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Barbara

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 58
  • reviews
  • 122
  • helpful votes
  • 65
  • ratings
  • The King's General

  • By: Daphne du Maurier
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 218
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 176
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 177

When the skeleton of a young cavalier was found by William Rashleigh at Daphne du Maurier's beloved mansion, Menabilly, she once again found inspiration in her surroundings. Putting pen to paper, Daphne created The King's General, a historical tale which takes place during the English Civil War and introduces one of du Maurier's greatest heroines: Honor Harris. Honor is a beautiful, brave and kind protagonist, a true embodiment of the name by which she goes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The King's General

  • By Maureen on 22-10-08

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain

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

Reviewed: 20-01-19

Extraordinary that this is presented as a romance. Extraordinary that the heroine's love interest has ever been presented as a hero. We aren't too far into the story before the so-called hero is terrorizing women and children and bullying his "social inferiors". And as to the heroine: when she learns that he had punched his wife in the face, thereby showering his infant son with his mother's blood, she speculates that the unfortunate woman must have done something to provoke him. But physical violence is by way of foreplay for our hero: he uses the civil war as an excuse to rob his wife of her property too. His violence and contempt for his son have all too predictable results. It won't do to say that this was somehow accepted when Du Maurier was writing. Born some 50 years before her (and like her, to a violent alcoholic father) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle nonetheless wrote with sympathy and compassion of the horrors that women of his era experienced as a result of the marriage laws as they then stood, which could force a woman to return to a violent spouse, bar her from divorcing him, and deny her custody of her children if he divorced her - and all with his customary light touch, so that it didn't feel like campaigning. He didn't try and sell you you bullying, cruelty, spite and mental illness disguised as romance, the way that Du Maurier does here. I don't know how the book ends. Maybe someone planted their foot in this fool's backside and boosted him off a battlement whilst he was taking his riding crop to a crying child.

  • Desperation

  • By: Stephen King
  • Narrated by: Stephen King
  • Length: 21 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 492
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 444
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 443

Welcome to Desperation. Once a thriving copper-mining town in the middle of the Nevada desert, Desperation is now eerily abandoned. It's the last place that travellers like the Carver family, bound for vacation, and writer Johnny Marinville, astride his Harley, would expect to be stopped and charged. But Desperation still has a local cop - a unique regulator who patrols the wilderness highway. The secrets buried in Desperation are as terrifying as the forces summoned to encounter them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • AMAZING

  • By Glen on 21-07-17

Glad I stopped by

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

King has always had a problem with endings, and Desperation is no exception to this rule, with symptoms of fade developing about half way through the book as (definitely) one or (possibly) two of the main characters show signs of pomposity and start making speeches which don't advance the plot or add interest to the story. But oh lord those early chapters are some of the scariest I've read anywhere. Oddly enough, it's often not the description of the violence itself which is most frightening: it's the descriptions of abandoned vehicles on desert highways; a child's toy dropped in the dirt, the sound of a fish tank bubbling in an empty office. It's what those sights and sounds signify either at the time or afterwards that stays with you for days.

  • Cheating at Canasta

  • Short Story Collection
  • By: William Trevor
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley, Gerard Doyle, Heather O'Neill, and others
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

The publication of a new book by William Trevor is a true literary event. One of our finest chroniclers of the human condition, Trevor's precise and unflinching insights into the lives of ordinary people are evidenced once again in this stunning collection of twelve stories. Subtle yet powerful, these exquisitely nuanced tales of regret, deception, adultery, aging, and forgiveness are a rare pleasure, and they confirm Trevor's reputation as a master of the form.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By M. B. Radford on 18-02-17

Nothing now can ever come to any good

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

If you are feeling excessively cheerful and would like your high spirits dialled down a bit, here's the stuff for you. Beautifully written, wonderfully read and with twists and turns that hit you in the solar plexus, this is the kind of book your English teacher used to set in 4th year to get you ready for The Real World, where you will not win the lottery, marry the partner of your dreams and live happily ever after. The stories are wonderfully told with truly convincing characters and plots. I actually did end up laughing a few times because of the number of times things went so god-awfully wrong for people.

  • The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery

  • By: Catherine Bailey
  • Narrated by: Stephen Rashbrook
  • Length: 15 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 120
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 98

In April 1940, the ninth Duke of Rutland died in mysterious circumstances in one of the rooms of his family estate, Belvoir Castle. The mystery surrounding these rooms holds the key to a tragic story that is played out on the brutal battlefields of the Western Front and in the exclusive salons of Mayfair and Belgravia in the dying years of la belle époque. Uncovered is a dark and disturbing period in the history of the Rutland family, and one which they were determined to keep hidden for over 60 years. Sixty years on, The Secret Rooms is the true story of family secrets and one man’s determination to keep the past hidden at any cost.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great read. Great narration.

  • By Gale on 11-11-12

..Duty is what one expects from others..

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

Reviewed: 05-11-18

..it is not what one does oneself.
It's terrifying to think about how we'd perform if our entire lives were held up to the kind of unswerving scrutiny to which Bailey submits her subjects but thank god, we aren't the subjects of this book. We can just sit back and marvel at how difficult it can be to really understand someone's motives and behaviour, particularly in the kind of extreme circumstances which arise in this book. This book was not what I expected - not just at the beginning, but all the way through. I kept thinking I had spotted what the problem was and who the *baddie* was, but over and over again I was wrong, right to the bitter end. (And isn't that that why people still get married for example, in the face of all the evidence not only that people turn out not to be who we think they are but even worse, that WE turn out not to be who we thought we were going to be?) I was listening to it at the same time as I was watching the 1964 BBC Documentary The Great War. The images of all those young men wearing boaters, strolling by sunlit streams, then the footage of some of the staff officers referred to in the text, then the human jam in the trenches, kept coming into my mind as I was listening - it was almost incredible to reflect that these events had actually happened. What a scandal: literally a bloody disgrace, as truly sickening a series of interventions and string-pullings as you'll ever come across.

  • Stories

  • All-New Tales
  • By: Neil Gaiman (author and editor), Al Sarrantonio (editor), Joe Hill, and others
  • Narrated by: Anne Bobby, Jonathan Davis, Katherine Kellgren, and others
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 41

The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fiction, all genres are equal.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Gaimen entertains again

  • By Daniel Crussell on 31-08-10

Licorice Allsorts without the nasty blue ones

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

Reviewed: 03-10-18

Pleasantly surprised by this collection. I listen to and read lots of short stories in collections and am used to either coming across the same good but overly familiar standards being included (when you've heard them so many times you just skip them) or else having lots of duds included with one or two good yarns. Neither sin is committed here. Great tales, well told.

  • Sticky Fingers

  • 12 Short Stories
  • By: JT Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Bianca Flanders
  • Length: 4 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16

Diverse, dark-humored, and deliciously bite-sized, this compelling collection of 12 short stories by JT Lawrence include: "Escape" - A story about about a suicidal baby who knows he was born into the wrong life, and has to get creative to correct the mistake, much to his mother's horror; "The Itch" - An intense, uncontrollable, unexplainable itch lands the protagonist in a mental institution.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • If the balance is off, bad things can happen.

  • By Norma Miles on 07-01-18

A voice for the end of the world

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

Reviewed: 03-10-18

If ever they need someone to announce the onset of the Apocalypse, they need look no further than Bianca Flanders. She has the kind of crystal clear, calm, impassive voice best suited for warning you of impending horrors whilst simultaneously reminding you of the importance of good manners. It's exactly the right voice for this collection, too: stories for the most part about something awful in the post, whilst the cast of characters react too late or fail to notice (pretend not to notice?) the terrible things going on. All the stories are different - they aren't all ghost stories or horror stories, but there is a definite creepiness to most of them. Loved this collection and have just downloaded the next volume.

  • The Travelling Grave and Other Stories

  • Valancourt 20th Century Classics
  • By: L. P. Hartley
  • Narrated by: Guy Bethell
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

Though best known for his classic novel of Edwardian childhood The Go-Between, L. P. Hartley was also a master of supernatural and macabre fiction, the best of which is collected in The Travelling Grave and Other Stories. This volume demonstrates Hartley's versatility, ranging from traditional ghost stories like "Feet Foremost" and "The Cotillon" to the wonderfully black humor of the horror masterpieces "The Travelling Grave" and "The Killing Bottle". Originally published in 1948 and long out of print, this collection features 12 of Hartley's best tales.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fine stories - less than ideal performer

  • By Leon van Schoonneveldt on 10-01-18

The dread is creeping softly along the corridor

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

Reviewed: 09-09-18

Who knew that L P Hartley could write such creepy, ghastly stuff? Not me, till now. He's quite prepared to create some really nasty fates for people, and you listen when you kind of wish you could stop, sometimes. Guy Bethell has the perfect voice for this period horror: a kind of creaky, pleasant but ominous deep voice, the voice of a public-school educated surgeon on a battlefield explaining with impeccable manners that he has to amputate but unfortunately there's no morphine. I wish I could stop thinking about that pair of shoes. And the man on the bus.

