I had the pleasure of doing an Audiobook Review for The Ex Lottery by Kim Sanders. I am so excited to share this book with you.
Author: Kim Sanders
Narrator: Eva Kaminsky
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes
Publisher: Kim Sanders
Released: Oct. 31, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Winner of three contemporary romance awards. The NEC-RWA Readers Choice Award, Contemporary Romance Chick Lit Writers Award, and the Chatelaine Award.
In this modern Irish fairytale, a young art teacher from Savannah, Georgia has given up on love. Three times Tory Adams has loved; three times her heart has been crushed. On a whim, Tory purchases a lottery ticket using the dates her ex-boyfriends dumped her. And she wins! Wins over $600 million dollars. All Tory has ever desired is love, a home, and a family. Now, with a pot of gold, she can at least have her own home, and she is not settling for just any home.
Tory flies to Ireland to buy the castle on Dragon’s Isle, a magical place where her grandparents met and fell in love. But could money buy love? From the moment she arrives in Ireland, Tory faces complications. Wonderful complications. A handsome Irishman appears followed by a trio of men to chase her across the Emerald Isle. But she must decide – do the men love her or are they simply romancing the numbers?
Kim Sanders is a best-selling author of contemporary romance who loves beaches, dragonflies, and rain on a blue tin roof. But what she loves the most is a happily-ever-after story. Her first novel, Shades of Gray, was an award-winning novel that was a number one bestseller on Amazon’s Contemporary Romance Bestselling List. Her second novel, The Ex Lottery, has won three prestigious first-place awards for contemporary romance. Sanders’ work has been recognized by Kirkus Reviews, Chanticleer Book Reviews, and Writers Digest. Before becoming an author, Sanders worked as a photographer, a journalist, an editor, and an attorney.
Eva Kaminsky is a New York born and NYC based actor and narrator. A 2014 Audie nominee, she has recorded over 150 audiobooks in many different genres ranging from Romance to Young Adult. Eva can often be heard on TV and radio commercials for such products as Intel, Publix, Neulasta and Tide, and spent her earlier years in the world of animation voicing characters for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, among many others. Recent recurring and guest appearances on television include Chicago Med, Billions, Madam Secretary, Madoff, Blindspot, and The Blacklist, and on the larger screen she can be seen in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Three Generations, and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. She has spent over 20 years working in the theatre, both on and Off Broadway, and extensively in regional theatres all over the country.
Q&A with Author Kim Sanders
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- First, I had to find the best narrator. I went to Audible and listened to samples of so many narrators. I could tell after a few lines. I believe no matter how good a book is that picking the wrong narrator will ruin it. My favorite was Eva Kaminsky and Karen White. I felt Eva just fit this book perfectly. I sent her story notes and character summaries and character accent descriptions. We talked back-and-forth a bit. I didn’t want Tory to have a thick Southern accent because I find this distracting from the story. My daughter recorded her voice for me and I sent it to Eva as an example. She recorded the first chapter and sent it as a sample. Eva is so talented and experienced, I trusted her to interpret the book and she did an amazing job.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- Definitely. Romance books are tricky when transformed into audiobooks. Some books have lots of graphic sex and hearing these scenes read out loud would have me turning bright red. Others sound ridiculously corny when read aloud. I love Nora Roberts novels, but when I read them, the characters are brilliantly snarky. Fabulous, strong women whose conversations with their love interests make me laugh. I’ve listened to a few of her audiobooks where the narrator read the sarcasm in a sappy dreamy voice. This interpretation ruined the book for me. Luckily, this is not true of most of her audiobooks so I’ve listened to many Nora Roberts books while driving. Oh, and I’ve heard Nora Roberts speak at conferences, and she is snarky and brilliant like her characters.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- No, I wasn’t even considering an audiobook when I first wrote “The Ex Lottery.” I did however read drafts of the book aloud while writing. Reading aloud is a great editing tool. If parts of the book sound awkward when spoken aloud then I edit it. Having used this editing tool, I felt much more confident when I decided to create an audiobook.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I listened to so many samples of books by different narrators that I kept notes. I also went through my own person audible books and tried to remember the ones that had narrators that I loved. I actually believe it is very difficult to find a talented narrator for romance novels because the novels are so character driven. Eva Kaminsky had recorded numerous books by Bella Andre, a very successful romance writer, and I loved the way she interpreted these books. I looked back at my own audible library after running across one of her recordings and thinking her voice fit the Tory voice in my head. I actually had several of these books in my audible library so I looked her up and listened to more samples of her narrations. I was torn between Eva Kaminsky and Karen White (who had recorded books for Jill Shavis whose writing style I also loved and had in my personal collections) because both narrators styles and voices fit perfectly, but I talked to Eva Kaminsky first and loved her experience with accents which was important for “The Ex Lottery” and she had the perfect timeline available. I think she turned out to be the perfect match for the book.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- Yes, actually my daughter inspired this book. My daughter is a beautiful, amazing woman. She was in her twenties and brokenhearted. Her third long-term boyfriend had just broken up with her. She was sitting at my home and said that she was giving up on love. She was going back to graduate school and earning a degree where she could have enough money to buy her own home and travel the world. She planned to embrace a life without men. The next morning, I was sitting on my front porch trying to think of a new book plot. I picked up a book I had sitting on a side table and noticed that my bookmark was an old lottery ticket. And the idea began. What if a brokenhearted young woman wins the lottery? What if she uses the dates her ex-boyfriends broke up with her? What if she uses the money to buy the home of her dreams? Why just a home? Why not a castle—a castle in Ireland overlooking the Irish Sea? And with money, comes love, and humor. I actually loved spinning this tale. And on a side note, my daughter got her an MBA, travelled to more countries than I can count (including Ireland), got an amazing job, built her own home, and then met the man of her dreams, married and has the world’s most perfect baby girl. So romance novels do come true.