"The Hare with Amber Eyes"
A lovely, absorbing read - portal to a family history both entertaining and relevant. It was a little slow sometimes, but there were some unforgettable word-pictures of scenes and activities far away and long ago which came to life in the telling. I found the narrator's style of speech somewhat prissy, and found at the end that he had mispronounced the word netsuke from beginning to end - why didn't any check in the editing department? The interview with the author right at the end put me right. Altogether very absorbing and entertaining and all credit to the author for his thorough and painstaking research.
"Accents and style"
The story is huge and detailed and I found it quite difficult to maintain the flow unless I listened to large swathes and even then I got a little confused by the many characters. Excellent research but a little too much of the verbatim arguments in the council. The reader was excellent with all the different accents and languages and mostly managed to maintain characteristic voices for the characters, but oh, that irritating, patronising reading style, strange hesitations and inflections, I found it very irritating and had to consciously listen past it.
"My kind of circus"
Wonderfully complex story, full of detail, clear pictures of the unusual, and a nice interweaving of times and dates that came together satisfyingly in the end. Some surprises, some predictability, but all in all a good holiday read. Except for the narrator, oh dear, he did the "ancient mage" voice with all the weight of dusty centuries in it, but the young men, female and the childrens voices were quite dreadfully croaky. If you can get past the narrator you'll enjoy the story for its own sake.
"The Various Flavours of Coffee"
This was a good, solid read and I enjoyed it as much as I have other books by Anthony Capella. He has a way with descriptions of food (and drink) that is riveting and makes one want to go out for a quick cappuccino! I certainly learned a lot about coffee, the industry, the history and the 28 flavours and hope that his research is sound because it is certainly believable! His characterisations, on the other hand, are somewhat 2-dimensional and thus do not command the sympathy they could. Still, a good holiday read and drink your next cup of coffee with more respect!
"The Fry Chronicles"
Ah, Stephen of the mellifluous voice and shocking, self-mocking candour that draws the reader further and further into his extraordinary world. I loved this book and read it twice, with huge enjoyment each time. It couldn't have been read by anyone else, perfect!
"Carte Blanche: The New James Bond Novel"
Oh dear, I struggled to find anything to like about this novel - superficial characterisations, thin plot, and a bluff heartiness that is more suitable to the 1950s than 21st century, despite the determined referrals to high tech appliances. It only really took off in the last chapter when the twists and turns were revealed. I have to give the reader credit though, he really tried hard with the various accents he was required to produce, even though the South African accents and pronounciations were hilarious and reduced me (a born and bred South African living in Cape Town) to embarrassed giggles. I wont try this genre again in a hurry.
"Packing for Mars"
I waited for this book to come out for absolutely ages but was somewhat disappointed in the result - too much anticipation, I suppose. There was considerable research, all no doubt solid and reliable, but the author did rather harp on certain subjects to the point of irritation - enough already, move on, I've got the point! There were times, too, when I had to fast forward, such was the graphic nature of the content, but it was all in the interests of science so relevant to the subject matter. It is a little out of date, given the latest developments in space science, but might become a school text book at some stage in the future, now that the space shuttle has been moth-balled. All round, it was interesting, though the narrator's rather high pitched nasal voice began to grate after a while.
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