Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Halo Awards


Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

Presents:

The Third Annual Halo Awards

Well, here it is almost 2013 already! Hard to believe that another year has come and gone. But with the end of the year comes my favorite time of year. Yeah, yeah it’s Christmas time, but I’m talking Halo Award time! That’s right this is the time of year when I take a moment to sit back and reflect on all the good (and bad) audiobooks I heard during the year. I’m happy to say that I read some pretty great books in 2012 and below I have prepared my list of the best of the best. Keep in mind, these audiobooks were not all published in 2012, but I did read them this year. So take a minute and relax while you scan through the list and maybe you’ll get a few ideas for your own to-read list.

Best Children’s Audiobook

The nominees are:
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente (Audiobook Review)
The Search For Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi (Audiobook Review)
A Wild Ride Through The Night by Walter Moers (Audiobook Review)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M ValenteAnd the winner is…The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente narrated by the author!
Poor little September (I love the name!) feels unwanted at home although that is not really the case. Her father had to go to war and her mother had to go to work leaving the little girl alone a lot of the time. So when the Green Wind beckons at her window, September jumps at the chance to leave it all behind and take a trip to Fairyland. Thus begins the most magical journey any little girl could imagine. This is a superb story superbly written by a superb author. And unlike most authors, Catherynne Valente actually makes a pretty darn good narrator as well. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making was a pretty easy choice for Best Children’s Audiobook of the year.

Best Young Adult Audiobook

The nominees are:
Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor (Audiobook Review)
The Probability Of Miracles by Wendy Wunder (Audiobook Review)
Legend by Marie Lu (Audiobook Review)

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy WunderAnd the winner is…The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder narrated by Emma Galvin!
The Probability of Miracles is a triumph of hope and inspiration. It is a story of the power of miracles over the stubborn human spirit. Wendy Wunder’s razor wit cuts to the bone and never misses its mark. I absolutely love the town of Promise, Maine too, where the extraordinary, or the miraculous, become almost commonplace, but are no less extraordinary or miraculous for all that. The Probability of Miracles is one of the best audiobooks I listened to this year and definitely belongs on your to-read list. At least part of the success of this audiobook belongs to narrator Emma Galvin who captured lead character Cam Cooper perfectly. The Probability of Miracles gets the well-earned Halo for Best Young Adult Audiobook of the year.

Best Science Fiction Audiobook

The nominees are:
Into The Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie (Audiobook Review)
Earthseed by Pamela Sargent (Audiobook Review)
Across The Universe by Beth Revis (Audiobook Review)

Earthseed by Pamela SargentAnd the winner is…Earthseed by Pamela Sargent narrated by Amy Rubinate!
Mankind has done it again. Whether by war or pollution, they have left the Earth uninhabitable. Ship was designed to carry humanity’s genetic material to the stars to find a new world on which to begin again. But have humans learned from their mistakes? When the young colonists begin fighting among themselves and a few surprise stowaways show up the mission is in serious jeopardy. The “space-ark” story is one of my favorite sub-genres of science fiction and Pamela Sargent’s Earthseed is one of the best I’ve heard. Add to that a solid performance by narrator Amy Rubinate and what you have is my favorite science fiction audiobook of the year.

Best Horror Audiobook

The nominees are:
11-22-63 by Stephen King (Audiobook Review)
Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook Review)
White Horse by Alex Adams (Audiobook Review)

White Horse by Alex AdamsAnd the winner is…White Horse by Alex Adams narrated by Emily Durante!
The White Horse plague swept the earth in a very short period of time. In its wake were only three kinds of people: the dead, the living, and those who contracted the plague but did not die. The latter group was left changed, no longer quite human. With the world falling apart all around her, Zoe can think of only one thing to do: travel halfway around the glove to find the man she loves, the father of her unborn child. The journey will reveal the darkest side of humanity to Zoe and also an inner strength and resolve that she didn’t even know she had. White Horse is more of a post-apocalypse novel but I think it fits the horror category just fine. The devastated world that Alex Adams created certainly sounds like a horror to me. Add to this a fine narration by Emily Durante and it all adds up to my favorite horror audiobook of the year.

Best Short Fiction Audiobook

The nominees are:
The Street That Wasn't There by Clifford D Simak (Audiobook Review)
In The Tall Grass by Stephen King (Audiobook Review)
Mile 81 by Stephen King (Audiobook Review)

The Street That Wasn’t There by Clifford D SimakAnd the winner is…The Street That Wasn’t There by Clifford D Simak and Carl Jakobi narrated by Colby Elliott!
What if the world we inhabit only exists because we think it does. What if it’s only held together by the collective consciousness of the billions of people who live on it? And what if a significant portion of those people were suddenly gone, killed by wars and plagues? These are the questions Clifford D Simak and Carl Jakobi explored in this classic science fiction short story. Witness one man’s last stand to hold his own reality together while the world slowly closes in on him. The Street That Wasn’t There has been among my favorite sci-fi tales since I was a young boy and I was very excited when Last Word Audio published it in audio. This was an easy choice for Best Short Fiction Audiobook of 2012.

Best Non-Fiction Audiobook

The nominees are:
American Chronicles: Women's Equality by NPR (Audiobook Review)
Shiloh 1862 by Winston Groom (Audiobook Review)
What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes (Audiobook Review)

What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl MarlantesAnd the winner is…What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes narrated by Bronson Pinchot!
I’m not really a huge fan of non-fiction, but I do usually get through 3 or 4 of them during the course of a year. Last year, my overall favorite audiobook of the year was Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes, narrated by Bronson Pinchot. So when I found another book by the same pair I just had to try it out. What It Is To Go To War centers around some of Marlantes’ own personal experiences in the jungles of Vietnam and even though it’s non-fiction, it reads very much like his Matterhorn novel. Pinchot’s narration is as engaging as always, he quickly became one of my favorites last year. All that makes What It Is Like To Go To War my favorite non-fiction audiobook of the year.

Best Thriller Audiobook

The nominees are:
Harvest by Tess Gerritsen (Audiobook Review)
The Chamber by John Grisham (Audiobook Review)
Resonance by A J Scudiere (Audiobook Review)

Harvest by Tess GerritsenAnd the winner is…Harvest by Tess Gerritsen narrated by George Guidall!
Harvest is a medical thriller and is not really the type of book I typically read. The only reason it caught my eye at all was because it was narrated by one of my all time faves, George Guidall. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised by Tess Gerritsen’s writing talent. Harvest centers on the human organ black market and was definitely a thrill-ride from start to finish. That’s why I always say, if you never read outside your favorite genres you’re missing out on a lot of good fiction. Harvest was the easy choice for my favorite thriller of the year.

Best Pulp Fiction Audiobook

The nominees are:
Classic Science Fiction Vol 1 by Various Authors (Audiobook Review)
Fangoria Dreadtime Stories Vol 1 by Various Authors (Audiobook Review)
The Battling Pilot by L Ron Hubbard (Audiobook Review)

The Battling Pilot by L Ron HubbardAnd the winner is…The Battling Pilot by L Ron Hubbard narrated by a Multicast!
L Ron Hubbard wrote hundreds of short stories during the pulp era of the 1930’s and 40’s. Thanks to Galaxy Audio publishing many of those works in stunning, dramatic audio I have been able to read quite a few of them. I could have picked any number of Hubbard stories as my favorite in this category as they are all quite good, but The Battling Pilot really was among my favorites. A great story by a great American author, and now available in theater-quality audio thanks to Galaxy Audio. The Battling Pilot is the clear winner this year for the Best Pulp Fiction audiobook.

Best Dramatic Production

The nominees are:
Batman: No Man's Land Part 1 by Greg Rucka (Audiobook Review)
Sorry Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher (Audiobook Review)
End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer (Audiobook Review)

Sorry Wrong Number by Lucille FletcherAnd the winner is…Sorry Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher performed by a Full Cast!
In this category I had actually had a pretty difficult decision to make. I’m a comic lover from way back and Batman was always my favorite hero, so it seems like No Man’s Land would be an obvious choice. However, L.A. Theatre Works’ production of Lucille Fletcher’s classic Sorry, Wrong Number really blew me away. Susan Sullivan’s portrayal of Mrs. Stevenson was simply stunning and really had me on the edge of my seat. The way she gradually cranked up the tension throughout the production was masterful. Whether you’re a big fan of this play or not, you need to hear this. Sorry, Wrong Number wins the Halo Award for Best Dramatic Production.

Best Fantasy Audiobook

The nominees are:
Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor (Audiobook Review)
God's Eye by A J Scudiere (Audiobook Review)
A Wild Ride Through The Night by Walter Moers (Audiobook Review)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorAnd the winner is…Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor narrated by Khristine Hvam!
I am not typically a big fan of the fantasy genre and most books that fit the category bore me. However, I did manage to come across a few this year that I actually found myself enjoying. Of those, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone was by far the best. I love the world that Taylor created and her main character, Karou, was just brilliant, although I find myself wondering why Karou’s hair is bright blue instead of bright pink. At any rate, most of you have probably already experienced this best seller but if you haven’t you’re missing out on something special. The Halo for Best Fantasy Audiobook goes to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Best Post Apocalyptic Fiction

The nominees are:
The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell (Audiobook Review)
Germline by T C McCarthy (Audiobook Review)
Pure by Julianna Baggott (Audiobook Review)

The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden BellAnd the winner is…The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell narrated by Tai Sammons!
Post-Apocalyptic fiction has, over the last two or three years, become my favorite genre of them all. Being my favorite, I read a lot of books in this genre and so always have a hard time choosing an absolute favorite. Let me just say that T. C. McCarthy’s Germline and Julianna Baggott’s Pure were absolutely brilliant books and I deeply regret not being able to award them. But The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell was a cut above the rest. Bell’s post-apocalyptic world captivated me and tragic hero Temple won my undying love. Add to all that a brilliant narration by Tai Sammons and you have the Best Post Apocalyptic Audiobook of 2012.

