Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Halo Awards

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven


The Second Annual Halo Awards

Well, another year has come and gone. For many, the New Year is a time to look back and reflect on the old year that has just passed; a time to reminisce about successes and failures, good times and bad. For me, it’s a time to think about all the audiobooks I have read and reviewed for Audiobook-Heaven. During 2011, I read more than 130 audiobooks and I’m pleased to say that I read some very good ones indeed.
Which brings us to the second annual Halo Awards. This is where I reflect on all the audiobooks I listened to during the last year and pick out a few of my favorites. Mind you, not all of these audiobooks were produced in 2011, but I did review them during the year. So without further delay, here are the 2011 Halo Award nominees and winners.

Best Children’s Audiobook

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett (Audiobook Review)
The Wild Things by Dave Eggers (Audiobook Review)
25 Spanish Children'S Stories by Pedro Pablo Sacristan (Audiobook Review)

The Wild Things by Dave EggersAnd the winner is…The Wild Things by Dave Eggers, narrated by Dion Graham!
Based on Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s picture book, Where The Wild Things Are, The Wild Things is the story of a young boy whose world is changing a little too fast. Just like the beautiful illustrations from the original, Dave Eggers paints his scenes elegantly upon the mind of the reader. With an excellent narration by Dion Graham, The Wild Things was easily my favorite children’s audiobook of the year.

Best Young Adult Audiobook

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter (Audiobook Review)
Bloody Jack by L A Meyer (Audiobook Review)
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Audiobook Review)

Bloody Jack by L A MeyerAnd the winner is…Bloody Jack by L A Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren!
Little Mary Faber ended up on the streets of London’s cheap-side when her parents died and had to beg for food. But that didn’t slow her down for long. Soon, she was a ship’s boy (yes, BOY) on a warship in His Majesty’s Royal Navy where she earns the name Bloody Jack. Jacky Faber is the ultimate young heroine, and Bloody Jack is the ultimate in action/adventure audiobooks. Throw in the phenomenal narrating talent of Katherine Kellgren and we have my favorite young adult audiobook of the year.

Best Science Fiction Audiobook

Mars by Ben Bova (Audiobook Review)
The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (Audiobook Review)
The Memory Of Earth by Orson Scott Card (Audiobook Review)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack FinneyAnd the winner is…The Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, narrated by Kristoffer Tabori!
A middle aged man is going through some major life changes, but that’s nothing compared to the changes he begins to notice in the other residents of his quiet little town. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the most famous sci-fi stories ever written and I was very pleased to receive a review copy from Blackstone Audio last year. Actor Kristoffer Tabori, who just happens to be the son of Don Siegel who directed the original film version, capably narrates this audiobook. That makes this one kind of special, and it also makes The Invasion of the Body Snatchers my favorite science fiction audiobook of 2011.

Best Horror Audiobook

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (Audiobook Review)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Audiobook Review)
It by Stephen King (Audiobook Review)

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonAnd the winner is…The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne!
A young, mentally unstable woman checks into Hill House and the spirits begin to speak. But is the house really occupied by ghosts or is it her own dementia that haunts her? I love a good ghost story and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of the best. I love the way Jackson keeps the reader guessing about the true nature of the paranormal events that take place around Eleanor. Narrator Bernadette Dunne nailed this one, characterizing the shy, wallflower Eleanor perfectly. Eenie-meenie-chilie-beanie, the spirits are about to speak, and they’re saying that The Haunting of Hill House was my favorite horror audiobook of 2011.

Best Non-fiction Audiobook

The Supergirls by Mike Madrid (Audiobook Review)
Berlin Diary by William L Shirer (Audiobook Review)
American Chronicles: World War 2 by Npr (Audiobook Review)

American Chronicles: World War II by NPRAnd the winner is…American Chronicles: World War II by NPR, narrated by Neal Conan!
I don’t typically read a lot of non-fiction but I did manage to get my hands on a few good ones during 2011. They were all pretty good, but this American Chronicles series that NPR is putting out, published by HighBridge Audio, is really something special. If you’re a history buff, this is just the audiobook for you.

Best General fiction or Literary Audiobook

Matterhorn: A Novel Of The Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes (Audiobook Review)
Waiting For Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk (Audiobook Review)
Everyman by Philip Roth (Audiobook Review)

Matterhorn by Karl MarlantesAnd the winner is…Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes, narrated by Bronson Pinchot!
Karl Marlantes spent some time in the jungles of Vietnam as a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Matterhorn is not written as a true story, but it’s plain to see that Marlantes used many of his personal experiences to shape this incredibly poignant novel. This is without question the most moving and riveting novel I read all year. Marlantes is a powerful writer, but I have to give a lot of credit to narrator Bronson Pinchot as well, his performance was brilliant. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War is unquestionably my favorite general fiction novel of the year.

Best Classic fiction Audiobook

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (Audiobook Review)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (Audiobook Review)
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck (Audiobook Review)

The Jungle by Upton SinclairAnd the winner is…The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, narrated by Grover Gardner!
If you think you’ve got it tough as a middle-class working man, reading this book will give you a whole new perspective on things. Focusing on the meat-packing industry, Sinclair’s classic novel takes us back to a time before labor laws and health codes. It’s a disturbing look at the immigrant work force in the early 1900’s, and my favorite Classic Fiction novel of 2011.

Best Mystery/Detective Audiobook

Claire Dewitt And The City Of The Dead by Sara Gran (Audiobook Review)
Killed At The Whim Of A Hat by Colin Cotterill (Audiobook Review)
Black Mask Volume 1 by Otto Penzler (Audiobook Review)

Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead by Sara GranAnd the winner is…Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran, narrated by Carol Monda!
Hard-boiled Claire DeWitt returns to her native New Orleans to solve a missing person case, but it is not quite the same city she grew up in. Sara Gran writes a pretty fine mystery novel, but Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is so much more. Set in a post-Katrina New Orleans, this novel is really the story of a dying city; where even the survivors are little more than walking dead. This beautifully written tribute to a city that will never be the same was my hands-down favorite Mystery/Detective audiobook of 2011.

Best Pulp fiction Audiobook

Doc Savage: Python Isle by Will Murray (Audiobook Review)
Sky Birds Dare by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)
Werewolves Of War by D W Hall (Audiobook Review)

Sky Birds Dare! By L Ron HubbardAnd the winner is…Sky Birds Dare! by L Ron Hubbard, narrated by a Full Cast!
I was very fortunate this year to have been contacted by Galaxy Press who was looking for some reviews on a series of L Ron Hubbard audiobooks they were putting out. That was lucky for me because otherwise I would have missed out on something special. Hubbard’s writing is always good, naturally, but the multi-cast music and sound production by Galaxy is stunning. Sky Birds Dare! is just one of the Hubbard stories I read this year, but it contains one of the most beautifully descriptive scenes I can remember reading in a long time. For all these reasons and more, Sky Birds Dare! was my favorite pulp-fiction audiobook of the year.

Best Dramatic Production

We'Re Alive: Season 1 by Kc Wayland (Audiobook Review)
The Passion Of Frankenstein by Thomas E Fuller (Audiobook Review)
Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller (Audiobook Review)

Death of a Salesman by Arthur MillerAnd the winner is…Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, performed by L A Theatre Works!
Okay, how many of you read this play in high school? Yeah I did too, but if you’ve never heard or seen Arthur Miller’s classic play performed by a professional cast you’re really missing out on something special. Stacy Keach delivered an amazingly dramatic and moving performance as Willie Loman in this L A Theatre Works production which made Death of a Salesman my favorite dramatic production of 2011.

Best Audiobook Series

The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld.
The Bloody Jack series by L A Meyer.
A Series of Unfortunate events by Lemony Snicket.

Bloody Jack by L A MeyerAnd the winner is…The Bloody Jack Adventures by L A Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren!
Bloody Jack is the most amazing adventure I can remember reading in a long time. Poor little orphan girl Mary Faber dresses up as a boy to get off the dirty streets of London and onto a sailing ship in His Majesty’s Royal Navy, and it’s non-stop action and adventure from there on. “Jacky” Faber goes from ship’s boy to horse racing jockey to pirate to slave, and everything in between. At least half of the success of these books has to go to narrator Katherine Kellgren who is absolutely brilliant. I’ve only read 4 of this (so far) 8 book series but that was more than enough to make Bloody Jack my favorite audiobooks series of the year.
Check out some of the reviews here:
Bloody Jack by L A Meyer (Audiobook Review)
Curse Of The Blue Tattoo by L A Meyer (Audiobook Review)
Under The Jolly Roger by L A Meyer (Audiobook Review)

Best Narrator-Young Adult or Juvenile

Tim Curry for A Series of Unfortunate Events
Katherine Kellgren for the Bloody Jack Adventures
Dion Graham for The Wild Things

Katherine KellgrenAnd the winner is…Katherine Kellgren for her brilliant work on L A Meyer’s Bloody Jack Adventures!
I’ve already raved about Katherine Kellgren’s amazing narration of the Bloody Jack audiobooks so it should come as no surprise that she wins the Halo for Best Narrator on a Young Adult or Juvenile audiobook. Actually the decision wasn’t as easy as you may think because Tim Curry was exceptional on A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Dion Graham, besides being a heck of a nice guy, did a great job with The Wild Things. I consider myself very lucky to have had such a difficult decision to make. Incidentally, in addition to winning a Halo this year, Kellgren also happens to be Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voice in Young Adult for 2011. Congrats Katherine!

Best Narrator-Adult

Bronson Pinchot for Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
Grover Gardner for Tomas Trofimuk’s Waiting For Columbus
Steven Weber for Stephen King’s It

Bronson PinchotAnd the winner is…Bronson Pinchot for his narration of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War.
And speaking of Audiofile Best Voice winners, here’s another. I only listened to two Pinchot narrations this year, but really Matterhorn was all I needed to make the decision. Bronson Pinchot so perfectly captured the mood of this book that it was almost like he was telling his own story. It was the best narration I heard all year, and definitely deserves the Halo Award for Best Narrator of an Adult Audiobook.

And finally…

Best Audiobook

Now for the really hard part, my very favorite audiobook of the year, chosen from the category winners above. I listened to so many great audiobooks this year that it’s difficult to choose one favorite, but this year’s Halo Award for Best Audiobook just has to go to:

Matterhorn by Karl MarlantesYes, it was a hard decision, but my favorite audiobook of the year was Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War This book grabbed hold of me like none other. Marlantes’ story telling and character development is really a cut above most authors I have read, and of course I have already raved about Bronson Pinchot’s narration. Great audiobook plus great narrator equals Best Audiobook of 2011.

And there you have it, all my favorites from a year of really great audiobooks. It’s fun to look back over the year and remember the books I listened to, but it’s especially exciting to look forward and think about all the great audiobooks still waiting to be discovered. I hope that your year in reading has been as enriching as mine, and I hope that you find some rare treasures in 2012. And if you were a Halo Award winner this year, feel free to grab your award by copying the html code below.

2011 Halo Award

From all of us at Audiobook-Heaven, to all of our fellow audiobook lovers, Happy Listening and Happy New Year!


Kathy said...

Thanks for a great list and thanks for hosting this site. I use it all of the time! Can you tell me how to get a copy of the NPR American Chronicles: WWII audiobook. I've tried a few sites and can't seem to find a copy to purchase

joni said...

I have to admit this is a great year end review to all the audiobooks that you've read and reviewed!

Great job! I hope 2012 brings you joy and happiness for your listening pleasure! :)

Stormcrow said...

Hi Kathy, if you click over to the review for that book, you'll find a link where you can buy it directly from the publisher. Thanks!