Sync Audiobooks: Week 5

Sync Audiobooks bannerThis summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 25th to July 31st. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing complete downloads of two high interest titles for teens 13+. The fifth week starts today with A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen and Tear Down This Wall: A City, a President, and the Speech that Ended the Cold War by Romesh Ratnesar. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 5/23 to 5/29) at the SYNC website. The theme for this week is “the Berlin Wall: 1961-1989: Walls aren’t new—hear the story of the 20th century’s most famous wall.”

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen audiobookWith the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city. But one day on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Gerta concludes that her father wants her and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom? The library owns this in book, CD audiobook, eAudiobook, eBook, and Hoopla eAudiobook.

Tear Down This Wall by Romesh Ratnesar audiobookOn June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan addressed a crowd of 20,000 people in West Berlin in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. The words he delivered that afternoon would become among the most famous in presidential history. “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate,” Reagan said. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” In this riveting and fast-paced audiobook, Romesh Ratnesar provides an account of how Reagan arrived at his defining moment and what followed from it. The audio is based on interviews with numerous former Reagan administration officials and American and German eyewitnesses to the speech, as well as recently declassified State Department documents and East German records of the president’s trip. Ratnesar provides new details about the origins of Reagan’s speech and the debate within the administration about how to issue the fateful challenge to Gorbachev. Tear Down This Wall re-creates the charged atmosphere surrounding Reagan’s visit to Berlin and explores the speech’s role in bringing about the fall of the Berlin Wall less than two years later. At the heart of the story is the relationship between two giants of the late twentieth century: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Departing from the view that Reagan “won” the Cold War, Ratnesar demonstrates that both Reagan and Gorbachev played indispensable roles in bringing about the end of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry. It was the trust that Reagan and Gorbachev built in each other that allowed them finally to overcome the suspicions that had held their predecessors back. Calling on Gorbachev to tear down the wall, in Reagan’s mind, might actually encourage him to do it. Reagan’s speech in Berlin was more than a good sound bite. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we can now see the speech as the event that marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Sync Audiobooks: Week 4

Sync Audiobooks bannerThis summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 25th to July 31st. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing complete downloads of two high interest titles for teens 13+. The fourth week started 5/16 with Spill by Leigh Fondakowski and Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 5/16 to 5/23) at the SYNC website. The theme for this week is “in times of disaster: Natural or man-made disasters can change what “home” means forever.”

Spill by Leigh Fondakowski audiobookListeners follow a documentary-style play as the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill unfolds. On April 20, 2010, British Petroleum’s flagship drilling rig exploded, collapsed, and spread millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. Earlier, tension over safety, the limits of technology, and company politics had threatened to erupt among the workers when the BP brass insisted on bending regulations to speed production. Told through dramatized interviews, reminiscences, and court proceedings, this program focuses on the whirlwind of emotions faced by the rig workers and their families in the wake of the tragedy that took 11 lives and cost billions of dollars to clean up. The play acts as a cautionary tale while also pointing out that new oil drilling resumed in the gulf less than six months later.

Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle audiobookFrom award-winning author McCall Hoyle comes a new young adult novel, Meet the Sky, a story of love, letting go, and the unstoppable power of nature. It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all. With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control. After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm. The library owns this in book format, eAudiobook format, and eBook format.

Sync Audiobooks: Week 3

Sync Audiobooks bannerThis summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 25th to July 31st. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing complete downloads of two high interest titles for teens 13+. The third week starts today with The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee and Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 5/9 to 5/15) at the SYNC website. The theme for this week is “legends come to life: What do you do when ancient myths invade the here and now?”

audiobook The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. YeeOnce Genie Lo’s only concerns were college applications—that is, until the ancient Chinese Monkey King leapt upon her Silicon Valley school desk in the form of the scandalously handsome rebel Quentin Sun. Narrator Nancy Wu uses ample snark and deadpan humor as Genie balances her quest for the Ivies with Quentin’s quest to harness her newfound superpowers to defeat an army of Chinese demons. Wu is serious when Genie ponders the stereotypes of her Chinese-American culture, but entertainment is her primary goal. She humorously portrays Genie’s stereotypical Asian mother as she fawns over Quentin, thinking him part of a socially desirable family, rather than the furry-tailed rabble-rouser from another millennium that he is. Imagine mythical Chinese characters as comic superheroes and villains, and you’ll have the vibe of this campy adventure. The library owns this in book format.

