Friday, February 17, 2017

Barbara Venkataraman - Guest Post (Mystery Thriller Week 2017)

Hey guys! The following is an interview with Barbara Venkataraman, the author of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Series! (P.S. I'm sorry...this was supposed to be posted yesterday.)


An Interview with author, Barbara Venkataraman and narrator, Carrie Lee Martz

--You two have eight audiobooks across three different genres, how did you find each other? Carrie, what appealed to you about these stories?
"Barbara actually found me through ACX just 9 days after I created my profile, but I'll let her tell that part of our story. The first book we did was “A Trip to the Hardware Store;” it was just really relatable and quirky, so I knew it’d fun to narrate."

--Barbara, how did you know Carrie was the narrator who could pull off humor AND narrate your mysteries?
I got very lucky! I wanted a narrator with a sense of humor and a range of voices who was willing to work for free. I either had to convince a total stranger to spend hundreds of hours recording my self-published books as unpaid labor, OR, find a narrator through ACX willing to royalty-share (spend hundreds of hours recording my self-published books as unpaid labor AND split any profits, assuming there were any).
Throwing caution to the wind, I posted two projects on ACX simultaneously. After listening to and rejecting many demo recordings, I began to question the whole project, but kept slogging through. Suddenly, the heavens parted and I heard an angel sing, only she wasn't an angel, she was Carrie Lee Martz. Her demo was a voiceover demo in which she showed off her range of voices. She was perfect! I made her an offer for both books and she accepted. We exchanged e-mails and confessed that we'd never done this before, but we were both game and jumped right in. 

--Carrie, as a narrator, how do you approach a humorous work differently?
"I don’t really. Narrating comedy isn’t about telling jokes or trying to be funny. If it were, I’d be in trouble, because I think I’m the least funny person I know and I literally can’t tell a joke to save my life! LOL I think what’s most important is understanding the writer’s sense of humor and being able to fully commit to the characters and the story. If you focus on those things, the funny will automatically shine through."
--Barbara, what advice do you have for authors about writing humor? 
Don't ask me, ask Ellen Degeneres, lol! I think humorous writing is the unexpected combined with the sublime and the ludicrous. It's based on common experiences we've all had (or can easily imagine), and often focuses on the minutiae. Look at the comedian, Jim Gaffigan and how much mileage he's gotten out of mocking Hot Pockets. My advice is to read a lot of humor and try to analyze why it works. There's a lot of timing involved and also a build-up of expectations.

--Carrie, do you have any advice for narrators thinking about trying Audible? Has it met your expectations?
"Go for it! Audible’s ACX program gives new narrators and indie authors a vehicle to break into the audiobook business without the usual constraints. I mean, what have you got to lose!?! I'd never narrated a book before, but my voiceover coach, Amy Hartman, suggested that I create an ACX profile to start practicing and auditioning. I was so excited to have a place to get "real world" experience auditioning for audiobooks, that I didn’t really have any expectations. Given that, the program far exceeded my expectations! With ACX, I get to audition and practice my narration skills on a regular basis and have launched the beginning of my audiobook career, with several books for sell on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  AMAZING!!!"
--Barbara, do you also recommend Audible?
Definitely! But be prepared to do some serious marketing on your own. Once you and your narrator have exhausted your personal connections, it's time to hit the virtual streets. Get free download codes from ACX and give them away like crazy. When you run out, ask for more. Sadly, we can't all be featured in the New York Times book section.

-- Carrie, how has your acting experience helped you as a narrator?
"Being an actress has taught me how to make strong choices and how to fully commit to those choices, the characters, and the story. This is a really critical skill for actors, but it’s even more important for audiobook narrators! All you’ve got to work with are the characters and the author’s words, so you’ve got to be really clear in your mind about who the characters are and what the words mean. If you stay focused on the characters and have clear intentions for the story when you read, it helps to paint a better picture for the listeners."

--Barbara, What type of feedback have you gotten?
Carrie and I have gotten some wonderful feedback on our audiobooks and Carrie really brings my characters to life. Here are some examples of feedback we've received: you made me laugh, thanks for the chuckles, you almost made me spit my coffee out through my nose! My absolute favorite, though, was the woman who said Carrie did an excellent drunk voice. Carrie and I agreed that when we finally meet, we'll drink some wine and practice our drunk voices together.

--Carrie, have you gotten feedback on your narration & did it surprise you in any way?
"I've gotten quite a lot of feedback actually, which is pretty cool. I’ve had bad and good surprises. The bad – people can be incredibly critical and even a little mean in their reviews – it’s really taught me to “let go” of the negative comments (you just can't please everyone) and to pay special attention to the "constructive criticism" (if you learn to identify it, you can use it to improve and hone your skills). The good – I've had a lot of people say that listening to my narration is like sitting with a good friend while she shares the humorous stories of her life.  WOW – what a great compliment! Since I’m always striving for that kind of intimate experience when I narrate, it's so freaking cool to hear that it comes across that way to listeners!  =D"

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Environmentally Friendly Review (Mystery Thriller Week 2017)

Environmentally Friendly

by Elias Zanbaka

This review is a part of Mystery Thriller Week. If you don't know what that is, check out their website here for info and a calendar of all the reviews, guest posts, author interviews, etc.

My rating: 3.5

  First of all, look at that cover. Seriously, take a good look at it and let it sink in. It has "Friendly" in the title, yet the person holding a knife ironically does not scream friendly to me. And "Friendly" is written in blood?
  Without giving away everything that happens, here's a short little synopsis. It's about a very unstable army veteran who has been targeted by the police and has waged war against Mother Nature.
  This is a short story that was very well-written. It keeps your attention from the very first line. I definitely recommend reading this!
 The reason it got a 3.5 was because it was a little confusing as to what was going on at first. (But maybe that's just me.) Or maybe it's just because it was a short story. Obviously, it can't have tons and tons of background info and more to the plot, or it wouldn't be called a short story.

If you're interested in finding out more about this short story, here is the link to it on Goodreads.


Thank you so much for reading this and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Rising Review

The Rising
by Ryan Troske

Hey, so it's time for another book review! This book is called The Rising by Ryan Troske and, just as a disclaimer, I did receive this book free in exchange for an honest review.

  The first book in the Supernatural series, The Rising is about a teenage boy named Ethan who's always lived a normal life. After a car accident leaves him in the hospital, he starts to realize that he has supernatural powers.
  Now, I don't know about you, but I love that type of stuff. There's just something about it that makes it seem so much more interesting than our lives without cool powers.
  From the first page, you get sucked into the book with your conversation with Ethan. And there's really never any boring moments. Whether it's accidentally causing a knife to fly and hit his mother, or trying to work up the courage to ask the girl he has a crush on out on a date, there's tons of reasons to read about Ethan's adventures.
   This may not be a laugh-out-loud funny book, but Ethan definitely has some witty remarks at times. And the titles of each chapter can tell you everything (without realizing it until after) in such a funny way. And it definitely takes some interesting twists and turns that I don't think you'll see coming. I didn't. But, who knows, maybe I'm just an awful guesser at that type of stuff.
  In short, it was well-written, witty, and the plot was well-thought out. I definitely recommend reading it.

My Rating:    4

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Few Beautiful Quotes

Well, I want to keep this blog updated. And I'm only one person who (with everything else  have to do) can only read so fast. So instead of waiting forever for a new book review, here is something fun! :)   PRETTY QUOTES from some books I've read!

  • “He stared at her, knowing with certainty that he was falling in love. He pulled her close and kissed her beneath a blanket of stars, wondering how on earth he'd been lucky enough to find her.”   - The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
  • “I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever.”                - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • “There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.”   - The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

And I will leave you with those 3 right now. But, don't worry, there's more fun coming soon! But hey, leave a comment and tell me what you want to see here or what you love about this or what you hate about this....or just say hi!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Girl on the Train Review

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

   Image result for the girl on the train book


Synopsis: Every day, Rachel Watson, takes the same train to and from "work." And every day, she sees the same couple outside their house, Jess and Jason (AKA Megan and Scott). To Rachel, a divorced alcoholic, they are the epitome of love. Well, that is until she sees Jess do something unthinkable. And then, suddenly, Jess disappears. The girl on the train becomes the girl in the middle. 






My opinion:

  Honestly, for the first 60-ish (?) pages, it was kinda boring. And I really don't know how so many people got past the beginning for it to become so popular that they made a movie based on it. That being said, once you get into it, you get into it. It is such an interesting novel with unique point-of-views. Throughout the book, you hear the story from Rachel, Megan, and Anna... so sometimes you get the truth about a situation and sometimes not. And because it's written as dates and times (as opposed to chapters) you understand the timeline of how everything happened. That is so important to this story, because as you're hearing from Rachel that Megan is missing, you slowly but surely figure out what happened from Megan. Just from a different month. I love that it was written like that. It's so different and keeps you enthralled in the story. 
  Also, I'm just gonna say, I am a firm believer in "well, since the main character thinks this person killed her and we're only halfway through the book, it can't be that person who killed her." It's always the person you least expect. So, of course, Tom was the murderer. And honestly, this made it a little bit predictable. However, because Rachel was an alcoholic and could be unreliable, I did question sometimes whether it was Scott or the therapist. 
  And, ok, so Scott didn't kill Megan. But am I the only one thinking that he might've eventually? He was pretty controlling and mentally abusive. And we saw how after Megan died that he was pretty physically abusive to Rachel. It's very possible that if Tom hadn't killed Megan, that Scott might've.
  Although it was good, I don't understand why Anna wasn't freaking out that Rachel showed up at her house at the end when Rachel told Anna her suspicions about Tom. Every other time, she freaked out about seeing Rachel. But suddenly when she needs to hear her out...she lets Rachel talk? Weird. 
 But overall, it was a great book and I definitely recommend it! 



....wait a second.....

HELLO!!!  There, that's better. I hate Times New Roman... it's just too formal-ly looking. 

Well, thank you for coming across this blog (whether or not it was on purpose). My name is Sophia and I'm just someone who loves books and loves to read! So here is where you'll find book reviews and just my honest thoughts on those books. 
Well, have fun! :)