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.

Robin’s Roundup: February 9 New Audiobook Reviews

Pairs: two identical, similar, or corresponding things that are matched for use together

It Occurs to Me that I Am America

This week I noticed an impressive crop of nonfiction audiobooks reviewed. Thoughtful and powerful audiobooks on immigration, politics, abuse, and race give us the chance to listen to important and varied perspectives. We often see some of these complex topics handled in both nonfiction and fiction. Listeners usually have a specific preference—a factual account, or the same topic with imagined historical or emotional detail.  Here are some thoughts on audiobook pairs from our recent reviews.

It Occurs to Me that I Am America
Revolution Song

Russell Shorto’s new history REVOLUTION SONG takes a look at the American Revolution through the stories of six people. I’ll pair that with IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA, a collection of short stories by Richard Russo, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, and thirty other contemporary authors. 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.

Solve: Finding humor in crime

When authors and narrators make me laugh so hard I cry

Lisa Lutz: The Spellman Files

I love to laugh, probably because all the endorphins my body releases when I do makes me feel better no matter what my mood is. It’s certainly good for me: reduces stress, burns calories, improves my immune system, and protects my heart. Which is especially helpful this time of year when the snow piles up and the sunshine is scarce. There are plenty of health reasons to support laughing, but sometimes it’s simply just fun. So I also appreciate humor in the audiobooks I listen to. And over the many, many audiobooks I’ve listened to, I’ve discovered that humor can be quite tricky. There is definitely the chance it won’t be appreciated by all listeners, but there’s also the real possibility that author and narrator won’t be on the same page and the humor will be missed. So when a production nails the humor and leaves me laughing tears of joy, I savor it all the more.

MacLeod Andrews
Narrator MacLeod Andrews

One truly great example of this is MacLeod Andrews narrating Jutta Profijt’s Morgue Drawer Four series. When I listened to the first book in this series (MORGUE DRAWER FOUR), I could not stop telling people about it. It was smart and funny and Andrews’s delivery was perfect. What was even more astounding was the added layer of a translation from the original German. A lot of the humor arises from slang, idioms, and Profijt’s invented words, which make for tricky translations. But the trio involved in this production—author, translator and narrator—makes it seem effortless. If you haven’t listened to this series, I highly recommend it. Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I’m not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I’m an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

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.

In Our Time: An Inebriate New Year

From Prohibition to marijuana’s budding legalization

Reefer Madness

A century ago, the United States experimented with a federal mandate prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor. Enforcement turned out to be a Sisyphean task, and repeal of Prohibition was legislated less than 20 years later. The remainder of the 20th century turned legal enforcement against other potentially intoxicants  (called vaguely “drugs”) and included a kind of unevenness in enforcement that punished poorer communities, often of color, while turning an increasingly blind eye, across the ensuing decades, to wealthier ingesters of coke, marijuana, and prescription pharmaceuticals taken beyond a regulated relationship between prescribing physician and patient.

Reefer Madness

In the past few years of the 21st century, while marijuana cultivation, sale, and use continue to carry federal criminal penalties, several states have passed laws that, at first, legalized marijuana for medical use, and, more recently, for recreational use as well. With New Year’s drinking behind us and contentious legal paths ahead on the federal level for changing standards of acceptable marijuana use, here’s an audiobook path from Prohibition through marijuana’s budding legalization. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: December 22 Best Audiobooks of the Year #4

Getting an inside look at some biographies

Suzanne Toren

AudioFile Best of 2017

Looking this week at our choices for the BEST titles in the Biography & History category, I’m excited that we have the narrators’ Behind the Mic videos for so many of these titles.

Christian Baskous talking about recording Richard Ford’s BETWEEN THEM; Mark Bramhall on Ron Chernow’s GRANT biography; Jonathan Yen giving us a wonderful teaser to explore A MIND AT PLAY and discover the man who is called the father of the information age, Claude Shannon; and Rob Shapiro talking about recording THE WORLD REMADE, a timely look at America in World War I.

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: 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.

Robin’s Roundup: December 8 Best Audiobooks of the Year #2

Cozy up for a variety of brilliant listening from our Fantasy & Nonfiction lists

Norse Mythology

AudioFile Best Audiobooks of 2017We continue to celebrate the Best Audiobooks of the year, and we appreciate all the shares & retweets from our narrator and publisher friends & audiophile partners—thank you, and keep spreading the word!

My Roundup today looks at our Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror list and also the Nonfiction & Culture list. My immediate take is all the contrast! Will the same reader who settles in for a comforting listen with THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE also choose to contemplate the intangible menace of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX? Who knows, but I do love the variety of our choices.

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.

Tease: Best of Romance

How well do you know this year’s best audiobooks?

Chasing Down a Dream

Chasing Down A DreamAudiofile Magazine is proud to present its 2017 Best Romance Audiobook list. These fifteen audiobooks represent a snapshot of this year’s best listening. Many reviewers helped make this list possible — thanks to all of them for being wonderful listeners. Since it’s impossible to choose a favorite from among these stellar titles, I thought I would prepare a little quiz for you as an introduction to the titles (see the end of the post for the answers!). And don’t forget to Love Your Listening!

Best of Romance Audio Quiz

1. Twelve of the titles are part of a series. Which 3 titles are standalone audios?

2. Of the historicals, one is set in the reign of King George IV of England, one during King Edward I of England’s reign, and one during King George III of England’s reign. Which is which?

3. Of the paranormals, one is set in a magical upstate New York and one is set in a magical Houston, Texas. Which is which? Read more…

Caitlin is a librarian from Connecticut who enjoys great narrators and happy endings. She has been reviewing audiobooks for Audiofile Magazine since 2006, and she has had the privilege of judging numerous Audie Award categories since 2009. Her favorite authors are Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and whatever she’s listening to right now!

Self: The Path to the Satisfied Mind

Finding Out What Makes Us Happy and How to Get There

What Motivates Getting Things Done

What Motivates Getting Things DoneWe’ve been listening to a lot of audios about the good life—finding out what makes us happy and how to get there. Happiness is such a moving target—which might explain why so many new personal growth audiobooks appear every year and why people who like them almost never listen to just one. Another reason for the boom in such audios is that our understanding of what makes people tick has exploded with insights from neuroscientists, social psychologists, spiritual teachers, and thoughtful writers.

The audios included here run the gamut from philosophy and memoir to hard science, but in one way or another they provide us with patterns—schemas of how the major aspects of being human fit together—and guidance on what we can adjust or change in ourselves to make life better. 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.