audiobook The Shadow of the Fox by Julie KagwaThis YA fantasy celebrates Japanese folklore and the legend of the Kitsune. Subtle cultural influences abound in the descriptions, but what really brings the atmosphere to life are the slightly accented performances of narrators Emily Woo Zeller and Brian Nishii. While Joy Osmanski’s portrayal of main character Yumeko is sweet and earnest, making her more relatable, her American accent distracts listeners from the setting of the story in a way that the other two performers’ deliveries do not. While the simplistic dialogue and slow pace of all the narrators make the story come across as meant for a much younger audience, the plot has plenty of exciting demon-battling moments to keep listeners’ attention. The library owns this title in book and eaudiobook formats.

Sync Audiobooks: Week 2

Sync Audiobooks bannerThis summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 25th to July 31st. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing complete downloads of two high interest titles for teens 13+. The second week will start on Thursday, May 2nd with Othello by William Shakespeare and You by Charles Benoit. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 5/2 to 5/9) at the SYNC website. The theme for this week is “the betrayal of drama: betray a friend, and they may become a deadly enemy.”

Othello by William Shakespeare audiobook Shakespeare’s Othello is one of his finest and most famous tragedies. This highly acclaimed performance, which ran between November 2007 and February 2008 at the Donmar Warehouse in London, features Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Moor Othello, Ewan McGregor as the scheming Iago, and Kelly Reilly as the gentle Desdemona. This recording features music written specifically for the stage production which enjoyed huge success – each performance was a sell-out. The library owns this in multiple book and ebook and eaudiobook versions.

You by Charles Benoit audiobookCharles Benoit has created a stunner of a debut novel, one of the most anticipated titles of the fall season. Told entirely in the second person, the story quickly immerses us in the world of bright, disaffected Kyle Chase, who once showed great potential but by tenth grade has become a genuine slacker. With uncanny insight, crafting what can only be called YA Noir, Benoit takes us deep inside the mind of a young man on a collision course with catastrophe. Of the print version, Publisher’s Weekly said in a starred review: “Disturbing content blends with skillful, fast-paced writing, adding a thriller spin to the novel’s vicious realism.” Now David Baker – narrator of the highly acclaimed recording of Graceling – offers a reading that captures and builds the sense of loss and dread that makes this novel both disturbing and irresistible. The library owns this title in ebook format.

Sync Audiobooks: Week 1

Sync Audiobooks bannerThis summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 25th to July 31st. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing complete downloads of two high interest titles for teens 13+. The first week will start on Thursday, April 25th with Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones and Swing by Kwame AlexanderMary Rand Hess. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 4/25 to May 1st) at the SYNC website. The theme for the first week is “the tensions of friendship: friendship matters—whether you’re close to home or on the run.”

Blink & Caution audiobookBlink and Caution, both separately on the run, get caught up in a kidnapping by dint of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This gripping crime story is told in alternating points of view—second person for Blink and third person for Caution—a technique that is especially effective in the audio format. Running through Blink’s mind is the abusive voice of his stepdaddy, telling him “how it’s going to be.” MacLeod Andrews shifts tone only slightly from sneering to serious to relate Caution’s side of the scheme. Two voices, both narrated by Andrews, create a story so fraught with woe, guilt, terror, and tension that the listener can’t help rooting for the teens to escape the situation they’re in. The library owns this in ebook format as well.

Swing audiobookWith a poet’s passion, Kwame Alexander narrates his novel-in-verse about high school friends Noah and Walt. Alexander’s strong connection to his characters shines in his enthusiastic delivery and clear distinctions between the boys’ personalities. Noah, cautious and reserved, pines for a girl who sees him only as a pal; Walt, vibrant with jazz running through his veins, wants only to make the varsity baseball team. Over ice cream cones and lattes, the boys support each other’s dreams and sometimes squabble like brothers. With measured emotion, Alexander drives home the full impact of this contemporary coming-of-age story as the realities of the broader world burst Noah and Walt’s sheltered upper-middle-class bubble. Be prepared to listen to Alexander’s heartfelt performance all in one go. The library owns this title in book and CD audiobook formats.

SYNC Audiobooks: Week 16

This summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 27th to August 16th. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing a classic YA title with a more modern YA title. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 8/10 to 8/17) at the SYNC website. The sixteenth week will start on Thursday, August 10th with Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older and Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. The theme for the sixteenth and last week is “Changes.”

Anika Noni Rose’s narration rolls with every twist and turn in this fantasy, creating a variety of voices, moving flawlessly between English and Spanish, and bringing to life the main character. Sierra’s summer project, painting a mural on an abandoned building in her Brooklyn neighborhood, shifts into a mystery that leads her to her magical heritage. Rose focuses listeners on Sierra’s multicultural urban world. Her expressive delivery highlight Sierra’s curiosity and intelligence as she does research, follows clues, discovers the power of her own art, and tries to outwit a killer who has turned his attention on her. Cultural exploration, magic, and action blend to form a lively listen. The library owns this in book, ebook, and eaudiobook formats.

“Looking on oneself as something alien, forgetting the sight, remembering the gaze,” wrote Kafka, perhaps presaging his most famous tale, in which a workaday traveling salesman wakes one day to find he is now a huge vermin. Kafka expertly portrays the vagaries of the human heart–all of its sad glory and tiny selfishness–in a recording that the gifted Martin Jarvis elevates to an audio classic, employing his storytelling skills and knowing inflections in a lively and charming narration occasionally punctuated by scratchy, whimsical violins. Jarvis has firmly established himself as a source of finely nuanced theater of the mind. This unforgettable audio movie is vivid and disturbing, shot through with black humor. The library owns this in book and eaudiobook formats.

SYNC Audiobooks: Week 9

This summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 27th to August 16th. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing a classic YA title with a more modern YA title. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 6/22 to 6/29) at the SYNC website. The ninth week will start on Thursday, June 22nd with The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff and The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett. The theme for the ninth week is “Pride.”

Author Schiff seeks to portray the historical figures involved in the Salem witch trials as the real people they were. Narrator Eliza Foss makes them come alive for the listener. Foss resists the urge to cackle or to sound incredulous during this objective examination of the so-called witches. While her voice suits the tone of the work, her reading is not dry. She modulates her intonations nicely, making listening easier on the ear and saving the long passages of historical and religious background from becoming tedious. The library owns this title in book, large print, CD, and eaudiobook formats.

 

“Do you believe in magic? Can you imagine a war between wizards? An exciting journey in an airship or down in a submarine? Would you like to meet the fastest truncheon in the Wild West?

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner is the second fabulously funny short-story collection from the late acclaimed storyteller Terry Pratchett. A follow-up to Dragons at Crumbling Castle (which the library owns in both book and on CD), this second batch of storytelling gems features stories written when Sir Terry was just seventeen years old and working as a junior reporter. In these pages, new Pratchett fans will find wonder, mayhem, sorcery, and delight—and loyal readers will recognize the seeds of ideas that went on to influence his most beloved tales later in life. The library owns this title in book format.

SYNC Audiobooks: Week 8

This summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 27th to August 16th. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing a classic YA title with a more modern YA title. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 6/15 to 6/22) at the SYNC website. The eighth week will start on Thursday, June 15th with The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois and The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. The theme for the eighth week is “Juneteenth (June 19).”

Listeners will quickly realize that Du Bois’s classic treatise on life in a post-slavery U.S. society still has resonance today. Du Bois examines how black progress was systematically obstructed for two generations after the abolition of slavery. He also discusses the unique and creative ways in which African-Americans must negotiate a system that regularly dehumanizes them and takes their lives. With a light crackle in his voice, narrator Rodney Gardiner captures listeners’ attention, but it’s his rhythmic intonation that proves most appealing. His ability to emphasize the most important elements in each sentence while maintaining its cadence carries listeners through the production, making this a powerful experience. This specific title is not owned by the Algonquin Area Library, but it is owned (in many different formats) by other libraries in our consortium.

Kyla Garcia masterfully narrates the story of Lucia, a 14-year-old social butterfly living a placid life in 1960s Cuba. When communists invade Lucia’s sleepy town, everything changes. First, their freedoms disappear, one by one. And then, their neighbors begin to disappear. Escape to the United States becomes the only solution, so Lucia and her brother, Frankie, make the dramatic journey. Garcia does a magnificent job balancing the suspense of their escape and the more commonplace joys and sorrows of youth. She’s equally at home voicing the siblings and their Nebraskan foster parents. Listeners will cheer for this engaging and well-told story. This title is also owned in book format by the Algonquin Public Library.

 

SYNC Audiobooks: Week 7

This summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 27th to August 16th. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing a classic YA title with a more modern YA title. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 6/8 to 6/15) at the SYNC website. The seventh week will start on Thursday, June 8th with If I Run by Terri Blackstock and Plus One by Elizabeth Fama. The theme for the seventh week is “Crossing the line.”

Narrator Nan Gurley convincingly portrays Casey Cox as she flees in shock after discovering the murder of her boyfriend, Brent Pace. Pace was investigating the supposed suicide of Cox’s dad, a cop, and the possibility that some of Shreveport’s police are dirty. The gripping chapters alternate between the kind, resourceful Cox, who goes on the run, and PTSD sufferer Dylan Roberts, an Iraqi war vet who is hired by the cops to find her. Gurley’s most endearing character is sweet, elderly Miss Lucy Daley, who shares her sincere faith with Cox when the two meet on a bus. Listeners will breathlessly follow Cox’s flight while savoring colorful descriptions of small Southern towns and food and delighting in eccentric characters. However, learning Cox’s fate must wait until Volume 2.

Julia Whelan’s impassioned narration enhances the author’s story of an alternate reality. In this world, citizens are divided–living either by day or by night. Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a “smudge”–someone relegated by law to live under the veil of night. Sol fakes an injury as part of her plan to give her dying grandfather one last gift–to hold his great-granddaughter, Sol’s niece, who is a “ray,” someone who lives her life during the day. Unknowingly, Sol sets in motion a series of events that lead to political unrest and unlikely love. Sol’s desperation and intense love come through powerfully in Whelan’s delivery as the members of an intriguing subculture come to life.

Check out the rest of the month’s schedule here… you can even get text alerts about upcoming titles!

SYNC Audiobooks: Week 6

This summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 27th to August 16th. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing a classic YA title with a more modern YA title. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 6/1 to 6/8) at the SYNC website. The sixth week will start on Thursday, June 1st with Beast by Donna Jo Napoli and Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay. The theme for the sixth week is “prom and anti-prom.”

Napoli’s genius in recrafting folk and fairy tales into young adult novels shines in this retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” This lush novel begins at a leisurely pace in Persia before Prince Orasmyn, trapped by an ancient curse in the body of a lion, desperately makes his way to the traditional French manor house setting. Robert Ramirez delivers a clear, carefully paced reading of Orasmyn’s inner struggle, first as cursed prince, then as trapped beast. When reading Belle, he attempts to deliver another voice and intonation, quite subtly. But the strength of this narration lies in the forceful intensity of despair and desire Orasmyn repeatedly expresses, keeping the listener grounded in the moment, a necessity given the ending of the story. This title is owned in book format by other libraries in our constorium.

It’s pointless. Hopeless. Even if she weren’t afraid of me, we’ll always be enemies at the core . . .

In the city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice. Her death will ensure her city’s vitality.

In the desert, a mutant beast named Gem fights to save his people, known as the Monstrous, from starvation.

Neither dreams that, together, they can return balance to their worlds. When Gem is captured for trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, he becomes a prisoner of the city. Isra enlists his help, and soon begins to care for him—and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

She’s a queen; I’m her prisoner. I am her monster and she is mine. The library owns this in book format as well.

Check out the rest of the month’s schedule here… you can even get text alerts about upcoming titles!