Robin’s Roundup: March 9 New Audiobook Reviews

Outspoken Women

Outspoken Women

Soundcloud Playlist of Outspoken WomenAs you might guess, Women’s History is big this month at AudioFile! Each month we brainstorm about audiobook titles that we can recommend  around themes, holidays, or current events—think Women’s History, Groundhog Day, or immigration. Our newsletters, Twitter posts, and website use the titles to suggest listening. I’m also excited about using the “playlist” option of our Soundcloud channel. We have 16 clips from, and about, Outspoken Women and will be adding more each week through the month. I love the fact that this is an ongoing project, so we keep adding new voices. Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Before the Pulitzer Prize

Great Early Audiobooks from Famous Award Winners

Sag Harbor

I spent years believing, or was it hoping, that I was too special to read books found on bestseller lists. Then I became a writer. Now I’m grateful for readers. And I applaud those who turn a book, any book, into a bestseller. Way to go, readers! But it still makes me feel special, even astonishingly brilliant, to have savored a writer’s work before they became famous. Thus I offer five fine audiobooks by some of my favorite authors, written before they won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Underground Railroad
Sag Harbor

Colson Whitehead, for example, whose wondrous and experimental THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, took the 2017 award and rightly blew everyone away, including our reviewer, who turned cartwheels over Bahni Turpin’s performance. Well before that, Whitehead wrote the more straightforward SAG HARBOR, given an Earphones Award winning performance by Mirron Willis. It’s a funny, often entrancing coming-of-age memoir cast as a novel about a 15-year-old boy during one special summer in a Sag Harbor neighborhood where black families owned the beach houses. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

In Our Time: Kids Who Lead

The power of children as political leaders

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

The Boys Who Challenged HitlerAs we watch and listen to the young leaders from Parkland, Florida, Americans are divided by whether both life and liberty can be attained jointly. Values, many adults seem hasty to opine, come from maturity and experience, which may be another way to say that the suspension of disbelief in the face of actual events is a subtle art that escapes youth.

History, however, shows a different reality, and it’s a reality born of fact: Teenagers are at peak power of seeing the emperor has no clothes, saying the emperor has no clothes, and acting on their observation that the emperor has no clothes. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

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.

Robin’s Roundup: February 23 New Audiobook Reviews

Achtung, Parents!

The Year of the Dog

The Year of the Dog

Listeners can celebrate the Lunar New Year with Grace Lin’s THE YEAR OF THE DOG. Recently re-released, Lin’s debut novel was first published in the previous year of the dog, 2006. The combination of part story and part memoir makes the audiobook welcome for family listening.

As most of you know, Maine has quite a lot of “weather.” For anyone who can’t stand cold and doesn’t like to experience the elements, this state may not be for you. In my family, we have a mantra about that that’s just turned up as the title of Linda Åkeson McGurk’s audiobook: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER. In the pictures below are my hearty son and grandson, and on the right, Alex Johnston, Denny’s second grade teacher who espoused what’s now called the No Child Left Inside movement in the 1990s.

Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Robin’s Roundup: February 16 New Audiobook Reviews

Hello, universe, check out the spectacular listening in the Newbery and Odyssey Awards

Hello, Universe

Hello, UniverseIn the midst of awards season, I’m always looking out for those that specifically celebrate audiobooks, like the Spoken Word Grammy (Carrie Fisher’s THE PRINCESS DIARIST) and The Odyssey Award (THE HATE U GIVE). Also, I love finding the audiobook companion of books that are being celebrated—the American Library Association awards announced this week offer a wealth of great listening. The Newbery Award, for example, given for the year’s “most outstanding contribution to literature,” honored HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly. We’ve talked about and celebrated the audiobook for months—check out narrator Ramon de Ocampo in one of our Behind the Mic videos telling us how swept up he was in this book. It’s thrilling to know that it has received the great Newbery honor. You’ll be hearing more about one of the Newbery Honor titles, Jason Reynolds’s LONG WAY DOWN—we have an exciting interview with Jason about recording his audiobooks for our upcoming print issue. (Look for it April 1.)  Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Audiobooks and Literacy: Invitations to Connect through Storytelling

Using Audiobooks to Become a Better Storyteller

Vacationland

VacationlandStorytelling is an ancient art practiced many times a day in homes and workplaces. For example, teachers guide students into lessons in lab sciences, mathematics, social studies and, of course, language arts, by asking questions that illuminate an underlying story: What happens when these two liquids are combined? What might be revealed when you multiply the two sides of this shape? What proved to be the tipping point in Alabama’s election of a Democrat to the U.S. Senate? How long did it take John Boyne to write the first draft of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS? (Hint: two and a half days.)

Being a competent storyteller comes naturally to some people. However, to become a truly compelling one can take some coaching and modeling. And who better to learn from than audiobook narrators? They are experts in this field, deploying pacing, tone, and timbre to convey the words, but also to impart the underlying stories of character depth, historical or regional pronunciations, and which passages are most urgent for the listener to understand and take note of. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Have You Heard the One About My Cancer?

Funny Memoirs About the Not-Always-Funny

I'm Just A Person

One of my father’s favorite stories was about when he picked apricots from an orchard and barely managed to outrun a shovel-wielding farmer (and a cow that he mistook for a bull) before making it home to Mama and Papa. The telling reduced the family to gales of tearful laughter each time. And each time, after wiping his eyes, he’d conclude, “The fruit wasn’t ripe, but there was nothing else for it. It was all the food we had that night.”

I'm Just A PersonThe man who taught me to take control by laughing at adversity, at least after the fact, would have loved comedian Tig Notaro’s performance of I’M JUST A PERSON, her memoir about facing down cancer and other iniquities. Delivered in her trademark deadpan delivery, Notaro’s audiobook is one that cures pain while delivering sidesplitting guffaws. I know because my father didn’t make it out of his Big C treatment alive, so I listened, cried, and laughed for both of us to her fierce and funny tale. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: I Hereby Resolve

Audiobooks to Support One’s Best Intentions

Finish

I tend not to make resolutions because they remind me of raising my hand in fifth grade while praying Please don’t call on me, please don’t call on me. I wanted to be one of the kids who knew the answer, but rather than studying fractions or Latin declensions, I preferred to read novels about dreamy young women who become celebrated geniuses without appearing to labor.

FinishBut that only took me as far as being told, “You really could be a B student in this class, instead of a C, if only you would believe in your abilities and focus for the next 53 minutes.” An admonition that brings me to Jon Acuff’s engaging reading of his own START and FINISH. They’re motivating, often witty how-to books that assume you have a brain. Listening, I imagine him earnestly covered in chalk dust, as was Mrs. Samsell at the end of every math class.

Once begun on getting my act together, I seek the company of inspirational heroes. Nelson Mandela’s DARE NOT LINGER, beautifully performed by Adrian Lester, is a collection of speeches that comprise his second (and unfinished) memoir. They lift and encourage and dazzle so much that I’ve listened more than once. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Audiobooks and Literacy: Explore Behind the Microphone for Lifetime Possibilities

Audiobooks to inspire and inform

Moonbird

Over the past two decades, American education has reduced teens’ exposure to careers they might find engaging and worthy of pursuit without a post-high school degree. As a result, many high school students would be hard pressed to name more than a dozen career options open to them, even though they may already possess both skills and interests that speak to over a thousand different job types.

MoonbirdThere are some outlets where students can learn more about their interests and develop skills. Libraries, who have makerspace areas for hands-on learning; community theatre groups; and social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Tumbler, allow for budding crafters, writers, artists, actors, and photographers to create their works and share them with others.

Audiobooks can be a great catalyst in the search for new interests and possible career paths. In addition to their content, high-quality audiobooks lead us to appreciate the several skills beyond the writing that have gone into them: acting, voice training, recording, sound engineering, and more—not to mention the publishing and marketing and publicity skills that get them into the ears of consumers. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.