LISTENER

Helena

Stroud, United Kingdom
  • 15
  • reviews
  • 65
  • helpful votes
  • 18
  • ratings
  • The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories

  • By: Algernon Blackwood
  • Narrated by: Hugh Ross
  • Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24

An abandoned house whose horrific past is reenacted for those who dare visit; a terrifying trip down the Danube River; a malevolent half-beast creature who abducts a member of a hunting party; and a tale of paranoia, mental deterioration, and all-consuming feelings of doom: Here are four feverish, spine-tingling tales that will chill the blood and make the flesh creep. The collection includes "The Empty House," "The Willows," "The Listener", and "The Wendigo".

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Beware of the Wendigo!

  • By Helena on 11-01-17

Beware of the Wendigo!

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

Reviewed: 11-01-17

These are old-fashioned (19th or early 20th century stories) expertly narrated by Hugh Ross, evoking a bygone world of hunters, explorers and mythical creatures. The first story, the Empty House, created an atmosphere of terror but ended rather abruptly, and the explanation had already been given away.
From there on in, though, the ante was upped, and the final story, the Wendigo, was spine-chilling, dealing with the legend of the Wendigo, a spirit or mythical creature of the North American and Canadian wilderness. The Willows, although very long, creates a similar atmosphere of terror, dealing with purely supernatural events that have no rational explanation.
Summary: If you like old-world ghost stories and haven't come across Algernon Balckwood before, give this a go. You won't regret it, though you might not sleep afterwards!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Miss Mapp

  • By: E. F. Benson
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 76

Miss Elizabeth Mapp, magnificent grande dame and heiress, is always on the lookout lest her neighbors fall outside the bounds of perfect, exemplary manners. But her tightly controlled world is soon beset on all sides by interlopers, first in the disturbingly masculine form of two very different retired army officers, both of whom are anything but retiring in their conflicting aims upon her heart.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • and escapist delight

  • By Philip on 22-04-10

Great escapism

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

Reviewed: 05-12-15

Would you listen to Miss Mapp again? Why?

Maybe if I was ill. I don't usually revisit books unless they are firm favourites. Life's too short.

What did you like best about this story?

That it's total escapism from the demands of my daily life.

Have you listened to any of Nadia May’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I've not listened to any others. I might be tempted now, though

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not particularly, it's more of a gentle comedy

Any additional comments?

I found this on audible after watching the dramatisation on the BBC last Christmas. It was an easy, enjoyable listen, and it's a shame that there aren't many more unabridged readings of the other novels available.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Polish Phase 1, Unit 01-05

  • Learn to Speak and Understand Polish with Pimsleur Language Programs
  • By: Pimsleur
  • Narrated by: Pimsleur
  • Length: 2 hrs and 40 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25

Polish Phase 1, Units 1-5 build on material taught in prior units. Each lesson provides 30 minutes of spoken language practice, with an introductory conversation, and new vocabulary and structures. Detailed instructions enable you to understand and participate in the conversation.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Useful for US tourists

  • By Helena on 05-12-15

Useful for US tourists

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

Reviewed: 05-12-15

If you could sum up Polish Phase 1, Unit 01-05 in three words, what would they be?

Useful phrases in spoken Polish

What did you like best about this story?

It doesn't have one

What about the narrator’s performance did you like?

The accents are good, I am told. Authentic Polish speakers.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Alone in Poland: an American tourist toughs it out

Any additional comments?

This reviewing format only applies to novels, not to non fiction books. AS a result I am not able to write the review I intended and feel patronised by the "tick the box" approach.
I would add that this audiobook assumes that the speaker is American, and male. There is not even an option for saying "I'm British" or "I'm Spanish". I find that annoying. Poland isn't part of the US empire, as far as I know...
I bought this to help me to learn some basic phrases to use in the nursery where I work with a Polish-speaking child aged three, whose parents have not taught him English. It has been useful in this regard though there is no grammar and no indication of how to pronounce written words, It's all based on the "Listen and Repeat" approach. I find that somewhat limiting.
Still, for a long weekend in Krakow, it would be plenty. I downloaded the next part, too, and got as far as unit nine. Then my little charge began to learn a lot of English from his playmates.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

A Mile of River cover art
  • A Mile of River

  • By: Judith Allnatt
  • Narrated by: Colleen Prendergast
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

It is 1976 and England is suffocating. The long, dry spring has given way to a summer of severe drought. Jess and Tom live on a remote farm with their increasingly difficult and brutal father. Their mother, Sylvie, walked out years before and Jess is struggling with the role of mother figure to Tom, as well as skivvy and hired hand for her father. Daydreaming about her mother's return, Jess discovers Sylvie’s old diary and begins to uncover the shocking truth about her disappearance.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best

  • By Helena on 30-05-15

One of the best

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

Reviewed: 30-05-15

Exquisite evocation of the farming life, the drought of 1976, and period details. Story gripped me from start to finish.

  • Watch Over Me

  • By: Daniela Sacerdoti
  • Narrated by: Helen McAlpine
  • Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 134
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 137

From the best-selling author of the Sarah Midnight Trilogy comes an instant classic - a beautiful and poignant love story about letting go and moving on. Eilidh Lawson’s life has hit crisis point. Years of failed fertility treatments, a cheating husband and an oppressive family have pushed her to the limits. Desperate for relief, she seeks solace in the only place she’s ever felt at home - a small village in the Scottish Highlands.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved the story and loved narration

  • By NinaPasz on 28-01-15

Twee and cosy, like a magazine story

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

Reviewed: 12-01-14

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not worth the listen. Storyline too predictable from early on. There were plot twists and turns, but direction still obvious. Too many descriptions of people's clothing and outfits.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Art world was unconvincingly portrayed: would an agent really drive up from London to rural Aberdeenshire to a gallery opening? Would an artist donate a work of considerable value to an Oxfam shop? The fictional town of Glen Avich is very strange. For a start, every one has blue eyes, apparently. Not a single character is mentioned as having brown eyes. Even with inbreeding, that would be truly remarkable. There are no farm animals nor farmers, no harvests, no unemployment, no oil, no fish farms or quarries, no teenagers, no social problems, no fights or addictions (apart from one which is quickly overcome by strength of will alone) in fact nothing much goes on apart from a lesbian relationship among some lesser characters, and the main romance. At one point,the main character plans to get a job as a nursery teacher in a nearby town, and buy a house and run a car on her salary alone. The artist/ blacksmith makes 'Scottish themed art including sculpture, wood cavings, jewellery AND metalwork. It is all is a little hard to believe.

What about Helen McAlpine’s performance did you like?

Good delivery, well paced. Accents were not spot on for North East Scotland and Southport, but that's a minor point. If It hadn't been for the reading (ie if this had been a book or a Kindle file) I'd have given up well before the end.

Did Watch Over Me inspire you to do anything?

It has made me want to avoid reading anything else by this author.

Any additional comments?

I grew up in a village in the West Highlands, as well as spending time in the North East of Scotland in the 1970s and quite honestly the place the author describes sounds more like Cloud Cuckoo Land than anywhere real. However, if you want a romance and are not much concerned with reality, this book will do the trick.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • All Change

  • By: Elizabeth Jane Howard
  • Narrated by: Penelope Wilton
  • Length: 15 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 165
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 153
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155

The final book in the landmark Cazalet Chronicles, recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It is the 1950s and as the Cazalets' beloved matriarch, the Duchy, passes away, she takes with her the last remnants of a world - of great houses and servants, of class and tradition - in which the Cazalets have thrived. Louise, now divorced, becomes entangled in a painful affair; while Polly and Clary must balance marriage and motherhood with their own ideas and ambitions.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Sort of an Ending

  • By Alison on 05-05-15

Hard times, but not much left to care about

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

Reviewed: 24-12-13

What did you like most about All Change?

Narration excellent, as per the BBC radio 4 adaptations. I enjoyed meeting old characters such as Clary and Rachel from the previous books. Rachel and Diana's charactesr were very convincingly portrayed. Villy is redeemed from her self loathing and self pitying stance. Social history details in the background added interest.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Most interesting: the relationship between Sid and Rachel, and the timber firm, Cazalet's progress. We were told more about the day to day running of a timber firm than in previous novels.

What about Penelope Wilton’s performance did you like?

It's crisp, pace does not lag, accent is suited to the characters

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Mainly I was bored, and annoyed at the way the plot kept jumping from one set of characters to another, with very short chapters. I was also amazed at the description of every single meal anyone ever ate. Too much of a good thing can be as dull as poached chicken.

Any additional comments?

There were far too many minor characters (grandchildren and great-granchildren) to care about them all. I had to keep referring to the printed family tree in the previous books.
Disturbing lack of continuity between this fifth volume and the previous four; for example, in the fourth volume, Simon seems set to become a doctor, but in the fifth book he seems to have no ambition or career ideas. There is also a glaring error about the identity of the twin who died earlier on in the quintet.The characters are, with notable exceptions, thinly drawn and seem more like stereotypes of upper class English people than real ones. Makes me wonder why EJH bothered to write this: low bank balance, perhaps?

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff

  • By: Margaret Forster
  • Narrated by: Jacqueline King
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 21

Plagued all her life by her roisterous husband, straitlaced, outspoken, domineering Maudie is now on her own. Invited by her two daughters and her son to spend four months with each of them, she leaves Glasgow for the first time, uncertain of what awaits her. But what she finds in the very different homes of her children is not what she expects, causing her to reassess her life.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Nostalgia with bite.

  • By Joan on 16-02-07

Ok, but ....

