring Young Adult Authors Darren Shan, Ilsa J. Bick and Sean Beaudoin.





ArmchairBEA 2012:The One Where I Talk About Audiobooks

8 06 2012

Today’s topic is Ask the Experts, and I am not really an expert on anything. So, I will talk about audiobooks… again. I think if there is anything that I can say I am knowledgeable enough about to feel comfortable writing about its audiobooks. Because, well, I listen to and review a lot of audiobooks. So, for today, I will post some statements about audiobooks. These statements are meant as discussion topics so feel free to agree or disagree with me at you leisure. I won’t be insulted if you call me a moron.

Audiobooks Are Not a Passive Activity

This is an argument I had been known to make in the past, that with audiobooks you are not actively engaging with the text, it is being displayed for you, aurally. I was wrong. Active listening is a skill. A learned skill. Think back to your favorite subject in high school. The one you learned the most from. Chances are, you liked that class not based on the books you were given but based on the teacher. A good teacher encourages active listening. You interact with what is being told to you. Your imagination is tickled. I can actually still hear the voices of my favorite teachers in my head, many years later. Audiobooks are similar. Since embracing audiobooks, I have become a better listener. So ladies, if your men have a tendency not to listen, maybe you should introduce them to audiobooks.

Audiobooks are NOT Cheating

You often hear the question asked, "Is Audiobooks the same as reading?" I hate this question with a fiery passion. I find the question pretentious. It’s one of those gotcha questions like, “Do you still beat your wife?” Of course listening to an audiobook isn’t the same thing as reading. Listening and reading are two different actions. Yet, people will use this question as a way to declare the superiority of reading over listening which to me is absurd. It is the same material. Whether you read to gain information or be entertained, audiobooks work, for many people, as well or better than print books. To place a value judgment of the delivery system pushes close to the elitism. If the action of reading is inherently better than the action of listening than the material doesn’t matter. Which would be better, listening to the audio version of Mark Twain, or reading a manual on the proper installation of a toilet? It depends on your intent.

Added note: I have no qualms saying I “read” an audiobook. Language changes and verbs are often adapted to encompass more than just their originally intended activity. If you want me to give you a sticker saying you are technically correct, then I have them printed out for you. I also have no problem calling the rage victims from 28 Days Later zombies. You can have you technical victories, and I will keep my adaptive language.

A Good Narrator Can Enhance a Book

Many people don’t like audiobooks, because they see a narrator as an added layer between themselves and the text. I can understand this. I have had some bad experiences with narrators, who will mispronounce words or use totally unauthentic sounding character voices. It takes you out of the narrative. Yet, a good narrator can effortlessly immerses you into the world of your novel. When listening to a novel, there is no skimming, and a good narrator can actually help you better embrace the entire text. Often, a narrator will suck you so far into the narrative, their voice almost becomes part of the world the author created. I often will listen to audiobooks I struggled with in print form. For instance, I had attempted to read the classic science fiction novel Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner multiple times. I really couldn’t get into the structure and style. Then I listened to Erik Bergmann’s excellent narration of the novel, and enjoyed it. I still had rough spots, but Bergmann’s performance helped smooth those out.

Audiobooks are Great for Rereads

So, the latest edition of one of your favorite series is coming out, and you want to refresh yourself on what has gone on before…. why not try it as an Audiobook. People often say they have trouble focusing when listening to audiobooks. Again, see Active Listening as a learned Skill. With a book you are already are familiar with, zoning out a bit won’t be as problematic. Using books you already read will help you develop the mad skillz of an audiobook listener. I recently reread two of my all time favorite novels The Stand by Stephen King and Swan Song by Robert McCammon as audiobooks. I have read the print versions of these novels multiple times, yet listening to them in audio allowed me to pick up things I never did. I found a new poetry in the rhythms of the language, and picked up facts I had neglected in the past. If you don’t want to reread books, maybe try an audiobook of an adapted film.

The Audiobook Community is Awesome

I have met some of the most wonderful bloggers, narrators and industry professionals as an Audiobook Blogger. Narrators on Twitter and Facebook are some of the most engaging people I have met. One narrator, who reads one of my favorite series, has sent me a birthday message from a favorite character, and produced a sound clip based on a joke I made on twitter about Christopher Walken narrating Charlotte’s Web. Xe Sands has a weekly feature on her site where she reads small public domain clips, and encourages professionals and amateurs alike to do the same. We have events like June Is Audiobook Month, and Audiobook Week, and celebrate and make predictions for  the Audies with Armchair Audies. If you are interested in reviewing audiobooks, many companies are blogger friendly, offering advice and review copies. Audiobook Jukebox highlights audiobook reviews and offers a reviewer program. If you want advice or recommendations on audiobooks, feel free to email me or comment on the blog. If I don’t listen to your genre, I probably know someone who does.

You Don’t Have to Like Audiobooks. I Will Still Be Your Friend.

I don’t judge people by their entertainment choices. So, whether you listen to Zombie Fiction, or read 50 Shads of Grey, it’s all good. I love bookish people, and enjoy interacting with them. Audiobooks are not for everyone, and I know that. Yet, fair warning, if you somehow feel your “reading” is better than my “listening” the snark will come out. Remember, the vast majority of Audiobook fans, are also readers. I read print, maybe not as much as some, but it’s still one of my favorite activities. I started listening to audio, because they still haven’t created a safe way to drive, walk my dog, perform physical work activities, and cook while reading. Then, I fell in love with the experience. So, remember, audiobook people are book people too. And nobody parties like book people party.

Also, check out my review of John Scalzi’s Redshirts today. It contains Wil Wheaton. Ummmm…. Wil Wheaton.

So, that’s my “Expert” post. What do you think?





Armchair BEA: 2012 Audiobooks for the Uninitiated

6 06 2012

I had to switch some of my posts around for various reasons. This was supposed to be yesterday’s post, for the best of 2012. Yet, due to another bigger giveaway post, I knocked it back to today. Being that today’s topic is how you use your blog in your community, well, there would be a hole in my postings, because honestly, I don’t. The only thing that may even come close to that is donating the review copies of audiobooks to my local library and to the company I work for, which is a home for people with special needs.

Yet, since June is Audiobook Month, I do use my blog to spread love throughout the Audiobook Community. Today I will be highlighting 2012 Audiobooks that would make excellent starter Audiobooks for someone unfamiliar with the format. I will be attempt to offer as wide a range of genres as possible, so maybe you can find something you’ll be interested in.

All these audiobooks are plot driven tales with solid narration. I tried to choose books where the narrators have strong, pleasant voices and excel at pacing and storytelling. While, unlike some, I enjoy offbeat and experimental narration styles, when they fit the text, I stayed away from those types of narrators because they are often an acquired taste. If you have yet to listen to an audiobook, and are willing to try, I hope you find something here that may interest you.

If you do decide to listen, I invite you to post your thoughts on the experience for Audiobook Week, hosted by Devourer of Books at the end of June.

My 2012 Audiobook Recommendations for Armchair BEA Participants. 

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Read by Grover Gardner

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Legal Thriller

My Review

Defending Jacob is a twisty legal thriller about a Father who must defend his son after he is accused of murder. Grover Gardner is a veteran narrator who brings an everyman style to his reading. He creates authentic sounding characters without ever infusing himself into the narrative. Gardner’s subtle performance and Landay’s engaging text make for a wonderful listening experience.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Read by Anne Hathaway

Audible, Inc.

Genre: Children’s Classic

My Review

For those who are quite hesitant about trying audio, Audible’s latest version of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ has a lot of things going for it. It is short, and the material is familiar enough to allow the listener to become actively engaged in the material. Hathaway gives a wonderful performance drawing on familiar sources, including the classic musical version, to create characters the listener will already feel affection for.

White Horse by Alex Adams

Read by Emily Durante

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Literary Post Apocalyptic Thriller

My Review

Alex Adam’s highly literate Post Apocalyptic tales echoes some of the more stylistic entries of the genre, while infusing it with a thrilling plot and complicated female lead. Emily Durante’s solid narration allows the reader to fully immerse themselves into the character’s plight.

The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

Read by Stephen Boyer

Penguin Audio

Genre: Historical Thriller

My Review

The Gods of Gotham takes you deep into historic New York City that tends to be overlooked. A murder mystery set at the foundation of the NYPD, The Gods of Gotham are full of ethnic and religious strife, and introduces us to some colorful characters. Stephen Boyer will not blow you away with his reading, but simply allows the tale to unfold, while creating authentic sounding per4ipheral characters.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Read by Susan Duerden

Dreamscape Media

Genre: Urban Fantasy

My Review

The Rook is a first person Urban Fantasy novel that actually manages to feel fresh. Instead of battling evil fairies and ogres, Myfanwy Thomas battles ledgers and bureaucracy as a high level official for a secret magical agency. Until loses her memories, and discovers someone want her dead. Susan Duerden gives a wonderful performance is this fun, action filled fantasy novel.

The Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Read by Angele Marsters

Hachette Audio

Genre: Historical Thriller

My Review

Edge of Dark water is a coming of age adventure which echoes Mark Twain and Stephen King. A group of teenagers attempt to escape angry neighbors and the law as they travel up a River in Depression era Texas. Angele Marsters infuses her lovely voice with integrity, capturing the depths of the main character, while still highlighting her naiveté.

Partials by Dan Wells

Read by Julia Whelan

Harper Audio

Genre: Young Adult Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction

My Review

With Post Apocalyptic and Dystopian fiction all the rage in Young Adult fiction, Dan Well’s Partials creates something that is familiar and fresh. Both full of action, and thought provoking, Partials is excellent science fiction for young and old. Narrator Julia Whelan does a good job capturing the inner turmoil of the main character, and crispy delivers the actions scenes making it easy to visualize what is going on.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Genre: Epic Fantasy

My Review

Love fantasy, but sick of the Eurocentric faux-medieval settings, then you’ll love Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. Ahmed fuses epic fantasy with an Arabic flair, combining unique character and a strong plot into something that is a whole lot of fun. Phil Gigante is my all time favorite narrator and here he shows his ability to control the pacing of narrative while creating some of the most rememberable character voices around.





Guest Post & Giveaway: Mark Tufo & Fans on Fan/Author Interaction

5 06 2012

Last week, I posted a review of the third entry of one of my favorite new Zombie Apocalypse series Zombie Fallout 3: The End. Mark Tufo, the author posted a link to it on his Facebook page. He was happy with my review, which I gave a solid B grade. For me, giving a novel a B, especially the third book in an ongoing series, is pretty good praise. I had spent all of May listening to Zombie-themed novels, and Zombie Fallout 3 had been my 19th Zombie audiobook that month. Despite my Zombie fatigue, I really enjoyed the novel, and believed my review highlighted that.

Then came all the comments from Mark’s fans. Now, these comments were all positive. They were fans showing up to support their favorite authors. They told stories of how they hated to read before discovering Tufo’s work, or how one of his novels turned a member of their family into readers. Almost all of these comments declared that Mark Tufo was an A in their books. Someone even pointed out that I may not know good Zombie fiction if I only gave him a B.

I was blown away by the response. This type of passion doesn’t just come from the talents of an author. It comes from an author who takes his fans seriously. So, I contacted Mark and some of his fans and asked if they would be able to share their stories with me.

Mark is a self published author. His series was recently picked up by a top audiobook producer called Tantor Audio. With all the stories we’ve seen of prima donna behavior by self published authors, we often neglect the many that are doing it right. I believe Mark is one of those authors who is doing it right.

Now, I will turn this blog over to Mark and his fans:

 

Zombie Fallout – Readers and their author (me! – Mark Tufo)

Hi Bob, thank you for letting me have the opportunity to write a few words on your blog. I also appreciate the time you have spent listening to my books and giving reviews on them.

I’ve been asked this before from at least a dozen authors, What is your connection to your readers and more importantly how do you do it? I hope I don’t sound pretentious that’s not what I’m trying to convey. I think a lot of authors (not all) have a ‘I am superior to all others attitude’ and I think that comes across when they have communication with their readers, if they bother to write back at all. I’ve said it from day one and it’s just as true now as it was back then, I am a blue collar, former military man, raised in a blue collar, military family, I type two fingered and I have a few stories to tell that some folks find interesting.

I am humbled and honored EVERY time a reader contacts me to let me know that they got my book(s) and are in the process of reading it or have read it. I try to respond to every one of them in turn, I’ve always felt that if someone took the time out of their busy day to contact me then it is common courtesy that I do the same. This isn’t some super marketing ploy on my part although I do see the benefit of connecting with my readers. I can’t even count how many readers have thanked me for just responding to their queries, are you kidding me? I should be sending all of them Thank You cards for buying my books.

I love the interaction I have with my readers, I’ve received tons of suggestions on where folks think the books should head and at least a few (in jest) threats to my life should any of a couple of characters be injured or die at any point in the series. BT and Henry the wonder Bullie would be at the head of that list. I consider my readers to be extended family members of the Talbot clan, they root for some characters, they cry at the demise of some and hope beyond hope that a few others meet their untimely deaths. That they have a powerful enough connection to these characters to reach out to me, means that I am doing something right. I have created a world where folks can let all else in their life take a momentary backseat as they immerse themselves in this realm and I personally cannot think of a higher honor. Time is a precious commodity and that they are spending it with me and my stories is something I do not take lightly.

I am an un-established indie writer who most folks know little to nothing about, folks could spend their hard earned money on a million other books but that they get mine is humbling. I appreciate the time you have given me Bob to say a few words on your blog.

Web Site 

Facebook Profile

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Zombie Fallout Audible Page

Books

Zombie Fallout 

Zombie Fallout 2

Zombie Fallout The End…

Zombie Fallout 3.5

Zombie Fallout 4 — The End has Come and Gone

Zombie Fallout 5

Indian Hill

Indian Hill 2

Indian Hill Conquest

Timothy

Now, along with Mark, some of his fans have contributed their stories about interacting with him:

Rodney S. Carnahan – Mark Tufo Fan

I bought my first Zombie Fallout book just on a whim for my nook. I typed in “zombie” in the search box, and it came up. I figured, $2.99 and it may be good, what the hell. Well, wow was I hooked. His writing style just got me reeled in.

So after I devoured the first two books in the series I thought I would check to see if he had a Facebook account. By that time I had started on the third book.

You always see the movies or hear the stories about these wild marriage proposals guys do. Well Mark seemed to be a pretty reader friendly writer so I sent him a message. I asked him if he had any chance to include a proposal to my girlfriend in his next novel, I would be deeply indebted to him. He said sure, and a few weeks later, even let me write the proposal for the book.

You can read it towards the end of ZF4 when Mike and Gary are sitting on top of the roof surrounded by zombies. Mike decides to take a break and read the paper, just to pass the time
.
Well, then I just had to wait until the book got published. I downloaded it the first day and skimmed thru until I saw it. I got a huge smile on my face, and gave my nook to my girlfriend. “Oh my god, you’ve got to read this baby” I told her.
She couldn’t believe it. And kept asking if it was real. She said yes.

So now, we will be getting married July 14th. And the zombie genre is her new favorite type of book…

Barbara Bobbie Ayala – Mark Tufo Fan

In the beginning, I was a zombie nut, I loved all things zombie.  I would look for zombie books and movies high and low.  The unfortunate thing was that most everything out there stunk! This was before the big zombie craze that made all things zombie fashionable and cool. How fortunate for new zombie recruits to have such an opportunity now to have everything so easily presented to them. Not so for me, I had to HUNT for my fix.  And there was quite a few stinkers that I fell prey too.  I am a voracious reader and have been since childhood. I have a vivid imagination and reading is always a pleasure to me because I can picture the story in my mind and enjoy the mini movie that happens up there in the old brain pan.  So, getting to Mark and his books.  I found him on amazon and after having ordered some previous stinkers and a few keepers, I was keeping my fingers crossed on this one.  HOLY CRAP! When I got that book I was HOOKED!!! I loved his writing. He took the whole genre to a whole new level.  Mark’s writing had me laughing my ass off.  A writer who combined angst, fear, trepidation, anxiety, gore and HUMOR together was a rare find indeed.  He is a storyteller.  I fine art that few have the talent for.  I connected with him on Facebook and was absolutely delighted that he took the time to connect with his fan base. He sent me an autographed copy that I still have.  I actually have two copies of each of his books.  One for reading and one for, don’t you touch that book! I’ve read all his books in both his series more times than I can count.  And my husband and two of my girls are Tufo fan’s as well.  As his fame and popularity continues, he continues to make himself available to all us crazy zombie fans.. He and his wife Tracy bring together a wonderful collaboration of fan support and interaction.  It’s an unconventional membership to be sure, but I will truthfully say that Mark Tufo has done an incredible job of bringing together like minded individuals and creating a pseudo zombie world where having fun together and sharing experiences is a treat.  Yes I’m a zombie nut, but Mark made it fun to share my passion with others who had the same passion.  To top it all off, the dude is humble pie all over. He is a caring person, he and his wife go out of their way to include their fans in the progression of new books and have fun with us while doing it.  Including contests, giveaways, signed copies, unfair contests of the day.  My hope for Mark is that he becomes the next Stephen King, or Dean Koontz.  Not in comparison to them, but a stand alone author in his own right with his own fan base and own genre’. 

Lee Close – Mark Tufo Fan

How did I find Mark Tufo and his books is the first question, easy pure random luck on my part. As some one who loves Sci-Fi and Zompoc and Apocalypse style books I’m perpetually on the hunt for the next big read for me. So at this point I had pretty much read all of the Zompoc books on Amazon on my kindle so I did a random search and Zombie Fallout 1 popped up. At this point it was only 1gbp I thought oh well can’t hurt it will either be very good or really bad. Boy was I shocked I started reading and 8 hours I was finished ZF1 I was astonished so back I went and did a search for Mark Tufo and ZF2 and ZF3 and Indian Hills popped up so I bought them all.

Now nearly a year down the line I’ve read all of Marks books and to be honest there worth every penny, many people have asked me what’s so good about this guys stuff, well easy Mark’s stories pull at that bit of your psyche that asks what would I do in that situation, then you realize that the characters aren’t characters any more there people you know and when you look around you realize there’s a little bit of Mike Talbot in a lot of folks just as there is a little bit of Eliza in them. What is more important when you read the books they stop becoming a book and you can see the scene in your head you can almost smell it trust me in one particular battle that Mike had got into I had to put my sandwich down and I’m ex armed forces it was that visceral.
But wait there more these aren’t your run of the mill zombie books in amongst all the angst and grief and loss there is pure unadulterated comedy so much so I’ve actually sat on my couch laughing out loud with my wife looking at me like I’m crazy. As to Marks other books if you’re a sci-fi fan Indian Hill definitely hits the spot again that same sense of being there and seeing it all thru Mike Talbot’s eyes is there again. Mark has done something that any writers have failed and tried Mike Talbot in ZF is the Same Mike in IH, however there’s differences some subtle some not so but the thing is I’m not going to spoil it for a new reader my advice read ZF1 then read IH1 and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Mark is very much a people person he talks to his fans every day gets them involved in his books and his every day life which for many readers is a fantastic thing. I was also asked recently who Mark wrote like which kinda stumped me however I have an answer Mark is a Mix of Terry Pratchett/Stephen king and Isaac Asimov. I see a great future ahead for Mark and his books With ZF6 due out soon and IH3 and his new book Spirit clearing its a good year to start reading. PS the only book I haven’t read is Timothy yeah I’m scared of clowns I really don’t need the nightmares about that thank you very much lol.

Giveaway: This Giveaway is now over, and the winners are being contacted.

Tantor Audio is offering two sets of the audiobook editions of Zombie Fallout 1 and Zombie Fallout 2 on MP3 CD. This audiobook is narrated by Sean Runnette, and I highly recommend them. You can check out my reviews of both novels by clicking on the titles above.

Entering is simple.

1. In the comment section, indicate that you are entering the giveaway.
2. In the comment section, answer the following question: It’s the Zombie Apocalypse and you are holing up in a secure underground bunker. What author would you want to be holed up with you, and why?
3. Let me know how to contact you, if you win.

This Giveaway will end Sunday, June 10th at Midnight. Winners will be chosen by a random number generator and contacted within 24 hours. If you fail to respond within 2 days of being contacted, I will move to the next person on the list. This giveaway is US only.

 

 





Armchair BEA 2012: Introductions

3 06 2012

I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to do Armchair BEA this year. I like meeting new bloggers, following what’s going on and getting the skinny on the latest book buzz in the industry. Yet, what I don’t like doing is talking about myself. I like talking about books, about what I was thinking about when reading books, how books have influenced my life and things like that, but blatantly promoting myself isn’t something I enjoy doing.

I was sort of sad when the BEA team changed the interview format. Last year, I had the opportunity to meet a great fellow blogger during the interview period, and despite having different taste in books, we hit it off pretty well.  It helped that we both are audiobook enthusiasts. The cool thing was that since we both had very different audiences, so we had the added benefit of exposure to a new market. Plus, I love answering questions posed by others specifically tailored to me and trying to think of new, twisted questions to ask someone. Yet, I won’t be a spoiled sport, and will try to do this interview thing.

What really made me decide to do Armchair BEA is that June is Audiobook Month, and BEA is a great platform to promote audiobooks. If this is your first time here, this blog is dedicated to audiobooks. I review 3-5 audiobooks a week, mostly in the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller genres. If you are someone who instantly writes of audiobooks, I hope you will stick with me this week and give me a chance to open your mind to this medium. If you are already an audiobook fan, Welcome! We should have some fun this week.

