A committed Jane Austen fan, I first discovered Mrs Gaskell through BBC mini-series adaptations of her books whilst casting around for something similar to Jane.
The story itself is wonderfully written with characters that shine. There is subtly of character, humor, and character that you will love and love to hate.
But what really sets this one apart is Prunella Scales' absolutely superb narration, which the sample does not do justice to. She is able to read the male and female characters, upper and middle class accents, and local dialect accents wonderfully. I am English myself, and was so impressed by her range and accuracy. I shall certainly be looking out for more books read by Ms Scales -- bravo!
So if you are a fan of light but subtle, well-written period drama's (this is set in a country town in Victorian England) a la Jane Austen, give this a try - you won't be disappointed.
Urban fantasy books are my guilty pleasures. Following the Dresden Files, I have to say this has become my second favorite series, and what's more the books get better and better.
If you liked books 1 and 2 you will love this one, the 3rd in the series. If you love Dresden or like Patricia Briggs, Tanya Huff, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and maybe Charlaine Harris you should like this.
The series has its faults, but as a fun read its plus points more than make up for them: you have - a tough but likable heroine, interesting crew of returning characters expanded each book, a back story which is unfolded each book, some mystery, lots of action, an interesting world in which it is all set (near future Atlanta post-magic apocalypse, which leaves the world swinging between waves of magic and technology.)
I may edit my review, as I am only 2 and a half hours into the 8+ hour book so far, but I felt compelled to write. At this point Mercy says, "Life with Adam wouldn't be boring," and I found myself saying out loud, "not like this book, then."
Seriously, I am over 2 hours into an urban fantasy and almost no action, mystery or fantasy has occurred. Instead, the reader/listener is treated to a lame over-written romance. I've read/listened to the other Mercy Thompson books before, and, apart from my distaste at Patricia Briggs' decision to 'rape' her strong heroine in an earlier book, I have generally enjoyed them, but I am struggling to continue with this one. I am wondering whether this is because this book is actually much worse than the others, or whether it is because I have come across a much better series since, in the shape of Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books. The latter have their faults, but if you are looking for Urban Fantasy starring a strong heroine, they are much more fun and action packed. I have also re-read the Dresden Files since reading the other Mercy books, and compared to those (the No. 1 urban fantasy series imho) this is a harlequin romance - very disappointing :(
This is absolutely superb! Starting in the early 1950s when Attenborough joins the BBC, he recounts his work in front of and behind the camera on the nature, anthropological, and other programs he is so deservedly famous for. The stories are fascinating, and David is just as good a writer and narrator of his autobiography as he is of his programs on air. The early days of nature films really were major explorations akin to Stanley and Livingstone. Attenborough films and captures new species, explores area and meets tribes that have rarely seem a westerner, and tests and develop new camera and sound techniques. He talks with humor and intelligence about his experiences. This is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to, and it's certainly one I will listen to a second and maybe even a third time. I recommend this to absolutely everyone - a gem!
This books is rather like his subject matter - full of fascinating tidbits floating on a undulating sea of interesting and less interesting backstory, autobiography, self-promotion and gentle rant. It would be better if it had slimmed down on the autobiography (particularly in the opening chapters) and increased some of the background hard science, with more reference to, and explanation of, the work of other oceanographers. The stories of following the flotsam, such as the sneakers and tub toys were fascinating, and the talk of beach comber fairs made me want to get out there and beachcomb, but I felt that the overall there was a much better book inside here somewhere.
I enjoy this genre: - modern, dark, fantasy detective stories with a film noir edge, including: Dresden Files (Jim Butcher), Mercy Thompson books (Patricia Briggs), True Blood books (Charlene Harris), Blood Ties series (Tanya Huff), plus these and similar TV series and movies, but I found this book, my first foray into Laurell Hamilton, hugely disappointing.
Firstly, the book is so overwritten, stuffed with adjective after adjective - describing the darkness of the room (just an apartment building, not even of a crypt) about four times. Secondly, its just not as fun as the other titles, it feels cliched and tired. I'm half way through, and don't think I'll finish it - I suggest you choose one of the other authors recommended above instead.
There are a lot of things wrong with this book and with its narration. Despite this, I am listening to it for a second time. It's easy to listen to while doing other stuff and makes you want to pick it up again and listen to some more.
The good: A cast of likable characters you root for; a post-apocalypse story with a twist, sending the world back to medieval times, where modern technology, including guns doesn't work; interesting ways in which people cope with the situation; several exciting page turning action moments. The underlying story is actually a reworking of the Arthurian legends - with the Arthur and Morgan Le Fay characters running the two groups the story follows. It makes for a good story, especially if done in an imaginative way, as this is.
The so so: Contrived in parts - I get that people with skills suited to the new environment are more likely to survive. I get that we are following two exceptional groups whose leaders are lucky enough to find people with those skills - but are there really that many people hanging around who just happen to be crack shots with a bow and able to make them? Or be expert swords people, as well as vets?
The bad: The Wiccan stuff and Gaelic quotations are heavy handed, and while I agree that some of this world would be violent and horrible, some of the violence is maybe a bit too over described. The worst problem though is the narration. Its well paced and mostly good for the male voices, but the male narrator has a real problem with female voices, and particularly with foreign accents. Given that one of the two main characters is a woman with an Irish brogue accent, this is bad. I've known people who speak Irish Gaelic and it doesn't sound like that.
Recommended if you like this sort of book, understand what you are buying, and can stand variable narration. Expect a page turning pulp story that easy to listen to, but violent in parts.
I cannot conceive of anyone thinking this would be an appropriate book to make into an audiobook. It is a dry dry academic tome, who author is more interesting in discussing the theory behind attaching the correct label to things than actually telling one anything interesting about prehistory. The only use I can think of for this book would be as a dip in reference book for a student of the subject needed to revise some of the terminology, and then I would advise them to go get a paper copy, make notes or use a highlighter. Imagine the most boring lecture topic delivered by the most boring lecturer possible, and it gives you some idea of the book. I kept skipping though, trying in vain to find something of interest to listen to, but failed miserably. I listen to a lot of hard science, history and archaeology books and this was by far the worst. For an informative and entertaining listen try Wade's Before the Dawn instead.
I wish I had paid attention to the reviews on itunes, or the the sample I listened to, and had not wasted my credits on all 4 Tolkien dramatizations without listening to one first. What on middle earth were the makers thinking? This is the most dreadful dramatization of any book I have ever heard. Those involved obviously had no understanding of Tolkien's world or vision whatsoever. The music sounds like the worst kind of 70s TV show, the high elves are munchkins, and I am not even out of the shire! But here's the really sad part, as a die hard lover of Tolkien I couldn't resist buying it, and I will probably continue to listen to it, despite cringing at every other word. If you can get it, the BBC dramatization is far and away superior to this, although even that has its issues. I wish someone would produce an unabridged narrated version, read by a weighty voice - Ian McKellan or Ian Holm perhaps - or maybe even Viggo Mortesen (just the thought! I don't think I would use my ipod for anything else ever again!)
A truely excellent narration - Juliet Stevenson is the best narrator I have come across on audible. She brings the characters to life, giving each, character and individuality. She accurately captures the nuances and comedy of the book and the historical period.
To me, at least, this book was so well brought to life by the Emma Thompson screen adaptation that I would find it hard to imagine some of the characters (Marianne and Fanny for instance) represented very differently from that film (although I did think the occasional character including Edward and to a certain extent Elanor herself were miscast in the film version). Juliet Stevenson's interpretations are close to the film where it was good, and better where it could have been improved (to my ear her Marianne sounded like Kate Winslet).
Furthermore, her voice is not harsh to the ears, as I have found some narrators, even good ones, to be after a time - an important point when listening to something for hours through a set of earphones on an iPod.
Pride and Prejudice might be my favourite Jane Austen book, but I think this is my favourite Jane Austen audio so far. My only negative point being that I got so engrossed (much more so than when reading the paper book), and the story is quite black and miserable through much of its length, that I am sure I felt miserable with Marianne, until I had got to the uplifting ending.
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