Audiobook Week Day 4: Audiobook Tasks

20 06 2013

Thursday: Audiobook Tasks

What do you do while you listen? Any particular tasks or games that you find amazing for audio time?

I think for most people, audiobooks started out as a compromise. I think the vast majority of readers, if given the options prefer to read. I know I did. Now, remember, I’m a strange guy. I remember reading The Dark Tower, and just wishing there was a way I could suck the works off the page. Actually consume the words. I love reading. I love the zone you enter when a good story just sucks you in, how the whole world just falls away and becomes less real than the world the author has pulled you into. For me, reading was my Wardrobe, a way to enter an infinite number of Narnias.

So, 10 years ago, if you would ask me which I would rather do, read a book, or listen, there was no choice in the matter, I read. All the time. Then, of course, there came a time when I couldn’t read as much as I wanted to. You see, reading has its limitations. Honestly, I think at some point all of us have attempted to get through that last chapter as we drive. Getting beeped at by the car behind us, because we just had to sneak a peak at the page while at the red light. Yet. people, you cannot really drive and read. You can’t walk and read. You can’t perform manual labor and read. It just doesn’t work.

That’s when you discover audiobooks. When, you make that compromise. There comes a point where you just need the story, and you will take it whatever way you can. For me, it came when I changed jobs. I worked at a job for 6 years, where I actually had time to read a physical book for large portions of my shift. When I switched, it became impossible. So, this is when I decided to truly give audiobooks a try. Sure, it would be a poor substitute for reading, but sometimes beggars can’t be choosers.

So, I downloaded a few audiobooks. I listened to them. I found them to be a bit exasperating, and not fully engaging. I had chosen two books I had read before, one of which was the multicast audio production of The Mist, and the second was the original Abridged version of World War Z, which I had recently read in print. They were nice. Then, I listened to Adam Grupper reading Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer, and I was back in that zone. I was again in Narnia, where everything else fell away and I sucking the words off the page through my ears into my brain.

Then I listened to Oliver Wyman’s reading Tim Dorsey’s Hurricane Punch, and I new I could never go back. That I was now a hopeless audiobook addict, who now looks at print reading as the compromise.

So, today we are asked what we do while we listen. For me, the simple answer is… anything that allows me to keep listening. I walk my dog longer, happily stop at yellow lights, and volunteer to vacuum, as long as the story is good. I scowl at people who disturb me during the good points, and have perfected the agreeing headshake to make people thing I am actually listening to what they are saying, when in fact, I am listening to zombies get their heads blown off, and or space battles between robots and hybrid monkey lizards.

There is something that happens when a good story is expertly told. I think it touches something deep in our genetic memory. I think this is a reason why I haven’t really gotten into over produced audio dramas, and often resent intrusions like music and special effects. When someone is telling me a story, I don’t need those extras. It’s just me, and the words floating through the ethereal mist, being expertly guided by a storyteller.





Audiobook Week Day 3: Mid Week Meme

19 06 2013

Current/most recent audiobook:

One of my biggest Audiobook enablers is Tanya Perez, aka Dogearedcopy. One thing I love about Tanya is that I feel like she has a great handle of what I like, and when she makes recommendations, even ones without Zombies, Robots or Spaceships, I listen and obey.

Impressions:

I am only about 7 hours into the 43 Hour production, but so far, it’s living up to Tanya’s excellent track record. Ever since listening to Manil Suri’s excellent City of Devi, I have become fascinated with India, and Shantaram is making me feel like I am walking the streets of Bombay, visiting the places that tourists will never see. This is my first time listening to Humphrey Bower and so far, he has wonderfully handled the many characters.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

I expected to enjoy Taylor Steven’s latest Vanessa Michael Munroe Thriller, but I didn’t expect it to be my favorite action thriller of the year. A lot of the credit goes to the wonderful Hilary Huber who just allows the action to simmer until it hits a boiling rage.

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

Holy Crap Captain Janeway! Kate Mulgrew gives an enthusiastic performance in NOS4A2 that just made the audiobook so much fun. Like his father, Hill can sometimes go on and on, but with Mulgrew reading, you wish he would never stop.

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

I was a big fan of Lauren Beukes Zoo City, and a love Hachette Audio’s multicast Audiobook productions. Put them both together and I can’t help but be excited. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a novel about a time travelling serial killer and includes work by some of my favorite narrators including Khristine Hvam and Jay Snyder. If this one is not on your TBL pile, than I hope that means you have already listened.





Audiobook Week Day 2: How Do You Choose Your Audiobooks?

18 06 2013

Tuesday: How do You Choose Your Audiobooks?
How do you decide what you’ll listen to? Do you mostly listen, or split time between listening and reading? Particularly if you split time, how do you decide what you’ll consume in audio and what in print?

I think the hardest thing to explain is how I choose what I listen to. It seems so much of bloggerhood is separated by genre. My Twitter feed is full of YA bloggers, Speculative Fiction Bloggers, Literary Bloggers, Crime Fiction and Thriller Bloggers all of whom contribute in someway to my listening list. So, I am always getting a strange mix of recommendations and links to reviews. I have always combined research and impulse when shopping. I will come up with a list of items I want, yet, I always find my eyes being caught by some bit of pretty that I just have to have to have. Too often, the list I came in with is only a pale reflection of what I end up leaving the store with.

I find my shopping for audiobooks is quite similar. I will often plan out my listens based on New Releases I had requested from publishers, recent acquisitions from the library, and recent purchases from Audible or other sites. Yet, then something unexpected will come in the mail, people will tweet about a book that catches my fancy, or a random bit of internet surfing will lead me to something intriguing. Maybe I will see a pretty cover, or one of my favorite narrators will comments on a recently released project and suddenly, my plans go all askew and crazy, and I find myself with a totally different plan. To paraphrase, No Battle Survives First Contact with an Unexpected Audiobook Release.

I also find it’s important to embrace my moods. It’s easy to listen to an audiobook because you feel you have to. You accepted a audiobook pitch, or requested a review copy from the Audio Publisher or Audiobook Jukebox, and you think, I better get this listened to and reviewed before someone thinks I’m a slacker and never wants to work with me. Or you just want to get an audiobook reviewed as close to release date as possible. First off, listening to an intricately developed Literary masterpiece when you are in the mood for a shoot em’ up Military Science Fiction novel benefits no one. If there was a reason a book intrigued you, eventually there will come a moment when it fits you mood. Embrace your moods, listen to something when you want to. Being the first to review something won’t get you bonus points, and getting a review out a week, or even a few months after release date may rekindle some interest.

