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hfrances

California usa | Member Since 2012

2
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 7 reviews
  • 8 ratings
  • 80 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014
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  • Sweet Tooth

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (123)
    Performance
    (108)
    Story
    (106)

    Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency.

    Christopher says: "Superb and surprising"
    "Word perfect."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Sweet Tooth?

    I loved the narrative voice. The author describes his characters so clearly that you can picture every wrinkle and every pore. His descriptions of London and life within MI5 seemed very real. I wanted to be in that world visiting pubs, strolling around London and the Brighton seafront.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the intrigue and the fact that the ending surprised me. The heroine is being deceitful but I could imagine making the same choices. To me, it was word perfect. No words were wasted and every one was needed. The letter ending the book is just the most beautiful piece of prose.


    Have you listened to any of Juliet Stevenson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. I want to hear more of her audiobooks.


    Who was the most memorable character of Sweet Tooth and why?

    Max. He is not in the story that much but you can feel his influence and presence throughout.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I have read in a long time. Only books like Cutting for Stone or The Secret History come close to such evocative descriptions and compelling characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Crossing Places

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Elly Griffiths
    • Narrated By Jane McDowell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (263)
    Performance
    (205)
    Story
    (200)

    When she's not digging up bones or other ancient objects, Ruth Galloway lectures at the University of North Norfolk. She lives happily alone in a remote place called Saltmarsh overlooking the North Sea and, for company; she has her cats Flint and Sparky, and Radio 4. When a child's bones are found in the marshes near an ancient site that Ruth worked on ten years earlier, Ruth is asked to date them.

    Sara says: "An atmospheric creepy mystery set in Saltmarsh"
    "Creepy pagan goings-on on the Norfolk mud flats"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Crossing Places in three words, what would they be?

    Creepy. Suspenseful. Atmospheric.


    What other book might you compare The Crossing Places to and why?

    It reminded me a little of the Donna Leon series. Inspector Harry Nelson reminded me of Leon's Brunetti - both a little out of shape, gruff, brusque but deep thinkers. This novel had the same strong sense of place - not Venice obviously, but it makes you feel as though you really know the area of the east coast of England where the story is set.


    Have you listened to any of Jane McDowell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


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

    Yes I did - I gasped out loud at the ending.


    Any additional comments?

    Wonderfully creepy and mysterious. I listened to most of this book hiking or driving in bright California sunshine. I still felt as though I was stumbling about on a mud flat in the dark as the unseen riptide roared close by.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • How to Train Your Dragon

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Cressida Cowell
    • Narrated By David Tennant
    Overall
    (385)
    Performance
    (299)
    Story
    (296)

    Hiccup was a truly extraordinary Viking Hero, Warrior chieftain,awesome sword-fighter and amateur naturalist. He was known throughout Vikingdom as 'the Dragon Whisperer' on account of his power over these terrifying beasts. But it wasn't always like that.

    Hazel says: "Brilliant car-trip entertainment"
    "A heartwarming funny bloodthirsty scottish frolic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    The narrator conveys a delightful sense of the unlikely relationship between a dragon and a boy. As in all the best kid's stories the grown ups come across as clueless and the bigger bullying boys as morons. Although the listener knows a happy ending is inevitable, there are still some twists and turns, battles and obstacles that keep the story moving. Above all - it is funny. My 10 year old turned up his nose and said the story was too young for him and then listened agog all the way through.


    What does David Tennant bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His natural Scottish accent! He moderates it to adapt to all the characters and his stuttering Toothless the dragon is just adorable.


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

    Laugh. A lot.


    Any additional comments?

    Worth it just for David Tennant. And the dragon-potty-training scene!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Maria Semple
    • Narrated By Kathleen Wilhoite
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (61)

    Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she's his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she's a menace. To design experts, she's a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend, and quite simply, mum. Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a compulsively readable, irresistibly written, deeply touching novel.

    valerie says: "If you like the genre, this is first rate"
    "Funny, mysterious, heartbreaking, thoughtful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

    The narration. Kathleen Wilhoite adjusts her voice subtly to project the individuality of all the characters - Bee's Dad, the annoying admin, Bernadette, even the bureacratic psychiatrist. In a book that is full of great dialogue, the narrator made it easy to know exactly who was talking at any time - without having to rewind and check. Her narration created the characters for me and made me want to know what would happen to them.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It has to be the daughter Bee. She is fiercely protective of her mother and at the same time yearning to explore the world. She is smart, funny and insightful even in the middle of a crisis. When no one else believes that her Mother is still alive - Bee stands by her and commits everything to finding her. She ignores the obvious faults of her mother's personality and just revels in her Mother's company.


    Have you listened to any of Kathleen Wilhoite’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


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

    The book made me laugh all the time. Bernadette's withering assessments of the "nats" are worth reading this book alone. The emails between her and her virtual assistant are delightful. I don't think I cried but I was very moved by Bee's commitment to her Mother and need to find her.


    Any additional comments?

    Probably the best audiobook I have read. Often, because I listen to short bursts in the car it is hard to keep up with all the strands of a plot and the characters. The narration made all the voices distinctive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hippopotamus

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Stephen Fry
    • Narrated By Stephen Fry
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (41)

    Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan. But strange things have been going on at Swafford....

    W. Barron says: "Good story, fantastic performance"
    "Sensitivity, profanity, bestiality - its all here!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Hippopotamus the most enjoyable?

    I could listen to Stephen Fry narrate a set of Ikea instructions, so it is not a surprise that his delivery and pace are just perfect here. He is able to change his voice very very subtly to convey information about each character - a slight accent for the character Michael, for example, and a slight softening for Jane. His narration makes the quite unlikeable Ted, quite loveable by the end.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the character development and the way the story moved along. It is quite slow and the beginning as we are told about Ted's mission. However this allows us to get to know Ted well. In the beginning his profanity and sexism are quite shocking and seem very dated. However by the middle of the book the swearing seems as much a part of him as breathing. The book downloaded into 2 parts and they felt like very different books. The first set the scene and the second contains all the action. The ending was a complete surprise to me. I also like the insights that Ted gives about art and poetry and his own disappointment in his fading creativity.


    Have you listened to any of Stephen Fry’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I listened to his biography.


    If you could take any character from The Hippopotamus out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Michael. He is a true modern entrepreneur but his past and early life make him quite mysterious.


    Any additional comments?

    If you can get past the profanity and, of course, the sexual references, you are in for a treat. Ted turns out to be very sweet, sensitive and shrewd. The novel leaves the reader with lots to think about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Maryrose Wood
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (177)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (149)

    Of especially naughty children, it is sometimes said: “They must have been raised by wolves.” The Incorrigible children actually were. Discovered in the forests of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

    Yvette says: "Wonderful! ... but only the first installment..."
    "Loved this!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place again? Why?

    Yes. The whole story is creative, funny and mysterious. The characters are interesting and quirky.



    What other book might you compare The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place to and why?

    The Sisters Grimm


    Which character – as performed by Katherine Kellgren – was your favorite?

    Penelope Lumley


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Raised by wolves or raised as prey?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redwall: Redwall, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Brian Jacques
    • Narrated By Brian Jacques, Full Cast
    Overall
    (552)
    Performance
    (250)
    Story
    (249)

    When Redwall was published in 1987 it catapulted author Brian Jacques to international stardom. And small wonder! This enthralling tale is jam-packed with the things we long for in a great adventure: danger, laughter, hairbreadth escapes, tragedy, mystery, a touch of wonder, a truly despicable villain, and a hero we can take to heart.

    David says: "Two paws up from an initially skeptical listener"
    "Just could not keep listening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Redwall better?

    Difficult to say - we only got 30 minutes into it and were all bored.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Harry Potter


    What didn’t you like about Brian Jacques and Full Cast ’s performance?

    The performances just did not build empathy with the characters or any interest in finding out what would happen to them.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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