Thursday, March 31, 2016

April is A to Z Challenge Month

The A to Z Challenge runs during the month of April. The goal is to blog every day (except Sunday) and work your way through the alphabet. Each day's theme goes along with a letter of the alphabet starting with A and ending with Z. Currently, there are over 1600's people signed up to participate. My plan is to blog about children's music! I've wanted to add music reviews and here is a great opportunity to jump start the reviews.

Thanks for following! You can also follow me on Twitter and Bloglovin'. I'm looking forward to our April audio adventure.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: I Am N

The Voice of the Martyrs is a ministry that offers assistance to persecuted Christians around the world. They have shared stories of Christians from the present and the past. I am N is their newest book available.

The book is divided into six parts, each covering a different theme. The themes (in order) are sacrifice, courage, joy, perseverance, forgiveness, and faithfulness. Each part shares several current stories and one story about a historical martyr. Not all the stories end in death, but each story shares a Christian's faith journey. The audiobook I am N brought to mind the radio program Unshackled! from Pacific Garden Mission (but without the dramatic organ music).

Two narrators read I am N - Marco Prentice and Amara Delaney. It was an excellent mix of back and forth between stories and narrators. At the start of the audiobook, I thought the pace slow, but with the weighty content, it was a good pace to take in all the information. Overall, the narrators were smooth and the narrators' voices enjoyable. I would listen to either narrator again. Every once in a while a tiny section of Delaney's narrative sounded a little different. I'm guessing that there was more than one recording session. The difference in audio does not effect that story.

I received this audiobook for free from christianaudio for this review.

Audio Book Details...
I am N: Inspiring Stories of Christian Facing Islamic Extremists by The Voice of the Martyrs
Read by Marco Prentice & Amara Delaney
Produced by
Number of Discs: MP3 download (57 parts)
Total Time: 6 hours, 11 minute
Release Date: March 2016

Review: The Moon Book

The Moon Book is written and illustrated a "master of children's non-fiction" Gail Gibbons. The Moon Book originally released in 1997 is getting new life with an audiobook edition from Dreamscape Media. Gibbons includes moon facts, history, milestones, and legends. The Moon Book is a brief overview about the moon and is intended for elementary students.

Adolescent Audio Adventures reviews The Moon Book audiobook
Chris Lutkin narrates The Moon Book. This the first book I have hear Lutkin narrate and I enjoyed it. His pace and tone were good. The Moon Book is informational text, so it didn't have emotional moments and Lutkin was very consistent throughout the reading. I would listen to him again.

Dreamscape Media had a bed a music underneath most of the book. There were also sound effects throughout that matched the text - night bugs, a wolf's howl, an alarm bell, space craft beeps and boops, etc. The music varied from string instruments to piano to synthesized sounds. I nice mix, so that listener always has something different to hear. Dreamscape also had the sound byte of Neil Armstrong's famous line - a beautiful sound addition to the audiobook.

Additional CD notes ... The story is 19 minutes in length. The CD is nearly double because the disc includes page turn tracks. Thank you, Dreamscape! There are multiple tracks on the CD for a total of 10 - five for an uninterrupted read and five for a read with page turn indicators. The page turn sound is a subtle sound, but recognizable to the listener.

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

Audio Book Details...
The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
Read by Chris Lutkin
Produced by Dreamscape Media, LLC
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time: 19 minutes
Release Date: November 2015
ISBN: 9781682621301

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: The Adventures of Bella and Harry, Vol. 2

The Adventures of Bella and Harry is a picture book series about two chihuahuas that travel around the world with their family. Volume two is an audiobook that includes three of the book titles: Let's Visit Venice!Let's Visit Cairo!, and Let's Visit Rio de Janeiro! 

Adolescent Audio Adventures reviews Bella and Harry volume two
The books are very similar to the previous three titles in volume one. Bella and Harry briefly cover top tourist spots in Venice, Cairo, and Rio de Janeiro. Bella is the main narrator of the stories, but Harry chimes in with questions and comments. I think Harry has more talking parts in volume two versus volume one. Two out of the three titles included a dictionary section of foreign words (Cairo was excluded). A fun feature for an audiobook travel series.

Gabrielle de Cuir returned to narrate all three titles in The Adventures of Bella & Harry, Vol. 2. She maintained her voices for Bella and Harry very well. She continued to use a range of accents and tones as well as maintained her energy throughout three additional titles. I would listen to her again in another Bella and Harry book.

In addition to a fun narration, the producers also added music and sound effects. The music was added as a highlight and changed during each trip. The music also had the flavor of the country they were visiting which I appreciated.  The sound effects were nicely placed throughout each story. A timely placed elephant trumpet gave me a little jump during the Venice trip. My favorite sound effect was the running, cartoon scramble when Harry went to chase pigeons and later racing Bella in Venice. I also like the echo effect when Bella and Harry visited the sites in Egypt. It was the perfect touch. I also appreciated the photo shutter sound when Bella shared different landmarks at the end of the book. Since I didn't have a physical book, I could picture a photo album being created in my mind. Well done!

Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Blackstone Audio!

Audio Book Details...
The Adventures of Bella & Harry, Vol. 2: Let’s Visit Venice!, Let’s Visit Cairo!, and Let's Visit Rio de Janeiro! by Lisa Manzione
Series: The Adventures of Bella & Harry
Read by Gabrielle de Cuir
Produced by Skyboat Media
Number of Discs: MP3 download (3 parts)
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Release Date: December 2015
ISBN: 9781504670760

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review: Echo

Echo weaves together four stories into one. Pam Munoz Ryan begins Echo by taking the reader to an enchanted forest where Otto gets lost and then found. Fast forward and meet Friedrich in Germany at the beginning of World War I, fast forward again to meet Mike in Pennsylvania between the great wars, and finally fast forward to meet Ivy in California during World War II. How can all these people relate to one another? It through music and a little bit of magic.

