Audiobook Review: The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens

20 02 2017

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens 

Read by R.C. Bray, David Colacci and Amy McFadden 

Tantor Audio

Grade: B+

2017 Audie Nominee in Mystery

There’s something special about a mystery where you think you basically have it pretty much figured out and the author still manages to pull it all together in a surprising way even though what you suspected turned out to be true. This was my experience with The Heavens May Fall, a truly effective and well constructed mystery and legal thriller that was simply a whole lot of fun to listen too. 

Being this is an Audie nominee, I hold it to a higher standard than most books. Bray and Colacci have both given Audie caliber performances in the past and while this isn’t the greatest example of their work, it’s still pretty strong. I tend to believe that Bray is an excellent first person narrator but in third person POVs he’s simply very good. His cadence is excellent during courtroom scenes and moments of heavy dialogue but can become a little distracting during quieter scenes. Colacci’s voice has a bit more quirk to it but it matches well with Bray’s style. McFadden’s role was sadly limited but I’d love to hear her take on Lila is a bigger role I the future since I love the character. Overall, this was a good mystery take with solid performances that could be a dark horse among the Mystery category. 

Audiobook Review: The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens 

17 02 2017

The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens

Read by Jonathan Yen

Tantor Audio

Grade: B

There are a lot of books featuring likeable troubled antiheroes seeking redemption but in The Guise of Another author Allen Eskens flips the trope on its head taking what could be a typical crime thriller and turning it into a carefully constructed character character study that uses the readers preconceptions against them. It’s  a well executed tale that works on many levers leaving the listener satisfied yet a little off balance. He builds well in his first novel adding nuance to the shared characters of the world he created. 

I think Jonathan Yen is a good narrator when working in a multi-narrator production or in a first person tale with a character that fits his style but struggles when he’s the sole voice in a 3rd person narrative. He has the gruff detective thing down fine but at times his rhythm and cadence seemed a bit off. Admittedly, he has an old school narration style that isn’t really my favorite, yet I know appeals to other listeners so this just may be a matter of personal taste. Overall, the performance doesn’t really distract from the book but it doesn’t really enhance it either. 

Audiobook Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens 

13 02 2017

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Read by Zach Villa

Tantor Audio

Grade: B

I started listening to The Life We Bury due to the fact that his latest book was nominated for an Audie and I’m sort of anal about reading series in order. Well, I’m glad I did. The Life We Bury is a solid mystery with a unique enough premise to allow it to stand out from all the “gruff cop solves a murder” novels. While I can think of books with better mysteries or more engaging characters, The Life We Bury is solid from top to bottom. My only quibble is something I see in many legal thrillers, the need to explain things people who have seen an episode of Law & Order know. For example, a young relatively intelligent college student seems to not know what an opening statement is and is surprised that his pretty housemate knows about stuff like that. Other than that, I really enjoyed this novel and and jumping into his next book right away. 
I enjoyed narrator Zach Villa’s performance. He was engaging, with a sly tongue in cheek style that was fitting to the working class college student protagonist. He picked up a nice rhythm during the longer exposition scenes creating a nice atmosphere matching the frigid Midwest locale. Altogether it was a fun refreshing mystery. 

My Favorite TV Shows of 2016

10 01 2017

I’m thinking about making this blog a bit more than Audiobooks, so for fun here’s my favorite TV Shows of 2016. I’m typically a binge watcher of TV and rarely watch more than an episode a night. I’m always open to suggestions. I tend to lean towards Sci-fi in books, I lean more towards mysteries/thrillers in my TV, especially British. 

