audiobook reviews

Summer Of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

summer_280Sands’s narration is excellent. Her youthful voice is a perfect match for teenage Francesca, and every word is full of heartfelt emotion, particularly when Francesca is upset and her voice trembles. Sands also creates distinctive voices for the other characters: Francesca’s perky best friend, Lisette; Lisette’s deep-voice boyfriend Bradley (whom Francesca has a crush on); Frankie, a bubbly boy; and Frankie’s mom, who has a bright, melodic voice. Teens and lovers of well-written coming-of-age YA fiction will want to give this one a listen.
– Publishers Weekly

Narrator Tara Sands tracks Francesca’s courageous summer journey as she confronts an array of fears–from swimming to being honest with her parents and her “bff.” Nearing the story’s climax, Sands expresses the terrible anger that Francesca has denied for years. Even stronger than this crescendo of a performance is Sands’s portrayal of the active, adorable Frankie Sky. His malapropisms and misunderstandings counteract Francesca’s pain–winning her heart and wowing listeners.
– AudioFile

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

lang_200Tara Sands excels in her narration of this story of pain, loss, and hope. Now aged out of foster care and group homes, Victoria must try to make a new life for herself. She supports herself by designing bouquets around the meanings of flowers, arrangements that seem almost magical, while at the same time she is haunted by the life she almost had. Sands captures perfectly the struggle of leaving a lost childhood to enter adulthood, of cautiously moving forward while being seared by the pain of the past.
– AudioFile

Narrator Tara Sands was perfect for this part. For one thing, she sounded age appropriate for Victoria, which is always something that worries me in audiobooks with young protagonists. More importantly, however, she was able to capture the contradictions in Victoria’s character, the fragility under her crusty veneer. For more information on the audio, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine. This was a beautiful book and an lovely audio production. Enjoy it in print or in audio! Highly recommended.
– devourerofbooks.com

Tara Sands is a perfect narrator for this story. Not only is her voice young enough for the character, she excels at portraying the world-weariness and suspicion, not to mention the heartache and longing, that is Victoria. It is as realistic a vocalization as one can experience, making the entire audiobook pure auditory pleasure.
– thatswhatsheread.net

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

floraNarrator Sands delivers a charming and lighthearted performance that listeners will love. Sands’s ability to create colorful, over-the-top characters is an ideal match for DiCamillo’s quirky novel, and the voices she produces here are pitch-perfect. This is a fun-filled audio experience.
– Publishers Weekly

Listeners will need to hold on to their headphones as author DiCamillo and narrator Tara Sands treat them to a madcap adventure that bounces between quirky human characters and a squirrel with superhero dreams who also writes poetry. Sands’s narration is lively and fast paced. She takes on variety of personalities with gusto: among them, the determined Flora and her flappable mother, dramatic Tootie and her unexpected friend William Spiver, and the dreamy-voiced squirrel, Ulysses.
– AudioFile, Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, Winner of ALSC’s 2014 Notable Children’s Recordings

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

blackberry_236Tara Sands’s moving performance smoothly and emotionally weaves the stories of two women in different time periods. Sands’s mournful tones evoke the heartbreaking plight of the poverty-stricken Vera, who leaves her 3-year-old son at home to go to work, only to discover when she returns that Daniel is missing in a snowstorm. Sands takes on a steadier tone for Claire, a present-day journalist who discovers the story about Daniel’s 1930 disappearance. Having just lost her baby at birth, Claire is moved by the story and investigates further, discovering her personal connections with Vera. Sands’s dramatic narration captures the intensity of maternal love and the pain brought by the loss of a child, as well as the hope that comes with resolution.
– AudioFile

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

deadTara Sands takes over the narration in Gabry’s voice. Sands’s strength is her ability to capture everything it means to be a teenager—from the hurried pace of Gabry’s indecision and fear to the hesitation of her self-doubt and the excited tones of her romantic feelings—for two very different boys. The supporting characters help dramatize Gabry’s story of discovery, and each has a unique voice—from the childlike vulnerability of her best friend to the cool confidence of Elias, who is part of her newly discovered past.
– Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls 6 Book Series by Meg Cabot

allie_200Tara Sands’s perky, youthful voice is a perfect match for Cabot’s preteen drama about dealing with bullies, the third installment in her Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls series. Sands’s delivery totally registers Allie’s confusion and growing resentment towards Cheyenne and their eventual confrontation. A thoroughly enjoyable audio experience.
– Audible

Sands excels at conveying Allie’s righteous indignation at the tumult her parents have caused, while also finding a conspiratorial tone to deliver Allie’s plan for thwarting the sale of her current home. She also has fun squeaking out the dopey ideas of Allie’s little brothers (one requests velvet pirate wallpaper for his new bedroom).
– Publisher’s Weekly

…there are no dull moments with Allie’s dramatic outlook, admirably portrayed by Sands. She articulates Allie’s panics and triumphs with gusto. While the story itself is familiar, Sands’s audio performance turns it into an unfolding drama. Allie is sure to become a role model for prima donnas in training.
– Audible

Sammy Keyes 13 Book Audiobook Series by Wendelin Van Draanen

sammy_200Actress Tara Sands is able to take on both Sammy’s precocity and the art community’s artificiality with her fast, lively, and totally engaging performance.
– Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Youthful-sounding actress Sands adroitly steps into the high-tops of smart-mouthed seventh-grade sleuth Samantha “Sammy” Keyes in this crisp adaptation of Van Draanen’s fast-paced Edgar-winning mystery.
– Publishers Weekly

…actress Tara Sands brings the irrepressible Sammy to life. She gets the phrasing and timing just right, and manages to sound like a 13-year-old girl without overdoing it. She conveys the other characters’ voices well, too, especially the flamboyant Gina….
– School Library Journal

Sands makes Sammy easy to get hooked on–which is good news, since there are many more volumes in the series and many more mysteries for Sammy to solve.
– J.M.D. AudioFile

Tara Sands skillfully takes the characters beyond the mundane through her impressive ability to speak in many voices–supercilious, sarcastic, and sincere. While delivering nonstop action, she underscores the notion that strength and beauty of character are more than skin deep.
– AudioFile

With just the right early-adolescent exaggerated voice, Tara Sands builds suspense as Sammy pries deeper and deeper into facts that just don’t add up. Sands moves the story along well, and her Sammy is right-on, as are her friends, Marissa and Dot.
– AudioFile

…Tara Sands gives perfect voice to Sammy’s character in this reading of the 1999 Edgar Award for Best Children’s Mystery (Knopf, 1998). The entire novel is told in the first person voice of Sammy Keyes, so it is appropriate that the narrator uses a single voice with some varied inflections to indicate comments made by other characters.
– Library Journal

Tara Sands brings a lively voice and brisk pace to the story of a determined 13-year- old detective, her three girlfriends, and the slew of quirky characters who populate this mystery. Van Draanen has written a solid mystery with suspense, humor, and heart; Tara Sands captures all three in an enjoyable dramatization.
– AudioFile

Tara Sands’s narration provides a realistically young voice for Sammy and adds emotion and shading to Van Draanen’s well-rounded characters. This, Sammy’s third outing, is a mystery suitable for the entire family.
– AudioFile

Tara Sands captures the youthful energy of the young sleuth and her best friend, Marissa, as they try to find the boy’s mother while avoiding “Snake Eyes”…Sands maintains momentum as she shifts from Sammy and her classmates to Hispanic gang members, from the ill-tempered Officer Borsch to prying Mrs. Wedgewood, Sammy Keyes is a keeper – that is, if she survives junior high.
– Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Tara Sands employs an impressive vocal range that breathes life into every character. From Sammy’s enthusiasm to archenemy Heather Acosta’s superiority to the banter of the boys, listeners will recognize these kids. Sands’s voice ages, and she becomes wise Grams, snooty “council queen” Cora Lee Lyons, and the elderly Mrs. Willawago. The ride to the dance in a Hummer limo, spiced up with the boys’ pirate banter, is, by itself, worth a listen.
– AudioFile

Actress Tara Sands is able to take on both Sammy’s precocity and the art community’s artificiality with her fast, lively, and totally engaging performance. Tara Sands has an uncanny ability to slip into the voice of each character, from the teenaged Sammy and her classmates to the gruff Officer Borsch to the elderly Hudson Graham and the psycho Miss Kitty. Listeners will cheer Sammy as she outwits Heather and her gang, busts the cat burglar ring, and saves the cats.
– AudioFile

A Nutty Tale by Barry M. Putt

nutThis adorable story is the perfect way to introduce young listeners to audiobooks. It’s short but has enough of a story line to engage listener interest. Narrator Tara Sands is charming as she introduces the squirrel family: Hazel is big sister to brothers Hickory and Pistachio. As the trio helps Mom by gathering nuts, Sands perfectly executes the sibling rivalry and harmless name calling (“toadstool!”) between the boys, as well as the attempts of all three to convince themselves their adventure is solely for the purpose of helping Mom.
– AudioFile

