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Audiobook Review – Moon Over Manifest – Clare Vanderpool

moon over manifestMoon Over Manifest
Author: Clare Vanderpool

Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, Kirby Heyborne
Run Time: 9 hrs and 31 minutes
Producer: Listening Library

Description:
The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Review:
I typically don’t play much attention to books that win the Newberry Award (or similar), but after listening to Moon Over Manifest, I am intrigued to check out more of them (I think the last one I remember reading was The Giver – Lois Lowry). My purpose for picking up this book…I was looking for an audiobook that had 2 or more narrators that my library had available immediately…and thus, I grabbed Moon Over Manifest to listen to (yes, I know, a hugely scientific method of picking which book to listen to next).

My initial reaction/thoughts, when I heard the name of the main character, was Abilene – I wonder what the etomology of that name is, since it isn’t one you normally hear (and the last i heard it was in The Help). According to Think Baby Names, the origins of the name is one of Hebrew origin and it is believed to have been derived from the hebrew word for grass – which now that I think about it kind of fits the character of Abilene. She was truely a girl that I would love to sit down and have a meal with to talk – the whole idea of her existing (along with her father) in a state of perpetual motion moving from place to place.

But the story in itself is a coming of age, finding out what your place is in the world – which in part means, where did you come from? And for Abilene that is the purpose behind her summer in Manifest – finding out the story of her past. But tied in with finding out her past, understanding the history of the town and the time period itself. It is really hard to say more about the book without revealing any spoilers, and I don’t really want to do that, so I am just going to leave my review of the book as is…

When it came to the narrators, the only one of the three that I had previously listened to – Kirby Heyborne – and when I saw that he was one of the narrators I jumped at the narration. I had also heard good things about Cassandra Campbell, although I had never listened to anything done by her. I was also a bit confused at the beginning because Overdrive listed Justine Eyre as the main narrator, but the audiobook listed and stated Jenna Lamia – so I thought at the beginning that maybe they were a pseudonym of each other, but I found out I was wrong.

I have no real complaints about the narration – I thought that all three of the narrators fit their roles well and added to the depth/texture of the story. If I was to make one comment, I think that Kirby Heyborne was a bit under-used. He, specifically, was the voice of Ned, one of the boys from Manifest who was fighting in WW1. While I think his voice was great for. However, some of the other flash-backs I think could have used his voice – especially since they were told from the perspective of a young boy. While a bit nit-picky, that was my biggest complaint about the overall narration.

I was a bit conflicted overall with what to give Moon Over Manifest – I was wavering at a 3.5, but not sure if I should round up or down and now sitting down and thinking about it – I think I am going to go with the round-up option. This is the type of book, while written for a young-adult audience, can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Maisie Dobbs – Jacqueline Winspear

maisie dobbsMaisie Dobbs
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Series: #1 in the Maisie Dobbs series

Narrator: Rita Barrington
Run Time: 10 hrs
Producer: AudioGO

Description:
Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence–and the patronage of her benevolent employers–she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

Review:
I had heard about this series through several of my online reading buddies who loved it – so when it was selected as a group read, I figured that it must have been a sign (since I didn’t really have any interest in either of the other books selected). I was looking forward to a lite mystery after reading a lot of dark, completely jacked up Nordic Noir mysteries and this was a great palate cleanser.

I loved the character of Maisie – she just seemed so unique in the current fiction world as it stands right now. And the time period is one of interest to me since there aren’t a lot of books written in the time period between WW1 and WW2 (that I have found). The mystery wasn’t so much of a mystery as a plot leading to a realization – or at least, that is how i saw it – while I didn’t know all the details that were revealed at the end, I had a 95% idea of what the result was going to be. But I honestly didn’t mind – for me, the best part of the book was seeing how Maisie Dobbs became Maisie Dobbs. The biggest surprise for me in the story was what happened to the love of her life during the war (but don’t worry, I try to keep my reviews spoiler free – so as not to ruin the book). It wasn’t what I was expecting and totally made me tear up.

However, one of my complaints was that while I liked that flashbacks were used – they were a bit chunky – I think the first flashback actually lasted a significant portion of the book – so when it jumped back to the present day I was a bit surprised/confused. I think it either would have been better to have broken the flash-backs up into some smaller portions – almost like an appetizer, rather than a whole entree – or write the first part of the book as her history up until when the mystery began. I think the former probably would have worked the best.

Unfortunately, my experience with the audiobook didn’t live up to the book itself and if I had had time, I might have stopped listening and read instead. I know that I nearly considered doing that with the rest of the series – because someone told me that the other books are narrated by someone else. I just did not enjoy the narrators voice. While I found that her female voices were passable – her male ones were like torture – I think I would have preferred a recitation rather than hearing her try to do male voices. It just didn’t work for me – which is unfortunately, because I think if done properly, this could have been a great audiobook (and the second one – review to follow in the future), was much improved. This is the first time that I have listened to anything by this narrator and it likely will be the last. I don’t think that I can fairly judge her on any other narrations after my feelings towards this one.

Overall, I’d give the book a solid 4 stars, but the narration only 1.5 – however, I do think that the book overall balanced out the mess of the narration – so 3.5 overall.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Audiobook Review

 

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