  • Lie with Me

  • By: Sabine Durrant
  • Narrated by: Kirk Bage
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,098
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,017
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,016

It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to a former acquaintance we can't quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home. And the next thing you know, you're having dinner at their house and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday - swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of.... Which turns out to be less than perfect.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very cleverly observed and put together.

  • By janice wildchild newman on 02-10-16

Block out a weekend

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

Reviewed: 07-07-18

I found it virtually impossible to stop listening to this every time I started, and resented every interruption. As much as I felt confused about it, I found myself identifying with one of the most loathsome, self- serving characters in literature because of his back story. Here is Flashman without the jokes. This author knows how to build dread from the most mundane objects (a piece of cloth) and noises (a dog barking), and to create the most beautiful landscapes with just the right amount of description. Exotic trees, boats at anchor, threatening waves, rustic villages crouching under staggering heat - all became vivid in my mind as I listened. What a wonderful book: do yourself a favour and listen.

  • The Terror

  • By: Dan Simmons
  • Narrated by: Tom Sellwood
  • Length: 28 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 315
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 291

The most advanced scientific enterprise ever mounted, Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition in search of the fabled Northwest Passage had every expectation of triumph. But for almost two years his ships, HMS Terror and Erebus, have been trapped in the Arctic ice. Supplies of fuel and food are running low. Scurvy, starvation and even madness are beginning to take their toll. And yet the real threat isn’t from the constantly shifting, alien landscape, the flesh-numbing temperatures or being crushed by the unyielding, frozen ocean. No, the real threat is far more terrifying. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic read

  • By Caroline Pearson on 02-05-18

The Golden Age of Benny Hill

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

If you enjoy books where the female characters' clothing keeps coming off in the most improbable circumstances, this is the book for you. I downloaded this, hoping for a combination of horror and history. There was a bit of both, but really, what I noticed was the author repeatedly and predictably arranging situations where women were naked while for the most part, the men around them were not. This was combined with what felt like endless dull descriptions of women's secondary sexual characteristics and a total absence of any description of the interior life for any of the women involved. Not once anywhere in the novel were we told what a woman was thinking - well I got more than half way through and there was no description of what a woman thought at any point, though there were many descriptions of what men were thinking.
A woman in India removes all of her clothing and we are told about her breasts. A woman in the polar region goes to bed naked and we are told about her breasts. A woman in New Zealand removes all of her clothing and we are told about her breasts. I wondered if the author got a bonus for every time he used the word "breasts". The book leaves you feeling impressed that any woman, anywhere in the world in the 1840s, managed to keep her kit on for more than 30 seconds at a time in the presence of a man. When it got to the point where I was laughing out loud at every ridiculous breast fest, I felt that it was time to quit. I have no problem with either sex or nudity or anyone's secondary sexual characteristics, but it's disappointing when an author introduces female characters into the plot solely for such tired old tropes.

42 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • The Remains of the Day

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Dominic West
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,482
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,371
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,366

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House. In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside – and into his past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nostalgia for a time that has so much to teach us

  • By Amazon Customer on 20-07-15

Should I stay or should I go?

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

Reviewed: 20-03-18

There's a scene in the Disney movie "Eight Below" where a sled dog is shown having to abandon an injured pack member to certain death in a blizzard. To remain would condemn her and the remainder of the team to death as well. It's the perfect, horrible illustration of how sometimes any chance of survival and happiness depend on walking away from someone with the emotional equivalent of a broken leg. And if doing so *guaranteed* happiness, well, we'd all be doing it. But all you get from walking away is a shot at it. And how do you reconcile that with the risk of spending the rest of your life regretting What Might Have Been?
Much of this book is about the decisions we have to make if we are drawn to perfectly decent people who seem incapable of experiencing or sharing happiness, no matter how much others wish to share it with them. How long before you give up and walk away into the blizzard? Or are you someone who stays? Although the book deals with some very poignant experiences (if you don't enjoy the guilty pleasure of the odd furtive tear whilst reading, this book is not for you) it's also hopeful, funny and endlessly interesting. Ishiguro shares Henry James' interest in analysing and describing at length seemingly trivial and fleeting emotions and sensations and decisions. However, whereas James leaves you wanting to hit yourself on the head with a hammer until you pass out, Ishiguro creates what I've heard referred to as aesthetic arrest. You stop, held in place, perfectly engaged by what he describes. I resented every single thing I had to do which took me away from this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful