My 10 Favorite Audiobooks of 2018

1 01 2019

Audiobooks2018

Gone are the days where I get through 200+ audiobooks/books a year but I still try to get through a nice number and you’d be hardpress not to find me with a book in my ear, and others waiting for me on paper and floating in the cloud in digital form.

In 2018 I managed to complete:

88 Audiobooks

12 Print Novels/Novella

5 Graphic Novels

4 Short Story Antholgies

Here are my Favorites of the year:

The Gone World

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

Narrated by Brittany Pressley

Penguin Audio

Tom Sweterlitsch takes three well worn sub-genres, the procedural murder mystery, time travel adventure and apocalyptic fiction and twists them into a miasma of something truly original. Sweterlitsch has created a tale full of dark imagery. He creates settings like a visual artist, hauntingly beautiful, like a nightmare you can’t escape. Yet it’s not this dark landscapes that truly make this novel work, but the human characters he populates them with. No matter how strange the trip gets, and people, it gets pretty damn strange, you never lose the connection with the main character. It is both literary and accessible, the kind of fiction that appeals to those looking for a true work of art and those who just want to read a grand tale of adventure. It’s all topped off with a bittersweet ending that may have pulled a bit of feeling from my hardened soul.

ThisBodys

This Body’s Not Big Enough For the Both of Us by Edgar Cantero

Narrated by January LaVoy

Random House Audio

I absolutely adored this book. It was twisted and obscene in all he ways I love. ‪it’s like the put Phillip K Dick and Phillip Marlowe in a blender, mixed them together on high speed and baked them in a cupcake tray.‬ The uniquely bizarre premise and style didn’t detract from a solidly plotted mystery. January LaVoy handled the gender fluidity of the novel perfectly and pushed the narrative with a kinetic pace.

Cabin

The Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Trembley

Narrated by Amy Landon

Harper Audio

The beauty of a Paul Tremblay novel is he doesn’t spoon feed you the horror but uses your own mind against you. Complex and disturbing, with an ending that goes against the grain in uncomfortable but brilliant ways. I absolutely loved this book.

CalculatingStars

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Audible Studios

I have known Mary Robinette Kowal mostly as a narrator and read some of her short fiction. This is her first full length novel I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. It has so many elements I like, part apocalyptic alternative history and part hard science fiction with a focus on developing a space colonization program. While I loved all the science and social stuff in the book, what I truly enjoyed what how real her main character felt.

Down the River Unto the Sea

Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Narrated by Dion Graham

Hachette Audio

Dion Graham handles the narration like a master musician who know just the right instrument for the right moment. At times, smooth like a saxophone, at others, driving the pace like a bass guitar, Graham uses his voice like he’s scoring a film, creating a mood while bringing Mosley’s well conceived characters to life. With some books, I feel like narrators struggle to find the right voice to fit the author’s intent, but here Mosley and Graham seem to be workings like a team, Mosley creating them and Graham revealing their vibrancy. Down the River Unto the Sea succeeds where other tales have failed, to tell a truly human story that doesn’t exploit current events but lives firmly within our world’s new realities.

Murderbot

The MurderBot Diaries by Martha Wells

Including All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy

Narrated by Kevin B. Free

One of the more intriguing themes of this series is how SecUnit becomes more and more jaded by its interactions with human but his his interactions with artificial beings begin reveal its “human” side. In Rogue Protocol we find hidden depths in what it initially labels a pet robots that plays out well throughout the tale. Kevin R Free continues to shine as the series narrator. He pushes the pace during the action keeping the listener engaged. More importantly, as MurderBot continues to evolve so does Free’s performance adding new levels of introspection and emotion to his voice.

Washington Black

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Narrated by Dion Graham

Random House Audio

I was a little skeptical going into Washington Black mostly due to the fact that it was outside my comfort zone, yet I was quickly won over by its engaging main character and the sense of adventure in the story. Edugyan creates a tale of unequal friendship, set in a uneasy cultural landscape full of uncomfortable truths that makes you think while entertaining. What truly helps is the the narration of Dion Graham who, while a personal favorite, still manages to amaze me with his performance.

Still of Night

Still of Night by Jonathan Maberry and Rachael Lavin

Narrated by Ray Porter

Journalstone Publishing

I went into Still of Night expecting a throwaway book, a fun little addition to Maberry’s vast world, and instead I got my favorite Zombie tale of the year. Intriguingly, this book does a lot to connect many of Maberry’s other works in interesting ways. Ray Porter is phenomenal as always, bringing these characters to life in poignant ways.

An absolutely

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Narrated by Kristen Sieh and Hank Green

Penguin Audio

With echoes of Ready Player One and the Themis Files An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is #science #fiction for the hashtag generation. Green sets up a scenario that hard core sci-fi fans will embrace but plants it firmly in a world where events only truly happen if they are tweeted out to a significant social media following. Featuring a protagonist whose vapidness has layers making her frustratingly fascinating.

Unbury Carol

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

Narrated by Dan John Miller

Random House Audio

This book wasn’t what I expected at all. It was a unique weird western. While pretty much it played it straight, there was enough weirdness simmering at the edges to keep you constantly guessing. The characters were vivid, and the settings stunning. Malerman kept me invested throughout the journey with an ending that unexpectedly paid off. Malerman plays with the tropes of the western in wonderful ways that turns the genre on his head.

Honorable Mentions:

Favorite Non-2018 Listen:

fantasticland

FantasticLand by Mike Bockoven

Narrated by Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Favorite Print Reads:

The Only Harmless Great Thing RD3

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

Return-to-the-Lost-Level-Generic_776x

Return to the Lost Level by Brian Keene

Hope You All Have a Great Reading Year in 2019.

 

 





My Favorite Audiobooks of 2017

4 01 2018

I did a horrible job tracking my books this year. Actually did pretty good for the first few months, then stopped for a while. Combing through my various social media and book related sites I came up with a list of about 100 Books I listened to, and another 20 Novels, Novellas and Anthologies I read. In no real particular order, my favorite books of 2017 are:

Waking Gods

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Random House Audio

Cast of Narrators:
Andy Secombe – Interviewer
Eric Meyers – Headings
Roy McMillan – Jacob Lawson
Laurel Lefkow – Rose Franklin
Adna Sablylich – Marina Antoniou AKA Alyssa Papantoniou
Charlie Anson – Vincent Couture; Jamie
Christopher Ragland – Ryan Mitchell; Lieutenant General Alan A Simms
William Hope – Mr Burns; Eugene Govender
Madeleine Rose – Kara Resnik
Karina Fernandez – Eva Reyes
Olivia Dowd – Sarah Kent
Sarah Wells – Deborah Horsburgh

 

