Audiobooks I should have read instead

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Reviews | 57 comments

Audiobooks Better Off Read


Better off Read image


Ninety-eight percent of the audiobooks I buy are an educated guess, I normally read a few reviews from the peeps I follow that get the ARCs.

If I think the book is something I’d enjoy I get it on audio if it’s available, or I add it to my wish list. Then I wait for it to be published on audio.

And just as I get lucky with some of my “shot in the dark” purchases, I also get disappointed with some books I was hoping to enjoy after reading the reviews.

So I thought I’d share with you the books that I think might be better reads than listens since the narration didn’t work for me.

Audiobooks I should have read instead

Dark Witch Audiobook cover

While I found the plot entertaining, the narration by narrator Katherine Kellgren failed to enhance the experience.
I can tell she’s a seasoned narrator, no newbie mistakes here, but unfortunately I found her interpretation over the top.
Her increase in volume to convey certain emotions didn’t work for me, and took me right out of the story.
My rating for the experience was 3.0 Hearts, maybe a different approach would have earned  the story a better rating.

Lay it Down Audiobook cover

Lay it Down‘s plot turned out to be more than I expected.
I was expecting another biker’s novel with the usual bad-ass and their infamous lifestyle. And while I enjoy that, I was pleasantly surprised by the mystery and suspense I found in the plot.

After having said that, what drag down the story for me was the narration. I had to make and effort to finish this book on audio.

This another case when a competent narrator gets casted to perform a romance,  but sadly, they lack the romance ” gene.”
And though they excel at reading the narration parts and bringing the hero to life, they fall short when it comes to conveying the romantic aspects of the story. To me this was  due to the poorly performed female voices.
Distractions like that take me out the story, and that’s what happened to me with narrator Tom Weiner‘s interpretation.
My rating 3.5 Hearts.

Isla and the Happily Ever After Audiobook cover

Anna and the Frech Kiss was my favorite Audiobook for 2011. I loved that book! The following book Lola and the Boy next Door also ranked pretty high in my list. So you can imagine how much I was anticipating the last book, Isla and the Happily Ever After.

After waiting a few years for its release, I couldn’t wait to get my greedy little ears full of this book.

To say that this is my biggest disappointment of 2014 would be an understatement. I couldn’t listen to more than five chapters of this audiobook.

I found the tone, the pace and the overall interpretation by narrator Grace Blewer completely wrong and not age appropriate.

There was no emotion in her reading; her pauses felt out place, and the interpretation of the heroine didn’t convey a very likable girl.

All in all, I thought this was a very poor casting for this book. I did switch to the printed copy; I can say I enjoyed way more, but not nearly as much as the first two books. I can’t honestly tell you if the bad flavor I had in my ears from her interpretation ruined my reading experience, or if this just was not Stephanie Perkins’ best effort.

My rating after reading it 3.5
Narration 2.0 Stars.

When The Duke Was Wicked Audiobook cover

I got this audiobook after I read some exciting reviews. I’m a big fan of historical romances – I think is one of the best romance sub-genres for audio.

While the story wasn’t the best I’ve listened in the in this genre, I did find it entertaining. The characters are likable and offer a few good hours of fun, but I feel I could have enjoyed this much more with a different narrator.

Narrator Helen Loyd‘s interpretation didn’t help make the story more enjoyable. I wasn’t a fan of her tone, and I couldn’t be completely transported to the author’s world.

I didn’t find a lot of distinctions between her female and male voices – that’s almost always a deal breaker for me. Nevertheless I did managed to finish it without turning to the Kindle copy.

So in conclusion, I’d not recommend this on audio, although the story still worth a read.

Story 4.0

Narration 3.0

The King Audibook by Tiffany Reisz

Let me start by saying, I’m a colossal fan of this series.
I think Tiffany Reisz is a brilliant writer! She takes you to a dark world of BDSM erotica but let us find the light with her magnificent character development and style of writing.

I always read these novels before I revisit on audio except for last two installments. The Saint and The King were the first to be published at the same time as the printed copy.

I enjoyed Elizabeth Hart’s narration of the Saint (Nora’s book) you can read my review here. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for The King.

While I was OK with her French accent for Kingsly in The Saint, I found it completely wrong for The King. I guess it was OK in small doses, but it didn’t work for me for the entire book.

The King is a Kingsly’s story, so I have no idea why they picked a woman to narrate this book. I’ve never been more sure than I’m now that I would  have enjoyed it more if I have read instead.

I might be hard on that French accent. I happen to have a French friend with a thick French accent, and he doesn’t sound like that at all.
Kingsley sounded cartoonish to me, and that’s a no go! And again, she missed with Zøren too (to be fair, I don’t think anyone can do a good Zøren).  I do have to mention, she’s pretty good with the rest, she’s spot on with the emotions, and you can distinguish the voices. Overall she’s a good narrator,  unfortunately those two misses are a big deal to me.

The story in the King is nothing less than I expected, and good enough to survive an unsuitable French accent.

I can still see the listeners of this series being OK with Elizabeth Hart’s interpretation, some might even find the French accent sexy,  but it just didn’t work for me. I wanted so much more!

Here is Melanie’s review of the audiobook.

Story 4.0

Narration 2.0


Loupe Duffy
A mom, a wife, a friend, a happy ending addict, an Audiobook junkie, a wine lover and geek wanna -be. I'm constantly looking to be blown away.
Loupe Duffy

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  1. I agree! Some books are just better off reading. Unfortunately, I’ve had to stop listening to some audios and switch to book for bad narrators.
    Wasted purchase. Ah well.
    Great post!

    • I finding that a lot times is just the wrong narrator for the book. I’m pretty easy to please, all I want is to be taken there, and we know a good performance does just that.
      Thank Angela 🙂

  2. Lay It Down was one I’ve been looking at. I have the ebook, but it would move up my list faster on audio. I listened to the sample, but wasn’t sure if I disliked it or not. Sometimes it is hard to tell with a sample.

    As for The King, you know my thoughts. Since I didn’t listen to The Saint, I didn’t realize that they had the same narrator. For the Red Years, they changed narrators for each book, which is a disappointment.

    Great post.

    • The guy is Lay it Down is not horrible, I just didn’t find his narration great for a romance, i didn’t like his female voices mostly, I can see how he could be really good for other non-romance genres.

      Oh! The King… For me a non accent approach might have been better, who knows! Maybe I’d be complaining about the lack of accent..LOL She’s good with everything else, I’d definitely listen to her on other romances that don’t have a French guy as the main lead.

  3. Good flip, Loupe. Now i’m wondering if I’ll enjoy the books I disliked reading via audio especially the flat characters. Adding a voice to their character might breathe life into them.

    I guess it’s all about the narration then much like when listening to lectures. If the speaker is dull there’s no way they can make things interesting. I’m disappointed to hear about The King, I’d be annoyed too if the French accent sounds forced or not sexy..

    • Exactly! It’s not just about reading, they have to able to take you there. Any distractions like a bad accent, bad male/female voices take you out of the story and the book suffers for it. On the other hand, I have listened to books that I know were moved a notch because of the performer.
      Yeah, The King’s accent was a bummer for me 🙁

  4. You are so right, a narrator can make or break a book. You know my smexy phobia on audios, I realized it’s not with all the narrators or at least it’s lest strong with some narrators, for example Lorelei King and the Charley Davidson series. I was “ok” with the smexy on those audios. After I finished with those I listened to Steel’s Edge, narrated by Renée Raudman, although I enjoyed her narration I had to skip the smexy scenes… 🙁

    • She’s one the best in the business and also is Renee Raudman, but I think the smexyness of the Charley series is tamed in comparison to a lot other romances, plus I think Lorelei has a nonchalant approach, still is effective tho 🙂

  5. I have actually never read an audiobook, can you believe it? Mostly it’s because of the narration, I worry the voice won’t work for me and that’s all I’ll be able to focus on, but at the same time, I know the right narrator can really bring the story to life. I’ll have to try a highly recommended one soon:)

    • You would know when you find the perfect audiobook because you would be so gone you won’t even realize you just cleaned your whole
      The concentration gets better and better. I hope you keep trying because once they click you would know why I’m a junkie 🙂

  6. Thanks Loupe for your thoughts on these. Since I don’t “listen” to many books I always look here for if I should or not.

    • When I read reviews on audible I always take the reviewer in consideration when reading their reviews, a lot of them get books that are not the genre they were expecting and give the audiobooks bad marks all around. I guess that happens with regular books too. I really wish they would talk about the narrator more in their reviews and tell us more why it didn’t work or why it worked.
      I can find hundreds of reviews about the book, but is hard to detailed reviews about the narrators and that’s what we’re buying.
      Thanks Debbie 🙂

  7. There are several audiobooks that I have thought would have been better read as well. I think mostly for me it is that if I am not engaged my attention wanders and that is either due to the narrator or the content being to involved. One I regret listening to was Dreams of Gods and Monsters it was too complex and I know I missed a lot. I have heard the narrator is bad for Isla, I loved the book. One I tried to listen to and couldn’t focus on so I had to read it was We Were Liars.

    • I love the narrator for that series, she’s one of my favorites..Eeek! But I know there was a lot going on on that book, and a lot characters to keep up with. Sorry it didn’t work for you, but it happens 🙁
      Unfortunately for Isla, that was bad narration all together. I will always wonder If I’d loved the book if I never listened to the audio 🙁
      I never heard of We Were Liars, I’m curious now 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by Heidi.

  8. This happens, and I now when a narrator is really working for me because I slip right into the story. I actually prefer male readers for certain genres.

    • That’s what I’m talking bout 🙂 the right narration just takes you away 🙂

    • LOL Kimba, I didn’t even noticed, you were just speaking Loupe :)..LOL

  9. This is a great post, Loupe! I really appreciate what you’ve said here. As I’m getting more and more into audiobooks, I’ve been learning that narrator and book don’t always connect. I’ve been really sticking to my favorite narrators lately.

    • It’s getting harder now. With all the books being published on audio I imagine the demand for narrators is greater than ever, and they are not all created equal. Some are just specially talented, but sometimes the books are just not right for them.
      Thank you Grace!! I’m glad you still enjoying audiobooks 🙂

  10. One big reason I don’t listen to audio that much is because I like attributing my own voices, accents, and such to the characters I read. When I narrator reads to me, it loses something. I read and visualize it like it’s a show with actors, and I can’t do that with audio. EXCEPT when Luke Daniels narrates. I can visualize easily with him because he basically acts it out.

    • Bingo! It’s all about the narrator, he’s a pro! And there are a lot newbies out there 🙂
      I think listening has become a second nature to me, I enjoy most of the audio books I buy, but as you know, they’re from books that come highly recommended 🙂
      All you have to say is dark and liked it, and I know I will enjoy it too, if the narrator is decent.

  11. I love this post!
    Oh man, Isla had the worst narration EVER! And I didn’t even like the book when I gave up on the audio and tried to read it either. Such a bummer.
    I tried the sample for Lay It Down and said ‘no thanks!’
    He was terrible for a romance book. No Yorkie here 🙂
    I can’t handle accents so I can rarely listen to them on audio.
    I wish publishers/authors did more research instead of just hiring X person to do the job. It takes so much more than simply ‘reading’ the book.
    I really love Penelope Douglas books and tried them on audio even though I hate the narrators. I thought I could get over it because I loved the books so much and nope, couldn’t even make it past the first chapter. All I could picture when I heard Abby Craden talk was her smoking a cigarette after sex. It had that weird raspy ‘trying to be sexy’ feel to it. The guy (Sean Crisden) sucks too. Shame since they narrate so many books.

    I just DNF the audio for Bittersweet because the narrator did the same voice for the love interest as her 10 year old brother. It was creepy!

  12. I remember discussing Isla with you when I started to listen..LOL What a disappointment! I really didn’t understand the publisher’s choice.

    OMG! I can’t even imagine having the same voice for the love interest as the 10 year old..That would would have creeped me out too!

    I remember listening to Fifty Shades when it first came out and my horror when the narrator sounded like she was 12 years-old! They re-mastered the audiobook, but even then I never really liked it like I did when I read it.
    It’s going to be a hard road with all these new narrators 🙂
    Thank God this is not the norm for me, I enjoy most the audios I get.

  13. I think the wrong narrator can really make a whole story not work, Loupe. And I have trouble listening to stories that are too erotic… It actually makes me blush, whereas I have no trouble reading erotica!
    Thanks for sharing your less good experiences in on post 🙂
    Have a terrific Thursday.

    • LOL You are not alone Lexxie, my friend from the Bookahoilic Cat can’t do them either..LOL but she can read the any erotic book out there. I really think the audio makes everything more real, more personal. I feel the violence is a lot more scary on audio.
      Maybe our brains can tone down some stuff when we read.
      Yes, a wrong narrator can make everything sound fake when they fail to take you there.

  14. YES! I’ve had a few this year that I DNF because the narration just plain sucked (for me).

    • Lucky for me,the only audio that I could call DNF would be Stephenie’s new book, I switched to the Kindle.
      Audio could be a tricky thing to recommend, I think it could be very personal how you enjoy a narrator. Some voices just don’t click with some people, like I just had someone say that Khristine Hvam was horrible..I didn’t know what to say to that…. I still don’t know what to say in a cases when I loved the narrator and some peeps dindn’

  15. Love this post! Hope this becomes something regular that you do. It’s very helpful to distinguish between the reading and listening experience.

    • I will, I’m easy to please Jonetta. But the truth is I buy the audios after I read your reviews, I love book bloggers! They have saved a lot money…LOL
      But once in while the narrator doesn’t deliver for me, and I’m left wondering if reading the book would have changed my experience. So I’ll make sure to share those instances 🙂

  16. This is an excellent feature! I won a copy of a book so many people love in audio and I just could not get past my dislike of the narrator’s voice. It was so grating I could hardly stand it. I felt like such a jerk because she’d even given an interview and seemed really personable and nice… her voice just… *shudder* even thinking about it makes me squirrely.

    • Every experience is your own, we can’t help how we feel about a voice. It happens, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from trying them again. The audiobook that made me fall in love with audio was re-visit from a book I LOVED and I couldn’t get enough of it, but that also can be tricky, because the voices might be way off from your inner-voice and you could end up hating it 🙁 I hope one day you find one that clicks for you. They give you so much freedom to do other things while you still away in their world.
      Now I’m dying to know what book? LOL probably something I loved..LOL

      • Oh I listen to audio regularly and was just giving an example of when I have felt the same. lol I wish I’d tried read it in print before trying it as an audio.

        • OH good!! Sorry I misunderstood. Yeah, I know what a bummer it’s when that happens!! We would never know if we would have loved it if we have read it instead.
          Yay! Another audiobook fan 🙂

          • Most definitely. 😀 I was doing the math and about 1/10 books I read this year were on audio and before that I maybe listened to 1 a year. Once you start there’s no going back. 😀

  17. I really liked the Lorraine Heath story and narration but the rest of them I haven’t listened too. 🙂

    I love this because there are a few books I have turned off the narration and read it instead.

    • I know 🙁 i think I mentioned this one to you before. I did enjoy the story, but she didn’t work for me. But I had the same happened to me with Rosalyn Landor..I adore her narrations! And Jennese hated
      I hardly ever do switch too, in my case, only Ilsa..that was a bummer!

  18. I appreciate this post, as you know I’m starting to branch out on my narrators so it’s good to see a few I should just read instead 🙂

    • They didn’t work for me, unfortunately 🙁 These were supposed to be good books, and if the book doesn’t work or it’s just meh… it’s what it is, but I enjoy the stories on these ones, but the narration, not so much.

  19. I had a similar problem with Lay It Down. I think the narrator is probably wonderful at other genres, but he read it too much like Walter Cronkite, “This is the news” style for me to really get into. Great story, horrible narration.

    • Haha Judith! That’s a good way to put it. Some just lack the romance I also think he could be good with other genres.

  20. I had that same experience with Dark Witch I think. I always looks to your reviews when making my audio decisions. This was a big year for Audiobooks for me and I’m starting to get a better idea of what little things make or break the story for me. This was a great post!

    • Thank you Tanya 🙂 A lot times is not the the perfect accents, or amazing male/female voices by the narrator, but just the ability to put you in the story and to keep you there…It’s so enjoyable when that happens. Then your got your cases when the narration is excellent but something in the story doesn’t work 🙁 so it’s really nice when you get both.. I can tell by the second chapter that I’m in for good ride all around, and I just get a big smile on my face…LOL

  21. OH I remember Judy saying that on the Cara McKenna as well. It was great in print. I’ve had a couple I wish I’d listened too rather than read like the last Molly Harper. Everyone who listened to it had a much better experience than I did reading it. Strange how that can happen sometimes.

    • Oh that can happen too. A good narrator can make and OK book into really fun experience, specially in those books the narrator is perfect.
      I’m thinking I got Let it Down because of tour review, (I could be mistaken), and I really liked the story, but I know I could have been better with the right narrator.

  22. As a newbie to the audiobook world, I pretty much get all my books via recommendations. Recently, I listened to The Others series by Anne Bishop, which has great reviews, but mixed audio reviews. While I ended up really liking the series, I can’t help but wonder if I would have liked it better if I read it instead.

    • You know, it’s weird…I really enjoyed her narration of the first book (I think I seem to let my excitement of a new series by a favorite author on audio influence my enjoyment) but I wasn’t 100% sold with the second book’s narration, I thought the darkness wasn’t fully conveyed, but most peeps loved her performance…Go figure..LOL
      I understand your feelings, you feel liked you should have loved it….It could be the narration 🙁 but you’ll never know, and that’s how I feel about these books.
      Maybe you should read the next book (if you haven’t already) and then you’ll know for sure 🙂

  23. There aren’t many good narrators out there which makes me push away audiobooks haha I do have a few audiobooks in my kindle but I’ve never started listening to them. I do have one book that was meant to be listened not read. These Broke Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan spooner, have you tried?

    • I listened to that one it first came out, I enjoyed it a lot!, But I wasn’t blown away by it. I’m a big fan of the female narrator, she narrates The Morganville Vampires, and I LOVED that series, the male narrators were new-to-me, but I can see maybe finding them a little older sounding, for the story.
      I enjoyed the story well enough, but I got that one on my own without reading any reviews, so I had not expectations, but I did really enjoyed it as a listen. I’m looking forward to the next book. Maybe it just didn’t work for you. Was this a re-visit, maybe?
      There are a lot new narrators, specially for NA, and that’s makes it hard, plus now there are some authors that think they can read their own books!! LOL… It’s not just reading, It takes a lot more than that to deliver a story the right way.
      Sorry the narration for These Broken Stars didn’t work for you, but it happens, a book can have hundreds of 5 stars, but it always will have a couple 1 stars.
      Thanks for stopping by Chyna!
      I’m such an idiot! You did enjoy that one!! I’m glad 🙂 I thought maybe it hadn’t work because it was a revisit…LOL

  24. Well, now I know which books to read instead of listening too ;D

    I have the King as a eBook arc so I’ll be reading it soon.

    • It’s a shame these didn’t work for me (narration) so figure I’d share. I’m glad I can help 🙂 I hope you enjoy the King!

  25. I can so relate to this post! Even though I prefer to listen rather than read I know there are some duds out there. I listened to the sample of Isla and knew it wouldn’t be a match. And I will keep it in mind to read Lay it Down.

    I hope you make this a regular feature! It’s very helpful 🙂

    • I know Lucy! You are a junkie like me! LOL I wait for the books to come out on audio, even if I’m dying to read them.
      I will share my lemons from now on, I also going to try to do a monthly list of the books I listened with quick reviews. It takes me sooo long (double checking and checking grammar a spelling…LOL) to do a review that I only review a few 🙁
      All in all, I’m not that hard to please, but very hard to be blown away.

    • I hardly ever switch, because that means I have to buy the Kindle too, so I only do it when they are from series I love. A lot of the books I buy are new releases and a lot of the new ones are not whispersync ready 🙁 that means full price for the kindle 🙁 Now if it’s horrible I just don’t finish and return it, that’s the cool thing about about audible.

      • Yeah I return it right away if I’m not liking it then go for the kindle or print version it just pick a different book to read 🙂 I love the return ability on audible

  26. Oh this is great, I’m going to go through and mark these so I don’t forget!

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