Audiobook · book review · paranormal · YA

Audiobook Review – Extraordinary Lies

Author: Jennifer Alsever

Narrator: Moira Todd

Length: 11 hours 9 minutes

Publisher: Jennifer Alsever

Released: Sep. 8, 2020

Genre: YA Paranormal

Julia and Charley may come from two completely different worlds, but they’ve been called the same names all their lives. Psycho. Liar. Witch. It’s the price of being a supernaturally gifted female in sexist, narrow-minded 1971. Until they’re invited to join the Stanford Research Institute. There, a team of scientists are conducting experiments on people like them – people with the ability to tell the future, read minds, move objects without lifting a finger. At first, the institute seems like a safe haven. For the first time, Julia and Charley are not alone. Surrounded by others with powers like theirs, they finally make real friends.But as the experiments become darker and more dangerous, and the test subjects’ lives are increasingly at risk, the two girls must work together to unveil the truth behind the scientists’ experiments – and the extraordinary lies they’ve been told to keep them in the dark.

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A teenager still lives inside author Jennifer Alsever. She spent two decades as a professional journalist, contributing to such publications as Fortune Magazine, the New York Times, Inc Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, before letting her imagination run wild in 2016. The result is Ember’s story told in the three-book Trinity Forest Series, her first published fiction work. When not absorbed in writing, Alsever enjoys a good hike, doing some yoga, hanging with her boys, some moguls on skis, a rigorous mountain bike ride or indulging in the simple pleasures of life. Her favorites: untouched snow, frozen chocolate chips, savasina on a yoga mat and yes, bowls of pan fried brussels sprouts. She is currently working on her fifth novel titled Déjà vu.

Narrator Bio

Moira Todd is a Washington, DC-based actor. She originally hales from Mt. Hood, Oregon where the trees are always green, the mountain is always pointy, and the weather is usually rainy. It was there that she learned the secret arts of alpine skiing and whistling at the same time as you hum. While neither has proved useful in her theatre career, she remains hopeful. These days she spends most of her free time swimming, baking bread, and watching whale documentaries.


I’m not usually a reader of YA fiction, but I loved the premise of this story: the study of young adults with “special” abilities such as mind-reading and telekinesis within a government-backed research setting.

Set during the Cold War era, and told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Julia and Charley, the story follows them their “real” lives before going to the Institute right through to a dramatic conclusion. The two girls are as opposite as can be when it comes to the background and childhood experiences, but they do share one thing: being marked out as different from the rest of their peers.

The students enjoy getting to know each other, appreciating the different skills they have. They’ve found a place that doesn’t treat them as weirdos or freaks, and their confidence and trust in each other provides them with friendships they’ve never had before.

The research institute promises to explore their abilities and to offer an explanation for them. The reason for this research is sold to them as being for the good of the nation; the kids are playing their part in helping to win the Cold War against the Soviets. Yet, things are not as they seem. The experiments get more sinister as time passes. The tests the girls and the other “skilled” students are put through have another purpose, and the scientists in charge don’t want that information to go public.

The plot builds on the basis of secrecy – the government and scientists are hiding the true purpose of the experiments, while the students are forced to hide their suspicions – if they want to stay safe … or even alive. Does everyone survive? Who will have the upper hand?

The narrator of this audiobook superbly conveys the enthusiasm of the teenagers, their innate curiosity, their need to bond with like-minded individuals, and their reaction to the danger they find themselves in. It’s impossible not to get drawn along for the ride.

The era is the perfect backdrop for this kind of story, and the twists and turns of the story perfectly suit that period in time.

The audio version of Extraordinary Lies delivers an engaging story, with great characterisation and a tense plot.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jennifer Alsever. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

By Author Jennifer Alsever
Q&A with Narrator Moira Quirk
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • I used to narrate audiobooks as a side hustle to fill my schedule when I wasn’t acting on stage. Now that nearly all live events are canceled for the foreseeable future, I feel very lucky that I have the ability to transition to audiobook narration full time.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • An important part of narration, particularly fiction narration, is pacing. A background in theatre certainly helps with that, but it’s not the only thing that can.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I have a Bachelor of Fine arts in Theatre.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Yes, I love audiobooks. Maybe because after reading in the studio all day, it’s nice to sit back and listen.
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
    • I think my strength is first person narration.
  • Who are your “accent inspirations”?
    • I did a lot of new accents for this book. I mostly used a lot of youtube videos for inspiration. The accent tag has been a super useful internet trend for me.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • Jennifer wrote great descriptions of how the characters sound into the book. We also talked a bit about how the main characters sound before I began recording.
  • What types of things are harmful to your voice?
    • A respiratory virus!
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I’d like to travel to the future, find out how we solve our climate crisis, and come back to get the ball rolling.
  • If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
    • The Phantom Tollbooth. I record books for my mom, just sending her chapters whenever I get a chance, and that was one of her favorite books to read to me. I’d like to record it for her.
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