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Beccameriel

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Beautiful, moving and brilliantly narrated

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-07-19

It shouldn't be a surprise that Michael Sheen is an absolutely brilliant narrator. I don't know if I would love the book as much as I do if I'd read it first rather than listening. So the 5 stars is very much for this version. Michael Sheens voices for each character perfectly capture their essence whether male or female, child or adult. Malcolm as a hero is so steadfast, resourceful and kind that it's a pleasure to spend time with him. Alice is also a great character: complex and fiercely brave. We don't learn much about her at first but gradually feel the sadness of her life. One thing I love about Pullman's world (s!) is that he makes it so real. When a character mistreats their own daemon it feels wrong and transgressive instantly. There's another incident with Malcolm and his daemon that nearly had me in tears, so much have I bought into the human/daemon link.

I loved the relatively slow pace of the story which, in any case, picks up signficantly towards the end. My only complaint is that it ends abruptly. I much prefer to have a bit of an epilogue to see how the characters I've grown so fond of are doing after the big adventure. That being said, I've decided not to dock a star as it's all just such an enjoyable experience over all.

1 person found this helpful

No one does twisty like Sarah Pinborough

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-05-18

I binged this one pretty much in one day as it was so compelling. As ever, with Sarah Pinborough, just when you think you've worked out what's going on, she pulls the rug out from under you and everything you thought you had worked out about these characters turns out to be wrong. It's heartbreaking and upsetting in places but I can't say why without spoilers. Just be aware that Pinborough brings up some truly awful subjects but they are handled sensitively.

I really liked the depiction of female friendships and the thought processes of Ava are all too believable for a 16 year old.

Antonia Beamish does a great job; all the characters are clearly differentiated and believable.

7 people found this helpful

Nevernight cover art

Girl on a mission

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-05-18

It took me a little while to get into this but then I loved it. Jay Kristoff's prose is dense with florid descriptions and it was a style that had to grow on me. I also have a to get over my cultural prejudice that an American accent is unsuitable for a fantasy world that is not obviously modern. Once I'd got used to that, I could appreciate Holter Graham's narration which is excellent.His characters are all clearly differentiated and appropriate and his pacing is good.

Mia's back story is gradually revealed interspersed with the unfolding present of her time at the school learning how to be an assassin and planning how to avenge her family. So, yes, there is a magical school and, no, it's nothing like Hogwarts. Can everyone just stop comparing all magical schools and gifted novice narratives to HP. It's a story trope that existed long before HP and will continue long after. Bleugh.

Anyway, it's a cracking adventure tale with added murder mystery. There is lots of violence, some of it quite gruesome, and sex so if you are unhappy at lengthy descriptions of oral pleasure then you might want to skip a few bits. There is also much sweary swearing. The city of Mia's birth has a Venetian feel and reminded me of Scott Lynch's Camorr. It does make a change from the usual medieval-ish setting of lots of fantasy series. In fact, if you like to compare books to other books, I think the Gentleman Bastards series has a similar feel.

End of the line!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-05-18

Peter Grant has to travel out to the far reaches of Metropolitan line to deepest darkest suburban Buckinghamshire to sort out some ghostly shenanigans. Abigail is helping him which is excellent as she is becoming one of my favourite characters. Who doesn't love a stroppy teenage girl determined to learn magic? The sense of place is so strong and Ben Aaronovitch's obsessive research is always put to good use. A vague disappointment in that it's only short but everything in the series adds a little more to the world building and we find out a little more about how the magic works. It's all so cleverly and seamlessly done.

Of course, I loved this. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is, as ever, the one true voice of Peter Grant, my favourite magical copper in my favourite magical city :)

Bring on Lies Sleeping!

Practically perfect folk horror

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-03-18

Who doesn't love a bit of 17th century satanic panic? I certainly do, particularly when it's played by people who really know how to do this stuff like Reece Sheersmith and Alice Lowe. This is a full drama with fantastic sound design so it really is like a film for your ears. The atmosphere builds up gradually so it's worth listening to it in one session if you can.

There are a few changes from the story of the classic 1971 film. One change really did need to be made so I'm glad that it was done. Some things are best left in the early 1970s.

1 person found this helpful

Even the undead need a doctor

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-03-18

This a very promising start to a series. I love the idea of a doctor to deal with London's undead, monsters and other miscellaneous supernatural bods. I also love the idea that Greta has to deal with the realities of this career not paying very well. Of course, magic in London is the reason I continue to exist and breathe (in a purely literary way). More of this sort of thing please and thank you.

Suzanna Hampton is generall great BUT considering one of the main characters is Lord Ruthven, somebody really should have told her it's pronounced Riv'n (ridiculous though that is). I was exhausted by having to mentally correct it every time he is mentioned.

From Dark Places cover art

Short, dark & unsettling

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-03-18

The headline says it all really. This anthology is called From Dark Places and that's exactly what the stories are. They are all pretty short so good to listen to during dull chores. If one story doesn't appeal, there's another one along in a few minutes.

I got this to be complete as I absolutely adore Emma Newman's sci fi (and I don't even like sci fi) and the Split World series.

She narrates her own work excellently.

1 person found this helpful

Gripping, violent and exctiing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-07-17

Utterly surprised to find that I flipping loved this! I can't remember what made me buy it now but I'm glad I did. I don't normally enjoy extended fight scenes and am usually bored rigid as each thrust and twist is described in lengthy detail (ususally muttering "skip to the end, skip to the end!") but by some strange alchemy, Mark Lawrence has made the fights - and there are lots of them - totally mesmerising. Maybe it helps that the slowness is part of what Nona experiences or maybe he's just a really good writer.

Anyway, I loved the premise, the nuns, the atmosphere, the world building, the consistent system of magic, I can't say I loved Nona herself but she is fascinating. Even the depiction of girls' friendships was believable. Some major plot developments are very clearly signalled but somehow it didn't matter as the execution (hah!) was so good.

Helen Duff's narration is great. I enjoyed the variety of accents she uses and her pacing is uniformly excellent. My only slight whinge is that Nona always sounds like an adult even though she starts off as a young girl.

Really looking forward the the next book in the series.

17 people found this helpful

Short vignette for the fans

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-05-17

A fun story that's really more of a short scene. Nice to see Postmartin have a bit of fun. Honestly, don't bother with this unless you already know the series. No concessions are made for noobs; it's just dropped there for you to find. Or, then again, maybe do just spend a few minutes listening to this and if you are intrigued, go back and get the books.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is brilliant as ever. It makes such a difference to the quality of the audiobook when the author and reader work together. Kobna is so comfortable as Peter Grant and Ben Aaronovitch's world that it's always a pleasure to listen to him.

20 people found this helpful

Utterly splendid - classic GH

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-05-17

I'm not sure a review is helpful here. It's a classic Georgette Heyer. Is there is a marvellous, meddling heroine determined to sort everyone out? Is she a dashing rider of other people's horses/driver of their high perch phaetons? Is there a handsome man who is exasperated by our heroine's shenanigans? Is he highly respected at Jackson's? Are there various unpleasant, meddling females undermining her? A chorus of naughty but delightful young persons who kick up no end of larks and complicate matters? Does Lady Jersey make an appearance and issue tickets to Almacks? The answer to all these and more is yes, of course. If you are suffering from a fit of the blue devils, this is just the tonic. That or a fetching new pelisse.

Sarah Woodward is excellent.

11 people found this helpful