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Fiona

Radio producer; storyteller; folk historian; and audio book addict...Audio books are the only way that I can fit in all the reading I need and want to do. ...Oh, and I am also British. (Anglo-Welsh).

Milton, PA, United States | Member Since 2012

13
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 28 ratings
  • 73 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2014
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  • The Titanic: Disaster of the Century

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Wyn Craig Wade
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (61)

    Based on the sensational evidence of the U.S. Senate hearings, eyewitness accounts, and the results of the 1985 Woods Hole expedition that photographed the ship, this electrifying account vividly re-creates the Titanic's last desperate hours afloat and fully addresses the questions that have continued to haunt the the world’s most famous marine disaster.

    Tad Davis says: "The disaster and the disaster hearings"
    "Is there anything new to learn in this story?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought that I knew everything there was to know about the Titanic. I was wrong. I also thought that I must have read this book before; as I thought that I must have read all there is to read....wrong again!
    This book, told from the point of view of the American Senate hearings, sheds new light on the events, the personalities, and the reactions of all those involved.
    The reading is masterful. On many occasions, I would return to re-listen to a extract; not because it was garbled, but because the details were so good; that I needed to re-listen, and re-think my supposed knowledge of a fact. Simply an excellent listen.
    I recommend, that if you haven't read anything about the Titanic, (is there anyone left in the world who hasn't?) that Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember" is a good starting point. A background to most of the story will enhance this telling; but then, listen to this, and become further enlightened.
    I am putting Robertson Dean on my list of readers to take note of. He did a great job, apart from trying to mimic some speech patterns of Brits, a teeny word or two just marginally wonky in places; but; absolutely forgiven, as those moments only briefly ached the ear of this fussy Brit. But Dean's pacing was superb. His voice good to listen to.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • New York: The Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Edward Rutherfurd
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    Overall
    (862)
    Performance
    (464)
    Story
    (466)

    New York is the book that millions of Rutherfurd's American fans have been waiting for. A brilliant mix of romance, war, family drama, and personal triumphs, it gloriously captures the search for freedom and prosperity at the heart of our nation's history.

    Chuck says: "Stunning"
    "Rutherfurd is Amazing....but this isn't his best."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Rutherfurd's work. I've read most of his books, and love them all; including this.
    This isn't his best (I shall say why in a moment); but Rutherfurd good is better than most people brilliant!
    As in all of his books, Rutherfurd has taken a place, and some characters and allowed us to follow them over the centuries. Unlike many of his others, not a lot of centuries.
    The descriptions of New York were fascinating, leading me to download maps, search for other books on New York, and get to know the city better.

    Where Rutherfurd lost points was in losing some of the people. People I became fascinated with, disappeared , or didn't show up for many a decade. I would have been completely fascinated had the Native American line been pursued. We had a great story about an Italian family that became a footnote.
    An African American line, that I wish hadn't been killed off so soon; a Jewish family, that arrived too late, and stayed too little.

    The Master family, although interesting, were too rich and privileged for me to be really enthralled . I liked them...but not their story as much as I liked the others.

    I'm being hard on Rutherfurd. This is still a compelling read.
    The reading was good .Sometimes the accents were a bit much ...but this is a common problem. The performance was good. The book was good. All in all I didn't regret a moment of the listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Susan Bordo
    • Narrated By Barbara Rosenblat
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (69)

    Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: Neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life.

    Roswatheist says: "Most Enjoyable Biography--Win!"
    "Overall average ."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had high hopes for this book. Having been interested in Tudor history for many years, and having done my own research on Boleyn. I was looking forward to a book that really got behind all of the written evidence. The book showed promise. Although, after reaching the end, I returned to the first two chapters to re-listen in an attempt to discover why I felt slight disappointment, and mild irritation.
    Bordo admitted that she had only been fascinated by Boleyn since 2001, which makes her a lightweight.
    I had to also consider that she is very American in her assumption that "most people" don't have a grasp on the Tudors. (People of my generation studied the Tudors for an entire year at school in Britain.) These two things should have been my clues.
    I mostly enjoyed the first part of the book. Although I struggled to find anything new within. I became a bit annoyed during the second part, when Bordo surprisingly forgave "The Tudors" Showtime series, admitting all of their sins of historical misguidance; partially because she'd become starstruck by Natalie Dormer, who played Boleyn; but then absolutely raked Phillipa Gregory over the coals, and held Alison Weir's feet to the flames for far lesser sins. I partially agree with her disdain for Gregory; I wasn't over keen on Gregory's take on Boleyn; except, that ironically, the comment that Bordo made, that every historical fiction writer, writes from their own time and perspective (true) was the same comment that Gregory herself made to me. Apparently, Margaret George had made that comment to Bordo, whilst doing some Gregory coal raking of her own. The irony is, that I am still raging after over a decade; over two horrible, easily researched mistakes that George made in one of her books. Mistakes of personality, happen. Major mistakes on geography verge on the unforgivable. If you don't understand a place, don't write about it.
    I don't understand the modern jealousy that historical fiction writers have for each other. It's petty and dull. I was disappointed to find Bordo joining in.
    This book has its moments of goodness, but never achieves greatness, and does have some low points. If you know nothing about Boleyn, you might discover some things. If you know a great deal about Boleyn, you might pick up one or two perspectives, but not enough to warrant the whole read.
    However the performance was top notch! Barbara Rosenblat was never irritating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Ben Macintyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (291)
    Performance
    (259)
    Story
    (252)

    On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy.

    Trip says: "A secret history of WWII crossed with Monty Python"
    "John Lee~ Please BREATHE"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Ben Mcintyre's work. There were one or two historical glitches in the previous book I read (nothing major, something only a Brit steeped in WW2 history might spot); but this book seemed flawless.
    A fascinating story. Worth every dammed moment....and some of the moments were dammed.
    I have a mixed "relationship" with the work of the narrator, John Lee. I have found some of his clipped delivery a little irksome, and then I thought that I had become used to his "clippy" ways (for some inexplicable reason, he is the narrator in many of my favoured books).
    However, in this reading he doesn't "clip" he gallops!
    I've worked with News readers (I work in radio) who trip from one subject to the next without a pause, leaving the audience wondering if they were listening to the same story (The governor is caught up a tree with a cat with his budget??? Really??) ...
    It takes the average mind about a second to absorb, settle; and realise that the subject matter has changed.
    Important, therefore, to pause...otherwise the mind is momentarily confused. Either John Lee wasn't pausing, or one of the editors cut the recording too tightly, not allowing the brain to grasp the point. Over and over again, I found myself momentarily confused, as the scene had changed, but Lee's intonation hadn't given me a clue; which meant that I frequently had to rewind slightly; which was irritating! It took away from an astounding story, well laid out.
    These men and women were fascinating! Not cut-and-paste heroes, they were much flawed, but they were brave, and their story has been written well by Mcintyre.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ben MacIntyre
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (467)
    Performance
    (216)
    Story
    (209)

    Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

    Scott says: "Intrigue and True"
    "The Tale of A Wide Boy Turned Good."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I know that many people adore John Lee. But it has taken me years to get used to his rather stilted narrative. Oh! I stick with him, because based on (presumably listener?) "fandom"; most of my favourite authours ; or at least their agents; choose John Lee to narrate.
    Actually, he is getting better, less stilted and clipped. And in the narration of this book he does a mostly excellent job. My only concern was when he couldn't seem to find an accent for Eddie. Our hero seemed to dive between lowland Scotland and somewhere in Wiltshire.
    Still, not every listener will be sniffy about regional dialect. And Lee's performances are solid.
    The story is fantastic!
    I've met a few Eddie Chapman's in my time (Eddie sans the spy work that is). Wide boys who have a wild life, and seized every opportunity they could during and after the war to "better" themselves; but were ultimately true to their nearest and country.
    The book fairly gallops along, without any of the expected "norms". Here you will find decent Germans; and unpleasant Brits. You will be unsure of Eddie and what he was up to; see-sawing between liking him, and wondering if he's about to pull a fast one.
    The hidden stories of WW2 are incredible. And this one; quite; quite amazing.
    My only gripe....occurred early in the book. I could not figure out whether it was a mistake made by an authour too young to know; or a slip of the tongue; or a slip up in editing.
    Someone in Jersey complains that
    "He used enough tea bags to brew tea for {lots of people} ...."
    I well remember my Auntie Gladys; recalling with hilarity; how when her sister Joan was visiting America in the late 1940's; she sent her sister a box of tea bags.
    Gladys had her children sitting in the kitchen carefully slicing open each bag, to empty the contents into her tea caddy.
    "What a waste of time tea bags are!!" She said "It took HOURS to unpick them all!!"
    I didn't see my first tea bag (in rural Kent {England}) until somewhere in the mid 1960's. We were highly suspicious of them! So the idea of someone in Jersey having tea bags...or a good English boy knowing what on earth they were; in 1940; is highly suspect.

    Apart from that (Just call me nit-pickety) this book is brilliant! Absolutely bloody brilliant!



    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sarum: The Novel of England

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Edward Rutherfurd
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (400)
    Performance
    (345)
    Story
    (341)

    In Sarum, Edward Rutherfurd weaves a compelling saga of five English families whose fates become intertwined over the course of centuries. While each family has its own distinct characteristics, the successive generations reflect the changing character of Britain. We become drawn not only into the fortunes of the individual family members, but also the larger destinies of each family line.

    Gordon says: "Most enjoyable"
    "Mostly Brilliant"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened with a sigh. oh blast! I thought; I'm now definitely going to maintain my reputation for fussiness over pronunciation.
    First, Wanda McCaddon aka Doneda Peters; is a well known reader to me. I've listened to many of her performances, and like her voice very much. She adds character without over doing it; and rarely lets one down.
    This performance is mostly brilliant.
    Only one tiny (but teeth grinding) problem. Nobody explained to her, the all important rules of Celtic pronunciation.
    No soft C's....F is pronounced like V, no soft G's.
    So when she said "Selt" rather than "Kelt" in virtually the first line, I was a little dismayed.
    When she went on to say "Affon" rather than "Avon" (at least she pronounced the "A" correctly) I actually chuckled, as the sentence read something like
    "The Roman's pronunciation sounded strange to the Celts' ears" Actually, the Roman pronounced Afon correctly, the Celtic way.
    I know, we've established that I am an irritating fusspot....but...in a reading of a book, these little things can make or mar the telling.
    Luckily, Wanda's overall performance is up to her usual star turn. I hold the researchers and producers responsible for these slips.
    The book itself is extraordinary. Rutherfurd brings us an history of a part of England; that is rich and compelling.
    If you happen to know the area well (as I am lucky to do) the story becomes even more fascinating, as you feel the development and changes over the centuries.
    I have read other Rutherfurd books, his "London" remains locked in my memory.
    I love the way that Rutherfurd gives his characters small identifiable physical characteristics, so that one may recognise the line of descendants over the story.
    Wonderful story for lovers of England, British history, and particularly Salisbury and Wiltshire.
    Overall brilliant....how does one describe an audio equivalent of a page turner?
    I couldn't bear to take out my earbuds......I worked happily on cleaning /sorting tasks for hours allowing the story to transport me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Wade Davis
    • Narrated By Enn Reitel
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (77)

    In this magisterial work of history and adventure, based on more than a decade of prodigious research in British, Canadian, and European archives, and months in the field in Nepal and Tibet, Wade Davis vividly re-creates British climbers’ epic attempts to scale Mount Everest in the early 1920s. With new access to letters and diaries, Davis recounts the heroic efforts of George Mallory and his fellow climbers to conquer the mountain in the face of treacherous terrain and furious weather.

    Fiona says: "He wrote exquisite Eel-agies?"
    "He wrote exquisite Eel-agies?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Once again, a wonderful book, marred by the inability of the reader to pronounce simple things. I would offer a level of forgiveness, had the reader been American..(Shame on me for that, but it is true).
    But Enn Reitel has a British accent.He was educated at the Central School, he's a Scot...he should know better!
    Why then did he not know, or was he not told by the producer that:
    Caius College, Cambridge; is pronounced "Keys"; that an eulogy is pronounced YEW-la-gee;(Not Eelagee) that the artist Titian is Ti-shun not TEA shun....and many, many many other slips. I became accustomed to his questionable mispronunciation of Ypres, and tried my very best to accept that maybe some folk do pronounce Paschendale as "Passion-deli"....maybe....(I went so far as to try and research the possibility) ; but half way through the reading, I am beginning to think that it was a mistake to buy this book on Audible.
    Pity, as I had waited for this book for some time. Will knuckle under and buy in hard back.
    Yes, I'm fussy about the readings. It can make or mar a book. I love the English language, and Wade Davis has worked hard to bring a startling and fascinating story to us;
    I want to experience it at its best. Not wallowing in the "Meer" (pronunciation of mire by Enn Reitel).

    And lest you think that I am wallowing in ignorance.
    1. I am a Brit
    2. Have friends in Scotland, visit often, know the accent (and I am a collector of dialects)
    3. Professional performer myself.
    4. Radio producer.

    We all make tiny mistakes from time to time....I have, I know, but there is a credo in voice performances
    "If you can't pronounce , don't announce"
    In a project like this, all names should be double checked for correct pronunciation.


    Perhaps Enn Reitel was trying to be "posh"....didn't work. Just angered me.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Company: A Novel of the CIA

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Robert Littell
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (5042)
    Performance
    (2148)
    Story
    (2141)

    "If Robert Littell didn't invent the American spy novel," says Tom Clancy, "he should have." In this spectacular Cold-War-as-Alice-in-Wonderland epic, Littell, "the American le Carre," takes us down the rabbit hole and into the labyrinthine world of espionage that has been the CIA for the last half-century. "Ostensibly a single novel, The Company can also be listened to as an anthology of cracking good spy stories," says (Publishers Weekly).

    Cynthia says: "Hang on to your Hat"
    "Riveting, with a few speed bumps."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The beginning of "Company" seems a little overwhelming. The plot is long, and there are a number of protagonists. However, Robert Littell does a wonderful job of making each character stand out, so that very quickly, one is drawn in.
    Like many of my age and time (Late 50's and British); I have always had a view of Kim Philby that bordered on the romantic side. Without preaching, Littell has firmly wiped that away. One becomes aware of the damage to lives done, and the often unspoken consequences to ordinary people of the Cold War.
    Not all the Americans are 100% good, nor all the Russians 100% evil; each characterisation is well rounded. I came away feeling awfully fond of one of the Russians, and disliking one or two of the "good guys" ( I shan't give anything away by saying who..or why)
    The book is almost perfect.
    I did have a problem with one or two small things.....
    Scotch.
    I am a lover of single malt. I have never encountered a Brit (nor American lover of scotch) who would ever, ever put ice in a glass of Lagavulin. A drop of water, certainly, ice...not.
    I was so stunned when Kim Philby did, that I attempted to research the possibility that Philby had ~ making him a true scoundrel.
    A small mistake, but one that grated.
    I am not sure if the other grating mistake in the writing of the British characters was one made by the performer, or by Littell.
    "Ta" says a Brit, meaning goodbye.
    NO. Sorry, but Ta means thankyou.
    Ta~ra, or Ta~ta ...pronounced T'ra or T'ta is goodbye.
    On some tongues the 'ra part is subdued, but always there.

    My only other problem with the book ,was that in an otherwise excellent performance, the reader constantly mispronounced the name of the scotch
    (I know, here I go again on the scotch!) Learning how to pronounce Lagavulin and Glenfiddich is a matter of seconds research. A few seconds of work that is, however important.
    There were other slight glitches in pronunciation that were irksome. Only because the story was so good, so riveting, that it was like speeding on a motorway and meeting a sudden bump.
    On the whole, a superb book, and good performance.
    I think I'll go now and pour a glass of Laphroaig...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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