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Audiobook Review – The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Jacqueline Kelly

calpurnia tateThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Author: Jacqueline Kelly

Narrator: Natalie Ross
Run Time: 9hrs and 1 minute
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Description:
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Review:
I have to admit that I probably would have passed over this book, if it hadn’t show up on a random book list that I was browsing one day, and then that it was readily available via audiobook from the library – so I didn’t have to wait on it. I don’t know why it is, maybe because the name in the title just made me want to chuckle and not take it seriously. Either way, if I had, I would have missed out on a brilliant YA book – it was totally worth the listen and I can see why it was nominated for the Newbury Award, even if it didn’t win.

I was immediately sucked into Calpurnia Victoria Tate’s (or Cally V’s) story – she is kind of how I imagined I would be if I had grown up at the turn of the 20th century – not wanting to be what was expected of me (a housekeeper, enjoying sewing etc), but rather wanting to play outside, into science etc. I thought that the author did a job of portraying the world how it was then – the idea that as 1900 rolled around the world might end (does this sound familiar?), the introduction of coca-cola and even the invention of the automobile. Cally’s grandfather definitely made the book all the more enjoyable – in all seriousness, he was a comic relief when needed but could also be serious as well. I loved how he was so absorbed in his own world that he often forgot what was going on around him.

There wasn’t anything really earth-shattering about how the story concluded – in fact, it was a relatively logical progression through-out and you could see how it was unfolding. I did like how the use of evolution in the title could be applied in two different ways – the study of evolution as with the grasshoppers and use of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Spieces but also the evolution of Calpurnia as a woman and a person – how she changed over the course of the 7 months that the book covered.

I love Natalie Ross as a narrator of audiobooks, she is rapidly becoming a go-to person for me. But it was funny when I first started listening to the audiobook because I had just listened to another book narrated by her recently (less than 2 months ago) and I kept hearing the voice of Dani (from Iced) in my head, because they were both young female characters between the ages of 12 and 14. I hadn’t really noticed this previously and it didn’t really bother me, just intrigued me that I could hear similarities in voice patterns even though one was an urban fantasy and the other a historical fiction. I can’t say much more about the narration – I loved how Ms Ross was able to provide so many different inflections to bring the characters to life – especially with the minutia of sounds that are part of life, but don’t necessarily show up in dialogue – like hiccups (there is a relatively memorable scene featuring these), burps etc. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I read it, but listening added a whole new dimension. It would be a great audiobook to listen to with kids on a car trip because it would suck them in (hopefully).

Anyone who loves historical fiction and YA should read or listen to this book. I give it 4.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Undone – Karin Slaughter

Undone
Author: Karin Slaughter
Series: #3 in the Will Trent series; #1 in the Georgia series

Narrator: Natalie Ross
Run Time: 16 hrs and 7 min
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Book Description:
When a tortured young woman enters the trauma center of an Atlanta hospital, Dr. Sara Linton is thrust into a desperate police investigation with Special Agent Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell. Though guarding their own wounds and their own secrets, Sara, Will, and Faith find that they are all that stand between a madman and his next victim.

Review:
One of the things I love about Karin Slaughter’s books is that she isn’t afraid to go dark – and for me the darker the better. Such is the case in Undone. Having kind of jumped around her various series’ in the last year or so (Book 1 and 6 in her Grant County series and book 4 in the Will Trent series), you would think that I would have learnt to actually read books in order. I did feel kind of lost a few times when the history of various characters were mentioned but since all the books in the series are interlinked, I knew to expect that.

Undone opens on a dark and deserted road (which I guess could be kind of a cliche) but totally wasn’t and the reader (or listener) in my case, is quickly sucked into the case by Will’s actions. It was great seeing Sara Linton show up as a character again showing how the Grant series books ended (but I won’t tell you what happened there), as well as seeing Will and Sara interact for the first time. Now that I have read Undone, I want to go back and re-listen to Broken which is the first book by this author that I read and that i have to admit, I enjoyed but was also completely lost character wise during. There were so many twists and turns through-out the book that I didn’t figure out who the killer was until right before they were revealed.

I have come to realize that I like Natalie Ross’ narration of audiobooks over the last year. I loved her narration of the last 3 books in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and listening to her narration of Undone just sealed my enjoyment of her narration skills. I loved how all her different voices were do distinct and she had a nice southern twang that I experienced while living in Georgia without it being too overwhelming. I started listening to Undone on the drive home from a concert one night and found myself wanting to take the longer route home so that I could listen to more of it before I had to stop.

Overall, I’d give the book 4 stars and the narration 4 stars and highly recommend it to people who enjoy police procedurals, mysteries, and thrillers. But if you dont’ like the dark and disturbing, this book isn’t for you.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Book Review

 

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