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Audiobook review: The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi

The DispatcherThe Dispatcher by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Took me a while to finally get to this, since it’s been sitting around on my computer ever since it was originally released last year. I finally realized I had to sync it down to my phone so I could actually listen to it–which I have finally now done. And I am pleased to report it was quite satisfying.

I’ve generally always liked what I’ve read of Scalzi, although sometimes I like him better as a blogger than I do as a storyteller. In this case, though, I’d heard him do a reading of a chapter out of this at a recent convention, and I liked the premise well enough that I leapt on the offered free audiobook when it was released. Bonus that it was narrated by Zachary Quinto.

Story-wise, I found this to rank pretty high on the list of what Scalzi stories I’ve read (or in this case listened to) so far. The deliberate lack of description on a lot of his characters sometimes leaves me discontent, but in this case it worked well, and contributed to the lean, tight delivery of the story. Plus, given the overall schtick of the worldbuilding–i.e., if you’re murdered, chances are very high you will come back to life at home in your bed–was intriguing and added a dash of interesting philosophical discussion in some of the character dialogue.

Audiobook-wise, I found Quinto’s narration engaging as well. As one would certainly hope with a high-caliber actor, he brought some skill to his reading. Doing audiobook narration is not quite the same thing as a performance in a full-cast storyline, but Quinto did a great job differentiating the characters as he read for them. I was particularly impressed by the changes in his delivery for the female characters, particularly Detective Langdon. None of his changes in vocal delivery were blatant, but they were distinctive, and it was always clear to me who was speaking even when dialogue tags were not provided by the actual prose.

All in all a great little story. I liked it well enough that I’ll be buying the ebook edition, given that I originally got the audiobook while it was available for free. Four stars.

View all my reviews

Books, Other People's Books

Post-VCON book roundup post

The Tropic of Serpents

The Tropic of Serpents

Acquired at VCON as freebies in my and Dara’s swag bags:

  • Far Arena and Avim’s Oath, by Lynda Williams. SF. These happen to be books 5 and 6 of her Okal Rel Saga, so there’s some question as to whether I could read these without having read books 1-4. I went and found the author’s website, where I learned that this saga is apparently a shared world effort. So I pinged the relevant Twitter address and am informed that I should be able to read these, though I may miss some backstory as a result. We’ll see what happens.

Acquired as a freebie from Audible:

  • The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi. SF. This is Mr. Scalzi’s latest novella release, and as he describes in this post on his blog, it’s currently available as a free audio download from Audible. (A print and ebook edition will be coming later.) I heard him do a reading of part of this at Westercon this past summer, and found it quite entertaining, definitely enough to get me interested in hearing the whole story. Plus, I want to hear how Zachary Quinto handles audiobook narration!

And, acquired as ebooks from Kobo:

  • The Tropic of Serpents, The Voyage of the Basilisk, and “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review”, all by Marie Brennan, all part of her Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I have already plowed through Tropic of Serpents, and have enjoyed it immensely. 😀 Basilisk is Book 3, and chances are high I will be acquiring this in print ASAP. The last title of these three is a short, and takes place right after Book 3. I went ahead and snagged it to support the author, even though it can be read on here.

50 for the year.

ETA: Whoops, forgot this month’s ebook freebie: Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear. Make that 51 for the year.


General reminder about audiobook editions of my books

I received a very nice little holiday card from friend and reader Kaye. Thank you, Kaye! In it, she notes that she’d love to see/hear audiobook editions of my books in 2016.

General public reminder: there IS an audiobook edition of Valor of the Healer, though so far sales of Vengeance and Victory have not yet warranted Carina shelling out to do audio books of those. If you think they should, best thing I can recommend is that you go buy those ebooks and encourage others to do so. And, of course, buy the audiobook edition of Valor and show Carina that there is a demand for this. You can find the audiobook editions of Valor on Audible/Amazon and iTunes. Check the Valor of the Healer page–you’ll see Audible listed on the “Buy the Book” button at the top, and all of the various places I know about on the “Buy the Audiobook” button down at the bottom.

Meanwhile: if there is interest out there for audiobook editions of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, note that this WOULD be something I’d need to shell out for in order to hire a proper narrator. While it would be theoretically possible for Dara and I to do it ourselves with the equipment we have available in Dara’s studio, we learned from doing even those three-minute excerpts for the Bone Walker soundtrack that that kind of work is very time consuming and intensive. And I do not have the time to do full book-length audio editions myself, not when I also have a full time day job AND need to actually, y’know, write and stuff.

And before I can consider a Kickstarter to raise funds to do audiobook editions of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, I REALLY need to clear my prior Kickstarter obligations first. So audiobooks in 2016, not really feasible. 2017…. maybe.

If there is enough interest. So if anyone reading this might be interested in supporting audiobook editions of the Free Court of Seattle books, talk to me. If you want more audio of the Rebels of Adalonia books, go talk to Carina!


Need audiobook recs for iOS! Anybody?

So by and large I’m almost entirely happy with the new releases of iOS 9 and El Capitan. I’ve seen significant performance improvements on both my laptop and my mobile devices. But there’s one big pain point with me still, and that’s Apple deciding in its infinite wisdom to punt audiobooks out of Music on iOS and over into iBooks.

You could argue either way about where audiobooks actually belong. That’s not the part that pisses me off. The part that pisses me off is that since the vast majority of audiobooks I have are the full-cast audio Doctor Who adventures from Big Finish, I’ve set up a bunch of playlists so that Dara and I can listen to these in release sequence when we’re on trips. So, for example, I’ve got a “Fourth Doctor Season 1”, “Fourth Doctor Season 2”, etc.

Now, as of iOS 9, the playlists I’d set up don’t sync to my phone anymore. Even though I’d set them to do that. And since iBooks is not set up to deal with playlists, this means I have no way whatsoever to recreate that ordered sequence and to be able to know which adventure Dara and I should listen to next.

I see a few different things I can try to do to deal with this, none of which are optimal.

One: Rename all the audio adventures so that it’s obvious what the listening sequence should be.

Two: Get into the settings on each adventure and change the media type to ‘Music’ so they’ll show up in the Music app. Which would also lose me the ability to keep track of where I left off listening to any given adventure, which is after all THE ENTIRE POINT of my downloading them from Big Finish in audiobook form to begin with.

Three: Keep a running list of the listening sequence in Notes or in a file on Dropbox. In other words, an externally managed playlist, which, again, I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO BECAUSE I HAD THAT FUNCTIONALITY ALREADY GRR.

Four: Find a third-party app to manage my audiobooks if possible.

I’m willing to pay for a third-party app if a good one exists. Failing that, I’m probably going to grumpily keep a running list in Notes as to what the listening sequence should be, since that seems like the least amount of effort involved.

But does anybody out there know of good audiobook managers for iOS? Sing out if you do! And if you’re also an audio listener on iOS, you might consider going to Apple’s feedback page for iBooks on iOS and expressing your displeasure how they’ve broken things.

Valor of the Healer

Hey, how about a giveaway?

Since I still have plenty of copies of Valor of the Healer I’m allowed to give away, I feel another giveaway coming on! So tell ya what I’m going to do, Internets! This giveaway is going to run from now until the end of June, at which point I will give out two copies of Valor of the Healer to randomly selected persons!

Here’s what you can do to get into the draw!

  • Dropping a comment on this post (or on its LJ or Dreamwidth mirrors): one entry
  • ETA: Dropping a comment on the Goodreads feed of this post: one entry
  • Replying to me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ when you see this post go up: one entry
  • Adding the book to your To Read list on Goodreads, LibraryThing, or Shelfari: one entry
  • Retweeting the contest announcement, resharing to your own Facebook wall or your Google+ feed, or reblogging on Tumblr: two entries
  • Posting about it on your own blog or journal and linking back to me: three entries

You may combine any of the above to get additional entries!

