Ten: Books that Must Be Heard

There’s been plenty of debate in recent years regarding the legitimacy of “reading” a book by listening to an audiobook edition. Personally, I’m a huge fan of audiobooks. This is partly because they allow me to read while I wash the dishes — walk the dog — do the laundry — drive, and partly because, at least in some cases, audiobooks can add a lot to the experience of a book.* Have a reader who’s unsure about pronunciation? Who wants to know what people in a particular area sound like? Who has trouble pushing through difficult passages? Just want to recommend the best possible reading experience? Try these:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel, narrated by Jeff Woodman with Alexander Marshall
Woodman creates a very satisfying Pi Patel, but I was especially impressed with his handling of conversations between Pi and the French and Japanese characters toward the end of the novel. Pulling off multiple accents at the same time wins this one big points.

The Moor by Laurie R. King, narrated by Jenny Stirlin
Another title particularly notable for its accents. Jenny Stirlin does a fantastic job of all of the Mary Russell books (which should suit many older teens very well — picture a young feminist, partnered with Sherlock Holmes in a detailed 1920s setting, solving mysteries all over the world). But how often do you come across such a convincing portrayal of a Moorish dialect?

Unwind by Neal Shusterman, narrated by Luke Daniels
You can read about the story in the full review, but I will say that the most intense scene in the book is made by the audio presentation.

Feed by M.T. Anderson, narrated by David Aaron Baker
An abundance of (purposeful) coarse language means readers will probably want to listen to Feed with headphones. However, the choice to present the samples of the characters’ commercial feed like commercials is very effective. Continue reading

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Ten: Outstanding Author Websites

We’ve talked about author blogs here before, but often the blog is only part of a website full of book and author information, extra resources, writing advice, and other materials. This week’s Ten highlights author websites that present truly exceptional content.

Neil Gaiman
Author of Coraline and The Graveyard Book
Love Gaiman’s work? Wondering what he’s up to lately (really, it could be just about anything)? Stop by his website to read his journal, find out where he is, talk about his books, or access his collection of online video, short stories, essays, and other works. Continue reading

Ten: Rather a lot of Mice

There’s a fair amount of variation in the use of talking animals in stories. Sometimes they’re basically people in suits, going about everyday, human tasks like buying groceries or facing bullies. Some authors imagine what it might be like to be the animals they describe, and the story depends upon elements that are unique to the animal(s) involved. Sometimes the animals interact with human beings, and other times they’re given their own worlds in which to play out their stories. In each case, what the use of talking animals contributes is a sense of “otherness,” though even this otherness is used in different ways, most commonly to offer an alternate perspective or to introduce new opportunities for humour. This week’s Ten explores some of the ways in which authors have explored the question: What if animals could talk?

Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye
The first in Hoeye’s Hermux Tantamoq series, Time Stops for No Mouse draws the reader into a world in which animals (mostly various types of rodents) live as humans — exploring the world, fighting injustice and, in Hermux’s case, solving mysteries. The writing is lovely and the story quite engaging. In fact, the books are likely to be at least as interesting to older teens and adults as to children, since the stories take place in a mostly-adult society. Continue reading