Aug 27 2013 3:00pm

Hear Me Out: The Best Audiobooks

Audiobooks? Sounds like a good idea.Perhaps this sounds familiar: As of right now, my to-be-read list is 762 books.

So how is it possible to get through more books? After thinking on it, I realized I spend a lot of time in my life doing mundane actions, like driving to work, doing the dishes, mowing the yard, folding laundry, running…and I thought why not try audio books?

Audio books turned out to be a huge win for me. Now those tasks are accompanied by an audiobook. The ironic thing, however, is that instead of whittling down that to-be-read list I have found myself picking up some of my favorite series and listening to them. No matter how many times I read a book, when someone else reads it to me…why, it is like reading it for the first time all over again!

Here are some of my favorite series and how I felt about them as audio books:

Naked in Death by J.D. RobbIn Death series by J.D. Robb (narrated by Susan Ericksen):

Susan Ericksen does a fantastic job on the voices in this series. There are tons of secondary characters and I don’t even need to hear their names to know who is talking. And Roarke…oh Roarke, when I hear his Irish goodness speaking in my ear, I melt. My love of this series on audio has grown so out of control that I can’t even read a new release normally. I must listen to it. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of books in this series, grab the first one in audio.

Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (books 1-3 narrated by Joyce Bean books 4-5 narrated by Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross)

While there is nothing wrong with how Joyce Bean narrates the first three books of this series, the final two books come alive with Phil Gigante doing Barrons’s voice. I had a bit of trouble getting used to the switch in the female voices but the addition of Gigante doing the men’s voices quickly overruled any issue I had. If you are looking for new way to read this series, I would suggest audio.

Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost (narrated by Tavia Gilbert)

Cat and Bones are probably my favorite couple and I have reread this series many times. But Bones’s voice doesn't sound quite right, at least not the way he sounds in my head. He has that British accent, but it doesn't entirely work for me. I will say that by book three or so, I got used to it.

Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsKate Daniels by Ilona Andrews (narrated by Renee Raudman)

I recently did an audio re-read to get ready for the release of Magic Rises and realized just how well Renee Raudman keeps the flow of these books. There are times when we have a lot of mythical or historical information given to us and she is so smooth in her delivery of each story. Her voices for Kate and Curran are both well done and she even nails Jim’s lyrical tone that is mentioned in the books.

What about you? Do you have audio book series that you would recommend or not recommend?

Woman with headphones image by Daniele Zedda via Flickr

Jen loves a broody, alpha book boyfriend and the St. Louis Cardinals, not necessarily in that order. You can find her at Fiction Vixen and @FVJen_Cardsgirl

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Deeroma
Ohh Phil made me fall in love with the Barrons character with that AMAZING voice of his!! He also reads KMM highlander series!!! "OHH GOODNESS!"
Jordan R
2. jrojrojro
All of Molly Harper's books are read by Amanda Ronconi, and I think they are fabulous. She's got a great sense of timing, and she really makes the banter in those books come alive - litterally a laugh-out-loud experience.

If you're into YA books at all, the steampunk trilogy by Scott Westerfield are read by Alan Cumming. Where the paper book dragged a little with all the detail and worldbuilding, the audiobooks kept me engaged and again, the character voices are really well done. Also, all the Percy Jackson series are fun, although the first few in that series are pretty shallow.

I've recently heard a clip from the audioproduction of Eileen Wilk's world of the lupi books. These have multiple voice actors, background sounds, and music so it's really a movie without picture! The price is the only thing that's holding me back - has anyone tried these out? Is it worth it?
Jenn H
3. Jenn H
I'm a huge fan of James Marsters reading the Jim Butcher "Harry Dresden" novels, and have recently started the Chloe Neill Chicagoland Vampire series on audiobook - so far, so good!
Jenn H
4. bergerta
I don't think anyone could ever beat Jim Dale reading the Harry Potter Series. Fisher Stevens reading Christopher Moore's Lamb and A Diry Job are high up there as well as Susan Bennett reading Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck and Bite Me by Christopher Moore. I don't think anyone else could have brought Abby to angst filled life like she did.
Jenn H
5. Rizos4312
I don't listen to many audiobooks but I just love Robert Petkoff reading Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark. He does a fantastic job with the narration, accents and transitions between characters. I find myself listening to these books over and over. I can't wait until "Demon from the Dark" is released. I love Malkom Slaine and I'm sure that Robert Petkoff will make him sound as delicious as he sounds in my head.

I tried to listen to JR Ward's BDB but I thought the narrator was an epic failure.
Rachel Montgomery
6. librrae
David Tennant read Silver: Return to Treasure Island, which was so slow and boring I never would have read past the first chapter, except David Tennant's voice is so amazing that I got through hours of the audio because HE was magic. He should read ALL THE BOOKS!
Jenn H
7. JacquiC
I have "read" a number of audio books lately for the same reasons you mention. It's a great way to fill time gaps -- watching the kid practice soccer, riding the streetcar to work, knitting, etc.

My current favourites include Nicholas Boulton reading Laura Kinsale's Prince of Midnight (really really good voice). I think there are a number of other Kinsales being released in audio form and he is reading them all.

I have also listened to a number of Nora Roberts titles, some with better narrators than others. I loved Northern Lights (narrated by Gary Littman) and also quite liked Rising Tides (David Stuart narrating). I liked the series Red Lily, Black Rose & Blue Dahlia (all three narrated by Susie Breck - I initially didn't like her but eventually she grew on me). Also liked The Witness (narrated by Julia Whelan).

I liked Gone too Far (Suzanne Brockmann, narrated by Deborah Hazlett).

Several romances I have listened to didn't work for me in audio form at all. Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh was one. I didn't like the narrator and her writing just didn't sound right to me read aloud, though I find it compelling when read in print form. Same with Shiloh Walker's If You See Her.

Great thread!
Amanda Gordon
8. AmandaLyn
Since @Rizos4312 beat me to mentioning Robert Petkoff's stunning reading of KC's IAD series, I thought I'd toss in another phenomenal male narrator-- Max Bellmore's reading of Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series. How he keeps all those voices straight, I have no idea but he will positively make you shiver. He brings those tortured demon-possessed Lords to life like nobody's business and does a phenomenal job of translating Gena's inherent humor into something audible.

Also of note, Rosalyn Landor who has narrated nearly all of Lisa Kleypas's books. Her male voices are spot-on and she never gets mixed up. Between the stunning visuals LK weaves in her narrative and RL bringing it all to life, you could almost convince yourself you are right there in the mix with the characters. So good!
James P. Pope
9. jim162065
Steve King's the Dark Tower series is really great in audio book form.
Kathy Kamrath
10. applik
I absolutely love Susan Ericksen's narration of the In Death books! I agree that she does the voices so well that it is easy to know who is speaking. I actually read one book and was hearing the voices in my head! (I have listened to 38 of them as audiobooks and read 1!!) Audiobooks keep me company as I sew or drive or cook, etc.... My little MP3 player gets quite a workout.
Jenn H
11. Rizos4312
@AmandaLyn, I'll have to check out Lords of the Underworld. I enjoy that series for the most part (I didn't really like Amun's book, and Strider's book was just okay...) and I would like to listen to the earlier books.
Jenn H
12. Brandy Y
@Deeroma what is the KMM Highlander series? Another good series to listen to is The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. His dog is HILARIOUS!
Jenn H
13. Ncbooknut
I agree 100% with the comments about the In Death series. I listen to a lot of audio books during my daily commute and Susan Ericksen is by far the best narrator I have ever heard. She truly brought the series (and Roarke) alive for me.
Jenn H
14. Joani S
The first thing that popped into my mind was the Highlander series by Karen Marie Monig. Phil does the voice for all 7 books and I'm so in love with his voice!! The scottish accents just make me shiver!! And when he does this booming laugh of his!!
15. Deeroma
@Brandy Y it is an awesome series by Karen Marie Moning! MUST LISTEN! Phil is brilliant!! Karens writing is fun and sexy in this series.
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