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Hamilton, ON, Canada

  • 39 reviews
  • 127 ratings
  • 344 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015

  • Uncle Dynamite

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By P.G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Jonathan Cecil

    A chance meeting on a train brought together Lord Ickenham and Bill Oakshott, although being told that the love of his life, Hermione, was engaged to none other than Pongo, Lord Ickenham's nephew, did not make Bill feel like he'd been struck behind the ear. And what with the usual amount of stirring goings-on at Ashendon Manor that include biffings and black eyes and duckings in duck ponds, is there any chance that it will ever work out for poor Bill?

    Sarah says: "Almost better than Jeeves"
    "Almost better than Jeeves"

    It may be heretical to say it, but in my opinion, the Uncle Dynamite character - aka Lord Ickenham, elderly uncle of Pongo Twistleton and one of the more infamous members of the Pelican Club - is as good as, if not better, than Jeeves or Bertie Wooster.

    Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks this: in one of the Wodehouse omnibus books I have, it says that the British Wodehouse society voted the short story about Lord Ickenham, Pongo, the suburbs and a parrot Wodehouse's best story ever.

    Lord Ickenham as a character - interestingly, though there are books which use the 'Uncle Dynamite' title, he is never referred to by that name in the stories - combines the goofiness of Bertie Wooster with the creative problem-solving genius of Jeeves. This often makes for a more interesting and less-predictable story, which is good, because sometimes the Jeeves stuff starts to seem a little too formulaic.

    So whether you're a casual fan of Wodehouse (and have only read Jeeves stories up til now) or a die-hard fan who loves Wodehouse's writing but are tired of Jeeves, this is a good choice.

    (In the early 1990s, the BBC produced a radio dramatization also called 'Uncle Dynamite', starring Hugh Grant, which follows roughly the same storyline as this book, though as it was done in six parts of 30 minutes each, some of the superfluous sub-plots were left out. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be available for purchase any more, at least in the UK and North America.)

    Overall: highly recommended, but only if you've read at least a bit of Wodehouse before and know you like his style.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Wyrd Sisters: Discworld, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Celia Imrie

    In Wyrd Sisters, the enchanting world of Discworld is turned upside down by 3 meddling witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick. Their interference in royal politics causes kingdoms to wobble, crowns to topple, knives to flash, and citizens to shudder in fear.

    Katy says: "Happy I gave it a chance, despite other reviews"
    "Fine story. Terrible narrator."

    I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett audiobooks - I think I have almost all of them from Audible now. But to be honest, I couldn't even finish this one. Celie Imrie is a fine actor, but I don't think she understands that the Discworld books are supposed to be funny, lighthearted and a little absurdist, even when they're dealing with 'darker' themes. She reads this as though it's a highly serious, somber, and utterly without humour. I never thought I'd say this about a Discworld novel, but listening to this was kind of depressing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Surface Detail: A Culture Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Iain M. Banks
    • Narrated By Peter Kenny
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right, she will need the help of the Culture....

    Sarah says: "Excellent story, excellent narration"
    "Excellent story, excellent narration"

    I'm a big fan of Iain M Banks (and Alistair Reynolds, Richard Morgan, etc.) - what they call 'hard science fiction' or sometimes 'space opera' - so it wasn't really surprising that I liked this latest Culture novel.

    I WAS surprised at how well the narrator did with this - the story was so complex, and there were so many characters, that I was really impressed with Peter Kenny's ability to keep up with it all. The names are difficult sometimes, but Kenny did a great job of making the voices and personalities very well distinguished from one another, so it wasn't too problematic. No doubt I'll listen to this again in another month or two for all the bits I missed.

    One caveat: Iain Banks and Iain M Banks books often have a certain amount of unflinching violence in them, and this one was particularly gruesome in parts. Some of the scenes in the hell worlds were difficult to take. So I wouldn't recommend giving this book to a 12-year-old or even someone with delicate sensibilities - definitely some nightmare-inducing scenes in there (and of course the writing is so good, you really do end up thinking you were there).

    But otherwise highly recommended!

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Paul Torday
    • Narrated By David Rintoul

    Late one summer evening, Wilberforce - rich, young, work-obsessed and self-contained - makes an unexpected detour on the way home from the software company he owns and unwittingly takes the first step on a journey that will change his life. His uncharacteristically impulsive act leads him to the door of Caerlyon Hall, the domain of Francis Black, a place where wine, hospitality, and affection flow freely.

    Colin says: "Deeply moving"
    "Very, very good."

    I bought this on a whim, having never heard of the book or the author before - I just like David Rintoul as a narrator. It turned out to be a fantastic story - lots of twists and turns, an interesting approach to 'revealing' both elements of the story and the character of the protagonist, good writing, and good reading. (I don't want to spoil it for you by saying much about the plot.) My only quibble, and it's a small one, is that I would have liked a little more closure at the end - I was left thinking, "Okay, but what happened NEXT?" But overall highly recommended.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Taint of Midas

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Anne Zouroudi
    • Narrated By Bill Wallis

    For over half a century, the beautiful, ruined Temple of Apollo has been in the care of the old beekeeper Gabrilis. But when the value of the land soars, he is forced to sign away his interests – and hours later he meets a violent, lonely death. When Hermes Diaktoros finds his friend’s battered body by a dusty roadside, the police quickly make him the prime suspect.

    Sarah says: "Good story. Depressing narrator."
    "Good story. Depressing narrator."

    The story here was interesting (part murder-mystery, part snapshot of what it's like to live in modern-day Greece) and has some of the same qualities as 'The Ladies #1 Detective Agency' series, though with more incisive character studies and a less sentimental approach.

    I feel certain that some of these character studies and 'slice of life' moments were supposed to be light-hearted and even a little bit funny, but apparently the narrator and/or the audio director for this recording didn't agree with me, because the reading was slow, sonorous, and sounded more like a eulogy than a novel in which honeybees figure prominently and someone's always eating a sugary pastry.

    Three-second pauses between sentences are common; whole phrases are more 'intoned' than 'spoken'; and every character sounds like they've been seriously depressed and/or lethargic for a while now.

    That might have worked if the story itself were some dark Russian tale where family members were killing each other and black clouds were always looming over a barren landscape while children died of pneumonia every five minutes. Here it just kind of gets in the way of enjoying some of the really quite good characterizations and interactions between characters.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Forsyte Saga (Dramatised)

    • ORIGINAL (8 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By John Galsworthy
    • Narrated By Dirk Bogarde, Michael Hordern, Diana Quick, and others

    The blockbuster BBC Radio 4 adaptation of John Galsworthy’s classic family drama, featuring a star cast including Dirk Bogarde, Sir Michael Hordern, Diana Quick, Michael Williams and Amanda Redman. Galsworthy’s epic story chronicles the decline and fall of the Forsytes through almost 50 years of material triumph, emotional disaster, and a terrible feud that splits them asunder.

    Sarah says: "Nervous breakdowns galore"
    "Nervous breakdowns galore"

    I don't know who directed this production, but they must have been going through a bad time in their life because some of the characterization in this series is really over the top. Half the characters speak their internal monologues as though they're Hamlet: Low, dramatic voices with lots of heavy breathing, and there are frequent sound effects of crying children and screaming women (to emphasize the tragic bits).

    I've read the Forsyte books and I know they're supposed to be fairly serious, but I feel confident they weren't supposed to be this fraught.

    The narrator is good (Michael Hordern, famous for being Jeeves in BBC radio series, among other roles) and the characters who aren't acting like they're having nervous breakdowns are pretty good. And of course the story itself is quite interesting.

    I have a feeling that this production was done in the 1970s, when BBC radio actors still took themselves very, very seriously, and no radio show was immune from Acting with a capital A. (There's a weird version of Dorothy Sayers 'The Nine Tailors' which has the same problem - the book is supposed to be funny, but the radio drama comes off as High Drama and Major Tragedy.)

    So if you like your radio shows with a nice dose of Macbethian craziness and a fair amount of weeping and wailing, you'll like this. Otherwise, you may find yourself rolling your eyes a lot.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Martin Freeman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Facing annihilation at the hands of the warlike Vogons is a curious time to have a craving for tea. It could only happen to the cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his curious comrades in arms as they hurtle across space powered by pure improbability, and desperately in search of a place to eat.

    J. Carpenter says: "awesome... except for the voice of Zaphod"
    "Doesn't really do the book justice"

    I'm a big HGTTG fan, and over the years I've listened to all the radio dramatizations and at least 3 or 4 different versions of the audiobooks (Stephen Fry, Douglas Adams, Martin Freeman and I think Simon Jones, who played Arthur Dent in the original radio series).

    Martin Freeman played Arthur Dent in the 2005 HGTTG movie, so he's familiar with the material, understands most of the characters, and a couple of his characterizations are pretty good - I thought he did a great Marvin. And he's a good actor, too - he plays Watson in the new BBC version of Sherlock Holmes that everyone loves so much.

    But his Zaphod is bad, it's inconsistent with the radio series, and I found myself wanting to give him either a cup of strong coffee or a couple of anti-depressants, because he just doesn't seem to have much enthusiasm. And HGTTG is supposed to have a lot of zip.

    My recommendation is: Don't buy this version. Try to track down the Douglas Adams or Simon Jones versions.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mort: Discworld, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Nigel Planer

    Mort, like many teenagers, is gangly, unpromising, and struggling with a menial job - in his case, as Death's apprentice. He can barely handle his simple task of ushering souls out of Discworld, but he really screws up when he meets the beautiful Princess Keli, who is scheduled to be assassinated.

    Sarah says: "Not genius, but pretty good"
    "Not genius, but pretty good"

    Nigel Planer isn't my favourite Terry Pratchett reader - I think Stephen Briggs does the best job of interpreting Discworld's regular cast of characters - but he's pretty good, and the story here is kind of interesting, if you're the sort of person who likes to think about what happens to you after you die. And for some reason I found the whole concept of 'Mort' (I had never realized that 'Mort' is both a nerdy-sounding first name and a term for death, which is decidedly not nerdy-sounding) very clever and amusing.

    Worth getting if you're a Discworld or Terry Pratchett fan.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Donada Peters

    What Agatha expected to be a sparkling modern marriage in the middle of the romantic Cotswolds is turning out to be anything but. James Lacey, the love of her life, is proving to be a most irritated husband; he does not approve of her turning the laundry pink, and is equally censorious of take-away dinners. In turn, Agatha is quite put out by suggestions that James has been frequenting the company of his ex-lover, Melissa.

    Mary says: "Unlikely Heroine"
    "Unnecessarily depressing"

    These Agatha Raisin books have all the elements I usually like in an audiobook: quirky heroine who's both successful and a bit insecure, some interesting characters who are fairly well-developed (given the genre), and plots that are reasonably believable and don't rely on absurd twists at the end.

    But these Donalda Peters readings always leave me so DEPRESSED: 'quirky' gets turned into 'always rubbing people the wrong way'; 'plucky' comes off as 'unpleasantly OCD'; and 'a bit insecure' comes off as 'totally unhinged when it comes to relationships with men'.

    Take a sentence like, "Agatha decided she'd just have to go through with it." You can read that with a plucky, determined cheerfulness, or you can read it with a woeful, resigned-to-my-fate despair. I feel like Donalda Peters always goes for the latter.

    (And I keep feeling that MC Beaton's romantic life must be really, really awful, because 'love' is always portrayed as a depressing, draining emotion that delivers not one whit of joy or happiness.)

    Anyhow, if you like Peters' readings of Agatha Raisin, this is fine; if you're a single woman over 40 who worries about growing old alone with your cats, do not, under any circumstances, buy this audiobook.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • J. Kingston Platt: The Unexpurgated Memoirs of a Showbiz Phenomenon

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Peter Jones
    • Narrated By Peter Jones

    Listen to J. Kingston Platt's amazing experiences in the wonderful world of show biz, including many indiscreet revelations, with names disguised to avoid libel actions and death threats. Based largely on distinguished actor Peter Jones' own experiences, it is a hilarious account of life on the theatre.

    Sarah says: "Surprisingly good"
    "Surprisingly good"

    I mostly knew Peter Jones as the narrator in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio shows, so I kind of got this one on a whim, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Well-written, well-read, and quite funny in spots - made me wish he'd written more, actually. Worth getting!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Whose Body? [Dramatised]

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Dorothy L. Sayers
    • Narrated By Ian Carmichael, Patricia Routledge

    Wimsey’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, rings her son with news of ‘such a quaint thing’. She has heard through a friend that Mr Thipps, a respectable Battersea architect, found a dead man in his bath – wearing nothing but a gold prince-nez. Lord Wimsey makes his way straight over to Mr Thipps, and a good look at the body raises a number of interesting questions. Why would such an apparantly well-groomed man have filthy black toenails, flea bites and the scent of carbolic soap lingering on his corpse?

    Sarah says: "Another great Lord Peter Wimsey dramatization!"
    "Another great Lord Peter Wimsey dramatization!"

    I'm a big fan of Dorothy Sayers, and I love these dramatizations starring Ian Carmichael. This is another good one. The ending's a little odd and a bit forced, but whatever - the performances are great.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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