Speaking of Audiobooks: October 2011 Releases

s SongIt’s time to catch up on our 2011 Listening Challenge!  I became a little sidetracked with our interviews of production companies, authors, and narrators that have taken most of our column space this year.  As I take a look at those Challenge categories I’ve yet to tackle, I see that I only have two to go!  Here’s my progress to date:

Pick an audiobook that received a DIK grade at AAR in print format.

DONE – Ravished by Amanda Quick

The actual storyline rated no higher than a C for me which made the entire audiobook experience a letdown.

Listen to a book recommended in a previous Speaking of Audiobooks column (and following discussion).

DONE – Tough Customer by Sandra Brown

Great, great narration and story.  Complete success.

Listen to a new-to-you author.

DONE – Texas Princess by Jodi Thomas

The story kept my interest high but it had to be to keep me listening to the narrator.  Narrator brought it down to a C.

Listen to an abridged audiobook.

DONE – Heart of the West by Penelope Williamson

Not a success – too chopped up and actress Amy Brenneman’s narration didn’t help either.  I’ve had two abridged successes this year but this definitely wasn’t one.

Listen to an audiobook that has been languishing in your to-be-listened (TBL) pile.

DONE – Open Season by Linda Howard (unabridged)

Enjoyed.  After all, it is a Howard but it’s not a favorite.  This is a hard-to-find –I can’t even find a reference on Amazon.

Borrow a book from a friend or your library.

DONE – All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard

Good experience, but it always ends too suddenly for me.  Another hard-to-find.

Listen to a new-to-you narrator.

DONE – Shannon Cochran narrating Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Complete success.  I hope to hear much more of Cochran’s work in the future.

Tempt yourself to find a series that grabs hold and won’t let go by listening to the first in a series.

DONE – Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

Such a success despite the fact that I have a hard time listening to all the gore.  I’m on Book 5, Magic Slays, right now and totally understanding why Kate and Curran received so many votes in our Favorite Romance Audiobook Poll!

Listen to another listener’s romance favorite.

DONE – The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

Charming and totally entertaining.  Looking forward to more in the series.

Listen to a romance sub-genre you usually avoid.

INCOMPLETE  I’ve chosen an inspirational title, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers after reading Melinda’s recommendation.

Give a less-than-favorite narrator a second chance.

DONE – Anne Flosnik

A real success.  So glad I gave Ms. Flosnik another try, especially given the fact that she often narrates historical romances I loved in print.

Share in your listening – listen to a book someone else chooses for you.

INCOMPLETE

I’m still asking for suggestions!

So, what categories are you lacking to complete your Listening Challenge?  We still have ample time to listen to those missing categories in 2011!

The Lady of the Rivers2Romance Audiobooks on Sale in October

All unabridged versions unless otherwise indicated.  Includes new formats of existing audiobooks.

*Recorded Books releases – no further information available

Adler, Elizabeth – From Barcelona, With Love Narrated by Carrington MacDuffie

Anderson, Catherine – Comanche Magic Narrator unknown*

Barton, Beverly – Dead by Morning Narrated by Karen White

Bond, Stephanie – Baby, Come Home Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Carr, Robyn – Bring Me Home for Christmas Narrator unknown*

Cole, Kresley – No Rest for the Wicked Narrator unknown*

Coulter, Catherine – Warrior’s Song Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Crusie, Jennifer – Getting Rid of Bradley Narrated by Elenna Stauffer

Feehan, Christine – The Twilight Before Christmas Narrated by Teri Clark Linden

Frank, Jacquelyn – Adam Narrated by Xe Sands

Frost, Jeaniene & Sands, Lynsay – The Bite Before Christmas Narrator unknown

Gregory, Philippa – The Lady of the Rivers Narrated by Bianca Amato

Guhrke, Laura Lee – Wedding of the Season Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Harrison, Thea – Serpent’s Kiss Narrated by Sophie Eastlake

Herron, Rachel – Wishes and Stitches Narrator unknown

James, Eloisa – When Beauty Tamed the Beast Narrator unknown

Johansen, Iris – Everlasting & Tender Savage – Narrated by Angela Boyce

Johansen, Iris – One Touch of Topaz Narrated by Angela Brazil

Kleypas, Lisa – Stranger in My Arms Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Kleypas, Lisa – Where Dreams Begin Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Krentz, Jayne Ann – Twist of Fate Narrated by Nellie Chalfant

Laurens, Stephanie – A Lady of Expectations Narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki

Macomber, Debbie – CD Collection 3: Mrs. Miracle, Call Me Mrs. Miracle Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Macomber, Debbie – Courtship of Carol Summers Narrated by Angela Dawe

Macomber, Debbie – Father’s Day Narrated by Angela Dawe

Macomber, Debbie – Trading Christmas Narrated by Renee Raudman

McCarty, Sarah – Jace Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

Miller, Linda Lael – A Lawman’s Christmas Narrator unknown*

Novak, Brenda – In Close Narrated by Angela Dawe

Palmer, Diana – Heartbreaker Narrated by Phil Gigante

Phillips, Carly – Serendipity Narrator unknown*

Roberts, Sheila – The Nine Lives of Christmas Narrator unknown

Small, Bertrice – Bond of Passion Narrator unknown*

Warren, Christine – Big Bad Wolf Narrated by Kate Reading

Warren, Christine – You’re So Vein Narrated by Kate Reading

Wiggs, Susan – The Goodbye Quilt Narrated by Tanya Eby

Woods, Sherryl – A Chesapeake Shores Christmas Narrated by Christina Traister

Dragon Bound2Romance Audio Reviews

Up for review today are Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound, Linda Howard’s Prey, Susan Mallery’s Only His, Sandra Brown’s Lethal, and Beverley Barton’s Dead by Midnight.

Dragon Bound – Thea Harrison

Review written by Kaetrin

Narrated by Sophie Eastlake

To be honest, when I started Dragon Bound, I was a bit worried.  As the first in the Elder Races series, there’d been such buzz about it for months – would it live up to expectations?  I’m pleased to say it did, in spades!  Ms. Harrison introduces a new world in the Elder Races but there’s no info dump bogging it down.  Dragos Cuelebre (pronounced “Wella-bray”) is a dragon shapeshifter who is effectively the king of the Wyr and a member of the Elder Races.  Pia Giovanni is a halfling who’s been blackmailed by a sad excuse of an ex-boyfriend to steal something from the dragon’s hoard.  Uh-oh.

The story, while new and different, has a touch of the Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter and Dragos has a touch of  Curran (Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series) so fans of either will find their happy place in Dragon Bound.  Come to think of it, Pia has a touch of Kate Daniels as well.  I mean all that as a compliment by the way.

Pia is a loner for the most part, raised by her mother to always be careful and prepared to protect her secret heritage.  Not surprisingly, she longs for a home and a sense of belonging but she doesn’t expect to find it with Dragos Cuelebre.

Sophie Eastlake is a new-to-me narrator but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of her in the future, as she does a great job here.  She totally nails Dragos’ regal arrogance.  He’s the boss (he’s been the boss like forever) and he’s always obeyed.  Enter Pia.  Cue fireworks.  They have an instant chemistry and it’s easy to hear as their interactions progress.

For Pia, Dragos learns new things.  One particular scene involving Dragos’ request for a zip-loc bag was funny, and no doubt improved, by the voice and tone Ms. Eastlake gave him.

In the past, we’ve discussed here at Speaking of Audiobooks Angela Dawe’s limited male characterizations for the Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.  The same is true of Ms. Eastlake – she probably has only one or two “hero” voices.  You may not want to listen to the entire series back to back but that’s really my only complaint about Dragon Bound.  The story kept me engaged, made me laugh, and I can certainly see myself re-listening in the future.

Ms. Eastlake satisfactorily conveyed the sizzle between Pia and Dragos and the change in Dragos as he learns to cope with Pia and what she comes to mean to him.  And, while Dragos does change in the course of the book, he is, nevertheless, always a regal dragon – he’s just learned to say “please.” Sometimes.

Fortunately for us, Dragos has a number of Gryphon Sentinels who will make excellent heroes for future books.  I see that Tiago is featured in the second and Rune in the third.  I’m definitely looking forward to Graydon’s book too!  The Sentinels are part of my favorite non-romance scene as they sit around and watch soap operas with Pia – so much fun!

Dragon Bound (and the world of the Elder Races) is a wonderful addition to the paranormal genre and excellent in audio as well.  Highly recommended.

Prey – Linda Howard

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Abby Craden

The very title of the book lets the listener know that it is going to be a thriller from the start – but who will be prey and who predator?  Author Linda Howard is well known for her enormous backlist that includes laugh-out-loud comedy, edge-of-the-seat suspense, and seriously hot love scenes.  When she is good, she is incredible; even when she’s not as good, she out writes most other authors in the genre.

In Prey, Howard sets up a scenario that allows the listener into the minds of all the potential predators and one quickly realizes who and what they will prey on – just not how and when.  It’s a gritty, gruesome tale of man against nature, and man against man (and woman) that spares no grizzly detail.  What Howard failed to do for me was fulfill the promise of romantic.   There is a spunky, capable heroine and a big, gruff  hero, but the chemistry and the revelation just didn’t work for me.

Narrator Abby Craden manages to bring the story to life and give each character his own voice.  Her one oddity that kept it from being a hit for me was her pauses – her reading didn’t flow through complete thoughts but stopped, oddly and often, before finishing a sentence.  It was as if she needed a breath mid-sentence or wanted to emphasize the last consonant in a word before completing the paragraph.  I know I’m picky, but I’ve heard wonderful narrators who become the story so much that their voices are transparent.  All I’m aware of are the stories and the characters.  Not so here.

The suspense is top-notch and cringe-inducing; the narration good; the romance only so-so.

Only His – Susan Mallery

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Tanya Eby

Only His is the sixth book in Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series, a contemporary taking place in a small California town with an overpopulation of single women.  Denise Hendrix is the matriarch of a family that includes triplet girls, each of whom is the heroine in one of the series.  Nevada Hendrix is the last of the triplets to remain single.  In her line of work, engineering, she’s surrounded by men, but only one has held her heart for the last 10 years – Tucker Janack.  Now Tucker is in town managing a large construction site in the area and looking to hire a local engineer.

The story is well matched with narrator Tanya Eby.  Eby distinguishes her characters’ voices and keeps the story moving forward without any distractions.  Mallery’s dialogue sometimes sounds contrived and I found myself often thinking “No one actually talks like that” but Eby managed it.

There are the usual conflicts such as several characters adamantly rejecting love because of something that happened years before.  And there are some awkward moments.  Tucker is Nevada’s boss and they agreed to overlook their long ago one-night stand, yet they have wild monkey sex in the construction trailer.

A lot of real estate is devoted to secondary romances that don’t enhance the main couple’s story.  When artist Caterina is introduced as another, slightly comical conflict, her character quickly becomes more and more unbelievable and had me wanting to use the fast forward button.

I hesitate to reach any conclusion other than Mallery’s writing doesn’t really appeal to me, yet Eby did a good job with the story.  For Mallery fans, it wraps up several earlier plots, marrying off the triplets, and bringing love to many of the other characters as well.

Lethal – Sandra Brown

Review written by Diana

Narrated by Victor Slezak

Sandra Brown specializes in the wronged, seemingly villainous hero who strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of everyone but that one special woman, and she sure has a knack for torturously testing his heroism until justice prevails.  In Lethal, deep undercover FBI agent (c’mon, you didn’t really believe he was a mass murderer) Lee Coburn is about to discover the identity of a particularly nasty criminal mastermind known as The Bookkeeper when all hell breaks loose.  Coburn is set up as the shooter when seven people are executed by the Bookkeepers’ minions.  He flees straight into a Louisiana swamp, to be found lying muddy and blood-smeared in the yard of widow Honor Gillette by her four-year old daughter Emily.

Coburn strong-arms Honor inside at gun point and demands to search her house.  At first Honor fears the worst; that she and Emily will be victimized by a brutal stranger.  Grudgingly, Coburn promises Honor that he won’t harm her or her daughter if she’ll help him find evidence against the Bookkeeper that he believes Honor’s late police officer husband had collected and hidden.  Honor is torn when Coburn alleges that the local police are dirty, enmeshed in collusion and cover-up.  Coburn convinces Honor that going underground with him is her only chance to survive and to prove her late husband’s innocence.  And thus begins the thriller part of this most excellent thriller.

Brown weaves a complex mystery with a large cast of characters, villains, and possible villains thick on the ground.  I wasn’t sure who was good or a player in the conspiracy for most of the book and, dang, she got me again with a diabolical twist that I did not see coming.  I confess that I didn’t correctly guess the Bookkeeper’s identity, although on a second listen I realized that the clues were there.

Victor Slezak reading Sandra Brown epitomizes my idea of a perfect audiobook.  He gets the cranky, I-don’t-need-no-love outlier with a secret, mushy center exactly right. Thank you, Victor, for simply reading women’s dialogue, never doing that falsetto, breathy thing that so many male narrators are guilty of.  An absolutely delightful bonus is Slezak’s voicing of chatty, precocious four-year old Emily, who shamelessly flirts with our perplexed hero.  Yes!  He pulled it off!  100 bonus points for that alone.

Oh, and the epilogue?  It’s perfect.  Just perfect.

Dead by Midnight – Beverly Barton

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Karen White

Released by Blackstone Audio

Lorie Hammonds tried to live a quiet life in her hometown after a failed acting career that included a disastrous XXX film.  Even though a decade has passed, there are ongoing protests against her from the town citizens.  Still, she wasn’t prepared for death threats by mail – threats that the other actors in the film were also receiving and, each month, one of them was murdered at midnight.

Sheriff Mike Birkett would rather not get involved with Lorie again after she broke his heart and ran off to Hollywood 17 years ago.  Mike, now a widower with two children, swore he’d hate her forever.  But now he has to protect her from a serial killer.

Dead by Midnight is an old-fashioned murder mystery with that romantic trope we all love –Hollywood actress returns to her small hometown where her ex is now the sheriff.  There are a slew of characters including each actor in the XXX film, their families, and all the law enforcement folks.  In fact, when the killer was finally outed, I wasn’t really sure who it was.  There were so many suspects, as well as the actors (all with stage names), private detectives, deputies, and FBI.

Although I generally like narrator Karen White, after a while I began to hone in on her monotonous vocal pattern that grated on my nerves.  Was it just because I was having a hard time keeping track?  Or because I was starting to suspect there was an underlying message from the author about “porno” that was distracting me?  I just couldn’t buy into the idea that what Lorie did deserved the way her parents, the sheriff, and, indeed, the entire town treated her.

Time for Your Thoughts

Please share with us your 2011 Listening Challenge update.  How many categories do you lack or have you completed your challenge?

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Do you know of a new romance release that didn’t make the list?

Have you listened to one of today’s review books?  What were your thoughts?

And, as always, what are your latest audio successes or failures?

Ending Notes

If you didn’t notice in the new releases, Laura Lee Guhrke is coming to audio!  Her Abandoned at the Altar trilogy, is being released in October, November, and December by Tantor.  Let’s hope we see many of her older titles follow suit!

I noticed Susan Duerden is back narrating two more of Lisa Kleypas’ backlist, namely Lady Sophia’s Lover (a favorite) and Worth Any Price.  I’m hoping for more!  How about Someone to Watch Over Me – another of the Bow Street series?  Please!

I’m announcing news for the Speaking of Audiobooks column and other audio tidbits on Twitter – look for SpeakingofAudio (formerly LeaAAR).

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 148 members.  It’s easy to join and it’s a great place for discussion in between our columns.

Enjoy your listening!

- Lea Hensley

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27 Responses to “Speaking of Audiobooks: October 2011 Releases”

  1. Grettel says:

    could you give another try to inspirational? I recommend you “To win her heart” by Karen Witemeyer, narrator Therese Plummer. It’s my first inspirational and my first audiobook and I fell in love with the book listening to the talented voice of Mrs Plummer. Maybe I’m easy to please but the narration is clear and interesting. I’m not a native english speaker and she made easy for me to understand the characters without reading. I would like to hear a second opinion

  2. Susan says:

    Why are they releasing books 2&3 of the Bow Street Runner series by Lisa Kleypas before book 1? That makes no sense. Books 1 & 2 are my favorite in that series. I’ll wait until 1 comes out and then get all three.

    Other than those three, I’m not waiting on anything particular in October, and I have a huge list of books I’ve purchased and not listened to yet. I’d best get listening!

  3. Brenda says:

    Lea I think you meant Kresley Cole’s “A Hunger Like No Other” for the October release – and the narrator is Robert Petkoff. From what research I’ve done he gets nothing but kudos for his past audiobook performances so something to look forward to.

    The anthology Angel’s of Darkness releases from Tantor tomorrow. It features authors Ilona Andrews – Nalini Singh – Sharon Shin with narrators Renee Raudman – Justine Eyre – Coleen Marlo. I love it when publishers care enough about their listening audience to give us the narrators we associate with a series/author even with novella’s.

    Kaetrin I loved your review – I’ve been saving up the Thea Harrison books so I can read/listen uninterrupted while DH is gone for a week later in the month – can’t wait!

    Diana does the hero in Lethal mellow out (even just with the heroine) before the end of the book? The rest sounds really good, I so want to enjoy a Victor Slezak narration.

    Melinda Susan Mallery’s writing style doesn’t work for me either but I’ve always enjoyed Tanya Eby. As always different strokes for different folks, I loved Abby Crayden with Howard’s Prey, I never once noticed the odd pauses and I’m thankful I missed them. :) I used to read Beverley Barton regularly then grew bored with her style – but of course I had to try audio. For me she was / is still monotonous but I enjoyed Karen White despite the storyline she was given.

    As far as the Listening Challenge goes I have two categories left to fulfill by the end of the year, I have lots of choices for both of these but I haven’t settled on one yet.

    Listen to a book recommended in a previous Speaking of Audiobooks column (and following discussion).

    Borrow a book from a friend or your library.

  4. Jo-Ann W. says:

    I was just thinking of my Audiobook Challenge and I’m starting to get nervous. I have two more (out of six) categories to finish and I’m currently in the middle of two books not in the challenge (Mockingjay and Live To Tell). I’m far behind because I listen to a lot of non-romance audios too. I’ll do it – but I’m still nervous!

  5. Diana says:

    Brenda, oh yeah! And Emily wraps him around her tiny little finger. He even learns to deal with singing Elmo. :)

  6. Carrie says:

    #1 Pick a book from your TBR pile- Arabella by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Eve Matheson
    #2 Pick a new narrator- Dream Man by Linda Howard, narrator Philip Gigante
    #3 Pick a book that was a DIK in print- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, narrated by Frances MacDormand
    #4 Start a series that grabs you- Shadow Game by Christine Freehan, narrated by Tom Stechschulte
    #5 Listen to a book someone else chooses for you- Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner
    #6 Listen to a romance sub-genre you usually avoid- A Loving Scoundrel by Johanna Lindsey, narrated by Laural Merlington
    #7 Listen to a book recommended in a Speaking of Audiobooks column- Black Ice by Anne Stuart, narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck
    #8 The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. Listen to another listener’s favorite romance.
    #9 Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, narrated by Anna Fields. This fulfills the “new-to-you” author category.
    #10 Re-listen to a favorite- Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer
    #11 Give a narrator a second chance. Naked in Death narrated by Susan Ericksen.
    #12 Lady Be Good by SEP which I borrowed from the library.

    That leaves abridged audio (probably won’t do this since I can’t bring myself to buy an abridged book and our library on stocks unabridged versions), and a 2011 release.

  7. Lea Hensley says:

    Brenda – I agree that I thought it MUST have been Cole’s A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER but I found NO REST FOR THE WICKED in Recorded Books extremely non-user friendly Coming Soon section. Here’s the description:

    No Rest For The Wicked
    By: Kresley Cole
    USA Today best-selling author Kresley Cole delivers a scorching tale about a forbidding vampire who lives in the shadows and the beautiful assassin who hunts him there. Sebastian Wroth and Kaderin the Cold Hearted are rivals in a legendary hunt—and the prize is powerful enough to change history.
    Available As: Unabridged CD – Library Edition ,
    Unabridged CD – Collectors Edition Due for release in October 2011*

    I often wonder about Recorded Books’ releases. Are these for a library to purchase now and lend later? I feel the need to include their new releases in our list but there are always mysteries.

  8. Lea Hensley says:

    Grettel – thanks for the recommendation of TO WIN HER HEART. I haven’t heard of it previously. I want to include a few more inspirationals in the column’s reviews so I’ll definitely take a look.

  9. Lea Hensley says:

    Susan – I couldn’t agree with you more about the Bow Street series. Books 1 & 2 are among my favorite Kleypas books – probably in the top five. I’m betting there is some digital rights issue somewhere for SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME and hoping its not someone just not knowing the order of the series…

  10. Lea Hensley says:

    Carrie – I’d say you have done very well! I’d give myself a break on the abridged but the 2011 release should be fun. Did you have some categories that surprised you in a good way? I guess I mean – a real success?

    Jo-Ann W – you’ll make it! One this month – one next month – with time to spare!

  11. Diane says:

    This is where I’m at with the Challenge:

    1. Pick an audiobook that received a DIK grade at AAR in print format. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – DONE
    2. Tempt yourself to find a series that grabs hold and won’t let go by listening to the first in a series. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation – Lauren Willig – SERIES DONE
    3. Listen to another listener’s romance favorite. Lois McMaster Bujold – The Curse of Chalion – DONE
    4. Listen to a book recommended in a previous Speaking of Audiobooks column (and following discussion). Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews – DONE
    5. Listen to a new-to-you author. Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches – DONE
    7. Listen to a romance book released in 2011. Shadowfever – DONE
    8. Listen to an abridged audiobook. Every Breath You Take – Judith McNaught – DONE.
    10. Relisten to a favorite book. Dark Peril – Christine Feehan – DONE
    11. Give a less-than-favorite narrator a second chance. Richard Ferrone – The Last Templar – DONE.
    12. Share in your listening – listen to a book someone else chooses for you. It Had to be You – SEP – DONE
    13. Borrow a book from a friend or your library. Divine Evil – Nora Roberts – DONE
    14. Listen to a new-to-you narrator. Susan Bennett – BLOODSUCKING FIENDS, CHRISTOPHER MOORE – DONE

    Still have 2 categories to do:

    6. Listen to a romance sub-genre you usually avoid. Do you find yourself listening to the same type of book? Challenge your tired old preferences and discover a whole new world.
    9. Listen to an audiobook that has been languishing in your to-be-listened (TBL) pile. Whether your TBL pile consists on CDs on your shelf, downloads on your MP3 player, or a book you have on your library list – just do it.

  12. Lea Hensley says:

    Diane – what was your biggest success with your challenge?

    My biggest success to date in my challenge is the Kate Daniels series. If I had known the content in more detail, I would have said “No – not for me!” But it has taken me by surprise with each book in the series. I don’t think I’ll relisten – too much violence for me – but still a very good series. Thanks to all of you who keep raving about it!

  13. moriah says:

    I don’t know if there are any Courtney Milan fans, but two of her books, Unveiled and her most recent Unclaimed are now available at Audible.

  14. Diane says:

    Lea – I think I would consider finding Lauren Willig to be a big success. I really enjoyed galloping through her series and am looking forward to more of her stuff. I would also say the abridged version of Every Breath You Take would be a success for me. I really dislike abridgements and it was a major struggle for me to find something to take a chance on. I’m thinking what helped is that I’ve never read this book in any shape or form so I have no idea what I missed, if anything. This one seemed to be well done in that everything flowed nicely together and didn’t make me feel like I was missing something. Another success would be finding out that Richard Ferrone can actually do a decent narration…as long as it isn’t a romance. :)
    I still have yet to continue with the Kate Daniels series.

  15. Kaetrin says:

    Challenge update – DONE
    • DIK @ AAR Dragon Bound Thea Harrison/Sophie Eastlake
    • Listen to 2011 release – Shadowfever
    • Listen to a new to you narrator – Tavia Gilbert in Night Huntress series
    • Give a less than favourite narrator a second chance – Then Came You
    • Start a new series – Darkfever
    • Listen to another SOA listener’s favourite – Kiss of the Highlander
    • Listen to a new to you author – Ilona Andrews – Magic Bites

    TBA
    Listen to an abridged audiobook
    Listen to a book someone else chooses for you

    @ Brenda – thx! :)

    @ Diana – I just might have to try the Sandra Brown/Victor Slezak combination. They are both new to me. Would Lethal be a good place to start?

    @ Lea – I got confused – did you try and not like Redeeming Love or have you just not started/not finished it yet?

  16. Lea Hensley says:

    Kaetrin – I haven’t listened to Redeeming Love yet.

    Also, I have listened to Lethal and other Brown/Slezak audios. My favorite by far remains Envy followed by Smash Cut and its sequel Tough Customer, and Play Dirty. There are others (I’m sure I have forgotten) and Diana is better at these comparisons than I am but I preferred all the above over Lethal. Lethal is good – I just thought these all were better. Brown and Slezak are a totally winning combination in my opinion.

  17. Lea Hensley says:

    Diane – yea!! You enjoyed EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE. I did read the book and I felt it too long – there was a long separation. The abridged version just takes it out for the most part. Highly successful abridgement for me.

