Friday, June 27, 2014

To Listen or Not to Listen

Friday, June 27, 2014 with 21 comments


Jen has been a fan of audiobooks since she first discovered the SYNC program in 2011 and listened to Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and she's been pushing audio on everyone she knows since. Including April, who's now a big fan of audiobooks, as well. We told you about some of our favorite books on audio earlier this month and even offered up a chance for two of you to win one of them from our list, but we thought we'd continue the discussion since it's one of our favorite topics.


April:  For me I think they have to have a pleasant voice. Annoying voices just won't do. I've only just started listening to audiobooks this year, so I don't have as much experience in this as Jen does, but I really enjoy when they have accents! Accents are fun, like for instance, The Scorpio Races and Cruel Beauty. I can't really read in an accent, so listening to it in narration adds to the story. Narrating with feeling is a major plus, too. If the main character is scared, I want to hear it in his/her voice.



Jen:  To me, a great a narrator makes a story come to life; they're not just reading what's on the page in front of them. Which is one of the reasons I really enjoy when the author narrates the audiobook for their own story. They know what emotions, what feelings to convey because they're the one who wrote it to begin with. And I'm with April on the accents, especially when they feel right for the story, like when it's set in another country, or is a piece of historical fiction, or the author is from another country and you know that they'd speak with an accent. I also enjoy audiobooks narrated by actors I already know and love. Actors are usually already known for having good, clear speaking voices, and they're great at acting out the book using their voice because that's pretty much what they already do for a living. Below are some examples of my favorite types of narrators:

Authors - Neil Gaiman reads most of his own books, Robin Benway reads her Also Known As series, Libba Bray reads Beauty Queens, etc.


Accented Audiobooks - The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is also among my favorites; anything by an Aussie author with an Aussie narrator: Graffiti Moon, Stolen: A Letter to my Captor, Jellicoe Road


Actors - Will Patton narrating Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle, Heather Lind narrating Moira Young's Dust Lands trilogy, Ed Westwick narrating a couple of Cassandra Clare books (Heather Lind also narrates with him on one of those :D)




April:  I've mostly listened to female narrators. A few of my faves are Katie Schorr from The Wells End, Suzy Jackson from Since You've Been Gone, Jennifer Ikeda from Just Listen, and Shannon McManus from Maybe One Day.

I've only listened to one male narrator so far and that was Steve West from The Scorpio Races. His voice was "OMG Hot". When I was talking about accents above, this one was the best. And I have to mention that Fiona Hardingham who narrated along with him was pretty awesome too.

Jen:  I've collected quite a list of favorite narrators over the last few years. =) One of my absolute favorites for the male perspective in a YA novel is MacLeod Andrews, followed closely by Nick Podehl (who read Will Grayson, Will Grayson with MacLeod Andrews - sample below), Dan Bittner (the Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater), and Kirby Heyborne (Katja Millay's The Sea of Tranquility).


I have too many favorite female narrators to link all of them up, but here are a few of the ones I frequently listen to: Rebecca Soler, Khristine Hvam, Rebecca Lowman, Julia Whelan, and Kate Rudd. Others I really enjoy listening to are Tavia Gilbert, Heather Lind, Caitlin Davies, Shannon McManus, Tara Sands, Cassandra Campbell, Jennifer Ikeda, Katherine Kellgren, Fiona Hardingham, and Gabra Zackman. These ladies are all fabulous at voicing both female and male characters, as well as making each voice sound separate and adding in accents where needed...especially the first two on the list.




April:  Since I haven't listened to many audiobooks yet, I don't have a long list of narrators I avoid. I do have one though, and that is Stina Nielsen. She narrated The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I was so excited to listen to that book, but I had to return it after about 5 minutes in because you could hear the spit in her mouth while she talked. No lie, talk about nasty. I'm sure I will run into other I don't like but so far I've been pretty lucky with my choices!

Jen:  There aren't many narrators that I just can't stand to listen to, but Justine Eyre is one of them. Which is crazy because I know sooo many people who just love her. And maybe it's just the way she portrayed the books I was listening to at the time (the Fallen series by Lauren Kate and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman), but I haven't given her another chance to ruin a book for me since. It's sad, though, because she narrated The Winner's Curse, which I read and loved, and I'd like to listen to the audio just to try it out because I've heard it's really awesome. But I'm scared. Anyone want to vouch for her and tell me that the TWC audiobook is phenomenal?

Another narrator that I thought I disliked is Kirby Heyborne. Until I listened to The Sea of Tranquility and realized that I must have been thinking of another male narrator because I lovedlovedloved his portrayal of Josh Fucking Bennett. Mayhap I was thinking of Todd Haberkorn? The last names are kinda similar, I guess.


All I know is, I'm glad I don't have all that many narrators to avoid at this point. Sure, there are some that don't quite do the book justice, but those are far and few between. :D



Are you an audiobook aficionado? Tell us your thoughts below on audiobooks:  your favorites, the best narrators, the narrators you avoid, etc. And then don't forget to stop by our giveaway to enter to win one of our favorite audiobooks...the contest ends on Monday night! Happy listening!

