nblibgirlParticipant03/19/2021 at 6:34 pmPost count: 27
Don’t get me wrong. I love to read off of the page (both paper and e-book). But there are titles that I prefer to listen to – where for some reason the narration has just resulted a better “read”. When I recommend these books to others I always suggest they listen rather than read, if at all possible. Here are some of my favorite listens. What are yours?
Waiting for the Flood written by Alexis Hall and narrated by Alexander Doddy
Agnes and the Hitman written by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer, narrated by Sandra Burr
Beard Science written by Penny Reid, narrated by Joy Nash and Chris Brinkley
Caz OwensKeymaster03/19/2021 at 7:19 pmPost count: 55
I think there are some narrators who can elevate even the best stories into something “more”.
Gary Furlong in Dal Maclean’s Bitter Legacy trilogy
Greg Tremblay/Boudreaux in too many books/series to mention – Squared Away and Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert; Jenn Burke’s Not Dead Yet series come immediately to mind.
Kate Reading in Loretta Chase
Nicholas Boulton in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm (and all her books, actually!) and in Alexis Hall’s Glitterland.
I’m sure I could find some more, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
nblibgirlParticipant03/20/2021 at 12:20 amPost count: 27
Just finished listening to Jenn Burke’s Not Dead Yet trilogy and that is a case where I think Boudreaux made more of the books than is really there. I quite liked the first book but thought some of the “fixes” dreamed up by the author in books 2 and 3 were a bit out there. I found myself wondering if I’d been reading the books, would I have put them down and moved on to something else. But Boudreaux is so easy to listen to I just kept going.
Agnes and the Hitman is like that for me. The book doesn’t work very well for me off the page. But turn on the audio version and I’m so happy to listen.
OTOH, Kate Reading narrating Lorretta Chase is a great example of both great writing *and* great narration. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
My hope with this thread is to create a list of great listens . . . ;-)
So, maybe two lists: great audio books and then just great narrators.
Caz OwensKeymaster03/20/2021 at 9:06 amPost count: 55
I could supply a very loooooong list, so be careful what you wish for!! Here’s the short (!) version.
I left Rosalyn Landor in Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series off my original list. Also Landor in Mary Balogh and Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series She’s one of my all time favourite narrators.
RL, Kate Reading and Mary Jane Wells are probably my top three HR narrators. I would have added Alex Wyndham to that list but now I have to add a caveat, which is that some of his more recent performances haven’t worked for me; he’s made some changes (adopting a weird sort of half-whisper and repetitive intonation, for instance) that I don’t much care for. I’d still recommend his work on books by Stella Riley and Lucinda Brant, though.
There are some fantastic narrators of m/m books out there (most of these guys narrate m/f as well). Greg Boudreaux is top-notch, a superb vocal actor (he’s also brilliant it Rachel Grant’s Flashpoint series, which is m/f). J.F Harding is doing fantastic work in two series by my other favourite Greg (Ashe), Gary Furlong is amazingly versatile and also one of the best vocal actors around. Joel Leslie, Michael Ferraiuolo, Iggy Toma, Nick Hudson, Gomez Pugh (especially in Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop series), Nick J. Russo, Tim Paige.
Then there are the CR “powerhouse” narrators like Andi Arndt and Erin Mallon, Joe Arden, Shane East, Teddy Hamilton, Zachary Webber, Sebastian York, who narrate for a number of the really popular CR authors. I don’t listen to a great deal of m/f CR but those narrators are all exceptionally good. I also like Charlotte North, Brittany Pressley and Carly Robins and I’m sure there are lots of others I’ve missed out.
I’ll have a delve through my top audio reviews to see if I can come up with a list of recommended titles. (Most of my audio reviews are at http://www.audiogals.net if you’re ever looking for ideas!)
Dabney GrinnanKeymaster03/20/2021 at 8:27 amPost count: 128
I won’t belabor my current obsession with Jim Dale’s rendering of the Harry Potter books because both version are stellar.
One of my favorite non-fiction books, Girls Like Us, is better as audio. It’s so densely packed with interesting stories about King, Mitchell, and Simon and the cultural of the US musical scenes of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, that it is easier to savor as a listen.
Circe is also better experienced as a listen. The narrator is perhaps the best I’ve ever heard.
I am a speed reader so audio is so much vastly slower for me than reading–maybe ten times. Easy reads are less appealing to me as listens because I just. don’t. have. the. time.
nblibgirlParticipant03/21/2021 at 4:32 pmPost count: 27
I hear you about the speed (and I envy people who are really fast readers). BUT in addition to listening to books I might not find the time to read off the page, I’ve discovered that my rereading tends to be “listens” – which in turn frees up time for new material to be read off the page.
BTW – I too adore Jim Dale. In addition to the Harry Potter books, he also narrated Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. He was just as good with those books too. Agree with you about Circe and have not yet read Girls Like Us – so I’ll give it a listen ;-)
Carrie G03/20/2021 at 3:24 pmPost count: 350
Stella Riley’s book are great in print, but Alex Wyndham made them amazing. The same with Lucinda Brant’s books. I know there is some unhappiness about Wyndham’s newer narrations, but the ones I’ve listened to have mostly been great. Probably they were older.
I enjoy Sandra Brown,and her book Envy was fantastic on audio! Victor Slezak was amazing as narrator. Generally, if he is narrating, I prefer her books on audio.
I have a feeling my enjoyment of K.J. Charles has been enhanced by listening to the audio versions.
Caz has mentioned most of the other books/narrators. I don’t think Him,or other books by Sarina Bowen/Elle Kennedy would have been nearly as good in print. Just this week I also listened to Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin. It would have been a B-in print,I think, but Rosalyn Landor did an amazing job on the narration and it brought up my enjoyment a lot.
I’ve read all of Heyer’s in print and listened on audio, and while I love them either way, the audiobooks are fantastic. I don’t think you can get a copy of The Talisman Ring any more in the US, but if you do, the narration by Phyllida Nash is the best!
Caz OwensKeymaster03/20/2021 at 3:39 pmPost count: 55
Yes, Alex Wyndham’s first recording – or one of them – was Lucinda Brant’s Deadly Engagement, the first book in her Alec Halsey Mystery series. He narrated books 1-3 in that series, but LB switched to using Matthew Lloyd Davies/Cornell Collins for book 4, and he was also excellent. AW’s narrationsof Stella Riley’s Rockliffe books, A Splendid Defiance and The Marigold Chain are good, too. I think the changes I’ve noted have been fairly recent – within the last couple of years.
A few new Heyer recordings have recently come out in the UK, but aren’t available in the US for some reason. I imagine it’s geographical rights again. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but I will at some point. Among them – Alexander Vlahos narrating These Old Shades, and Michael Maloney doing Devil’s Cub – https://www.audible.co.uk/search?ref=a_search_l1_feature_six_browse-bin_0&pf_rd_p=ff83f79f-3ec9-4d26-81d0-a70cf6f8e4e3&pf_rd_r=8GM44HGMMJKKSMZ5G9J2&keywords=georgette%20heyer&feature_six_browse-bin=20230028031&sort=pubdate-desc-rank
Mary Jane Wells made Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal into a decent listen (it’s a C grade story, but she bumped it up a bit). She also does great work in Lisa Kleypas Ravenels books – my favourite is Marrying Winterborne – again, she elevates them from middling to decent. She’s also great in two books by Simone St. James – The Other Side of Midnight and Silence for the Dead.
Nan De Plume03/20/2021 at 4:12 pmPost count: 350
I’m not an audiobook reader per se for a number of reasons including poor attention span, general dislike of being read to, and just generally preferring other formats.
Having said that, I do think audiobooks work better than print or e-books for comedic material read by the original comedian writer. An example that immediately comes to mind are any clips I’ve heard of the late George Carlin doing audiobook narrations of his own work. While I enjoyed reading his book Napalm and Silly Putty as a hardcover, I couldn’t help thinking at the time, “I really should have listened to the audiobook or watched him perform these bits on DVD instead.” I haven’t read a ton of comedians’ bits in book form, but I really think the written word isn’t always the best format for comedy. So much of the humor comes from the comedian’s timing and inflections, which is difficult to capture on the page.
So yes, when it comes to stand-up comedians writing humorous books, I think it can be a lot better to listen to the author’s own audio narration than reading it to ourselves in our own internal voice. But for other genres? Eh… generally not for me.
Caz OwensKeymaster03/21/2021 at 8:47 amPost count: 55
Dare I say I’ve known several people who have said exactly the same thing… who have since become big audiobook fans? it’s an acquired taste maybe, and there’s absolutely no reason why one should be forced to think they need to acquire it – but it’s made a huge different to my reading habits, especially when it comes to catching up with authors’ backlists. Because there’s often a time delay between a book coming out in print/eformat and audio, I’ve been able to listen to books I might otherwise never have got around to reading, and that’s a massive plus for me. As the OP said, the right narrator can make a huge difference to a story; they can’t make silk purses out of sows’ ears, but when the mix is right, he or she can elevate a good book to another level.
nblibgirlParticipant03/21/2021 at 4:11 pmPost count: 27
Couldn’t agree more. . . Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime is another example where the author narrating his own work was absolutely perfect. Noah speaks so many languages that his ability to narrate in the appropriate accent is not only totally entertaining but it helps him make one of his most interesting points: how someone sounds is far more likely than skin color or clothes or almost anything else to establish one as either friend or foe. In more than one instance in his life, Noah has (literally) saved himself from various forms of verbal and physical aggression with his ability to respond in kind to those who would bully or harm him. It was an absolutely convincing argument, as you listen to him switch from one “language” (accented English in the English version of the book) to another, with breathtaking facility throughout the book.
