LISTENER

DebB

Oxfordshire, England
  • 28
  • reviews
  • 31
  • helpful votes
  • 36
  • ratings
  • The Wren Hunt

  • By: Mary Watson
  • Narrated by: Brona C. Titley
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Every year on St Stephen’s Day, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. Her pursuers are judges - a group of powerful and frightening boys who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur - their sworn enemy - the game would be up. This year, the tension between judges and augurs is at breaking point. Wren’s survival, and that of her family, depends on her becoming a spy in the midst of these boys she fears most and using her talent, her magic, to steal from them the only thing that can restore her family’s former power for good. But Wren’s talent comes with a price.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Well writtten, absorbing, intriguing but also sad

  • By DebB on 20-07-18

Well writtten, absorbing, intriguing but also sad

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

Reviewed: 20-07-18

This is a sad little tale – beautifully read, and quietly absorbing, but ultimately sad. It covers betrayal, cheating, deception, hatred and bigotry, the warmth and support of family, but also the harm unquestioning loyalty can sometimes cause. It seems everyone lies at some point – even poor Wren.

The Amazon synopsis is good – I didn’t, and still don’t having finished the book, understand the initial chase. The start made for an uncomfortable read – a young woman/girl being pursued by a group of young men/boys with intent to do what exactly if they caught her? The writer captures Wren's fear well - hence my unease. And for why? If they didn’t know she was an Auger why would they pursue an ordinary girl like that? Why were the adults in her life so relaxed about something that terrified and, as it turned out, hurt her? In fact that’s a theme throughout the book – who’s looking out for Wren’s interests, as opposed to Auger, or Judge interests?
The book is set in modern day Ireland, with coffee bars, pizza, buses and trams, mobile phones, taxis, but no Ubers! Wren is conflicted by almost everything, endlessly doing what others want, and the book charts her struggles to sort out what it is, or should be, that she wants. I’m not sure she ever gets there really, and at times you long for her to tell some of them to take a running jump… There’s a blossoming love story that winds through most of the story, that’s well written, but it brings precious little joy to either party.
If there is magic here, it’s quiet and low key – there are no fireworks or whizzy flash bangs here. No champion steps up to blast away the baddies. When fights are had they use fists, knives, guns. We see nothing of Judge magics that I recall, just Wren’s scrambly eye, or whatever she calls it. She has visions – which do her little good – and she sees patterns in everything.
This is written with fine descriptive detail. You can see the shabbiness of her family home, the grandeur and flowers of Harkness House, the wildness of the woods, Wren becomes someone you care for (someone has to after all). The book is absorbing, at times a little slow, but it’s worth patience – the ending is certainly not slow.
This is no Hunger Games, as the description might suggest, and if it is aimed at the YA market, us older A’s will find it a good solid book as well. But, as I said at the outset, it is, overall, a sad tale of betrayal.

  • The City & The City

  • By: China Mieville
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 493
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 403
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 401

New York Times best-selling author China Mieville delivers his most accomplished novel yet, an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other, real or imagined. When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlof the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Twice the city for your money

  • By Nigel on 19-05-12

Absorbing, atmospheric listen

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

Reviewed: 12-05-18

I listened to this after watching the recent BBC adaptation, so had some very clear visualisations as I listened. Interestingly the narrator and David Morrisey (who plays the main character) sound fairly similar to my ear, which made the listen even easier to visualise.

The names are a problem in that they really don’t sit easily in English-speaking ears, but I decided early on to just ride with ‘em, and trust that the ones I needed to know would “bed in” - an approach that generally worked. This is well read - there are some long strings of conversation with no "he said, she said" where it would be easy to lose track of who was speaking, but the narrator usually put enough difference into his characterisations for me to keep up.

It’s deeply atmospheric, and an absorbing listen - it is totally Tyat’s book, written entirely from his point of view, and I think, written in the first person. There is some swearing - well quite a lot of from his Ul Qoman (apologies for spellings - I’m guessing phonetically here) colleague, but I didn't find it gratuitous - it sits appropriately with the character and plot.

The book plot differs in some respects from the BBC adaptation - I have no idea why they made the changes they did, so if you’re reading this post-viewing, be ready for that. The deeper, underlying story is untouched though.

A good listen, a teensy, tiny bit slow in the middle, but stick with it - the last third is utterly absorbing.