My Answers to the Interview Questions:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Bob, I’m a bit of an oddity in the Book Blogger world, being a 30 something male audiobook blogger. I have been blogging for over a decade, but I have only been actively blogging about audiobooks on this blog for about a year and a half. My first blog was commentary on TV, particularly the Shows Survivor and The Amazing Race, and mostly contained columns I wrote for other online sources. I began blogging about books 5 years ago, but after a career change, which also resulted in my move to audiobooks as my primary source of fiction, I put blogging on hold.

The reason I started this blog was that there really wasn’t a wealth of available Audiobook reviews in the genres that I loved. Plus, I love books, and love writing about books.

What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

I have a weekly feature called Welcome to the Apocalypse that appears each Friday on my blog (unless there is another event happening.) This feature highlights my love of Apocalyptic Fiction, with reviews, interviews and monthly lists featuring my favorite Post Apocalyptic books in particular categories, like Post Nuclear and Alien Invasion.

Also, this year, along with other bloggers and organized by The Literate Housewife, I participated in The Armchair Audies, were bloggers listened to all the nominees in a category for The Audio Publishers Audie Awards, and then made their predictions. My contributions were in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal Categories, and this event was one of my most rewarding blogging experiences.

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

I have to admit, my favorite post I have written is my review of Adam Mansbach’s Go The F*ck to Sleep. It really was a joke review, and some people I guess didn’t get that. My other post I would highlight is My Top 10 Adult Dystopian Novels. Dystopian Fiction has taken the Young Adult world by storm, and I felt, as part of my Welcome to the Apocalypse Feature, it would be interesting to highlight some of the classic examples of the genre.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

Most of my favorite literary characters would not make good dinner guests. I would love to invite Jack Reacher to dinner, but I am sure the conversation would be full of long, awkward silences. I’d love to sit down with Joe Ledger from Jonathan Maberry’s Department of Military Sciences Series and have a beer, but more likely than not we would be attacked by terrorists, zombies or genetically engineered monsters.

Authors are a bit easier. I’d love to have dinner with Eloise J. Knapp because she is gorgeous, brilliant and loves zombies. I think beers with Chuck Wendig would be a blast, in a twisted sort of way. There are a lot of brilliant new authors like Myke Cole, Saladin Ahmed and TC McCarthy who have this approachable vibe on Twitter that I think it would be fun interacting with them in real life.

Yet, in the end, I think I would most enjoy playing Scrabble with Einstein, the intelligent Golden Retriever for Dean Koontz’ Watchers.

Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

The one thing about the blogging community is they are constantly pushing me to expand my reading horizons. I have experienced a lot of books I probably never would have if it wasn’t for reviews and recommendations of fellow bloggers. This is the beauty of book blogging, the community. If you are simply writing reviews and posting them on your blog without interaction with other bloggers, you are doing it wrong. If you are only interacting with blogger who review books in your specific favorite formats or genres you are doing it wrong.

Don’t do it wrong.

If you only discover one new book through your interactions with other bloggers, you have discovered a new book. That is doing it right.

What To Expect From Me This Week.

1. Audiobook Reviews: I will have a review each day this week. Some titles you should expect, a release day review of Zombie by debut author J, R. Angella,  the latest entry in Christopher Farnsworth’s Nathaniel Cade series titled Red, White and Blood and the newest from John Scalzi.

2. Daily posts. I don’t consider myself an expert blogger, so don’t expect much sage advice from me. You will find a lot of talk on audiobooks, with recommendations.

3. Special Guest Post. I will have a very special guest post and audiobook giveaway. If you are a fan of Zombie Fiction, you’ll want to check it out.

I will be attempting to visit as many blogs as I can. look forward to meeting you all.

If you are interested, and want to interact, you can follow me on twitter @guildedearlobe, or like my Facebook page.

Look for my review of Invincible, the latest Lost Fleet novel by Jack Campbell today.

Note: The Banner Image Used Above was Created by Nina of Nina Reads.





Audiobook Review: Invincible by Jack Campbell

3 06 2012

Invincible (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier, Bk. 2) by Jack Campbell

Read by Christian Rummel

Audible Frontiers

Length: 11 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Quick Thoughts: Invincible is a rollicking good listen, full of action, and a touch of humor. By creating some interesting new angles Campbell breathesnew life into a series that really wasn’t even close to death. The Lost Fleet is easily my current favorite continuing science fiction series, and one of the few that seems to just keep getting better.

Grade: A-

2013 Audie Nomination for Science Fiction

Invincible is the 8th novel written in Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet universe. When I first discovered this series, I went on a listening spree of Jack Campbell and John G. Hemry, Campbell’s true identity, audiobooks. I listened to the four JAG in space novels, and the first six Lost Fleet novels within a span of two months. Yet, after listening to book 7, Dauntless, I wondered how hard it was to keep a series like this fresh. I liked Dauntless, yet, I felt like it was just another Lost Fleet novel, despite it bearing a new sub title called Beyond the Frontier. I struggled with myself. I loved the characters that Campbell created, and the basic formula of the story, which was bits of Galactic and Fleet wide politics mixed in around grand schemed space-based Naval battles. I love these stories, particularly the melding of space and interpersonal politics. I always looked forward to his Black Jack Geary briefings, where he had to employ just as much strategic cunning around the virtual conference table, as he did when planning a military operation. So, how much of the aspects of this series was I willing to give up in order to have something fresh. Luckily, this question never really had to be answered. With Invincible, Jack Campbell manages to keep the tried and true aspects of his Lost Fleet series intact, while creating new angles and potential implications that manages to revitalize this series with a fresh new perspective.

