Thursday, December 27, 2012

Epiphanies 2012

Instead of talking about "The Best Of" or even "My Favorites," I want to close out the year with a couple of books I read in 2012 that greatly influenced me:

☆ MyFuture Self:
Last year, I had a great conversation with another blogger about what it takes to not be unhappy. It sounds trite, but the secret is in being happy with oneself and to that end, I embarked on a self-help program called "My Future Self." The premise is relatively simple: Imagine who you want to be and then do whatever it is that you need to do to get there! While there may be be people who will help you on your way, you are the one responsible for getting there. You are responsible for your own happiness.

The first step I took was to clean up and organize my office space. I spent nine weeks on the Home Office Excavation:

The next step in My Future Self was to address my weight issue. There's no getting around it, I was fat. In fact, I was obese. I've spent the past eight months working on that and have lost, to date, over sixty pounds! Basically, I just eat less and move more! I didn't blog about my weight loss campaign, though I am considering putting up a few posts for next year, just like I did with the Home Office Excavation. Maybe it will help someone else to see what I did. Anyway, there a couple of things that were invaluable to me during this part of #MyFutureSelf. One was The Weight of the Nation, the four-part HBO documentary. If you need to lose weight, sit down and watch this documentary. It's free online ( Basically, it's good to know what you're really up against when you try to lose weight.  There is a companion book/audiobook, The Weight of the Nation (by John Hoffman and Judith Salerno, M.D., M.S. with Alexandra Moss; narrated by Bernadette Dunne) as well. It repeats a lot of the information from the documentary (which is good for reinforcement) with a slight skew towards the more individual response.  The other book is William L. Sullivan's 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon. Instead of going for a gym or box membership and/or workout DVDs, I decided to increase my overall activity levels. I go on walks with the dogs and I go hiking now. My goal is to hike 100 trails by the end of 2015. To date, I've hiked about a dozen trails; but the pace should pick up in the Spring :-)

My Future Self goals for 2013 include reaching and maintaining my ideal weight, going on more hikes and, (re-)learning German. As for that last bit, I'm having trouble finding a class locally, so I may have to resort to CDs and such. I have the Linguistics Team's The Complete Idiots Guide to German and we'll see how home-schooling for yours truly works out :-/

☆ Black History
The other thing that was influential to me in 2012 was a book that I worked on: Kevin Kenerly narrated Black Genius: Inspirational Portraits of African-American Leaders (by Dick Russell). The audiobook was produced for audible and I'm not sure when it's going to be released; but it was an amazing recording experience. I got schooled big time in Black History, that it really is about American History and, that one way to marginalize a people is to deny their history... My daughter came home from school and talked about how close and cramped it was like on the Mayflower. I realized that she would probably never be told in school about the close & cramped conditions of a slave ship or even the life threatening crossings Cubans made and continue to make to reach American shores. My eyes were opened at how, even in the 21st century, there is a terribly imbalanced take on American culture, that it is biased toward the white male Anglo perspective. February is Black History Month; but really, I shouldn't Black History (and actually other American histories as well) be incorporated into Western Civ? I had a lot of great conversations with the narrator about everything under the sun including Paul Robeson (check out The Complete EMI Sessions 1928 - 1939), jazz, Ralph Ellison (whose book, The Invisible Man is being mounted as a stage play by The Huntington Theater, January 4 - February 3, 2013), Cornel West and The Matrix movies, and Toni Morrison... For the first time ever, I'm actually really excited about  an Oprah's Book Club 2.0 pick. It's The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (by Ayana Mathis). It's a about a black family during the first Migration (in the 1920s/pre-War) when Blacks fled the South for greater opportunities in the North.

Stay Cool & Keep the Faith,
Tanya/dog eared copy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's in a Name? Challenge #5: Wrap-Up/ Challenge #6 Sign-Up

Ah, it's time for my post-prandial wrap-up in the What's in a Name? Challenge! So far, I've read for five out of the six categories; but by December 31, I expect to have completed the entirety of the challenge. This past year, the six categories were:

  • A book with something you'd find in your pocket/purse/backpack in the title: 
The Scarlet Letter (by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

I read like a mad woman over the first week-end of 2012 and posted my review on January 3 and; unbelievably, there were others who beat me not only in posting to this category; but in completing the challenge! It was a great reminder that this is not a competition! There are no prizes other than the reward of reading! So yes, I still won! :-D

Anyway, right after reading The Scarlet Letter, I promptly set to re-reading The Handmaid's Tale (by Margaret Atwood) and Nini Holmqvist's The Unit, and then onward to listening to When She Woke (by Hillary Jordan; narrated by Heather Corrigan.) I also went on to read more of Margaret Atwood's works (Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin) and later in the year, The Wordy Shipmates (by Sarah Vowell.) It should also be noted that I drafted several long essays about society and morality and women and stuff and, on this Thanksgiving week-end, trust me, you should be glad that I didn't bore you to tears by actually publishing any of it :-)

  • A book with something you'd find on a calendar in the title:
(by Margaret Atwood; narrated by Bernadette Dunne, Katie McNichol and Mark Bramhall; featuring music and lyrics by Margaret Atwood and performed by Orville Stoeber)

More Margaret Atwood! I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure I could have done most of this challenge just using Margaret Atwood titles (Snake PoemsThe PenelopiadMorning in the Burned House) except that I didn't think of it until now. Also, I can't seem to think of an Atwood title with a topographical feature in the title, so it would have blown the idea up anyway :-/

After reading Oryx and Crake, I was actually pretty mad at Margaret Atwood. In the Handmaid's Tale, I thought the epilogue was a few too sentences too many; but with O&A, not nearly enough sentences were written. I mean, really, would it have killed her to write one more sentence at the end to give us a sense of, well, an ending? Well, she did write a sentence more. Actually she wrote The Year of the Flood and it answers all of the questions raised in O&A for which I was grateful. Maddaddam, the third novel in the series is slated to be published in 2013, and while I'm looking forward to it as an expansion of the world that Atwood created, I don't need to read it to get a sense of closure.

  • A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title:
This review for this novella was the last review I wrote on this blog. It's not very good; but it's short. I point this out in the context of the next next two books for which I wrote no reviews:

  • A book with a topographical feature in the title:
Tortilla Flat
(by John Steinbeck)

I wanted to love this novella. I really did. Having been to Monterrey, CA, I loved the idea of having an actual place to connect with the setting of the book. And really, come on! John Steinbeck! Who hasn't been moved by The Grapes of Wrath, The Red Pony and/or Of Mice and Men? Also, the jacket blurb offered something along the lines of an Arthurian tale: "Like the Knights of the Round Table, the dreamers who gather at Danny's house share joy and fellowship, triumphs and sorrows." Alas, the freeloaders, drunks and cheats who populate these pages have more in common with the crew hanging out at 7-11 with nothing to do than with the Romantic figures of Camelot. Seventeen chapters over two-hundred pages of post-war (WWI) vets who never quite get it together.

  • A book with something creepy/crawly in the title:
The Reptile Room
(A Series of Unfortunate Events #2, by Lemony Snicket)

The Reptile Room continues the story of the three Baudelaire orphans who wind up in the custody of Uncle Monty, a respected herpetologist. Lemony Snicket always forewarns readers that these tales do not end HEA, and yet I find myself once again surprised that this is in fact true! I think hope endures on my part because I know that these are children's stories ergo they can't possibly be this "angsty!" Regardless, the stories are clever and and certainly had me wondering what was going to happen next! 

So what's up with that? Why didn't I post the reviews for the last two books I read? And seriously, the review for From the Land of the Moon was pretty half-assed at that. Actually, if you've been following my blog for the past six months, you'll notice that not much has been going on at all....

It's time. It's time to own up that I just don't have it in me anymore as a blogger. Since July, a lot of things have been going on in my life, a lot of things have changed and blogging isn't working out for me anymore. So as the crude but apt saying goes, "It's time to shi!t or get off the pot." On 12/01/2012, I'll be closing the blog to comments. I'll still be on twitter (@dogearedcopy) talking about books that I'm reading and, I'll still be around to support other bloggers' features as best I can. I just won't be posting here so much if at all. It's a sad but ultimately correct decision that I've taken way too long to arrive at; but now that I've said it, it's terribly freeing :-)

I love you all,
Stay Cool and Keep the Faith,

P.S. - What about the sixth book, "A book with a type of house or domicile in the title"? I have a copy of The Kitchen House (by Kathleen Grissom) sitting here and I fully expect to have read it by the end of the calendar year and declare #wain5 completed. If you're interested in what I think about it, follow me on twitter... :-)

P.P.S - Why, yes! Ys, I am participating in What's in a Name? Challenge #6! "What?!" you say, "I thought you just said no more blogging!" Yes, it's true. I'm going to be participating as a non-blogger by posting comments at What's in a Name? Challenge #6 :-)

I've actually spent the past couple of days pulling down the stacks and sorting out books, finding the ones that would qualify for next years challenge:

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
  2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire
  5. A book with an emotion in the title: Baltimore Blues, Say You're Sorry, Dreams of Joy
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches

(Text captured from What's in a Name? Challenge #6)

I've a couple books lined up for each category; but let's see what 2013 actually puts in my path :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

From the Land of the Moon

by Milena Agus; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Europa Editions, January 2011

From the Land of the Moon is a novella about a Sardinian woman searching for love in the post-war years amongst the metaphorical and literal ruins of her life. The woman recognizes that her nature is perhaps flawed as true love seems to remain elusive. Her quest assumes at times, sad, pitiable, desperate and creative forms that echo the pathos of Anna Karenina and Madam Bovary. The woman moves about the Italian landscapes of Cagliari and Milan as the country rebuilds from the effects of Allied Bombing and Nazi retreat. The settings of the story provide the physical architecture of the woman's efforts and parallels can be drawn between the reconstruction and her state of mind. The story is told from the point of view of the woman's granddaughter after the woman, referred to as Grandmother, has passed away, providing a doubly unreliable narrative: The woman herself may have been insane and her story suffers from being two generations away from being immediately verified. From the Land of the Moon is poignant without being maudlin and, the letter which serves as the final chapter is a powerful denouement.


From the Land of the Moon qualifies for the What's in a Name? Challenge #5 hosted by @BethFishReads at www.BethFishReads. The title, From the Land of the Moon contains a word that is "something you'd see in the sky": "Moon"

I borrowed a copy of From the Land of the Moon (by Milena Agus; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) form the Jackson County Library System in Southern Oregon. I receive no monies, goods and/or service in exchange for reviewing this product and/or mentioning any of the persons that are or may be implied in this post.

"If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" --- Stephen Stills

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Studio A: V Wars (Chapter-Author-Narrator List)


V Wars
Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Introduction •  Dacre Stoker 
Grover Gardner

“Junk” Part 1  Jonathan Maberry 
Stefan Rudnicki

“Roadkill” Part 1  Nancy Holder
John Rubinstein

“Junk” Part 2
Stefan Rudnicki

“Love Less” Part 1  John Everson 
Gabrielle deCuir

“Junk” Part 3
Stefan Rudnicki

“Epiphany” Part 1  Yvonne Navarro
Roxanne Hernandez

“Junk” Part 4
Stefan Rudnicki

“Love Less” Part 2 (Concluded)
Gabrielle deCuir

“The Ballad of Big Charlie” Part 1  Keith R.A. DeCandido
Lisa Renee Pitts

“Junk” Part 5
Stefan Rudnicki

“Heartsick”   Scott Nicholson
Arte Johnson

“Junk” Part 6 (Concluded)
Stefan Rudnicki

 “Roadkill” Part 2 (Concluded)
John Rubinstein

 Vulpes” Part 1  Gregory Frost 
Cassandra Campbell

“Escalation”  Jonathan Maberry
Stefan Rudnicki

“Stalking Anna Lei” Part 1  James A. Moore 
Wil Wheaton

“The Ballad of Big Charlie” Part 2 
Lisa Renee Pitts

“Species Genocide”  Jonathan Maberry 
Stefan Rudnicki

“Stalking Anna Lei” Part 2 (Concluded)
Wil Wheaton

“The Ballad of Big Charlie” Part 3 (Concluded)
Lisa Renee Pitts

“Embedded”  Jonathan Maberry  
Stefan Rudnicki

Vulpes” Part 2 (Concluded)
Cassandra Campbell

“Epiphany” Part 2 (Concluded)
Roxanne Hernandez

“Last Bites”  Jonathan Maberr 
Stefan Rudnicki


Monday, October 8, 2012

Coraline (10th Anniversary Edition)

10th Anniversary Edition
Illustrated by Dave McKean
Published 04/24/2012

Coraline discovers an alternate reality though a small door that at first, seems to open onto a bricked  up wall in the new house that her family has moved into; but in fact leads her to her Other Mother and Other Father. Coraline's Other Parents extend a tempting invitation to remain in this Other place which is very much like the one she has left; but much better in terms of the food, care and, attention from parents that Coraline craves.

There is a temptation to view Coraline as something of a dark and distorted version of Alice in Wonderland: there is the young female protagonist, a looking glass, an enigmatic cat, a prandial setting in which the absurd reigns... and yet, to insist on this analogy would diminish Gaiman's work as merely derivative ---- which it certainly is not, at least not in the pejorative sense. There are certainly multiple influences, literary in form and style that have come to bear in this young adult tale; but it would be more apropos to consider Coraline as the extension of literary tradition. e.g. that of the Knight's Tale or even of the troubadour tradition.

The tenth anniversary edition of Coraline also includes interviews with Neil Gaiman at the end of the book: the first set of questions & answers are from when the book was first published and the second set of questions & answers are on the occasion of the book's tenth anniversary. Gaiman mentions that Coraline is a book about bravery and it is; but more than that, though Gaiman himself does not draw the correlation, Coraline speaks to the classic tales of heroism and quest that are usually reserved for boys. Coraline is a Knight's Tale for girls: Coraline is an Everygirl who wants for nothing extraordinary, but is cast upon a mission or quest for three things - three things that will engender True Love from a Mother figure and, who ultimately must confront a dragon. The leitmotif of the dragon is introduced in the epigraph by G.K. Chesterton and reinforced with descriptive phases in regard to the antagonist and again underscored in the interviews.
Fairy tales are more than true; not because
they tell us that dragons exist, but because
they tell us that dragons can be beaten. 
                            --- G.K. Chesterton 
Coraline is a fairy tale, a Knight's Tale, a very dark tale that draws on some fine literary traditions; but presents the reader with novel and creative images that make it uniquely the work of Gaiman.

For parents: The imagery in Coraline is very dark and may not be appropriate for children who are prone to fearfulness or nightmares, especially of rats, actors and/or the door in your house that leads to the crawl space. Parents may also have to answer questions about parental love, neglect and abuse, smother love, abstract concepts of creativity and parallel universes.

See Also:
Mr. Bobo's Remarkable Mouse Circus

Other Stuff:
I purchased Coraline, 10th Anniversary Edition (by Neil Gaiman; with illustrations by David McKean) from the Barnes & Noble in Medford, Oregon. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing this product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at her blog,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Murder, Monsters, Mayhem: A Return to Blogging

I couldn't resist! It's been awhile since I've blogged; but I do so love Murder, Monsters, Mayhem that I've decided to come back, if only for a little bit! Some of the things I have in mind are a couple of print reviews, a few audiobook reviews, at least three graphic novel reviews, a couple of movie reviews and maybe a couple of photos! I'm not making a hard commitment as to what I'm going to be covering if only because I want this month to be fun and pressure free  :-)

I've been away from blogging for almost three months and there are things I've missed, i.e. being a part of the blogging community in a dynamic way. I feel a little estranged from some of my favorite people and that sucks. But what I haven't missed is the pressure to produce meaningful content while I've been working on leading a more physically active life. I've led a primarily sedentary lifestyle for too long and it was literally killing me. On top of the blogexistential crises I had been experiencing, I will be honest and admit that I didn't know if I was going to come back at all.

But now that I am back, and in order to avoid a Blogger Burnout Relapse, there are going to be couple of changes. One is is that there is not going to a regularly scheduled anything! I will post when I can and hopefully that will eliminate the anxiety attacks at 5:00 a.m. when I don't have something to go up at 7:00 a.m. And too, I like the idea of not feeling guilty if I go out to dinner instead of having epic angst-ridden battles over the correct turn of phrase (Um, yes, I did have those kind of days/nights. I know, ridiculous, yes? YES!) The second change is that some of the reviews may actually be more op-ed in style (I will clearly label them as such) -  informal and personal. Hopefully this will free me up from the strangle hold of writer's block that I would sometimes experience. They were quite a few reviews that never made it out of draft mode because I simply could not get beyond the purely subjective, and sometimes admittedly ad hominem, approach. Does that mean I'm going go about ranting unchecked? NO! It just means I need to give myself permission to let some of my personality show through. The third change is that I would like to cover a wider variety of material besides audiobooks. With that in mind, I'm thinking of blogging to a monthly theme as opposed to a format. Blogging to participate in features such as MX3 may be the way for me to go for awhile :-)

For those of you who have stuck with me, THANK YOU! You know who you are and I love you! Your patience, understanding and continued friendship mean a lot to me as I continue to find my voice and place in the blogging community.

Now let's get this blog rolling....

Monday, July 9, 2012

Journal Entry: A Blogiversary & A Blogexistential Crises

Bust of Janus, the god who looks forward and back, at the Vatican
Photo from  wikipedia (click on link for info)

It's the second anniversary of my blog! What?! No cake?! No giveaways?! What gives?!
What gives is that I'm going through a very serious blogexistential crises. This means I'm looking at what I started out to do with this blog, what's been actually happening with this blog and, trying to decide what direction I want to take it next.

Three years ago, I had an unwieldy document on my computer: It was a list of books I had read or wanted to read; reviews of books and audiobooks; charts and recipes, photos and quotes. It also had movie commentary, links to web-sites, an archive of discussions and random bits of non-sequitur thoughts thrown in. It was more than a journal. It was like a scrape book of my brain! The really cool thing was that I could cut and paste at will, add things in whenever I wanted and pretty much do my thing. I had originally wanted to transfer the entirety of the contents to a web-site and set up very sexy UI; but very sexy is also very expensive, time & labor intensive and, runs into a series of rights issues. I was told that a blog would be my best option. And so, I settled on the rather limited structure of a blog.

Over the next couple of years I've really tried to make this work: focusing in on a specific thing (audiobook reviews), introducing features and participating in other blogs' projects; but what I have found is that my content has become rather limited, my contributions have become rather erstwhile and, quite frankly I'm not having as much fun as when I was just fooling around with my word doc.

So, I've either got to fish or cut bait, and I haven't really decided what I'm going to do yet.  Looking back at my blog & twitter stats and my e-mails, I see a lot of traffic for industry related news and an almost obscene interest in a photo taken of a mushroom that looked like someone pooped a brain!  But that's a far cry from value I had originally hoped to bring to the table.

On the other hand, I've had a blast getting to know other bloggers and I count a couple of them as very good friends of mine. I've immensely enjoyed the projects and adventures we've shared and I love them and everything we've shared. I feel like a jerk for that not being reason enough in and of itself for just slogging through this blogexistential crises.

But I need to stop, or at least pause. I've got some decisions to make and until then, this blog will be going on hiatus. For the month of July, at the vey least, I'm going to go do some stuff and think about stuff and when I'm done, I'll let you know what's what with respect to this blog :-)

Until, then,
Stay Cool & Keep the Faith,

Friday, June 29, 2012

Audiobook Week, Listen Up!

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Find reviews? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

One feature of my job is that I select the titles that go out to listener advisory services, which is another way to say that I send out free audiobooks to reviewers! Some of the listener advisory services are easy in that they want the whole monthly slate of titles or all titles in a specific genre. Other reviewers require more thought: Reviewer "X" really doesn't like narrator "Y" (and never will) or can't stand violence against animals or only likes a very narrow sub-genre... Then there's the part where I'm asked to provide only the best of the best and that's really tough. There are big titles with big narrators; but then again there are some smaller titles with great narrators too! At this point, I actually use an unusual standard, What was the narrator's response to the book when it was assigned or while s/he was recording it? There are narrators who are game for anything and everything and will take whatever we throw at them; but then there are those narrators who come back and say things like, "Oh. My. God. This book was absolutely incredible! I love this book! That denouement was mid-bending!" Or whatever. You get the idea. It's that little extra something that, while intangible, comes through on the recording. I never hesitate to recommend these titles even if I have not personally listened to them or worked on them. In this way too, those same audiobooks make it onto my own personal TBL-to list.

But believe it or not, I actually listen to audiobooks above and beyond the borders of the Blackstone Audio campus! My tastes are extremely eclectic and so I heavily rely on other bloggers' opinions. The blogs of Bob Reiss (@guildedearlobe at - Zombie, PA, SFF; Jennifer Connor (@lithousewife at, - litfic, #shakennotstirred #ArmchairAudies #ListenersList; "Beth Fish" (@BethFishReads at - whose tastes are as equally as eclectic as mine, plus she also reviews graphic novels; and Jennifer Karsbaek (@DevourerofBooks at - wide range of different genres as well -  are written by major audiobook advocates and audiobook bloggers whose views I respect immensely. I also like reading audiobook reviews from people who don't normally blog about audiobooks; but feel so strongly about what they've heard they have to post (e.g. Mike Alatorre a.k.a. @le0pard13 at It Rains... You Get Wet) - movies and references to "she who will not be named" and; some of the up-and-coming audiobook bloggers like Cassandra Neace (@CassandraNeace at - whose enthusiasm for the audiobook form is refreshing. There are dozens of others as well who are probably reading this and saying "What About Me?"  To those audiobook bloggers who I have overlooked (mea culpa), please feel free to leave your blog URL in comments below!

Where I actually get my audiobooks varies. Sometimes I pull them off the shelves over at the warehouse; sometimes I request a review copy from another publisher; sometimes I troll the publishers' sites and, yes, I've been known to try an audiobook I would not normally have considered if it was on my Maybe list but is now on sale :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Audiobook Week: Mid-Week Meme

Current/most recent audiobook:

I'm currently listening to A Discovery of Witches (by Deborah Harkness; narrated by Jennifer Ikeda)


A couple of people whose opinion I highly respect recommended this title; but quite frankly I'm quite disappointed with it. I had no preconceived ideas about what it was about or what to expect other than that the story would be compelling. It's about a witch who calls up an alchemical text from the stacks At the Bodlean library at Oxford. I'm about halfway through and I'm just not feeling it. Jennifer Ikeda has a lovely voice but every passage in the book is treated with the same intensity, whether its that moment when the protag meets up with an avowed enemy or she's in a yoga class. The evenness with which the narrator delivers the story bleeds the excitement out of the tale. And then there's the issue of a couple of mispronunciations which is driving me batshit crazy: Stuff like Magdalene (College) being mispronounced "mag-da-lin" instead of "maud-lyn" and "dressage" being mispronounced as "dres-idj" instead of "dre-sahdj." There are a lot of suspect pronunciations but I'm too lazy to drag out the OED to do a look-up every time a not-quite-right-sounding word pops up.

(So why haven't I dumped the audio in favor of the book? Basically because I'm cheap. I spent my book allowance on a FitBit (a fancy pedometer) and the hold list on the library is rather long.) I'll get through this; but when the sequel is published I plan on getting Shadow of Night in print.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

One of my favorite audiobooks this year was actually released a couple of years ago, The Ghosts of Belfast (by Stuart Neville; narrated by Gerard Doyle.) I'm about to add it to my Personal Pantheon of All Time Great Audiobooks. The story is about a former IRA hit man, Gerry Fegan who is haunted by twelve ghosts. The ghosts will leave him in peace if he executes a vendetta against the people ultimately responsible for their respective deaths. It's a great story and Gerard Doyle is perfectly suited and cast for it! You can read my review of it on this blog :-)

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

My favorite new-to-me narrator is Wil Wheaton. His narration of Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline) was perfect! I often blow off celebrity narrators but this is an exception I'll gladly make :-)

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

Hmmm, next up may be Hillary Mantle's Wolf Hall (narrated by Simon Slater.) I tried reading the book before and was lost. Then I switched to audio and was equally lost! Then I tried listening to the book and listening together and it all made sense! I stopped for some reason though. I need to get back to it however and wrap it up so I can listen to Bring Up the Bodies (by Hillary Mantle; narrated by Simon Vance.) I've heard that Bring Up the Bodies is more accessible (whew!)

Your audio dream team (what book or author would you LOVE to see paired with a certain narrator, can already exist or not):

I really can't go there! Let's just say that I make casting recommendations for a lot of books and sometimes I win and sometimes I don't :-/

06/27/2012: 10:100: UPDATE! I'm changing my answer! I wish Xe Sands had narrated the final chapters to The Last Werewolf (by Glen Duncan) and then gone on to narrate Talulah's Rising.

Monday, June 25, 2012

JIAM2012 Photo: 25

When do I listen to audiobooks?

In #StudioA: I'm a  studio engineer and so it's generally a good idea to listen to the narrator while he's talking to you! Most recently, I listened to Kevin Kenerly narrate First Evidence (by Ken Goddard.)

In the car: I listen to a lot of audiobooks produced by the company I work for AND by other audiobook publishers. I primarily listen for my own edification; but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was also not-so-subconsciously vetting or auditioning the narrator for possible future work. Some audiobooks make me miss my exit (e.g. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson; narrated by Simon Vance), make me late for work because I don't want to go in a crying mess or make it difficult for me to drive (e.g. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; narrated by Christopher Evan Welch) and/or have my DH coming out of the house wanting to know why I'm still in the driveway (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; narrated by Sissy Spacek.) Occupational hazard, I'm afraid.

On the exercise bicycle: I used to listen to heart pounding music like Drowning Pool's "When the Bodies Hit the Floor," etc; but when I realized that I could sneak in a couple of extra minutes of an audiobook; I made the switch. I don't listen while I'm walking the dogs (I'm with my family and that would just be rude) or when I'm hiking (bear, rattlesnake, mountain lion and drunk hunter territory and that would just be stupid.) Right now, I'm listening to Deborah Harkness' A  Discovery of Witches (narrated by Jennifer Ikeda.)

When I'm playing Angry Birds: I can't just sit on the couch or in a chair and listen. For some reason, when I try, I enter into some sort of catatonic state and quickly find myself asleep. Worse, when I wake up, I've found that I've got a crick in some body part and/or I've managed to drool. I can't explain it, but something happens to my alpha waves and I'm down and out for the count! But now, if I want to make a point of listening to something, I sit down with Angry Birds. It keeps just enough of my brain waves activated that I don't fall asleep.  I mute the nook, turn on my iPod and play! BONUS: I don't have to listen to the pigs laugh at me when I fail to clear a level. For the ultimate of uber-meta listening, game playing experiences, Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline; narrated by Wil Wheaton.)

Audiobook Week: 2011-2012, My Audiobook Year

I've been listening to audiobooks for something like seventeen years now and have been working in the industry for nearly as long! Every year, there is something new that captures my attention in terms of book trends, narrating styles or changes in the industry itself; but to bring this closer to my own personal listening experience, I have to say that the thing that I've "discovered" this year is audio drama! Now I have listened to and worked on audio dramas in the past; but it has been only one of the many forms of audio that I listen to. This year as a part of the Armchair Audies (hosted by @lithousewife at I decided to listen to a couple of audio dramas that were finalists in this year's Audies Awards.  The Mark of Zorro (by Johnston McCully; dramatized by Yuri Rasovsky; full cast performance) was the first finalist I listened to and it was great: really well produced and a lot of fun! I was really hooked on the form and I ended up listening to all five of the final nominees! I'm now eager to claim the same category in next year's Armchair Audies. What was really interesting to me about the audio drama finalists, was that it held a few sub-genres in an of itself: studio productions, live staged readings, podcasts, and radio broadcasts. The things I look for in the performances are how quickly the actors get the characters up on their feet, edge-to edge energy (does the performance slag off at any point?) and how the sound effects are used. This is addition to the normal considerations of any audiobook as to being well cast and well executed.

See Also:
2010-2011, My Audiobook Year (My response to Jennifer K.'s (@devourerofbooks at Audiobook Week meme last year)

If you want to know more about me you can check out these two interviews:

If you want to know more about the Armchair Audies, you can check out the Armchair Audies (hosted by @lithousewife at and the wrap-up I wrote for the audio drama category, which also contains links to the individual reviews :-)

n.b. - Jennifer will be moving the Armchair Audies to it's own site before the next Audies start up, so stay tuned!) 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

JIAM2012 Photo: 21

None of our performing services agreements, whether actual or implied, include special items on the order on Van Halen's (in-)famous M&M clause; but there are certain things that some narrators want or need and, within reason the studio provides them. Some of these things have become a sort of ritual between the narrator and the studio staff and we are always willingly oblige for the simple fact that it makes the narrators happy and, ergo the sessions run smoother.

Some of the things that narrators have asked for have included, but are not limited to:

  • the same provisos that stage actors expect including water and scheduled breaks;
  • quarters (as in money) and company to the vending machines;
  • airfare, hotel, meals and/or snacks, and/or car rentals for guest narrators
  • transportation to/from the studio;
  • that the engineer pre-read the script to help them with figuring out what an author meant, if the typo is indeed a typo, or how a certain line might be read;
  • that the engineer not pre-read the script so that the narrator can read the engineer's expression and thereby provide direct reactive feedback to the narrator's performance;
  • chat sessions about the books and alternately, limiting or cutting the chatter and getting right down to recording (that the engineer shut up and just push the buttons or do lookups upon request);
  • use of an iPad, enlarged fonts on paper scripts; 
  • specific chairs, lamps, tables, stands and/or foot rests for the booth;
  • specific studio;
  • specific engineer;
  • room temperature re-sets;
  • pillows to combat stomach growls from being audible

I know of one engineer who prepared special snacks for his narrators: sliced apples and a selection of teas and, other engineers who have had to basically become a guest narrator's personal assistant on and off the grounds of the studio. And, as I mentioned before, none of it is an inconvenience and we're happy to accommodate.

That said, if you get me as an engineer, there are a couple of limitations I have and that you should know about:
  • I will not join you on a smoking break.
  • I cannot for the life of me make coffee. I don't drink coffee and the mechanics of a coffee maker baffle me. Theoretically, I just need to pour water into one section of the machine and coffee magically comes out another part of the machine; but as anyone who has known me for five minutes will tell you, kitchen appliances (indeed kitchens in general) are a complete mystery to me and the results are never pretty :-/
  • If you need a ride in my car, my car has dog hair

As studio engineers we really only ask of the narrators four things:
  1. that you come in prepared (having done your homework) and ready to work;
  2. that you take care of your voice/person on a physical and emotional level;
  3. you not treat any of  the studio staff with contempt or in a condescending manner and;
  4. that you tell us what you want/need :-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

JIAM2012 Photo: 14

Last week, my DH was out of town and in the middle of the first night of his being away, my dogs simply would not settle down. There were a lot of perimeter patrols, snuffling, growling, collar-and-tag clanking, and general issue restlessness of a pair of dogs who are uncertain about everything when the leader of the pack is away. I'm annoyed. I tried to ignore them, but their wandering around the house was driving me crazy. I shut the bedroom door, but they would shuffle around and whine and softly bark. At point I was yelling "GO THE !#@% TO SLEEP! LIE DOWN!" (And feeling rather pleased with myself for being gramatically correct , i.e. "lie" vs "lay" at this time of stress and fatigue) but all to no avail. My dogs do not care about grammar. They just wouldn't settle down. 

So I decide to let them out.  I live in the middle of !@#% nowhere (which roughly translates to  Southern Oregon) so when I open the door to the backyard, there are no city lights, street lights or even car lights to help me out here: all there is... is darkness. I'm about to turn on a porch light when I hear it: an insane keening, growling, hissing, scuffling thing out there. My dogs are going ballistic and vault into the unknown, growling and barking viciously. I absolutely freeze in the doorway, thinking the following thoughts: Raccoons. Big Foot. Aliens. I am not ruling anything out.

Because, you see, I've been in #StudioA with Kevin Kenerly all week. He is narrating First Evidence (by Ken Goddard) which is an X-Files type of book with shadows that... well, you'll see. Or rather hear. Anyway, the story takes place in Southern Oregon... In fact, in the very town that I live in. And from the first passages, with Kevin sliding words into my ears so insidiously, I've been a little tense. Kevin can do that:  The distance between the page, his voice and your ears disappears and you experience the story.  Which is all great except when you're talking about some seriously scary shit like what First Evidence gives you and you can do more than just imagine the places in the story because you live there... well it's a perfect storm of paranoia and insanity :-/ 

You may laugh; but that photo above? That's an actual un-retouched shot of my backyard at night. Anything could be in that darkness...

 P.S.  - My big brave dogs scared it way. And no, I did not go out there in the light of day to investigate.  When DH came back from his trip, he went out to "ride the fence." He reports that the blackberry brambles were out of control  and has spent the week-end clearing them. I am pretty sure blackberries  were not the problem that night; but as they are alien to Oregon, I guess it could've been... Like I said, I'm not ruling anything out!