I've been listening to audio books for quite some time and this one by far is the best. Performed by a full cast where each actor assumes the role of one of the characters, the listener is transported into Pullman's world.
Set in the fictional past of early 20th century England, every human has what is called a "demon". As children these demons can assume any animal form, often changing depending on the mood of their child. Demons are animal representations of human souls, and no one is complete without one. After puberty, the demons assume one form and stay that way for life. Demons seem to take on the type of animal the person is in life, for example servants tend to have dogs as demons, loyal and obedient. Scholars have birds such as ravens, intelligent and far-seeing. One sailor has a dolphin or some such creature as a demon, thereby tying him forever to the ocean. Humans and their demons are mentally connected. What one feels, the other feels. They can talk to each other and cannot be away from each other, even at close distances or they feel great pain and anxiety.
Lyra, an orphaned pre-teen girl, and her demon Pan (yet to assume one form) find themselves in the middle of a political conspiracy. Unsure of who to trust and who their true allies are, their life was changed forever when they witnessed the Master of the college where they had spent all their years as a ward, attempt to poison Lyra's estranged uncle.
Her uncle, involved in some strange discoveries and experiments has returned to the college to ask for money to continue his work, investigating the origin of subatomic particles referred to as "dust". For some reason the scholars of the college are suprised to learn that this mysterious "dust" does not cling to children. After he receives the money and thwarts an attempt to poison him, he returns to his work.
What is dust? And why are children all over England disappearing? Lyra soon embarks on a journey to seek these answers.
I loved this story. Read it with my book group and we were all in agreement. It takes place during the same year as the first part of Little Women. Mr. March, and idealistic preacher, has enlisted in the Union to try and bolster the men's morale. It isn't long before they begin to resent his platitudes and he gets shuffled off to act as a teacher to "contraband", freed slaves still in danger of being taken back into slavery. Soon he begins to lose a grasp of his idealist dreams as the reality of the slaves' situation begins to unravel.
Brooks has done an excellent job showing these characters from an adult point of view rather than that of a child looking at her parents as Alcott had created them. I also enjoy the way we see Mr. March's point of view and then Marmee's view of the same part of the story.
The narrator was excellent and was very believable as both Mr. March and Marmee.
The narrator (Janet Song) managed to pull me in immediately and I anxiously looked forward to car trips to keep up with the story. I even listened to it while doing housework. It is now one of my favorite audios.
This book tells the story of the realm of women during early 1800's China. Women spent their entire lives inside concerned only with household duties. It is told through the point of view of Lily, now an old woman of 80 years. She begins with her poor childhood and the days just before her foot-binding at age 7. Because she is so beautiful and has remarkable feet a lao-tang match is made for her with a girl of a more educated and refined background, Snow Flower. The two become life-long friends and enter into a relationship with a stronger bond even then marriage during that time period.
They communicate using Nu-shu, or women's writing, a more simplified version of the Chinese characters. Because it is forbidden they hide their words in a large fan and send it back and forth over the years.
Both girls take very different paths when it is time for them to marry, but they continue their friendship through letters and their secret fan. Through family deaths, famine and war we see the hard lives thrust upon women and are completely engrossed in their stories. The images of the rigors of foot-binding will stay with me forever.
I highly recommend this book. We will be discussing at my next book group and I’m dying to see what the ladies have to say.
This book happily reminded me of what it was to read good literature. The language is rich, the story-telling well thought out and the characters unforgettable. This is what a book can be when an author's love of writing is intertwined with her love of books. It made me want to go back and read the classics and wonder why I've been wasting my time with authors like Patterson and Grisham!
The narration was first rate, the two different narrators clearly delineating the past and the present parts of the story. I finished the book this morning and will miss not only the well-crafted characters but the women whose voices brought them to life.
I am fan of historical fiction; especially from this time period. I found this to be a compelling listen and regretted when it was time for me to park at the end of each commute! The characters were very believable and brought the time period alive for me. In addition I learned a lot about vulcanology, the science of the time period, and aqueducts without feeling like I was getting an info dump or being talked down to.
The narrator was first rate. I've listened to dozens of audio books and this is one of the best narrators I have ever heard. I will be looking for other books he has done.
Don't miss this one!
This book was very unbalanced. At times I loved it at other times...not so good. I preferred the parts of the story that took place in the 1200's: Aliese's family, the crusades, the grail story. When the book flip-flopped into the present it wasn't done very well. I think the author could have handled this in a better way. She definately could have made it much briefer.
In the present the author spent a lot of time with details and descriptions of France I really didn't care about. I felt it took away from the story. Plus the french dialogue was very distracting. I found myself zoning out a lot during these parts.
But when we went back to the past the author had my full attention again. She should have stayed there more. There were stories from the past that I would have liked to have seen in the past that were explained in a giant info dump by one of the present characters towards the end of the story. I felt like the author realized she was going on too long and took the easy way out. She shouldn't have skimped on this part.
Narrator did an excellent job as she always does. If you like historical fiction and don't mind a meandering story the good parts of this story are worth your while. Otherwise keep looking for another title.
I had given up on Stephen King. The Green Mile was the last good story he had written in ten years (IMHO). This story reminds me of "old King". The characters were believable and I could really feel for them. The story moved along at a good clip. Boston area residents will enjoy the pains King takes to pay attention to detail about our communities.
The narration was very good but weird editing bytes were jarring. I wish the editors could make that smoother.
This was my first Koontz novel. I read it because it was very well reviewed, which is surprising for an author that tends to "crank them out." I enjoyed it. What made the story for me were the quirky and well-developed characters...especially the protagonist.
Odd Thomas, a fry cook in a California desert town has a rare gift. He can see dead people. Well, OK, maybe not that rare as far as fiction goes. But don't let the Sixth Sense sounding story line throw you off. Odd Thomas has got to be one of my top ten favorite protagonists. He is an extremely honorable and likeable guy. The story is told from his first person POV and he has a very unique way of looking at things.
In addition to seeing dead people, he also sees things he calls "Bogarts". Bogarts generally appear when someone is about to die a horrible death. The bogarts seem to thrive on pain and misery. When his small town starts looking like a bogart family reunion with thousands of bogarts streaming in, Odd begins to unravel a deadly plot of enormous proportions.
I listened to this while commuting and the narrator, David Aaron Baker, did a first rate job. He was very believable as Odd and did the other character voices with finesse. Sometimes narrators overdo it when doing female voices, but David was just right.
There are some bloody and graphic scenes in this story.
I had never read any of these classic mysteries and throroughly enjoyed this audio version. The narrator did an excellent job with the various english and welsh accents.
This is a fun series and I will continue on with it. It wasn't hard to figure out "whodunnit". I will continue on with the series mostly because I loved the main character and the time period in which the stories are set.
I also enjoyed O'Malley's narration. It took a little getting used to after Rosenblat, but after an hour I slipped into her characterizations easily. I found myself LOL on many occasions. I will continue with the series.
I am a huge fan of the early Alex Cross novels so thought I'd try this new series. The female characters were very stereo-typical and the plot too unbelievable. I was disappointed with it and will not continue the series. If you like to read Patterson because you always know what to expect, then you wont' be disappointed. If you're looking for something fresh and unpredictable, keep looking.
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