Authors and narrators greatly appreciate the people who take the time to listen to our audiobooks and then write thoughtful reviews. In this third installment of the series, I’m excited to interview audiobook blogger Jennie Mortarotti from Narrator Reviews to find out about her review interests and process.
I live alone with two cats, one cranky and one snooty and two outdoor cats I rescued. I teach photoshop and do computer repairs. I spend some time doing crafts and making costume jewelry. Repurposing things is a fun way to use leftovers and throwaways, so I spend time doing that. I love browsing around in antique and collectible stores.
10 Questions For Jennie
1. When did you start listening to audiobooks?
Several years ago I was driving for a delivery company and started listening to audiobooks. Night driving was especially boring and I was thinking of quitting the job, but once I got onto audiobooks, I lasted about 3 more years.
2. What prompted you to start writing audiobook reviews?
I was keeping a Wordpad list of the bad narrators and my thoughts about them, mainly to not waste time or money on books they narrated. I found many readers that were really great so expanded my notes to include them. Information about some of the narrators was pretty scarce, and I wondered if others looked for the same information. So I thought I’d start a blog about them. At first it was mind numbing to figure out how to use the Google Blogger so decided to try WordPress. I googled a narrator, and the blog I didn’t finish came up on the first page of Google. I was surprised to say the least, so, of course I put my mind to figuring it out.
3. Where do you write your reviews? If it’s a public place, why did you choose it? If it’s at home, describe the room and/or stuff on your desk. A picture would be fabulous!
Sometimes I do it in the dining room on the table and most often I am in the bedroom. When the weather is nice I do it outside. I could be anywhere as I have more than one device and use Dropbox so I take notes as I’m listening.
4. How do you decide whether to read a book or listen to it? Do you ever do both for the same book?
If it’s something I’m interested in reading and it’s not on audio I sometimes write the author and ask when they expect to have an audio edition. I have no plans on doing both. I do collect old books, mostly history, and I do read those.
I decide by authors I know, titles that are interesting, book covers that are catchy and also by narrator.
I rely on Audible’s very good book blurbs and excellent samples. I’ve found some new authors and narrators on Audible that I adore.
5. Do you have a go-to genre?
I love cozy mysteries and I like humor, getting both in one book is a bonus. I like silly books like the talking chihuahua Pepe in Waverly Curtis’ Barking Detective Series or Sid the skeleton in Leigh Perry’s Family Skeleton Mysteries. I love Lee Goldberg’s Mr Monk books. For really cozy, cozies I listen to M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth or Agatha Raisin Mysteries.
6. What is your review policy? Do you accept review requests from narrators?
I do accept from narrators, authors and audiobook producers. I like to first listen to the narrator if I don’t know their work, usually by going to Audible or Soundcloud. I don’t listen to books with a lot of erotica in them. I know it’s popular today but I just don’t like listening to details of someone else’s sex life. I don’t care for a lot of swearing that’s overused. I like the Evanovich books, but the gratuitous swearing is hard to listen to. There are some genres I don’t listen to much, but I am open to new things. I’ve found I like steampunk just from accepting a review request. So I’m open to new things.
7. Describe how you approach your reviews. Do you have different criteria for different genres?
I am fair about the reviews. There is no difference as far as criteria goes. If I didn’t like a book I may try two or even three times to listen to it again. It may just be I’m not in the mood right then for that type of book or it might be the narration is off. When I listen, I jot down any particular thoughts I have about the narration and other things of interest.
8. Do you multitask when listening to books? If yes, what else do you do while you listen, and how does listening to books affect the other activity?
That’s the wonderful thing about audiobooks you can do anything while listening. I could be playing games or chatting on facebook, or mopping the floor or combing the cat. I’m always doing something. It can only interfere in other tasks when I can’t hear the book, so it’s other things may interfere in my hearing the book.
9. Looking back through the reviews you’ve written, please share the link(s) of 1-3 that were favorites of yours and explain why they are special to you.
1. Tell Me Where it Hurts By Dr. Nick Trout
I especially love animals and found this a heartwarming and beautiful book.
2. Anne of Green Gables By: L.M. Montgomery
The Anne books have been favorites of mine since I read my first one when I was about twelve. They are classics in every sense of the word.
3. Snobs By Julian Fellowes
It’s intriguing how society changes over time, and Snobs is wonderful at showing the way people thought and conducted themselves in the past.
10. As a narrator, I sometimes feel I have a spiritual connection to some of the characters in the books. If you were a character in a novel, who would you be, and why?
Muriel Wylie Blanchet in A Curve in Time, as she had a sense of adventure, was daring, and at the same time, sensible. To spend summers with 5 children and a dog sailing in many uncharted waters took skill, and courage. I felt very connected to her as she detailed her adventures. Life did not happen to her, she happened to life.
Connect with Jennie on these sites:
Blog: http://www.narratorreviews.blogspot.com/ or http://www.narratorreviews.org/
Thanks, Jennie, for spending some time with me and giving readers a peak inside your world! One thing I’ve discovered through this series is that the highlighted reviews make me want to add books to my queue. For instance, I’m sure I’m not the only Downton Abbey fan to notice a Julian Fellowes book among Jennie’s favorite reviews!
Do you have a question for Jennie? Please leave a comment!
Ann Richardson says
Great interview, Karen. Honestly, you have more energy in you than Hoover Dam generates!
Jennie does a great service to the audiobook community, as her reviews are well-thought out and provide good information to others who may be interested in checking out audiobooks. Thanks for doing these interviews.
Karen Commins says
Thanks, Ann! I’m actually going to visit the Hoover Dam soon, so I’ll keep your comments in mind! 😉
I am thrilled that so many terrific reviewers have agreed to these interviews! I love learning more them and am delighted to help introduce them to a wider circle of authors, narrators, and listeners.
Thanks again for your kind words!
Jennie Mortarotti says
Karen, what a wonderful job you’ve done on this very valuable source of information.
It has so much eye appeal and is so well planned. I do applaud you for your patience and time you put into creating this site.
I enjoy seeing what other reviewers shared and I’ve often listened to a book they’ve reviewed. It’s interesting how one person loved a book and another hated it.
Thank you Ann for the lovely, lovely sentiments.
Karen Commins says
Hi, Jennie! Thank you so much for your very kind words about my site! Your praise and encouragement made my week!
I really enjoyed your interview and hope that it gave you greater visibility. In fact, an author just wrote to me about reviewing her audiobooks. I referred her to you and the other expert reviewers who have so graciously spent time in doing these interviews.
Thanks again for your tremendous support of audiobook narrators!
It was not long after starting my own little blog that I came across Jennies, it was a wonderful find, at last someone else who shared my views on the importance of narrators!
A lovely person who works hard for narrators and audiobooks
Karen Commins says
Hi, Bec! Thanks for the nice comments about Jennie! I look forward to having you in the interview seat soon!
Curt Simmons says
I am so glad to have found your blog, Karen. What an important resource for aspiring narrators like me. I do have a question for Jennie and actually anyone reading this who would like to chime in, reviewer or narrator.
Jennie, I was struck by your point of entry into reviewing. Identifying bad narration is a public service in my opinion. When I began listening to more books as I was deciding to build my home studio and venture into audiobooks, I was shocked at how much bad narration there is. Then I produced my first book and realized how hard good narration was to achieve, at least as a beginner. It was a Romance and I find I cannot even listen to it now I’m so embarrassed by it. But I learned a lot.
Okay, here’s my question. I’m wondering if part of what I’m hearing that I don’t like, especially in male voices, may be differences in genre. I’m talking about intonation and delivery that sounds fake to me and manufactured for effect, like the narrator is “trying” to sound uber masculine or mysterious or very breathy, for example. Do you find that your expectations are different from genre to genre? Are there different vocal and “performance” conventions in each? Or are these just examples of bad narration in your opinion.
Karen Commins says
Hi, Curt! Thanks for the nice words about my site.
I know your question is for Jennie, but I hope you and she won’t mind if I add to the discussion. This video from Ira Glass about “the gap” addresses part of the issue, and he offers sound advice (pun intended) on how to fix it:
I look forward to Jennie’s comments about narration intonation and delivery.
Curt Simmons says
Karen, thank you so much for the reply. The Ira Glass video landed right where I live and almost made me cry it was so encouraging. Thank you. I know I am making progress. The narration I just completed was a big step in the right direction. I’m still not where I want to be, but I feel much better. Looking forward to Jennie’s comments as well.