Invincible begins right where Dauntless left off. As Geary moves his fleet deeper into unknown territory, he finds himself trapped in by an unknown enemy. Campbell has left us off at an interesting place, and I was interested to see how he would resolve the situation. I had expected some initial discussion, followed by some trademark, kick ass battle scenes, yet Campbell surprised me. While Invincible is full of some awesome battle scenes, what really made the novel for me was the exegesis of the fleet’s unknown enemies.  Invincible does what the best space bound Military Science fiction, should do, it examines the new life encountered by the characters, and attempts to understand them, not just thinking of interesting ways to kill them, but actually trying to figure them out. Campbell has created some interesting new Alien species for Geary and the Fleet to deal with, and this adds a new freshness of perspective to this series. Another aspect of this novel that surprised me was the humor. There are some genuinely funny moments in Invincible, moments that actually made me laugh out loud. These moments were perfect tension breakers as the Fleet deals with internal problems coming from many directions as well as a sense of unease about what awaits them at home. Invincible is a rollicking good listen, with Campbell breathing some new life in a series that really wasn’t even close to death. The Lost Fleet is easily my current favorite continuing science fiction series, and one of the few that seems to just keep getting better.

Christian Rummel again impresses in his reading of Invincible.  Invincible has tons of characters and this is not an exaggeration. How Rummel manages to keep every character straight, I don’t know. Yet, he does more than keep them straight, but makes them all memorable. Each character has been given an authentic sounding voice that perfectly fits their personalities. His voicing of one minor character, Master Chief Gioninni, is the highlight of the novel for me, and I always look forward to him making an appearance. Rummel handles the complicated military maneuvers of the novel with a crisp, direct reading style that makes following the potentially confusing action easy for the reader.  For those who have yet to experience The Lost Fleet series, I highly recommend the audiobook versions where Campbell’s excellent, fast paced story telling is only enhanced by the narration of Christian Rummel.





So You Want Me to Read Your Blog: AirmchairBEA Day 5

27 05 2011

I am not much in the way of blogging tips, so I am just going to focus on things I look for when I am reading a book blog.

1. No Spoilers. This is my ultimate Pet Peeve. Spoiler Warnings help, yet I urge people to hide spoilers as well, in case someone is scrolling, and missed the warning. One word of advice, what may be a spoiler to one person, may not be a spoiler to another. When it comes to spoilers, I always try to err on the cautious side.

2. Write in your own voice. I am reading your blog because I want to know what Twila from from Tuscaloosa thinks. If I want a professional review I will go to Publisher Weekly, or search newspaper archives. The Beauty of book blogs is that I am getting opinions from everyday people.

3. Describe what you think of the book. I for one don’t uses summaries in my reviews, because there are much more professional writers out there writing summaries. Remember, you are not writing a book report for school. So many reviews I read spend three or four paragraphs describing the book, and one telling the reading their thoughts on that. Personally, I would like to see the reverse.

4. Be aware of spelling and grammar. Everyone makes typos. I do. I often find a typo in when of my posts three months after posting it. Yet, be aware of your spelling and grammar. The other day I read a book review where the writer described the the book as “macob” meaning, I suppose, macabre. We’re all using the internet, if you are unsure of how to spell a word, look it up.

5. Be honest about your biases. I hate sexy vampire novels. Now, I could spend a lifetime writing negative reviews about sexy vampire novels, yet who will that serve. If you take a risk reading something outside of your breadbasket, let the reader know. If you are an utter fanboy of a particular author or genre, also let the reader know.

6. Have Fun. Readers can pick up on your mood when you write. If you are enjoying yourself, it will show through.

Thanks for reading. This has been a fun week for me.





So You Want to be an Audiobook Blogger: ArmchairBEA Day 4

26 05 2011

I am probably the worst person to be talking about nurturing blog relations. I have a total of 4 followers on my blog. I think that is partially because of WordPress quirkiness which I have a love/hate relationship with. My traffic isn’t especially heavy, getting fifty visits is a great day for me. So, instead I will talk a little bit about my philosophy of blogging and the relationships I have made.

Blogging is the ultimate in self promotion. Until ArmchairBEA thing, I was quite the minimalist. I started this blog in January, and I never got involved in Challenges or memes. I think part of it was because I am new, and part because I really didn’t know anyone in the blogging world. The only one I was interested in was The Audiobook Challenge, yet, the highest level was 20 Audiobooks and I average over 15 audiobooks a month. Of course, back then I thought the point of challenges was completing the task, now I know it’s truly about networking.

Being a 37 year old male audiobook blogger, I am quite a minority here in the Armchair BEA world. Not only that, many of my reviews are horror and military sci-fi which there are not a lot of bloggers writing about. Yet, I have had some success.

First off, I have developed good working relationships with various audiobook companies, particularly, Blackstone Audio, Hachette Audio, Tantor Audio and Brilliance Audio. I try to base these relationships on honesty. If I can get a copy of their audio productions through the library, or some other means, I do. Only when I can’t find something do I make a request. If I am not interested in something, I say so. I do this for fun and I’ve been reading since I was three, so I have a pretty good idea about what I would like.

If you are interested in audiobook Blogging, here are some resources you can use.

Overdrive offers free downloadable Audiobooks, and E-Books through your local Libraries. Talk to your librarian and check you libraries websites for more information.

I know most people have heard of Audible as a distributor as digital audiobooks. The also have some excellent imprints which offer original products. I subscribe to their Platinum Plan and use it mostly for Original Audible offerings. It’s not to expensive either.

Audiobook Jukebox is one of my favorite online resources. It’s a simple link up site for audiobook reviews. It’s a great place to discover reviews, and bloggers, and promote your own work.

