Audio Adventures: Pet Peeves



Welcome to my first-ever Audio Adventures post (FINALLY. I only announced this feature 2 1/2 years ago!)! For the past three years, I have found immense pleasure in listening to audiobooks. There's a lot to love about audiobooks. Not only am I increasing the number of books I read each year, I'm also  rereading books I've previously loved, which I don't always have time for, and discovering new takes on those books. Plus, I can read while I do other stuff that can be tedious or boring like cook, clean, shop, etc. I can listen while I work or while I drive. I am multitasking like a BOSS. Buuuuut even good things can have their negatives. The following is a list of all the ways audiobooks can go wrong. To kick Audio Adventures off with a bang, I give you my

Audiobook pet peeves

1. Abridged audiobooks
When I see "abridged" any where near an audiobook, I roll my eyes. Really? REALLY? This book is so long you couldn't do the whole thing? *side eyes abridged audiobooks*  Winter and A Court of Mist and Fury are both almost 24 hours long. Two books in A Song of Ice and Fire are almost 50 hours long. People will listen to audiobooks no matter the length. Stop abridging books, please. It's nonsense. And if simply abridging a title weren't enough, behold, one of my favorite series by one of my favorite authors:

Why is book 5 abridged while the rest of them are not? This is seriously the most absurd thing I've ever seen. Not only am I especially incensed because Haunted is my favorite book in the series, and it's stupid that it's abridged (it's 2 hours compared to maybe 6), but it's the ONLY ONE that has been shortened. THAT IS LITERALLY THE DUMBEST THING EVER.

Yes, I know this is probably because people want audiobooks to be more accessible to readers of all skill level blah blah blah. Abridged classics are one thing, I think. But I have listened to a couple audiobooks of titles I know well enough to notice what's missing, and that has led to a disappointing listening experience.

2. Having different narrators for sequels
I'm not talking about companion series like the Starbound trilogy or Anna/Lola/Isla or most new adult or adult romance series. I'm talking straight-up series with direct sequels featuring the same characters and the same characters' POV. Let's look at The Mortal Instruments. Here's a list of the narrators:
City of Bones: Tinkerbell Mae Whitman
City of Ashes: Natalie Moore
City of Glass: Natalie Moore
City of Fallen Angels: Chuck Bass Ed Westwick & Molly C. Quinn
City of Lost Souls: Molly C. Quinn
City of Heavenly Fire: Logan Echols Jason Dohring & Sansa Stark Sophie Turner

Even the Australian audiobooks only use 3 of the same narrators above and have 3 additional narrators for the other books. That's not all! Check out The Infernal Devices!

Clockwork Angel: Jennifer Ehle
Clockwork Prince: Ed Westwick & Heather Lind
Clockwork Princess: Daniel Sharman

WHAT THE CRAP. I will say Ed has a totally dreamy voice because he uses his natural British accent and *swoons* But that doesn't mean I appreciate having completely different people voice these characters. It's really disconcerting for the listening reader, especially if you binge-listen. Another offender is the Under the Never Sky series.

3. Not having multiple narrators for multiple POVs 
Not every narrator can handle performing multiple characters' narration. Kristine Hvam SLAYS in her performance in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Rebecca Soler does pretty well in The Lunar Chronicles. But I am still angry that Lorelei Avalon was the sole narrator for Elle Kennedy's The Deal and The Mistake. I hated her narration because it was awful, but more than that, I hated that those books are both in dual female/male POV. I recently listened to My Lady Jane, and I thought it was just all right in part because Katherine Kellgren narrates all the chapters despite two of the three POVs being male. I'll get to why I didn't love her as Jane in the next point, but I especially couldn't get into her performance as Edward or Gifford/G.

I am fully aware that this is probably because of money issues. While I know a decent amount regarding traditional publishing, I don't know much regarding the audiobook publishing and production, but I'm sure it's quite pricey. Some authors (like Elle with the Off Campus series) publish their own audiobooks so I'm sure that's even more difficult than an author who publishes through an established audiobook publisher like Listening Library, Tantor Media, etc. But still. Multiple POVs deserve multiple narrators.

