Spring Break Audio Books

With Spring Break just around the corner, we thought we’d let parents in on a little secret. Audio books are an awesome way to keep your kids (and their brains) busy over the break—they’ll be learning and exercising their imagination all while having a lot of fun.

Case in point: my 8-year-old niece. Listening to The Adventures of Tintin with her was a blast. I figured it would hold her attention for about 10 minutes before she moved on to playing dress-up, but she spent the whole book marching around the room as if she was going along for the adventure.

Given the relatively short length (less than an hour!), awesome narration and the rave review from my niece, I would say that The Adventures of Tintin is one of the many great choices to keep the kids entertained this Spring Break, whether you’re sticking around home or travelling.

For more great audio books for kids, check out these Audie Award nominees that were just announced on Monday!

                                      

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George Lucas Ruined My Life – A Review of Wishful Drinking

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audio book, downloads, digital download gift subscriptionGeorge Lucas Ruined My Life – A Review of Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher has had one crazy life. Who wouldn’t with Debbie Reynolds for a mother and your face on everything from posters to Pez dispensers?

I have never seen the original three Star Wars movies (shameful, I know) but I have seen When Harry Met Sally and thought it would be interesting to know more about Carrie Fisher’s life, so I started listening to her autobiography, Wishful Drinking.

Daughter of America’s Sweethearts, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie did not grow up in a normal household. Watching TV shows gave her insights into what Hollywood viewed as a normal house and family, but she knew that her life was surreal. How many kids have 3 pools — you know, in case 2 of them break at the same time?

Her most famous role of course was Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, but with her audio books and stand-up comedy she still receives plenty of fan mail and the occasional marriage proposal. If you’ve listened to the audio book, what do you think? Should she accept his proposal?

Carrie narrates the autobiography herself making it feel like you are part of the audience at one of her shows. She speaks as though she is actually telling you the story right now, which makes it a lot more fun than just reading the book.

Let me tell you, this is one wild ride! Carrie will shock and probably even scar you with her tale, but you’ll find yourself laughing with her throughout most of it. Because if what doesn’t kill you also fails to make you stronger, the least you can do is laugh about it.

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Abridged vs. Unabridged

Have you ever been browsing our library and wondered, “Why is the exact same book – same author, same narrator, same publisher, and same cover art – available twice?” Usually if you look a little closer, you’ll notice that they actually have different lengths. One will be the full-length version, while the other will be shortened, or “abridged”.

For all the benefits audiobooks provide, there is one trade-off: we read with our eyes faster than anyone can read to us with their voice. Some may feel like a novel is taking a while when it otherwise wouldn’t. To abate this, many publishers will offer an abridged version of the audiobook, where the story line remains intact but certain sections are cut to shave a few hours off the recording. The majority of our listeners opt for the full version but others feel that an abridged audiobook is easier to handle. This is especially the case with lengthy classics, which were written back when our patience and attention span were a little longer.

There are certainly pros and cons, and I’m often guilty of finding myself in the middle of a classic waiting for the plot to progress. However, I still prefer the unabridged version; if I’m going to enjoy an author’s work, I want to listen to the whole production!

Plus, with Audiobooks.com’s variable speed narration tool, it’s easy to change your listening from 1.0 to 1.25, 1.5 or even 1.75 times normal speed. To access this feature, tap the “1x” text at the bottom left corner of the audio player screen in the app.

Are you an abridged or unabridged listener? Tell us your thoughts!

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Feisty Females – A Review of The Heroine’s Bookshelf

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audio book, downloads, digital download gift subscriptionFeisty Females – A Review of The Heroine’s Bookshelf

Did you grow up loving Elizabeth Bennet’s spirit, Anne Shirley’s optimism, or Scarlett O’Hara’s fight? Then Erin Blakemore’s, The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder should be the next audio book that you listen to. Erin Blakemore is a self-proclaimed bookworm and loves a good heroine; many times throughout her life she found comfort in these familiar stories.

This audio book looks at twelve classic heroines and the lives of their legendary authors. This added information about the authors really adds to the stories that we know and love. Being a huge Lucy Maud Montgomery fan I particularly liked that chapter and found it very interesting to see the similarities between her life and the life of Anne. I also grew up with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and found that to be a very eye opening chapter!

Each chapter also includes a list of “literary sisters” where Blakemore recommends other similar characters and the audio books that you should listen to if you enjoyed that particular heroine or her strength. She also tells you what stories are best suited for the mood you are in.

Tavia Gilbert does a great job narrating and she adds even more passion to this audio book. I really enjoyed listening to it and believe that any fan of strong female characters should pick up this audio book.

Even if you haven’t listened to this audio book yet, who is your favorite literary heroine?

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Unbearable Lightness – A Review

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Unbearable Lightness – A Review

Have you ever looked in the mirror and not liked what you saw? I think most of us would be lying if we said we loved our reflection 100% of the time. However, most of us have not gone to the extremes that Portia De Rossi put herself through during her struggle with her weight. In her memoir, Unbearable Lightness, Portia recounts her journey from small-time Australian model to Hollywood actress and wife of one of the most popular talk show hosts, Ellen DeGeneres.

I thought this was a really interesting story. There were times where I wanted to reach through my headphones and tell Portia that she’s beautiful and needs to eat something! Hearing her tell the story about only eating 300 calories in a day seemed so crazy to me. I’m sure I eat way more than that for lunch!

Anyone who has struggled to fit in, wrestled with their weight, or has dreamed of being something outside of their average life will enjoy this honest and brave memoir. Plus the added bonus of having Portia narrate the audio book really feels like she is sitting right next to you telling her story.

A small side note for audio book listeners, the Epilogue really is an hour long. Don’t worry when she starts telling it and you look at your screen to see over an hour remaining.

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Banned Books Week

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Banned Books Week

We love stories. That’s why we are in the business of storytelling. But what happens when certain stories are withheld from the public, access is denied in schools and libraries? This is no new concept, certain books still get banned. Censorship is still alive and well and continues to be implemented in school boards all over the world today.

This week, Sept 24th-Oct 1st has been declared Banned Books Week, a time when libraries, schools, and bookstores celebrate our First Amendment freedom to read. Whether it’s print or in the form of an audio book, stories are a precious resource that provide us not only with entertainment, but information, ideas, opinions that may otherwise not be heard.

Recently, there have been various books banned, books I recall reading way back in my high school English classes. Below are some commonly challenged books that you might be interested in. But as you review the list, ask yourself, where do you stand with the content questioned? Sure, there are various reasons why these books are banned, some due to sexual perversity or overall obscenity like Lolita, or because of political, religious, or racial grounds, but does that make it right to remove it from bookshelves?

Commonly Challenged Books:

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee –A classic work of literature that was banned two years ago from a high school in Brampton, Ontario due to the prejudice in the novel. A parent objected to the language used, like the vulgar “N” word used in reference to African-Americans.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Although this book came out 42 years ago, this summer a high school in Missouri banned Kurt Vonnegut’s counter-culture classic from its library and curriculum alleging the book promoted “values contrary to those found in the bible”.

Others include:
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
1984 by George Orwell

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