Best Dystopian Audiobook

The nominees are:
The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Audiobook Review)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (Audiobook Review)
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (Audiobook Review)

Divergent by Veronica RothAnd the winner is…Divergent by Veronica Roth narrated by Emma Galvin!
Somewhat closely related to post apocalyptic fiction is the dystopian genre, another favorite of mine. Veronica Roth’s Divergent blew this category out of the water. Imagine a world where everyone is divided into specific clans depending on your personality. You’re forced to choose a clan at a young age and it’s a choice you will have to stick with your entire life, assuming, of course, that you pass initiation. And if you don’t pass? Well, we don’t want to think about that. Roth’s world is compelling and terrifying and she’s one heck of a writer. Emma Galvin is a brilliant narrator too. For all that and more, Divergent is my favorite dystopian audiobook of the year.

Best Male Narrator

The nominees are:
-Phil Gigante for his narration of SecondWorld
-Bronson Pinchot for his narration of A Wild Ride Through The Night
-George Guidall for his narration of Harvest

George GuidallAnd the winner is…George Guidall for his narration of Harvest!
When you listen to a lot of audiobooks, you naturally get to experience a lot of different narrators. As with anything else, some narrators appeal to some people and not so much to others. Some narrators deliver solid performances on a regular basis while others are kind of hit and miss. When I began listening to audiobooks several years ago, George Guidall was the very first narrator who really caught my ear. This guy is just a natural. You can always count on him to turn in a great performance every time. Heck, he can even make a bad book sound good. This year I got to hear Guidall narrate Tess Gerritsen’s Harvest and it was, as always, a brilliant reading. George Guidall wins a much-deserved Halo Award for Best Male Narrator of 2012.

Best Female Narrator

The nominees are:
-Emma Galvin for her narration of The Probability of Miracles
-Tai Sammons for her narration of The Reapers Are The Angels
-Khristine Hvam for her narration of Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Emma GalvinAnd the winner is…Emma Galvin for her narration of The Probability of Miracles!
Wow, this category was a tough one this year. I heard a lot of great narrators reading a lot of great stories. All three of the nominees listed above deserve Halo Awards for brilliant performances, but if I have to choose just one it really has to go to Emma Galvin for her narration of The Probability of Miracles. I actually heard three different Emma Galvin narrations this year, but on this one she really outdid herself. In my ears, she actually became lead character Cam Cooper and her characterizations of the supporting cast just felt right. A hard decision, but Emma Galvin gets a well-earned Halo for Best Female Narrator.

Best Audiobook of the Year

The nominees chosen from the above category winners are:
The Probability Of Miracles by Wendy Wunder (Audiobook Review)
The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell (Audiobook Review)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (Audiobook Review)

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy WunderAnd the winner is…The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder narrated by Emma Galvin!
Boy oh boy I read a lot of great audiobooks this year. The Probability of Miracles is about a terminally ill teenage girl. At the beginning of the story, Cam Cooper is generally mad at the world but in the little town of Promise, Maine she finds that life isn’t about the destination, it’s more about the journey. Wendy Wunder made me laugh and cry, she filled me with hope and taught me to be on the lookout for Everyday Miracles. I’m amazed that this is Wendy Wunder’s very first novel and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. The Probability of Miracles is without a doubt my very favorite audiobook of 2012.

So there you have it, all my favorites from a year of really great audiobooks. I hope that your year in reading and listening has been as rewarding as mine and I can’t wait to see the great audiobooks that 2013 will bring. If you were a Halo Award winner this year, feel free to stop by my house to pick up your award anytime. Or you can just copy the award below if that’s easier for you. Congratulations to all the winners and keep on writing and reading.


2012 Halo Award



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

3 comments:

theguildedearlobe said...

Great to see some of my faves hear. Reapers made my list in 2012, totally loved it.

I love Fairlyland, and plan on listening to the sequel soon. I still haven't listened to Divergent, but so many people love it, I may eventually add it to my list.

Thanks for another great year of audiobook love.

Bob

Wendy Wunder said...

Whoa so totally exciting and unexpected. THANK YOU Audiobook Heaven!! And thanks Emma Galvin for the beautiful reading.
xoxo
Wendy

joni said...

Well I've listened to a couple audiobooks, (long trips to Omaha will do that) but not one touched my heart like Probability of Miracles! Thanks Wendy for bringing tears to my eyes while driving. :)

I was very impressed with the WRITING,pulling the heartstrings is a remarkable feat in the writing world! KUDOS and a high five to Wendy Wunder (love that name too)