Carrie G03/21/2021 at 11:45 amPost count: 350
One of the reasons I like audiobooks so much is that listening helps me use what would otherwise be lost time, or down time for me, like when I do housework, run errands, play tablet games, and walk the dog. Since there are so many books I want to read and plenty of time when I can’t sit down and read, audiobooks are the answer for me. But my husband has never caught on to audiobooks except when we go on trips and pick one to listen to in the car, so I know it can be very individual.
nblibgirlParticipant03/21/2021 at 4:23 pmPost count: 27
Me too Carrie. At first, I was put off by the slowness of listening. But when I realized I could combine audio with many other activities, I was hooked. With audio, I can read significantly more books in a given year.
nblibgirlParticipant03/21/2021 at 4:50 pmPost count: 27
Thank you Caz and everyone else who is contributing. Many of these narrators/authors I know and love too; but there are a few new ones too. So yay! And I’m glad to hear the Stella Riley’s are good. I read the first two in the Rockcliffe series off the page and intend to read the rest, so I’ll definitely check out the audio versions of those.
If you were going to give a new-to-romance reader an audio booklist, what would be on it? Or if you could only have access to 10 titles which would you choose?
In addition to the 3 titles I mentioned above, I’d add one
Georgette Heyer (my favorite on any given day is Venetia, Sylvester or Frederica)
Loretta Chase (Mr. Impossible (newbie) or Lord Perfect (for me) )
Natural Born Charmer by SEP and read by the incomparable Anna Fields
Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, narrated by Nicholas Boulton
I’m missing a Rosalyn Landor (does she have a quintessential performance?) and an m/m title . . . . GAH!
How about you? What would be on your audio short list?
Caz OwensKeymaster03/21/2021 at 5:23 pmPost count: 55
Rosalyn Landor is the doyenne of historical romance audio, IMO – Kate Reading is fabulous also, but their styles are different and Ms. Reading is not as prolific.
RL has been recording romance for a long time – more than 20 years I’d say – and her style has changed over the years. My first recording of hers was Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter – and it was also one of the first HR audios I ever listened to, so I have a real soft spot for it. I believe, however, that she’s about to re-record it; the Hathaways and Wallflower series are being re-released in audio format and are at long last available in the UK, and RL told me she had actually been asked to re-record them, so they’re not just re-issues, they’re brand new recordings, and I’m eager to see what she does with my old favourite! But I think she did some of her best work on the Brothers Sinister series. A Kiss for Midwinter is one of my favourites, and it’s a novella so it’s not very long, but that entire series is excellent. And as I’ve said above, there’s the whole Bridgerton series, lots of Mary Balogh and plenty of other things to choose from.
As for m/m – it’s a tough choice! Matthew Lloyd Davies/Cornell Collins does excellent work in KJ Charles’ audiobooks, if you’re looking for m/m historicals, and Joanna Chambers’ Enlightenment series is great in audio, too. Gary Furlong and Joel Leslie give terrific performances of Cat Sebastian’s books. For contemporaries, I’d recommend Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series (it has different narrators, including Greg Boudreaux and J.F Harding) and her Frozen Hearts series, Joel Leslie is absolutely amazing in Alexis Hall’s How to Bang a Billionaire, N.R Walker’s Thomas Elkin trilogy is one of my all time favourites, Alexis Hall’s Pansies and Boyfriend Material, Hailey Turner’s Metahumans series, if you enjoy futuristic/military-style adventure yarns… Gregory Ashe’s Borealis Investigations … but when all’s said and done, you can’t go wrong with one of the quintessential m/m series – Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English (5 books) series is superb and the narrator is fantastic. There are so many different styles and sub-genres to choose from – feel free to hit me up if you want some more specific recommendations! My email address is around here in the AAR info somewhere.
nblibgirlParticipant03/21/2021 at 9:12 pmPost count: 27
I think that is so interesting that Landor is going to rerecord titles . . . is that an ownership/royalty thing? Or is there some specific update in the book/performance that is planned?
And you’ve listed many more favorites . . . There’s very few you’ve listed that I haven’t listened to. One big exception: I’ve not really listened to any of the Gregory Ashe to date. He writes new titles too quickly to “reread” via listening. I’m scrambling to keep up just reading off the page!
