I was worried because the last installment in the series didn't live up to the good fun I'd experienced with the first and (to a lesser extent) the second book, but this one redeemed the series and author in my mind. What really sets these books apart is the fun and sense of humour, and there's no shortage of that in this story of murder in an isolated castle in Transylvania. Yes, it's still a murder mystery, but with novice maids, aristocratic bed-hopping, and imaginings of vampires, it's so much more.
Another great addition to the series with an old-fashioned who dunnit at the estate home of a confirmed bachelor Duke with his Dowager Duchess mother, assorted family members with secrets, household staff with quirks, and small-town police constables. Then toss in the previously-unknown nephew from a sheep ranch in Australia for some fun and confusion......and Georgie (with the help of Darcy and an appearance from Belinda) has her plate full trying to help solve this one.
Still worth the price of admission! This is a fun series, and this one continues to uphold the quality -- maybe even surpass the others.
This installment in the Walt Longmire series doesn't disappoint - in fact, I liked it better than the last few. It hits just the right combination of interesting characters with a great setting and a good mystery.......and then tops it all off with wonderful narration. In this novel, the winter weather and the location play a big part in the story, and that is a part of what I like about these books - the location is a character as much as Walt, Vic, or Ruby. There's less with Henry in this book and more with Sancho, which suits my taste just fine.
I had read this book many years ago, and love it, so I was looking forward to reliving it through an audiobook. Unfortunately, I found Claire Danes' narration to be wooden and rather unemotional, and that really hindered the effect of the great story and writing. My sister also listened to this book and had a very different reaction to the narration - she though it was great and that there was a lot of emotion in her reading. Go figure. It turns out we also have very different reactions to Claire Danes' acting - I think she's rather wooden there too and think she's the weak link actor in movies and TV shows (why didn't I think of that sooner?)
So, while The Handmaid's Tale is a great book, my guess as to whether you'll like this audiobook will depend on whether you like the (acting) work of Claire Danes. If you think she's a great (or even "really good" actress) then listen to this, because the story and writing by Margaret Atwood are terrific. If you don't like her other work, then buy the printed book instead.
I'd always heard that Gulliver's Travels was one of the great satiric works of English literature, but if that's the case, I don't really understand the word. I had always thought satire was a gentle, humourous, and sometimes even affectionate skewering of the status quo, but this book is actually often rather angry and ham-fisted. Then again, sometimes it is humourous to the point of almost being farcical. Either way, it's not the children's book that some might be expecting.
Regardless of whether I'd call it satire, I did enjoy it - and I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it, as I think some of the language would have made it a very difficult read. It's a classic for many reasons, and it is referenced time and time again in popular culture, in whole or in part. Many know the basics of the 4 travel stories that make up this book - one to a land of miniature people, one to a land of gigantic people, one to a land led by a floating city with emphasis on math and music, and one to a land of rationality and reason presided over by equines, not humans. Mostly, I believed they allowed Swift an opportunity to lampoon all the parts of his society that he wished to insult, but in a more acceptable manner than shouting it out on street corners.
David Hyde Pierce did a wonderful job, not only in making some of the imaginary language understandable rather than distracting, but also in making the events seem more plausible than they otherwise might be in print and in making the sometimes long and drawn-out descriptions more palatable. Sadly, it took a while before I stopped thinking of Niles Crane narrating a story with his brother as the protagonist, but that fault is solely my own and not a problem with his narration.
Although I listened to the little sample of this audiobook, I'm afraid that the narration didn't hold up over time, and the characterizations got to seem like they were in a farcical drawing room comedy. Perhaps the accents are appropriate for that location and class of Brits at the time, but it seemed Grant was able to put more humanity into some of the characters than in others.....I don't know if he did it on purpose or not, but it didn't work very well.
As for the story and the mystery, I quite liked the implausibly convoluted mystery full of red herrings, with a little Miss Marple thrown in for good measure. Rather than taking place in the relative isolation of a small village, this one takes place in the relative isolation of a wealthy manor. I like the small-town Miss Marple and her common sense approach to things, though the wealthy environs didn't really seem to suit her this time.
I'll admit I have a strange weakness for post-apocalyptic stories, and I remember reading several of John Wyndham's books in the past and this is one of his best. Although the horrific triffids get a lot of press (how could they not.....they're killer plants that walk!) the truth is it's really about what might happen if 90% of the world's population was struck acutely and permanently blind. The triffids are some of their worst and most difficult challenges, but the story of how the very few sighted people work with the remaining and most resilient blind to build new alliances and develop a new society is very engaging and a great "read". This story stands the test of time, and is even better than the also-excellent Alas, Babylon.
In my quest to find new mystery authors to enjoy, I tried this as my first Louise Penny novel - I'd heard about her, I know she's won some awards, and there was the appeal of a Canadian author and a Quebecois character.......but I don't think I'll read or listen more of her work. I liked all the characters and I liked the performance of this narrator (though I know some might find his reading plodding and weak, I thought it was weighty and thoughtful, appropriate for these characters), but the book itself had some weak points I couldn't get past: The murder plot is preposterously weak, or at least the ideas weren't explained properly and so they seemed to come out of thin air. The "I only let you think you were winning to fool you" solution to the political machinations seemed also to come out of thin air, as if the author had painted herself into a corner and had to talk her way out - it seemed more desperate than practical or even plausible.
It's a shame too, because I really loved the characterizations and would have loved to learn more about their relationships by reading other (earlier) books in the series.
This book is written entirely in the first person as a full narrative, which makes it perfect as an audiobook. There are no chapter breaks, no external descriptions, no comments from other characters - it's all one woman's statement to the police after a local death in the small New England town, and that makes it perfect for an audiobook. The no-nonsense character of Dolores is perfectly voiced by actor Frances Sternhagen, who herself has been in several movies from King's books (but not the movie of this book).
Stephen King again creates wonderful characters, and this is a story of banal horror of everyday life, not the mysterious horror of the supernatural or the imagination - this is the horror of domestic abuse, class distinctions, physical brutality, and physical frailties, but no less powerful than the spookier types of horror King is better known for. This is certainly worth a listen; it's compelling and hard to put down.
I'll admit I didn't listen to much of this book - the sexual serial killer who is the narrator was just too creepy and ugly for me to listen to for very long. If this wasn't a part of a 3-for-2 special, I'd return it as un-listenable for me. I'd heard very good things about this author and was trying to test out one of her books, and perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if I was reading it rather than listening to it - with the tone of voice and inflections that brought it to life. I might try out another of her novels, another time, but this was was too much for me.
I found the story interesting, particularly since it happened less than 15 years ago - a story of racism and police corruption in Texas wouldn't have surprised me 30 or 40 years ago, but not this recently. However, like many stories of conspiracy, corruption, and courtroom dramatics, there are a lot of people involved, and listening to it gets a bit confusing. Actually, there is limited reading specifically of the courtroom transcripts, but there is a lot of back-and-forth among the lawyers on both sides of the aisle - which is fine and still interesting, but keeping all the names straight was a challenge. Ditto for all of the victims in the story (the original drug bust included 46 people), especially when you include input from their family and friends.
It's still an astounding story and still worth listening to (or reading), but be prepared for a lot of players to be involved.
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