  18. melinda says:

    @Brenda, I usually like Tanya Eby, but Mallery is the very essence of mediocrity to me (and I say that having heard 5 of her books); Eby wasn’t able to lift the story any higher for me. That being said, it wasn’t bad – just nothing to get excited about. And Karen White is a wonderful narrator – I’m guessing the writing made me hone in on the repetitive intonation. That story seemed to have been affected by a bad case of ADD – it was all over the place.

    I’m listening to something now and heard a phrase that threw me. Unfortunately, I was out on a walk, and didn’t stop and jot down the Hour:Minute:Second, and now can’t remember it. Maybe I should bookmark these so I can mention exact instances in reviews – repeated breaths/pauses mid-sentence; intonation that completely changes the meaning of a sentence; monotonous, sing-songy speech pattern – so predictable I find I can hum along with it. It’s not like I can put a sticky note in it, or a page number!

    @Diane – I agree, I thought Pink Carnation was a major success too! Can’t wait to hear more.

  19. Diana says:

    Kaetrin, Brown stopped writing romance formula at least 10 years ago, but that’s a plus for me. I’ve always been a mystery fan so I love the hybrid style that seems to be uniquely hers. Her books have a romance at the core but the mystery is just as important. She’s an outstanding plotter and there’s always a surprise twist. Her heroes are loners who tend to come off as, well, jerks until she slowly peels away the layers. My favorites are Envy, Play Dirty, and Ricochet (narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris). Smash Cut is very good and I’ve added Lethal to my favorites after listening a second time. Still, I’d recommend starting with Envy. It’s about NY publishing and, wow, how things have changed since it was published in 2001.

    • Lea Hensley says:

      Diana: Kaetrin, Brown stopped writing romance formula at least 10 years ago, but that’s a plus for me. I’ve always been a mystery fan so I love the hybrid style that seems to be uniquely hers. Her books have a romance at the core but the mystery is just as important. She’s an outstanding plotter and there’s always a surprise twist. Her heroes are loners who tend to come off as, well,jerks until she slowly peels away the layers. My favorites are Envy, Play Dirty, and Ricochet (narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris). Smash Cut is very good and I’ve added Lethal to my favorites after listening a second time. Still, I’d recommend starting with Envy. It’s about NY publishing and, wow, how things have changed since it was published in 2001.

      I’m trying not to rave but reading Diana’s comments about Envy makes me want to start listening all over again!

  20. Carrie says:

    Lea~ Before the Listening Challenge I was really stuck in an audio rut. I listened to Heyer books, a few Crusie books, and books for the family when we took car trips. It’s been great to branch out. I’ve been pleased with all my Challenge books, but a few were really memorable experiences:

    *Shards of Honor- amazing story, amazing narration. (I’m listening to *Curse of Chalion by the same author right now. So far it’s wonderful, as well.)
    *The Spymaster’s Lady- not my usual genre, but an amazing listen from start to finish.
    *Black Ice totally surprised me. I usually don’t do well with gamma heroes, but this was a great book on audio. (I loved Iced Blue as well.)
    *Primary Inversion was on my TBR list and I even own the print book, but decided to try the audiobook. I’m so glad I did.
    *Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day- I enjoyed the movie and got the audiobook on sale at audible, so I decided to give it a try. The narration is amazingly good, and the story both funny and poignant. Excellent experience.
    *Lastly, after actively disliking Susan Eriksen’s narration of High Noon by Roberts, I decided to give her another chance after reading dozens of positive reviews about her narrations of the In Death books. I was surprised and delighted to find I agreed! I’ve listened to the first 5 in the series now.

  21. Lea Hensley says:

    Carrie – I’m thrilled with your successes in the Challenge! That is what is supposed to do. Last year and this year’s challenges have opened up so many avenues of listening for me. Possibly you will have some ideas to pass on to me for next year’s Challenge??

  22. Carrie says:

    Any Listening Challenge would probably be easy for me since I’m so new to it. There are so many new authors, narrators, and genres left for me to try! But I was thinking it might be fun to listen to “sets” of books, like two books by the same author but set in different time periods, or different sub-genres. Such as an historical and a contemporary by the same author, or a contemporary and a futuristic/pnr. You could do two books with the same narrator, but different authors or sub-genres. Maybe compare two books in a new or less well-read sub-genre, such as two steampunk books.

    I don’t know what you did last year, but categories based on genre would work well for me. ;-) Read one romantic suspense, one regency, one set in Asia/other exotic location, one American historical, one humorous contemporary, one western, etc.

    Other than abridged books (which I think are fine, I’m just too cheap to spend an audible credit on one), I’m game for just about anything. I could easily do the very same categories we had this year and enjoy it immensely.

  23. Nina says:

    Hi All – I’ve missed reading the columns for the past few months. I was out of the country on business for the summer and was too busy to get online but I did read and listen while I was gone. Thank heaven for iPods and Kindles! Glad to be back home and back to this site. Last fall I started lurking here and have listened to so many wonderful books and tried genres new to me – mostly fantasy, shape shifters and paranormals – because of your recommendations. Here is my progress on the 2011 Challenge.

    •Pick an audiobook that received a DIK grade at AAR in print format. Heaven, Texas by SEP: Done
    •Tempt yourself to find a series that grabs hold and won’t let go by listening to the first in a series. Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress Series) by Jeaniene Frost: Done. Have listened to them all.
    •Listen to a book recommended in a previous Speaking of Audiobooks column (and following discussion). Ruthless by Anne Stuart: Done
    •Listen to a new-to-you author. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: Done. Listened to all in the series.
    •Listen to a romance sub-genre you usually avoid. Okay, it’s not that I avoid this genre it’s just that I didn’t know there *was* such a genre – Erotic Horror – Control Freak by Christa Faust. I do listen to some erotica and romantica so I thought it was going to be more of an erotic thriller but this was not a winner for me. I gotta have a hero to root for. It got a 4 star review on Amazon and Audible when it came out so I went with it. Live and learn. Done
    •Listen to a romance book released in 2011. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning. For me a great ending to the series. Done
    •Listen to an audiobook that has been languishing in your to-be-listened (TBL) pile. Wild Rain (Leopard Series) by Christine Feehan: Done. In fact I listened to them all (5). Interestingly she had a different narrator for each one. A guilty pleasure – I’ve always liked Feehan’s alpha men (Ghostwalker series is a winner for me, too). Done
    •Give a less-than-favorite narrator a second chance. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas narrator – Rosalyn Landor. She is still a no for me. Her heroes just sound so old and stuffy. I also enjoyed the Bow Street Runner series in print but I’m not familiar with Susan Duerden.
    •Share in your listening – listen to a book someone else chooses for you. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews: Done. I listened to the whole series in one fell swoop. Thanks to Vic & Brenda for recommending this series – absolutely loved it!
    •Borrow a book from a friend or your library. It Must Be Love by Rachel Gibson. Very cute story. I really enjoyed her series about the 4 friends who are authors. Only the last two in audio and unfortunately my favorite Sex, Lies and Online Dating isn’t in audio.
    •Listen to a new-to-you narrator. Xe Sands. Jacob (The Nightwalker series) by Jacquelyn Franks. Ms. Sands really brought that series to life. I’ve finished the first three and have Damien on my iPod now. I would defiantly listen to other books she narrates.

    I have one more category to go: Listen to another listener’s romance favorite. Since so many people have raved about The Spymaster’s Lady I’m going to listen to that one.

  24. Lea Hensley says:

    Carrie – those are great ideas and I’m taking notes. Thanks!

  25. Lea Hensley says:

    Nina – it is good to have you back! And I’m sooo glad to hear we have enriched your listening experience!

    Susan Duerden narrated two of Kleypas’ backlist recently – MIDNIGHT ANGEL and PRINCE OF DREAMS. I reviewed PRINCE OF DREAMS in the August 22nd column. http://www.likesbooks.com/blog/?p=6890
    I really enjoyed her narration. I have tried a couple of Landor narrated Kleypas’ books and I can’t do it again.

    Sounds like our reading tastes are similar. Rachel Gibson’s SEX, LIES, AND ONLINE DATING was also my favorite of that series and I’m hoping Recorded Books decides to record it soon. However, they are still sitting on NOTHING BUT TROUBLE over at their site and I think I’m about to finally give in and purchase it at their higher price.

  26. [...] releases and more: Tor.com (SFF/horror), Literary Escapism (UF/PNR), AAR (romance audiobooks), and Book Lovers Inc (a little of [...]