Audie Awards 2019: Audiobook of the Year & More Great Listening

Robin’s Roundup March 8

Host Tan France by Max Flatow
Host Tan France at the Audie Awards Gala

In the pink glow of stage lighting, the 2019 Audie Awards Gala, hosted by Tan France, Queer Eye fashion expert, dazzled a capacity crowd. The AudioFile editorial team—Jennifer Dowell, Emily Connelly, Francisca Goldsmith, Jo Reed, and me, along with numerous AudioFile reviewers, met and chatted with guests LeVar Burton, Euan Morton, Elizabeth Acevedo, and the dozens of narrators we write about every day. The 24th annual Audie Awards selected the best audiobooks in 24 categories, including Audiobook of the Year. This year the prestigious award went to Tomi Adeyemi’s CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, narrated by Bahni Turpin and published by Macmillan Audio. 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.

Florida in 6 Audiobooks (plus palm trees and gators)

P.S. The sand really is sugar white

Aurelia in Florida

Ah, the joy of sun hats and short sleeves, palm trees and warm blue waters. Yes, that’s me, escaping the icy Maine weather last month for some time on Florida’s gulf coast. I prepared by listening to a fun mix of audiobooks (and by forgetting to pack my swimsuit and my husband’s sneakers).

Lauren Groff set the scene with an Earphones Award-winning narration of FLORIDA, her arresting and quirky collection of beautifully told short stories, which was a National Book Award finalist. Her light, musical voice contrasts disarmingly with the dangers that lurk in her tales, which span characters, places, and centuries. They’re captivating and dangerous, like peering close at a winking flower that’s actually the eye of a camouflaged alligator. 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.

David Shih on The Banished Immortal

Journey back in time to eighth-century China

David Shih

For fans of history, culture, and poetry, this will be a title that lingers on the playlist to return to time and again. Author Ha Jin explores the life of eighth-century Chinese poet Li Bai in THE BANISHED IMMORTAL, and narrator David Shih’s gentle, compassionate delivery keeps listeners engaged. Journey back in time with Shih to discover the life and work of poet Li Bai.

“Li Bai led a truly remarkable life, and I think this book really does a beautiful job of telling his life story against the backdrop of his poems.”—Narrator David Shih

Read more…

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Thank you, Toni Morrison—Celebrating Black Women Authors

Robin’s Roundup March 1

Toni Morrison by Michael Lionstar

Toni Morrison by Michael LionstarEarlier this month, author Toni Morrison turned 88. On her birthday, a new collection of her essays and speeches, THE SOURCE OF SELF-REGARD, was published. Twenty years ago I was privileged to interview Ms. Morrison for an AudioFile profile. I was terrified—not having a lot of interview experience and talking with such a literary icon had me worried. Of course, Ms. Morrison had done hundreds of interviews and taught at Princeton for many years, so she was gracious and put me at ease. “Toni Morrison sets the gold standard for a writer narrating her own work,” said our reviewer Beth Gutcheon in her review of the 2012 novel HOME. She does indeed, and listeners are blessed be able to listen to the author read SULA, BELOVED, PARADISE, and others. Even her acceptance speech of the 1996 National Book Award for THE DANCING MIND is a treat. 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.

Pride in Maine Audiobooks . . . Susan Conley, Stephen King, Richard Blanco, and More

Robin’s Roundup February 22

Lawn at Tidesong

Lawn at TidesongMaine. Beautiful. Cold, this time of year. Glorious in the summer. Maine is my home, and AudioFile’s, and home to generations of extraordinary writers. Every time we review a new audiobook by a Maine author, I feel a bit of hometown pride. Susan Conley’s ELSEY COME HOME is featured this week with a spectacular, Earphones Award review for Cassandra Campbell’s narration. Susan lives in Portland and is the founder of The Telling Room, a creative writing lab for young writers ages 6 to 18—a favorite project that inspires storytelling, both written and spoken. In November 2015, The Telling Room’s Young Writers & Leaders program was presented with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by the White House for A SEASON FOR BUILDING HOUSES, a collection of stories that open a window onto today’s immigrant and refugee experience. The audiobook of CALL ME AMERICAN, written by Somali refugee and Portland resident Abdi Nor Iftin, was published last summer. Narrator Prentice Onayemi brings his remarkable life to listeners.  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.

Make a Wish! Great Listens for Grown-Up Birthdays

Audiobooks to treat yourself

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

The remarkable coincidence that this blog entry is posting on my birthday encourages me to share that on the first birthday I remember, I hid under a table at the Wharf Theater in Monterey, California, while the actors serenaded me. I was five and had never before had a room full of strangers sing my praises. Now it happens all the time.

Or not, which brings me to David Sedaris. Birthdays need laughter, and his newest painfully comic essay collection, CALYPSO, is about aging. He thinks about it while recalling his family’s never-less-than-dramatic beach vacations. Sedaris reads in his famous tongue-in-cheek manner and with a vivid ability to dramatize a range of characters. Listen for the mirth and cherish the honesty. 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.

Taking the Leap

5 Audiobooks to Inspire Change and Growth

Gregg Clunis by Jovan Qeleshi
Gregg Clunis by Jovan Qeleshi
Author/narrator Gregg Clunis

People wanting to change their lives usually go through six stages before they succeed, says personal growth blogger and podcaster Gregg Clunis in his audiobook, TINY LEAPS, BIG CHANGES. With his sincere, resonant voice and determined pacing, his reading of this stimulating audiobook gives it instant credibility—authority you recognize right away when you hear it. His thinking on this subject, intuitive and accessible, contributes to the audiobook’s power: He says people need a jolt of unpleasantness to kick-start change—a wake-up call like a betrayal by someone you trusted, a demeaning interaction with a boss, or a bad decision that has come home to roost. But for most of us, the alarm bell is not enough. The sting of bad news fades quickly because we tend to resist change and fall back into familiar routines. But once we have learned to “stay with” our unhappiness, he suggests that we spend time looking at alternative directions and focus on one, connect with it fully, and then get into a daily routine that moves us in that direction. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.

Hello, It’s Flavia!— An Interview with Alan Bradley and Jayne Entwistle

Robin’s Roundup February 15

Alan Bradley and Jayne Entwistle

Alan Bradley and Jayne Entwistle

Flavia de Luce always makes me smile. Alan Bradley’s 11-year-old sleuth has just solved her tenth mystery, THE GOLDEN TRESSES OF THE DEAD. Flavia lives in the village of  Bishop’s Lacy, in 1950s England. She’s passionate about poisons—although she’s almost as interested in old churchyards and the fascinating chemistry of decay. 

Jayne Entwistle inhabits the irrepressible and intrepid Flavia in all ten of the audiobooks. For listeners she IS Flavia, with all of her bright-voiced curiosity and charming cleverness. Jayne has garnered lovely reviews and Earphones Awards and is a brilliant example of how a narrator can fully inhabit not just a single character but an entire series. This great author and narrator duo had never actually spoken until AudioFile brought them together on the Behind the Mic podcast. 

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.

5 Stellar Listens for Speculative Fiction Fans

Take a Break from Reality

How Long 'Til Black Future Month

How Long 'Til Black Future MonthDo you ever just want to step back and take a quick break from reality? When work is crazy or the weather keeps me cooped up inside, I’m ready for a different world. Since I’m not a NASA astronaut and I can’t seem to time travel or walk through a mirror into an alternate universe, I escape with the help of speculative fiction, one of my favorite audiobook genres.

If the term speculative fiction is new to you, it’s just a fancy term for novels that feature a departure from life as we know it. The genre includes science fiction, time travel, fantasy, and alternate history as well as all things paranormal (vampires, werewolves, and demons).

Although I find it hard to resist a good dystopian listen (I’m gathering survival tips, just in case), today’s audiobook recommendations highlight the scope of speculative fiction and introduce you to excellent performances. In fact, all five titles featured here were Earphones Award winners. 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.

Audie Award Finalists Announced

Robin’s Roundup February 8

The Audie Award medals

The Audie Award medalsThe 2019 Audie Awards are joining awards season early this year with Audie nominations announced this week and winners to be announced March 4 at the New York Gala. QUEER EYE fashion expert Tan France will host the New York City event, presiding over the makeover of timing and format. The 2019 panel of more than 208 judges, including Ron Charles, Book Critic for The Washington Post; Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation; and Linda Holmes, Host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, have designated Audie Finalists in 24 categories. Listen to samples of all the Finalists here. 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.