Summer Shorts ’14

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Today marks the last day of June Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) and I’m honored to host the final post for the Summer Shorts ’14 project. Today’s short story — freely available to listen to in its entirety today only — is
“Virtue of the Month” by Kathleen Founds: a poignant exploration of grief, suicide, and choices, read by Xe Sands:

“Other boyfriends left when I emphasized a point by throwing a bowl of salad out the window, or slapped them in the face for crunching too loudly on Saltines. But my meds are better-adjusted now. And Ben is more accepting, or less observant, than any other man I’ve loved.”

The Summer Shorts ’14 project is brought to you by Spoken Freely and is a month-long celebration of the art of audiobook narration, a “Thank you!” to listeners, and an opportunity to give back to the community. You can find out more about the project at the end of this post or by stopping by the Spoken Freely page of the Going Public blog but as a reminder, the purchase of the Summer Shorts ’14 compilation from Tantor Media not only gives you 20 bonus tracks but all proceeds will benefit ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation and a group that advocates on behalf of adult learners and the programs that serve them, provides training and professional development, and publishes materials used in adult literacy and basic education instruction.

Before we get to the recording of “Virtue of the Month,” I had the chance to talk with Xe Sands and Troy Palmer (author and creator of online publisher Little Fiction) about their work, the appeal of short fiction and online fiction, and hearing or reading fiction aloud.

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Troy, you’re the brains behind the online publisher Little Fiction. Why did you create it and what does it bring to the literary community?

TP: I created Little Fiction mainly because I wanted to work with other writers and I wanted to do so in a way that allowed me to stay creative when I wasn’t writing. As for what Little Fiction brings to the literary community, I think part of it is that creativity — there’s quite a bit of attention paid to the visual aesthetic with our story covers and wallpapers. But I think we’re also just part of a growing online community that has shaken up the staid tradition of printed literary journals. For writers, there will always be something wonderful about seeing your name and your work in print, but there’s an immediacy with the online / digital format — thanks to social media — that lets writers know that they’re work is actually being read. And that’s pretty wonderful, too.

XS: I love the immediacy and access of it. As a reader, yes, there is something compelling about getting a literary journal in the mail and taking a quiet moment (yes, I really do have them…er, very occasionally) to sift through it, absorb it, etc. But there is something equally compelling about Little Fiction – it offers the same experience, but in a medium that I can stumble upon when I’m *not* able to take a quiet moment…when I’m doing what I’m almost always doing when not recording: working and reading online…and coming across a new Little Fiction or WhiskeyPaper or other online source of new work is like the most blessed of forced breaks – I can’t *not* read what I find, which forces me to slow down for a moment, step outside whatever the hell is happening in my world right at that moment, and into the world the author has created. So thank you, Troy :)

TP: Always glad to be a part of that experience for people. And that’s the beauty of online — it’s as instantly gratifying for the reader, as well.

XS: It also often allows a reader to directly interact or share their appreciation with an author…that just doesn’t exist with print publications, not in the same way.

What makes Little Fiction a sustainable publishing model or is it more of a labor of love and what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in creating it?

TP: It’s definitely a labour of love, there’s no question about that. But I think the model has elements to it that make it sustainable. I have a low overhead which allows me to give the stories away for free — and I think free will always have a certain amount of sustainability to it. Free also equates freedom. I’m not beholden to investors who are focused on their ROI or a grant system that doesn’t have my audience’s best interest in mind. The content comes first and as long as that’s there, again, there’s a certain amount of sustainability with killer content.

But I don’t see LF staying the way it is forever. There will always be an emphasis on creating great content and giving some of it away for free, but adaptability is an absolute must for anyone trying to carve their own path these days.

XS:  I find myself really REALLY hoping you find a way to sustain it…I could pretend this is for your welfare, but really it’s a selfish desire to continue to have access to amazing stories that just aren’t told elsewhere, to authors that I can’t find elsewhere – at least not when they are starting out. Well, OK, and I don’t want Troy to starve either…

All that’s to say that I’d be willing to pay for the service…but just how to monetize that? I can see that that would be  tricky thing. We (online content consumers) tend to get weird about paying for online content – something that, while I’m guilty of it, I can’t really understand. I mean, do we think it just appears there by magic? It’s work…sure love and creative passion and all that too, but it’s also work. And, well, authors and Troy deserve to eat :)

TP: How to monetize is the million dollar question. I’m not at all convinced that the subscription model works (see Byliner’s recent woes). But you know, if I got into this for money that would be the wrong reason for so many reasons. And however LF evolves, there will always be free content.

What do you look for when reviewing submissions for Little Fiction and what are the steps to publication once you’ve accepted a piece?

XS: Oooo…I’m very much looking forward to Troy’s answer to that one…

TP: Ha! Thanks, Xe. The two biggest things I look for are character and conflict — without those I don’t think you have much of a story. On a more subjective level, I look for stories that move me. And I like writing that takes chances, that isn’t afraid to devastate a reader or break someone’s heart. I typically find, with most art forms, the stuff that initially challenges us is the stuff that is most likely to stick with us for longer.

XS: Can I just steal Troy’s answer for one of mine? Pretty please? Because that’s basically why I like the LF pieces and how I choose what I choose to record on my own time, just because I want to. And why I chose the piece I did for Summer Shorts.

TP: No surprise we’re definitely on the same page there ;)

Once a piece has been accepted it’s a pretty simple process. I give some editing comments in the month leading up to publication, and start designing some cover options. Typically, it’s a pretty quick editing process, with most of the stories we accept being fairly well-crafted when they come to us. With the covers, I reach out to the authors at the start of the process and usually just send over the one I like best.

XS: I love that you create the covers to go along with the stories…it adds a nifty dimension while also acting as excellent branding for LF…and hopefully, provides a creative outlet for you in the bargain.

TP: Thanks (again). The covers are definitely a thing that helps set us apart and gave us some personality out of the gate. And of course there’s the branding (my background is in advertising — glad to see I didn’t waste all those years).

Xe, looking at the pieces you’ve recorded for the Going Public project (many of them from Little Fiction authors), I’d say you’re a fan of small press lit fic and flash or micro-fiction. What’s the appeal?

XS: Honestly? I think it’s because there’s a freedom and freshness that comes through. First, there’s no huge arc to build, so there’s usually no fluffy bits, no world-building aside from what the author can accomplish organically within the meat of the story. And while I enjoy all those “fluffy bits” when reading a full-length novel…I’ll confess to also like zeroing on the parts that matter to me. Hey, I’m a selfish reader! I’ll admit it.

Also, the writers just go for it…I mean, there’s not gentleness or couching or worry over content – they just WRITE IT. At least that’s how it feels. it also doesn’t tend to read like a piece that’s been edited and worked over and polished (all of which i absolutely NEED in a novel)…it has a rawness to it…OMG! It’s like a dress created by a fashion designer: that first one, that raw one with string hanging off and seams showing that might not actually stand up to a washing? THAT’S the one that’s oozing with passion and promise – and that’s how well-executed micro-fiction hits me – it’s that gorgeous first run that came straight out. That said, I acknowledge that I have absolutely no idea how writers do what they do, and maybe the pieces I’ve most loved have been agonized over and rewritten and were actually months in the making…I mean only praise when I say that they have a freshness and immediacy that makes them read as if they were thrown out there whole.

Troy, you’re an author as well. In fact, one of my favorite recordings from Xe’s Going Public project is your “I Thought About the Ways You Might Have Died” from Listerature Vol. 2. Is there unique value in hearing your work read aloud?

TP: Oh, wow. Thanks. There’s definitely a unique value in hearing your work read — not just aloud — but by someone who knows the craft and who is dedicated to the craft. It’s amazing and humbling. I often find, with the stories of ours that Xe has read, that I use the same phrase to promote them — that she’s breathed life into the story and its characters — but it’s because that’s what it is.

XS: Thank you, Troy. That’s…beautiful and humbling. And I concur with Kelli – “I thought About the Ways You Might Have Died” remains one of my favorite pieces as well. It’s stuck with me all this time…that ending, man. Dear lord. And it works, not because you’ve intentionally tried to make me feel something, but because it’s just such an honest outpouring of how that moment might feel – as if we’ve been allowed to see the author’s thoughts in that moment, without them knowing, without them prettying them up for us. It’s haunting.

TP: I’ve been to a number of readings and far too often it just feels like someone reading from a sheet of paper. I believe that once you get behind a mic, you’re no longer just a writer — you’re a performer. And that to me is where the unique value comes from — hearing your story performed.

XS: That is actually why I tend to shy away from listening to poets read their work aloud. Often, they seem to be fixated on the rhythm of the piece as written  – which is totally appropriate – they worked hard to create it, and the rhythm on the page is part of what makes/breaks a poem. But when that fixation carries into the reading, I find the intent and impact is lost when they read it aloud. Then again, I can be a lone horse out there on the prairie on that one.

But I have to assume it’s weird to hear your work interpreted by someone else – is it? As a performer, I have to say that the most nerve-wracking moment is often waiting to hear what an author thinks of what I’ve done with their words.

TP: For sure, it’s always a little strange hearing someone else put a voice to your work, but it’s exciting, too, to see how someone else views a piece, or a character, or a line of dialogue. I’ve also learned by this time in my life / career that you have to let go and let other people bring their take and their expertise to the table, so I’m pretty comfortable handing my work over to another person.

Xe, the recording you chose for Summer Shorts ’14 is “Virtue of the Month” by Kathleen Founds. What drew you to this piece?

XS: Dude, did you read/hear that opening paragraph? She basically had me at “This is my mother, Olivia Freedman. She hung herself from a rafter when I was eight years old.” Messy, poignant, bound to be conflicted…in other words, perfect for me :)

And I stand by my earlier request to copy what Troy said… “I look for stories that move me. And I like writing that takes chances, that isn’t afraid to devastate a reader or break someone’s heart. I typically find, with most art forms, the stuff that initially challenges us is the stuff that is most likely to stick with us for longer.” —yes, THAT. That.

I’ll add that Founds builds an amazing arc in a very short space…this has to be one of the most complete bits of extremely short fiction that I’ve read. From that launch point, there is an exploration of depression, relationships, parental responsibility, perception vs. reality, marriage, denial, conflict, resolution, etc. Hell, it’s even got math! Using a relatively mundane setting and experience – clearing out your parent’s house after they have passed, Founds then branches into the surreal with psychological visitations, explorations of the “equation of suicide,” and this woman’s desperate need to not be like her mother.

TP: That story that had me hooked from the first line. You made a great choice.

Xe, many of the flash/micro fiction pieces you pick to record pack a pretty hefty emotional punch. Does that pose any issues while recording and what do you do to make sure you’re delivering the emotional content of the story?

Wow. That’s a great question. I feel those are the easiest to tap into, and sometimes the hardest to deliver without “over” delivering. When I first started narrating, without realizing it, I think I felt this need to lead the listener – like that god-awful upswell of music that makes you cry at the end of a film, almost against your will. But when the content is there, when the author has adeptly constructed an emotional hook, something that tugs at you, or pierces you…something that slips under your skin when you’re paying attention to something else, all I need do is be present with the author’s words and just tell the story. TELL THE STORY. That’s all I’m there to do. The story carries itself. Over the past few years, I’ve been working with a pretty amazing mentor who has called me out on using voice to lead, to force a reaction…which has helped me to let go of the need to control the reaction and just let it come out all by its lonesome…because it will, if I get out of the way and stop trying to matter to the listener…because I don’t.

 ~

And now…

“Virtue of the Month” by Kathleen Founds
Originally published in The Sun Magazine, and included in the forthcoming When Mystical Creatures Attack! from University of Iowa Press. Copyright 2014, Kathleen Founds. Recorded with permission.

 

Xe Sands

Xe Sands is an award-winning narrator known for her authentic characterizations and intimate delivery. She has more than a decade of experience bringing stories to life through narration, performance, and visual art, including recordings of Wonderland, by Stacey D’Erasmo, The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro, and Survival Lessons, by Alice Hoffman. Sands has also been recognized for her engaging romance narrations, and was named Most Impressive Narrator Discovery for titles such as Catch of the Day, by Kristan Higgins, and On Thin Ice, by Anne Stuart.

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s Summer Shorts ’14 entry over at Every Day I Write the Book, which includes an interview with author Susanna Daniel and narrator Karen White.

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About the project

The audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14,an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public,as well as on various author and book blogs. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support ofProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download. Full release schedule can be found on the Spoken Freely page of the Going Public blog.

About ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, advocates on behalf of adult learners and the programs that serve them, provides training and professional development, and publishes materials used in adult literacy and basic education instruction. ProLiteracy has 1,000 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 52 nongovernmental organizations in 34 developing countries. Its publishing division, New Readers Press(NRP), has for more than 40 years provided educators with the instructional tools they need to teach adult students and older teens literacy skills for functioning in the world today. Materials are available in a variety of media, including the flagship publication, the weekly news source News for You, which delivers articles online with audio. Proceeds from sales of NRP materials support literacy programs in the U.S. and worldwide.

Summer Shorts ’14 is made possible by the efforts of the Spoken Freely narrators and many others who donated their time and energy to bring it to fruition. Post-production, marketing support, and publication provided by Tantor Media. Graphic design provided by f power design. Project coordination and executive production provided by Xe Sands. Non-profit partnership coordination provided by Karen White.

 

Going Public…in Shorts – with Guest Xe Sands

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As part of the June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) celebration this year, not only am I hosting today’s Going Public… in Shorts! blog hop, I also had a chance to sit down for a recorded (virtual) chat with narrator Xe Sands to talk about reviewing, being reviewed,  and a bunch of other stuff including questions sent our way by you. First, a bit about the terrific Going Public… in Shorts! project:

 

June is Audiobook month (JIAM 2013). The audiobook community is giving back by teaming with the Going Public Project and offering a serialized audio story collection. All proceeds will go to Reach Out and Read, a literacy advocacy organization. Throughout June, one to two stories will be released each day on the Going Public blog and on author/book blogs. The story will be free (online only – no downloads) for one week. In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, all the stories will be available for download via Downpour. The full compilation will be ready June 30th. The full schedule of the story release dates and narrators can be found at Going Public.

 

Are you ready for 59 (!) minutes of narrator/reviewer chat? We’re talking about narrators approaching reviewers about constructive criticism, how an author/narrator/small publisher can get their audiobooks into the hands (ears) of reviewers, how narrators handle singing in an audiobook (and what is with music in audiobooks?!), who is responsible for editing and error checking and why the producer or director isn’t mentioned in reviews, thoughts on switching narrators mid-series and a whole lot more. For your convenience, comment flags are placed at each question or topic change. You can also access this chat directly on SoundCloud.

 

 

Congratulations to question contributor Mitzi, who won her choice of a gift of any Audible.com audiobook or a downloadable copy of the Going Public… in Shorts! compilation. E-mail me at oddiophile@theoddiophile.com or I’ll be in touch.

 

Now it’s time for Xe Sands’ reading of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and the bonus author commentary “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper.” The audio will be freely available online for a week but please consider supporting Reach Out and Read by purchasing a downloadable copy from Downpour.com or you can buy the complete Going Public…in Shorts! compilation.

 

 

Xe Sands

Xe Sands is a multiple AudioFile Earphones Award winner known for her authentic characterizations and intimate delivery. She has more than a decade of experience bringing stories to life through narration, performance, and visual art, including recordings of Magnificence by Lydia Millet, The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro, and Is This Tomorrow, by Caroline Leavitt. Sands has also been recognized for her engaging romance narrations, and was named Most Impressive Narrator Discovery for titles such as Catch of the Day, by Kristan Higgins, and On Thin Ice, by Anne Stuart.

 

Don’t forget, it’s a blog hop!

There’s a bonus Going Public… in Shorts entry today with Kyle Munley at Emily’s Reading Room

Yesterday, Amy Rubinate was at Miss Susie’s Reading & Observations and tomorrow, John McLain will be at Narrator Reviews

 

Engineering and Mastering for Going Public… in Shorts! are provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design and published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production by Xe Sands

 

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

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Denizens of the Interwebz! (Or at least those of you who found your way to this post.) Question-Mark-NaughtHave you ever wanted to ask an audiobook narrator a question? Have you ever wanted to ask an audiobook reviewer a question? Now is your chance. Friday, June 28th is my day to host the fabulous Going Public… in Shorts! project. I’ll be highlighting the entry by Xe Sands, the project’s mastermind, but before you listen to her recording of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, you can listen to us as we sit down to chat about anything and everything, starting with a knock-down drag-out… er, recorded conversation… about reviewing and being reviewed.

If you’d like to throw a question or topic into the mix, send it our way by 1:00 pm Pacific time (GMT -7) on Wednesday, June 26th.  Post it in the comments below, e-mail it to me at Oddiophile@theoddiophile.com, DM me on Twitter (@Oddiophile) or somehow make your curiosity known. We’ll pick from your responses and fire-up a conversation about those topics. If we select your question/topic to chat about, you’ll be eligible to win either a copy (digital download) of the Going Public…in Shorts! compilation or be gifted an Audible.com audiobook of your choice (region restrictions may apply). We’ll draw one random winner on 6/28/13.

“Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the…” audiobook questions!

Saving Angelfish by Michele Matheson

Saving Angelfish by Michele MathesonSaving Angelfish by Michele Matheson
Narrator: Xe Sands
Published by Iambik Audio on 3/29/12
Genres: Fiction

Story: B
Narration: B+

Quick Review:

An unflinching look at the life of a junkie whose addiction is spiraling out of control and isolating her from family and friends, the suggestion of this story as literary memoir thins the protective veil of ‘fiction’ and leaves the listener with front row seats to a train wreck in progress. Not an easy book to listen to but incredibly thought provoking and delivered with care by a narrator who sounds willing to take your hand and walk you through the dissolution of a life.

The Plot:

Maxella “Max” Gordon is a drug user whose addiction has driven her parents to cut off any type of support and practically all communication with her. After a brief flirtation with staying clean, she soon succumbs to her heroin habit and is back to chasing happiness at the end of a needle, crack pipe, or pill. As an actress, the toll drugs have taken on her body has limited her to a commercial shoot for contact lenses since her eyes are the only part of her body, or so she thinks, not affected by her drug use. A disastrous encounter with her landlord and sometimes dealer puts her square in the sights of his boss and supplier Carlotta and Carlotta’s son Albert. As Max is coerced into dealing, the fragile relationship she has with her parents (long divorced but still united in their love for their daughter) is in danger of completely disintegrating but even more at risk is Max’s life.

My Thoughts:

It’s difficult to use the word ‘like’ with a book that delivers such a raw glimpse into the life of a junkie but as hard as this was to listen to with its blunt and very physical descriptions of drug use, the consequences for the body of the user, and the ruin it made of Max’s life and family, it was worth the effort. I often enjoy fiction that takes me on a virtual trip to a different country or culture or world and in a way, this book did exactly that even though the setting was California. The world of a hard-core drug addict is outside my realm of experience but the fact that the character of Max in this audiobook was loosely based on the author’s personal experiences had the effect of removing the protective layer that fiction often draws between reader and text and I felt like a helpless and appalled bystander watching a car crash. I can’t say I want to take a return trip to that unflinchingly described world but it’s a visit that I won’t easily shake from memory.

There are some complex dynamics at play in Max’s life. The break in her relationship with her parents that her drug use causes was achingly well written. As she experiences the physical effects on her heart of chasing heroin with cocaine, Max muses that “The heart’s a funny thing…there’s a lot of pressure on it. It never gets to rest.” That’s an apt metaphor for the burden her parents suffer under: wanting to help her and being unable to cut her off completely, even though they commit to a ‘no contact’ policy because continuing to enable her could end up causing her death.

There’s a somewhat dizzying vignette quality to this story that I’m not sure was intentional although it aptly implies the confusion of Max’s drug use and the snapshot moments of clarity she seems to experience. There’s a hint of the surreal that runs through the book as a porcelain angel figurine that Max steals from the Rite Aid speaks to her with the apparent intent of saving her as she stumbles around seeking her next high. That was actually far less of a surrealistic aspect for me than the the scenes of Max shooting up. While I felt that blossoming or opening was an overused description for how Max experienced the first hit, those scenes did engender a deep sense of unease. This was primarily due to the sharp contrast in how happy using initially makes Max feel, the description of the rush she gets, and the sometimes lyrical language used to describe it which contrasted starkly with the graphic descriptions of the physical damage Max was doing (and had already done) to her body and how her personal hygiene became a secondary consideration. Also in contrast to my expectations were the actions of Carlotta, the dealer. Although she coerced Max into dealing for her, she displays moments of maternal (or perhaps just manipulative) care and in one scene is preparing first communion bibles while Max and Albert are prepping baggies in another room.

In many of Max’s interactions with the surrounding characters there is a lack of a clear right or wrong line. While it’s always obvious that Max is responsible for her own actions it’s also plain that she is in no way deserving of some of the things that happen to her. She is both a sympathetic and frustrating character as the story reveals her weaknesses and inability to kick her habit while also letting the listener see the essential core of good that resides in her and her wish that she could change. Although I was mildly frustrated by an incomplete understanding of what started Max down the road she’s on and found the addition of Max’s recollections of her now absent lover Ernest to be superfluous, I admire the author’s ability to maintain a balance between the aspects of right/wrong, good/evil, victim/villain in all the characters. The end of the book, much like life, doesn’t provide any easy answers but I was satisfied with being able to draw my own conclusions.

The Narration:

The narration of this audiobook struck the right tone to carry me through a difficult listen. Xe Sands gives the narrative a gentle delivery that blends fatalistic with matter-of-fact. The inflection and emphasis of the narration is organic and the narrative is delivered with a subtlety that made the overall impact of the story more poignant considering the blunt descriptions of drug use and the unflinching picture of the physical and emotional damage to users. While some of the vocal cues such as the sudden relaxation in Max’s voice after she shoots up and the increased tension in her voice when she’s starting withdrawal added to the immersive nature of the audio, I was occasionally drawn out by the tendency of Carlotta’s accent to fade in and out. Dialogue is spot-on, flows naturally, and is consistent with the construction of the characters and their emotional states. This was very good narration that enhanced the text.

Audiobook Review Speed Dating – September 2011

Damien DamienJacquelyn Frank; Narrator: Xe Sands;
Length: 11 hrs 4 mins
Tantor Media, Inc. 2011
WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

 

Speed dating notes:

“Oooh, this one is a hunk of hotness and he sure knows how to show a girl a good time. Take him home for the night but not to meet Mom. He won’t be good for a long term relationship”

Story: C+
Narration: B+

The Vampire Prince Damien has seen and done it all but when he rescues Lycanthrope Princess Syreena from the series-wide nemesis, sparks fly and his life becomes interesting again. Syreena has lived a constricted life as her sister’s heir and giving in to her attraction to Damien will have repercussion not just for the lycanthropes but for the entire Nightwalker world. A shift away from demons as the central characters keeps this fourth book in the series relatively fresh and lots of steam and very good narration by Xe Sands make up for phrasing and sentence structure that’s more convoluted than necessary.

 

Blaze of Memory Blaze of MemoryNalini Singh; Narrator: Angela Dawe
Tantor Media, Inc. 2011
Length: 11 hrs 25 mins
WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

 

Speed dating notes:

“Oh, honey. I’ve seen you here six times before tonight. I really think we’d be compatible but those unexpected pauses when you speak that started showing up with your fourth outing make me worry for your health. And now you’re yawning while talking to me? No wonder you’re looking for a match; someone needs to vet you before you leave the house.”

Story: B+
Narration: D+

When a Psy with amnesia is dropped on Dev Santos’ door, he suspects she’s a Trojan horse meant to destroy the Shine organization but distrust soon turns to passion. Will they win the race against the clock to solve the mystery of her past? I liked the story a lot and congratulations on being the first PNR to make me cry but my mad love for this audiobook series has waned as strange pauses in Angela Dawe’s narration started showing up, ruining what is otherwise enjoyable storytelling.

 

Flowers for Her Grave Flowers for Her GraveJudy Clemens; Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 8 hrs 55 mins
Blackstone Audio, Inc. 2011
WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

 

Speed dating notes:

“Not my usual type but there is just something about you…I can’t take my eyes off you. I forget about you between date nights but when I know you are going to show up I practically stalk you. Your tragic history and struggle to overcome your emotional scars keep me coming back. If we do hook up, though, you’re going to have to get rid of your buddy, Death”

Story: B
Narration: B+

Casey Maldonado is a woman on the run from her past. This third series installment finds Casey in Florida and assuming a new identity as fitness instructor Daisy Gray. As Casey slowly starts to heal from the death of her family, her relationship with her constant companion – Death – has altered. Still a contentious one, Casey and Death are now interacting more like friends rather than adversaries. Solving the mysterious death of a resident of the Flamingo apartments pulls Casey into a twisty mass of blackmail, jealousy, and secrets. I really enjoy this series although this book less so than the previous two. The theme of health/exercise/maintaining outward appearances was over-emphasized and struck a discordant note for a book where the motivations for the central mystery had nothing to do with that. Casey is a very sympathetic character and Death makes for an amusing diversion. I am glad to see Casey starting to heal and the ending makes me oh so anxious for book four. The narration has done nothing but improve as the series continues, especially in the delivery of male voices, and I enjoyed Tavia Gilbert’s delivery.