Audiobook Week 2012: So You Want To Review Audiobooks…

26 06 2012

Today’s Topic: So You Want to Review Audiobooks…
Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

So, today we talk about Audiobook Reviews. I will try not to ramble. I always worry about this topic, because, my philosophy is that it is your blog, write what you want. Yet, today I will be talking about things I look for when I read a review. I personally have written now over 250 audiobook reviews, some, I feel are pretty good, and some are utter crap, but they all reflect how I was feeling at the time I experienced the book. I don’t consider myself an expert of audiobook reviewing, just a guy who has done it a few times, and reads plenty as well. So, here are my thoughts on Audiobook Reviews.

1. Summarizing the Book:

I have a few dirty little secrets to share. First off, of the over 250 audiobook reviews I have written, I have never written a good book summary. Secondly, 99% of the time when reading review, I skip the summaries. When I write reviews, I attempt to include the simplest possible book summary. Basically, just enough so you can kinda sort recognize what I am talking about. I hate writing summaries, and always try to find strange ways to summarize the book so that I don’t have to write them. When reading an audiobook review, my purpose is to discover what you felt about the book. Either I already know what the book is about, or I really don’t want to know what it’s about. I am a person who likes to go into a book as cold as possible. I hate spoilers of any sort, even innocent ones. So, if your reviews are mostly just a quick summary of what is going on, followed by a “and I liked it.” than I probably won’t be reading your blog very often. The best book bloggers out there find a way to balance summarizing a book, with their thoughts and analysis of it.

2. Acting Like a Professional.

There is a lot of talk about the professional standards for book reviewing. Personally, if I want professional reviews, I go to professional sources, and in all honesty, I rarely want professional reviews. I prefer bloggers because they aren’t professionals. I like to hear the geek squeals and baste in the fanboy or fangirlishness. Now, there is a different between acting professional and being professional. You should never slander, maliciously insult or act in an unethical way. Yet, it is not unprofessional to infuse your personality in a review. Be funny, be biased, do whatever it takes to get your experience with the book across. I tend to read audiobook reviews, not because I want to know whether a book is good or not, but because I want to know if the book was good for you.

3. Review the Audiobook

You will probably hear this often today, but please review the narrators as well as the book. An audiobook review without mentioning the narrator is basically just a book review. I know it can be hard to put into words just why you didn’t like a performance, or why you loved it. Many reviewers don’t have the technical vocabulary or even knowledge to pinpoint just what may be wrong with a performance. I understand not wanting to look like an idiot, or overly picky, but, audiobook reviews are for the fans. I have seen a few comments here or there that reviewers should understand the process or develop more understanding of the technical aspects and if they don’t their opinions are out of touch and unreliable. To this I declare hogwash. Yes, Hogwash. I agree that we should attempt to understand the medium better, but sometimes, we just don’t like something. Say that. Don’t be worried that you may offend someone or come off unsophisticated in your analysis. We are lay people, and we are the target audience. Our opinions do matter.

4. Substance versus Style. 

This in many ways ties all the other points together. We are bloggers, we should embrace that fact. Very few up us have our MFA’s or have been trained in literary critique. We started our blogs because we are fans and we want to share out love of audiobooks to others. So, develop your own style. Tell us about your experience with the book.I don’t need to an analysis of it’s sentence structure, or place in the literary hierarchy unless it affects your experience of the book.  I want to see your personality when I read a review.

Further Ramblings

I have come to find myself in a strange place in the blogosphere. I consider myself an audiobook blogger. I don’t specialize in any particular genre, but the majority of what I read is speculative fiction. So, the blogs I follow fall into two categories, Speculative Fiction Bloggers, and Audiobook Bloggers. There are few speculative fiction bloggers that I follow that review audiobooks, and the majority of the Audiobook Bloggers I follow are either eclectic bloggers with a wide range of genres, or cover specific areas like Literary Fiction or Young Adult. Because of this, I have begun to expand my reading. I have read more and more Young Adult novels and have discovered novels I never would have before through bloggers I respect, who don’t tend to listen to things that I typically do.