Ok, maybe my list will have to be twenty titles (with some “titles” actually being their series??? LOL).
Caz OwensKeymaster03/22/2021 at 8:30 amPost count: 55
No, I just think it’s that she’s so good and her earlier recordings of those titles were really popular – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I am guessing that the re-record is to do with rights as those books were never available to download in the UK, so now that initial contract has expired, Harper can re-do them to make them available globally.
With Gregory Ashe – I’m not wild about the narrator in the Hazard and Somerset books, so I would hesitate to recommend them in audio unless there’s no other way for you to access them. His Borealis series is 3 books, with a 4th in production and the narrator (Charlie David) is pretty good. But the best of all is J.F Harding, who is recording two of his series, and so far there are only the first books of each out – They Told Me I Was Everything (book 1 in The First Quarto series) and The Same Breath (book one in The Lamb and the Lion series). Both titles have been reviewed here (the e-editions) and I’ve reviewed the audio of They Told Me I Was Everything at AudioGals (my audio review of The Same Breath has yet to run). You could start with either of those :)
Carrie G03/22/2021 at 8:34 amPost count: 350
My list would be of authors or series! Like I haven’t listened to any Stella Riley book that I haven’t loved on audio.
If the person was a sci-fi fan I would recommend the Vorkosagan books by Lois McMaster Bujold on audio, although I haven’t finished that series. These are sci-fi, not romance although there is one book that is Miles’ love story, and the first book Shards of Honor is how Miles’ parents met and fell in love. The narrations are fantastic. If fantasy is an interest, then Buljold’s Curse of Chalion narrated by Lloyd James and her Paladin of Souls narrated by Kate Reading are wonderful.
If the person enjoyed romantic suspense I would suggest Envy by Sandra Brown, narrated by Victor Slezak.
If well-crafted, often funny stories are a persons catnip, then I recommend almost any romance by Georgetter Heyer on audio. Kisses only, however.
Other than that, most of what I would recommend has already been recommended by Caz, except I’d add Mia Vincy’s books recorded by Kate Reading.
First time through I enjoyed SEP’s Chicago Stars books, and you can’t beat Anna Fild’s narration, but I tried listening to them again this past spring and really didn’t like them. I’m not sure what changed in me.
Caz OwensKeymaster03/22/2021 at 10:57 amPost count: 55
If I had the time (a common complaint!) I’d love to resurrect the Speaking of Audiobooks feature we used to do once a month, or something similar. Audiobooks are so popular now, and as I’ve said they’re integral now to my reading process. I’ve reviewed a few audiobooks for AAR, and will continue to do so (and to encourage my fellow reviewers to as well). It’s something I think about from time to time… and wonder if I could find a way to fit it in. I haven’t so far, but I’ll keep thinking about it!
Carrie G03/22/2021 at 2:23 pmPost count: 350
I enjoyed being a part of Speaking of Audiobooks years ago. It was a great way to get information and mini-reviews, best -of lists, and more. But you are so busy already, so I can’t imagine. What might work some day is a monthly “what’s coming on audio” blog and perhaps some mini-reviews of the audio versions of books already reviewed on the site, this time focusing on narration and technical quality. And perhaps occasional blogs Like “favorite male narrators for m/m” or “best dual narrations,” “single vs dual vs ensemble narrations,” or “best author/narrator combinations.” Just a few thoughts if you do decide to add to your work load. :-)
nblibgirlParticipant03/22/2021 at 4:54 pmPost count: 27
Count me a fan of those old audio blog posts too! Perhaps these message boards can be used as Carrie suggests with specific topic threads. That is what I intended with “Audio better than print”. I was looking specifically for books that are significantly better in audio than they are in print.
Caz OwensKeymaster03/23/2021 at 3:24 amPost count: 55
Hah! Those sorts of posts are do-able, but they’d have huge gaps because I’d be writing from my perspective, so they’d be geared towards m/m, romantic suspense and HR. I don’t listen to much m/f CR or WF (if any) and I think a piece like that would need a bit more balance! I already compile the Monthly Picks for AG, but I might be able to do something similar to the Coming Soon I do here for audiobooks. If you feel like writing some mini reviews or a guest blog, you’d be more than welcome to.
nblibgirlParticipant03/23/2021 at 12:54 pmPost count: 27
they’d have huge gaps because I’d be writing from my perspective
You are talking about blog posts, yes? But that is what was so great (and could be again) about the message boards. Everyone was contributing from their own perspective/personal preferences. ;-) Not that we can’t do that in comments to a blog post. But sometimes it is easier to think about a quick few suggestions on a board like this.
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