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko

nopassTara Sands’s lilting high pitch convinces listeners of Mouse’s happy acceptance when an hour’s plane trip brings the siblings to Falling Bird, an unsettling place that appeals to each of their individual sensibilities—at first. Because all three narrators establish a strong sense of character, the tensions that divide the three heroes add a chilling quality to an action-packed puzzle.
– Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Olivia Kidney 2 book series by Ellen Potter

oliviaWith a clear voice and steady pace, Tara Sands leads the listener through Olivia’s discoveries and developing friendships. Sands narrates Olivia as the young lady she is–with all the squeals, awe, and disbelief of a young person, while also providing distinguishing vocal traits for the supporting cast.
– AudioFile

Tara Sands is a youthful and heartfelt Olivia–feisty and stubborn as a skateboarder, sad as she reminisces about her family’s past, and plucky as she schemes to solve her latest mystery. Sands’s accents for supporting characters are outstanding–whether precocious student, shoe-shopper, salsa dancer, or window-washer, she does it all!
– AudioFile

Lucy Rose by Katy Kelly

51ijmu3mdylTara Sands captures Lucy’s determined and urgent first-person point of view in delivering Lucy’s every thought and plan as she shares art activities at the playground, navigates summer friendships, wages battle with squirrels who would like to eat her grandparents’ apricots, counts down to her birthday, and goes on a special outing with her dad. Sands is a convincing, invincible, and egocentric charmer. Tenderly she helps Lucy acknowledge the one thing she would like most to plan–the reconciliation of her parents.
– Audiofile

PK Pinkerton and the Petrified Man by Caroline Lawrence

pinkerton_200Lawrence returns to the Wild West for Pinkerton’s second adventure. In spite of several foibles and eccentricities, newly orphaned 12-year-old PK has opened a detective agency, confident that clients will soon be clamoring for their cases to be solved. But there’s also a thorn in her side: People are confounding and impossible to read. Today, we call it Asperger’s, but back in the Wild West it had no name. T. Sands narrates PK’s story with a precise delivery that includes meticulous attention to punctuation, vocabulary, and detail. Sands draws in the listener, maintaining a careful balance between PK’s dedication to solving her case and her offbeat comic relief. Listeners will admire PK’s confidence and spunk even as they chuckle at the obvious missed clues.
– Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

The Case Of The Deadly Desperadoes by Caroline Lawrence

deadlyTwelve-year-old P.K. Pinkerton is on the run from ruthless (what else?) desperadoes in this delightfully down-and-dirty Western, the first in a series. Voiced by T. Sands, P.K. is a plucky and relatable tween who runs through disguises in an 1862 silver-mining town that is notable for its steep, muddy streets; bars; Chinese laundries; and opium dens. As she did in her Roman mystery series, Lawrence keeps the history gritty and real. Sands is a female reader who does justice to everyone from gruff outlaw Whittlin’ Walt to a pre-Mark Twain Samuel Clemens, She even lends sympathy to P.K.’s frenemy, “Soiled Dove.” Sands gives P.K. the humor, curiosity, and spunk to survive in a cutthroat world. This is a perfect marriage of narrator and book.
– Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

mila_280Narrator Tara Sands throws herself into this story’s first-person point of view. She sounds fully credible as 16-year-old Mila, a high school student who is often on the edge of hysteria. Sands reads the story’s early scenes with a touch of Valley girl, nicely conveying Mila and her flighty, giggly group of friends, who have boys on their minds and cliquishness in their souls. But soon Mila begins to suspect that she’s not a real girl at all–and being a real girl is her heart’s desire. As an android, though, she is one tough cookie, going from crisis to crisis, mostly chase scenes, in surprising ways. Sands’s high-pitched voice never stumbles. The theme is classic–the story “Pinocchio,” circa 1883, comes to mind. Young audiences will be engaged.
– Audiofile

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

arclightMcQuein’s short sentences and suspenseful plot revelations, combined with Tara Sands’s narration, make this book a riveting listen. As the Fade desperately hunt Marina, she discovers secrets about the humans who harbor her. Sands’s youthful tone and inflections suit Marina’s fear and confusion as she struggles to reconcile her few memories of the past with what she’s been told. Emotionally tense revelations and dangerous action sequences make this a taut sci-fi thriller.
– AudioFile

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

onecamehome-195x300Narrator Tara Sands gives an energetic portrayal of 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt, whose sister has gone missing and is assumed dead in 1871 Wisconsin. With a youthful, feisty voice, Sands perfectly portrays Georgie’s stubborn personality as she takes off on her own, determined to prove that her sister is still alive. Sands shows Georgie’s exasperation at being unexpectedly accompanied by her sister’s former beau, her ferocious bravery in the face of danger, and her sadness as she comes to accept what may have befallen her sister.
– AudioFile