I'm not blind drunk, I'm just blind.
For those who didn't get the title, Simon Jones is probably best known by some as the voice of Arthur Dent in the BBC's TV and radio adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But he does an excellent job of narrating audiobooks from what I've heard, particularly here.
The Amulet of Samarkand opens with the spirit Bartimaeus being summoned by the apprentice magician Nathaniel and ordered to steal a powerful artifact from a ruthless magician. Unfortunately for Nathaniel, he quickly finds himself in way over his head, involved in matters of treachery and intrigue. And to make matters even more complicated the wisecracking, sarcastic Bartimaeus has his own agenda.
I particularly like how the book switches from Nathaniel's point of view over to that of Bartimaeus, and particularly how when speaking from Bartimaeus' point of view it switches to first person narration. I particularly like Simon Jones' narration during these points, as he easily and perfectly captures Bartimaeus' witty, often scathing sense of humor. I haven't finished the book yet but I can't put it down for long. And when I've enough credits saved up I intend to purchase the rest of the trilogy.
Unlike the prior novels, The Last Battle begins in the land of Narnia. Many generations have passed since Eustace and Jill freed Prince Rillian from the sinister enchantments of theEmerald Witch in The Silver Chair. Since tat time, Narnia has enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity. But now a new evil threatens Narnia in the form of Shift, an old, cunning Ape, who finds a lion's skin and persuades his friend Puzzle, a well-meaning if simple donkey, to don the skin and pretend to be Aslan, who has not been seen in Narnia for many geneations. Far away from this, King Tirian of Narnia is enjoying a vacation at a hunting lodge with his riend Jewel, a unicorn. He is visited by Runewit, a Centaur, who warns that Narnia is facing an era of darkness and chaos. The first signs of this become apparent when the king receives news that talking trees are being cut down for lumber, which is being sold to the Calormenes, who have always been enemies of Narnia. The situation becomes even more desperate when Tirian is captured and bound to a tree. But all is not lost, for Aslan summons all those who ave had a hand in the creation and protection of Narnia, minus Susan, who has drifted away from Narnia and its values over the years. Together these friends prepare to fight a battle that could mark the end of Narnia.
As with the other books in the series, THe Last Battle is read by a distinguished British actor, in this case Patrick Stewart, best known to some as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He does this tale reat justice with his deep, calm and versitile voice. I finished the entire book in less than a day simply because I couldn't put it down.
I actually started this series, although I didn't know it was such at the time, back in 1993 whenI was in Junior High, with the fourth volume. It wasn't until about ten years later that I got the proper skinny on it and read the series in proper order. Over Sea, Under Stone opens with the Drew family, Dick, Ellen and their three young children, arriving in Cornwall for a summer vacation, which they'll be spending with their Great Uncle Merry, a mysterious professor who often appears unexpectedly on the Drews' doorstep to vanish just as quickly in the night. While exploring the massive house that Uncle Merry, Meriman Lyon to the wider world, the three Drew children, Simon, Jane and Barney, discover an ancient manuscript which they believe to be a map showing the location of what they believe to be an ancient treasure. Though a game to the three Drews, the importance of the manuscript begins to surface, first when a mysterious man and a woman claiming to be his sister appear and ask the Drews about secret passages and maps, then even more so later when the house is burglarized while the Drews sleep. Realizing what the thieves must have been after, the childen show the manuscript, which they managed to keep safe, to Uncle Merry, who reveals that the treasure is in fact an ancient grail from the time of King Arthur. Thus begins a dangerous race as the Drews attempt to decipher the clues of the map and reach the grail before their myysterious enemies do. But it quickly becomes apparent that their foes, though relatively few in number, are extremely resourceful, and the outcome of the race is continually in doubt.
As usual with audiobooks, the narrator can sometimes ruin the experience even if the story itself is good. Fortunately that wasn't the case here. British actor Alex Jennings not only has a good voice for storytelling but also a talent for accents and dialects that lend personality to the characters he portrays, from the Cornish accents of the village locals to Uncle Merry's deep, commanding tones. This is definitely a listen I wuld recommend to others. It's not an entirely traditional fantasy with swords, dragons and wizards but it's a gripping tale all the same.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
Initially, I was disappointed that Kimberley Reynolds lacks the dynamic and conversational style that is so desirable in an Audible course.
But, wait. The information packed into this set of lectures is so interesting and so valuable that I soon forgave, and actually came to like, the rather stiff delivery. This is a serious presentation of the history not only of children's literature but of the changing concept of childhood itself.
Most of us choose books for our children based on what we have enjoyed ourselves, what we think will interest the kids and advance their reading skills, and on the pure entertainment value of the material. This course will likely not change that, but having a more scholarly foundation about the psychological and developmental benefits of reading for young people at different stages will offer a great advantage for parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and others who help children choose appropriate books.
The literature covered includes analysis of books for all ages of childhood, from infancy to young adult. When the subjects got a bit too esoteric for me (mostly in the YA lectures), I found the PDF study guide to be very helpful in deciding which lectures would interest me most. Although the analyses sometimes offer more detail than many of us ultimately want, I believe there is much general and particular information here that will be of interest and value to all parents and literature lovers.
Another benefit is the timely nature of the course. Harry Potter is discussed, as are "The Hunger Games" series. Professor Reynolds touches on new technologies like digital and interactive books and the endless merchandise tie-ins which are peddled to children on the media. There's a bit near the end about the effects of tough economic times on youngsters. This is up-to-date stuff!