Audiobook Review: 4/5 The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson

 

Introduction:

I must be on a cozy mystery kick. Ended up with like 3 in a row. That’s cool.

The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson 4/5 Slow start but Great End

Summary:

A split story (part in the past, part in the present). (In the past) A Dutch art dealer struggles to keep his friend’s priceless collections out of the clutches of greedy Nazi hands. (In the present) An art history student, Zelda Richardson, tries to impress the project managers for a museum exhibit of lost art (stuff that went unclaimed since WWII).

 

Additional Comments:

– Zelda’s a believable amateur sleuth. She’s kinda just nosy and stubborn and ends up finding trouble.

– The beginning requires a lot of setup. Even as an audiobook, that got taxing, but the payoff in the end is worth it.

– Characters are pretty well developed in here. Zelda’s friend is a nice guy. The bad guy is dedicated to his role.

– Even though this is book 2 in the series, it’s easy enough to know who’s who and what’s what.

 

Conclusion:

Enjoyable cozy mystery. I enjoyed it.

 

<h2>Associate links to follow…</h2>

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Audiobook Review: 4/5 The Golden Hour by MK Graff Narrated by Nano Nagle

 

What’s new?

After a pretty long hiatus, I am back with reviewing audiobooks. Let’s start with a cozy British mystery.

Summary:

Nora Tierney gets caught up in a complicated case of international terrorism.

Additional Comments:

– Loved the narrator’s voice. (Nano Nagle’s performance is strong.) British accent is usually charming.

– Nora and Declan’s relationship seemed contrived at points, but it’s still a feel good type story.

– Honestly, Nora annoyed me at points. (She seemed superfluous.) I think that might be a pitfall of cozy’s in general – she’s not a detective so her involvement with the case has some pretty shaky threads.

– This isn’t the first in the series, but catching up was pretty easy. The series as a whole would likely be more enjoyable from the beginning though.

– The book started very strong but kind of dragged in the end.

– The plot’s kind of complicated but I really enjoyed the terrorism angle.

Conclusion:

A well-narrated cozy mystery.

 

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible – If you buy some of my audiobooks with your first credits, I’ll pay the first month’s bill (beyond the free ones). (Terms and conditions: must have proof of purchasing my books, like a screenshot. Will also have to have paypal.)


Audiobook Reviews: Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe by Robin Merrill

Introduction:

Something flavorful for cozy mystery fans.

Summary:

Meet Gertrude. She’s an eccentric, cat-loving, cranky, coot with mild kelpto tendencies who toddles around with a walker and finds plenty of trouble.

Additional Comments:

– We don’t really know much about Gertrude or how she got to be where she is in a tiny trailer park. Maybe more of her past comes out in future story. I only mention that because she’s occasionally delightfully and occasionally eye-brow raising sort of naïve. (i.e. stars in a Thai restaurant, existence of P.I. licenses, etc)

– She’s willful, opinionated, and nosy, but she cares. While that might rub some readers the wrong way, I think it’s part of her charm.

– The cranky part of her character manifests as rude at times, but there are parts where her better nature shines through.

– I heard the audio version. The narrator handled voices superbly, but her normal reading tone sounded pretty robotic.

– The salt shaker collection’s a tad weird.

– We don’t actually see much of her cats, which is odd given she has so many of them.

– The side characters are intriguing but could be fleshed out more. I’m assuming there will be some recurring characters throughout the series.

Conclusion:

It’s a solid start to a cozy mystery series. There’s a definite flavor here. Many will find it amusing.

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible – If you buy some of my audiobooks with your first credits, I’ll pay the first month’s bill (beyond the free ones). (Terms and conditions: must have proof of purchasing my books, like a screenshot. Will also have to have paypal.)

Audiobook Company Comparison: ACX vs Findaway Voices

Publishing through Findaway Voices
Publishing through ACX.

Part 1: Production

Introduction:

Recently, I had the unique opportunity to test the audiobook creation process of two different companies for creating audiobooks: ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) and Findaway Voices. It’s not a true experiment because there are too many variables, but I happened to have two short stories to produce simultaneously.

 

The Contenders:

ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange

Besides being around a while, it has become the behemoth to beat simply because it’s an Amazon company. By default, that means it’s got major moving power when it wants to. On the flip side, it’s a massive company, therefore some things can fall by the wayside.

Major advantages: They have access to a lot of narrators. You as an author have way more control over the narrator selection process. Pacing’s ultimately up to you and the narrator you choose.

Hint: Try to find somebody who’s reliable and great with communication. It will make a world of difference in the long run.

Major flaw: They’re business practices kind of stink. In short, they’re out for the bottom line, not really you as an artist. To be fair, part of this problem stems from them being so big. Must be difficult to be so popular.

 

Findaway Voices – Draft to Digital Associate

This company’s a relative newcomer to the audiobook creation scene (at least to me).

Note: You can’t use them with Kindle Select titles because those have to be exclusive to Amazon.

Major advantage: They publish to far more platforms than ACX. Their customer service is top-notch, and they walk you through the audiobook process. Your share of the royalties will be much greater than with ACX (80%, I think).

Major flaw: By default, they’re a “middleman.” Everything takes longer when you involve more people.

 

Note: These will cover the Author side because that’s where my experience lies.

 

The ACX Process:

Step 1: Authors decide they want to publish an audiobook. Yay.

Step 2: Authors create an ACX account (basically, sign in with your Amazon.com account) and assert their rights to a title.

Step 3: Choose an excerpt and decide whether you want to do Royalty Share or PFH (pay per finished hour).

Step 4: Wait for auditions. Guess this one can vary a bit, but I’d recommend browsing narrators and sending the top 10 an invite to audition.

Step 5: Choose a narrator and offer them a contract. They accept!

Step 6: Review the audiobook files with the manuscript as the narrator uploads them to ACX. Send the narrator time-stamped corrections and any other directions within reason. Review the revisions!

Step 7: Review the whole audiobook, hit approve, and wait for it to pass quality assurance. Note: this is sound quality assurance not editing for mistakes. This typically takes 2 weeks.

Note: PFH offers attract a LOT more auditions.

Second Note:

Royalty Share is a double-edged sword and rarely outright profitable for the narrator. Essentially, the narrator accepts the responsibility for creating the audiobook and splits the royalties with the author. On the other hand, with ACX’s push for Bounties over royalties, getting a bunch of small RS projects might be profitable.

 

Findaway Voices Production Process:

Step 1: Author decides they want to publish an audiobook. Sweet.

Step 2: The book has to be published through Draft to Digital, as far as I can tell. Easiest in anyway. I’m sure you could go to the company directly, but they’ll probably want it available through D2D because the platforms they intend to publish on are those available through that company.

Step 3: Click on the “Create an Audiobook” button. You may have to search for it by clicking on the “Other Formats” button.

Step 4: Fill out the paperwork for your tax information, cover, book manuscript, and such while you wait. In a few days, they say 1-7, they’ll get back to you with a selection of 7-ish narrators.

Step 5: Browse the narrators by listening to their samples. Choose a few to invite to submit an audition.

Step 6: Wait some more. The rep from Findaway Voices will let you know when they have some auditions for you to compare.

Step 7: Choose a narrator and wait for the first 15 minutes. This is where I’m at right now. It should take another 3-7 days to get this.

Step 8: Review the files and give feedback through their commenting system. Review the updated files. Approve.

 

Which Company is Better for You?

The answer depends entirely on your personality and financial situation.

Some things to consider …

Findaway Voices is only available for PFH. That means, if you have no budget for this process and must go RS, they’re out of the race and ACX is your winner.

If you hire a narrator through ACX, you have to be exclusive to Amazon companies and ones they negotiate special deals with, like iTunes. In terms of choice and freedom, Findaway Voices wins hands-down.

If you’re a control freak, ACX probably edges out the competition here. You have direct access to your narrator every step of the way.

If you’re somebody who likes to be guided and helped along the way, Findaway Voices can fulfill that mentoring role. They’ve got a lot of experience at this.

If you’re really good at selling people Audible subscriptions, ACX will be more profitable.

If you’d like a bigger piece of the pie you made, Findaway Voices is your answer.

ACX provides you with codes to help promote your book. Findaway Voices offers your book in WAY more places.

 

Conclusion:

I’m probably going to continue using both companies. They fulfill different niches. The PFH model means that you have to shell out more money at once, but you can probably find a “cheaper” narrator through Findaway Voices because they will help you keep to people in your price range. I’ll have to see how sales do on multiple platforms vs. Amazon exclusive. Shorter projects will likely end up with Findaway Voices. Jury’s still out on whether longer projects will work that way.

 

New to Draft2Digital? Check it out. (Note: this is a referral link. It will basically tell them I sent you.)

 

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible – If you buy some of my audiobooks with your first credits, I’ll pay the first month’s bill (beyond the free ones). (Terms and conditions: must have proof of purchasing my books, like a screenshot. Will also have to have paypal.)

Awesome Audiobooks: The Automaton’s Wife by Vered Ehsani

Introduction:

This story picks up roughly where The Ghosts of Tsavo left off. The series is pretty cool if you’re into strange characters. The narrator’s perfect for the part.

Review:

5/5 Charming, Witty, Weird

Summary: Bee’s back and she’s got her hands full. There’s murder and mayhem afoot and bigger crises like warding off would-be suitors.

Additional Comments:

– I think I’ve said it before: this is my brand of weird. That said, it’s probably not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. If you’re in the mood for a serious book, definitely wrong series.

– If you’re in the mood for fun and weird, definitely a great series to try.

– The series combines the charm of Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Detective Agency with the random, wacky weirdness of Seth Graham Smith’s Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies.

– I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks lately and these are always a light-hearted bit of escapism.

– The character has a few quirks that can come across as annoying, especially in the way she describes things. But overall, it’s still highly entertaining.

– I find the blurb a tad misleading after you’ve heard or read the story, but if you enjoyed the first story, I see no reason for you to dislike this one. If this is your introduction to the series, you might want to grab book one so you have some context.

Conclusion: Decent entry in an awesome series.

Conclusion:

I’ve listened to dozens of audiobooks this year, and I have to say, this series is one of my favorites. They’re very, very strange, but quirky little mysteries. Most of the charm’s in the characters.

-Jules

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 Lost and Found by Amy Shojai

Introduction:

The story falls in the category of “far-fetched” but still fun.

Summary:

It’s like the adult version of a horrible, no good, very bad day. This woman – September Day – knows how to find trouble in spades.

Additional Comments:

  • Warning: Contains strong language throughout. And a bit of violence.
  • Plot’s kind of out there, but that can add to the charm.
  • The author does a decent job narrating her own story. Not a huge fan of the concept of self-narrating, but she does decent sound effects and voice variation.
  • I love Shadow! Feel like I should get a T-shirt with that emblazoned on it. He’s adorable. I could go either way on sections of a book being written from a dog’s point of view, but it’s done well here.
  • Some of the “bad guys” aren’t really believable, but it’s good to have some moral ambiguity to wrestle with. (sometimes)
  • The part about drug trials is realistic enough.
  • Loved the end twist. I had heard book 2 first, so I might have known it already, but I’d forgotten enough.
  • There are quite a few perspectives to keep track of, not all of them necessary. But the skipping around didn’t bother me in audio form.
  • I love how ordinary September is. That makes her an awesome heroine.

Conclusion:

Don’t think too hard about plausibility. Grab the audiobook and enjoy the wild ride.

 

* I received a copy of the audiobook, but the choice to review it as well as the opinions expressed here are my own.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 A Memory of Grief by Dale T. Phillips

Haunting cover

Introduction:

The cover’s a bit more haunting than it probably ought to be. It’s one of the few times that I don’t think it fits well unless you want to get deeply philosophical about the main character’s mood.

Summary: Zack Taylor’s told his best friend just committed suicide, but he knows better … and he’s going to prove it.

Additional Comments:

– Warning – not a “clean” book. Contains half a dozen f-bombs and plenty of violence.

– It’s a bit like a Jack Reacher book in that certain people get pounded and you still end up rooting for the good guy.

– There’s a romance subplot that the book could have done without. It’s not that it was bad, but it seemed a tad forced.

– The characters are likable – or unlikable – as they’re supposed to be. That’s always fun. I also enjoyed the fact that the main character isn’t invincible, but he’s still admirable and tough as nails.

– There are a few light-hearted moments. The descriptions are decent.

– I heard the narrated version. Although I can’t say the narrator’s voice is my favorite, he fits the character well and put on a solid performance. I would listen to another of his books.

Conclusion:

Mystery that provides an excellent excuse for the main character to bust people’s heads (and arms and whatnot). Highly enjoyable if you can stomach the violence.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

A Mysterious Collection of Cozy, Clean, Free Mysteries

Love this cover.

Introduction:

After so much strangeness, I’m pleased to present something sort of normal. Okay, so people die, but what’s life without a little mystery. Each of these little gems is categorized as cozy, except the last, which I’d say is more suspense.

Winner of the most interesting title award:

Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R. Tan

An amateur sleuth becomes the prime suspect in her professor’s murder.

A Close Runner up to most interesting title award:

middle finger of fate

The Middle Finger of Fate by Kim Hunt Harris

I love the series title. The dog in the corner is cute. Okay, so I lied on the little part. This behemoth clocks in at 391 pages. Still, looks like a fun ride.

Cozies Come in Threes…

Actually kind of a gruesome cover if you think about it.

Sunny Side Up by Sonia Parin

Ex-husbands and handsome detectives. 168 pages in length.

And they’re getting shorter still …

Yes, I like the cover. Me = biased.

The Collins Case by Julie C. Gilbert

A pair of FBI agents race against time to rescue a kidnapped family. Fits in the Christian mystery novella category.

Conclusion:

Well, there ya have it folks: a fine collection of clean, murderous freebies.

*Note, the following section contains associate links.

Looking for more?

Prime Student

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Fantastic Fall Freebies and Fun Stuff

First up – Paperbacks

Don’t miss this grand opportunity to grab some awesome books. Ebooks are lovely things, but let’s be old fashioned and pick up the real thing. Join over twenty indie authors and enter for your chance at one of 10 prize packs full of swag and paperback books. (Full details available at this site. Also, go there to check out the goods.)

8 Scifi, YA, and Fantasy Books

Official giveaway ended a couple of days ago, but I was told the offers should still be good so grab ’em while they’re hot.

7 Free Romance, Mystery, and Dystopian Books

Oh, look, preview. Technically, this one isn’t running yet, but I twisted some arms and gotcha a sneak peek. Seriously, people, if you can’t find something to love within this oddball (I mean awesome!) collection, dunno what to tell you. Pretty sure 90% of the genres are covered by at least one of these giveaways.

 

The usual litany of Amazon affiliate links.

 

Prime Student – Basically, Prime is awesome but super expensive, so if you’re a student, take advantage of the lovely opportunity to save big.

Kindle Unlimited – Never tried it, but then my personal reading time is severely limited by that the need to work for a living. Why can’t anybody just pay me millions for being cute?

Amazon Prime – Okay, so all those of use who are official adultified, here’s the real deal.

Free Kindle Reading App – Got nothing to lose on this one. Just a way to READ MORE BOOKS.

Audible – And for those of us addicted to stories who don’t have reading time, there’s always Audible.

Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy Mysteries Collection by Liz Dodwell

Predictable but Charming

Summary:

A series of short cozy mysteries (yeah, there are bodies but nothing’s described in gruesome detail or anything.)

Additional Comments:

– Main character – Polly was basically Stephanie Plum lite – a clumsy disaster magnet with gorgeous boyfriend who saves her repeatedly.

– Side characters – including pets were very well fleshed out and added a nice layer to the story.

– I heard the audible version, which I definitely recommend over simple reading. Narrator did a decent job with the performance.

– I enjoyed how the stories built on one another. (Would not recommend reading the series out of order.)

One thing that bothered me: the main character/narrator broke the fourth wall (talked to the reader; ala – “now, I know what you’re thinking” style) numerous times. Once, I get (simple mistake/stylistic choice), but any more than that is just annoying.

– Plots ended up being unique if a little “convenient” from time to time, but that’s sort of the nature of a mystery novella.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for short, fluff mysteries with minimal curses, this is a good choice.

 

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

Kindle Unlimited

Free Kindle Reading App

Amazon Prime