Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: H.O.R.S.E.

I was first introduced to the picture book H.O.R.S.E. two years ago (March 2013). I appreciated the story, but the illustrations threw me off of the book. I think it was the idea of using your tongue to shoot a hoop. That grosses me out. My brothers played basketball when I was little so I understand where that ball could go. Just the idea of it makes my skin crawl. To boil it down, I wasn't a big fan of the book because the imaginative illustration was too real for me.

Let's fast forward to this year, 2015. Recently, H.O.R.S.E. won the 2015 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. All right, I will need to give this book another try, "If it won the Odyssey, it's got to be good."

After listening to the Live Oak Media production of H.O.R.S.E., I think everyone who reads the book should listen to it as well. It's a two voice book, so they had two readers: Christopher Myers and Dion Graham. They also included a rim sound effect and funky, fun music underneath the story. Myers and Graham were so natural going back and forth with the story, it was as if I was watching the game from the sidelines.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details ...
H.O.R.S.E. : A Game of Imagination and Basketball by Christopher Myers
Read by Christopher Myers and Dion Graham.
Produced by Live Oak Media
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time: 10 Min 59 Sec
ISBN: 9781430117469

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Deep in the Swamp

Deep in the Swamp is a musical picture book! This title is also a 2015 Audie nomination for the Children's Titles for Ages up to 8 category.

Author Donna M. Bateman used the familiar song Over in the Meadow and created a book focused on the Okefenokee Swamp located in Georgia and Florida. The story counts up to 10 and includes critters, creatures, flora, and fauna. I was familiar with a few things mentioned in the book, but definitely not everything! A couple verses sounded a bit Seussical to me because of my unfamiliarity with the nature in the Southern part of the United States. (I am from the northern part of the Midwest.) All in all it was a great singing story! It's simple tune could be followed by children (and adults). If they are familiar with the song, they can anticipate what's happening next. I appreciated the extra information at the end of the book, Swap Flora and Fauna Facts.

Live Oak Media and Tom Chapin created a beautiful audio CD to go along with the book. The CD has three tracks:

1 - Narration with page turn signals (including story, song, and back matter)
2 - Narration with no page turn signals (including story, song, and back matter)
3 - "Deep in the Swap" song

The page turn signal is not a beep or ding; it's the sound of a page being turned. The narration is playful and smooth. Chapin has a deep voice, but he's lighthearted as he reads the story. The timing is well done. It can be followed on the page or just enjoyed without the book. I greatly appreciated the back matter being narrated. Not every book includes the facts in the back. Knowing the story is also a song begs for it to be sung. The story is narrated, but the song is included which is so much fun! Live Oak Media also added layers of sound effects, music, and voice duplication. The sound effects and music underneath were very subtle and did not take away, but added to the book's ambiance of the swamp. The voice duplication is the layers of animal children when they reply to their parent. As the count goes up, so do the number of voices being heard. It was an unexpected and delightful element of the narration.

I would recommend this title to any elementary or pre-school child and family. It's a fun book packed in information about the Okefanokee swamp. It's also beautifully crafted with a talented narrator and layers of sound to tickle the ear.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details ...
Deep in the Swamp by Donna M. Bateman, illustrated by Brian Lies
Read by Tom Chapin
Produced by Live Oak Media
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time:  17 minutes, 12 seconds (track 1)
ISBN: 9781430114604   

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: The Black Reckoning

The Books of Beginning trilogy has come to close with The Black Reckoning. I have been waiting on the edge of my seat for this title since The Fire Chronicle came out in 2012. If you are unfamiliar with The Books of Beginning series by John Stephens, please do not jump into book three without listening (or reading) The Emerald Atlas and The Fire Chronicle. Each book picks up the story after the other ends. Characters from previous books also return (or continue) their appearance(s) in book three.
The Black Reckoning
It's such a fantastic story! It's a book that I don't want to describe; I just want other people to read it. Stephens takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster - sweet surprises, bitter ends, hilarious circumstances, and terrifying traps. One character described the adventures as a great swelling of the heart following by heartbreak and I can only agree. Their statement wrapped up the storyline so well. I laughed, I cried, I lived another life and visited a new place. Okay, a lot of new places. There is a quite a bit of traveling in each of these books. I would recommend The Black Reckoning to middlers, teens, and adults. It's so good! Well done storytelling, Mr. Stephens!

Jim Dale narrates The Black Reckoning as well as the previous titles. He is one of the top rated audiobook narrators. He's very consistent with his voices in this book as well as in the series. Dale shares believable emotions as well as male and female characters. Well done storytelling, Mr. Dale!

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details...
The Black Reckoning by John Stephens
Series: Book 3, The Books of Beginning
Read by Jim Dale
Produced by Listening Library
Number of Discs: 11
Total Time: 13 Hours
ISBN: 978030791517

P.S. Now that The Books of Beginning series is complete, what will John Stephens do next!?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: I Had a Favorite Dress

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn

My first introduction to Boni Ashburn was through her books, Hush, Little Dragon and Over in the Castle. I think they are adorable stories! When I noticed her newest title, I Had a Favorite Hat, Ashburn's name caught my eye. I had no idea she had written this book! Upon looking up the hat book, I saw I had a Favorite Dress. It was originally published in 2011, but Dreamscape Media published an audiobook (and video) edition this year (2015).

I Had a Favorite DressI was looking forward to listening to I Had a Favorite Dress. I enjoyed Ashburn's previous books and the narrator, Bahni Turpin, is a familiar voice. Bahni Turpin narrated The Help (along with Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, and Octavia Spencer) and The Mighty Miss Malone which are both fantastic stories.

The story is fun and creative. The young lady in the story has a favorite dress that doesn't fit, so Mama found a solution: make a new clothing piece. As time goes by the favorite dress turns into a skirt, a scarf, and a bow (to name a few). It's a fun way to look at reusing something and being industrious. I also thought it was fun that the girl talked about her favorite day of the week, which always changed as the clothing changed.

Narrator, Bahni Turpin is talented. Her voice is youthful without being childish. It sounded like a natural fit for the story. Along with Turpin's narration Dreamscape added music and sound effects. The music was lovely guitar music. Only one sound effect stood out - a dog bark at the beginning. I listened to the audiobook without the book and if the reader has the book they can see that there is a pet dog in the story. (The pet dog does have a role later in the story.)

I would recommend listening and reading the book together. It can be enjoyed separately, but the final project is unknown if the book is read only as an audiobook. The girl in story turned her "scraps and bits" into "this." What was "this"? I'm glad I had the library book with me. "This" is a picture she created of her favorite dress - very clever but also confusing. I understand that words cannot be added to an unabridged recording or a published book, but it would have been helpful to readers.

I Had a Favorite Dress is a picture book. I think tots to early elementary students would enjoy this story. Different themes of this book include mother, daughter, clothing, sewing, art, and days of the week. I am intrigued to see if I Had a Favorite Hat  will also turned into an audiobook.

Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Dreamscape Media, LLC!

Audio Book Details...
I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
Read by Bahni Turpin
Produced by Dreamscape Media, LLC
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time: 8 minutes
ISBN: 9781633797888

Hello, SYNC!

I'm so happy to share that SYNC has returned for another great summer of audiobooks to share! Prepare for a fantastic assortment of free audiobooks. Each week from May 7th to August 13th, SYNC offers two different audiobooks to download. One is a YA title and the other is a classical (or required reading) title. Stop by SYNC to see the full list of audiobooks available this summer.

Free audiobooks all summer long at SYNC : Young Adult Lit for Your Earbuds

A couple of books I'm looking forward to hearing this summer are COURAGE HAS NO COLOR: THE TRUE STORY OF THE TRIPLE NICKLES by Tanya Lee Stone (Brilliance Audio) and CROWS & CARDS by Joseph Helgerson (Brilliance Audio). Ironically both of these titles are from Brilliance Audio, but many great publishers have shared amazing books at SYNC. There is something for everyone! You can download one or all 28 audiobooks over the next 14 weeks.

What titles are you looking forward to hearing this summer?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: Mr. Kiss and Tell

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas

Are you a V Mars follower? If so, this is the latest installment in the Veronica Mars / Neptune saga. If not, you need to start at the beginning with the original TV series.

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2)Mr. Kiss and Tell picks up after book one, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, which in turn picks up after the V Mars movie. Mr. Kiss and Tell continues story lines from the movie as well as the previous book. Characters from the original TV series also make an appearance. The new mystery of Mr. Kiss and Tell wraps up with plenty of surprises. (I was gasping like a fish out of water at a couple points during the novel.)

It was so exciting to hear more about V Mars and the city of Neptune. I don't want to give any tidbits away, but it was an excellent read. Others might have a different experience but I label myself as a Marshmallow. I was disappointed in some of the language. They added in curse/swear words. I'd rather not have those in the books I hear or read. It's also a graphic story, so I would not recommend it to younger readers.

Kristin Bell read book one, but Rebecca Lowman is the narrator for book two. I was hoping Kristin Bell would return to read, but alas, no. I did enjoy Lowman's reading of the story. She was genuine and believable. I would listen to her again.

Reviewed from a library copy.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...