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- I am not very good at avoiding burn-out thus I’m stuck in the middle of writing two novels right now. I find that it is difficult to write romance when the world around me seems so sad. Happily ever after is the key to the books I write so I need to feel good about life to write them. I tend to become very involved with my characters when I’m writing their stories. I must admit I also find it difficult when people ask for sequels even while being flattered that readers like my characters so much that they want to continue following their lives. I’m working on sequels to both my books but sometimes I think I should just abandon these books and write something completely different because I’m not as enthusiastic about the story. But then I’ll go for a walk on the beach, see something as simple as a jar of rice with barnacles growing on a rusty lid, and a story idea spins that works perfectly with a sequel. I write for fun so if my enthusiasm is curbed, I don’t write. But today, I’m so enthusiastic about writing that I can’t wait to finish answers questions and get back to my stories.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Yes, over the years I’ve become a big audiobook fan. I have lots of books on tape so my audiobook listening goes way back. I love to listen to books when I drive. My favorite audiobooks are mysteries and thrillers, but I also enjoy listening to the books that my book club picks. I find that it allows me to time manage. My favorite option is to flip between the book and the audiobook—the best of both worlds. I’m actually listening to the Harry Potter series right now and am amazed at how close the narrators are to the voice in my head while I read these books. To me saying that a narrator’s voice matching the voice in your head is the best commentary a listener can make about an audiobook.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- The scenes with the Irish speakers. I love Eva Kaminsky’s Irish accents. She is an amazing voice actress and does the accents much better than I did them in my head. I laugh because Kirkus Reviews said that “The Ex Lottery” was “equal parts comedy, fairy tale and travelogue” and readers have said things like how much they love the sexy Irish accents in my book. I must admit I’ve never been to Ireland, but I studied Ireland accents by watching Irish videos, newscasters and interviewing Irish people and friends who have travelled to Ireland. Also, I had an Irish exchange student live with me for a year and helped watch my children when they were tiny. I loved her accent and her laughter and her lovely attitude about life. My Maggie character would be the elderly version of this student.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Write what you know. It makes your book so much more powerful. I don’t mean that write a memoir, I mean put emotions you have experienced into words, into scenes. We have all experienced pain, laughter, sadness, fear, hope. Think of a powerful memory, how you felt during that time, what the world looked like to you at that moment, and then use that emotion, that vision to write a scene and then another and another. Your book will be powerful. Write because you love writing. Write because you have an idea that you love. I wrote my first book because I had an idea, I’d always loved romance novels, and I’d always wanted to write but always been afraid to try. I suddenly had the time. I never expected it to sell a book much less have a book reach number one on Amazon’s Contemporary Romance List. So take a chance. You won’t regret it.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Listen and listen and listen. Pick audiobooks that are in the same genre when you pick a narrator. It makes a big difference. Give detailed character descriptions to the narrator. Characters come to life in a book and it is important that the narrator gets to know the character. Tell the narrator if your book is a comedy or a serious story. “The Ex Lottery” is a fun lighthearted romance full of laughter and tenderness. It is a modern fairytale. A narrator can make or break your book. Remember if the narrator is bad, people will probably not want to read your book either.
- What’s next for you?
- I’m working on a sequel to “The Ex Lottery.” It is Carter’s story. I don’t think it will be a comedy. I’m also working on two sequels to “Shades of Gray.” I’m halfway through with two of these but I tend to make my stories too complex and will be going back to focus the storylines. I’m not a fast writer so it will be a while. But I’ll only publish a book if I think it is a great book.
What’s your favorite?
- Food: All of it. But I’d say coffee. Yes, I consider coffee a food group all to itself.
- Song: Someone Like You by Adele
- Book: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
- Television show: All time favorite was The Gilmore Girls (except the last year).
- Movie: Love Actually
- Band: I’m not a big band person. I love Adele
- Sports team: I really don’t watch sports—much to my husband’s frustration—but I have always loved the University of North Carolina basketball Tar Heels.
- City: Charleston.
I absolutely loved The Ex Lottery by Kim Sanders. This book was phenomenal. The narrator is amazing as well. This book is fun and magical. All you can think about is that you wish it were true. Tory and Shane were such great characters and I really loved getting to know both of them. When Tory wins the lottery, she ends up going to Ireland to buy a castle. Little does she know that she would run into the castles owner. As Tory is in Ireland, her ex-boyfriends seem to keep coming out of the woodwork. Isn’t that what they warn you about when you win the lottery?
The romance may be a bit far fetched in this one just because it seems to be so insta-love but that didn’t stop me from loving this book. It was more than the insta-love, it was the scenery and the drama. I couldn’t help myself. It was so easy to get lost in this book and the magic of Ireland. I really loved how Tory was taking chances and trying to create a new stronger version of herself. I think this showed how she was trying to grow and become a better person on the inside and out. One thing she learned is she is too easy to trust but at the same time because she has been wounded so much, she is starting to not trust anyone at all. This story is really about self discovery and becoming the kind of person that you want to be.
Kim Sanders did a fabulous job with this novel. I really enjoyed the character and plot development. I found myself wanting more of Tory and Shane. Plus this book makes me want to visit Ireland so bad. The feeling of connection with Tory was quite great too. I felt like I was really able to connect with her and understand how she was feeling.
Eva Kaminsky is a great narrator. I thought she was really able to bring this story to life. I really enjoyed listening to this book and will definitely listen to it again. Kaminsky was really easy to listen too and understand. This is an audiobook that I would recommend. The Ex Lottery gets 5 stars from me.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kim Sanders. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
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