The Power

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Hachette Audio

Narrated by Adjoa Andoh

American War

American War by Omar El Akkad

Random House Audio

Narrated by Dion Graham

Lola

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Random House Audio

Narrated by Roxanna Ortega

Reincarnation Blue

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Random House Audio

Narrated by Mark Bramhall

The One Eyed Man

The One Eyed Man by Ron Currie

Highbridge Audio

Narrated by Kevin Pariseau

The Changeling

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Random House Audio

Read by The Author

MEDDLING kIDS

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Random House Audio

Narrated by Kyla Garcia

Sea of Rust

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Harper Audio

Narrated by Eva Kaminsky

Flashmob

Flashmob by Christopher Farnsworth

Harper Audio

Narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Kill the next One.jpg

Kill The Next One by Federico Axat

Hachette Audio

Narrated by Maxwell Hamilton

After On

After On by Rob Reid

Random House Audio

Narrated by Sean Kenin and January LaVoy, with:
Felicia Day: NETGRRRL.COM
Patrick Rothfuss: Special Field Operative Brock Hogan
John Hodgman: Charles Henry Higgensworth III
Tom Merritt: voice of The New York Times
Jesse Cox:  Whistle Blowings Blog
Leo Laporte: voice of the San Francisco Chronicle





My Favorite Audiobooks of 2016

10 01 2017

2016 was a crazy year of alternate reality politics, celebrity deaths, ecological uncertainties and scientific and technological breakthroughs. So, not at all shockingly, some of the best books of the year are full of political satire, weird physics and genre bending timey whimey fun. I had another down year of listening/reading and did a horrible job tracking and rating my books but overall I feel like I have a nice list of books I enjoyed. So, here, in very deliberate order are my favorite listens of the year. Do with it as you see fit.

 

Version Control by Dexter Palmer

Read by January LaVoy

Random House Audio

Alternate dimensions, time travel, online dating blended together in the best story of the year. Palmer manages a story that should have been mind numbingly confusing but tells it in simple language built around strong characters. The narration turned me into a January LaVoy fanboy.

 

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Read by: A Full Cast

Andy Secombe
Eric Meyers
Laurel Lefkow
Charlie Anson
Liza Ross
William Hope
Christoper Ragland
Katharine Mangold
Adna Sablyich

Random House Audio

Sleeping Giants is the kind of science fiction that reminds you why you love science fiction. Each step in the story took you in new unexpected directions. The audio production was brilliant and perfect for the story.

 

The Hike by Drew Magary

Read by Christopher Lane

Brilliance Audio

The Hike is the most fun I had listening to a book this year. It’s The Pilgrims Progress on and acid trip, chock full of everything I didn’t know I wanted in a book. Magary takes the Portal fantasy places that they probably should never go, but I’m glad they did. Lane gives a strong performance, and bit affected at times, but when your giving life to a talking crab, a little affectation is forgivable.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

Read by Joe Jameson

Hachette Audio

It seems the social media age and horror may be a perfect fit. Arnopp’s Jack Sparks, a narcisistic, atheist reporter who seeks out the supernatural, is not just an unreliable narrator, but an asshat that is blatanly lying to you. I absolutely loved every minute of this book, and the narrator, Joe Jamesom, hits all the right marks.

Faller by Will McIntosh

Read by George Guidall

Recorded Books

McIntosh is probably my current favorite Science Fiction author, and he had two great books out this year, the YA novel Burning Midnight and Faller. In Faller, McIntosh manages to break the world, while breaking my mind. The two interlocking storylines come together perfectly, and his often nameless characters become more real than many of the people I know in my real life. This book could have topped my list if it wasn’t for the poor audio production and a narrator that just wasn’t the right fit for the book.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

With all the talk about Fake News, Noah Hawley’s novel plays with perspective and it’s influence on truth in this novel about a mysterious plain crash and the notoriety that the survivor achieves. It’s both an intricate character story and a look at the modern conspiracy culture. Petkoff gives a subdued impassioned performance, allowing you to feel the main character’s slow breakdown.

IQ by Joe Ide

Read by Sullivan Jones

Hachette Audio

The start of a promising new series, IQ features Isaiah Quintabe, a brilliant young detective that serves as a urban equalizer, helping those who would never usually reach out for help. Ide fills this tale with characters as quirky as from a Hiaasen novel, yet much more believable. Sullivan Jones gives one of the top performances of the year, especially in giving voice to the mentally unstable rapper/client. This is one of the few times where both an author and narrator manager to bring a musical portion to life with credibility.

 

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Read by Jonathon McClaine

Random House Audio

While I am typically not a big fan of Historical Fiction, I have always been fascinated by the War of Currents and Tesla’s influence on it. Moore brings this time period to life through his characters giving us more than just a retelling of a murky historic period but tale as crisp as any fictional tale. McClain’s narration captures the personas perfectly, and his pacing keeps the listener holding their breath waiting for the next twist.

The Stone Man by Luke Smitherd

Read by Matt Addis

Luke Smitherd

The Stone Man is called a sci-fi horror novel, but it really is more than that. Smitherd takes a ridiculous situation scenario, a main character that is comically flawed and gives you a novel that fascinates, appalls and makes you laugh. This is my surprise pick of the year, a little throw away novel that stuck with me for a long time after its final moments. Narrator Matt Addis milks the tale for all it’s worth, making you believe each ridiculous twist.

End of Watch by Stephen King (Bill Hodges Trilogy, Bk. 3)

Read by Will Patton

Simon & Schuster Audio

As much as I hated Mr. Mercedes, the first book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, I loved End of Watch. While Mr. Mercedes felt like King attempting to be something he’s not, End of Watch is King at his Kingiest. It’s a great end of the trilogy, and maybe his most truly disturbing villain in a long time. Will Patton is brilliant and probably the only reason I listened to this entire trilogy after my disappointment with the first novel.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Read by Alyssa Bresnahan

Recorded Books

I went into All the Birds in the Sky as a cumedgeonly skeptic expecting to hate the book but was quickly won over by Andrew’s fluid prose and two characters you can’t help but love just a bit. As dark as it is sweet, this novel reminded me that there may still be magic left in this world. Alyssa Bresnahan reads the tale with a poets soul, making Andrew’s words sing while allowing us the feel the characters.

 

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Read by a full cast including Suzanne Ellis Freeman, Lincoln Hoppe, Ryan Gessell, Mike Chamberlain, Adriedne Meyers, Jonathon McClain

Penguin Audio

J. Patrick Black’s Ninth City Burning was full of all those modern science fiction, young adult series tropes that I can’t stand, yet for some reason, I had so much fun listening to this that I was able to put those aside and just enjoy. The multiple narrators were excellent, building the story off each other, and driving the pace forward to the crazy, over the top finale.





