Members of the 2018 Amazing Audiobooks Blogging Team are: Coordinator Ariel Cummins, New Braunfels Public Library, San Antonio, TX; Kennedy Penn-O’Toole, Albany County Public Library, Laramie, WY; Beatriz Pascual Wallace, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA; Melanie Wachsmann, Lone Star College-CyFair Branch, Tomball, TX; Katrina Ortega, New York Public Library, New York, NY; Tommy Bui, an MLIS student in Pacoima, CA; Karen Perry, RJ Reynolds High School Library, Winston Salem, NC; Erin Durrett, Flint Public LIbrary, Flint, MI; Amy Oelkers, Washington County Library-Oakdale Branch, Oakdale, MN; Tracy Sumler, DC Public Library, Washington DC.
*indicates a top ten selection
A Million Junes by Emily Henry, read by Julia Whelan. Listening Library, 2017. 10 hours, 31 minutes; 9 discs. 978-1-5247-5610-9. When Jack “June” O’Donnell strikes up a friendship with the one person her parents have always told her to stay away from, she sets into motion a set of events that could change everything she knows about herself, her past, and her future. Julia Whelan’s nuanced narration fills this poignant and magical story with emotion.
Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña, read by Dion Graham. Listening Library, 2017. 6 hours, 58 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-5247-7867-5. Seventeen-year-old Sticky has bounced from one foster home to another but basketball will always be his refuge. Graham’s smooth narration plays up Sticky’s passion and potential for the sport while also hinting at his personal demons.
Benjamin Franklin You’ve Got Mail by Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel, read by Nick Podehl, Tom Parks, and Lauren Ezzo. Brilliance Audio, 2017. 4 hours; 4 discs. 978-1-4915-9143-7. Time travel and America’s founding fathers get a hilarious skewering as seventh-grader Ike Saturday vows to save America. Podehl, Parks and Ezzo perform this caper with youthful humor and lively snark, appealing to young teens who relish broad comedy.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone, read by Dion Graham. Listening Library, 2017. 4 hours, 34 minutes; 4 discs. 978-1-5247-8235-1. Justyce McAllister is a high school senior whose best friend is killed in a senseless crime. After the incident, Justyce is under trial in the eyes of the public. Graham invokes the different personalities of high school students flawlessly.
Denton Little’s Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin, read by Lance Rubin. Listening Library, 2017. 9 hours, 3 minutes; 8 discs. 978-0-5535-5605-6. Denton Little is on the run from the DIA (Death Investigation Agency) who want to know why he lived past his death date, but it doesn’t stop him from figuring out family secrets, cracking jokes, and trying to hook up with his best friend’s sister. The author’s knowledge of the text makes his narration shine, and the sci-fi premise doesn’t stop this audio from being laugh-out-loud funny.
*Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling and Newt Scamander, read by Eddie Redmayne. Bloomsbury Children’s, 2017. 1 hours, 55 minutes; 2 discs. 978-1-4088-9315-9. Not just an encyclopedic listing for the students at Hogwarts, but a real listening treat as Redmayne describes the history of each beast and provides Notes in a slightly different voice.
*Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh, read by various authors. Listening Library, 2017. 4 hours, 30 minutes; 4 discs. 978-1-5247-2113-8. This audio brings to life a funny, colorful, unique and introspective anthology, written by some of the best YA and children’s authors and read by authors and great narrators. Selections from these diverse storytellers are great introductions to their work.
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, read by Rebecca Soler. Listening Library, 2017. 6 hours, 43 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-5247-8200-9. Imogen and Jule are the best of friends, but soon, mystery, murder, and lies lead to an exciting, unforgettable ending. Soler added to the suspense with her pacing, and she deftly narrates various characters.
Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani, read by Reshma Saujani. Listening Library, 2017. 2 hours, 56 minutes; 3 discs. 978-1-5247-7824-8. The cover of this audiobook promises you can learn to code and change the world – and it lives up to this lofty promise. Narrated by the author, who founded the Girls Who Code movement, this audiobook will leave you inspired and informed.