Social Media

Using Twitter and Facebook, as well as other social media sites is key to any blogger. When posting my reviews, I always makes sure to tag the author, narrator, and production company. I have developed some great contacts, authors, narrators, promotional personnel, and audiobook fans and bloggers through this. In fact, my most successful blogging day hit wise was when author Larry Correia promoted my review of his novel Monster Hunter International on his blog.

The last thing I recommend is browsing through Audiobook production company websites, using coming soon features and advanced search to find a book you would be interested in, and contact them asking for the opportunity to review.  Again, be honest and open with them, about your experience and goals. Here are three of my favorite sites, along with suggestions on who to contact.

One of my favorites. Try talking to @BlackstoneAudio or dogearedcopy on Twitter.

Tweet @HachttteAudio or Mitzpa on Twitter. They should be more than willing to help.

Try tweeting Jennifer at @TantorAudio. She is quite nice.

Well, that’s all for me. Feel free to comment about any other audiobook resources you may know.





BEA Day #3: My Interview with Mickey From I’m a Book Shark

25 05 2011

I have the real privilege to introduce you to Mickey Reed, book blogger and audiobook enthusiast extraordinaire. Her Book Blog, I’m a Book Shark, is full of straight forward reviews, fun challenges, and a lot of personality. In my brief interactions with her, I have found her witty and charming. I hope that my interview will allow you to see those qualities as well.

Bob: I want to thank you for agreeing to be my Interview Buddy for Armchair BEA. I think we have a lot of things in common. We both like audiobooks, we both have relatively new blogs, you’re from Arizona, I’m from Philadelphia (both end in an ‘A’)

Mickey: No problem! I was really excited when I saw that someone else needed an interview partner. It worked out to be even better than expected since we both love audio books!

Bob: First off, a quick question… you’re really from a town called Surprise?

Mickey: Yeah yeah.. I get that ALL the time. I also live on Elm Street if you can believe it. My whole address is a giant joke. Here’s a map of Surprise, Arizona. It’s part of the Phoenix Valley.  I’ve lived here for about three years. I’m originally from the Chicago area. I will never move back!

Bob: But seriously… Let’s get this interview thing started. The name of your blog is quite interesting. I’m a Book Shark. What exactly is a Book Shark? Is it dangerous? Do I need to wear repellent the next time I go to the library?

Mickey:I only recommend SPF 30 when braving the elements to go to the library. No worries about the sharks! Honestly, I wish it had more meaning, but I needed a new Twitter handle a while back, and I wanted it to be about reading or books. Why a shark? I guess because I read so much. It kind of stuck once I started using that, and now it’s imabookshark when I blog. Is a vanity license plate going too far?

 

Just When You thought it was safe to go to the Library.

Bob: I loved scanning your blog. There is so much content there to peruse. You do a lot of Challenges and Daily themes, how do you feel these tools contribute to your blog?

Mickey: When I first started blogging, I had no idea what to expect, what to write about, or what I really wanted from it. Thank goodness this community was established so I could do these memes and challenges to get my name out there. My own daily features have already evolved into other things in the past two months, and they allow me to connect with other bloggers and find new blogs to read, new books to read, etc. The challenges and daily features contribute by letting me sort my books into categories that target specific readers and hopefully provide recommendations.

Bob: Have you ever considered hosting your own challenge and what would it be?

Mickey: I haven’t yet since I am so new. Getting my blog out there is first and foremost before people will want to participate in any challenge I host. An audio book challenge would be nice, but there are out there already. Hmm.. I think if I held a zombie book challenge you might participate, but my sister would kick me out of the family.

Bob: Since we are both audiobook lovers, I thought we could talk a little bit about that. So, what is your favorite way to listen to an audiobook? In the car, on your Ipod, on an old school boom box blasting it as you walk down a crowded street?

Mickey:Definitely not that last one, sorry! I listen a couple different ways. I usually always have one book at work in CD form (since I can’t have my iPod there). Then I have another book going in the car on my iPod or CD from the library. Sometimes on the weekends I’ll listen to shorter books on my computer as well.

 
Bob: If someone wrote a book about you, who would you want to narrate it, and why?

Mickey: Wow, this is a good one! I’m thinking I should pick a female since I’m female, so I’ll go with Tavia Gilbert. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, check out the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost or, for the YA fans, Amy Huntley’s The Everafter (on audio of course). Or possibly Elisabeth Rodgers (Richelle Mead’s Georgina series). Their voices are those of some of my favorite characters, and that would be an honor. If I could pick a male, I would pick Robert Downey, Jr. perhaps. Mmhmm. Only because Phil Gigante would be too obvious of a choice.

 

The Voice of Mickey?

 

Bob: If the apocalypse had actually happened on Saturday, what books old, new or coming soon, would you have been disappointed not to have gotten a chance to read?

Mickey: Old: Anything I haven’t yet read by Jane Austen, the Harry Potter series, The Dresden Files series, Anna Karenina, and anything by George Orwell

New (anything within the last couple of years): The Help, Divergent, Die For Me, and anything by David Sedaris.

Coming Soon: Succubus Revealed, Smokin’ Seventeen, He’s So Not Worth It, The Pledge, Cruel Love/Vengeance, and the end of any other series I’ve started!

Bob: So, I’m considering following your blog, what cool thing do you have upcoming that would make that a wise choice?

Mickey: Well, now that I’ve hit over 100 followers, probably I should have a giveaway, huh? Maybe even an audio book giveaway. That would be different! Hmm.. I like that idea!

Bob: Now, a few quick non-book questions. You seem to have a lot of cool exotic pets. Tell me about them.

Mickey: Do you have 10 years?! Haha, this is my favorite topic outside of books! Okay, here’s the list: an argus monitor (with no real name), a reticulated albino purple-phase python (Weezy – he had a respiratory infection when we got him), 2 ball pythons (Big Bertha and baby Agatha), a bearded dragon (Zeus, a female – you can’t tell when they’re young and I was set on the name), a Sulcata African Spurred tortoise (Link, or Linkydink when he’s cute, which is all the time), a tarantula (no name), and a scorpion (I call it Scorpo-face – this is a weird house). We also have a saltwater fish tank with lots of stuff including a clown fish called Grandpa. That’s my boyfriend’s. Oh, I guess I can’t forget my cat either. Sylvester is a pain in the butt with an adorable Marilyn Monroe dot on his face! Anyway, no one ever wants to come over to my house.. haha. Check out my ‘about me’ page to see pictures!

Bob: Do you really dislike Cotton Balls?

Mickey: Yes, I really dislike cotton balls. And Q-tips. I know how weird that sounds. But just the thought of holding one and peeling it apart makes my skin crawl.. ewwww. It’s definitely the feel of it. Also, other people’s socks cannot touch me. My boyfriend thinks this is funny and rubs his sock-covered foot on my leg or foot and it grosses me out. I don’t even like wearing socks all that much. Yuck.

The Essence of Evil?

Bob: Finally, I have to say your name would make an awesome name for a book character, perhaps a hardcore police detective who may be a werewolf, fairy, reincarnation of Cleopatra, or perhaps all of the above, who solves strange crimes other detective won’t. Tell me something about yourself that followers of your blog may find as a surprise.

Mickey: I would love for a character like that to be named after my blog! That sounds way fun! But hmm.. something surprising about me.. I mentioned before that I’m a black belt in Tae Kwon do. Oh! My name isn’t Mickey, but that shouldn’t be too big of a shock. An old pen pal (back when there was such a thing) gave me the nickname and I liked it. Actually, my real name is Michelle Reed, which is like Richelle Mead (YA paranormal fans will know who she is) and that’s how I was introduced to her books. And yeah.. I got the whole "Michelle, REED a book!" thing all through school, and even now at work people put that together. We joke that my youngest sister’s middle name is Can’t..


Thanks so much for interviewing me! Your questions were great! They really got me thinking. I’m glad we were able to partner up. Hope all your readers enjoy! Happy BEA! :o)

Mickey @ imabookshark

Make sure you Like Mickey’s I’m A Book Shark page on Facebook





My 10 Favorite Audiobooks of 2011 (So Far)

24 05 2011

2011 has been a great year for Audiobooks. With the endings of some great trilogies, a highly anticipated Fantasy sequel, and a bunch of surprises, it was hard to compile a top 10 list. I have to say that this list is truly a favorites list, the 70+ audiobooks I have listen to this year is just a tiny percentage of the great offerings out there. That being said, I think you would enjoy my selections.

#10:

WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer

Read by Jessica Almasy, Oliver Wyman, Marc Vietor, Anthony Haden

Audible Frontiers

Why it made the list: This satisfying ending to Sawyer’s WWW series is most remarkable in the performance of the main narrator Jessica Almasy.

#9

Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Coreia

Read by Oliver Wyman

Audible Frontiers

Why it made the list: Fans of guns, monsters, guns, romance, guns, action and guns will enjoy this second entry in the Monster Hunter’s Series. Worth the price just to hear Oliver Wyman voice a shoggoth.

#8

The Cypress House by Micheal Koryta

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

Why it made the list: Robert Petkoff is brilliant in his reading of this atmospheric supernatural thriller.

#7

The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

Read by Bronson Pinchot

Blackstone Audio

Why it made the list: Bronson Pinchot’s voice fits this novel perfectly, giving voice to Farnsworth’s excellent characters, as well as his historic overview, and strong action sequences.

#6.

Deadline by Mira Grant

Read by Chris Patton and Nell Geisslinger

Hachette Audio

Why it made the list: This follow up to the Hugo/Audie nominated Feed gives us new perspectives on old characters, and continues to develop Grant’s terrifying world.

#5

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Read by Nick Podehl

Brilliance Audio

Why it made the list: The Wait was worth it, Rothfuss continues the story of Kvothe with excellent results. Podehl is excellent in handling a novel full of songs, poetry, folklore and hand sighs. Not an easy task.

#4.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Read by Wil Wheaton

Audible Frontiers

Why it made the list: Fuzzy Nation, John Scalzi’s reimagining of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy is the perfect summer read, full of adventure and intrigue. Wil Wheaton continues to impress as a narrator.

#3

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

Read by Peter Giles

Hachette Audio

Why it made the list: The best courtroom thriller since Scot Turow’s Presumed Innocent. Mickey Haller is a great character, and Peter Giles does an excellent job voicing him.

#2

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Read by Kevin Kenerly

Blackstone Audio

Why it made the list: Isaac Marion does for Zombies what Cormac McCarthy does for Post Apocalypse. Warm Bodies transcends to Zombie genre creating a novel that should have mass appeal. Kevin Kenerly’s reading breathes life into the undead.

#1

I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

Read by Kirby Heyborne

Tantor Audio

Why it Tops the List: The end of the John Cleaver series was one of the most satisfying, yet devastating endings I have experienced in an audio book. Kirby Heyborne’s narration only added to the experience of the best audiobook of the year (so far.)