  • Flame in the Dark

  • Soulwood, Book 3
  • By: Faith Hunter
  • Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
  • Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64

Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she's been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED - the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet. A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead - and the house he was visiting burns to the ground.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • narrating brought this book alive

  • By Sally Goddard on 02-02-18

Brill! A wonderful progression of the story

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

Reviewed: 20-01-18

Oh this is good! Nell is a fascinating character, and her development over this book is a joy to follow. She learns a lot more about herself here, and develops far, far more than I expected - she’s one powerful lady!

Her relationship with Oakum (as I hear his name) develops here, but in an extraordinarily chaste way, compared to the average Urban Fantasy novel. It is, maybe surprisingly, all the more powerful for that slowness. To be sure, there’s a bit of church meddling that tries to put a spoke in that wheel, and push Nell to making a choice on where her life is going, but for me at least, the eventual direction was never in doubt. I just love the “properly improper kiss” that lurkes throughout the last half or so of the book!

The other characters are less featured, just voices in the background at times - I don’t think Tealane (I’m only an audio reader, so I have to guess at names) does any magic at all here. I worry about Rick, was taken aback by the very sudden appearance of another of whatever it it Pia is (my brain’s offering grindylow, but that looks just wrong!), and it’s equally sudden disappearance, and I liked that the story was allowed to unwind at the end, with loose ends, such as the vampire tree, and Mud’s future, being tackled.

This is a fine third installment of a very fine series. The ending would allow it to be the last, but I hope it isn’t. I’ve rooted around Ms Hunter’s website for clues, but it’s probably too close to the release of this one for future plans to be announced. There’s a serialised story on how Oakum (or Occam) gets his name, but it’s buried in a tour blog, so you have to be determined to get at it.

Well read, with the various characters kept clear and distinct. She does "church" speak really well!

  • Blood of the Earth

  • Soulwood, Book 1
  • By: Faith Hunter
  • Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
  • Length: 15 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 106

When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her. Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell's doorstep.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Promising start.

  • By L on 01-09-16

An excellent new series

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

Reviewed: 12-11-17

This is set in the Jane Yellowrock world, but Jane herself is a distant, peripheral character, so if you haven't read those books, it doesn't matter. You can drop into this series with ease - just go with there being vampires, witches and shifters, and other magical folk mixed up with and living among the plain old humans. The only main character to cross over is Rick, so you won't know his back story, but again, it really doesn't matter. In fact he needs to escape that backstory, so it may even be an advantage to meet him for the first time here - just as Nell does.
Nell is a fine character - brilliantly read by Khristine Hvam, who manages Southern American backwoods voices as well a host of others - to my UK ears at least! Nell is a battered, solitary and alone soul, raised in a strict fundamentalist church but now reliant only on herself and mistrustful of most - and with good reason. The book, as well as dealing with a mystery and general nastiness, is also about Nell slowy emerging from her self-imposed exile in the mountains and learning to work with others.
Well written by an accomplished author who knows her craft well - she draws a team of characters - a human, an empath, a witch, some shifters - and makes them interesting people you want to know about. The baddies aren't cartoon-evil, the archbaddie's identity caught me out, and Nell's emerging abilities are different and well drawn.
This is an intelligent book, written for grown up adults, not the YA ones, although there's no reason for YA readers to not absolutely love this, just as old adults can enjoy YA books, but there's no emoting, no OMGing, no insta-lurve, no lingering looks, no acting without thinking - this is good solid urban fantasy. You'll hesitate before chopping down a tree in future though, and I worried about the frightened tree Nell found in the city... although it doesn't get forgotten in the end!
Really, really well read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Marked in Flesh

  • A Novel of the Others, Book 4
  • By: Anne Bishop
  • Narrated by: Alexandra Harris
  • Length: 15 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn see the new, closer companionship as beneficial - both personally and practically.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Love the Series

  • By Ali on 10-07-16

A significant book in this series

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

Reviewed: 25-07-16

I enjoyed this. I’ve listened to all the preceding books, and find myself still engaged and interested in what Ms Bishop is going to do with her world and characters.

The narrator manages a big cast list pretty well - I love that the vampires all have a Transylvanian hint, that the wolves are all gruff, and that Meg is always… well clearly Meg. She even manages to get variation into the “Aroo”s the wolves do. So while I know some listeners have issues with the narration, I feel it’s well done.

There’s some heavy stuff in this book - without giving anything away, any reader of this series will have seen the way things were going, and my goodness do they go that way! The big guns of the Others finally make an appearance, there are a lot of new characters, and a few new communities to absorb, so to make space, there’s less of Meg.

These books are an interesting mix of some quite juvenile bits, super powerful entities distracted by cookies, some significant human unpleasantness, and the very slow build of a relationship between two beings who are from very different worlds and species, one with some significant history to overcome.

I’ll stick with this - the next is due out next year. You need to read the preceding books to get this one.

  • The Sword-Edged Blonde

  • By: Alex Bledsoe
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

It should have been a case like any other: a missing princess, a king willing to pay in gold for her return. But before he realizes it, private investigator Eddie LaCrosse, a slightly shopworn sword jockey with a talent for discretion and detection, is swept up in a web of mystery and deceit involving a brutally murdered royal heir, a queen accused of an unspeakable crime, and the tragic past he thought he'd left behind.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Two genres for the price of one.

  • By N. Bennett on 22-08-17

Enjoyable, very listenable, good start to a series

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

Reviewed: 30-12-15

I enjoyed this, looking forward to my regular hour at the gym, which is when I get to listen to my books, and have already taken a look at the next in the series - so all good! The story snags the interest straight off, and didn't really wane - I wanted to know what had happened, and how matters were going to be resolved for everyone. There's a supernatural element to the story that I, along with our hero, had problems believing - which I suppose demonstrates the quality of the writing - you're not offered a supernatural story and left to just accept it. Eddy, the hero certainly didn't, so it made my scepticism reasonable. That said, the bulk of the book is Eddie understanding and then dealing with the mystery, which he does by ordinary mundane methods, with no woo-woo involved! There's some flashback chapters to his past. but they are of relevance to the present day, so sit well in the flow of the story. The setting is classic mediaeval, horses, swords, tankards of ale sort of thing.

This is read by Stefan Rudnicki, who has the most wonderful, rich, deep dark voice, yet manages to read the various women characters equally well as he does the men.

I listened to Alex Bledsoe's Tufa books, also narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, which I've enjoyed, so am pleased to find more books to explore.

  • Mystery Man

  • By: Colin Bateman
  • Narrated by: Stephen Armstrong
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 220
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 151

He’s the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, a mystery bookshop in Belfast. But when a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency’s clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It’s not as if there’s any danger involved. It’s an easy way to sell books to his gullible customers and Alison, the beautiful girl in the jewellery shop across the road, will surely be impressed. Except she’s not – because she can see the bigger picture.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just get it

  • By Caroline on 28-04-13

A bit patchy and at times rather slow

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

Reviewed: 26-09-15

Hmm, I have to say I found this a bit patchy, self indulgent and at times rather slow. To be sure it has its funny moments, and our somewhat paranoid, hypochondriac “hero” with his myriad obsessions makes an interesting change from the usual manly men that inhabit private eye books. He’s a coward, mostly focussed on himself and his own self-interests, and at times his behaviour borders on the downright creepy. I didn’t like him.
I was almost put off at the start, when the book seems to be setting up as a series of daft little mysteries, but stick with it, and the ‘Case of the Musical Jews’ comes along and forms the backbone of the rest of the book. This does build to a fine denouement - albeit a trifle slowly, which I vaguely saw coming. I don't think the police would really have allowed him his moment of glory, but it makes good fiction. The end sets up the nameless hero (I think he’s nameless - if he is named I didn’t spot it), and the jaw-droppingly tolerant and forgiving mother of his yet to be born children, for the next book.
There’s a brief violent scene towards the end where, in typical movie or computer game fashion, had the level of violence as described really been used against a human body, they’d likely have died. I found it disturbing, and completely out of character from the rest of the book. I think it was at that point I decided I really, really didn’t like the main character.
Brilliantly read by Stephen Armstrong, altho’ as a southern englishwoman I have no idea how good his Belfast accent was - sounded a bit Dublin to my ears at times, but what do I know?! I was deeply impressed by his coping with having to say “no” about 30 times on the trot at one point; he managed to keep me listening and expecting…. something.
Will I read/listen to the next in the series? No.

  • Linesman

  • By: S. K. Dunstall
  • Narrated by: Brian Hutchison
  • Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he's crazy.... Most slum kids never go far, certainly not becoming a level 10 linesman like Ean. Even if he's part of a small and unethical cartel, and the other linesmen disdain his self-taught methods, he's certified and working. Then a mysterious alien ship is discovered at the edges of the galaxy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good, gentle to start but grabs and doesn’t let go

  • By DebB on 15-09-15

Good, gentle to start but grabs and doesn’t let go

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

Reviewed: 15-09-15

I really enjoyed this, and I’m not much of a SF reader on the whole. This was waved in front of my eyes by Audible at some point, and the reviews persuaded me to give it a go - that’s the good side of a subscription, for £7.99 you’re more willing to take a punt of something unknown.

Anyhow, this is set in classic Sci-Fi territory, space ships, military, unknown aliens, super fast travel, courtesy of ‘the lines’, but has a very human heart in Ean (spelt that way apparently) Lambert. It is mostly narrated by him, but about oh, I don’t know, 20%, maybe less, of the chapters are narrated by Franco (can’t remember if he’s a Frank, or a Franco…) Rossi.

Interstellar travel depends on the lines, and the lines need Linesmen to keep them serviced and reliable. There are, at the start anyhow, 10 known lines, with lines 9 and 10 responsible for travel through the void - a sort of hole in time and space that lets ships travel vast distances in no time. Lambert and Rossi are both Line 10 linesmen, as senior as you get, but Lambert is considered a weird misfit, ridiculed and dismissed by his peers, while Rossi is a politicking, patronising, arrogant so’n’so poised to take over his guild.

The book contains some politicking, but not too much, and there were times when I wanted Ean to grow a bit of backbone, but he is who and what he is, so I settled and came to like him! There are a host of supporting characters, generally well fleshed out, some backstabbing and derring-do, a nice developing mystery around the lines and the alien ship, and the last quarter or so was really gripping.

Well read with enough difference between the main characters, and with the women as well voiced by the narrator as the men. There’s a sequel due out February 2016 that I will be buying, with a third planned according to the writers’ web site. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Vision in Silver

  • A Novel of the Others
  • By: Anne Bishop
  • Narrated by: Alexandra Harris
  • Length: 16 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 138
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 126
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 125

The New York Times best-selling author of The Black Jewels Trilogy transports readers to a world of magic and political unrest - where the only chance at peace requires a deadly price.... The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before - both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very good but not quite as good as the first 2

  • By Farnham_red on 05-09-16

Enjoyable as always!

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

Reviewed: 27-08-15

Enjoyable as always! I agree with the other reviewer who says the book feels a bit like a filler - there’s no crash bang ending this time - that’s very much to come. However, there’s some nice development of various characters, relationships and friendships, some new characters introduced, and the overall story arc definitely is definitely moving forwards. There are more shifters to come to Lakeside and I look forward to seeing Simon trying to manage some of the big cats!

Well read, I love the various “Aroooo”s she manages for the different wolfs, and even Meg at one point, and her characterisation of the main players is consistent and good.

This is an interesting mix of writing style, some seemingly aimed at the younger end of the YA market, and yet it covers some mature subjects and uses some robust language… I do find the concept of the all-powerful Others tamed by cookies or sugar lumps a bit Disney’esque though!

However, as a not so young A, I enjoy these books, and this is a series I shall definitely stick with.

  • A Study in Ashes

  • The Baskerville Affair, Book 3
  • By: Emma Jane Holloway
  • Narrated by: Angele Masters
  • Length: 26 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26

As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, handcuffed and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes. But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fine conclusion that just begs for more!

  • By DebB on 08-03-15

A fine conclusion that just begs for more!

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

Reviewed: 08-03-15

I have been absorbed by Ms Holloway's world and characters for just under 69 hours, and I am bereft, starting another book after an epic like this is always a problem for me - I usually return to an old favourite so I can shake off the loss in comfort!

This trilogy of books have been criticised by some for being slow, and to be sure the author doesn't rush through her complex and many stranded plot, and this isn't a wham-bam-whizz-pop breathless OMG sort of book - the author must have had her whole plot line drawn out before she started, I can't see how she kept a track of things otherwise. Little things in book one become important in book three, and everything matters - there are no red herrings here to mislead or trick the reader. Whilst this is essentially Evalina's story, there's a large cast of supporting characters who all get their own chapters and storylines. A lot happens in this, the last of the trilogy. It starts with the aftermath of a death, and the consequences of bargains made in book two, rolls along quite briskly I thought, to the extent that the final denouement is all over rather quickly! If I'd been reading a physical book, I'd have gone back and reread that chapter, but I was on a roll by that point with the end in sight so I ploughed on!

The various strands are brought together to a, for some, satisfactory conclusion, but for others... Let me just say there's another book or three needed here.

Consistently well read, with the many principle characters individually drawn, this is a good trilogy, just be prepared to go along at the author's pace - it's well worth it.