Also, if you have already won a previous Valor giveaway or have actually already bought the book, you are eligible to enter this giveaway if you’d like to be able to give a copy to a friend or family member. If you are such a person though here are additional things you can do:

  • Rate the book on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or any other site where the book is for sale and you can leave ratings or reviews, and sending me notice and/or a screenshot of same: one entry
  • Review the book on any of the same sites: three entries
  • Post a review of Valor to your own blog or journal: three entries

If you’ve read Faerie Blood and haven’t read/bought Valor of the Healer yet, I will also accept these as entry actions:

  • Rate Faerie Blood on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or any other site where the book is for sale and you can leave ratings or reviews, and sending me notice and/or a screenshot of same: one entry
  • Review Faerie Blood on any of the same sites: three entries
  • Post a review of Faerie Blood to your own blog or journal: three entries

(Please note though that these need to be new ratings/reviews of Faerie Blood, not previously existing ones.)

One more thing: in addition to two free copies of the Valor of the Healer ebook, I will also give out ONE copy of the Valor of the Healer audiobook. But since this’ll be something I’m paying for, I will limit the pool of eligible claimants for the audiobook to anyone who clears ten entries in this giveaway. So if you get really ambitious you can be in the draw for the audiobook too!

Any questions, let me know! If not, let the giveaway commence!

Faerie Blood, Valor of the Healer

A few quick reminders and requests

Some of you loverly people have been kind enough to report in that you’re quite liking Valor of the Healer, for which I thank you from the bottom of my heart! If the spirit moves you, please consider rating and/or reviewing it somewhere suitably visible. It will help. At the level at which I operate as an author, word of mouth is critical to try to encourage others to boost my sales.

Amazon remains the best and highest visibility place to rate and/or review a book, but Goodreads would be good, too. I haven’t gotten much yet in the way of ratings or reviews at Goodreads, and Amazon has nothing at all.

Also, don’t forget that if ebooks aren’t your thing, Valor IS also available as an audiobook. Ratings and/or reviews on that would also be awesome.

And of course Faerie Blood is still available, and because Valor‘s selling for $2.99 at the moment, I’ve put Faerie Blood at the same price. So now’s a really good time to grab the ebook if you haven’t already. Also, I DO still have a small number of print copies available: seven, to be precise. The only way to get Faerie Blood in print is still to talk to me directly, so if you want one, do let me know. I’ll be happy to mail it to you! The best and fastest way to pay me for a copy remains Paypal.

Questions? Talk to me!

And as always, a roundup of everywhere you can buy both books is available on Valor’s official page and Faerie Blood’s official page. Thanks all for your ongoing support!

Valor of the Healer

Valor of the Healer audiobook!

Some of y’all may have seen me gushing about this on the social networks over the weekend, but in case you didn’t: Audible finally let me have my free copy of the audiobook for Valor of the Healer!

I started listening to it, and I’m here to tell you, Internets–goddamn, it’s weird and wonderful to be hearing somebody else reading words that came out of my very own brain. I didn’t even have to do anything to make this audiobook happen, other than fork over a pronunciation guide. And then magic happened and suddenly OH HEY I HAVE AN AUDIOBOOK.

I’ve listened to it up to partway through Chapter 5, and am really impressed by Gia St. Claire’s reading. She doesn’t nail everything–some of the pronunciations of this or that name are occasionally wrong. And she’s making most of the male characters sound too old and gruff by comparison to how they sound in my head. She’s better with Rab and Kestar, possibly because they’re younger males, and Rab especially should sound young.

But that said? She is very good at at least giving the different male characters distinguishable voices. She’s also a very expressive and engaging reader in general.

And oh god you guys, she’s amazing doing Faanshi. When I got to a particular very tense scene in Chapter 5, I actually teared up a bit listening to it. And I wrote these words. It’s not like I didn’t know what was coming!

I’m going to listen to the rest of it, all the way through, despite the strong urge to jump ahead to more of my favorite bits. Because my having written all of these words does not in the slightest diminish the childlike glee of hearing somebody else tell my own story to me!

So highly, highly recommended for those of you who may not find ebooks to your tastes, since this is the other means of getting a copy of Valor until such time as Carina decides to print it! And I’m not even just saying this because Audible will fork over a buck for every copy of the audiobook they sell (because they will!). I’m saying it mostly because Gia St. Claire is doing a fantastic job and I encourage you all to go check out what she did with my book!

And I can’t wait to see what she did with Chapter 14. 😀