Book Talk

The Audiobook Experiment pt 4

Welcome to part four of The Audiobook Experiment. Audiobooks have been my best friends these past weeks when I’ve been focused on packing our stuff in preparation for the move; listening to a book make packing bearable and I’ve been a lot less grumpy than I expected πŸ™‚

This installment has a theme: follow the narrator. I’ve listened to enough books now to have found a few favorite narrators, so I’ve searched their names and picked the books I’ve listened to because of them, not the authors. So this time, I present four books I wouldn’t have read had it not been for the narrators.

Football Sundae by Daryl Banner – I liked Sean Crisden’s narration for Play It Again by Aidan Wayne (in part 2 of my audiobook experiment) so I decided to try this book despite the fact it has “football” in the title. And let’s face it: this book had the odds stacked against it. It’s new adult (which I rarely read anymore) and jock/nerd theme (which I’ve never read because jocks are SO not my thing), and then there’s the dreaded football on the cover (I’m really really really not a sports fan. At all!) But I thought What the hell, why not give it a chance? It’s included for free in my subscription! so I started listening to it. And without the narrators, I would never have bought the book after reading the sample. And Sean Crisden wasn’t even the highlight of this book, the second narrator, Chris Chambers was. Holy crap, I loved him! But despite that, I couldn’t finish the book and it wasn’t even because of the football. I threw in the towel at 50%, because it really wasn’t for me; I didn’t gel with the writing style, I cringed when the young men spoke like jock-y young men (“wanna taste my spruce juice?” really??) and well…I’m not sure there was a single thing I liked aside for the narrators so I had to DNF it.

Tough Guy by Rachel Reid was another sports story I decided to try because I wanted to listen to Tor Thom’s deep voice (that I fell in love with in my first installment, specifically when listening to Raze by Roan Parrish). This book also had all the odds stacked against it. Third book in a series where I haven’t read the previous two. A hockey romance. And I’d never heard of the author before. That in itself isn’t something that would deter me from trying a book, but combined with the hockey stick and the nearly headless torso on the cover this is a book I never would’ve given a second glance if I’d been looking for something to read with my eyeballs. But despite all that, I ended up enjoying the book. MC Ryan, the hockey player, is a gentle giant and you know I love characters like that. It won’t be on my “Best of 2021” list, but I gave it a solid three stars.

And can someone answer a question I’ve had for a loooong time: why are there so many hockey romances nowadays? I feel like half of the books that are released are either hockey romances or fake boyfriends, and I dislike both. Can we retire them now, please? πŸ™‚

I downloaded a sample of Ranch Daddy by Silvia Violet a while ago, but it didn’t appeal to me so I ended up deleting the sample from my Kindle app. But when I saw that Chris Chambers (my new favorite narrator from Football Sundae) was the narrator for this book, I decided it was definitely worth a second chance. And I’m glad I did: I ended up liking the book after all and gave it four stars, but my rating wouldn’t have been so high without Chris Chambers. Because gaaaaawd, listening to him makes me weak in the knees, and now I want to send all my favorite MM romance books to him so he can narrate them for my listening pleasure. I just need to save some money first πŸ™‚

I picked Let There Be Light by A.M. Johnson because of Teddy Hamilton (one of the narrators of Without You from part 2). This is yet another book I probably would have overlooked if I’d just scrolled by it because, like Football Sunday, this is a new adult book with a sports theme (MC Royal is on the swim theme in college). But gaaaawd, am I glad I decided to give it a try because I ended up loving it. The writing was so lyrical and beautiful and emotional and it frequently made my heart clench and my tears well up. The characters WANT to stay together, despite difficulties, and this is always something I love. And the narrators! Holy crap, they were fantastic! I love Teddy Hamilton even more after this book. Aaron Shedlock, the second narrator, was new to me, but he made Camden’s voice intense and touching and it was perfect. Fantastic writing + stellar narration = ten freaking stars!

One thing that hit me when I started reading Let There Be Light, though, is that voices of fully mature, grown men, narrating young men in their late teens/early twenties can be a bit jarring. But Royal and Cameron were more mature than their actual age, so it worked. Maybe that’s one of the things that made me put down Football Sundae? That the immature language didn’t fit the fully adult voices?


Today’s question: if you’re an audiobook listener, have you ever tried new books you maybe wouldn’t have read otherwise if it hadn’t been for the narrator?

There will be a fifth installment: the conclusion of the experiment and what I’ve learned while listening to stories for hours and hours. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