1. Line of Duty, Season 3 (Hulu)

2. Happy Valley, Season 2 (Netflix)

3. The Night Manager (AMC)

4. Quarry (Cinemax)

5. The Expanse (Syfy)

6. Person of Interest, Season 5 (CBS)

7. Orphan Black, Season 3 (BBCAmerica)

8. The Night of… (HBO)

9. Bosch (Amazon Prime)

10. 12 Monkeys, Season 2 (Syfy)

11. Stranger Things (Netflix)

12. Game of Thrones, Season 6 (HBO)
Honorable Mentions: Hap & Leonard, Goliath, The Americans, Fargo, Season 2, Marcella, River, Jessica Jones, Jack Irish, The Kesserling Incident 
There were a few shows I didn’t love that I thought I would Westworld was kinda meh, until the final few Episodes, The People vs. Oj Simpson was brilliant at times but its True Crime nature blunted it for me, and I never really felt Mr. Robot the way so many people did.

Why I Won’t Be Listening to Phil Gigante Anymore

22 01 2016

As a big supporter of the audiobook community, I feel like I may lose some “friends” over this one. I was just going to let it be when I first read about Phil Gigante’s guilty plea for accosting a minor for immoral purposes and possession of child sexually abusive material. As part of his plea deal, two additional charges of using computers to commit a crime were dropped.

All together his charges could have gotten him 28 years in jail. He will serve 4 months in jail, and three at home.

As someone who has promoted Phil, interviewed him, praised him, and on that weird world of online interaction, considered him a friend. My initial thought was to stay quiet on the issue. I truly don’t know the whole story. Basically, all I know is that he was charged due to an inappropriate online relationship he had with a 14 year old girl. He said while pleading “”I had inappropriate conversations on Facebook private messenger” and admitted to having inappropriate pictures of her. I have heard rumors of other actions, but this is all I know for sure.

Honestly, it’s more than enough. There is no excuse for a 49 year old man to knowingly engage in this type of behavior with a minor. Personally, I will never be able to listen to one of his books again.

Yet, I still felt like I should stay quiet. Yet, a few comments have forced me to reconsider this. First off, Author Karen Moning who has been supportive of Phil Gigante and wants him to continue reading her books has stated that what’s being reported isn’t really what happened, that many people know the true story and that he is not a sexual predator.

So, first off, if what is being reported, That he has an inappropriate relationship with a minor and that he admitted it in court isn’t true, then why not tell us the real story? If you know the truth, what is stopping you from sharing it. If you are one of the many people that know what really happened, then feel free to come onto my blog and share what you know. Yet, your super secret inside information that you can’t share has only done one thing, it has given license to those who response is to blame the victim to once again scream and rant about grown men being lured into this kind of behavior by underage vixens.

Even, in some strange fantasy world, this girl initialized and sexualized the interaction, Phil is a 49 year old man taking advantage of a 14 year old girl. He alone is responsible for his behavior. There is this strange idea that men cannot control their corporeal sides so they can’t truly be held responsible when they are lured into inappropriate sexual relationships. This is the ultimate bullshit of scumbag assholes who look to justify their abhorrent behavior.

Yet, what really bothered me was this comment in a group I’m on:

“my guess is it wasn’t as bad as it seems because otherwise 4 months seems a really weak sentence to me? they were probably both pretending not to know which is of course wrong but I’m just glad it wasn’t worse cause I love the KMM books and had he been a “pedophile” I don’t think I could have listened to them again.”

Basically, it can’t be bad because he only got 4 months. This shows a dangerous ignorance to the trend of plea agreements and sentencing that treats such interactions as “minor.” Those who argue against the dangerous rape culture in America as another over reaction of the so called Social Justice Warriors, have not read of the institutional victim blaming that has resulted in Judge’s blaming toddlers for luring grown men into raping them, to plea bargains that allow child rapist and sexual predators to stay off the registry and the blind eye turned to celebrities who abuse their position to prey on women and children. When a formerly obese spokesman for a sandwich company was discovered to be a child rapist our collective response was fat jokes. The fact that Phil only got 4 months in jail should not been seen as a mitigating factor to his crimes, but as further proof of a ineffectual, dangerous and corrupt system and a culture that allows said system to exist.

I have often said that Phil is my favorite narrator. He is a tremendous talent, and has brought many books I love to life. It makes me sad, because he has narrated books for Andrew Vachss, one of the preeminent warriors against the rampant abuse of children. He read Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series, which will soon become a TV series I am very excited about.

As an audiobook enthusiast, I am saddened by this. As a human I am sickened by this.

After writing most of this, Moning has come out and admitted she didn’t really have super secret info, and will not work with Phil in the future. Sadly, this is way too little too late.


Defending the Indefensible: On Phil Gigante and Karen Marie Moning from Bibliodaze

Red Hot Books: Where is the Feverborn Review

Trout Nation

News Articles on the case:

Michigan State Sex Offender Registry

Audiobook Review: The World House by Guy Adams

4 02 2015

The World House by Guy Adams

Read by Paul Boehmer

Audible Studios

Length: 10Hrs 43Min

Genre: Fantasy

Grade: C-

I’m not sure what just friggin’ happened. I mean, I kinda know. There are these characters, and a weird house, and time travel, and god like people, and amnesia, and a cool game of Snakes and Ladders, and I think that one guy is also that other guy or maybe I am thinking about someone else. Oh, and that girl is like maybe autistic, which of course means she has some special ability or perception that will help save the world, or destroy it, or maybe stop the bad guy who I am not sure is really bad because that’s that’s what mentally challenged people do in fantasies… and, well, maybe I’m just an idiot who can’t follow the authors disjointed train of thought. I mean, I get this way with “high brow” stuff where I think I am supposed to get it. Like Birdman, which I guess had moments, but still, I didn’t get it. Like art or jazz or that weird class of philosophy I took…



So really, maybe Guy Adams is a genius who created this beautiful mosaic of a novel, full of complexities and layers upon layers, creating a mesmerizing tale that blends generations and genres and I am just too dumb to figure it all out. I know I feel like this when I attempt to read China Mellville and Paolo Bacigalupi, which people I respect tell me is brilliant, but turns my brains to mash, and, well, kinda bores me at the same time making me want to pull out something with explody monsters hunters or time traveling Nazis.

Or maybe Guy Adams just wrote a book that had some brilliant moments, was fun at brief intervals but was mostly a mess that barely held my interest and often left me confused about exactly what the hell just happened.

But maybe not…

I’m confused.

One thing I like about Paul Boehmer is that he has a unique narrative voice. His voice has a tone that reflects an international feel yet isn’t specific to any particular nationality. It reminds me of the subtle accents that many 1800 era American period pieces use, not really modern American or Modern British but somewhere in between. This is why I think Boehmer is excellent in historical fiction and has been underused in the fantasy genre where straight British accents seem to be the preference of audio producers. This is why I thought he was perfectly suited for a book like The World House. But, now I am not so sure he was, mostly because I really didn’t care about the book enough to figure it out. His characters were fine. I often found the perspective shifts were not distinct enough, but this may just have been because I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to realize that they had shifted.

Oh well….

Basically, The World House was a book that constantly had me on the edge of thinking,”Let’s end this and move on to something else” but that little part of me said that eventually there would be this sort of AHA! Moment that pulled it all together and made it worth it. And I guess there was something like that, but by that point I just wanted it all to be over.

Now maybe some time traveling zombies or talking unicorns or sexy dragons….

June Is Audiobook Month Video Special: Becoming Mark Watney: First Look, with an Interview with Narrator RC Bray.

9 06 2014

Today’s June Is Audiobook Guest is brash, obnoxious, and I will grudgingly admit, gifted narrator R.C. “I’m too cool just to call myself Bob” Bray. Bray, always willing to whore himself for some cheap publicity, agreed to stop by my blog today, despite our contentious yet subtly Freudian relationship.


Today we will be discussing the process narrator Bray underwent preparing to take on the role of stranded astronaut Mark Watney in the Audie nominated audiobook production of THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir from Podium Publishing. You can see a bit of that process in the following trailer for the upcoming reality series about Bray’s transformation from smart alecky narrator to smart alecky narrator voicing a smart alecky astronaut in BECOMING MARK WATNEY.

So, welcome to The Guilded Earlobe Professor Bray.

Bite me, Bob.

I may take you up on that, MD.

When you first contacted NASA about flying into space to prepare for a role in an audiobook, were you surprised by their reaction to your request?

Other way around, Bobby. NASA contacted me to see if I wanted to use their sciency space stuff to research the role. And no I wasn’t surprised they reached out to me. I used to sell weed to one of the head dudes there in college and he always maintained that it was my product that gave him the idea for the revolutionary “Jet Propulsive Hydro-Capitulated Fractal Fusion” which resulted in a better zero gravity bra for female and fat male astronauts.

I understand you have an amusing story involving your potato diet and massive, nearly fatal constipation. Would you care to drop that deuce, as the kids say?

No I wouldn’t, Rob.  I would, however, like to discuss is the fifty you still owe me for that gay, black, Swedish clown you picked up in Tijuana this February past.  Care to share that funny story?

No need, Ensign Bray. If I remember correctly, you were the one who uploaded the video to RubeTube. Back to the interview, WC.

While most people seem to think that living inside an air tight, space aged Dora the Explorer Hab would be all kinds of badass, you did face some unique problems. Which problem affected you and your loved ones most significantly?

That’s a great question, Robert.

Thanks, MC. I wish the answers would match the quality of the questions, but then, why start attempting to obtain quality now.

When I first reviewed the original version of THE MARTIAN, before you rerecorded it to match the Random House reprint, we had a violent disagreement over one small issue, which lead to you stabbing me repeatedly with a shiv made out of a Commodore 64 keyboard. Yet, I believe that after that, you were inspired to become even more immersed in the persona of Mark Watney. Do you now wish you could take that stabbing back, or at least tone it down a bit?

You mean allegedly stabbing you repeatedly with a shiv made out of an Apple II – not a Commodore 64.  And while yes, I should not have allegedly stabbed you twice (“repeatedly” is a bit of a stretch, Robbie), I still feel that giving Watney a lisp and ad-libbing some lines because unbeknownst to the author, the incredible Andy Weir, Watney had Tourette’s is a bit stupid. Stick to reviews, Robb.

Further proof that you will never achieve Dick Hill status, although you have totally nailed being a dick, MT. Now, back to my insightful questions.

What is your favorite way to spell out BOOBS?

With my tongue.

Childish… (with his tongue… snickers.) You have won an Earphone Award, been nominated for two Audie Awards this year, and one Audible reviewer called your performance in the Zombie Thriller, Die Trying “pretty good.” All these accolades for a guy that seems to have a giant head. When you were a child, frustrated over the fact you couldn’t find a decent hat, did you ever think you would be this successful in a fringe industry just starting to truly find its place?

Well first, it wasn’t really that difficult to find a “decent hat” as you put it as I believe Trojan started making extra large when I reached middle school. So I was fine in my formative years. As far as becoming successful that remains to be seen. I mean, take George Guidall for example. He reached the one-thousand-unabridged-audiobooks-narrated milestone this year.   But come on. It’s not like he’s done two thousand. Know what I mean?  And what comes after that?  Three thousand?  Four thousand? I mean, how high does it go, right?  Infinity. Can George, or any narrator for that matter, narrate infinity books?  And if so at what price?  What was the question?

Sorry, I forgot. I was distracted by the tidal impact of your huge melon.

Finally, without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us who the next major character to die in THE WALKING DEAD will be?

I hope to god its Glenn so they can create a new character for me that constantly hooks up with Maggie for several episodes before she bites it and I can move on to Darryl.  I mean Michonne.

Thank you Doctor Bray for stopping by The Guilded Earlobe today, and next time, remember to put the seat down on the water reclamation unit after you are done.

Suck it, Bob.

As they say, misery loves company, so I will be hosting a Giveaway for a MP3 Copy of THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, which was recently voted the Armchair Audie Viewer Choice winner of 2014. To enter, simply leave a comment, preferably with dirt about RC Bray, or theories what the RC really stands for (my opinion is that it stands for Rectal Confidence.) This giveway will stay open for 1 week, ending Jun 17th. Please leave a means to contact you in you comment if you do win.