Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Sound and the Fury: My Experiences with Audiobooks

I absolutely LOVE to read....and read....and so on (you get it) and with that mindset, I didn't really delve much into audiobooks because I always had my book in hand.  I also felt the same way about
e-books.  I foolishly considered myself a purist who would choose hardcopy over any other format.

Well, I have since changed that mindset!

Time is different for me now and in order to keep up with the massive amounts of titles I'd love to read, I had to rethink my plan.  One day I had a three hour drive ahead of me with nothing to do.  I'm one of those people who don't travel with the radio on, preferring instead, peace and quiet.  The meeting I had to go to was one where all of the reading lists for the Texas Library Association was convening and I lamented about the fact that I had less time than ever to read.  One librarian from Katy ISD (Robin Cashman) and the other from San Antonio (Dana Hutchins) suggested audiobooks.  I'll admit, I did the whole "OK, I will" without really going to, but she then started setting me up with an account and watching me download the books.

On the way home, I listened to my very first audiobook....WOWOWOWOWOW!!

It was one of those HUGE new Stephen King books (Sleeping Beauties) and three hours wasn't going to cut it.  So I spent the rest of that week when I was walking, driving, getting ready in the morning, etc to "read with my ears."

And I was hooked.

What makes them such a draw is that the delivery by those reading the books is above amazing.  They put emotion, character, voice into it and constantly changed they own syncopation and tenor to match other characters in the book.  It really was like listening to their conversations or allowing them to open up to me.  The only comparison I could possibly make is that instead of being visually stunning, they were auditorally (yes, my own made up word) resounding.

Since then in the last month I have "read" six other audiobooks and HIGHLY recommend you "read" them too!
Mary Addison is in a group home, complete with ankle bracelet.  She's been that way for a few years now.  Why?  Because at nine years old, Mary killed a baby.  Now a teenager, Mary wants out, but public opinion has already condemned her as a baby killer.  Can she ever outrun that reputation?
Mary Addision is a baby killer....allegedly.

This urban fiction novel packs a punch up until the very end for anyone listening to this.  Although this is about Mary, the listener will also get caught up in the lives of the other girls in the home, what brought them there and the hope or hopelessness they face.  9-12th grade.
 Sebastian's summer isn't going the way he thought it would.  His best friend isn't around and his mother is pressuring him to get a job.  He realizes he does need something to distract him, especially when he can't forget what happened when he picked up a gun, which makes him spiral ever downward into depression and dark thoughts.  But then Aneesa moves in and his life begins to turn around.  Too late or just in time?

Readers will get caught up in the past and present and find themselves on a roller coaster ride of Sebastian's life in this realistic fiction novel.  9-12th grade.
 Nix has spent her life on the high seas, searching for treasure, adventure and old maps.  With each map her father finds, the ship sails through time and space to travel back to that time.  Nix has been to ancient Rome and Chine to modern day New York City and Hawaii in the 19th century.  But it's one map her father is obsessed that could completely change or erase Nix.  And when it's found, she has to make a difficult decision and suffer loss.

Adventure fantasy at its finest, readers will be transformed along with the narrator's voice of Nix and her other shipmates.  7th-12th grades
 Breakfast Club meets Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None in this new mystery novel.  Five teens are in after school detention.  The brain, Bronwyn; the beauty, Addy; the jock, Cooper; the criminal, Nate; and Simon the outcast.  But at the end of detention, Simon is dead and the other four are now murder suspects.  Who did it and why will drive the reader but the motive for it will push the reader over the edge.

This relies on four different narrators who bring to life not only the characters, but the story behind each one, including personal lives and secrets.  9-12th grade.
 These tales will delight and enthrall readers who enjoy listening to fantastical creatures and peculiar people.  Made up as a sort of fairy tale-like anthology, readers will meet all types of people including a man who turns into an island; the first person who can transform into a bird; people who can grow their limbs back over and over and lonely giants, each tale is a mixture or whimsy and wonder with a little horror mixed in.

If you know the origins of fairy tales, this book will delight you with the morals each tale has in its own dark and delightful way.  7th-12th grade.
Reminiscent of fairy tales, this novel is about two very different girls.  Mina is beautiful and fragile-looking, but is far from it.  Living with a glass heart, she is able to manipulate glass and mirrors to make her way to the throne.  Lynet is the replica of her mother, the dead queen and is constantly surrounded by the king's protectiveness for his only daughter.  Ever the daredevil, little does she know the power she wields on her own that far surpasses what she can do.

A little Snow White, a little Rapunzel, this fantasy novel will delight readers of the genre, especially when they heard two different voices in alternating chapters recall events through completely different lenses.  7th-12th grade. 

Here are reasons why audiobooks should be in the library collection:

1. There are just some students who don't like to "read" so give them an option
2. Some people like to listen and read at the same time (great for struggling readers)
3. Long road trips by bus for extra-curricular (just sayin')
4. These are great examples of prose and poetry for UIL events
5. Use snippets of the books during a booktalk.  Let the characters talk to the kids instead
6. They may be more expensive but the library owns them for perpetuity!
7. Comes in many different options from playaways to digital to CD so technology doesn't have to be a barrier

SO...if you were like me, then yes, you should definitely try it at least once.  But beware, you'll get hooked!

Happy reading (with both your eyes and ears!)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top 10 Best Reads of 2017

2017 was a good read year for me and there are certainly those books that really stood out from the rest.  Here's my top 10 list for young adults, both fiction and non-fiction (although I could put more, I'll hard to do!)
Most of these are 2017 publications, but I included books from the past 18 months.  So in no particular order: