Archive for the ‘Lea Hensley’ Category

Speaking of Audiobooks: 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll

Monday, June 18th, 2012

iStock_000001294672SmallAsk just about any romance listener to choose their favorite romance audiobooks and it’s highly likely they will choose a book from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, J.D. Robb’s In Death, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series.  And never has that been more obvious than with our Speaking of Audiobooks 2011 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll where all three were big winners.

So this year, it’s a new take on favorites with only a few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?  We’re taking a beyond the winners approach and admitting our runaway winners last year were just that – first place winners.  Two narrators are included in that solid first place category as well – Anna Fields and Phil Gigante.

With the first three categories in our 2012 poll, we’re looking beyond those highly popular choices to discover what other favorite romance books, series, and narrators we hold in high regard.  You’ll also see twelve new categories as we talk not only about favorites but aspects of performance and the nature of audiobooks in our every day lives.

In addition, our results will include more than the first, second, and third place winners if there are enough votes to support a mention.  You will also see that most categories allow for you to vote for two or three favorites rather than just one.  We want our listeners to have a long list of solid romance recommendations when we publish the results in July.

Although we are asking for your favorite romance audiobooks, series, authors, and narrators, when it comes down to it, we’re talking about narrators.  I’m reminded of the title of the first Speaking of Audiobooks column I wrote more than three years ago – It’s All About the Narrator.  An author can write a fantastic tale but when it comes to audio, it’s the narrator’s duty to deliver.  I like to think of our Favorites Poll as a tribute to those narrators who work tirelessly to deliver romance just the way we want to hear it.

Here’s a look at our 2012 Poll and a bit of description you won’t find on the ballot.


Speaking of Audiobooks: Audible Giveaway and Reviews (Contest Closed)

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Butterfly SwordsJune Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) and we are celebrating!  We’re expressing our support for the audiobook industry today with an Audible membership giveaway.  If you are already a member, you know this means more books for you.  If you have yet to try Audible, this three-month membership requires no credit card and no commitment.  Audible even has a service to set you up with your gift membership.

Today’s Audible giveaway is sponsored by All About Romance.  Enter to win by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, June 14th.  Usually our giveaways are limited to the U.S. and Canada.  However, this Audible gift membership is open to anyone who has access to Audible in his or her area.  We encourage multiple comments in our discussion but you will only be entered in the contest once.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please refrain from entering.  The winner will be notified by email on Friday morning and will have 24 hours to respond.  Another winner will be selected on Saturday morning if the winner has not responded.  The winner will be asked to provide the email address used for their current or future Audible account.

A Very Special Group of Reviews Today

We’re also celebrating JIAM today with ten reviews of the very latest in romance audio.  Up for review are Rachel Gibson’s Rescue Me, Jeannie Lin’s Butterfly Swords, Adele Ashworth’s Winter Garden, Patricia Briggs’ Fair Game, Amanda Quick’s Crystal Gardens, Carla Neggers’ Secrets of the Lost Summer, Nora Roberts’ The Witness, Nora Robert’s Carnal Innocence, Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot in the Sand, and Julia Quinn’s A Night Like This.

Our 2nd Annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll June 18th

We’ll continue to celebrate JIAM next week with Speaking of Audiobooks’ second annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll.  This year it’s a new take on favorites with only a few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?  We’re taking a beyond the winners approach and admitting our runaway winners last year, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and J.D. Robb’s In Death series are just that – first place winners.  Now we’re looking beyond those highly popular series to discover what other favorites are lurking out there.  We’ve also added some new categories making our 2012 poll truly unique. (more…)

Speaking of Audiobooks: The Audies and Romance

Monday, June 4th, 2012

iStock_000004062139SmallIf you have read even one of our Speaking of Audiobooks columns, it’s clear to you that I’m an avid proponent of audiobooks – romance in particular.  Celebrating June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) is a special joy in that its goal is to increase consumer awareness of the audiobook industry.  I’m amazed at the large number of planned events as well as the concerted effort to exhibit the vast array of choices, the ease of listening, and affordability of audiobooks to readers and non-readers alike.  Taking place in June as well are the Audio Publishers Association Conference and the Audie Awards Gala and Awards Presentation (sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association) for excellence in narration, direction, and engineering.

For years, I paid little attention to the Audies.  More often than not, those nominated for romance failed to impress me as worthy of such an award.  I started paying closer attention to the finalists in 2009 as the Speaking of Audiobooks column had become a twice-monthly event and we were seeing the occasional Audies comment in our discussion area.  We usually heard a confused “Huh?” while looking over each year’s romance finalists and, I fear, the awards were ignored for the most part.


Speaking of Audiobooks: June 2012 Releases

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Catch of the DayIn the world of audiobooks, June Is Audiobook Month 2012 (JIAM) is more than just an honored month.  In an effort to increase consumer awareness, special events are planned across the industry to promote, celebrate, and educate the public about the variety, ease, and affordability of audiobooks.

June Events

Speaking of Audiobooks enthusiastically supports JIAM and is joining in this celebration with three special events.  Watch for announcements on Twitter, our new Facebook page, our Goodreads group, or here at AAR.

Monday June 11th Giveaway

To kick off JIAM, it’s a giveaway unlike any other you’ve seen here at Speaking of Audiobooks.  We’re not exactly giving away audiobooks this time around but it’s a prize any audiobook listener – romance or not – will enjoy.  Included in this column will be reviews of ten recent romance audio releases.  We’re prepared and raring to go!

The week of June 18thOur Annual Favorite Romance Audiobook Poll

It’s a new take on favorites with few of last year’s categories.  After all, how often can you choose All Time Favorites?

The week of June 25th – A talk with Tavia Gilbert.  She’s narrating Jeaniene Frost’s highly anticipated Once Burned due out June 26th.  And we’ll have more than a few romance reviews as well.


Speaking of Audiobooks: A Beginner’s Guide

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Natural Born CharmerSo, you’re a romance fan who’s new to audiobooks.  Where do you start?  Or, say you are an audio fan and want to explore the romance genre.  Yet, when you look at the overwhelming number of available romance audiobooks, you have no idea where to start.

In our April column, Friends Helping Friends, we discussed the importance of seeking recommendations from those who have similar tastes to your own.  As a beginner, it is all the more important that you seek solid recommendations since outstanding audiobooks are a combination of an author’s talent and a narrator’s skill.  If a narrator can’t effectively deliver an author’s work, the audio version suffers.  On the other hand, a talented narrator can transform a ho-hum read into an above average listen.  And, as a beginner, you should consider these facts before committing to an audiobook.

Since the choosing can be difficult for the romance audio beginner, I’ve joined together with our audio reviewers to develop A Beginner’s Guide to Romance Audio.  It’s a list of audiobooks by sub-genre that we consider easy listens.  Not only is the story of high quality, but the narration is of such high quality as well that it flows effortlessly to a new listener’s ears.


Speaking of Audiobooks: May 2012 Releases

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Rescue MeMay 5th will mark three years for the Speaking of Audiobooks column.  What started as a mere opportunity to give my opinion that audiobooks are All About the Narrator, rapidly grew to a twice-monthly feature here at All About Romance.  We discovered there was a lot of enthusiasm for romance audio and that listeners were raring to talk about their best romance finds, their worst audio experiences, and everything in between.

Initially my audio reviews were so short that I called them Mini-Reviews and the majority of reviews within the column were mine.  In January 2011, avid listeners Brenda and Melinda started writing reviews for Speaking of Audiobooks followed by LinnieGayl and Kaetrin in March and Diana in May.  Since these ladies all know romance audio inside out and enjoy talking about it, I don’t think the term mini-review applies to our review style these days.  Many thanks to these ladies for their contributions.

I’m very pleased to announce that Carrie is joining our audio review team today.  It’s likely that you have seen Carrie around either here in our discussion area or at our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group.  Her first review, Forbidden by Suzanne Brockmann, is below.  Welcome, Carrie!


Speaking of Audiobooks: Friends Helping Friends

Monday, April 16th, 2012

iStock_000014991230SmallThere’s a definite methodology to finding an audiobook that fits your tastes.  If you don’t subscribe to that theory, you may liken the entire hunt for a successful audio experience to finding a needle in a haystack.  Others may highly recommend an audiobook and after you run to buy it, you might realize it’s not to your taste.

What’s first on the list for your consideration?  The basic story or that presented to you in print.  Second is the sound of a narrator’s voice.  It either sounds good to your ear or it doesn’t.  Third is the narrator’s performance of the characters and differentiating voices adequately for your listening ears.  And finally, there is that all-too-important interpretation of the story – does the narrator’s match yours?