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Win an audiobook from our list of favorites!
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21 comments:

  1. I've never listened to audiobooks because I'm a visual person, but I am curious about it because I know a lot of book bloggers enjoy it and find it a time-saver especially when on the go. But I don't think it would be good for me!

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    1. Audiobooks are such a time-saver, especially when you add in the ability to speed up the playback. I didn't think I'd ever be a fan of audiobooks, but once I gave them a try, I was hooked. Now I probably listen to more books than I actually read. It's just such a convenience, plus it's helping me work on that massive TBR pile of mine!

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  2. I love audiobooks - I actually started off 'reading' the Lunar Chronicles on audiobook and loved it so much I went out and bought the paperback. I deifnitely credit the audiobook to helping me fall in love with the series!

    Similarly, I read Legend on audiobook after everyone raved about how good the book was and I just hated it. And I KNOW that the biggest reason was that I couldn't stand the voices of the two main characters. Especially June. I think if they were narrated by different people then I may not have disliked it so much lol.

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    1. The Lunar Chronicles are AWESOME on audio. I have them in physical form, as well, but I've continued the series on audio because the narration is so perfect for the story.

      I read the entire Legend series, so I'm not familiar with the audio version. Sometimes the narrators do make the difference, so I can see why others would rave about those books but you'd have a totally different experience if you didn't like the narrators.

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  3. I never thought about audio books, but I'm thinking that it would be a fantastic way to get through books while at the gym or walking places! I'm definitely going to give them a try.

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    1. I listen to audiobooks any chance I get...exercising, cleaning, driving, etc. It makes really tedious tasks so much more fun. Plus, it really helps knock out some of the books on your TBR pile. :)

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  4. I feel awful saying that I don't like a particular narrator - almost worse than saying I don't like a particular author. Basically, I feel like I'm saying I hate someone's voice rather than a story someone came up with and I feel so mean saying that. I haven't been listening to audiobooks long enough to have a clear favorite or a list of those I won't listen to. But having said all that, I have recently found a narrator that I really dislike named Emma Galvin. I started the recent SYNC YA title Confessions of a Murder Suspect and realized immediately that I didn't love her voice. And last week I had picked up an audio Playaway of The Probability of Miracles and I just started listening to it yesterday and realized it's the same girl. I'm about 20% through The Probability of Miracles, and I'll most likely read what I can on my kindle copy and switch to audio when I'm not able to read. I would consider trying another of her books, but I'd definitely need to hear a sample of it first. Her accent came off to me as "b*tchy Jersey girl" in both books, so I can only assume that's what she always sounds like, but I could be wrong. Anyway, another I didn't like was the audio of The Book Thief - please don't hate me!! I know a ton of people LOVE the audio of this book, but it just wasn't for me :( I didn't like his accents and I especially hate a male doing a little girl's voice. It especially bothered me every time he had to read "Yes, Papa" in Liesl's little girl voice. It was just creepy for me and I couldn't even finish it. I also didn't particularly love Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I loved the story, but for me the narrator's voice was too "fake girly", if that makes any sense, and she read way too slow for me. It was only a 383 page book and it was over a 12 hour audiobook! Anyways, thanks so much for this post! I've already started to look into all of these narrators and I can't wait to listen to some of these! I never thought I'd be an audiobook listener, but now I can't get enough of them, and you are the one who I found out about SYNC YA from last year and when some of those titles didn't work out for me, reading your blog updates every day in my email convinced me to try again, and again - and I am SO glad I did. So just know that your blog is definitely helping people discover how awesome audiobooks are!!! Thanks :)

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    1. Aw, I'm so glad we're helping others discover great audio! That's how I found out about audiobooks, too, so I shouldn't be surprised, I guess, but still...thanks for that! :) I hate it when I don't like a particular narrator, too, because it means I'll probably miss out on a lot of good audiobooks because of it, but there's no point in suffering through an audiobook if you don't like the narrator(s). I can't believe I forgot to list Emma Galvin as one of those that I can barely tolerate, though! I hate, loathe, DESPISE her narration in the Arcana Chronicles series. I might actually like those books, but I started with them on audio and I can't find anything I really like about the books now. I remember thinking she was okay on the Divergent series audio, but now that I've gone back to listen to it after The Poison Princess, I realize that I only barely tolerated it before. I have the worst habit of forgetting to see who the narrators are on audiobooks when I'm borrowing them from the library, and a lot of times, it's her and I just have to suffer through. I haven't listened to The Book Thief, but I remember liking Along for the Ride on audio...though it was one of my very first purchased audiobooks, so that's been a few years now. April liked it, too, though, if I remember correctly. When I see an audiobook is 12 hours long, I immediately advance the speed to at least 2x normal, as long as the narration doesn't sound like a chipmunk at that speed, lol. :) I hope you continue to find awesome audio and that the SYNC program continues to provide you with plenty of amazing listens. Already this year I've loved Cruel Beauty and All Our Yesterdays.

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  5. *Raises hand* I can vouch for Justine Eyre's performance in THE WINNER'S CURSE! I grew to love that audiobook, and listened to it twice. At first you might be put off by the accents, and then Justine will win you over, and you'll devour it. So give it more than a few minutes. The Valorians have somewhat guttural accents, while the Herrani have American accents. At first that threw me off, but I soon got used to it. It's actually quite an interesting choice--highlighting the fact that the Valorians are, historically, the invaders. (I learned later that when the audio producers talked about giving the Valorians accents, Marie Rutkoski herself suggested something with old Germanic roots and rolled r's.)

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    1. Wow, twice? :) Between your comment and your subsequent email, I'm convinced. I don't know when I'll get to it because my library doesn't have the MP3 version available yet, but I'll give it a chance, just because you loved it so much. I love when the accents seem relevant to the text, the history of the book itself, so maybe this will be the book that changes my opinion on the narrator. I sure hope so because she's done a ton of others that I've passed on simply because she was listed as the narrator. :(

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  6. I am big fan of Rebecca Lowman. I don't mind Justine Eyre but not real big fan. She seems to have too many and it gets harder to distinguish between the characters between books.

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    1. Rebecca Lowman is pretty awesome for contemporary audiobooks. She feels genuine in those roles. I do agree about Justine Eyre lending her voice to a ton of audiobooks...I can see how that would make it difficult to switch gears between books.

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  7. I love audiobooks but sometimes I just can't get into a narrator. I sit there for an hour and realize I have no idea what is going on! LOL I am lucky my library has a wide selection because I can just return it and read another. Nick Podehl is my favorite narrator so far but sadly my library only had a few of his narrated books so I joined audible to get the rest.

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    1. The narrator can seriously make or break an audiobook. I'm glad my library has a pretty good selection and that they add to it pretty regularly. I haven't listened to all that many narrated by Nick Podehl, but I can definitely see his appeal as a narrator.

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  8. I can't stand Justine Eyre! I get so upset when I see a YA book from her. I hate how she sounds so panty and breathless and horny all the time. No thanks! I wante dThe Winner's Curse on audio but said no way after I saw she narrated it.
    I don't like Kirby. BUT, he did do a really good job in the Sea of Tranquility. I hate him in anything else though. I don't think he's a good YA voice. Oh man, I wish Zachary Webber or MacLeod would have narrated TSoT. That would have been beyond epic!
    I'm right there with you on crushing on MacLeod. Have you heard anything by Zachary Webber? You must! I also like Sebastian York (duh), Jason Carpenter and the guy who narrates Rule by Jay Crownover.
    Rebecca Soler is amazing! I have so many female narrators I love.
    Awesome post!

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    1. I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one. I get frustrated when books I've been waiting for ages to be released on audio turn out to be narrated by her. :( That's my number one complaint with her, too...that breathless, panting thing she insists on doing. Like that's supposed to make her sound sexy or whatever. It'd be fine if that's what the book called for, but she sounds like that on every audio. I'm going to take Beth's suggestion, though, and give her another try on TWC, but if that one doesn't work out, I'm done with her for good, lol.

      See, I can't remember WHY I thought I didn't like Kirby, but he did a fabulous job on TSoT. He's got a NA voice, not really YA, ya know? But then again, so does Zachary Webber. MacLeod would have been GREAT as Josh Bennett, though.

      I listed to Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, but that's my only experience with Zachary Webber, I think? I've never read or listened to the Jay Crownover books, either. Hmm...you're giving me some great suggestions!

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    2. Well, hmm, yeah, I can't disagree that Justine has the breathy, moany vocal quality in TWC, and it was something I struggled with for the first chapter or so. But I came around to appreciating it as I got to know the characters, because I think Kestrel has a lot of pent up restless dissatisfaction (and sexuality), and obviously Arin has an undercurrent of anger (and was resisting his attraction to Kestrel), too, and I thought it lent a sort of urgent ennui to their points of view.

      My favorite narration job so far is Will Patton in the Raven Cycle. He may even improve the books, by seamlessly interpreting and adjusting to the changes in POV, which sometimes happen unexpectedly. And everything oozes southern, and hot, and dreamy, with a frank sort of mysticism I love.

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    3. I'm sure I'll struggle with it at first because I always do, but I have faith that you wouldn't steer me wrong. I agree with your sentiments regarding Kestrel and Arin, and I'm hoping that Justine as adequately portrays that in her narration as I feel I did when I read it myself the first time. I actually think I gave Kestrel an English accent and had a gruffer voice in my head for Arin, so I'm interested to see how Justine makes these characters sound, and I'm hoping they don't remind me of characters from past bad experiences with her narration.

      I LOVE Will Patton as the narrator for The Raven Cycle. It took a couple of chapters in the first book for me to acclimate to his seamless transitions between characters BECAUSE it was so well done, I think, and I'm not used to that, but he's been acting a long time, so it shouldn't have surprised me. I can't imagine anyone else narrating those books now. All of his voices are just perfection in those audiobooks.

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