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Archive for the ‘Audio Books’ Category

Audio Books Need Love Too

Posted by Wanderer on September 16, 2009

I recently read a blog post on my phone about audio books but didn’t save the link or my browser history so I have no way to reference it here. Nonetheless, I want to thank that poster for reminding me that audio books need love too! I know several people who have tried audio books and found they didn’t work for them. The reasons vary from audio books being too slow paced, to it being hard to listen to a male narrator attempt a female voice and vice versa. That’s ok, there are several reasons why audio books don’t work for some but I’m here to focus on why I like them. There’s a lot of support for e-books (which I also support) but I figured it’s time to show some support for yet another alternative….the spoken word.

I became a fan of audio books about 3 years ago after a co-worker shared one of his with me. I haven’t looked back since. A good audio book will play like a movie in your mind. It can be a calming yet entertaining companion on a long commute. It can keep the family entertained and peaceful on a road trip. What makes a good audio book? Of course the story has to be interesting but the real thing that can make or break it is the narrator. A great narrator will take you on a journey from chapter to chapter, making each character come to life in their own unique way. After listening to a few audio books you’ll figure out the narrators you like and can then search for books they have recorded. I have found several new authors using this method.

Here is a tiny peek at the variety of audio books and narrators available to you. Please click on the title for more information and to hear a sample from each book:

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (unfortunately I couldn’t find a sample anywhere online)

This was my very first audio book download and talk about luck of the draw! It was a case of perfect narrator and story material. C.J. Critt (probably my 2nd favorite narrator) does a great job of differentiating the characters and capturing the essence of the book. I listened to most of the Stephanie Plum series and they were a blast. There is a change of narrator in the middle books but after a while, I got used to the new voice.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

I started one version of this but the narrator didn’t work for me. Someone mentioned another version by Susan Ericksen and that’s the one I enjoyed. You’ll come across this sometimes where different publishers will put out their own recording. Ms. Ericksen’s narration is a perfect compliment to Ms. Robb’s story.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This was my first audio book with an ensemble cast: Jennie Ikeda, Barbara McCulloh, Richard Poe, Tom Stechschulte, Carol Monda, Julia Gibson and Andy Paris. The change between narrators follows the format of the book where each part changes point of view. I thought the story was interesting until the end where Ms. Picoult shows her penchant for twists. So based on narration alone, I’d recommend this book. As for the novel, I’ll be honest and tell you the ending pissed me off. 🙂

Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline

This was my first book by Ms. Scottoline and my first narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, my all time favorite narrator! Ms. Rosenblat brings each character to life with distinct tones and inflections and provides a wonderful listening experience. I think Ms. Scottoline’s books are on the ‘ok’ level but I listened to a lot of them because they were narrated by Ms. Rosenblat. In fact, Ms. Rosenblat is one narrator that I’ve Googled to find what other books she has recorded.

Rain Fall by Barry Eisler

One thing I love is having a book in both electronic and audio format. There are times when I am unable to read but want to continue the story and audio books allow me this freedom. This was the case with Rain Fall. I was reading on my ereader when I was called away for another task. I was able to switch on my ipod and continue the story while working. Jeff Harding’s narration is a perfect accompaniment to Mr. Eisler’s fast-paced plot. When I was reading, I would pause at the Japanese names and phrases trying to pronounce them whereas Mr. Harding delivers them smoothly.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is the first book in the Southern Vampire series and the narrator is Johanna Parker. Ms. Parker does a decent enough southern accent in her portrayal of Sookie Stackhouse and paired with Ms. Harris’ writing, this is a fun ride that holds the listener’s attention.

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

This audio book has two narrators, Susie Breck and Dick Hill. Both are excellent at voicing their characters but they also add little things here and there to make it more real. If a character cracks a joke, the other one will have laughter in his/her voice as he/she responds. If one is eating something, you’ll hear the chewing as they speak. However, these added elements don’t always work. I’ve tried Graphic Audio’s production of Alex Archer’s Rogue Angel series but their sound affects are too over the top for me. I don’t need to hear the car door slamming or action music before something big happens. It’s way too distracting.