Because of these many personal preferences, it’s difficult for me to recommend an audiobook to a listener cold turkey.  Often I am asked one-on-one for recommendations and I try to gather some basic favorites information first.  What authors do they favor?  What is a favorite book in print?  What narrators have they enjoyed in the past?  What is a favorite audiobook?  What is their favorite romance sub-genre?  And, very important, can they share with me audiobooks that didn’t work for them?


Speaking of Audiobooks: April 2012 Releases

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Be My PrinceIt’s time for Round Two of the Surprise by the Quarter track in our 2012 Listening Challenge!  Continue with this round of your 2012 Challenge or, if you want, jump in for just this quarter.  Round Two covers April – June.

The Four Categories:

Choice #1 – The FunniesListen to a romance that is also a hoot!

For recommendations, take a look at Speaking of Audiobooks: The Funny Ones, AAR’s Special Title Listing of Favorite Funnies (a list of print books but many are available in audio), or just ask our group for suggestions.

Choice #2 – Listen to a romance narrated by a man.

Choice #3 – Rounding Out the FamilyListen to a romance where a child (under 18) or pet plays a significant role.

For pet recommendations, there is an extensive list at AAR’s Special Title Listing of Amazing Animals (once again – a list of print books but many are audiobooks as well).  For children, I’ll need to ask the group for suggestions!

Choice #4 – Listen to a non-romance.

Share your Challenge update here in the column’s discussion area or at our Goodreads group where we have a thread dedicated to the Challenge.

April’s Romance Audiobook Releases


Speaking of Audiobooks: Giveaway Plus Author and Narrator Interviews (Giveaway Closed)

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The Madness of I MacWhen I discovered that Tantor was set to release Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie on March 26th, I enthusiastically shared the news far and wide.  Published in 2009, it’s a favorite among romance readers winning Best Romance of 2009 in AAR’s Annual Reader Poll and ranking #10 in AAR’s 2010 Top 100 Romance Poll.  In print, we were mesmerized by hero Ian Mackenzie and, in audio, we hope to move the entire experience up a notch by actually hearing him interact in his matter-of-fact manner as he determinedly pursues Beth.

Today, we are celebrating the release of this much loved book with a giveaway and interviews with both author Jennifer Ashley and narrator Angela Dawe.

The Giveaway

We are giving away FIVE MP3 CD copies of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie courtesy of Tantor Audio.  Place your name in the hat by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, March 22nd. Due to the cost of postage, the giveaway is open only to listeners in the U.S. and Canada.  We encourage multiple comments in our discussion, but you will only be entered in the contest once.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  The winner will be notified by email on Friday morning and will have 24 hours to respond.  Another winner will be selected on Saturday morning if the winner has not responded.  Audiobooks will be mailed to the winners upon release of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

Talking with Jennifer Ashley


Speaking of Audiobooks: Males Versus Female Narrators

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Renee Black (Raudman)Fortunately I encounter few audiobooks that I out and out dislike.  Recommendations from trusted audio friends, taking the time to research the narrator, and reading reviews of the print version usually provide me with at least an average audiobook experience.  But when an audiobook does go wrong, it’s usually due to the narrator’s misinterpretation of a primary character, indistinguishable characters, or worse of all, an effeminate sounding hero.  Nothing gets my audio dander up more.  Sure, there is an element of my own listening interpretation buried somewhere deep but, don’t make me guess if it’s the hero speaking rather than the heroine and don’t ever, ever make him sound feminine.  Since I can’t see him, I need him to sound extra male.

Male narrators, as one would expect, usually get the hero thing right.  He may not interpret a character to my liking but at least he has the whole “sounds like a male” thing going and that is a huge head start.  Female narrators, however, must prove to my ear first, that he is actually male, before I even start considering if he is as male as his character requires.  Unfair?  Possibly, but after years of listening to audiobooks, I have finally accepted the fact that it’s just the way my brain wraps itself around a female’s performance of a male character.  So, do I penalize a male performer as much for misperforming a heroine’s voice?  Probably not, and thus the question begs to be asked.  Would I rather listen to a female narrator who can’t deliver a convincing male voice or a male who can’t deliver a convincing female voice?  Or even more to the point, would I prefer to listen to an effeminate sounding hero or a drag queen heroine?