2014 Armchair Audies: Fearless Prediction Post

14 02 2014

So, it’s Armchair Audies time (almost!)

Any day now, the APA will announce the nominees for their 2013 Audie Awards. This has been another great year for Audiobooks, and I feel more and more public scrutiny of the Audies may have interesting affects. Last year, I felt the whole thing was a bit of a fiasco, with one particular company and it’s offshoots almost monopolizing the nominees and an audiobook of the year category made up mostly of celbriturd narrators and productions that were more about hype then the best the industry has to offer. Yet, I’m not totally soured on the whole shebang. I think that we may see some changes to the process in the near future, as the industry changes, so must the awards and I’m quite interested in seeing how these changes take play out.

This year, for Armchair Audies, I will be taking on the Science Fiction and Fantasy categories again. I will probably pick up a third category, after I get a look at the nominees, either Paranormal or Thriller/Suspense.

Today, I will be prediction the nominees in these 4 categories. I am using an intricate formula of my favorites, industry trends, past nominees, hype and WAGs (Wild Ass Guesses) to come up with these nominees. I am also playing a bit with the Genres because, even if a book is decidedly Science Fiction, it very well may be nominated in the Fantasy Category. Also, no once has quite explained exactly what encompasses Paranormal.

So, here are my predictions for The Audies.

SCIENCE FICTION

The Human Division by  John Scalzi

Read by William Dufris

Audible Frontiers

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Read by MacLeod Andrews

Audible Frontiers

Lexicon by Max Barry

Read by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman

Penguin Audio

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

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

Hachette Audio

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Read by Kate Rudd

Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio

FANTASY

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Read by Neil Gaiman

Harper Audio

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Read by Alana Kerr

Audible for Bloomsbury

Cold Days by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files, Bk. 14)

Read by James Marsters

Penguin Audio

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Read by Kate Mulgrew

Harper Audio

Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez

Read by Khristine Hvam

Audible, Inc.

PARANORMAL

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Read by Will Patton

Simon & Schuster Audio

Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

Read by Bronson Pinchot

Audible Frontiers

The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith (Vampire Empire, Book 2)

Read by James Marsters

Buzzy Multimedia

World War Z: The Complete Edition: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Read by A Full Cast

Random House Audio

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Read by Khristine Hvam, Peter Ganim, Jay Snyder, Joshua Boone, Dani Cervone, Jenna Hellmuth

Hachette Audio

THRILLER/SUSPENCE

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Read by Luke Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

Read by Reg E. Cathey

Hachette Audio

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Read by Jeremy Bobb

Simon & Schuster Audio

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Read by Michael Beck

Random House Audio

The Lawyer’s Lawyer by James Sheehan

Read by Rick Zieff

Hachette Audio





Audiobook Review: The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns

4 04 2013

The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns

Read by George Newbern

Dreamscape Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 34 Min

Genre: Literary Suspense

Quick Thoughts: The Burn Palace is a beautifully written tale full of wonderfully absurd characters, strange surreal events and horrific acts of violence and violation told is a disconcerting style that is both thrilling and frustrating. It’s like an intricate puzzle that comes together beautifully yet leaves you with a handful of unused pieces you don‘t exactly know what to do with.

Grade: B

I often hear people lament those good old small town days where everyone knew each other and kept an eye out for strangers and danger and stranger danger. I never experienced that. I have always lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area and only rarely even knew the names of my neighbors. I was always lucky enough where by the time I reached the next block, I was walking in anonymity, far from any nosy neighbors who may tell my mother what nefarious deeds I was up to. I can understand longing for a time when neighbors were neighborly, but people must remember I grew up on Stephen King. I read tales of small towns with dark secrets and twisted evil. I don’t want to know my neighbors. I don’t want to know what dark secrets lie in their hearts or how the choose to spend their time when the lights are off and no one is paying attention. For all I know, the upstairs neighbors could be performing cabalistic rituals and animal sacrifice, and I’m happy as long as they don’t bang around too much when they are getting their kids ready for school in the morning. I’m happy with the nod my head and smile relationship I have with the guy next door and have no need to know that his inner dialogue consists of thinking of all the different ways he would dispose of my corpse after my torturous murder. You know why I don’t want to know more about my neighbors because I’m damn sure they probably don’t want to know about me. Would you really want to know that the guy next door to you enjoys listening to tale involving hordes of undead infected humans devouring the land one brain at a time? For Fun! Really, we are all better off. Let my neighbors perform some ancient ritual that unleashes Cthulhu from his inter-dimensional prison to eat the souls of the wicked as long as they keep the chanting down while I’m watching Doctor Who.

Brewster is a small, quiet Rhode Island town that nothing of note ever really happens in, at least on the surface. When a baby goes missing from the local hospital and is replaced by a snake, the town begins to unravel leading to a string of violence, mayhem and maybe even something supernatural. The Burn Palace is a character rich genre blending tale of small town paranoia, occultism and murder with affective results. Dobyns creates a mosaic of characters, where their dark secrets and hidden motivations become just as essential to the plot as the evil acts that have thrown this sleepy town for a loop. Dobyns develops each character so intricately that they just jump off the page. He tells the tale using an omniscient third person narrator making it seem almost as if the town itself was telling the tale. While this created a lot of wonderful moments in the tale, it also made the story a bit unbalanced. Dobyns transitions from one character to the next is an almost surreal manner opening a lot of story threads along the way, and never quite wrapping the vast majority of them up. While the prose was relatively straight forward, it gave it an airy almost intangible feel, where just as you began to grasp onto one element of the plot, it slipped through your fingers leaving you to chase after the next tangent. It created an atmospheric mood full of clever humor, creepy moments and horrific acts that mesmerized the reader but didn’t always serve the story well. This is the gist of my mixed feelings with The Burn Palace. I loved listening to it. I loved the characters who were all so vibrant and real. I loved the clever way that certain elements played into the overall plot while others were just there to add color. Yet, I felt like I do at the end of a long running TV series finale, full of "what about this, and what about that." I enjoyed the hell out of listening to the tale, but I also felt frustrated along the way. Overall, The Burn Palace is a beautifully written tale full of wonderfully absurd characters, strange surreal events and horrific acts of violence and violation told is a disconcerting style that is both thrilling and frustrating. It’s like an intricate puzzle that comes together beautifully yet leaves you with a handful of unused pieces you don‘t exactly know what to do with.

Let me first say that I absolutely loved George Newbern’s narration of The Burn Place. For The Burn Palace to work, the narrator must become a character of sort, and not just some unbiased observer. He guides you through the tale, taking you from character to character with a sort of knowingness, exposing each character for who they truly are. Newbern does this wonderfully, injecting personality into the prose, guiding the listener with a wink and a nudge. That being said, I think I would have enjoyed this novel more in print than audio. It’s not an issue with the production at all, but in the style of the book. Dobyns flowing transitions probably worked better with visual cues than here in audio. The transitions were so fast and so smooth that at times it took you a while to figure out that anything even had changed. Often, throughout the audio, I was like, "Ummm. Wait… what character are we on now?" These transitions required more focus from the listener than usual during an audiobook. In fact, I really wished that this audio came with a cast of characters, because, although every character was so vivid and real, the rapid change from one to the next often made me have to stop for a moment to remember the new character’s backstory. Not that it was a bad listen, I really enjoyed it. If you are someone who listens strictly to audio, by all means, give this one a go, but if it’s a choice for you between print and audio, well, I would probably recommend trying it first in print.

Note: Thanks to Dreamscape Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.





Audiobook Review: The Safe Man and Mulholland Dive by Michael Connelly

29 11 2012

This is the time of year for sales. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Twofer Tuesday, and We’re Broke Wednesday, the American people are all about value. So, today, I will tap into the consumer spirit and give you two Audiobook Reviews! You can thank me later.

If you are anything like me, and this is an arbiter of good taste, then you anxiously await each new edition in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. Connelly is one of the few thriller authors that has me hooked into more than one of his series, the other being that infamous Lincoln loving lawyer Mickey Haller. So, whenever a fresh new book with Connelly’s name attached to it comes out, I just have to have it. The latest Harry Bosch just hit the digital and physical shelves, and to get into the mood last week, I listened to two of his recently released audiobooks, a novella called The Safe Man, and a short story collection called Mulholland Dive.

The Safe Man by Michael Connelly

Read by David W. Collins

Hachette Audio

Length: 1 Hr 33 Min

Genre: Supernatural Suspense

Grade: B+

I love when authors break away from what you expect and explore areas that they typically don’t. From what I have read, this novella was originally published anonymously, yet, despite it being a break away from his typically straight forward Detective thrillers, it has a lot of the signature style of Michael Connelly. Connelly creates a haunting, moody atmosphere in this tale of a Safe Man who is hired to open a strange safe, which leaves him feeling uneasy. While its essence is that of a ghost story, and a unique one at that, also is a fascinating look at a man unjustly accused of a crime, and how easily people can lose faith in someone. I really enjoyed this story, and would love to see Connelly do more work in this genre. With his talent for setting mood and creating flawed by engaging characters, Connelly can definitely spin quite a Supernatural yarn.

 

Mulholland Dive: Three Stories by Michael Connelly

Read by David W. Collins

Hachette Audio

Length: 1 Hr 51 Min

Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller

Grade: B

In Mulholland Dive Connelly tackles what he does best, Crime Fiction and Procedurals. He spins three stories, each dealing with a different perspective on Crime. In “Cahoots” he examines the criminal mindset through a twisted poker game among criminals, where the only way to win is to stack the decks. In “Mulholland Dive” he makes accident reconstruction actually interesting as a Police analyst investigates the death of a high profile victim. In the best story of the collection “Two Bagger“, Connelly follows two cops, a hardened veteran detective and his rookie partner, as they follow a recently released prisoner who may have been hired to kill someone on the outside. “Two Bagger” is a wonderful example of what makes Connelly such a great writer. Connelly gives emotional connection to the mundane, turning a baseball game into a metaphor for life. It’s a stunning story with a killer ending, and, personally, I think would make a brilliant movie. While many short story anthologies are sort of like a snack before the meal, Mulholland Dive, and the story “Two Bagger” in particular, is hearty enough for the hungriest of eaters.

Narration

This is my first experience with David W. Collins and I really enjoyed his reading of both audiobooks. Collins has a pretty straight forward reading style. While there weren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles to his reading, I was impressed with his versatility in character voices. Collins did a wonderful job creating the mood in The Safe Man, giving the story a haunting presence while properly progressing the main character from meticulous technician, to a man frustrated by the circumstances. In Mulholland Dive, he gives each story its proper feel, from the old time noir feel of “Cahoots” to the rhythms of urban LA in “Two Bagger.” Connelly’s work never needs a narrator who performs vocal gymnastic, just one who understands the natural rhythms of his writing, and Collins fit the bill. 

Note: Thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with copies of these titles for review.