5 Questions with January LaVoy

Take 5 with Candace: Why this narrator has fans of all ages and listening genres

January Lavoy by Scott Sherratt

January Lavoy by Scott SherrattSay hello to January LaVoy, a narrator who never fails to impress me with her incredible range of voices and ability to adapt her delivery to fit the intended audience. Our reviewers universally comment on January’s distinct, consistent voices and how smoothly she slips from character to character. It’s no wonder that audiobook fans of all ages and listening tastes have January on their short list of favorite narrators.

I had a hard time picking just five audiobooks to share this week (and, in fact, I cheated by featuring two series), but ultimately I made my choices to highlight January’s performances across different genres. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Learning to Love Author-Read Audiobooks

Take 5 With Candace: 5 Author-Narrated Audiobooks

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

One of the great debates among audiobook fans has do with author-narrated audiobooks. Do you seek them out or avoid them like the plague? I used to be solidly in the “just say no to author-read books” camp, thinking audiobooks should be left to the professionals. While I still don’t fully reject that premise, I have to admit that some of my all-time most memorable audiobooks are, in fact, performed by the author.

Born With Teeth
H is for Hawk

Memoirs are a natural for author-read audiobooks. Who could understand the emotional impact and intimate revelations of books in this genre more than the authors themselves? It’s probably a little unfair of me to name Kate Mulgrew’s BORN WITH TEETH as one of my favorite author-read memoirs; after all, she’s an actor, and her ability to read her own life story should be a given. In reality, however, not all actors make good narrators, so I was pleasantly surprised at how genuine Mulgrew sounded as she recounted her journey from childhood to stardom. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

5 Questions with Edoardo Ballerini

Take 5 with Candace: Get lost in this narrator’s voice

Edoardo Ballerini

Edoardo BalleriniToday I turn the spotlight on Edoardo Ballerini, one of my go-to narrators. When I see Edoardo’s name on an audiobook cover, I have two immediate expectations, which are always met: solid characterizations and a silky, smooth narrative voice. I’m always impressed by his wide range of accents and vocal qualities and love how he enlivens the characters’ personalities and hones in on their emotional journeys. In between the dialogue, I find myself getting lost in his soft, almost melodic delivery. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: Pi Day

Celebrating Pi Day with pastries, pizza, and plenty of audiobooks

How To Bake Pi

How To Bake PiHappy Pi Day (or for some of us, Pie Day)! Okay, so you know about the Ides of March and St. Patrick’s Day and the Spring Equinox (all March events), but what’s with Pi Day?

Remember your high school geometry class? Pi (π) is used in the formula that determines the circumference of a circle.  So what does that have to do with March 14? Pi is equal to 3.14 (followed by a bunch of other numbers). Get it? 3.14 = March 14.

Even though I actually do use geometry in my real life (you were right, Mr. High School Math Teacher), I much prefer to celebrate my Pi Day as Pie Day. I’m always up for yummy fruit or nuts baked in a flaky crust, perfect for breakfast or a late-night snack. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Questions with Alyssa Bresnahan

Alyssa draws listeners into the emotional heart of her audiobooks

Alyssa Bresnahan on a chairlift
Alyssa Bresnahan on a chairlift with her daughter
Alyssa and her daughter on their way to ski

Do you have a favorite audiobook? I do, and it was narrated by none other than today’s guest, Alyssa Bresnahan. You’ll have to forgive a little fangirl giddiness as I introduce you to Alyssa and recommend five of her stellar audiobook performances.

I’m not alone in praise of her work; Alyssa has won many AudioFile Earphones Awards and has appeared on several of our best of the year lists, most recently for her performance of Charlie Jane Anders’s ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY,  which was an AudioFile best of 2016 Science Fiction & Fantasy pick.

5 Audiobooks

An Owl on Every PostEach of today’s featured audiobooks highlights Alyssa’s talent for creating an evocative atmosphere and drawing the listener into the emotional heart of the story. For example, her performance of AN OWL ON EVERY POST—Sanora Babb’s memoir of homesteading in the early 20th century on the eastern plains of Colorado—helps us feel the expanse of the prairie, the power of nature, and the strength of the pioneering spirit. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: Lunar New Year

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

In China, the celebration of the Lunar New Year is called the Spring Festival, though you may know it as Chinese New Year. During the two-week-long holiday, participants honor their ancestors and deities and spend time with their families.

Festivities involve red decorations, lanterns, parades, firecrackers, and special foods (such as dumplings and long noodles). Similar to the celebration of the new year in cultures and religions around the world, several Chinese traditions are meant to ensure a healthy and prosperous future.

Do Not Say We Have NothingThis year, Spring Festival begins on February 16 and ushers in the Year of the Dog. According to one source, the coming months will see an increase in “social awareness and action, for the many rather than the few.” If you were born in the Year of the Dog, you likely share traits with Winston Churchill, Madonna, and Mother Teresa.

What can you do if you’re unable to attend any local celebrations? You can still get into the spirit of the Lunar New Year by donning a bright red sweater and ordering in some spring rolls. Then settle down to listen to one (or more) of today’s Take 5 recommendations, which will transport you to China, right from your favorite armchair. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Questions with Robert Fass

Five audiobooks and five questions with narrator Robert Fass

Robert Fass

Today I welcome the versatile Robert Fass to the 5 Audios / 5 Questions hot seat. I say versatile not only because Robert’s audiobook catalog covers a wide range of genres but also because he’s dipped his toe into the audiobook publishing pool as well (IT HAPPENED IN BOSTON?).

Robert Fass

5 Audiobooks

One of Robert’s strengths as a narrator is creating a strong link between listeners and author, especially for nonfiction. For example, his performance of the personal essays in THE FLY TRAP highlights entomologist Fredrik Sjöberg’s personality, enthusiasm, and wry humor, making us feel as if we had just made a new friend. Robert’s delivery of Henry Fountain’s THE GREAT QUAKE, about the 9.2-magnitude 1964 Alaskan earthquake, helps us absorb the unthinkable devastation as described by eyewitnesses but wisely backs off the melodrama. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners

Awarding outstanding African American authors of middle grade and young adult fiction

All American Boys

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday this week, we are reminded not only of the reverend’s work for the civil rights movement but also that his dream has not yet been realized in full. In 1970, the American Library Association introduced the Coretta Scott King Book Awards to remember Martin Luther King and to “honor his wife, Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.”

All American BoysThe ALA presents the awards to middle grade and young adult books that are written or illustrated by African Americans and that feature black culture and history as well as general contemporary issues facing our youth.

Many of the Coretta Scott King Book Award winners and honorees are available as audiobooks and are perfect for family listening. The five titles featured in today’s Take 5 offer a mix of tween and teen audiobooks. All were honored by the ALA for their excellence, and our reviewers praised the narrators for their sensitive and engaging performances. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Audiobooks for a New Year

Using audiobooks to make — and keep — your resolutions

Good Health, Good Life

Last year, about 40% of Americans surveyed reported that they usually make New Year’s resolutions. The most common resolutions, according to several sources, have to do with health and fitness. But many people also hope to make smarter financial decisions, find more happiness, be more organized, and have new experiences.

Good Health, Good Life

Regardless of whether we make formal resolutions, most of us consider the new year as a chance for fresh starts. Yet, no matter how optimistic or determined we seem, few of us manage to follow through and accomplish our goals. What can we do to better our chances of success?

According to Psychology Today, “the most important factor in predicting success [is] the belief in one’s ability to get the job done.” One great way to gain self-assurance and chart a path to victory is to take time to learn from the experts.

Here’s where audiobooks come to the rescue. There’s an audiobook for helping you succeed at almost every New Year’s resolution, from improving health or finances to getting a handle on time management. The audiobooks I recommend in today’s Take 5 focus on popular self-improvement goals; if your 2018 goals are different, be sure to search our Personal Growth review database to find the perfect audiobook for your own needs. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Take 5 with Candace: Audiobooks for the Winter Solstice

Candace has found the perfect remedy for finding hygge on long winter nights

In the Kingdom of Ice

In the Kingdom of IceTomorrow is the first day of winter and the promise of cold weather ahead for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. But there’s no need to fret: Remember that the solstice also marks the point when the days start to get longer.

Here’s some more good news: Winter is the perfect time to indulge in your favorite indoor hobby, whether that’s baking, knitting, woodcarving, painting, or crafting. And while you’re enjoying your creative endeavors, you can pretend you’re out in the elements by listening to a good audiobook.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate, settle in by the fireplace, and get ready to experience winter the easy way.

Even armchair travelers may feel the chill after listening to IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE by Hampton Sides, about an 1879 expedition to find the North Pole. Narrator Arthur Morey “maintains our rapt attention” as he places the explorers’ emotional and physical challenges front and center. This audiobook is history and true-life adventure at their best. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.