Being that I listen to between 40 and 50 hours of audio a week, if a book is available in Audio format with a narrator I find acceptable, I choose to go that route. The majority of my print reading is short stories, novellas, anthologies, and a few novels that aren’t available in audio. I am typically happy if I finish 1 novel a month in print, with a few shorter works along the way. With audio, I average about 15 to 20 a month, so keeping that beast fed is my main concern.

I have a wide range of genres I listen to. I listen to horror, science fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, thrillers, legal thrillers, Literary fiction, urban Fantasy, Steampunk, books about Robots in dance battles with Unicorns, Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Outbreaks, Zombie POV’s, Post Apocalyptic, Pre Apocalyptic, Far Future Apocalypse, Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Utopian, Some books with a cool picture of a monkey on it, Time Travel, Military Science Fiction, Military Fiction, Young Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade, Really Really Old Adult, Classics, Cheese, Pulp, general fiction, Cereal Boxes and Shampoo Bottles. Basically, whatever jumps out at me at the time. So, finding what I am interested in has no real process but I will share some of the ways I discover new audiobooks.

Some Tools for Finding Audiobooks:

I think that major book retailers are a horrible way to search out new audiobooks. Their lists are horribly incomplete, and calling their search engines clunky would be a gross understatement. So, these are the tools I use to find audiobooks that tickle my fancy.

PUBLISHER SITES ARE YOU FRIENDS

Not all publisher sites make searching for audiobooks easy, but many of them do. Even the ones you have to work at a bit are worth the effort. Some will offer lists of upcoming Releases, while others give you multiple search options. My suggestion… Advanced Search is your friend. Search by Date or genre if available. While most will list narrator, not all do. This can be frustrating, but if you discover a book coming out you are interested in, and there is no narrator information, jump on Twitter and harass official handles and publicist. That’s what they are there for:

Some of my favorite publisher websites:

Brilliance

Dreamscape

Penguin

Simon Audio

These are the sites I check at least once a month. I know there are other smaller audio producers that I have neglected, and they are more than invited to link up their websites in the comment setting. Maybe even I will begin added them to my rotation.

Many of these sites also have newsletters, I encourage people to sign up for those. I may miss a title or too on the site and discover it in their newsletter. Some offer newsletters tailored to reviewers, these I will talk about more on Friday when I discuss review copies, and offer a resource list.

 

BLOGGER RESOURCES:

A lot of bloggers offer weekly posts like Mailbox Monday, or lists of new releases. These are excellent tools. Also, scan archives of bloggers you follow for titles you may have missed. Here are two blogger resources that I value highly when trying to figure out my plans for the upcoming month:

mybookishways

Kristen is one of the most prolific and simply plain awesome bloggers out there, and besides awesome reviews, interviews and giveaways, she offers excellent monthly lists of upcoming genre releases. Go, check out her blog. Follow her. Reap the rewards. I know I have.

Fair warning, Kristen covers print releases, so you may find a title that you are interested in, but isn’t available in audio, but I have found her lists to be invaluable resources.

Audiobookaneers

Sam, one of the Audiobookaneers, provides a weekly list of Newly Released Speculative Fiction titles available in audio. One of my favorite features is his Seen But Not Hear section where he details new releases that are available in print, but not yet in audio. He will often also highlight audiobook available internationally, but are yet available in the US. I find many of my books through his weekly lists, and both Sam and Dave provide many quality recommendations.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Audiofile has lists of New Releases, usually set in three or four month blocks, searchable by either Genre or Production company. I use this resource often, but there are some things to beware of. Often, the titles mentioned are not new releases, but recently repacked or remastered items, or items that were available only digitally, but are now being made available in Hard Copy. Also, when available, narrators are listed.

Fantastic Fiction is a good resource for discovering new audiobooks, with a few caveats. Like Audiofile, the newly listed audios may just be a format upgrade, and being a UK site, sometimes release dates and availability are not 100% accurate.

I love Overdrive Classic Search. It can be clunky and annoying at times, but it’s customizable search engine has helped me find lost of titles I may have missed. I like that you can search by author, publisher or narrator. Understand, only titles available through Overdrive will come up, and it may not be available at your library. but still, it’s a great resource. Do not attempt Overdrives default search. It sucks. Classic is much better.

Yes, everybody loves Audible. Despite it’s use of DRM and it’s affiliation with SKYNET, (AMAZON) it is the premiere resource for Audiobooks. It’s search function is totally dreary, but I does allow search by narrator, search by publisher, even search by length, so it may help you find what you want. Just beware, there is no way yet to separate Coming Soons from Currently Available and their new inclusion of Amazon Reviews is annoying.

One of the few viable alternatives to Audible. It could truly set itself apart by offering a better search function, but currently it’s about as clunky, if not more so, than Audible’s.





Audiobook Week 2013 Day 1: Your Audiobook Year

17 06 2013

 

Monday: 2012-2013, Your Audiobook Year
Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.

2013 so far has been a strange year for me for audiobooks. Often by this point in the year, I have had a few titles that have really blown me away. I have had one or two major surprises, and a nice group of books I just can’t stop recommending. At this point last year, I had been actively recommending books like The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, The Stand by Stephen King, 14 by Peter Clines and Defending Jacob by William Landay. All these books were awesome and amazing and ended up on my 2012 Best of list. Yet, in 2013, I’m struggling for find books that garnish equal excitement.

It’s not that 2013 has been a bad year. So far I have reviewed just over 100 Audiobooks and I have only really hated 1. I have actually rated nearly a quarter of them somewhere in the A range. Yet, I think I have had very few that blown me away. Yet, I think it’s for a few reasons. The first half of 2013 has been full of events, and many of my favorites so far have been part of series. I find it much harder to actively recommend novels that require the listener to go back and read three of four novels first to get the full impact. I think social media encourages instant gratification recommendations, and so, if’s easier to say, YOU"LL LOVE THE ROOK! Than, EXTINCTION MACHINE is awesome, but first make sure you read Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory and King of Plagues and (I think I ran out of my 140 characters.) So, yes, there have been some awesome listens in 2013, and I think if you follow me in a trip through my Audiobook Year, you will find it has a lot of awesome.

EVENTS:

BLOGGER RECOMMENDATION WEEK

I started out 2013 with a week dedicated to titles on some of my favorite bloggers Year End Recommendations Lists. I think this is something I will continue to do and maybe expand next year, because I got to listen to a lot of great Audiobooks I may never have listened to before. I ended up choosing three books that were a lot of fun. My favorite from this group was an audiobook recommended to me by Dave from The Audiobookaneers. The other novels I listened to were Gutshot Straight Recommended by Jen Forbus from Jen’s Book Thoughs, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk which was on several end of year lists including Book Riot.  The Troupe is a 2012 title, and if I had read it in 2012 it would have had a place on my end of the year list.  Anyone who thinks Fantasy is all Elves and Magic Swords hasn’t experienced this wonderful novel set in the world of Vaudeville.


THE HUMAN DIVISION LISTEN ALONG:

Along with Dave from The Audiobookaneers, each Friday for 13 Weeks I reviewed an episode of John Scalzi’s serial novel which takes place in his Old Man’s War universe. It was a lot of fun, and along the way I got to interview the narrator of the project William Dufris.

THE ARMCHAIR AUDIES

Once again this year, under the tutelage of Jennifer from The Literate Housewife, I took on three categories of The Audies Awards. My categories were Fantasy, Science Fiction and Paranormal. When I started there were 16 nominees and over 215 hours of listening not including the prequels I may need to listen to. Before nominations were announced I had already listened to 6 of the nominees so that knocked it down to about 140 hours of new to me audio. I think Armchair Audies was again highly successful, I personally correctly picked The Paranormal Category, and my Science Fiction didn’t match, but the one I thought would win did. There were some great listens along the way. A particular favorite was the crazed Steampunk Comedy of Errors ALL MEN OF GENIUS by Lev AC Rosen.

ZOMBIE AWARENESS MONTH

Once again my slice of the Internet was taken over by The Undead for the month of May. For May, I reviewed over 20 Zombie Audiobooks, had an interview with author Eloise J. Knapp, a special post from Zombie Author Joe McKinney and three Zombie Roundtables talking about Young Adult Zombie Literature, Zombie Apocalypse Survival with Tantor Audio Authors and Characters from Permuted Press Authors. I reviewed some amazing audiobooks, some of my favorites being Eloise J. Knapp’s THE UNDEAD HAZE, Jessica Meigs’ THE BECOMING: REVEALATIONS and the updated version of WORLD WAR Z.

 

SOME 2013 FAVORITES

While many of my events had me listening to 2012 titles, there has been plenty of great listening experiences.

MY FAVORITE AUDIOBOOK OF 2013 SO FAR:

Extinction Machine (Joe Ledger, Bk. 5)

If you are not listening to the Joe Ledger series, well… I don’t know what to do with you.

BIGGEST SURPRISES

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark read by Kate Rudd

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson read by Fenella Woolgar

FAVORITE HORROR

Red Moon by Benjamin Percey Read by the Author

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill Read by Kate Mulgrew

GREAT NEW EDITIONS TO ONGOING SF/F SERIES

The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith read by James Marsters

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett read by Pete Bradbury

FAVORITE 2013 POST APOCALYPTIC/DYSTOPIAN

The City of Devi by Manil Suri Read by Vikas Adam and Priya Ayyar

Fuse by Julianna Baggott Read by Khristine Hvam, Casey Holloway, Kevin T. Collins, and Pierce Cravens

FAVORITE 2013 YOUNG ADULT SERIES EDITIONS

Fragments by Dan Wells read by Julian Whelan

FAVORITE STANDALONE THRILLERS

Suspect by Robert Crais read by McLeod Andrews

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis read by Reg. E. Cathey

FAVORITE THRILLER SERIES EDITIONS

The Doll by Taylor Stevens read by Hilary Huber

Dead Aim by Joe Lansdale read by Phil Gigante

The Lawyer’s Lawyer by James Sheehan Read by Rick Zieff

THE REST OF 2013

Now that I have gotten through my events, I am focusing of more laissez-faire approach to my listening. More focus on New Releases and just listening to what I want, when I want. Two things I plan on focusing on. I want to save one slot a week, starting in July, to series I have started, but not finished. This will lead to more series reviews. Also, starting in July, I plan to bring back my weekly Welcome to the Apocalypse feature.

Note: This all depends on one major issue in my life. There is a slight chance, due to a family medical issue, for personal and financial reasons, that I may need to drastically reduce the detail and frequency of my blog posts, or even go on hiatus. It simply comes down to whether I will need to pick up another part time job, or discontinue the expense of Comcast, which provided my Internet and Cable services. This likely won’t even become a consideration until the end of July, so I hope that things will be more favorable then, but, I will do my best to honor any commitments I have made, up until I can’t.





Audiobook Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

29 06 2012

Leviathan (Leviathan Series, Bk. 1) by Scott Westerfeld

Read by Alan Cummings

Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 20 Min

Genre: Steampunk/ Alternate History, Young Adult

Quick Thoughts: Leviathan has some beautiful concepts, and Westerfeld’s knowledge of history definitely shine through , yet I found the immaturity of the main characters distracting me from the overall plot. Yet, there is enough here to interest me in trying the sequel, where I hope the situations brings growth to the characters making them less frustrating, allowing me to place my full focus where it should be in the novel.

Grade: C+

Since I transitioned from an Audiobook enthusiast to an Audiobook blogger, I have seen a real change in my listening. One of the things I never realized before blogging is how big of a phenomenon Young Adult books have become. I am amazed at the sheer number of Young Adult bloggers who are out there showing their love for all sorts of Young Adult literature. Before becoming a blogger, I read Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and someone recommended Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Last Survivors Trilogy to me, but beyond that, I didn’t know much about Young Adult titles. Now, I have begun listening to many more of these titles based on the influence of many of these passionate and ummm… persistent voices.  Today I am reviewing the Young Adult Steampunk novel Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.  I have seen this title recommended by many fans of Young Adult literature, including my brother who is a Youth Minister. Since I am on the peripheral of fandom of both Young Adult novels and Steampunk, I thought this would be an interesting title to explore. Also, it is narrated by Alan Cummings who I have heard raves about from many audiobook loving sources. So, here I was able to upset two monkeys with one banana, experience a popular Young Adult novel, and introduce myself to a much love audiobook narrator.

Sadly, in this occasion, I think I may have placed too many expectations on this audiobook, and it ended up falling a bit flat for me. While I enjoyed Westerfeld’s use of history, and his concepts are really quite intriguing, I found that the characters kept me from truly enjoying this book. One of the issues I have with Young Adult novels, particularly series, is that they tend to have a coming-of-age component as an essential aspect of their story. I love coming of age stories, mostly because I can’t stand the obnoxious brats, before they realize that they must change, and enjoy watching them  begin to understand the world in a new way. This transition moves way too slowly for me in series entries. In Leviathan there are essential plot elements particularly about the main characters that are not fully explore, because these issues create tension for the next in the series. Yet, I wanted to see much more growth than I got. I was frustrated and annoyed with the two main characters, Alek, a Austro-Hungarian Prince in hiding and Deryn, a young girl posing as a boy to achieve her goal of becoming a pilot, that it took me away from the plot. Yet, I am also a bit hopeful. I had a similar reaction to Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin, and when I finally moved on to the second book in the series, Dust & Decay, I loved it and where he took the characters. I think Westerfeld has proven himself to be an intricate plotter, and has created a world that definitely interests me, and if he develops his characters along the expected path, I think I will began to really embrace his creation. Leviathan has some beautiful concepts, and Westerfeld’s knowledge of history definitely shine through , yet I found the immaturity of the main characters distracting me from the overall plot. Yet, there is enough here to interest me in trying the sequel, where I hope the situations brings growth to the characters making them less frustrating, allowing me to place my full focus where it should be in the novel.

Alan Cummings definitely has skills as a narrator, but I wasn’t incredibly impressed with this performance. He did a wonderful job with the British characters, particularly the crew of The Leviathan, but I felt the Austro-Hungarian characters were not given the same level of careful attention. I did like how Cummings gave Alek a different cadence to his speech when speaking his non-native English. This is something not often seen in audiobook narration, the different is vocal style when using you native language, versus a non-native language, when both of them are presented in the text as English for us English readers. I also found Cummings to have a weird usage of dramatic tone when reading the action scenes. He would often use what I will call and dramatic Harrumph, at the end of some sentences, but it seemed to be applied at random and for inconsistent reasons. As I was listening, my thoughts would be, “Oh, there is Cummings getting all dramatic” then “Hmmm… wonder why that sentence didn’t merit the dramatic Harrumph.” I think this is one of those situations where I am overly picky, and perhaps my inability to engage with the characters led me to have more time to nit pick the narrator. Overall, I can see why this audiobook and its narrator is well loved, unfortunately, it just wasn’t the right fit for me at the right moment.





Narrative Overtones: My Interview With Michael Goldstrom

29 06 2012

Michael Goldstrom is a relatively new to me narrator who has recorded books like A Confusion of Princess by Garth Nix. My first experience with his work was Variant by Robison Wells, in which I said he “has the potential to be a great narrator.” Well, in Mira Grant’s Blackout, he proved that statement true by giving an excellent performance in my favorite audiobook of 2012 so far. Michael Goldstrom was kind enough to answer a few of my hard hitting questions.

I want to thank you for taking the time out today to talk audiobooks. First off, could you tell me how you became involved in the audiobook industry and give a bit of an overview of you career?


Michael Goldstrom:  I’m really appreciative, but does your audience read? Part of me thinks I should narrate this. Anyway, I’ve always been an aural person (hello ladies), and have loved creating worlds out of sound by either recording sketches, radio shows, characters, or sound worlds in fake languages. With sound, our imaginations go wild, and we become our own filmmakers.

In college we had a phone system called the Rolm phone, where you could easily change voicemail greetings (and prank friends and connect them so they each thought the other called), and every day I’d change the greeting with different characters and scenarios: a mafia den, Brazilian carnival, an international whorehouse… those really were the days.

At Juilliard I up-leveled my skill set to perform classical text, and do mafia voices but with greater breath control. Then I worked as an actor in New York doing plays, musicals, television and film, and I also auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Now in Los Angeles I focus on comedy, both in acting and writing. I also performed as the narrator in Peter and the Wolf with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and  currently perform in Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon for the Cartoon Network.

I’ve always wanted to do audiobooks, because they merge the fun of characterization with the luxury of long form storytelling. Audiobooks are like deeply intimate films in the mind of the listener, and as the narrator, you have the power to help create those images. You dictate the pace, the tone, and create entire worlds, by…dictating. Literally. You are a dictator. This fulfills my German heritage.

You are relatively new to audiobooks. Is there anything about the industry or the process that surprised you?

Michael Goldstrom: I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, because every community has this, but the audiobook community is a relatively insular world consisting of stars , passionate fans, critics, haterspublishers, all centered around aural recordings of stories. I find that amazing, amusing and as the Spanish say: great.

Striking about the publishing industry though, is how much authors must actively self-promote their own work – primarily through Twitter. Imagine if Melville had to do that- “@mobynotthemusician New novel coming out – whales, natives and peg legs in a crisp 458 pages. Kindle anyone? Lol. Check it out!”

Through Twitter I also enjoy reaching out to the authors…they’re alive; why not take advantage?


Before I get into the book I really, really want to talk about, I wanted to talk a little about my first audiobook experience with you, which was your reading of Variant by Robison Wells. Variant is a sort of modern Lord of the Flies, with a host of wildly different young adult characters. What was you biggest challenge when recording this novel?

Michael Goldstrom: In Variant, the narrator is a jaded teenage boy, and all the main characters are within a four-five year age range, so differentiating the characters was a challenge. This was amplified by the story itself in which these characters have no contact with the outside world, so their personalities are in question. Also, their very existence is in question – once you get to the end of the story, you see why.

Before reading Variant, were you aware of the true phenomenon that the Young Adult market is?

Michael Goldstrom: While mentally I feel like a young adult, I definitely did not know the young adult market was a phenomenon.  Is it a phenomenon? What constitutes a young adult anyway – ability to not buy beer, or a penchant for zombies? This is a deep question.

As a narrator, do you feel your talents are more suited to Young Adult and Middle Grade books, or adult books?

Michael Goldstrom: My talents might be most suited to the “Pre-School Epic” genre. I love the fun you can have with young adult and children’s books. How often can you play an invisible bandapat in adult literature (aside from the deleted chapters in Fifty Shades of Grey)? That said, I love the richness and variety of genres, so my goal is to work in all genres at all levels: thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, neuroscience. You’d hope four years at Juilliard would prepare you for anything, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Right?…Anyone? Hello? It’s very quiet here.

Now, I want to talk about Blackout, which, full disclosure, is my favorite audiobook of the year. Blackout is the third entry in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy, and you are the third narrator to handle Shawn Mason’s perspective. Before taking this on, did you read or listen to the previous editions of this series, or did you go into the character cold?

Michael Goldstrom: I’m so thrilled you liked it! I went in cold. Very cold. Think Antarctica, add a dash of Siberia and top it with a WASP from Connecticut.

Personally, I thought you nailed Shawn Mason, but where you really excelled was in some of the peripheral characters, particularly Mahir. Can you tell us a little about your process for creating authentic voices that fit the background and personalities of the characters?

Michael Goldstrom: Very appreciated. Text analysis gives you clues to the characters.  It’s the same process when preparing  for theater or film. Usually, everything you need to know about the characters is either explicitly expressed or implied in the text.  For example, in Blackout, Mahir’s name gives us information about his background, then his schooling and family are mentioned, and of course how he relates to other people and his environment, and the actions he does and does not take all reveal information about how he might sound.

For Blackout, you co-narrated the novel with Paula Christensen, each of you handling a different perspective. How did the two narrator system work? Was their any interaction between you and Paula, or was their a director or other outside person that helped coordinate the recording?

Michael Goldstrom: Our truly masterful maestro of all things audiobook related, Bob Deyan of Deyan Audiobooks supervised the recording. Paula and I overlapped on one day and we briefly discussed some voices, then had lunch. ‘Twas a good day.

As far as your personal tastes, do you read or listen to audiobooks for pleasure, and what are some of your favorites?

Michael Goldstrom: I listen to audiobooks when I drive to Northern California to see my family.  It’s my traveling therapy before entering the storm.  Unfortunately, I’m a productivity book fanatic, so I listen to a lot of those kinds of books -”Getting to Yes, Getting to No, and my favorite, “Time Management for People Who Listen to Too Many Productivity Books.” I’m just now reviewing my audiobook fiction list so I can start to learn from narrators I like. When I heard Frank Muller’s audiobook of Orwell’s 1984, I couldn’t stop “turning the page.”

Is there one novel or author who you would love to narrate that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to take on?

Michael Goldstrom: Michael Chabon or Andy Borowitz or of course The Last Testament, A Memoir by God, with David Javerbaum.

When not performing, what do you do to blow off steam?

Michael Goldstrom: I was asked that in Central Park when I was 15. I was then asked if I wanted to “blow off steam” behind the bushes. Now I play piano, accost other people’s dogs, or write.

Besides being a narrator, you also act and perform comedy. If someone was to show up to see you perform live, what should they expect?

Michael Goldstrom: I’ll let the LA Times speak: “a tour de force that will leave you roaring”. Aw yeah.

Of all your performances, which would you consider the highlight of your career?

Michael Goldstrom: Sadly, Cabaret in high school.

Is audiobook narration something you plan to continue on a regular basis? Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share?

Michael Goldstrom: I absolutely love narrating audiobooks, and look forward to the overwhelming plethora of literature demanding to be read out loud.  Snooki may need her autobiography read since she cannot speak language. But I do have some upcoming projects – and to be kept apprised please follow my Facebook Page or Twitter or Google + Page (yes I use it and love it).

Someday, when someone writes the story of your life, who would you want to perform the audiobook version?

Michael Goldstrom: There’s a lot of assumptions in that question, but going with it – hopefully I myself will be able to narrate it with advances in cryopreservation, or by having kept my brain alive and speaking through Siri. Although in that case I’m not sure where royalties would be sent.

 

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Audiobook Week: What Makes A Good Narrator?

28 06 2012

Who are your favorite narrators and why? What do you look for in a narrator? Have a preference between male or female narrators?

As someone who has listened to as many audiobooks as I have, you develop certain pet peeves. Yet, I’m attempting to stay positive for Audiobook week, so I am going to talk to flip it around a bit and call it my narrator pet preferences. I think this post will serve two purposes. First for listeners and fellow bloggers, when I do review an audiobook these are things I look for and the terms I apply to these aspects. Secondly, for narrators, when I critique your performance in a way that can be seen as negative. Typically it is because of one of these issues. Often times, I am not saying your performance is bad, but it could have been better for me as a listener if these things were achieved.

It should be noted that I am in no way an expert. I am a listener. Narrators have directors, producers, groupies and hanger-ons who probably give them better advice than me. So, take these bits of advice from a novice listener for what they are. When you are recording a book, ask your self, "What Would The Guilded Earlobe Do?" Then chide yourself for getting distracted.

1. Find A Distinctive Voice:

While this applies most to First person narration, it can also include third person as well. Most narrators have what I call a “default narrative voice.” This is the voice you typically hear when they are reading Third Person Prose. Yet, often, when reading first person tales, their default narrative voice doesn’t necessarily fit with the main character. This is when a good narrator creates a distinctive voice. Let’s face it, if your main character is a New York City early 1800’s roughabout, then he or she probably shouldn’t sound like a professional voce over artist. There are times when a narrator actually enhances the character development of a story by creating a distinctive character voice. There are some narrators who are simply amazing. If you have listened to Nnedi Okafor’s Who Fears Death you may be surprised to learn that Anne Flosnick is not a young African girl living in Post Apocalyptic Kenya, and neither is MacLeod Andrews, narrator of the wonderfully dark Sandman Slim series, a 90’s era punk who just escaped the darkest pits of hell.

2. Flavor

This is a term I use a lot when discussing the overall feel of an audiobook. When you eat chicken, you want the protein rich avian flesh substance to taste like chicken. When a book takes place in China 3000 years in the future, the audiobook shouldn’t feel like its taking place in The Valley in 2012. There are many ways to achieve flavor, through the proper use of accents, distinctive vocal styling, rhythm and pacing. I think this is one of those aspects of an audiobook that is part preparation and part instinct on the narrator. If you want examples of excellent use of flavor by narrators, check out Phil Gigante in Throne of the Crescent Moon and Cassandra Campbell in A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True.

