5 Questions with Gabra Zackman

Gabra Zackman at the Audies

Gabra Zackman at the AudiesI’ve been listening to today’s guest narrator, Gabra Zackman, for almost 15 years, ever since I discovered her work via a young adult fantasy series. I was immediately impressed with her ability to create distinct accents for the imaginary worlds featured in those audiobooks. Over the years, I’ve come to especially appreciate Gabra’s ability to pick up on the author’s style and intent, whether it’s casual and light or action-packed and dramatic.

Gabra’s résumé covers the full range of genres, from fantasy to science and from short stories to sagas. When picking titles to highlight Gabra’s solo performances, I couldn’t help but be drawn to nonfiction. Some of my very favorite true stories were narrated by Gabra, and I’m including two of them here. Fiction fans, don’t fret—I’m recommending some Gabra-read audiobooks for you, too. 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.

Audiobook Mysteries That Are All About Mom

The A List

The A ListMothers and crime fiction—it doesn’t exactly bring to mind the Hallmark version of Mother’s Day. Yet mystery authors find mothers to be a great source of motivation for their murder plots. I was struck by this while listening to J.A. Jance’s THE A LIST, narrated by Karen Ziemba. This audiobook features women who, desperate to become pregnant, use the services of a corrupt fertility doctor and end up paying the price of giving birth to children with serious genetic diseases. When the doctor is finally brought to justice, his mother uses her extensive financial resources to exact revenge against those whom she feels unjustly put her son behind bars. Earphones Award winner Ziemba masterfully performs all of the mothers, running the full gamut of “motherly” emotions from nurturer to protector to the extreme of “willing to kill for,” all in desperation to save their children. Read more…

Ellen Quint
A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

Sharing Our Whole Truth: Audiobooks that Explore Gender Identity

Trans Flag

Trans FlagAt lunch one day when he was four years old, my nephew asked when he would turn into a girl. After a microsecond of silence, his father replied that unless he thought that he should be a girl, he would stay a boy. “Oh,” said my nephew, clearly surprised. “But I thought everyone becomes a girl for awhile, even if you start as a boy. Are you sure?”  His father was sure. My nephew considered for moment, then through a bite of his grilled cheese sandwich, announced, “Oh well then, if it doesn’t just happen, I guess I’ll stay a boy.”

I love that a little boy could believe that the natural order of life was that everyone spends time as a girl. And I cherish his freedom to ask the question; to talk about variation and difference. What a fine thing it is to be able to be our true selves. How life-affirming to be able to embrace our sexuality, and the gender identities for ourselves that we know are right. Today’s Audio Adventures celebrate that opportunity. 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.

Mothers & Others: Recent Audiobook Biography and History

Robin’s Roundup May 10

The Moment Of Lift

With events and awards taking the limelight for the last few months, I haven’t had a chance to simply highlight some of the most interesting audiobooks we’ve recently reviewed. A classic “Robin picks a quirky group of audiobooks” roundup follows.

The Matriarch
America's Jewish Women
The Moment Of Lift

Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, so “mothers” seems like a good theme to start with. Three recent Earphones Award-winning audiobooks give us some different ways of thinking about one iconic mother, Former First Lady Barbara Bush—THE MATRIARCH—and the many Jewish mothers who are portrayed in AMERICA’S JEWISH WOMEN. My third choice in the group is Melinda Gates’s new memoir THE MOMENT OF LIFT, not just because this audiobook inspires, but also particularly because of her views on service and giving back—see the video below. That’s certainly a purpose wholly shared by Mrs. Bush as well as by 19th-century philanthropist Rebecca Gratz, who is profiled in AMERICA’S JEWISH WOMEN. 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 Audiobooks to Perk Up Your Spring

Wash the windows, dig in the dirt, and listen to audiobooks!

Spring Flowers

Spring FlowersI don’t know about your part of the world, but here in central Pennsylvania we’re finally enjoying some lovely spring weather, which is made all the nicer as the fruit trees come into blossom. These days I’m all about shaking off the indoor stuffiness and getting ready to open the windows and spend time outside.

The changing season also means I need to schedule some spring cleaning days, both indoors and out. You know the chores: cleaning windows, sweeping off the deck, weeding the garden, and planting the annuals. Whoa! I’m tired just thinking about it. Here’s where I’m grateful to be an audiobook listener. Nothing perks up my spring cleaning mood faster than getting lost in a good story. I can trim the hedges at the same time as I’m trying to solve a mystery or wondering whether the hero of the story will find true love. 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.

6 Tips for Listening to Audiobooks with Kids

Audiobook Listening for Kids

Audiobook Listening for KidsReading with our ears can have educational benefits at all ages, but my favorite benefit of listening to audiobooks with kids is the priceless connection of experiencing a good story together. If your family has never listened to an audiobook, getting started can feel daunting, so here are some tips to get you up and running. Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

Q&A with Narrator Joy Osmanski

A talent for depicting contemporary families

Joy Osmanski

Joy OsmanskiI still remember the audiobook that led to my discovery of today’s Take 5 featured narrator, and since that first listening experience, I’ve sought out Joy Osmanski’s work on everything from young adult romance to thought-provoking nonfiction. Joy is a strong and versatile solo narrator, and she’s equally adept when working with others on multi-narrator audiobook projects.

Joy’s performances always spark up an audiobook. I can count on her to highlight the characters’ emotional journeys, and her thoughtful pacing amps up the action in a science fiction story or builds up the tension for a thriller.

I chose audiobooks about contemporary families to feature Joy’s talent because I think these kinds of stories have broad appeal. If, however, you’re a die-hard historical fiction fan or like to listen to nonfiction, I can recommend WILD SWANS (an Earphones Award-winning history of three generations of a Chinese family) and JANESVILLE (a gripping look at the town of Janesville, Wisconsin, after GM shut down its plant there in 2008) both narrated by Joy. 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 Novels in Verse: Audiobooks for National Poetry Month

Discover the Power of Young Adult and Children’s Audiobooks

Elizabeth Acevedo by Max Flatow Photography
Elizabeth Acevedo by Max Flatow Photography
Author Elizabeth Acevedo

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? That makes this month the perfect time to push your audiobook envelope and add some variety to your listening.

Although your first inclination might be to listen to a poetry collection (try Richard Blanco’s HOW TO LOVE A COUNTRY), I have another suggestion. One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy poetry is to listen to novels in verse. For today’s Take 5 recommendations, I’ve concentrated on audiobooks that are appropriate for teens but that deal with issues that listeners of all ages can relate to, such as self-image, the #MeToo movement, racial profiling, immigration, family, and finding one’s path.

By the way, today’s picks can also serve double duty for Children’s Book Week, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, starting on April 29. Listen to these audiobooks for the poetry, to discover the power of children’s stories, and to learn something about yourself and the world we live in. 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.

Explore Colorado, Arizona, and California with Mystery Audiobooks from Out West

Escape to the west on audio

San Francisco through my hotel window
San Francisco through my hotel window
San Francisco through my hotel window

Having traveled this past week to Denver and San Francisco, I thought I’d share some of my favorite mystery/thriller audiobooks that revel in the color, the light, and the landscape of the western United States.

Since my trip started in Colorado, I want to highlight Stephen White’s Dr. Alan Gregory series. The final book (number 20), COMPOUND FRACTURES, is narrated by Golden Voice Dick Hill, who performed many of the books in the series. I must confess, however, that my favorite in the series is THE PROGRAM, narrated by Earphones Award Winner Sandra Burr. The books feature Boulder, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies, as the backdrop for the serious crime solving and ethical struggles of psychologist Alan Gregory and his sometimes friend, police detective Sam Purdy. I was sorry to have the series end, but Dick Hill’s performance of the dramatic conclusion seemed like a good way to close the book on this one. Read more…

Ellen Quint
A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

On the Town in Spring: These Audiobooks will Make You a City Lover

Listen and travel from New York to San Francisco to Rome and Beyond

Here Is New York

Here Is New YorkSpringtime in the city.  Blue skies, warming temperatures, birds singing. I walk out without a hat, breathe deep, and inhale the pungent scent of aged dog poop revealed by melting snow. Urban life is full of surprises. Yet I love cities in spring, and, for that matter, in summer, fall, and winter. Herewith are a few of my favorite listens in which the city is a character.

E.B. White’s classic, HERE IS NEW YORK, may have been written about the great metropolis of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, but it remains a timeless, perfect love letter to an imperfect urban mistress. The audiobook begins with a cogent 1999 introduction written by White’s stepson, editor and writer Roger Angell, which brings the family reminiscences into a contemporary era. Narrator Malcolm Hillgartner reads the introduction and the all-too-brief stroll around the city in an endlessly listenable baritone that manages to be simultaneously rugged and refined.   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.