My Top 10 Audiobooks of 2015

21 01 2016

It was quite hard for me to come up with a definitive Top 10 list this year. In 2015 I listened to just over 80 audiobooks, ranging from Amazing to well, meh. I was more brutal than usual, quickly stopping any book that didn’t grab me pretty quickly. When putting together this list, my rules were pretty simple, I would stick to 10 books, they would be books produced in 2015 and they would be books that hit that sweet spot between performance and content. When I narrowed my selections down originally, I came up with 20 contenders, with about 5 absolute Top 10 books. It took me a while to whittle the final 15 books into the five final slots, but I put my emphasis on the performance at this point, and that helped a lot. I think this list has a lot of diversity with genre and style, and hope all my readers can find something that suits their tastes.

And yes, it’s been a while since I have posted here at the old ‘lobe. 2015 was an interesting year personally, mostly in a positive way. There has been some ups and downs, and my audiobook listening time has been a constant source of positive influence. A big shout out to the storytellers who helped me through this year.

My Favorite Audiobook of 2015

The Cartel by Don Winslow

Read by Ray Porter

Blackstone Audio

If you are going to invest over 40 hours in an audiobook experience, who better to lead you through it than Ray Porter. When I completed THE POWER OF THE DOG, I felt there was so way Winslow could top this story, and was expecting the sequel to be a bit of a let down. It wasn’t even close. THE CARTEL was even more riveting than it’s predecessor, taking characters you already knew in surprising new places. Yet, what truly amazed me about THE CARTEL was the slew of new, fully realized peripheral players, each one brought to life so completely they could have carried a novel on their own. THE CARTEL taught me things about the War on Drugs and the formation of the Cartels that I never really wanted to know and shined a light on the drastic effects our policies can have on developing nations, but more importantly, it told a hell of a story. Ray Porter was simply brilliant, taping emotions I didn’t know I had. I have always believed that Porter was the best 1st person narrator in the business, but here he proves his skills are just as effective in a 3rd person narrative.

 

My Favorite Apocalyptic Audiobook of 2015

The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell

Read by Sasha Dunbrooke

ListenUp Audiobooks

I have a feeling people are either going to love this audiobook, or hate it. Me personally, I found it absolutely friggin’ brilliant. More importantly, Sasha Dunbrooke gives my favorite performance of the year, taking a complex idiomatic tale and seamlessly infusing life into it. Her performance is as much music as it is narration, creating a unique rhythm to the patois of this post apocalytic world. Dibolla explores uncomfortable truths about motherhood and survival and has created one of the most unique and memorable characters in the flooded post apocalyptic subgenre. Her slow burned post pandemic world feels scarily plausible.

My Favorite Horror Audiobook of 2015

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Read by Joy Osmanski

Harper Audio

I think it’s very hard to legitimately scare people. You can thrill them, disturb them, nauseate them, creep them out and disgust them, but to literately invoke fear into the hearts of your audience is a very, very hard task. I can probably name 5 books and movies that actually scared me, not counting that weird train episode of Laverne and Shirley that gave me nightmares when I was 5. Well, A Head Full of Ghost is legitimately, check your underpants for stains, scary. Yet, even better, it is so cleverly written, so well crafted that it may contain one of the most effectively surprising endings that is impossible to spoil because each person reading it, in essence, creates their own ending. Trembley plays on your preconceptions and biases so well, that it feels like he tailors the book to each person who will experience it. Joy Osmanski’s performance is exceptional, capturing the feel of the book, and never getting in the way of the story. In fact, her performance brings added levels to a novel that deserved nothing better than a stellar reading.

My Favorite Hilariously Uncomfortable Audiobook of 2015

Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

Read by Brad Sanders

Hachette Audio

Joe Lansdale’s tale of Nat Love, aka Deadeye Dick, former Buffalo Soldies and African American Cowboy on the run from an unstable racist upset that a black man looked at his wife’s ass, is maybe the most hilariously uncomfortable audiobook of 2015. There were so many moments that had me laughing out loud, then wondering just what the hell I was laughing at. Lansdale’s punchy, uncluttered prose combined with the ruminations of the main character kept me spellbound, through comedy and tragedy. Brad Sanders performance was delightfully uneven, capturing the essence of Nat Love perfectly infusing the appropriate amount of likeable unreliability into out hero.

My Favorite WTF Did I Just Listen To Audiobook of 2015

The Great Forgetting by James Renner

Read by David Marantz

Audible Studios

“OH, this is an interesting premise….

Wait… what?

But that makes no sense…

Oh, OK…

HOLY SHIT….

Wait…. WHAT!!!!!

I mean, really, can he do that? He can’t do that, right?

HOLY SHIT!!!

What did I just listen to….”

Really, that sums up my experience with THE GREAT FORGETTING only to add that David Marantz does a great job with, well, whatever the hell that was. Brilliant…. I think…

The Final Five

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Read by Titus Welliver

Hachette Audio

There were a lot of stellar continuations of long running series this year, but top of that list was Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch/Mickey Haller legal/crime thriller. There has been much debate over who should be the voice of Harry Bosch, but with the wonderful new Amazon Prime series, BOSCH, I’m hoping the narrator question is settled for a while. Titus Welliver performance is the perfect blend of stoicism and emotion that befits the main character. Bosch should never be emotive, but Welliver captures the subtleties of the character better than some of the past narrators. Connelly delivers both an effective mystery as well as his best courtroom work since THE BRASS VERDICT.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

Read by Christy Romano

Audible Studios

Wong’s first novel not featuring David and John is an effective dismantling of the superhero genre. OK, maybe that’s too fancy a way of saying it. Basically, this novel bitch slaps the normal superhero novel and then screams nasty invectives at its stunned face. Wong has matured as a writer, and while there isn’t the uneven glee of John Dies at the End, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits introduces us to a unique main character and a bunch of weirdos then forces them to deal with duplicitous mayhem using means that defies the norms of genre fiction. Christy Romano is absolutely having fun with this tale, as if she knows she may never get the chance to read something this bizarre again, so she may as well go all out.

Predator One by Jonathan Maberry

Read by Ray Porter

Macmillan Audio

Maberry continues his tradition of making me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood with his latest Joe Ledger science thriller. This times its not alien space bats, or zombies, or mutant animal hybrids plotting to take over the world be releasing a vampyric strain of hemorrhagic fever into Wawa’s delicious coffee. No, instead he just has a drone attack my favorite ballpark leading to a tragedy even worse than the Phillies 2015 season. And that’s just the beginning. Ray Porter should just legally change his name to Joe Ledger, because they are the same dude. So, if you see Ray Porter walking in your direction, I’d say run.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Read by Patricia Rodriguez

Hodder & Stoughton

Well, it may be a stretch to include this book, because it is currently only available at Audible UK, but in a year with a lot of wonderful space adventures from authors like John Scalzi, James SA Corey, Jack Campbell and Ernest Cline, Becky Chamber’s THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET is the most fun you’ll have hopping around the galaxy in a while. Full of colorful characters and a flexible narrative that comes together so well, this book is a joy for pure scifi fans. Patricia Rodriguez gives a delightful performance teetering between whimsy and seriousness. She never downplays the tension but still manages to keep it fun at all times, no matter how grim it seemed.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Read by Almarie Guerra

Audible Studios

I didn’t want to read THE WATER KNIFE. Although I know for many this is heresy, I hated THE WIND-UP GIRL. Well, by hated I mean, found boring and couldn’t get more than a third of the way through before flinging it out of my ears and searching for an erotic paranormal thriller to cleanse the palate. But, everyone said “Read THE WATER KNIFE” “THE WATER KNIFE is so good.” “Stop being a stupid poopy head Bob!” Well, grudgingly I listened to it. OK, so, yeah, it was pretty awesome. Great characters, interesting world, and an actual story that went, like places and shit. Plus, it was goddam funny. To make things even bettery, the narrator, Almarie Guerra was fantastic. So, yeah, I loved THE WATER KNIFE. I still stand by my opinion of that other Bacigalupi novel.

 

So, yeah, that’s my Top 10. I’m sure there are many of you screaming “What abouts…” So, here are my What Abouterable Mentions:

Robert Crais told a solid story in THE PROMISE with two of my favorite narrators, Luke Daniels and MacLeod Andrew’s duking it out.

I loved MORTE by Robert Repino, but surprisingly found Bronson Pinchot’s performance a bit flat.

Two Thirds of Neal Stephenson’s SEVENESE was amazing. The last third was pretty crappy.

AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson was well done, and pissed me the fuck off. Screw you, Mr. KSR, you party pooper. I can haz my space colonies.

Will Collyer delivers a fun performance in Chris Holms The Killing Kind, featuring one of the most fun final shootouts any book of 2015.

John Grisham may have his own Lincoln Lawyer in Sebastian Rudd the titlular ROGUE LAWYER, in this series of vignettes that makes a fun listen.

While I didn’t like Claire North’s TOUCH as much as THE MANY LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST, it was still a fun listen thanks to a good performance by Peter Kenny.

Dan Wells picks up his John  Cleaver series with a bang in THE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND, and Patrick Lee continues to blend scifi and thrillers together in THE SIGNAL.

In Print, I really loved Brian Keenes, THE LOST LEVEL. Pulp scifantasy at it’s best.





My 2015 Audies Prediction

10 02 2015

The 2015 Audies season is upon us and I for one am excited. Being that I didn’t listen to as many audiobooks in 2014 as I had in the past, I am excited to be taking part in Armchair Audies this year so I can discover some of the missed gems of last year.

In the past, I have felt critical of the Audies process, but I have come to terms with the fact that the process and criteria of an Audie nominated book may not need to exactly shadow what I believe makes a book standout. In the past, I \put much emphasis on the synergy between performance and context. I didn’t believe a title deserved to be nominated unless the content was just as “Award worthy” as the performance. This year, I am focusing more on the technical side, giving more focus to the “audio” then the “book.” Yet, since this is my predictions post, I am going to present some books in a few categories that I believe are worthy of recognition, due to both content and performance appealed to me. I have done well in the past in my predictions, so lets see how I do in 2015.

Let the Armchair Audies Games begin:

Science Fiction:

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Read by Josh Cohen

Random House Audio

Josh Cohen’s performance in The Book of Strange New Things is a pure example of what makes audiobooks so special. His transitions from English to American accents were so seamless I had to Google him to discover his true nationality. Yet, it’s the haunting voice of his alien creatures, and the emotional impact of Peter’s communications with his wife Bea that make this not just a title deserving of a nomination in Science Fiction, but should give Cohen, at the least, consideration in Solo Narration of the Year.

World of Trouble, The Last Policeman, Bk. 3

by Ben H. Winters

Read by Peter Berkrot

The Last Policeman series may be the shining star in Peter Berkrot’s luminous career as a narrator. He gives a multifaceted performance that is both funny and emotional. He ushers us through a broken society with a wink, and takes us the brink of the world’s end with a comforting hand on our shoulder. He makes this wonderful novel work on so many levels, truly a performance worthy of the book.

Fantasy:

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading

MacMillan Audio

Words of Radiance is so enthralling that there were moments that I forgot to breath. There is a reason why Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are THE voices of fantasy, they managed to guide me through of nearly 50 hours of audio, in a genre I often struggle with, and leave me wanting more.

Authority: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 2

Read by Bronson Pinchot

Blackstone Audio

Jeff Vandermeer’s series about a strange terrain known as Area X has hit a cord with many speculative fiction fans. At times, I personally struggled with the series, but what I never struggled with was Pinchot’s performance in Authority. I know Pinchot is a wonderful performer, what I forgot was how funny he could be. Authority isn’t a humorous novel, but Pinchot is able to tap into the absurdity of the main character to bring the humorous aspects to vivid life.

Paranormal:

Fear City by F. Paul Wilson

Read by Alexander Cendese

Brilliance Audio

Alexander Cendese may be the biggest hidden talent in the audiobook business. His performance in the prequel series, Repairman Jack: The Early Years series, turned me into a fan of the series that spawned the prequels. When I did listen to the Earlier Repairman Jack novels, I found myself missing Cendese, despite excellent narrators like Dick Hill handling them. Given more opportunities, I feel Cendese could become a real force to be reckoned with in the industry.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Read by Christine Lakin, Terra Deva, Sunil Mohatra, Robert Morgan Fisher, JD Jackson

Hachette Audio

Broken Monsters is not a comfortable listen. Beukes latest genre busting tale is disturbing on many levels. Yet, the material is brought to brilliant life by this mutli-cast performance. Don’t expect to sleep comfortable after this listening, but do expect to be utterly enthralled.

Mystery\Thriller

The Wolf In Winter by John Connolly

Read by Jeff Harding

Simon & Schuster Audio

John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series finally gets the performance it deserves, at least stateside, with Jeff Harding’s masterful handling of this genre blending novel. Harding, who has read the complete series across the pond in England, finally performs the American version as well. His gruff style manages to catch the flow of the narrative, adding to the chills of this paranormal mystery.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Read by Will Patton

Simon & Schuster Audio

In all honesty, I was not a fan of this novel. Personally, I though King’s attempt to do a straight mystery thriller fell flat in a genre filled with talented writers. Yet, Will Patton’s performance kept me in the game. Patton managed to make this boring novel interesting, and made me almost care about these characters. Based solely on performance, Mr. Mercedes is an good bet at landing an Audie nomination.

 

Well, there are my predictions. I should be tweeting my reaction to the Audies announcement tomorrow, using the hashtasg #Audies2015.





My Top 10 Audiobooks of 2014

8 01 2015

In the past, I used to offer my favorite 20 audiobooks of the year. This, of course, when I was listening to nearly 200 audiobooks a year. In 2014, I listened to maybe 80-90 audiobooks in total, and the idea of doing a top 20 seemed ridiculous. So, instead, I offer you my 10 favorite audiobooks(with a few honorable mentions thrown in for good measure.). Despite the lower number, my choices were quite hard. I think 2014 was a great year for apocalyptic fiction and my list definitely reflects that.

Choosing my favorite audiobook of the year incredibly hard. I knew it would come down to a battle between two novels. One was a simply mind blowing exploration of Post Apocalyptic fiction. For me, I thought Station Eleven was brilliant, and worked on so many levels. Mandel’s ability to blend together multiple storylines with a menagerie of complex and wonderful characters creating one of the most vivid and fascinating entries into post apocalyptic fiction I have experienced in some time easily made it perhaps the best book I listened to in 2014. Yet, I didn’t have more fun listening to any book as a did Daniel Price’s The Flight of the Silvers. I went back and forth on my decision, but in the end I decided this isn’t a “Best of”list but a favorites list, and he book I enjoyed the most this year, by a hair was The Flight of the Silvers.

Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

Read by Rich Orlow

Recorded Books

I should note that not was it my favorite Audiobook, but perhaps my best review of the year.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Read by Kirsten Potter

Random House Audio

Code Zero (Joe Ledger, Bk. 6) by Jonathon Maberry

Read by Ray Porter

Macmillan Audio

What list would be complete without the latest entry of the Joe Ledger series. What makes Code Zero so amazing is how Maberry brings together so much of the series into one book. While it’s book 6 of the series, it is also the direct sequel to Patient Zero and proves why Maberry is the Zombie king.

My Review

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Read by Peter Kenny

Hachette Audio

I loved Harry August. I mean, this book was right in my wheelhouse, like Replay and Life After Life, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a tale of one person living their life over and over. Yet, despite the apocalyptic tone of the novel, it is full of whismy and dark British humor that makes it a unique experience. 

My Review

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Read by Cassandra Campbell

Harper Audio

Bird Box is simply the scariest book of the year. And while there be monsters, Malerman let’s the monsters in your own head fill out the details. Bird Box also benefits from the wonderful performance of Cassandra Campbell. Chilling and wicked.

 

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Read by Josh Cohen

Random House Audio

Any other year, this would have been a contended for best book of the year. It’s an emotional exploration of one man’s character, while dealing with the death of one world, and the creation of another. I loved how Faber created a unapologetic, authentic Christian character who was, while at times frustrating and naïve, a good man. Josh Cohen’s narration was my favorite performance of the year. If you have only read this book, I encourage you to take some time and be mesmerized by a simply amazing performance which is the perfect example of how a narrator can enhance the experience of a book.

 

California by Edan Lepucki

Read by Emma Galvin

Hachette Audio

On the surface, California seems like your typical Young Adult Dystopian set up, but Lepucki strips away all the clichés and creates a disturbing yet enthralling look at societal breakdown and counter culture movements. California explores the nature of humanity, yet also manages to tell a darn good story.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

Read by Finty Williams

Hachette Audio

So, you don’t like zombies? The Girl with All the Gifts may cure you of that unfortunate ailment. Carey once again shows that the undead are not simply the bloated corpse of a one trick pony, but a medium that offers much potential exploration. While good zombie tales are about delicious brains and entrails, great ones are about what it means to be human.

The Three by Sarah Lotz

Read by Andrew Wincott and Melanie McHugh

Hachette Audio

The Three was a novel that often managed to mesmerize me and frustrate me at the same time. Like Bird Box, The Three worked by using your own brain against you. Lotz asks open ended questions, and allowed the twisted brains of her readers to fill in the blanks. This made The Three fascinating to me, because each reader brings their own nightmares into the tale making the experience unique to them.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Read by Christopher Buehlman

Blackstone Audio

I almost didn’t listen to The Lesser Dead, because, well, meh vampires… and it was read by the author. Well, fucking A Vampires and perhaps the best Author narration I have ever hear. The main character, Joey Peacock, was one of my favorite characters of the year, and if the book ended with your typical horror story bloodbath ending I still would have loved it. But it didn’t and well… wow. Great surprising novel.

My 2014 Honorable Mentions

 

Defenders by Will McIntosh

The only reason Defenders didn’t make my top 10 Audiobooks, is because it’s not available in audio, which is a travesty. Defenders was easily my favorite print read of the year. McIntosh took pulp fiction to a new level. His economy of word created stunning imagery that defies logic.

Favorite Binge Listen:

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive , Bk. 2) by Brandon Sanderson

Read by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading

Macmillan Audio

So, for someone who is a bit hesitant to take on Epic Fantasies, binge listening to 100 hours of epic fantasy was a daunting task. But Dammit, The Stormlight Archives are everything I love about fantasy including stuff I didn’t realize I loved about fantasy.

Here are some of my other favorites of the year.





My Top 10 Post Apocalyptic Audiobooks of 2013 (Non-Zombie)

21 02 2014

2013 was another great year for post apocalyptic novels. Where 2013 truly stood out was the diversity of it’s offerings. From straight forward apocalyptic tales, to absurdist comedies, last years apocalyptic audiobooks showed just how much ground there is to cover in the genre. It was tough for me to pick just 10 Apocalyptic audiobooks, partially with the glut of continuing series putting out even better entries this year. Yet, after much contemplation and hair pulling, I came up with my list. So, if you are like me, and one of your favorite, most relaxing activities is to listen to the world go up in flames, here is my list of the best 2013 had to offer.

Expect my Zombie based Top 10 to appear soon.

Yesterday’s Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright

Read by RC BRay, Chris Patton, Brian Holsopple, Ray Chase, Maxwell Glick, and Tamara Marston

Podium Publishing

Yesterday’s Gone truly borders on the goofy at times, and I think in some ways this was the authors’ intention. Maybe not goofy per se, but the twists are so over the top, the plot so derivative of the classics and the characters so bizarre that you can’t help but shake your head at it. Yet, somehow it all works brilliantly. Yesterday’s Gone is a post apocalyptic fan’s somewhat inappropriate, at times shamefully wonderful dream. Yet, what truly sets this one apart is the brilliant production and wonderful narration. Ray Chase gives one of my favorite performances of the year, and add that to the excellent work the other narrators included notable performances by RC Bray and Chris Patton, and Yesterday’s Gone can crown itself my favorite Post Apocalyptic Audiobook of 2013. And, lucky for us, this is just Season One.

Countdown City (The Last Detective, Bk. 2)

Read by Peter Berkrot

Brilliance Audio

Countdown City picks up were The Last Detective leaves off, bettering the series by leaps and bounds. Book 2 offers a unique apocalypse of anticipation, where the wait for the world killer asteroid is an apocalyptic event all it’s own. Winter’s fascinating world is brought to life expertly by Peter Berkrot. Berkrot’s performance still sticks with me months after I finished listening to it.

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich

Read by Kirby Heybourne

Tantor Audio

Arguably, Odds Against Tomorrow is more of a disaster tale than a typical Post Apocalyptic novel, but really, there is nothing typical about this one. Apocalypose fans looking for something utterly unique should check out this tale of a brilliant disaster analyst who finds himself immersed in the “perfect storm” that he predicted. Equally moving and hilarious this tale is brought to life wonderfully by Kirby Heybourne who manages just the right tone for this tricky tale.

 

Breakers by Edward W. Robinson

Read by Ray Chase

Podium Publishing

Breakers is The Stand meets Lucifer’s Hammer with weird crab creatures. Podium Publishing is quickly making a name for itself with unique audiobook offerings excellently produced and Breaker’s is no exception. Ray Chase masterly guides us through this strange new world helping create one of the freshest looks at alien invasion since Gerrold’s Chtorr series.

Ashes by Brett Battles (Project Eden, Bk. 4)

Read by MacLeod Andrews

Audible, Inc.

I have always been one of those people who get a bit annoyed when the good guys stop the global  conspiracy top release a world killing pathogen. Luckily, in The Project Eden series, the competent good guys are facing impossible odds, and well, aren’t able to do the impossible. This series starts with a straight forward pathogen thriller and progresses to a The Stand-like pandemic tale, and I loved every second of it. Plus, MacLeod Andrew’s. The man can bring it.

There was a fifth book in this series, released in 2013 as well, but I have yet to read it. Once I free me up an Audible credit, I plan to jump right back into this dangerous world.

The City of Devi by Manil Suril

Read by Vikas Adams and Priya Ayyar

Blackstone Audio

So, who doesn’t like absurdist comedy, heartbreaking romantic entanglements, strange embodiments of deities, Bollywood musicals, and gonzo sex in their Mumbai based apocalyptic tales? The City of Devis is a wonderful, and at times awkward tale, beautifully narrated by Vikas Adams and Priya Ayyar.

Fuse by Julianna Baggot (Pure, Bk. 2)

Read by Khristine Hvam, Casey Holloway, Kevin T. Collins, Pierce Cravens

Hachette Audio

This may have been the year for Book 2’s in Post apocalyptic trilogies, and Fuse is proof that often the followup can better something already pretty darn good. Baggot’s world is darkly beautiful and her characters wonderfully tragic. Plus, the performances, particularly that of Kevin T. Collin’s made me feel things. Like emotional things. I’d rather not talk about it.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancy

Read by Brandon Espinoza and Phoebe Strole

Penguin Audio

More Alien Invasions? Yes Please. Despite one annoying plot twist that I may have over emphasized in my review, Phillip Yancey’s YA novel is a heck of a good tale. His alien’s are different, and the plot well constructed. The performances by two new to me narrators also enhance this already quality tale.

Black Feathers by Joseph D’Lacey

Read by Simon Vance

Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio

While I tend to like my Post Apocalyptic tales more scifi, there is definitely a place in the genre for a good Fantasy, one that Joseph D’Lacey provides for us in Black Feathers. With shades of The Dark Tower, D’Lacey balances dual timelines with ease to create a fascinating apocalyptic world where everything you believe gets twisted in wonderful ways. And truly, if you are going to go the Fantasy route, you might as well call on one of the best voices for Fantasy, Simon Vance, whose voice gives the context almost instant creditability.

Fragments by Dan Wells (Partials, Bk. 2)

Read by Julian Whelan

Harper Audio

One of the reasons I think I enjoy book 2’s in apocalyptic series, is because they often involve getting away from the static setting of book one and embarking on everyone’s favorite jaunt, the apocalyptic road trip. In Fragment’s Dan Well’s offer’s one of the best, a cross country trip through a devastated wasteland that used to be America. Julian Whelan continues to infuse the tale with heart and personality, the perfect voice to bring the tale’s wonderful protagonist to life.





My Top 20 Audiobooks of 2013

23 01 2014

2013 was an up and down year for me. While I achieved some wonderful personal goals, I have also experienced some of the toughest trials and tribulations of my life. Some of that has been reflected on this blog and social media, where my presence is not as active as it once was. Typically, when I write this list, I give a statistical breakdown of my listening. While my overall consumption of audiobooks was up this year, my tracking, recording and reviewing of them were down. In 2013 I reviewed I posted 164 reviews of audiobooks, many of them including multiple titles. Roughly, I believe I listened to around 200 books his year, which would exceed my highest previous total.

2013 was a great year for audio. Any of the Top 5 titles in my list could have been contenders in any previous year. There were so many books that simply blew me away. It is always tough for me to choose my favorites. Instead of asking "What were the best books of 2013?" the question I asked, upon reflecting on the year is "What 2013 books affected me the most?" Whether through heart stopping action, stylistic writing or characters that stay with you, these are the books that lingered in my brain long after they finished. Some made me laugh, a few made me cry, and some made me cringe and want to grab on the closest person near me for a comforting hug.

When compiling this list, I also look for titles that truly stand out in the audio format. Scanning over this list, there is only one title I would say that the narration didn’t enhance the experience, yet that book was full of such awesomeness that the less than amazing performance couldn’t keep it off the list. For a bit of a surprise, there are no Zombie titles and only one true apocalyptic title, so those of you who have pigeon holed me as the "zombie apocalypse guy" may be a bit shocked. Don’t worry, my favorite Zombie and Post Apocalyptic Audiobooks of 2013 list will be on its way.

So, thanks for sticking with me through 2013, and be sure to keep injecting stories into your brain through your earholes for the rest of 2014.

 

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Read by Kevin T. Collins, Eileen Stevens, and Ali Ahn

Hachette Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 37 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

What I Said: Love Minus Eighty is one of the most engrossing science fiction novels I have read in a long time. McIntosh has created a darkly beautiful near future world and populated it with characters you truly wish were real. It is an exploration of our romantic future and an affective romance all in one wonderful novel.

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Read by Luke Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 35 Min.

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller

What I Said: Brilliance is a smart blockbuster movie for your brain, with a complex and engaging main character, a stunningly created world, and so much action you should probably keep your cardiologist on Speed Dial. It’s a a straight thriller with enough science fiction elements that I want to force all my Speculative Fiction friends to read, at gun point if necessary. I absolutely loved this book.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Read by Will Patton

MALE NARRATOR PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.

Simon & Schuster Audio

Length: 18 Hrs 35 Min

Genre: Horror

What I Said: Doctor Sleep is an audiobook that will linger with me for a long time, a wonderful and moving story combined with one of the favorite narrator performances of all time. Doctor Sleep is a prime example of just how special the medium can be.

 

Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger, Bk. 5)

Read by Ray Porter

Macmillan Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 58 Min

Genre: Science Thriller

What I Said: Extinction Machine is like a sick blend of The X-Files and 24, amped up on meth, laced with cocaine, marinated in Jolt cola and mainlined directly into my brain through my earholes. I absolutely loved this book. It’s a novel so tailored to my likes that I briefly wondered if my 2-year-old self was correct and the world actually does revolve around me.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Read by Benjamin Percy

Hachette Audio

Length: 21 Hrs 43 Min

Genre: Literary Horror

What I Said: Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon tells the tale of the afflicted, the demagogues and the victims that this world of werewolves has created. It combines the detailed political and social alternate history of Harry Turtledove or Robert Conroy with the gut level horror of Stephen King told with a literary flair that escalates the novel beyond its influences.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Read by Fenella Woolgar

Hachette Audio

Length: 15 Hrs 34 Min

Genre: Fiction

What I Said: Life After Life is a novel that defies easy categorization. It’s a genre busting look at life in the 20th century through the eyes of a normal women given the extraordinary ability to relive her life. Life After Life is one of the most fascinating novels I have read in a long time, and while at times I felt dragged down by the melancholy of the tale, by the end, I wanted to keep experiencing the many lives of Ursula Todd.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Read by Kate Mulgrew

FEMALE NARRTOR PERERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR

Harper Audio

Length: 19 Hrs 41 Min

Genre: Horror

What I Said: Joe Hill’s latest novel is lush vivid horror tale full of wonderful characters, and unsettling imagery. Hill manages to take the thing we love best, the innocence and joy of Christmas time, and flip it on its head, making it a representation of all that we fear. NOS4A2 is brilliantly executed, leaving a lingering affect on the reader long after it is over.

Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

Read by Bronson Pinchot

Audible Frontiers

Length: 17 Hrs 1 Min

Genre: Alternate History Urban Fantasy/Steampunk Superheroes.

What I Said: Larry Correia brings the arc than began in Hard Magic to a natural and completely satisfying conclusion in Warbound. With a combination of amazing storytelling, wonderful characters and one of the best narrator performances I have experienced, The Grimnoir Chronicles has earned it place as perhaps my favorite all time Speculative Fiction Audiobook series.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Read by Neil Gaiman

Harper Audio

Length: 5 Hrs 48 Min

Genre: Fantasy

What I Said: I loved every moment of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is the rare book that from the wonderful start to the bitter end, kept me enthralled in its words, a prisoner to the next sentence and situation. The Ocean at the End of the Lane reminded me of why I read.

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

Read by Graham Winton

Recorded Books

Length: 22 Hrs 23 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

What I Said: Robert Jackson Bennett takes on the American Dream, and twists it in so many bizarre ways it becomes a kaleidoscope of what-the-fuckery. An engaging plot full of wonderful characters, that Bennett sends on one of the weirdest, wildest sciency fiction adventures my poor brain has ever had to process. Some narration issues may have held back some of it’s overall potential, but it’s still one heck of a good listen.

The Doll by Taylor Stevens (Vanessa Michael Monroe, Bk. 3)

Read by Hillary Huber

Random House Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Thriller

What I Said: In The Doll, Taylor strips away the trappings of her writing and presents a balls to the wall fast paced action thriller that will leave the reader awash in adrenaline soaked bliss. While her normal touches are still there, her vivid international setting, her complicated character’s unique skill set and her spin on typical action hero motivations, the action in The Doll is crisp and mean which makes it the most satisfying entry in an already excellent series.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Read by RC Bray

Podium Publishing

Length: 10 Hrs 28 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

What I Said: The Martian is probably my biggest surprise awesome audiobook this year. If you like realistic space travel tales, with cursing, 70′s pop culture references, laugh out loud one lines and plenty of fascinating creative science and engineering problem solving, download this sucker now. It’s really good.

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett (The Demon Cycle, Bk. 3)

Read by Pete Bradbury

Recorded Books

Length:  26 Hrs 51 Min

Genre: Fantasy

What I Said: The Daylight War is not just a wonderful edition in perhaps my favorite fantasy series, but the proof of the validity of the trust I have put in Brett as a unique storyteller. The Daylight War continues with the characters and themes we loved in the first two novels, yet also manages to take the story in a whole new direction. While the clash of cultures is brilliantly done, and the increased menace of the demonic enemy even scarier, it’s the intricate relationships that Brett has built that is the true beauty of this novel.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Read by Kate Rudd

Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 9 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

What I Said: : The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a melancholy near future tale of love, family and robots, told on a canvas of a fascinating post disaster world. She fills her world with fully realized, flawed characters that filled me with joy as they were pissing me off. Clarke has managed to create a wonderful science fiction tale with a romantic tilt that I totally bought into. which isn’t the easiest of feats.

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller, Bk. 5)

Read by Peter Giles

Hachette Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 49 Min

Genre: Legal Thriller

Why I Chose It: Connelly continues to prove he is a master of both plotting and characterization as he guides his broken creation, criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller, along a bumpy road to redemption. Connelly redefines the concepts of innocence here, both legally and morally, while creating a compelling procedural tale. Giles continues to give a masterfully subtle performance that captures the nuances of Connelly’s writing.

The Thicket by Joe Lansdale

Read by Will Collyer

Hachette Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 19 Min

Genre: Historical Western/Thriller

Why I Chose It: I tend not to be a huge fan of historical/western tales, but The Thicket simply blew me away. Lansdale’s writing has a way of sneaking up on you. There are no bells and whistles, just straight forward storytelling, that surprises you with it’s emotional depth, colorful characters and dark humor. Collyer is quickly becoming a go to narrator for me. His performance of 16 year old Jack Parker manages to balance the naiveté and maturity of a young man forced to grown up due to tragedy.

The City of Devi by Manil Suri

Read by Vikas Adam and Priya Ayyar

Blackstone Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 17 Min

Genre: Literary Post Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: The City of Devi was never an easy tale for me, I often felt uncomfortable with not just the action but my reaction, yet, it was also a lot of crazy fun. For me, this tale worked on so many levels, creating a sort of beautiful mosaic of apocalyptic themes, strange love, and over the top absurdity.

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Read by Michael Beck

Random House Audio

Length: 20 Hrs 50 Min

Genre: Legal Thriller

Why I Chose It: Grisham returns to Clanton and his Jake Brigance character in a tale that rivals the A Time To Kill. Honestly, if you told me that Grisham would appear on my Top 20 list, I would have yelled OBJECTION! but Sycamore Row manages to be a effective legal thriller as well as a socially poignant tale. What makes matters even better is Michael Beck’s narration which is emotionally charged and pitch perfect. His performance enhances this novel, giving it a bump over a few other stellar legal thrillers this year, like Sheehan’s A Lawyer’s Lawyer and Ellis’s The Last Alibi.





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.





My Top 10 Post Apocalyptic Audiobooks of 2012: Zombies

18 01 2013

2013 may just have been the year of the Zombie Audiobook. This year, I listened to nearly 40 Audiobooks that in someway involved those cannibalistic walking bags of puss we have all come to love. Within that total, about 32 of them would qualify as Zombie Apocalypse. We saw the end to one of the more unique Zombie series, Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, along with various so called “literary” authors, like Colson Whitehead, take on the Zombie tale. It really wasn’t easy narrowing this list down to 10, but I did it and am happy with the results. Now, if you are a counting person, you may realize there are more than 10 total audiobooks here. I included series entries that have come out this year as one, and since this is my list, you can all just deal. I have also included an Honorable Mention for my favorite Print Zombie read this year, that isn’t available as an audiobook. I hope all you, my Zombie loving fans, find something here to sink your teeth into.

 

The Reanimation of Edward Schuett by Derek J. Goodman

Read by David Letwin

Audible Frontiers

My Review

What I Said: The Reanimation of Edward Schuett is a novel that blends the unique zombie perspective of a novel like Zombie Ohio, with the recovered society motif of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, mixing in a liberal dose of the quirkiness of Raining Stony Mayhall, then adds it’s own secret blend of herbs and spices making it the most unique, and perhaps, rewarding zombie experience of the year.

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

My Review

What I Said: I absolutely loved every moment of The Road to Woodbury. It utilizes the winning Walking Dead formula of zombie mayhem amidst complicated characters. The novel left me, at times, breathless, frustrated, angry, sad and maybe just a bit skeeved out, but when thrown all together it was one of the best Zombie listening experiences I have had this year.

Flu by Wayne Simmons/Fever by Wayne Simmons

Read by Michael Kramer

Tantor Audio

My Review of Flu

My Review of Fever

What I Said: Fever is a brutal, frightening, kinetically paced apocalyptic thriller that takes it cues from some of the greatest works of the genre, yet Simmons keeps it feeling fresh and new. Combined with Flu, Fever is one of the notable entries of Zombie literature of 2012, and very well may find itself achieving classic status among fans of the genre. If Flu left you unsure of Simmon’s world, Fever will eradicate any doubts.

 

Blackout by Mira Grant (Newsflesh Trilogy, Bk. 3)

Read by Paula Christensen and Michael Goldstrom

Hachette Audio

My Review

What I Said: Grant’s world is a realistic depiction of a society attempting to retain normalcy in what typically would be viewed as an apocalypse. In an America irrevocably altered by Kellis-Amberlee, the dead walk, spies have PhD’s, government agencies use fear to maintain control over the populous, and mad science may save humankind, but destroy the world in the process. Grant pieces it all together like a complicated puzzle that you have no idea what the final picture is, but when it is finally revealed, it knocks the breath out of you.

The Zombie Fallout Series by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

My Review of Zombie Fallout

My Review of Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family

My Review of Zombie Fallout 3: The End

What I Said: Mark Tufo’s zombie apocalypse novel Zombie Fallout is a breath of fresh air, mostly because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, the Zombie Apocalypse is a serious situation, but, come on people, crack a joke once in a while. The undead may eat your brains, but they can’t eat your sense of humor. Tufo filters one of the most gory, nauseating zombie apocalypse tales through the mind of a sarcastic, almost Neanderthal white suburban male.

Mutated by Joe McKinney (Dead World, Bk. 4)

Read by Todd McLaren

Tantor Audio

My Review

What I Said: Mutated is a great example of how a series can come together. For fans of this series, it’s like each previous novel was the wrappings and Mutated is the reward. A fun, furious Zombie tale with hidden depths and wonderfully flawed characters that Zombie and Apocalyptic fans shouldn’t miss.

Rise Again by Ben Tripp

Read by Kristin Potter

Tantor Audio

My Review

What I Said: Where Rise Again really excelled is in the development of the original pathogen that leads to the Zombie outbreak, and the evolution of the Zombies themselves. These Zombies changed and adapted so much that it truly drove the pace of this novel, never allowing the survivors to get comfortable, and delivering one of the most chilling, unforgettable final moments in a zombie novel I have ever read. Rise Again, despite some frustrating moments with the main character, is one of the better executed Zombie Apocalypse novels I have read. Tripp delivers with some intense action sequences, and Zombies that are more than just place settings in this brutal world.

Zombiestan by Mainak Dhar

Read by John Lee

Tantor Audio

My Review

What I Said: Zombiestan, with its international setting, non traditional zombies and fast paced action gives the zombie subgenre a fresh new spin and a novel that I feel can easily appeal to hardcore zombie fans and those new to undead literature. I will definitely be seeking out more of Dhar’s work, as well as broadening the international scope of my zombie reading choices.

The Becoming: Ground Zero by Jessica Meigs

Read by Christian Rummel

Audible Frontiers/Permuted Press

My Review

What I Said: The Becoming: Ground Zero succeeds where many follow ups fail, by changing the tone and slowing down the pace, Meigs actually manages to create even more tension than the original. It’s not an easy ride, with devastating emotion and heartbreak as we become more and more attach to these characters in an extremely unpredictable world. Full of mystery, intrigue and even some romance, The Becoming is a series I want to devour like a lone weaponless survivor in a horde of the undead.

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection by Don Roff

Read by Stephen R. Thorne

AudioGo

My Review

What I Said: There is definitely a real sense of dread and despair to this story. It emotional manipulations are often obvious, but affective. Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection is a production that is definitely worth a listen. It’s a quick and dirty slice of the Zombie apocalypse that fans of the genre should have a whole lot of fun with.

Honorable Mention:

My Favorite Zombie Novel of the Year, that Sadly Hasn’t Been Made into an Audiobook, but should.

This Dark Earth by John Horner Jacobs

Gallery Books

My Thoughts: I was really blown away by This Dark Earth. While so many authors are making their stories different by changing the Zombie Mythos, or evolving the Zombies themselves, John Horner Jacobs made his tale different by clever story structure, brilliantly complex characters, and wonderfully unique ideas while maintaining the traditional Zombie traits. Each chapter was a surprise, each moment paid off, and the ending left me shaking, like an addict wanting more.