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner, read by Michael Crouch. Listening Library, 2017. 10 hours, 44 minutes; 9 discs. 978-1-5247-0948-8. Carver Briggs has to deal not only with the grief of losing his three best friends, but the legal ramifications and emotional distress of how a text message he sent may have resulted in their deaths. Crouch handles this novel full of emotional intensity with care.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler. Macmillan Audio, 2016. 14 hours, 30 minutes; 12 discs. 978-1-4272-6794-8. Sure, everybody knows who the most heartless character in Wonderland is – but did you ever wonder how the Queen of Hearts got that way? Rebecca Soler, who also narrated the author’s previous Lunar Chronicles, teams up with Marissa Meyer again and brings Wonderland and its host of characters to life.
*Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash, read by Ensemble Cast. Dreamscape Media, 2017. 2 hours, 1 minute; 2 discs. 978-1-5200-7223-4. In this graphic novel memoir, fifteen year old Maggie, returns to go to summer camp. After falling in love with her counselor, Erin, Maggie struggles to fit within the lines defined by camp and the people associated with it. This is an audio voiced by a full cast that includes background noise, which makes the listen a fully immersive experience.
Kill All Happies by Rachel Cohn, read by Lauren Ezzo. Dreamscape Media, LLC, 2017. 6 hours, 4 minutes; 5 discs. 978-1-5200-7221-0. Victoria “Vic” Navarro is determined to give the seniors of Rancho Soldado one last party they won’t forget. When the night begins to veer off course, Vic has to decide to try and fix the problems the party is causing or give up and join in the fun. Ezzo reads the sarcasm and acerbic banter with seamless delivery and impeccable timing.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, read by Jason Reynolds. Simon & Schuster Audio, 2017. 1 hour, 43 minutes; 1 disc. 978-1-5082-4159-1. In 60 seconds of elevator time a young man fixated on revenge learns all the reasons why he should not take that revenge. Using poetry read by the author in a stylistic free verse manner, A Long Way Down will rock your eye-for-an-eye world.
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen, read by Karissa Vacker. Listening Library, 2017. 10 hours, 30 minutes; 9 discs. 978-1-5247-7742-5. Love is found in all sorts of places, including weddings, but romance built on tragedy is an unexpected occurrence. Dessen fans will love the plots twists and gradual background reveal through flashbacks, read so naturally by Vacker.
Patina by Jason Reynolds, read by Heather Alicia Simms. Simon & Schuster Audio, 2017. 6 hours, 5 discs. 978-1-5082-3650-4. On the track team, Patty runs to win. But running also helps her escape all that she’s juggling in her young life. Simm’s animated delivery portrays a relatable young teen who tackles challenges with brass and determination.
*Scythe by Neal Shusterman, read by Greg Tremblay. Audible Studios, 2017. 11 hours, 9 discs. 978-1-5436-4362-6. Citra and Rowan reluctantly compete to become a scythe, or professional grim reaper. The one who wins must kill the other. Greg Tremblay’s superbly nuanced reading imbues the concept of death with an unexpected sense of grace.
See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, read by Ensemble Cast. Listening Library, 2017. 6 hours, 11 minutes; 5 discs. 978-1-5247-5000-8. Alex Petroski is 11 years old, and he loves space, Carl Sagan, and his dog (also named Carl Sagan). When he sets out on a trip across the United States, he's determined to find answers about his family and record what life is like on earth for other lifeforms. A full cast, lead by Kivlighan de Montebello, brings this funny and sweet story to life.
Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, read by Kwame Alexander and Randy Preston. Zondervan, 2017. 4 hours, 2 minutes; 4 discs. 978-0-3107-6189-1. Seventeen year old Blade Morrison is a talented musician who learns a truth that sends him on trip of self-discovery to Africa. Alexander’s delivery is fantastic, but Preston’s music is what takes this audio to another level.
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell, read by Joe Jameson. Bolinda Audio, 2017. 10 hrs, 57 minutes; 9 discs. 978-1-4893-8288-7. When Kellan, son of a powerful mage family, shows no signs of magical ability by age 16, he must rely on trickery and a band of ragtag accomplices to survive mounting dangers. Jameson’s performance perfectly captures the motley of characters and events in this richly imagined and laugh-out-loud adventure.
The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale, read by Candace Thaxton. Simon & Schuster Audio, 2017. 8 hours, 51 minutes; 8 discs. 978-1-5082-2785-4. In a world where soul eaters roam the countryside and evil is very real, Alys finds herself drawn to the very forest where the Beast makes its home. Candace Thaxton’s narration is well-paced and haunting, adding to the fairy-tale feel of the story.
*The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, read by Christian Coulson. HarperAudio, 2017. 10 hours, 47 minutes; digital. 978-0-0627-4311-4. During a Grand Tour of Europe that goes horribly awry, Henry “Monty” Montague must reconcile his roguish habits with his growing love for childhood-friend Percy. Coulson perfectly characterizes Monty’s vices and virtues in this romantic, swashbuckling, 18th-century adventure.
*The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, read by Bahni Turpin. HarperAudio, 2017. 11 hours, 45 minutes; 11 discs. 978-0-0626-7708-2. Racial tensions build after Starr Carter witnesses her childhood friend, Khalil, killed by a police officer. Turpin’s performance of this gripping story is unadulterated perfection.
*The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, read by Robbie Daymond. Listening Library, 2017; 11 hours, 53 minutes; 10 discs. 978-1-5247-3455-8. It’s Sal’s senior year, and he is struggling with his future, his family, and his best friend. Daymond’s narration amplifies all of Sal’s emotions and feelings, taking the reader on an emotional listening journey.
*The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein, read by Maggie Service. Bolinda Audio, 2017. 7 hours, 55 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-4894-0368-1. When teenager Julie Beaufort-Stuart, the unforgettable heroine from Wein’s Code Name Verity, loses her grandfather and must help pack up her family’s ancestral estate, she is entangled in the mysterious disappearance of a London professor and her family’s collection of Scottish river pearls. Julie’s vivacity, love, and quest for justice is brought to life through Service’s captivating narration.
*The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, read by Dominic Hoffman, Raymond Lee, and Bahni Turpin. Listening Library, 2016. 8 hours, 4 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-5247-2138-1. Fact loving girl meets poetry-writing dreamer in this anything but typical love story. Dominic Hoffman, Raymond Lee, and Bahni Turpin’s unique voices prevent the shifting perspectives from becoming confusing and add even more layers to the already rich story.
*Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, read by Damaras Obi. Listening Library, 2017. 1 hour, 1 minute; 1 disc. 978-1-5247-7909-2. Lowery’s compelling memoir recalls her teenage activism in the 1960s. Obi reads with a conviction and urgency that brings the civil rights movement to life and underscores its relevance today.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, read by Kate Rudd. Listening Library, 2017. 7 hours, 15 minutes; 6 discs. 978-0-5255-9102-3. Aza, a teenage girl who suffers from anxiety reluctantly looks into the disappearance of a childhood friend’s publicly disgraced missing father, while her best friend Daisy, encourages a romance between Aza and that childhood friend. Rudd narrates Aza’s anxiety with fortitude and honesty and Daisy with humor and wit.
Undefeated by Steve Sheinkin, read by Mark Bramhill, Listening Library, 6 hours, 31 minutes; 6 discs. 978-0-5535-5281-2. In 1904, Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner join together to make the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania’s football team a force to the reckoned with. Bramhill’s narration breathes life into this book that is more than a story about a football team.
Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf, read by Jesse Lee, Nick Podehl, Lauren Ezzo, Scott Merriman, Scott Lange, Kate Rudd, Will Damron, and Whitney Dykhouse. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, 2017. 4 hours, 54 minutes; 4 discs. 978-1-5366-6199-6. Alternating viewpoints of Doc Chestnut ‘The Sleepwalker’, Squib Kaplan ‘The Genius’, Hunger McCoy ‘The Good Ol’ Boy’, Hazel Turner ‘The Farm Girl’, Mildred Penny ‘The Stamp Collector’ and occasionally from the murderer himself complete this tale of tragedy. The cast adds unique qualities to each character, especially the narrators of Squib and Hazel.