Note: Mad props to anyone who listens to feedback. The audiobook for Elle Kennedy's The Score released on Tuesday, and there are two narrators, one for Allie and one for Dean. Thank you, Elle!

4. Narrators who sound too old or young for the character
N O T H I N G is going to make me hate an audiobook more quickly than a narrator whose voice sounds unlike the character, particularly if they don't sound like they are an equitable age. Examples include the narrators of Ella Enchanted and One Night That Changes Everything. Ella is 16 for most of Ella Enchanted, but her narrator sounded about 8. That works for earlier chapters but not for the majority of the book. One Night is actually more mature on the YA scale, IMO, so it definitely was shocking to have a young-sounding narrator voice the story. When I checked her out on Audible, I discovered she primarily does middle grade. Mmm, maybe stick to that. On the other side of things, again, I didn't love Katherine Kellgren in My Lady Jane because she sounds like a middle-aged woman while the POV characters are a sixteen year-old girl and two nineteen (?) year-old guys. This is also the case with Under the Never Sky, which is also guilty of #2 AND #3 on this list. You don't have a woman narrate Perry's POV. That's just wrong.

5. Annoying or excessive sound effects or music
I thought Illuminae was phenomenal because the amount of effects used in the production of the audiobook perfectly fit a sci-fi space opera. This isn't always the case. Off the top of my head, the worst offenders of this pet peeve are the aforementioned Ella Enchanted and Graceling, both of which played musical interludes far too often. Less music, more talky-talky, please.

6. Missing books
Only five of the seven published books in Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series have audiobooks. Jesse's Girl and Defending Taylor don't have them. The previous audios were published by Audible Studios so I honestly don't know if Miranda has been doing them herself, but this just makes me sad. I love her books, and I want all of them to have audios! Jodi Meadows is a favorite author of mine, and only her first book in her first trilogy Incarnate has an audiobook. First of all, boo for dropping Asunder and Infinite, the other books in the trilogy, but also boo for not having audiobooks for The Orphan Queen duology (I'm not booing Jodi here, btw).

See, it's not just about dropped series. I also hate when I can't find an audiobook for an author when they have other audiobooks. I really liked Heather Demetrios's I'll Meet You There, but it doesn't have audiobooks. Only her Dark Caravan series has them. Emery Lord has audiobooks for her first and third books, but not The Start of Me and You, her second. They aren't series books, but I still want more consistency!


7. Inconsistent volume
This is a total first world problem, but if I have to adjust the volume a lot, I'm going to get cranky. I like to listen to audiobooks while I work, and if I'm playing with my phone every five seconds, I'm not going to get work done. I also like to listen while I drive, and I don't want to be overly distracted by having to play with my radio settings too much. I also like to listen while I fall asleep at night (sleep timers are a godsend!), and I'm going to get cranky if I wake up abruptly from that warm, hazy just-before-you-actually-fall-asleep state of mind. Inconsistent volume might be caused by a narrator who is over-performing and wildly changes between shouting and whispering or by the aforementioned music, which somehow is never the same volume as the narration.

Look, I am super glad if a narrator gets into the story and really uses the language tags. Like if they speed up when a character is talking fast or raises their voice somewhat when the character shouts, etc. I appreciate that way more than a monotone narrator. But I don't think you actually have to start yelling and then drop your voice into a whisper. I'll get the point if you adjust your volume subtly, and my eardrums will thank you.

8. Inconsistent speed
Same as above; if I have to continue changing the settings of an audiobook to get a better listening experience, I'm not going to be happy. My example here is Nowhere But Here, in which the female narrator spoke too slowly for me to be happy with 1.0 speed, but the male narrator sounded fine. I had to continually juggle between 1.2 for Emily's sections and 1.0 for Oz's, which was really annoying since they didn't always swap at chapters and because I couldn't always change it right away if I was using my hands or trying to fall asleep.

9. Unavailable on Overdrive
This is more of a work pet peeve. I buy the digital YA books at my library, which means I'm in charge of both ebooks and e-audio. Overdrive is the largest (and best known and most popular) supplier of digital materials for libraries. I get HELLA upset when I want to buy a book and can't find it. Publishers and authors, I'm especially giving you the side eye here. Don't you WANT me to buy your books and then recommend them to my library's patrons? Then make your book widely available!

One of the most important aspects of developing a collection is consistency, and that means once you start buying a series, you see it through to the end. Patrons get super mad if they can't find sequels or prequels in the same format to which they are accustomed, be it hardcover, paperback, large type, audio cd, digital audio, Overdrive ebook, Kindle ebook, etc. Another important aspect of collection development is buying what patrons want. And at my library, what patrons want is The Selection and The Lunar Chronicles and Sarah J. Maas etc etc etc.

Too bad A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury don't have audiobooks on Overdrive for me to purchase, nor do the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows. Sure, I bought them myself on Audible, and I really enjoyed them. But I can't share the audiobooks with my library's patrons because they simply aren't available for me to purchase. It's one thing if they didn't exist, but it's an entirely other beast when they exist but the publisher hasn't made them available to libraries. That's rude and stupid. Dear publishers, STOP THAT.

Edited to add: 
10. Different pronunciations
This is primarily a problem with multiple narrators, particularly in fantasy novels like in Six of Crows and Crooked Kindom or The Remnant Chronicles or the Graceling audio. It's really frustrating when one narrator talks about Jan Van Eck pronouncing it with a J (as in Jan Brady) and someone else pronounces it with a Y (sounds like Yon) or someone else pronounces his last name "Van Ike" instead of Eck liks "blech." It's particularly annoying because Crooked Kingdom has a pronunciation guide at the back so *I* know how to pronounce them. Get it together, ensemble casts. Authors, please give your audiobook publishers and your narrators pronunciation guides!


Do you have any audiobook pet peeves or not agree with mine? Do you have a suggestion for a future Audio Adventures post? Let me know in the comments! 

Book Blitz: Rookie Movie by Sarina Bowen


Author: Sarina Bowen
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: new adult sports romance
Status: book 1 of the Brooklyn Bruisers series

Summary:
The first novel in a sexy new series featuring the hockey players of the Brooklyn Bruisers and the women who win their hearts—from the USA Today bestselling author of the Ivy Years series.

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold... 

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast....



Excerpt + Leo's Player Card:
“Come right this way,” Georgia heard her coworker and roommate Becca say, the clomp of her Dr. Martens echoing through the grand old passageway. “Nate is excited to meet you.” Becca was the owner’s assistant, and Georgia lingered half a second to wave her down and offer her a donut, too.

But Becca didn’t happen to look in Georgia’s direction as she led a tall man down the corridor. Something about his gait snagged Georgia’s subconscious. So she took a second look.
And that’s when her heart took off like a manic bunny rabbit. Because she knew that man. She knew the chiseled shape of his masculine jaw, and the length of his coal-black eyelashes.

Oh my God.

Omigod, omigod, omigod.

“How was your flight?” Becca asked him, oblivious to the fact that Georgia was spying.

“Not too bad. I got in late last night.”

The sound of his voice fluttered right inside Georgia’s chest. It was the same smoky sweet timbre that used to whisper into her ear while they made love. She hadn’t let herself remember that sound in a long time.

Now it was giving her goosebumps. The good kind.

“Welcome to Brooklyn,” Becca said while Georgia trembled. “Are you familiar with the area?”

“Grew up about thirty miles from here,” he answered while chills broke out across her back.

Holding her breath, Georgia eased her office door further closed, until only a couple of inches remained. She could not be caught like this—freaked-out and speechless, hiding behind a door.

The movement caught Becca’s eye, though. Georgia saw her turn her head in her direction and then pick her out in the crack where the door was still open. Becca raised one eyebrow—the one with the barbell piercing in it.

All Georgia could do was close her eyes and pray that Becca wouldn’t call out a greeting.

There was a pause before Georgia heard Becca say, “Right this way, please.”

Quietly, Georgia stepped into her office and shut the door. After flipping on the light, she let her briefcase and pocketbook slide right to the floor. Only the folder that Nate had given her was still in her shaking hands. She flipped it open, her eyes searching for the new player’s name on the page.

But she didn’t even need the paperwork to confirm what her racing heart had already figured out. The newest player for the Brooklyn Bruisers was none other than Leonardo “Leo” Trevi, a six-foot-two, left-handed forward. Also known as her high school boyfriend, the boy she’d loved with all her heart until the day that she’d dumped him. And now he was here?

“Thanks, universe,” she whispered into the stillness of her office.


Available from:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

About the Author:
Sarina Bowen is the USA Today bestselling author of steamy, angsty contemporary romance and new adult fiction. She lives in the wilds of Vermont.

She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college. Also, the The Gravity series.

With Elle Kennedy, Sarina is the author of HIM and US.

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png


Giveaway:
Berkley has graciously provided a finished copy of Rookie Move for one winner! This giveaway is open to the US. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. Please read all giveaway policies stated in the policies tab above. Open until 12 AM CST November 16.

Mary's Minute: Diversity and my reading habits



There have been many recent discussions about diversity in YA recently, and usually the response is not great a complete dumpster fire, either because of the very real hurt some feel (from erasure or harmful statements or straight up hate) or because of a general sense of discomfort from talking about hard topics. For instance, when I see the topic of diversity come up, I usually feel ill. My stomach cramps, and I experience a few full body cringes because of the ignorance and disrespect and even bare hatred that often comes out during these discussions. Therefore, this post isn't going to talk about why I think diversity is important (it is. Full stop.). Many posts and discussions exist that were written by people much smarter and experienced than I am (Check out #ISupportDiversity on Twitter for some great inspiration!). I don't want this post to be a list of what to do or not to do for others, including you, dear reader. Instead, this post is going to focus on me, and a rather distressing thing I noticed about myself and my reading habits.

I believe in diverse books. I, a white cishet Christian middle-class woman, have always seen myself reflected in the books I've read, even when YA was a relatively new subset of books. I saw myself in Mia in The Princess Diaries. I saw myself in Cammie in The Gallagher Girls. I saw myself in Rose in Vampire Academy. I have seen myself in hundreds, even thousands of books of all genres. When awareness of a lack of diverse books in YA came to the forefront of YA discussion, I realized how blind I'd been. YES, diversity is important. I've seen myself all these times, but so many others haven't. For the past couple years, I have been listening. I've been learning. I've widened the range of people that I follow on social media, and I have been reading Twitter threads and conversations. I don't often comment because, really, what can I add to the discussion when I'm still learning myself, but I RT. I signal boost.

But here's the thing. During a recent conversation on Twitter about librarians and reading widely, I felt very defensive, and I couldn't help but wonder why. After all, I believe in diversity. I believe in reading for my job. I also believe in reading for pleasure. So why did I feel attacked when I was merely an observer, a member of a silent peanut gallery? I pondered, did a little soul-searching, and then I turned to Goodreads.

I'm a huge fan of Goodreads. I don't use it for the social aspect so much as for the reading journal aspect. I am very consistent with my Goodreads usage. I carefully track my reading, the editions I read, the dates. I'm not always the best about posting reviews, but I do love to keep track of what I read and when. I try to keep track of the books I own, the books that are signed, the authors I've met. It's a diary, of sorts. But by being so active, I have created a black and white (and beige, which you think would be a horrible style choice for a website but whatever) record of all my failings. Sure, I have read 900-ish books in the last six years, which I think is impressive. But let's look at those stats a little more closely.

I started using Goodreads regularly in 2011 so my reading record was incomplete that year and all years previous. Of the 40 books I have listed as read in 2011, 3 were by authors of color. All 3 were required reading for my children's lit class.

In 2012, I read 262 books (including novellas). Out of that 262, only 18 are by authors of color. Of those 18, several are novellas. Those 18 titles were written by 6 authors. That's 6.8%.

In 2013, I read 197 books. 12 are by authors of color. Those 12 were written by 5 authors, only one of whom was new to me. Of the 12, a couple are novellas, and a couple are audiobook rereads of the books I read in 2012 so they weren't even new books. That's 6%.

2014: 150 books. 6 books by authors of color. Same authors. 4%.

Keep in mind 2014 was when We Need Diverse Books was created so the discussion truly began. Diverse titles were being pushed a little more, and some change in publishing started happening.

In 2015, I read 131 books. 10 were by authors of color + 1 was an anthology with 2 authors of color, and a couple were audio rereads. 9 authors total. Of those 9, 7 were new to me. 7.6%.

Of the 105 books I have completed so far in 2016, 10 are by authors of color (one is an anthology, one is an audio reread). 11 authors, 8 are new to me. 9.5%

Granted, this year, about half of my books have been audiobooks. As I only listen to audiobooks of books I've previously read and the books that I've read have been overwhelmingly white, obviously I'm listening to a lot of white books. That's still not okay.

Another damning statistic: In nearly 4 years of Mary Had a Little Book Blog, I have talked about a lot of authors. I don't know the exact number, but when I was researching for this post, I discovered only 16 are authors of color. 16! And some of those mentions of those 16 authors are only on things like Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday. So not only am I not reading more diverse books, I'm also not really talking about the ones I have. I don't want to diss TTT or WoW. They're both excellent blog features that can give books and their authors great exposure. But if I'm not backing that up with my own thoughts and original posts, it's not good enough.

In the stats I list above, I'm only talking about authors of color, which is one kind of diversity. There are other kinds such as LGBT+, disability, neurodiversity, religion, etc. Those are important too! I'm just making a point here.

The worst thing is, I have read many more books with main characters of color. But a lot of those books are by white authors, and that's a huge problem. I haven't been backing up my talk, and that honestly breaks my heart. According to several reports, I live in one of the most diverse zip codes in the US (white, black, and Hispanic populations are all nearly equal).* The library that I work at is frequented by a diverse patron population. The teens I work with are a wonderful and diverse bunch. How can I possibly be the best at my job, how can I say I believe in diversity and that everyone deserves to see themselves in a book if I'm not doing more to read and support those books? Obviously I can't.

What can I do? The ONLY answer is that I need to change my reading (and blogging) habits immediately. I'm not saying that I'm not going to read white authors. But I AM going to be more thoughtful and conscious of what I'm reading. I'm going to make a concerted effort to choose more diverse books. More #ownvoices of all types. I do believe it's important so I need to show that.

I challenged myself to read at least 10 more books written by POC authors, but when I actually created a TBR for the rest of the year, the number increased to 19. Of those 19 books, 9 are new-to-me authors. I can still do better considering there are 66 books on that TBR, but I also challenged myself to finish at least 10 series that I previously started (something else I'm horrible at) and I'm still listening to a lot of audiobooks.

Next year, I have challenged myself to increase the amount of #ownvoices and diverse titles that I'm reading AND listening to. I also want to use my blog and the platform I have created to give them more attention.

This post has been a difficult one to write, possibly the scariest one I've ever written. The topic of diversity is sadly a very rocky one, and this post doesn't reflect upon me well. It's uncomfortable for me to lay myself so bare. I have said on many occasions how important I consider diverse YA literature to be so I'm ashamed to admit I haven't been backing up my words. But that's exactly why I think I need to publish this post. As a white person, my "comfort" isn't the important thing at stake.

I wrote this post before That Video was posted and before the horrible troll attacks that came from the diversity hashtags. I was already apprehensive about posting this, and those awful events made me even more nervous. But after getting some feedback from a friend and after reading over this post again several times, I still believe it's important to share. The views of That Vlogger and the blog post from a couple weeks ago and the Twitter trolls are not ones I share, and I can't stay silent and support a status quo that supports those views.

 I haven't been the best at truly supporting diverse authors and titles with more than my words, but it's time to start. Diverse books deserve my time, my action, and my money. We live in a diverse world. What is important, what is essential, is that, to the best of my abilities, I help others experience what I have so many times in my life: seeing a reflection of self in a book. For now, I can read. I can learn. I can write. I can purchase. I can support. I can do better, and I will.

*These reports are supported by real data. However, I am uncomfortable sharing links or specifics because I do not wish to share my address, even just my zip code, on my blog.

Do you have a diverse or #ownvoices recommendation for me? Please share in the comments!