Every character is facing troubles. They are seeking a way out and a plan to save someone they care about. A light in the darkness is the beauty of music they find in a harmonica. Music can bring people together and hush away horror for a while. Otto's story started the whole musical journey. Frederick's story made me want to stop listening or throw it out the window. Mike's story had me rooting for the underdog. Ivy's story had me wishing for better understanding. Oh my heart! What an amazing book! If you like music, history, or a little magic, this is a story for you. If you appreciate a memorable story, you need to hear this story.

It's definitely a book to hear rather than read. It was nominated for an Audie for good reason! Each main character is read by a different narrator: Otto by Mark Bramhall, Frederick by David de Vries, Mike by MacLeod Andrews, and Ivy by Rebecca Soler. I appreciated the extra production information from Scholastic that shared the names of the narrators and musicians who played a roll in Echo. Each CD begins with a narrator David de Vries telling the listener which numbered disc is being played.

The music, the ever encouraging music is throughout the entire book. It's also specially created for this story by Corky Siegel. No stock music or generic tracks here. Sometimes the music is underneath singing and other times it is by itself.  Each song has a special meaning for the characters and the music is played with feeling the harmonica, cello, and piano. The final selection brings it all together! (I'm not going to spoiling it here.) The final song arranged by S. Peace Nistades is also played in its as the final track on CD nine.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details...
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Read by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler
Music by Corky Siegel
Produced by Scholastic Audiobooks
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time: 10 Hours, 22 Minutes
Release Date: March 2015
ISBN: 9780545788366

Reviews from other listeners ...
AudioFile Magazine
Common Sense Media

Friday, March 18, 2016

Review: Brother Hugo and the Bear

Visit a French monastery and hear how a manuscript was created! Brother Hugo lost a book to a bear and needed to replace it.  With the help of his brothers, they recreated another manuscript from a borrowed book from a nearby monastery.

The bear's part of the story brought humor, but I think the true winner of the story is the manuscript. Making a book from scratch is lost art and a difficult undertaking. It was great to hear about the making of a beautiful book! It's a tale of working together. One book took many hands to make it and working together makes a task go faster.

Gildart Jackson narrates this humorous medieval tale. His rendition is regal and humorous and dynamic. (How could you not be dynamic when a bear is chasing you?) The music underneath was instrumental with a classical and medieval feel. The sound effects were well placed throughout the story. I would like to hear Gildart again.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details...
Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Read by Gildart Jackson
Produced by Dreamscape Media
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time: 14 Minutes
Release Date: August 2015
ISBN: 9781681416205

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Nino Wrestles the World

Take a look at a child's view of becoming a world champion lucha libre competitor! (A lucha libre competitor is a someone who participates in Mexican wrestling.) Nino dons a mask and wrestles against several pretend oppents until his little sisters awaken from their nap. Now who will win!?

Nino Wrestles the World is a picture book by Yuyi Morales.  A great diverse book is right here!

Adriana Sananes narrates Nino's tale. She wrestles with a mix of English words, Spanish words, and onomatopoeia words. It could be quite a tongue twister, but Sananes shares the story very well. The tempo is great! All the words can be heard with time to comprehend what is being said. I also enjoyed the music and crowd noise underneath the story. It brought the wrestling match to life.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details...
Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Moales
Read by Adriana Sananes
Produced by Dreamscape Media
Number of Discs: 1
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Release Date: April 2015
ISBN: 9781633798441

Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: Nooks & Crannies

Nooks & Crannies is a new historical mystery written by Jessica Lawson. Tabitha Crum's only friend is a mouse she calls Pemberly. Her parents find her annoying and one day after returning home from school they are packing up the house to leave. Before they hightail it out of England, the Crum's are invited to a visit the mysterious country estate of Countess Camilla DeMoss. Hoping for a better life, the Crum's detour and travel to the estate along with five other families.

Adolescent Audio Adventures reviews Nooks & Crannies
Mysteries abound in Lawson's 2015 title. It also read authentic British. I had to look up Lawson's bio and was utterly shocked to see that she resides in Colorado. Well done on creating a novel away from where you reside, Ms. Lawson. It was clever and spooky. (One co-worker shared they found it creepy.) I didn't find it too spooky to share with elementary students or middle grader readers. I think they would enjoy it, if they like mysteries, histories, or British fiction. I kept thinking about the movie Murder By Death as I listened to Tabitha's tale. Funny movie, but I would not recommend it for family movie night. The story wrapped up well, but it could lead to more stories. All in all, a good standalone book. (I would definitely listen to more books if they were to follow.)

Susie Riddell narrates Nooks & Crannies. I thought I've heard her read a book before, but I cannot find evidence of it on my blog or GoodReads. Welcome to my headphones, Ms. Riddell! It's a book set in England so a native voice is very appreciated. She also portrays a vast array of characters from young ladies to elderly women as well as boys and men. I will admit that Tabitha's mouse, Pemberley, stole a bit of the show for me. The tiny squeaks were so adorable! It made me want a little mouse friend who lives in my pocket. (In all seriousness, after having a real mouse in the house, I would genuinely not want a mouse.) I would gladly listen to Ms. Riddell tell another story. I'm not sure if Lawson has another Nooks & Crannies tale to tell, but Riddell should return to read it.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Audio Book Details...
Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Read by Susie Riddell
Produced by Dreamscape Media
Number of Discs: 6
Total Time: 7 Hours, 27 Minutes
Release Date: June 2015
ISBN: 9781681410678
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