Are You Listening Now? The Popularity of Audiobooks and This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Are You Listening Now? The Popularity of Audiobooks

I’m not quite sure when I first started noticing the increase in audiobook reviews  on our website.  A year ago?  Two?  Whenever the year or month, audiobooks and our reviews of them are definitely on the increase.  In fact, according to  Audio Publishers Association and MarketWatch*, audiobooks racked up over $1.5 billion in sales last year alone and remain, “the fastest-growing segment of the book publishing industry.”* No we aren’t saying the old print is dead thing again, or that e-books are a thing of the past.  No.  Just that along with those other formats, audiobooks has not only taken their place along side them but perhaps surpassed them in sales.

Not that I’m surprised.  With our fast-paced lives, driving to and from either work, soccer games or what have you, moving about the apartment, or whatever you may be involved in from packing up a house to pushing through some other chore, listening to a book is a wonderful way to pass the time or lose yourself for a while.

Yes, romances are among the top sellers, not that any genre or type of book is outselling another.  Self help?  Yep, its there among top audiobooks,  But so are business books and action thrillers along with the love stories I just mentioned.  People want to listen to them all.  Again, according to  MarketWatch, Amazon reports that its Audible sales are approximately 4 times higher than its books in the printed formats, although Amazon didn’t want to be precise about the numbers.  That’s a staggering  figure in a short amount of time, especially as it includes self published authors or authors producing their own audiobooks for the first time.

Another surprising factor to audiobooks I’ve seen here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words?  That an audiobook can make a reader take a fresh look at a book or series.  Why?  It all comes down to that one  elemental factor ~ the narrator.  How well the narrator or in some cases as a book this week, narrators, does their job, can make or break an audiobook.

I know that the reviewers here often ask first who is the narrator when an audiobook comes across for review.  Yes, narrators often accumulate a following when they are good or even spectacular (or not so spectacular).  The ability of a narrator to bring individual voices alive for a reader or in this case a listener goes back I think to the storytellers or bards.  Whether they were gathered around a campfire or in a great hall, a bard’s ability to engage their audience, to connect with them and pull them in varies little emotionally with  our narrators today.  Both need to hook their listeners, make them feel the characters, move them to tears or laughter.  That’s a great narrator.PatchworkParadise_Audiobook

We’ve interviewed a narrator and an author who narrated their own novel.  See the links below.

Dreamspinner Press, Riptide Publishing, Less Than Three Press, Mischief Corner Books are, along with other publishers and Audible, companies who offer audiobooks for sale.  I know there are others.  Mind blank, send me names and help me out.  Authors are also putting out their  own audiobooks, like Jay NorthcoteTasting Notes Audiobook for one.  Our options to listen are getting enormous.

I hope to bring in more narrators for interviews.  What questions would you like to ask them?  Do you have favorite narrators of your own?  Send me their names.  I know several reviewers here have already accumulated their own lists.

Audiobooks have come a long way and are here to stay.  Again MarketWatch is reporting that famous actors are getting into the narrating business.  I’m not sure that’s a great idea.  I want to be lost in the character…not thinking “oh, that’s Clint Eastwood or whoever doing the voice over”.  How do you all feel about that?

And lastly, can any of you name your favorite audiobook to date?  Hmmm?  Start thinking about answers to all these questions.  You just might find that answering them will get you a prize come the first of October.

Now on to  our schedule at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and yes, there are audiobooks being reviewed this week!

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Sunday, September 11:

  • Are You Listening Now? The Popularity of Audiobooks
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, September 12:

  • Riptide Publishing’s Blog Tour and Giveaway – Counterbalance by Aiden Wayne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Counterbalance by Aidan Wayne
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Obsidian Moons by Jon Keys
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Cougar Chaos (Mountain Spirit Mysteries #4) by A.J. Marcus

Tuesday, September 13:

  • In the Spotlight: Bread, Salt & Wine by Dev Bentham (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Jay Northcote’s Into You Release Tour
  • A MelanieM Review: Heart of the Warrior by Kendall McKenna
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Cowboy’s Home (Montana #3) by R.J. Scott
  • A Caryn Review: The Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory

Wednesday, September 14:

  • Series Spotlight: Crooked Tree Ranch Recap by RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Blog Tour and Giveaway: “Is This Desire?” by R. Paone
  • A MelanieM Review: Open Road by M.J. O’Shea
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Kyle (Legacy Ranch #1) by R.J. Scott
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review:  The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5)
    by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz with Dorian Bane (Narrator) andTobias Silversmith (Narrator)

Thursday, September 15:

  • Riptide Publishing’s Blog Tour and Giveaway:  Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Rented Heart by Garrett Leigh
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:Commitment Ranch (Leaning N #1) by B.A. Tortuga
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Do-Gooder by J. Leigh Bailey

Friday, September 16:

  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Tied Up in Knots (Marshals #3) by Mary Calmes
  • A MelanieM Review: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Sweetwater by Lisa Henry and Dorian Bane (Narrator)
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Waiting for Patrick by Brynn Stein

Saturday, September 17:

  • A Stella Review: Resonance by Lillian Francis
  • A MelanieM Review: Midlife Crisis by Rob Rosen
  • A Paul B Audiobook Review: Black Balled (Black Balled #1) by Andrea Smith and Narrator Eva LeNoir

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A Lila Audiobook Review: Love Hypothetically by Anne Tenino ~ Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

LoveHypothetically_AudiobookPaul’s been called many things—graduate student, humanities tutor, jock-hater, even broke—but “forgiving” isn’t one of them. When the new women’s softball coach at Calapooya College specifically requests Paul to tutor his athletes, Paul’s forced to put aside his strict “no athletes” policy for the sake of his paycheck.

Enter Trevor Gardiner, former Major League Baseball player and Paul’s high school boyfriend. Yeah, that one—the guy who sacrificed Paul for the safety of his closet and his future career. But Trevor’s come out and retired from baseball, and now he’s looking for forgiveness and a second chance.

There’s no earthly reason Paul should give him one, but he keeps letting the man state his case. And touch him. And take him sailing. The waters are far from smooth, though, and Paul says awful things to Trevor he isn’t sure he means. Now Paul has to decide: apologize and forgive Trevor for everything, or chalk it up as revenge and move on.

Love, Hypothetically is a sweet second chance novella. I read Frat Boy and Toppy about four years ago, but it was easy to remember Paul and his larger than life attitude. As a series, the two stories have a great sense of place and age group. The author did an excellent job bringing the previous characters into this installment.

I’m not a fan of YA or NA, but this book was a good example of the genre done right. The characters acted their age; first as high school students, and then, as young adults. Their story is believable and doesn’t go over the top to get the characters separated or back together. The chain of events that brought them back into each other’s life seems possible.

Both main characters have very defined personalities that stayed true through the story and varied depending on their interaction with other characters. I wanted them to get another chance to happiness from the very beginning, and the pacing of their reconciliation worked for the short format.

Perhaps I wanted a little more, but that happens with every novella. I wished we got more time for Trevor to beg for forgiveness and to see how their future turns out. But since this is only book #2 in the series, I guess we will have a chance to learn a little bit more about them in the next installments.

The hypothetical conversation Paul has is perfect for the story. I can see anyone having that type of exchange with a friend. It was well-written and quirky enough to keep the reader entertain. Plus, his friend attitude added to the color of the story. We get to see how much Trevor means to Paul and how he used this hypothetical situation to open up and think about a solution to his troubles.

Overall, a story that has found a way to stay relevant several years after publication. The plot is universal, and the ‘love conquers all’ theme closes the deal. A sweet summer read.

Nick J. Russo is one of my favorite MM narrators. His voice went accordingly with the characters ages and the rest of the characters’ voices were well-represented. It was easy to be into the story the further it got. The difference between the main characters worked nicely.

L.C. Chase did an excellent job creating a cover that felt young as the characters were when their love story started. At the same time, it includes one of their dates during their rediscovery.

Sales Links: Riptide | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 3 hours and 2 minutes

Published:  June 13, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Riptide Publishing
ASIN:  B01GW5WW3E
Edition Language: English

Series:  Theta Alpha Gamma
Book #1: Frat Boy and Toppy
Book #2: Love, Hypothetically

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Dogwood Days & Spring Fever by Poppy Dennison ~ Audiobook narrated by Matt Armstrong

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

dogwood-days-spring-fever audioThis audiobook is a compilation of the two books of the Holly Creek series in one: Dogwood Days and Spring Fever. It is not labeled as an ongoing series, but it did end with a cliffhanger—a very unsettling cliffhanger—and I can’t describe how irritated that made me. There was no indication of that in the blurb, and I really dislike that more than I can even say in print.

Dogwood Days opens with Jefferson Lee Davis on the phone with his uncle in Holly Creek when he suddenly hears a crash and then nothing further. Jefferson Lee had badly wanted to make it on his own in the world of journalism in a prestigious job in a big city, but family comes first, so he rushes home to Holly Creek after notifying the town’s sheriff to check on what happened. Once he gets there, he finds out his uncle has been hospitalized with a concussion and broken leg, and then the next morning when he calls his supervisor, he learns that he’s been laid off. The job wasn’t all that great, but it was better than nothing. Now, he has to decide where to go and what to do after he’s done taking care of his incapacitated uncle.

Holly Creek has a lot of pretty sights, including a young, sexy gardener, who Jefferson Lee finds very attractive. But it doesn’t seem to be mutual, and it comes as a surprise when he slowly starts to become more than friends with the local sheriff, another good-looking man, and this one seems to find Jefferson Lee attractive. Out and proud, Sheriff Zane wants something more with Jefferson Lee, but he’s worried that the cute young man is only in town temporarily.

Fate has plans for the duo, however, and after a series of misadventures, Jefferson Lee finds a good reason to stay in Holly Creek and pursue a relationship with Zane.

In the second story, Spring Fever, after a series of mysterious phone calls and the arrival of yet another good-looking man to their town, Jefferson Lee and his best friend Clover manage to get hauled off to jail in the back of the police cruiser with a furious Zane driving.

Are his days with Zane numbered? Can he possibly find happiness with a man who keeps secrets? And who will the mystery man turn out to be?

This was one of those sweet, simple stories that would make a good beach read. I’d normally recommend it, however, I just can’t get past that cliffhanger, and I didn’t see any further stories linked to it, making me think Spring Fever is the end of the series. And then there’s the fact that the narrator, Matt Armstrong, was quite boring and gave Zane the voice of a fifty year old. And Jefferson Lee’s voice wasn’t much better. So no points for narration at all. If you want something southern and simple, with lots of small town gossip and politics, and not much more, you may like this one. But I’d recommend the e-book over the audio version.

The attractive cover by Alexandria Corza features a very cute, blond, young man leaning against a turquoise wood fence. Very bright and colorful, it’s easy to imagine the man is Jefferson Lee.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon |  Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

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Published June 7th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
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Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHolly Creek #1-2

In Need of Inspiration…about July. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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In Need of Inspiration…about July

With all the sadness and madness in the news today combined with the heat facing me outside my door, I was in need of inspiration for my post this morning.  Too early for the dog days of Summer, although the events felt like it. Mad Dogs and Englishmen?  Falls under the same category believe it or not.

So I went looking for things about the month of July, that midmonth of summer wondering what I would find other than the usual 4th of July and Canada Day mentions.  What a mixed bag…

In the Georgian calendar, the calendar that most of the world uses, July is the seventh month. However, on the Roman calendar, it was actually the fifth month and was call Quintilis, which meant fifth. Later in 46 B.C., Caesar gave 31 days and the Roman Senates named the month Julius in honor of Caesar. In northern hemisphere, July is usually the hottest month of the year when it is actually a winter time in southern hemisphere. It gets very cold in Antarctica and cold and rainy in South America. Because there isn’t much rain in July, the grass loses its greenness. Moreover, the abundance of flowers and insects occur in July.

Some immediate facts that floated to the top:

  • On July 1, 1898, the San Juan Hill was occupied by the American troops during the Spanish-American War.
  • During World War I on July 1, 1916, the Battle of Somme began.
  • On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was killed by Charles Guiteau.
  • On July 11, 1804, during a duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton was killed.
  • The first atomic bomb was set off by scientists in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945.

Hmmm…the dig went on.

  • On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was established due to the British North America Act.
  • On July 5, 1971, Amendment 26 was proclaimed which set the voting age at 18 in the United States.
  • On July 16, 1790, District of Columbia was established.
  • On July 2, 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act (an Act to prohibit trusts) was passed by the United States Congress 
  • The 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, was born on July 1, 1913.

Then finally…hope arrived in the form of National holidays…ones I didn’t even know about…but I’m putting them on the calendar now.blueberry6

July is officially National Blueberry Month, National Ice Cream Month and drumroll please, National Hot Dog Month.  Be Still My Heart.  I’ve a love for all three.  So a month made for me. And its only half over!  So now I’m grabbing a spoon and heading for the Blue Bunny double chocolate fudge. Maybe with some blueberries on top. Don’t judge. Join me after looking over our great lineup this week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  There’s something for everyone.

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 10:

  • In Need of Inspiration…about July.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • In the Spotlight: Ice (The Salisbury Series #2) by Chris Quinton & RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

Monday, July 11:

  • The Silvers by J.A. Rock Blog Tour and Giveaway
  • Complexity by Harper Miller Tour and Giveaway
  • A Paul B Review: Delivered to Hope by Caitlin Ricci & AJ Marcus
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Until September by Chris Scully
  • A Stella Review: Chasing the Dream by Andrew Grey

Tuesday, July 12:

  • AJ Llewellyn’s re-release of Mating Tomeo. Release Day Tour and Giveaway
  • Gays of Our Lives by Kris Ripper Blog Tour and Giveaway
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Gays of Our Lives by Kris Ripper
  • A BJ Review: Assumed Dead by Becky Black
  • An Alisa Review: Code Name Jack Rabbit by Elizabeth Noble

Wednesday, July 13:

  • An Alisa Review: Awakening the Alpha by Carolina Valdez
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Designs of Desire by Tempeste O’Reilly
  • A Jeri Review: Dinner for One by Meg Harding
  • An Ali Review: Wildflowers by Suki Fleet
  • A MelanieM Review:  Kissing Alex by R.J. Scott

Thursday, July 14:

  • Book Blitz and Giveaway – The Olive Conspiracy by Shira Glassman
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Dogwood Days & Spring Fever by Poppy Dennison
  • A Stella Review: Picked Fresh by Posy Roberts
  • An Alisa Review:  Sign Here Please by Feral Sephrian

Friday, July 15:

  • In the Spotlight: Into the Blue by Pene Hanson (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Book Blitz and Giveaway – Summer Lovin’ Anthology
  • Acceptance Blog Tour and Giveaway by Grace R. Duncan blog
  • A Paul B Review: Acceptance by Grace R. Duncan
  • A MelanieM Review: The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom by Kate McMurray
  • An Alisa Review: Lock & Key – Z. Allora

Saturday, July 16:

  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Left of Centre by Zathyn Priest
  • A Lila Audiobook Review:  Love Hypothetically by Anne Tenino
  • A Stella Review:  Strong Medicine by JK Hogan

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A BJ Review: Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs #4) by L.A. Witt and Narrated by Charlie David

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Rating:    3.75 out of 5 stars

CovetThyNeighbor_AudiobookTattoo artist Seth Wheeler thinks he’s struck gold when Darren Romero rents the apartment across the hall. The new guy is gorgeous, witty, and single, plus he’s just the right blend of bold and flirtatious. Perfect.

Except then Darren reveals that he moved to Tucker Springs to take a job as the youth pastor at the New Light Church. Seth is not only an atheist, but was thrown out by his ultra-religious family when he came out. He tends to avoid believers, not out of judgment but out of self-preservation.

But Darren doesn’t give up easily, and he steadily chips away at Seth’s defenses. Darren is everything Seth wants in a man . . . except for that one massive detail he just can’t overlook. Is Darren’s religion the real problem, or is it just a convenient smokescreen to keep him from facing deeper fears? It’s either see the light, or risk pushing Darren away forever.

First off I have to say that after listening to other books in the series read by a different narrator, it was a bit jarring to get used to having this one read by someone else. While I enjoyed Charlie David’s voice tones, I missed Iggy. The two main character’s voices actually sounded pretty much the same to me. I really prefer when there are noticeably different voices since in an audio, there are no things like line breaks and stuff to give us a clue when the speaker changes. Sometimes I even got a bit lost as to which character was speaking.

As for the story itself, the physical relationship between these guys was nearly instant, which took me by surprise considering that one is a minister. Given what I knew about Seth’s past and the fact that Darren was up front about his career before they hit the sack, that surprised me. I found it strange that both of them would have so little control and not just once, but repeatedly especially when they kept regretting it the mornings after and feeling so strained around each other. I wished there had been more relationship development up front but it came across to me as based mostly on sex for a long while. So the middle part rather lost me for a while.

During the whole middle of the story, I had trouble liking Seth. It seemed like he was being so judgmental and unaccepting, which was supposed the exact thing he was disliking Darren for. But Darren was not that. I liked Darren from the start, and as it wore on though, I quite embraced his take on religion. How he strives to live a life based on the New Testament, leaving behind the Old Testament makes sense. There are so very many laws and rules in the Old Testament which modern day Christians break on a daily basis, so where to draw the line on what to dismiss and what to continue to hold as doctrine is very much ambiguous.

Personally, I wished this had been a dual POV. Darren’s character was my favorite of the two and would have loved to be in his head and see more depth to him. The things Seth said to him and then finding out his past and thus knowing how they must have hurt, damn. That kicked the story up an extra half star for me right there. And if not for what Seth had done at the LGBT youth center, I probably would have really hated him at that point.

Enjoyed revisiting with Michael and Jason, and meeting Seth’s cat Stanley. Wish that the ending had been a bit more. While I liked it well enough, it just seemed to wrap up a bit too easily.

This cover by L.C. Chase is my fav from the series so far as both halves really represented the characters and their life well.

Sales Links:  Riptide PublishingAudible | Amazon | iTunes


Book Details:

Published April 5th 2016 by Riptide Publishing

A BJ Audiobook Review: Tackling the Tight End  (Long Pass Chronicles #3) by Tara Lain and 
John – Paul Barrel (Narrator)

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Rating:   3 stars out of 5

Tackling the Tight End AudioEveryone wants the best for SCU student and tight end Raven Nez – and they know exactly what that is. Enter the NFL draft, become a big football hero, promote his tribe’s casino, and make a lot of money to help people on the reservation. Just one problem.

Raven’s gay and he really wants to work with gay kids. Plus he figures a gay Native tight end will get flattened in the NFL. Then the casino board hires a talented student filmmaker to create ads for the tribal business and asks Raven to work with him. But the filmmaker is Dennis Hascomb, a guy with so much to hide and a life so ugly it’s beyond Raven’s understanding. Still he’s drawn to Dennis’s pain and incredible ability to survive.

Captivated by Raven’s stories of the two-spirited and by the amazing joy of finally having a friend, Dennis knows he has to break free from everything he’s ever been taught was good – but that’s a struggle that could kill him and Raven too. Is there a chance for “the great red hope” and the “whitest guy on earth”? A future for the serpent and the raven?

I wanted to read this because it is set in SoCal and one of the main characters is a sexy Native American (I mean, look at that cover! Gorgerous). I haven’t read the first two books in this series but had been told that since it involves a new couple, it could be read as a standalone. I am sure that is the case. However, in my particular case, if I had more background on the other main character, Dennis, from reading the other books, I probably would not have chosen to read this story. My dissatisfaction with this story revolves around him. See I have this thing (button? trigger?) about breech of trust and betrayal and cheating. And actually, anything that even comes close to these things can make it very hard for me to actually enjoy a book. Therefore, this book was extremely hard for me to read. To be honest, I wanted to DNF and would have if not listening for review. Therefore, I will say up front that this review is biased as I have to rate based on personal enjoyment, right? And this was just NOT the book for me.