Today, I am also reviewing a novel called A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. This is a novel I may never have discovered if it wasn’t for reviews I read at Devourer of Books and Jenn’s Bookshelves. So many bloggers continue to influence me as a reader. Even bloggers with totally differing taste, like The Literate Housewife, push me and encourage me in ways I never would have expected before I started blogging.

There are a lot of great audiobook bloggers out there who have all affected me in some way and thanks to Audiobook Week, I’m meeting more everyday.

Today for Audiobook WeeK:

My Review of A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

An Interview with prolific audiobook narrator Dick Hill, the voice of many of my favorite characters, including Jack Reacher.

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Out With The Old, In With the New: 2011 Review

2 01 2012

So, 2011 was a wonderful blogging year for me. I began actively blogging again this year, and its been quite an adventure. The year started a bit slow, posting my reviews, and doing little to promote them beyond an occasional post on my Facebook page. Then, I revived my Twitter Account, began using it to market the blog, and things got better. I’m happy where my blog is now. I don’t have a huge audience, but I know there are people out there that value my reviews, and are often influenced by what I say. My stated purpose has always been to provide a service of offering spoiler free reviews that talk about not just the content of the book, but the production of the audiobook, and I think that I have kept true to that purpose this year.

The thing I am most thankful for as a blogger is all the wonderful people I have met. I have made a lot of strong connections among other bloggers, listeners and people who work in the audiobook industry. I am not a highly social person, yet I have felt welcomed in this community and value all the people I have met. Except for maybe one or two. You know who your are!

Some Highlights of 2011.

My First Review!

My first review of 2011 was What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz, read by Stephen Weber. When I go back to these earlier reviews, I am surprised how much my reviewing style has changed. I feel for the better, but you can all make your own decisions.

Most Popular Review of the Year:

I am quite proud of my review of Ready Player One. My review was one of the first audiobook reviews of the novel to come out. It was responsible for my biggest hot day ever and my loudest nerd squeal when I discovered that Wil Wheaton, the narrator, mentioned the review on Goggle+. I also interviewed the author Ernie Cline which was a pile of awesomeness.

My Most Controversial Post of the Year:

Well, maybe most talked about. My negative review of Roy Dotrice’s narration of George RR Martins A Dance With Dragons has received more comments than any other post. Some agree, and others are flabbergasted at my dislike of Dotrice. One comments even thought I was the books author and flailed me for killing off all the characters on my Contact Page.

Zombies!

2011 was the year of the Zombie audiobook. I personally reviewed around 25 Zombie audiobooks in 2011. In May I focused largely on Zombies with a series of interviews with Zombie authors like Mira Grant, Ian MacDonald, Madeleine Roux, Peter Clines, and others. I plan on putting together a more intensive Zombie Event in 2012, so stay tuned.

Narrator Interviews:

I was blessed with the chance two interview my three favorite audiobook narrators this year, Phil Gigante, Oliver Wyman and MacLeod Andrews. I also had a wonderful interview with Piper Goodeve right after she narrated her first audiobook, Madeleine Roux’s Allison Hewitt is Trapped.

Some other fun Moments in 2011:

I was both replied to, and retweeted by Neil Gaiman on Twitter this year. That was something to cross off my bucket list.

I was interviewed three times in 2011 by other bloggers. Once by Mickey from I’m A Book Shark, Once by Jennifer at Literate Housewife, and Once by Meg from A Bookish Affair. I am always excited to talk about myself (oh, and audiobooks.)

Now, I am pretty much pulling this out of my ass, but I am pretty sure that my 173 Audiobook Reviews this year was the most by any individual blogger. Perhaps, someone posted more on Amazon, or Audible. For all I know Harriet Klaussner has started reviewing audiobooks. But, I am proud of the number of reviews I have posted in 2011.

For 2012:

I am not setting specific goals yet for 2012 until some issues with my job work themselves out. Overall, I would like to listen to or Read 200 books, but we’ll see how life treats me.

I reached my goal of at least 12 and over 10% of my total reads coming from Female Authors. I am slowly but surely moving myself away from literary misogyny. In 2011 I listened to 19 novels by Female Authors, so for 2012, I would like to be over 20.

My last goal is to become more proficient at the technical side of blogging, so I can do some cool stuff. Because I like cool stuff.

 

I will be participating in the following challenges.