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

Reviewed: 17-09-13

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I'd read books by Margaret Forster before, but I had not realised that this one was set in the 1960s pre-decimal era, and the character therefore a product her time and uprbringing. The story was not fast paced, but the main problem I had was with the disagreeable character of Maudie. She was instantly recognisable as a kind of Scottish sourpuss I remember from my youth, but would rather forget! So I have to hand it to the author and the narrator: brilliant characterisation, and great mastery of accents. Please God I don't ever meet Maudie, though, and thank God that she is not my mother! I'd like to say it was bittersweet, but there was more bitter than sweet in Maudie, even towards the end.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Scatty Sallie the middle daughter

Which character – as performed by Jacqueline King – was your favourite?

Maudie

Could you see The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

No. It's too dated, not enough plot

Any additional comments?

Maudie espouses a type of mealy mouthed disapproving older woman I sincerely hope we have seen the back of!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Watching You

  • By: Michael Robotham
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 12 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,467
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,332
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,337

Marnie Logan often feels like she's being watched. Nothing she can quite put her finger on - a whisper of breath on the back of her neck, or a shadow in the corner of her eye - and now her life is frozen. Her husband Daniel has been missing for more than a year. Depressed and increasingly desperate, she seeks the help of clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin. Joe is concerned by Marnie's reluctance to talk about the past, but then she discovers a book packed with pictures, interviews with friends, former teachers, old flames and workmates Daniel was preparing for her birthday.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • First class thriller

  • By Kirstine on 13-09-13

Terrifying but compulsive listening

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

Reviewed: 25-08-13

If you could sum up Watching You in three words, what would they be?

Chilling; puzzling; enthralling

What was one of the most memorable moments of Watching You?

The part where Marnie discovers Elijah's secret in the cupboard; the scene with Joe and Malcolm in the bathroom towards the end of the book.

What does Sean Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

No one does a creepy pervert voice like Sean Barrett! He plays the sociopath admirably

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me afraid, and got me twisted in knots trying to work out the ending. Completely hooked on listening, but probably wouldn't listen to alone.

Any additional comments?

Michael Robotham is an awesome writer, though there is a strand of sameness that runs through his some of his books. I worry that he's really a sadistic outsider who used to be in the British Army...

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • The Song of the Lark

  • By: Willa Cather
  • Narrated by: Barbara Caruso
  • Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Thea Kronberg has a voice that can call down angels and the soul of a Colorado pioneer girl. But as she develops her talents and devotes herself to the life of an artist, she must consider the cost of the creative path she follows. Willa Cather's classic novel is full of the breathtaking beauty of the American frontier and the spirit of the people who live there.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Slow burner

  • By Helena on 25-11-12

Slow burner

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-11-12

Unlike Thea Kronberg, the heroine, a passionate and talented young girl, this semi-autobiographical novel burns slowly, and the 15 hours have taken me months to listen to, the story being not as gripping as my usual fare. I loved My Antonia, and liked O Pioneers! by the same author, but this tale was less engrossing.



The main character here is Thea, a girl from Colorado who eventually succeeds against the odds in becoming an opera singer. Not being an opera fan and not having a word of German, I found the theme less than riveting. There is also a lot about what I'd call "the struggle of the artist, and for integrity" and while I do not dispute that every artist of any sort endures this type of agony, it doesn't make great listening if you've been there before.



The narration was ok, but I found the voice a little harsh.



What I loved was the descriptions of life in a small Colorado town; the landscape; the story of the tramp; the description of remains of the caves of the Pueblo indians. No one does the landscape of the West or MidWest like Willa Cather!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Summer

  • By: Judith Kinghorn
  • Narrated by: Jane Wymark
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 244
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 136
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 132

A sweeping debut, perfect for reading groups and fans of Kate Morton and Downton Abbey - a beautiful and haunting story of lost innocence and a powerful, enduring love.Clarissa is almost seventeen when the spell of her childhood is broken. It is 1914, the beginning of a blissful, golden summer - and the end of an era. Deyning Park is in its heyday, the large country house filled with the laughter and excitement of privileged youth preparing for a weekend party.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Last Summer, by Judith Kinghorn

  • By Mrs on 10-06-12

Captivating, engaging, enraging

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-12

I got this as part of a two-for-one promo, so I wasn't expecting much. It started off as what I thought was a rather cliched love story across the class divide, and I don't like love stories much, as a rule, so I put it aside for a few days. It did, though, have an underlying teasing erotic tension, never explicitly stated, so I picked it up again! When I started listening once more, I rapidly became totally addicted to it, and listened to the book all over the house, on the bus, on my walks, in the garden while hanging up the washing, etc. Rarely do I find myself shouting at fictional characters, but I did desperately want these star crossed lovers to get together, and also for the woman, Clarissa to Just Say No to her overprotective Mama! However, that is a 21st century judgement...
Yes, this is at heart a love story set in the Edwardian era, but it is also a vivid description of the life and rhythms of a large country estate, and a moving account of the horrors and the waste of lives that war brings, and how it continues to affects the survivors.
I listened in format 4 on my ancient iPod nano, and found the narration faultless. The pace never dragged, and listening to this story took me miles and miles away from the no. 93 bus route in the rain to an altogether sunnier and more privileged place and time.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful