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Liz

Norwich, United Kingdom
  • 7
  • reviews
  • 18
  • helpful votes
  • 35
  • ratings
  • A Boy Called Christmas

  • By: Matt Haig
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 4 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 691
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 635
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 632

You are about to listen to the true story of Father Christmas. It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible. If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you. Because this audiobook is full of impossible things. Are you still reading? Good. Then let us begin....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A lovely Christmas story

  • By DF on 16-12-16

Epilogue Woe.

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

Reviewed: 02-01-18

Really strong story and emotional arc for the vast majority of the book. Totally fell down for me when instead of summarising how Nicholas became Santa in three lines, it spent an hour getting us from child having an adventure and learning about complexities of human experience to Becoming Santa. Urgh.

  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

  • By: Muriel Spark
  • Narrated by: Miriam Margolyes
  • Length: 4 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 329
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 273
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 272

"You girls are my vocation... I am dedicated to you in my prime." So says Miss Jean Brodie, a teacher unlike any other. She is proud and cultured. A romantic, with progressive, sometimes shocking ideas and aspirations for the girls in her charge. When she decides to transform a select group of pupils into the 'crème de la crème' at the Marcia Blaine School they become the Brodie set. In exchange for their undivided loyalty the girls earn a special place of honour and privilege within the school. Yet they are also introduced to a startling new world of adult games....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sharp wit that doesn't date

  • By Adrienne on 23-12-12

Fabulous narration

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

Reviewed: 11-09-17

Really amazing narration. I can't imagine it would have been nearly as wonderful to read.

  • The Late Scholar

  • By: Jill Paton Walsh
  • Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 243
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 227
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 227

When the fellows at an Oxford college appeal to Peter Wimsey to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet are happy to oblige. The dispute between the two passionate parties is evenly balanced, that is, until several of the fellows unexpectedly die. And the causes of death bear an uncanny resemblance to the murder methods in Peter's past cases - methods that Harriet has used in her novels.…

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not as good as a DL Sayers but better than nothing

  • By Claire on 15-05-14

Underwhelming

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

Reviewed: 04-06-14

On the narrator, I was momentarily devasted when I realised that Edward Petherbridge would not be reading this book to me. (Or even Ian Charmichael, as I've also learnt to associate him with Lord Peter through years of audiobooks, but Petherbridge brings the ennui of a very clever man's sarcasm and wit and false whimsy to everything.)

I grew to tolerate him. There's nothing particularly bad about his narration, except for Not Being Petherbridge. His voices are consistent, I especially liked Bunter, but there isn't any variation I noticed among the secondary characters, victims and villains, and in a cast of dozens, I might have used the extra help keeping them straight in my head. His tone for the narrator was a little stilted, but I think that might have been the writing style rather than any narrative choice on his part.

With the story as a whole, I don't think this was Paton Walsh's best take on Lord Peter. It relied on the original Sayers books too much (I know, a bit hypocritical, as I'm listening to a continuation on Sayers universe; obviously I'm desperately searching for more of what I love). What I mean is that some aspects of the plot were deliberately echoing things from early Lord Peter books, which became a bit frustrating, especially as it equated Harriet Vane with Dorothy L. Sayers (which Sayers said she disliked) in a way which was occasionally entertainly meta, but mostly annoying. It even occasionally tainted my enjoyment of the original book (I love The Nine Tailors, don't poop on it with logic, Walsh, I don't need to hear that).

I also think the exposition relied on Harriet as Peter's intellectual foil far too often. Harriet would say 'but, we don't know that, Peter', and Peter would explain all the things she missed, Sherlock to her Watson. I know that Bunter had occasionally been used in this way in the original books, but in this book Bunter was also a Sherlock (to Peter and Harriet's Watson), and Harriet was reduced to an intellectual sidekick, even when surrounded by Oxford dons and going off to research her academic work on slow days.

As a snap-shot of the 50s as the Wimseys would have known it, it was a strong book. I loved the idea of thinking about the politics of council housing, with estates being established on appropriated land, sitting next to the state of the modern housing crisis. There wasn't a strong sense of rationing (unlike in A Presumption of Death), but the continuation of the decline of the aristocracy, the birth of opportunities for boys (and characters) that didn't go to Eton, and ended up at Oxford, or miss the Oxbridge train altogether. Bunter's eldest wants to be an economist, and go to London School of Economics, and there's discussion of the limitations and isolation of Oxbridge, all of which I liked when reading with an eye on contemporary politics about the same. (However, since we have the benefit of prophetic knowledge by BEING ALIVE NOW, some of Peter and Harriet's musing seemed extremely optimistic. We have hardly moved away from a society where old Etonians run the place.)

The mystery is a little befuddled, and for the most part I didn't learn to care for any of the victims (except a tangentially-related suicide). I'm still not sure on one of the motivations, actually, I think I may have missed a nuance somewhere. In contrast to Gaudy Night, which is such a delight for its restraint in providing unnecessary bodies, this is filled with unnecessary deaths which add to a pattern, but don't seem to have much significance in themselves. The victims are definitely the equivalent of Prostitute #2 at the start of a CSI episode, rather than interesting academics whose names I can remember. Most of the secondary characters blurred into each other, (and were sometimes absurdly coincidental, inexplicably having all the information Harriet or Peter needed) and I only liked a bare few of them. (And, since it was a well-populated Oxford college, there were too many to keep track of, even if I could rely on Sayers for a few like Eilund Price and Marjorie Phelps etc.)

If you're struggling, I felt all the emotional impact from victims (both killed and alive) came in the last hour (15%) of the novel. It wasn't the denouement, necessarily, that brought the impact, but the emotional revelations of a character who is the survivor left after (some of) the deaths. That is probably worth waiting for, if the mystery is sliding by you.

It's a nice listen if you like getting your fix of Lord Peter as an aging man, with mostly-grown children. As a mystery, I don't think it succeeds really, but I'm not a crime fiction afficinado so YMMV. If you haven't listened/read any others of Paton Walsh, I'd recommend The Attenbury Emeralds with a thousand praises, and then meander over to A Presumption of Death, and then the others if they catch your fancy.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Devil's Cub

  • By: Georgette Heyer
  • Narrated by: Michael Drew
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 163
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167

The excesses of the young Marquis of Vidal are even wilder than his father's before him. Not for nothing is the reckless duellist and gamester called "the Devil's Cub". But when he is forced to leave the country, Mary Challoner discovers his fiendish plan to abduct her sister. Any only by daring to impersonate her can Mary save her sibling from certain ruin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Devils Cub

  • By Alison on 14-11-09

Falling in Love, Numerous Times

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

Reviewed: 06-05-14

A friend of mine recommended this novel on the assurance that she was completely in love with Vidal, and I would understand her love before I was half way through. I really did. I also fell in love with Mary, because I wish I was half as kickass as her, and Vidal's mother as well, because I'm an equal opportunist.

The twists in what could otherwise be a straightforward romance were refreshingly different. The interpretation of honour, and right character were the main pressing points for the characters, which was intriguing, and led to some ridiculous decisions.

The strength of this is definitely the characters. Both Mary and Vidal are nuanced and intelligent. Vidal is initially painted as a rogue, but his honour is the main strength of the plot, and he becomes complex and violent and soft all at the same time. Mary is fierce and smart, and willing to realise her own mistakes and endeavor to fix them without any external help.

The narrator's various accents for characters took a little while to get into (some were rather nasally, which I found jarring), but there were good links in voice between Vidal and his father etc, (while still being distinctly and separately nasal) so overall it was nice, or at the very least impressive. Not a narrator whose works I'll be seeking out just to hear more of him, but nothing to complain about.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Redshirts

  • A Novel with Three Codas
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 840
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 737
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 735

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Book But Annoying Over Use of The Word "said

  • By Michael on 18-07-12

A delight for a snarky sci fi fan

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

Reviewed: 28-04-14

The concept of this novel is just as delightful as you're probably imagining it. It works well as a satirical love-in for whatever space opera holds a place in your heart (Stargate Atlantis, for me, but it hardly limited itself to a single show, as most of the concepts and conceits were universal to the genre). The lead characters are fun, but its the secondary characters who really make this awesome - they're the dumber substitutes for Shatner and co, and it MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. With some intimations of self-love including body doubles, which is pretty much everything the internet has ever laughed about in clones and Mirror Universe episodes.

The execution was occasionally slightly confused. Aside from the main plot line, the three codas (taking up a surprising chunk of the whole novel) are probably not going to suit everyone. One or two moments resonated with me, but there were long philosophies of the writing process (not Scalzi's process), and writers writing about writing is not everyone's favourite thing. There is a surprising happily ever after I didn't expect, so the codas aren't worth avoiding, just a little odd.

The narrator has a mellow, sarcastic way of speaking, which was for the most part awesome and added to the experience. The combination of speed and snark meant that dialogue stretches of, 'he said, she said, Dahl said' were occasionally confusing, and hard to follow who was saying what (though this usually didn't matter much). This gripe wasn't hugely annoying, however, and probably was neat in print form.

  • Guns

  • By: Stephen King
  • Narrated by: Christian Rummel
  • Length: 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129

In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King's keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sane suggestions, but quite a rant

  • By Jim Vaughan on 25-02-13

Very interesting and surprisingly balanced

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

Reviewed: 21-07-13

King created a narrative of how he feels about guns, and how he feels about media and guns, and how these two interact in negative (or neutral, or complicated) ways. It was definitely worth the money, and the time. It's short, but I really felt he expressed some of the anti-gun (and pro-gun) arguments in such a way that I appreciated some of the complexity of America's gun culture, which as an outsider had previously looked incomprehensible.

  • The Woman in White

  • By: Wilkie Collins
  • Narrated by: Roger Rees, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, and others
  • Length: 25 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62

Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall ever since. From the hero's foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collins's narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • the wonderful woman in white

  • By sjtroddy on 20-11-10

Glorious Narrators

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-02-12

This was a really excellent way to read The Woman in White. I would strongly recommend purchasing this version of the audiobook over any other which doesn't have such an extensive cast. The narrator changes many times throughout, and the shifts in narrator (each embodying the character very well) made this highly enjoyable, in a way which a single narrator may have lacked.

If you're looking for something short and sweet, um, stay away from 19th Century literature? But the mystery, plot turns, and suspense work for a modern reader, although some of the social anxieties about asylums might not.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful