Speaking of Audiobooks: It’s All Reviews – May 2013

TPOM-print It’s time for another All Reviews column here at Speaking of Audiobooks. Eight audiobooks are up for review including Laura Kinsale’s The Prince of Midnight (no link yet for the audio), Rachel Gibson’s Simply Irresistible, Julie James’ Love Irresistibly, Julie Garwood’s Prince Charming, Cynthia Eden’s Die for Me, J.D. Robb’s Calculated in Death, Jeaniene Frost’s Twice Tempted, and Sophie Kinsella’s Wedding Night.

The Prince of Midnight – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Review written by Lea Hensley

It’s finally here. Romance listeners have eagerly awaited The Prince of Midnight, the first audio release from Laura Kinsale’s fascinating backlist. Earlier this year, Ms. Kinsale announced that her entire backlist (twelve titles) would be released in audio during 2013 and into 2014 and now we have a taste of Kinsale’s skillful writing combined with Nicholas Boulton’s talented performance. It’s sheer audio perfection. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Covers – Help or Hindrance?

Crystal Cove(1) When making a decision to buy an audiobook, the cover doesn’t influence my choice one way or another. If I want a particular audiobook, I’ll buy it, and if I don’t like the cover, I’ll remind myself that with my iPod, I’ll seldom see it.

But can an attractive or catchy cover influence me to take a second look at a book by an author unfamiliar to me? Or does a non-appealing cover have the power to repel me enough that I won’t consider taking a deeper look at an unknown author? The answer to both of those questions is a “most definitely.” Do those second looks lead to an audio purchase? I admit that it seldom does but if a cover speaks to me, I’m often inspired to take a closer look at the synopsis and reviews.

When you consider that choosing the right audiobook is a series of decisions as one must consider the author, narrator, and the publisher’s history of production quality as well as the synopsis and reviews, I think a case can be made that audiobook covers need to make an even stronger statement than their fellow print versions. After all, their duty is to attract listeners despite the fact that both the author and narrator may be unfamiliar to the buyer. And that’s what a cover is to me – a sales job. Can they entice me to stop and look just a little longer? Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: It’s All Reviews – March 2013

It Must Be Love It’s time for another All Reviews column here at Speaking of Audiobooks. Six audiobooks are up for review including Rachel Gibson’s It Must Be Love, Pamela Clare’s Breaking Point, Julie Garwood’s The Secret, Jayne Ann Krentz’s Dream Eyes, Diana Miller’s Dangerous Affairs, and Maya Bank’s Rush.

It Must be Love by Rachael Gibson

Narrated by Rebecca Tripp

Review written by Carrie

I’ve read all Gibson’s books and was excited about listening to It Must Be Love on audio. I’m pleased to say the narrator is a win, but certain aspects of the plot make the book less enjoyable than I remembered.

Gabrielle, our heroine, mixes herbal remedies and essential oils and talks about auras and karma. She meditates and chants and attempts to find her peaceful center. The street festival in our local university town would be an ideal place to find Gabrielle, and perhaps that’s also true for Boise, Idaho where the book is set. While many of the beliefs Gabrielle espouses are still quite popular, the New Age phenomenon was much more prominent in pop culture when the book was published in 2000. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: The Audie Finalists in Romance

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie Last June during June Is Audiobook Month, I penned a complaint here at Speaking of Audiobooks about the Audie Awards and how out of touch they were with the romance listening community. What are the Audie Awards? Sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association, they give recognition to those within the industry for excellence in narration, direction, and engineering. The 2013 awards gala is scheduled for May 30th this year.

Romance listeners in the past have talked very little about the Audie Romance Finalists here at Speaking of Audiobooks and at our Romance Goodreads group. Why pay attention to an awards ceremony that often doesn’t even fill the romance category with books actually categorized as romance? After all, the Romance winner in 2011(The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James) was categorized as general fiction. I understand that the list of romance finalists is not meant to be a statement of romance listeners’ favorites. However, generally those lists (and the winners) haven’t generated many warm fuzzies among the romance listening community. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Untrained Narrators? I’m Not Interested

There’s a new trend sweeping the audiobook industry and it’s the frequent use of untrained narrators. Narrators who are more likely to take away from the audiobook experience rather than add to it. It’s a trend that I hope will simply spend itself and go away, but one which I’m afraid is here to stay. I can only assume that somewhere along the line, the decision to use untrained narrators (with lower pay) translates into the ability to produce more audiobooks. But in the process, an invisible price is paid as the listener’s trust slowly erodes. How many listeners will continue to buy audiobooks (or even use the library) if the experience is less than enjoyable? It’s not only a waste of the listener’s money but their time as well.

Fortunately, there are still a number of audiobook publishers who choose to use well-trained narrators for the majority of their releases. As we often see expressed here at Speaking of Audiobooks, listeners develop a trust relationship with narrators, so much so, that listeners are known to follow narrators as well as authors from one audiobook to the next. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Historical Romance Audio News

It looks like 2013 will be one of the best years yet for historical romance listening with many popular print books finally scheduled for audio release.

Julie Garwood
It starts this month with the release of Julie Garwood’s The Secret, a book that has made every AAR Top 100 Romances Poll since it started in 1998. It’s classic Julie Garwood and one many recall from their early days of romance reading with its original 1992 publication date. And it is being narrated by one of my favorites for historical romance – Susan Duerden.

Brilliance has scheduled the majority of Garwood’s backlist (that is not already in audio format) for release in 2013. A month ago, we saw the release of Prince Charming (Rosalyn Landor) with projected release dates for: Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio Bests for 2012

It’s once again time to take a look at the previous twelve months of listening and choose my Top Ten romance audios for the year. Over the past two weeks, I’ve relistened to portions of each of these choices, bringing vividly to life the reasons for their inclusion on this list. I recall my excitement and pleasure as I listened to each of these outstanding releases.

I find I’m no longer a purist when it comes to my romance listening. Oh, I still require a thread of romance or the potential (in a continuing series) for such but my favorites no longer have to feature the romance first and foremost. And this year’s Top Ten is evidence of such with books bordering on women’s fiction, paranormal with future romance potential, or fantasy with overtones of romance. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Laura Kinsale is Coming to Audio!

Romance audio enthusiasts have something splendid coming their way in 2013 – the ever so loved and admired Laura Kinsale. I’m not talking about our usual experience of seeing an audio release here and another there as we wonder about the timing of the next release and especially the chosen narrator. It’s much bigger than that.

How about seeing her entire backlist in 2013? That’s the plan – twelve extraordinary tales as only Laura Kinsale can deliver. And our wait won’t be all that long with five to six of those titles released around mid-year followed by the balance before year-end. As one of my favorite authors in print, I was thrilled with this news. After all, I’ve been wishing for Kinsale audios out loud for several years now.

We won’t need to wait anxiously for the choice of narrator either as Ms. Kinsale chose, with great care, one narrator for all of her titles – Nicholas Boulton. An accomplished British actor, you can explore his background over at IMBD as well as listen to sound bites at Audible. After listening to samples from A Battle Won and David Copperfield, I’m convinced his gorgeous sexy voice combined with obvious talent and excellent material will spell scrumptious listening!

You may recall that Laura Kinsale was chosen by our listeners as one of the Romance Author’s Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio in the 2012 Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll. How exciting to see another of our choices actually make the move to audio!

If Laura Kinsale is a new name to you, it’s a good time to check out her books in eBook format as Amazon currently has six of her titles priced at $2.99. If you are looking for a place to start, I recommend The Shadow and the Star, Flowers from the Storm or Uncertain Magic. Don’t expect anything ordinary – these are intricate stories packed with emotional depth and unusual characters.

Here’s a toast to all the Kinsale listening in our future!

– Lea Hensley

Speaking of Audiobooks: Listening and Changing Reading Tastes

Reading tastes often change over the years – I realize that. But I find the degree of change I’ve seen in my life over the past five years to be on the rather surprising side. At one time, I knew my favorite romance sub-genres and stuck to them faithfully. If I tired of one, I moved to another, knowing a break would allow me to regain interest in the first. The genres that totally captured my attention five years ago were historical (any setting) and contemporary romance – period. If a contemporary romance developed a whodunit, the grade went down. If a historical heroine started helping the super spy hero find the bad guy or investigate a mystery (usually with no such experience on her part), I could barely finish the book. I needed my contemporary and historical romance titles to be purely just that with no whodunits thrown in. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Audible’s New Coming Soon List, Preordering & More!

Here at Speaking of Audiobooks, we have bragged on Audible in the past, encouraged others to give Audible a try, alerted listeners to Audible specials, and followed Audible’s romance releases day by day – reporting back to fellow listeners, both here and our affiliated Romance Audiobooks Goodreads group, those unexpected releases we know will cause excitement. And we have wondered out loud many times just why Audible doesn’t provide a comprehensive Coming Soon list for all genres and romance in particular.

Well, change is a coming. A few months ago at Audible, I started noticing a few future releases (with preorder ability) tucked in a corner here and there if the book was part of an ongoing series. Good. Then I noticed Audible had increased their Coming Soon section on their Home Page with the ability to sort by genre. Better. And then I realized you could preorder those Coming Soon titles. Even better. Continue reading