So if you’re game to try an audio book my advice is to start at your local library. It probably has an ignored audio book section waiting for a friendly visitor or even better, your library could have access to online audio book websites like NetLibrary or OverDrive. These sites offer audio books for download at no cost. This way you can avoid one of the major drawbacks of audio books: the high prices. If you try one through your library and discover it’s not for you, you can simply return it. No harm, no foul. If you find you do enjoy audio books and want a larger selection than what’s available to your library, is one of the top places to shop.

Have you tried an audio book? Are you a fan? What are some of your favorites?


Posted in Audio Books, Blog Talk, Opinions, Wanderer | 7 Comments »

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…….

Posted by Wanderer on July 12, 2009

Highland Fling by Katie Fforde: So we start out with meeting Jenny Porter, who recently started a new career as a virtual assistant, and her boyfriend Henry. A virtual assistant (as we are told over and over) is someone who does various tasks for clients that hire her over the internet. Her current assignment is to travel to Scotland to assess an old family-run mill recently purchased by her current client, M.R Grant-Dempsey. With Henry’s disapproval of her new job we, the readers, are already made aware that Henry = ass therefore, Jenny should go to Scotland and hopefully find Mr. Not-An-Ass.

Jenny Porter, a ‘virtual assistant’, spends her life sorting out other people’s problems. But when one of her clients asks her to go to Scotland to do a little hands-on investigation into a woolen mill he has a financial interest in, it doesn’t turn out to be the working holiday she hoped for. For not only does her role at Dalmain House include rather a lot of unexpected tasks – of which the cooking is the least taxing – but she also finds herself charmed into helping run ‘The Homely Haggis’, a mobile burger bar.

But it’s when her abrasive customer, Ross Grant, turns out to be someone she can genuinely talk to, that she really gets confused. And when Jenny finds herself torn between loyalty to her client and letting down the people of Drumossie, her problem-solving skills are stretched to the limit. It’s a pity they don’t seem able to stretch to sorting out her own, increasingly complicated personal life.

On the way to the mill Jenny meets a lady working a booth selling food and drinks who happens to be an in-law of the family who runs the mill (her husband is second son, Ian). She is also extremely pregnant and in need of a trip to the bathroom so asks Jenny to hold down the fort while she steps out. It is then that a customer, a Mr. Ross Grant, approaches and he and Jenny take an instant disliking for one another. That meeting alone was the beginning of the annoyance factor for me because the argument they had was ridiculous. It was just the beginning of a series of similar meetings that raised my own level of annoyance with each encounter. At one point they even started cursing at each other. That actually caught me off guard until I listened further and realized yes, I agreed with Ross when he told Jenny to, “Shut the fuck up”. Bad sign, right?

Another issue I had with the book was how Jenny became the savior of all and solver of everything. Want to save the mill? Jenny’s your gal. Have agoraphobia? Jenny can cure you. Planning a big dinner at the last minute? It’s Super Jenny to the rescue! Seriously, no one can do that…….well, maybe Martha Stewart. I didn’t care for any of the secondary characters (except maybe a little for Ian and his wife) and I definitely didn’t believe in the romance build-up between Jenny and Ross. Also, the mysterious client’s identity wasn’t such a mystery. I realized who he was from the start and I didn’t even have to use my Matlock deductive skills (yes, my mom was a big fan of that show as well as Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote etc…which gave me my mad skills at Clue).

The main reason I pushed through this was that it was an audio book and the narrator, Julie Franklin, did a decent job differentiating the characters. Ultimately, I used the book as background noise while at work. I still got the gist of the story but I never felt a need to give it my complete attention.

This was my first book by Katie Fforde and I’m afraid it didn’t leave a very good impression.

Final Grade:

Barely readable. Only discipline and willpower kept me from shaving my head and running naked for the hills. Great litmus test for my bad ass reader super powers.

Around the Net:

The Romance Reader : 2 stars

Posted in Audio Books, Clipper Audio, Contemporary Couplings, D, Reviews, Wanderer | 2 Comments »