3. Consistent Choices

Narrators need to make a lot of choices when narrating a book. Often times these choices are not just about what works best for a novel, but also what will highlight the narrator’s strengths and downplay their weaknesses. The most important pieces of advice I can give on this topic is, first, know yourself and second, stay consistent. If you are going to read a third person account that centers on a Irish character with an Irish accent, then you should continue that trend when voicing perspectives involving Chinese, Lithuanian or Venusian characters. I reviewed one audiobook where the narrator read the female characters dialogue with a female voice, but her internal monologue with a male voice. Don’t do this. It makes me sad and a bit confused. Two narrators that always make smart consistent choices are Bronson Pinchot and Katherine Kellgren.

4. Don’t Be Riddley Scott

I love action films. Heck, I love action. But when I watch action movies I like to see the action. I cannot stand Riddley Scott’s extreme closeups during action scenes that muddles the ability of the audience to follow what is going on. Narrators sometimes like to speed up their reading of action scenes, to increase the urgency and excitement. This is affective if done right, but some narrators lose control of the pace, and the action becomes muddled. Some narrators manage to slow down the pace of the action, yet still display the same sense of urgency that the speedier narrators are attempting. Two narrators that always help me visualize the action, no matter how intense, are Ray Porter and Hillary Huber.

5. Why You So Serious?

I tend to read a lot of science fiction. I love me some strange and weird characters.  Big tentacle monsters, fuzzy cat like sentient aliens, fallen angels, demons, creatures from Mazzugalh 5 in the Delta Quadrant, all these characters make me happy. What I really like is when I realize these characters are making the narrator happy too. I love when you can tell that a narrator is having fun. It comes out in their choices, in the wonderfully weird character they create. You guys might not know this, but we listeners can hear that sly smile on your lips. I love when a narrator just goes all out. If the script calls for over the top, go for it. Let’s face it, Oliver Wyman makes me laugh on a regular basis, whether he is voicing my favorite loveable serial killer Serge Storms, or the cast of crazy creatures in Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International. And, I challenge anyone to listen to Khristine Hvam’s narration in A Beautiful Friendship and not want a Tree Cat. It cannot be done! One little secret, when you are having fun, I’m more likely to have fun when writing my reviews, and my fun reviews tend to be my best and most popular reviews, even if they are about sexy dragons.

6. Know Who You Are

This topic is a bit more controversial. Well, controversial in the fact that it resulted in my only negative interaction with a narrator. Casting is quite important for the listener. Now, I understand that narrators have little if any control over casting, and they have families to raise and cats to feed so they can post funny pictures of them on the internet.  Yet, make smart choices when taking on a role. More often than not when you are miscast in a role, the casual listener will blame you. If you choose a role that doesn’t suit you, it probably will result in bad reviews, and more importantly, one bad listen may keep a consumer from buying future audiobooks you narrate. Nobody but internet trolls and snooty pipe smoking critics like bad reviews. Two narrators that make very wise decisions on what roes are appropriate to them are Wil Wheaton and Grover Gardner. And yes, I know one of the reasons this is is because they are able to make these decisions, but it’s still true.

I love narrators. I have done many things with narrators by my side. I like writing good reviews and praising your performances to the heavens and petitioning the government for a national narrator holiday. Today I talk a bit more about the relationship between narrators and the listeners in my review of Ken Scholes Lamentations. Make sure you check it out. There will be a test.

Don’t forget to check out all my narrator interviews this week. Today’s interview features the awesome Khristine Hvam.





Audiobook Review: Lamentations by Ken Scholes

28 06 2012

Lamentations (Psalms of Isaac, Bk. 1) by Ken Scholes

Read by Stefan Rudnicki, Scott Brick, William Dufris and Maggi-Meg Reed

Macmillan Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 49 Min

Genre: Science Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Lamentations is an exciting start to a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in a fun way. I think some hard core fantasy fans will find aspects of this novel derivative of the genre, yet,  for those who like vast conspiracies, political maneuverings, battles, romance and robots, and are willing to accept some plotting that can be a tab bit overly complex, you are sure to have a fun time following these characters on their adventures.

Grade: B+

Back when I first began listening to Audiobooks, I never truly understood the importance of narrators. One of the biggest complains about audiobooks is that the narrator creates another layer between the text and the listener and doesn’t allow for the pure, unfiltered consumption of literature that reading print does. Before becoming an audiobook enthusiast, this was something I feared. Yet, what I didn’t realize is that with audiobooks, a sort of relationship is formed between the listener and the narrator. The human animal likes to be told stories, and some of our earliest heroes, whether it is a beloved teacher or simply your parent, are those who read to us. This is why many audiobook fans view their favorite narrators as almost celebrity like, yet with a bond stronger than a favorite movie star or television personality. These are the people who tell us the stories we love. They sit down beside us and whisper tales of magic, intrigue, romance and adventure. There is a level of intimacy there that other performance mediums just can’t match, As an audiobook fan, I love when an author gets that. I love hearing stories about authors reaching out to their narrators, assisting them, making sure the story is being told how it is supposed to be told. One of the first series I ever listened to was Orson Scott Card’s Enderverse series, which introduced me to many of my favorite narrators, including Stefan Rudnicki, Scott Brick, Harlan Ellison, Kirby Heyborne, Gabrielle De Cuir, Emily Janice Card, and John Rubinstein, among others. I was always thrilled later when I heard a voice I recognized from that series appear in other audiobooks. I liked that Orson Scott Card would often record a foreword or afterward talking about how, in his opinion, audiobooks where the best way to experience his work, and praise the narrators who worked on his tails. It had been a while since I listened to a science fantasy reminiscent of these Ender novels, with their multi-narrator approach. When I read Scott Brick’s Audiobook Month entry of Ken Schole’s The Psalms of Isaak series, a series I had been interested in but never took the leap into actually listening, I decided that Lamentations, the first novel in this series, should be included in my audiobook week lineup,

Lamentations begins with the utter destruction of the city of Windwir, the most powerful city of the named world, leaving behind a vacuum of power, and a mystery that may shake the world to its core. Let’s face it, this is how all fantasies should start. In Lamentations, Ken Scholes doesn’t allow you to ease your way into the story, but forces you to jump in head first. With the world in chaos, and two armies converging on the devastated city, Scholes introduces you to a series of players that will shape the course of this changed world. Scholes has created an interesting world, melding magic and science, and placing it upon the ruins of a  culture that already brought about an apocalypse. This is the type of fantasy I have always enjoyed. It blends classic political epics like Game of Thrones with science based fantasy like Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming Series.  There is something familiar to this world. Its magic may be mythical, or it may be an artifact of a past scientific culture that was so advanced its science only seemed like magic. Scholes prose isn’t as crisp as Martin’s and his language tends to become a bit too flowery at times, full of language that almost feels biblical, yet where he really excels is creating complex characters and placing them in intricately plotted scenarios. Plus, there are robots. I mean, if I would have realized this was a fantasy novel with robots I may have jumped on the train much earlier, because I always like me some robots. Scholes has peppered this tale of political maneuvering with an age’s old conspiracy that requires just a bit of a well honed suspension of disbelief, but if you are willing enough to by in to the overly complex machinations of true power, well, then, it really is a whole lot of fun. Lamentations is an exciting start to a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in a fun way. I think many hard core fantasy fans will find some aspects of this novel derivative of the genre, yet,  for those who like vast conspiracies, political maneuverings, battles, romance and robots, and are willing to accept some plotting that can be a tab bit overly complex, you are sure to have a fun time following these characters on their adventures. Oh, and did I mention robots? Yeah, I guess I did.

The Audiobook edition of Lamentations featured three iconic audiobook narrators who, for me at least, have instantly recognizable voices and styles and one other narrator who I have had less experience with, but truly gave an excellent performance. Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki and William Dufris are all narrators I am comfortable with, and have listened to them tell many tales in single and multi-narrator productions. Maggie-Meg Reed I had heard before in David Baldacci’s Camel Club series, but, in all honesty, I didn’t remember anything about my past experiences with her work as I started this audiobook.  One of the great things about this production is all four of these narrators are excellent story tellers, and helped to immerse the listener in the story from the very beginning. Many Fantasy novels tend to have a lot of set up before the core action begins, but there isn’t that luxury of development with Lamentations. Yet, Rudnick, Brick and Dufris allowed me to instantly engage the characters they portrayed allowing the character development to hold  pace with the plot. Yet, Reed’s performance was the one that truly stood out for me in retrospect. She brought a sort of bravado to her character, Jin Li Tan, making her probably the most intriguing character of the novel. Reed doesn’t do sugary sweet, but gives her character a mature edge that truly highlighted her importance to the plot. Lamentations is a great example of novel whose audiobook version adds to the experience through  the thoughtful performances of the narrators. 





Narrative Overtones: My Interview with Khristine Hvam

28 06 2012

Khristine Hvam has told me stories about Zombies, fallen angels, Post Apocalyptic Wastelands and Tree Cats. She is one of the most consistent performers in the industry and whenever I see her name attached to a project I know I will be in good hands. All her hard work has recently paid off in an Audio Award for Hachette Audios production of Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Khristine was kid enough to answer some of my questions today.

 

So, we’ll start off easy. Could you tell me how you got started in the audiobook industry, and give me a bit of an overview of your career?

Khristine Hvam:  Like so many of us, I started off on one road and somehow took a turn that landed me right where I never knew I wanted to be. Kind of like getting lost on a country road and finding an beautiful vineyard, where they just happen to be having an amazing wine tasting, and today its free and open to the public. That’s sort of how I found audio books. I was on the road to a career in voice over and a director friend of mine said, “I gave your information to Audible, expect a call.” Next thing I knew… I’m an audio book narrator.

I’ve also been blessed to work all over the entertainment world. I’ve worked in documentaries, I produced morning radio, of course as most actors… I bartended (lol), and now voice over, where I seem to be having the most success. You’ll find my voice in video games (WOW and Motion Explosion), Animations (Poke’mon), and TV and Radio commercials. I’m a very lucky lady!

Besides audiobooks, you have voiced characters in animation and video games, and done commercial voice over work. How much of your voice talent is natural, and how much is it hard work and training?

Khristine Hvam: Hmmmmmmm… I don’t know. I always fear this question. Truth is… In the beginning I was kind of winging it (don’t tell anyone). I had taken a few years of acting in college, and then some coaching in voice over when it became obvious that’s what I wanted to do… but really, I’m just a goofy girl that likes to play, so I found the one career path that would let me do that. The only real answer to this question is… ALL of the above. Natural talent molded and shaped with training and brought to life with hard work. “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity” Don’t know who said it… but they were right.

Recently you narrated Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which went on to win the Audie for Fantasy. Now, I have to admit of the three Audie categories I listened to and predicted this was the one I missed. *sadface* Yet, it was a beautifully story full of strange creatures, stunning visuals and exotic settings. Tell us a little bit about working on this book, and the challenges you faced bringing it to life.

Khristine Hvam: There were no challenges to this project in all honesty. It was one of those perfect storm situations, where everything just sort of came together. The team of people at Hachette that I was fortunate enough to work with were amazing, we all loved the material, and our visions for the characters were all on the same page. It was a great project to work on and I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series.


My first experience with your narration was with Peter Cline’s Ex-series, which was a multi-narrator production, where you handled POV’s but also isolated dialogue from the female characters. While this style has some drawbacks, it also gave it an interesting comic book feel that fit the story. When you work on multi-narrator productions, how often do you actually get to interact with the other narrators? Would you actually prefer more interaction, or working in isolation for the other narrators?

Khristine Hvam: It’s always better when we work together. The performances are more authentic this way. You’re listening and reacting to the other performer, how could this not be great?! During this project we were able to do just that. At one point we had four narrators in the booth at once, it was nuts! I think we spent more time cracking each other up than actually recording. Unfortunately, for many multi-cast reads you’re on your own. It’s hard to get all those schedules to line up. When this is the case there’s just a bit more prep, like listening to the others performances, chatting with them ahead of time to make sure everyone is on the same page. And of course, great direction is key!

You have performed a variety of different genres, both in YA and adult, but speculative fiction (science fiction/fantasy) seems to be the genre you work in the most. Are you a Science Fiction or Fantasy fan yourself? Do you have a favorite genre to work in?

Khristine Hvam: I would say the YA/Fantasy mix is my favorite to work with. In the last several years, some amazing writing is happening in this genre. It has been filled with strong female characters, interesting and well thought out plots, and loads of creepy and bizarre sidekicks that make this voice over chick giddy. So I’d say, yup, this is my favorite.

As for what I choose to read in my spare time… I’m all over the map. Right now I’m reading the Stieg Larsson books. But, truth be told there’s not much time for casual reading in my world. When you read 6-8 hours a day… well, you get the point.


One of my favorite titles you worked on was David Weber’s A Beautiful Friendship, which was a spin-off of the popular Honor Harrington series and notable for it being the first time anyone voiced Treecats. With human characters, you can use things like ethnicity, physical descriptions and personality to come up with a voice, how do you go about developing voices for a fictional species?

Khristine Hvam: Yes, this was a good one. Often times the author tells you what these kinds of characters sound like. Perhaps not specifically, but the same way in which they tell you how human characters sound. It’s how they choose to phrase things, the way in which the characters handle themselves and behave. All these things contribute to their “sound”. Often times, as I am prepping the material, I “hear” what that character sounds like in my mind, and then try to create that same sound in the booth. I suppose these types of voices really come from my imagination. Can you remember being a child and playing pretend? “I’m a mermaid! With flowing blue hair and a shiny green and gold tail!” … I guess I just never grew out of it.

What are some surprising facts about the audiobook industry and recording audiobooks that causal listeners may not realize?

Khristine Hvam: This is a tough question Bob! I can only tell you what I didn’t realize when I first started in audio books. 1. Its’ the hardest Voice Over work there is. It takes extreme focus, dozens of hours of preparation, and forces you to pull from all your creative juices. Like marathon running for VO.   2. People really love it and they are very loyal when they discover they like you as a narrator. (and we as narrators are honored and humbled because of this)  3. The actual recording of a book is pretty short. Just double the length of your audio book and that’s how long it took to record it.  4. Most importantly, that there are many people involved in making an audio book. It’s not just the narrator. It’s directors, producers, engineers, editors, QC people, acquisitions people, publishers, THE AUTHOR, and of course the listener that make the audio book experience a great one. So when you review a book, keep all those people (and the many more who aren’t mentioned) in your thoughts as you love it or leave it.

What is the strangest character or creature that you have been asked to voice?

Khristine Hvam: OH MY… there are so many to choose from! My experience in the audio book world has provided me with a wealth of strange characters, so many of which stand out in my mind. Razgut from “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” really stands out the most I think. A fallen angel who was once beautiful, now mangled and lame, slithering and crawling and doing anything he can to survive… he was pretty creepy. As a matter of fact I can remember when we were recording his sections in the studio, I had looked up at some point after reading him and the producer/director and engineer were making these cheeped out “ick” faces while shaking their heads… and I KNEW I had found Razgut’s voice. Anytime you elicit a physical reaction from someone… you’ve gotta be on the right track.

 

Is there any one book that you would consider the highlight of your career?

Khristine Hvam: “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” has really been the highlight. Great material, wonderful author, amazing production team, and I won my very first Audie with this one… how could it not be the highlight?!

When not bringing stories to life for our listening pleasure, what kinds of things do you enjoy doing?

Khristine Hvam: All sorts of things! I’m all about my family and friends and love spending my time with them. I’m a big fan of the outdoors so you might find me hiking and biking. I’m recently married (a year and a half now) and my hubby and I love to travel and see the world together. As a matter of fact we are in the process of planning our next trip! Any suggestions??

If someone wrote the story of you life, who would you want to read the audiobook version?

Khristine Hvam: If someone wrote the story of my life I think I’d be so psyched that my life was interesting enough to write about that I wouldn’t even think about who would read it. But, you know what might be interesting… having each of my close friends and family members take a section, and get their take on things… they do know me best. And who better to tell the tales than the people who lived it with me?

Finally, do you have any upcoming projects, audiobooks or otherwise, that you are particularly excited about?

Khristine Hvam: I get pretty excited about all the projects I work on and right now I’m prepping a good one called “Osiris”… looks pretty interesting so far… keep a look out!

 

Bob, I’d like to take a moment to say something to you and the rest of the listeners…

Thank you. Really thank you. So many times I’ve woken up to a strange name in my inbox. A listener, so moved by one of my projects that they took the time to find me and tell me so. I want you to know that I spend the rest of my day with a smile on my face. And when hubby comes home, I share it with him, and I put that email in a special saved folder so I’ll always have it.  It’s like my very own rock star moment and it means a great deal to me. Also, Thank you… sincerely thank you to those of you who might NOT like a performance. Your critiques help me discover areas to improve and change and make me a stronger performer and person. Much love.

 

Make sure you check out Khristine Hvam’s Website and the list of her available titles at Audible.





Audiobook Week 2012: Mid-Week Meme

27 06 2012

Today, Devourer of Books does half the work for us, asking us to answer her Audiobook Week Mid-Week Meme. I am happy to oblige her whims.

 

Current/most recent audiobook:

I am currently listening to Survivors: The Morningstar Strain, Book 3 by ZA Recht and Thom Brannon, narrated by Oliver Wyman.

Impressions:

This book is special for me because the Morningstar Strain series was the first Zombie series I listened to on audiobook. ZA Recht passed away in 2009, and this book was completed based on his notes and early chapter he had written.  So far, I’m enjoying it, helped by the fact that Oliver Wyman is narrating.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

I have talked a lot about Blackout by Mira Grant, probably my favorite audiobook of 2012, but my surprise favorite has to be The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. It’s a first person tale of a woman who is the top bureaucrat at a secret British Magical Agency who loses her memory and discovers someone is trying to kill her. It is a lot of fun and Susan Duerden gives an excellent performance.

Favorite Narrator You’ve Discovered Recently

I love female narrators that are not that typical perky, soprano voice you hear quite often, particularly in young adult novels . Recently I’ve listen to audiobooks narrated by Lorna Raver, Maggi-Meg Reed and Vane Millon, all of whom brought a unique gravitas to their reading.

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

14 by Peter Clines, read by Ray Porter. This is one of those titles I try to avoid reading too much about, because it has such a mysterious feel to it, I am trying to avoid spoilers. In general, it’s a horror/mystery about a man who moves into a Brownstone and discovers each room as some strange mysterious element. Plus, come on people, Ray Porter…. Ray Porter.

 

Your audio dream team (what book or author would you LOVE to see paired with a certain narrator, can already exist or not):

I spend way too much time in my life casting narrators for books I love. OK, my dream production would probably be Phil Gigante reading Neal Barrett Jr.’s Through Darkest America and Dawn’s Uncertain Light. These are two amazing Post-Nuclear war novels with one of the most disturbing twists I have ever read. They have a western feel to them that I think Gigante would handle well.