This is the second of the books about Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men. Although they are listed as children's books, they are definitely aimed at the older literate child who loves words. I found this, as I usually do with Pratchett, difficult to 'put down' - it contains plenty to keep the more mature adult intrigued and amused.
This is the story of Tiffany's journey off the Chalk to begin her witches' apprenticeship with Miss Level. In it she defeats a Hiver, a creature that cannot be killed. While it is possible to 'read' Pratchett's Discworld books in any order and still find them entertaining, they do build on one another, so I would recommend reading or listening to "The Wee Free Men" first, especially if you haven't read any Pratchett before. A nodding acquaintence with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg from any of the witch-focussed books in the series would also help. "Equal Rites" would be a good place to start.
Stephen Briggs does an excellent job of reading quite complex material with a large cast of characters. He finds consistent recognisable voices for the main characters, using a range of regional accents from the UK. He clearly enjoys reading Pratchett and understands his material well.
My one problem is that Pratchett starts of with a glossary of characters and it is very difficult to flip back to this in an audiobook when you want to know who or what a particular person represents.
Blackout is the first part of a two-part series set in the London blitz. I would strongly advise buying both this and All Clear together because Blackout leaves you hanging and you will want to move straight on to the next book. My criticism of the first two of Willis' Oxford time travel series was that they were over-written - too much detail that left me wanting her to just get on with it. I didn't feel this with Blackout - not sure if she has tightened her writing style or I've just got used to it, but this was much better.
Willis' fascination with the London blitz comes over in the book and I started to think about what it must have been like for people living in that time. I warmed to the characters she created, and this was helped by Katherine Kellgren's narration. I wanted to keep listening to find out what happened next. I was surprised when I listened to Willis' introduction to the book to discover that she is American because she seemed to create England so well. There were, however, two factual issues that annoyed me. First, she had multiple matrons in her hospitals when the matron is the nurse in charge of the whole hospital and the term she wanted was either ward sister or charge nurse. Second, there is no way that Oxford University would have a mere "Mr" in charge of their time travel labs. Dunworthy would have been much more credible as Professor.
My only criticism of this as an audiobook is that it switches backwards and forwards between different times and places and while it tells you when and where you are at the beginning of each chapter, I sometimes got a little confused early on and would have liked to have been able to go back to the beginning a little more easily than one can whilst listening to an audiobook when out and about.
I would probably give this 4.5 stars if that was an option.
Steven Crossley does a superb job of the narration but I still don't know what to make of Connie Willis as a writer, after reading both this and her previous book, The Doomsday Book. She uses too many words and takes *forever* to get to the point. She doesn't do Victorian English humour as well as PG Wodehouse or Jerome K Jerome, both of whom she refers to numerous times in the book. Her England in the second half of the 21st century is very much like the England she knows, but with time travel - although at least she now has hand-held communication devices - and making cats extinct a mere 7 years after she wrote the book in 1998 was always going to be risky. And yet, there is something about it that made me keep listening until the end, even though I was pretty sure I know more or less what was going to happen. I have bought her next book, though.
I am not sure what to say about this book. I found it frustratingly slow-moving, but I kept listening to the end because I wanted to find out what happened to the characters that Willis made very real and endearing. As an audiobook, it is very long and somewhat over-written and the glacial speed of the narration made the slowness of the action even more frustrating until I set it to play at x1.25 speed, which improved things immensely. I wouldn't have minded it even a bit faster, but x1.5, which was the next option that my phone offered, was too fast - I had to concentrate too hard to follow at that speed.
As many other reviewers have commented, the technological aspects of the story are dated. What Willis describes is Oxford of the 1990s with higher tech medicine and the ability to travel through time, but no mobile phones and no personal computers. It is stunning that she has written about voice recorders that can be miniaturised to the point where they can be implanted in someone's wrist to look like a bone spur, and language translators that can be implanted to make speech understandable both ways, not to mention pocket-sized video players and a portable locator that functions like a GPS, but still have the phone system tied to land-lines.
Someone else commented that Sterlin does awful American accents and they're right, she does, but since I am not American, it didn't worry me particularly. Other than that, and the speed, which I fixed, I enjoyed her narration.
I am a fast reader and I think that I would have enjoyed reading this book a great deal - as I said, I found the story engaging and if I had been able to move faster through the text, I wouldn't have found some of the descriptive passages so frustrating. I found Willis' reflections on the possibilities and perils of time travel interesting and it certainly motivated me to do lots of exercise - because I listen to audiobooks whilst exercising and I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. I would like to be able to give 3.5 stars, I think.
Libriomancers are people who can draw objects and people out of books and make them 'real' in the everyday world, but only after thousands of people have read the same words in the same way. Gutenberg was the original libriomancer and he developed the printing press to enable his magic. The libriomancers are being attacked by vampires who believe that the libriomancers started it and Isaac, a talented but poorly disciplined libriomancer has been recalled to field work to help out. He travels with Lena Greenwood, a dryad, and Smudge, a fire-spider, as they try to stop the serial murders of both libriomancers and vampires. The story is imaginative, well written and funny. David DeVries narration unfortunately does not do it justice. I find the tone of his voice irritating, although that is clearly personal choice, but there are also numerous instances where the way he reads dialogue does not match the description given by the author - so he might read something in a flat, unemotional tone and then say "exclaimed Lena".
Phryne takes herself and Dot, her companion, and Ruth and Jane, her two adopted daughters down to Queenscliff for a summer holiday in a borrowed house while her house in Melbourne is being renovated under the watchful eyes of the Butlers. When she arrives, the Johnsons, the caretaker couple who belong to the house are not there and neither is there furniture. The kitchen of the house has been stripped of food and no-one knows where the Johnsons have gone. In the course of finding the missing couple, Phryne gets involved with a film crew, a surrealist party, a treasure hunt and a rum smuggling gang.
This is another great offering from Kerry Greenwood. I wondered how I would like a Fisher audiobook - I have read all the others in hard copy - but found I thoroughly enjoyed it. Stephanie Daniel performs the story well. All in all good value for money.
I am returning this book half listened to because I cannot bear to listen any longer. The story is at one level interesting and if I had borrowed a hard copy from the library, I probably would have read the last chapter or so before I returned it, so I knew what happened but this isn't an easy option for an audio-book. Anna Pigeon finds herself at the bottom of a 'solution hole' in the Colorado desert (?) with a dislocated shoulder, a bleeding bump on the back of her head and no memory of how she got there. As her memory returns we find out that she has been a witness to a gang rape and murder. She is actually imprisoned in the hole and the people who put her there provide drugged water and then return to carve "whore" into her thigh. The midget albino rattlesnake that lives under the house that she shared with another seasonal worker at a resort is found nailed behind its head and in front of its rattle and left to die in agony. In the meantime, she has been joined in the hole by an orphaned baby skunk whom she befriends and who helps her to find non-drugged water. I have no idea what happens next because at this point the descriptions of senseless violence and cruelty became just too much for me. If you have the stomach for this kind of thing, then you might enjoy the book which is quite suspenseful, but it is certainly not my thing. Maybe this is what you would expect from an Anna Pigeon mystery - I have never 'read' one before.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect of a non-Discworld Pratchett collaboration, but I'm glad I bought this. It was a little slow starting, but by part-way through I was hooked. The concept of multiple parallel earths is interesting, the characters likeable and the story line engrossing. It's not as funny as the Discworld novels and the characters are more 'normal', but I enjoyed it very much and I want to hear the sequel. My only quibble with the reading was that Stevens does a truly appalling Australian accent.
This is Pratchett up to his usual standard - imaginative, funny, cynical and really enjoyable. Tony Robinson reads Pratchett really well (although I think I slightly prefer Nigel Planer, who read some of the earlier audiobooks). I listen to my audio books whilst pedalling an exercise bike and using a rowing machine and Unseen Academicals makes a boring-but-good-for-you activity fun. :-) The wizards are learning to play football under the gudiance of one of the university's candle dribblers and we get an insight into the workings of the university's kitchens. Lord Vetinari also features. Unfortunately, no witches, but you can't have everything. Well worth the money.
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