On the positive side, I loved Raven’s character and all of the parts about the tribe, the two-sprits, the traditions and stories, the work he does with the kids, and so much more. Definitely swoon-worthy. I also enjoyed his friend Walter and his grandfather–they were great. Raven was such a well-drawn and all around lovely character. I wish he’d been paired with someone who didn’t push all my “off” buttons so that I could have fully enjoyed his story in the way I’d have liked to.

Unfortunately, the other main character, Dennis… well, it was very hard to connect and empathize with him and found myself wishing I could just skip over some of the parts concerning him. Many of the things he did left me cold. Granted he did what he did under coercion—his family was just despicable—and that he disliked doing it. Yet he did it for years. How many people’s lives did he hurt? I did not enjoying reading about that sort of playing of others in one of my main characters. Plus it wasn’t really clear to me for some time exactly how they were controlling him. So that side of the story, I just did not enjoy. It made me tense and unhappy and twitchy as I was listening, and I really just wanted to turn it off.

The story is well-written. Raven is hot and sexy and I loved him. There are some sweet and well done sexy bits, but it was impossible for me to overlook that during a big part of them Dennis was hiding such major stuff from Raven and lying so much—knowing that made it impossible for me to fully engage and enjoy the two as a couple.

The narrator was adequate, but not my favorite because in my opinion there wasn’t enough variation in the characters voices. Overall, my enjoyment stars break down something like this: 3 for narration, 5 for Raven’s story, 1 for Dennis’s story as it just totally put me off. So going in the middle for a 3.

The cover  by Reese Dante is gorgeous… it’s what caught my eye and made me want to read this book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | iTunes | Amazon | Audible


Book Details:  

Audible Audio, 9 pages, 9 hrs
Published April 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 15th 2016)
Original TitleTackling the Tight End
ASINB01E48FRLK
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLong Pass Chronicles #3

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Dinner at Fiorello’s by Rick R. Reed ~ Audiobook narrated by Joel Leslie

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

DinneratFiorellosAUDLGHenry Appleby is considered by many to be a spoiled little rich kid living in the lap of luxury with his wealthy parents, enjoying the good life. But Henry has a burning desire, deep in his soul, to become a chef. Not something his parents would approve of, he’s sure. However, for Henry, food expresses emotions and memories and he wants to be able to bring those emotions to others through his cooking. So when he spots an ad for an all-around helper at Fiorello’s, a small Italian restaurant, he decides to go for it—against his father’s wishes. His father had already arranged a summer job for Henry as an apprentice in his law firm, a prelude to Henry entering college in the fall and ultimately following in his father’s footsteps to become an attorney.

The first day on the job, Henry meets Vito Carelli, the tall, dark, brooding chef who never cracks a smile but who produces the most amazing food. Unknown to Henry, Vito lost his husband and young son to an auto accident a little over a year ago, and now life has lost its meaning, and he has all he can do to put one foot in front of the other to survive the hollowness in his heart.

Though Henry is attracted right from the first day, every attempt to befriend Vito, or even flirt with him, is met with a stony glare. Until one night Henry’s world is turned upside down when he discovers his mom is having an affair. Then one thing leads to another, and he’s outted to both parents, and Vito is the only person willing to listen and help the young man whose heart may be as broken as his own.

I loved this story. It’s a bittersweet romance, with the focus more on the characters than on the sexual attraction, and that makes it so much more than the usual. It starts out slowly, backfilling the history of each character, giving them life and dimension. But by about halfway through, I found myself longing to hear more, to experience their dynamic, and to wallow in the heartbreak that is Vito’s grief, and I realized that I didn’t want to pause it for any reason. (To heck with real life responsibilities!) Joel Leslie’s outstanding narration gives life to the characters. Vito’s sexy, deep, Italian-accented voice and Henry’s light, youthful vibe fit the characters perfectly and make it believable when the characters themselves, while ultimately attracted, acknowledge their age difference and the necessity of going slow as they see where their relationship may lead. Throughout the story, he narrates not only the words, but the emotion—sometimes raw and poignant though it may be.

The supporting cast of characters—from Henry’s parents and housekeeper to Rosalie, the owner of Fiorello’s and Carmella, the lusty hostess with an eye for the men—each has his or her own voice given character by the author and infused with life by Joel Leslie.

It’s not often that I’m so affected by a story that the characters stay with me long after I finish, but that’s the case here. I finished this book a few days ago, and I still feel Vito’s pain at his loss. The agony of his grief was so realistically written and so realistically performed by the narrator that I, too, feel as if I’ve lost someone important to my life.

I highly recommend this story, in audiobook if you can do it, but e-book if you can’t. It’s a beautiful love story, not just showing the early stages of what may become love for Henry and Vito, but the love Vito holds for his son and his husband—a love that transcends their death. Don’t miss a chance to pick this one up.

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Cover Art by Reese Dante features a head shot of gorgeous Vito in the foreground with a profile of youthful Henry in the background. It’s beautifully done and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |   iTunes | Audible | Amazon

Audiobook Details:

NarratorJoel Leslie
Length7 hours and 11 minutes

A Stella Audiobook Review: Tell Me It’s Real (Tell Me It’s Real #1) by T.J. Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5      ★★★★★

Tell Me Its Real AudiobookDo you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn’t. Paul doesn’t believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother’s homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn’t: Sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car – in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it’d-only-be-manslaughter kind of way – he’s forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself – and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince’s family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he’s perfect the way he is.

I’m not going to tell you a lot about the book cause it can be described with one single word, AMAZING, just like everything TJ writes, his characters are the best. This book is so funny, hilarious and sweet. Paul just cracks me up.

This is not the first audiobook that I listen to, but I have to tell you I was a little scared when I started the audiobook, because it seemed to me the narrator told the story a little too fast and I was afraid I couldn’t be able to understand everything (ok my English sucks, I know!), but… BUT I need to congratulate with Michael Lesley, I didn’t miss a single word, he is a great narrator!
I think he was perfect for this book, he was the right voice for Paul, the right tone. I liked him a lot! He was funny listening to him doing different voices for Vince, Sandy/Helena, sometimes he seems a little over the top and exaggerated but I think It was what this book needed, a narrator who could fit the MC perfectly.

Two words: AMAZING to TJ’s writing and PERFECT to Michael’s narration.

Cover art by Reese Dante is amazing and perfect for the characters and story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Book Details:

10 hrs 24 min
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published June 30th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published February 15th 2013)
Original TitleTell Me It’s Real
ASINB00LBF5JK4
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTell Me It’s Real #1
CharactersPaul James Auster, Vince Melody Taylor, Sanford “Sandy” Stewart

Its Super Bowl Sunday,Top 10 Greatest Ancient Athletes and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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ancient games

Its Super Bowl Sunday and the Top 10 Greatest Ancient Athletes

Its Super Bowl Sunday,  more than that, its Super Bowl 50 so all the celebrations, commercials have been kicked up a notch.  I have to admit, I love the commercials. The Budweiser Clydesdales always  slay me whether the commercials are in a funny vein or outright reaching for the heart.  Horses, dogs…check and done.  Helen Mirren on drunk drivers this  year?  Priceless as they say.  Other than the commercials, none of my teams made it so my heart’s not in it…exactly.  But millions of other peoples are. People are talking teams and favorite athletes. Who is faster, stronger, better and who will win.

And its always been this way.

Doesn’t matter if its hockey and the Ovetchkin or Sidney Crosby rivalry (Caps and Ovetchkin all the way) or the current Super Bowl teams and their quarterbacks, Carolina Panthers Cam Newton or the Denver Broncos Peyton Manning, their pros and cons, their physiques and ages, everything will be discussed ad infinitum.

But that’s nothing new.  From the ancient Olympic games to the the favorite gladiators of the Coliseum, athletes have been written about and fawned over.  Here is the top 10 list of ancient athletes (thank you, Theodoros II of Listverse (http://listverse.com/2013/04/14/10-greatest-ancient-athletes/).  Don’t they cry out for a book about them? :

Orsippus10. Orsippus of Megara was an ancient Greek athlete who won the stadium race of the fifteenth Ancient Olympic Games in 720 B.C. He became the crowd’s favorite, and he was thought to be a great pioneer for being most likely the first ever athlete to run naked. Pausanias, who very often reported on the ancient Olympics like a modern-day sports journalist, states: “My own opinion is that at Olympia he [Orsippus] intentionally let the girdle slip off him, realizing that a naked man can run more easily than one girt.”  It also got him many pots with that scene pictured-the Instagram of that day.

9.Varazdat
VarazdatVarazdat was an athlete from Armenia who won the Olympic boxing tournament during the 291st Olympic Games. We are aware of Varazdat’s victory from a memorandum kept in the Olympic museum in Olympia. The first historiography about Varazdat was written by Movses Chorenatsy in his Armenian History.In ancient Armenian royal and aristocratic families, the physical education of youngsters had a disciplined and orderly character. They were taught swimming, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, and military exercises. Varazdat, with the benefit of this rigorous training, went on to be the winner of various boxing competitions held in Greece. He later achieved his greatest triumph, when he became the Olympic champion at the Olympics of 385.

8 Cynisca of Sparta
Although men were originally the only ones allowed to compete in the Olympic Games, this soon changed. Several women took partCynisca of Sparta 2 in the ancient Games, and even won competitions. The most famous of these was Cynisca of Sparta, the first woman to win at the Games. By her success, she paved the way for many other women, and helped usher in a new era in the ancient sporting world.Cynisca’s and her male team were successful in the four-horse chariot racing, winning in 396 B.C. and again in 392 B.C. Cynisca was the most distinguished female athlete of the ancient world, and many historians use her as a symbol of the social rise of women, and the beginning of the movement to give them equal rights and opportunities.

7 Polydamas
We don’t know much about the Olympic victor Polydamas of Skotoussa. His background, family life, and even the details of his Olympic triumph remain shrouded in mystery. Aside from the fact that Polydamas’ statue was remarkably tall and strong, we havePolydamus no other information on his appearance.Like many athletes of his time, Polydamas was just as well-known for his non-athletic exploits as he was for his prowess in the Olympic games. Ancient authors tend to compare his feats to those of the legendary Greek hero Herakles. Polydamas once killed a lion with his bare hands on Mount Olympus, in a quest to imitate the labors of Herakles, who famously slew the Nemean lion. For similar reasons, Polydamas once managed to single-handedly bring a fast-moving chariot to a halt.These exploits soon reached the ears of the Persians. Their king, Darius, sent for Polydamas. After he was received by the Persian king, the athlete challenged three Persian “Immortals” to fight him, and managed to defeat them all in a single fight.In the end, however, Polydamas’ strength could not prevent his demise. One summer, Polydamas and his friends were resting in a cave when the roof began to crumble down upon them. Believing that his immense strength could prevent the cave-in, Polydamas held his hands up to the roof, trying to support it as the rocks crashed down around him. His friends fled the cave and reached safety, but the great wrestler was killed.

6.Onomastos of Smyrna
Onomastos of Smyrna was the first ever Olympic victor in boxing, at the twenty-third Olympiad in 688 B.C., when this sport was Onomastos of Smymaadded. According to ancient historians, Onomastos was not only the first Olympic boxing champion, but wrote the rules of Ancient Greek boxing as well. Onomastos also holds a record which remains remarkable even today. After hundreds of ancient and modern Olympiads, he’s still the boxer with the most Olympic boxing titles, with four victories to his name. Laslzo Papp, the world’s greatest amateur boxer of the twentieth century, came close to Onomastos’ record—but he stopped at three Olympic victories before becoming a professional boxer.

5.Melankomas
The famously handsome boxer Melankomas was from Caria, a region in modern-day Turkey. In an effort to prove his courage, Melakomas of CariaMelankomas chose to compete in athletics, since this was the most honorable and most strenuous path open to him. Amazingly enough, Melankomas was undefeated throughout his career—yet he never once hit, or was hit by, an opponent.His boxing style involved defending himself from the blows of the other boxer, and never attempting to strike the other man. Invariably, the opponent would grow frustrated and lose his composure. This unique style won Melankomas much admiration for his strength and endurance. He could apparently last through the whole day—even at the height of summer—and he would refuse to strike his opponents, even though he knew that by doing so he would quickly end the match and secure an easy victory for himself. In this manner he won the Olympic boxing tournament at the 207th Olympic games.

4. Chionis of Sparta
Ancient-Sports-Stars Chionis of Sparta was an athlete who caused much debate regarding his athletic achievements, with the most notable of these being his long-jumping records. Records suggest that in the Olympics of 656 B.C., Chionis jumped a record of seven meters and five centimeters. This feat would have won him the long jump title at the 1896 Olympic Games, and would have placed him among the top eight at a further ten modern Olympics, up to and including the 1952 Games of Helsinki. As well as his amazing achievements in long jump, Chionis was also renowned as a triple jumper—capable of reaching up to 15.85 meters.But the most remarkable fact about this man is that none of his jumps were enhanced by modern-day drugs or training equipment; his records were truly honest and honorable.

3.Diagoras of Rhodes
Diagoras of Rhodes might not be the greatest of ancient athletes, but his family is without doubt the greatest sporting family of theDiagoras of Rhodes Ancient world. Diagoras won the boxing event in the Games of 464 B.C. He was also a four-time winner in the Isthmian Games, and a two-time winner in the games at Nemea. His sons and grandsons also became boxing and pankration champions. During the eighty-third Olympiad, his sons Damagetos and Akousilaos, after they became champions, lifted their father Diagoras on their shoulders to share their victory with him. Legend says that during Diagoras’ triumphant ovation on the shoulders of his sons, a spectator shouted: “Die, Diagoras, for Olympus you will not ascend”—the meaning being that he had reached the highest honor possible for a man and athlete.

2. Theagenes of Thasos
Theagenes was one of the first celebrities of the ancient sporting world. He became famous throughout the world at the tender age of nine. It seems that the boy was walking home from school one day when he noticed a bronze statue of a god in the marketplace oftheagenes22Thasos, Greece. For some reason, Theagenes tore the statue from its base and took it home. This act outraged the citizens, who perceived it as blasphemy against the gods, and they debated whether or not they should execute the child for his deed. One elder, however, wisely suggested that they should have the boy return the statue to its proper place. Theagenes did this—and his life would never be the same again.He went on to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. He was a successful boxer, pankratiast, and runner. He won the Olympic boxing tournament in the seventy-fifth Olympiad of 480 B.C., and in the next Olympics he won the title in the Pankration. In addition to his two Olympic victories, Theagenes won numerous honors in other sports and other games. Altogether he was said to have won over 1,400 contests in many different kinds of sport. His incredible achievements made him a living myth—to the extent that many people even believed that Heracles was his father.If we were to compare Theagenes with a modern boxing hero, such as Harry Greb (the boxer with most official victories (261) in professional boxing’s history) it would seem that Theagenes outnumbers him by nearly 1,250 victories.

1.Milo of Croton
Most historians agree that Milo remains to this day the greatest wrestler and fighter (from any combat sport) the world has ever known. Milo of Croton became an Olympic champion several times during his nearly thirty-year career. His size and physique wereMilo intimidating, and his strength and technique perfect—and many people accordingly believed that he was the son of Zeus. He was said to eat more than eight kilograms of meat every day. Some say that he even once carried an adult bull on his shoulders, all the way to the Olympic stadium, where he slaughtered and devoured it. Yet Milo was not merely a hulking wrestler; he was also a musician and a poet, as well as a student of the mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras.The greatest wrestler of the twentieth century, Alexander Karelin, was often called the modern-day Milo of Croton—but he himself acknowledged that he would not stand a good chance against the real Milo.

All of the ancient athletes above bring to mind the long line of warriors I’ve read about in stories I’ve loved and the sportsmen I’ve watched through the years and am still cheering on today.  Whether your sport is rugby, soccer, football, or  something totally different, think about the sports champions of the past as you cheer on the ones of the present.  Have a great Sunday and Happy Reading.

Now for

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 7:

  • Its Super Bowl Sunday,Top 10 Greatest Ancient Athletes and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, February 8:

  • Cover Reveal for Forbes Mates #2 book, Patience. by Grace R. Duncan
  • Until September by Chris Scully – Riptide Tour and Contest
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Dom on the Side by Kate Aaron
  • A MelanieM Review: Dragon Deception by Mell Eight
  • An Ali Review: The Boys of Summer by Sarah Madison

Tuesday. February 9:

  • In the Spotlight: Victoria Sue’s The Promise (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Dreamspinner Tour: Dormant Heart by Lane Swift (guest blog, excerpt)
  • An Ali Review: Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham
  • A Stella Review: Until September by Chris Scully
  • An Jeri Review: Tackling the Tight End by Tara Lain

Wednesday, February 10:

  • Patricia Logan ‘The Brat’ Tour and Giveaway
  • Dreamspinner Author Tour: Project Ordell by Susanna Hays (author guest blog)
  • A Jeri Review: The Imperfection of Swans by Brandan Witt
  • A Lila Review: Forced Impressions by Piper Doone
  • A PaulB Review: Golden Son by Jeff Erno

Thursday, February 11:

  • Dreamspinner Author Tour: Some Assembly by Lex Chase and Bru Baker (author guest blog)
  • A BJ Review: Dancer of Death by Jordan L. Hawk
  • An Ali Review: Second Hand (Tucker Springs #2) by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton, Iggy Toma (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Strength of the Sun by SA McAuley
  • A Paul B Audiobook Review:  Lightning Struck Heart by TJ Klune (audio)

Friday, February 12:

  • Dreamspinner Author Tour: Foxes by Suki Fleet (guest post)
  • Dreamspinner Author Tour: Max MacGowan (Taking the Long Way)
  • LE Franks ‘Six Days to Valentine’ book blast and giveaway
  • A Ali Audiobook Review: Healing Hunter’s Heart by Charlie Cochet
  • A Stella Review:Naked Prince and Other Fairy Tales by Joe Cosentino

Saturday, February 13:

  • Dreamspinner Author Tour: Table for One by Ava Hayden (guest blog)
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foxes by Suki Fleet

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ali Audiobook Review: Another Way (Another Way #1) by Anna Martin and Narrator Brad Langer

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

AnotherWayAUDSMOn the surface, Jesse Ross is an average guy in an average relationship with his college sweetheart, Adele. But what his girlfriend doesn’t know is that he’s having an affair—with a man—and exploring his sexuality in ways she never could imagine. His compartmentalized life suits Jesse just fine, and he has no intention of coming out of the closet either as a bisexual or as a submissive.

However, Jesse takes a tumble when his Master, Will, admits to wanting more, wanting Jesse as his partner, not just his submissive. Suddenly Jesse’s conveniently pieced-together life isn’t quite so comfortable. In the end, Jesse has to lay it all on the line—for his girlfriend, for his lover, and for himself.
 
 
This is a hard review to write.  I am reviewing two separate things in this.  There is the plot of the book which I liked and the narration which I loathed.  I’ve never had such a wide divide before.  If I was only rating the book I would rate it higher.  If I was only rating the narration I would rate it much lower.  I literally could not finish this on audio and ended up having to switch to ebook to keep from abandoning this book.  The narrator’s voices were really bad.  His idea of a BDSM Dom was this ridiculous, deep, alpha voice and then his sub would get all high pitched like some mock characterization of a woman.  The plot itself was a good portrayal of two men who start their relationship as only a Dom/sub but over time start to fall in love and then begin a romantic relationship.  This story was a refreshing change from the typical BDSM story in the m/m genre where one MC is broken or damaged and they are using the BDSM to “fix” him (which is a trope I hate).  I do recommend reading the story but I really don’t think you should try the audio version.
 
Cover art by Taria Reed is lovely and dark.

Book Details:

Narrator Brad Langer
Length 7 hours and 56 minutes
Published September 30th 2011 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleAnother Way
ISBN 1613721617 (ISBN13: 9781613721612)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAnother Way #1