A well-written fantasy/dystopia story for middle-grade readers. Samuel West is an excellent narrator. He interprets the story with wit and verve. All the characters, and there are many, are distinct and easy to recognize through his many subtle voice variations. Beautifully done.
The puzzle is straight-forward but the characters are very appealing. The thief-writer's friendship with his agent is especially engaging. Some very funny descriptions and situations.
Nice performance by Kristen Bell.
Not a very well written book, though. Many plot points seem as stale as the fetid beer dregs in the bottles littering the streets of Neptune after Spring Break. One of the worst is the dumb-as-rocks sheriff, a classic of bad pulp fiction, but even this guy wouldn't be stupid enough to fail to check out a chief suspect's alibi. The machoer-than-thou drug cartel boys are tired stereotypes bordering on offensive.
Still, Veronica remains appealing and I found myself rooting for her in spite of the writing. She deserves something better than a story that feels like a first-draft TV script.
The story about cricket was just... Wow, way too much cricket. No more cricket stories, for God's sake. Otherwise fine.
Beautifully written, well fleshed out characters. An almost perfect study of the unreliable narrator. I felt the clues to the killer were telegraphed early on, but I read an inordinate number of thrillers and mysteries, so I'm hard to fool. There is a nice twist in the end I didn't see coming.
I can't believe I hadn't read this until now. Charles Portis writes in a way that would make taxes or legislative bills fascinating. His dialogue, settings, characters -- especially his characters -- ring absolutely true. Is there anyone more appealing in fiction than the brave, formidable Mattie Ross? The film versions just make her feisty, which is nice, but she is so much wiser and morally complex than the child she appears to be. The Cohen Bros. did a very good job with this story; the John Wayne version seems a cartoon set against the real narrative. Neither movie does True Grit justice. You miss all those wonderful, expertly chosen words. And who knew Donna Tartt, a fine novelist herself, had such an engaging, Southern reading style? Really, please, buy this immediately and listen to it.
Well written and crafted thriller, which uses the classic chestnut of the remote village, with residents who distrust nosy outsiders, to great effect. You think this is going to be an old-fashioned horror, with restless ghosts and forbidden, pagan rites still practiced by the weird locals. In fact, it's a modern, psychological drama, its twists attributable to very human fears and desires. Some of the crimes may be too modern for certain listeners: If you are bothered by stories that involve hurting children or torture, be aware that this narrative takes a few dark turns. Nothing overly graphic, but it does go there, if not all the way there.
There are two mysteries here, one historical, one contemporary, each with its related protagonist, a compassionate Spanish ex-priest and a scrappy, Australian mathematician named Samantha Flood. Sam Flood is almost worth the price of admission alone -- she's that appealing.
Great reading by Gordon Griffin, who differentiates the many characters with vocal distinctions and quirks. I had no trouble keeping the large cast straight.
My only complaint is that the epilogue, while intriguing, ties up the threads too neatly. Still, the rest of the story is so good that I'm willing to forgive Reginald Hill for this over-zealous bit of plot writing.
This is an exhaustive study of biological history and evolution, as it relates to continental drift, cladistics and other off-shoots and counterpoints to Darwin's theory. I had never heard of the field of biogeography until I listened to this book and now I feel very comfortable with the subject. The author begins with Darwin and then looks at each successive theory in turn, ultimately disproving many or tempering their strict stances with alternative possibilities. De Queiroz builds his case brick by scientific brick, until he returns to Darwin, who first suggested that many, if not most, of the breaks and bizarre pan-continental connections in the biological narrative could be attributed to seemingly impossible journeys across oceans by species. Darwin did several experiments but didn't live long enough to prove his suppositions. De Queiroz, however, with the benefit of DNA testing, cites numerous examples of plants and animals that could not have reached certain shores any other way except by ocean travel.
I found this book illuminating and entertaining. I've read Darwin, but I am not a scientist, so some of the theoretical explanations went a bit too deep for me. But de Queiroz works hard to engage the non-scientist and his enthusiasm for his subject is hard to resist. He brings to life many interesting historical characters, such as the gentleman-explorer who influenced Darwin and the passionate, if wrong-headed, Leon Croizat, who thought Darwin "congenitally not a thinker."
The reader does a great job with material which, while very well written, can be dense in its exhaustive detail.
I bought this book on a whim and I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot.
This is one of my favorite Austen novels and I loved the BBC Radio 4 version with Juliet Stevenson in the role of Anne Elliot. She seems to understand the heroine's inner conflicts better than anyone else. Stevenson brings all of her sensitivity and training as an actress to this reading. Simply beautifully done.
In every Austen novel, there are the silly characters whom Austen meant to be comical, but whose persistent idiocy irritate me to the point where I just skip over their parts. They are almost always women, the worst being Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, although Miss Bates in Emma and Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility are similar, if lesser, annoyances. But in Persuasion, the silly character happens to be a man, Anne's father Mr. Elliot, and I find that, far from irritating, Mr. Elliot is one of the funniest and most ridiculous characters in Austen's fiction. Stevenson seems to appreciate him, too, for she reads his part with relish, infusing him with all the pompous self-importance Austen intended. I found myself stopping the performance and replaying those parts two and three times. Great laughs.
Juliet Stevenson infuses pathos and melancholy into a dreamy, naive protagonist who becomes entrapped in what proves to be a rather mundane murder. The story is told first-person from the protagonist's viewpoint and she addresses her thoughts to a unnamed "you," the man with whom she engages in an improbable affair. For most of the novel, the real mystery is figuring out who the man really is, his motivations and his true feelings for the protagonist. We don't even know his name until more than two-thirds of the way into the story. I found the device wore very thin and I probably would have bailed were it not for Stevenson's expert reading. As it turned out, I am glad I stuck with it because I do think the novel had some intriguing elements and the writing is excellent in parts, with interesting characterizations. By the end it was clear Doughty meant this to be, in part, a play on the techniques of storytelling. At one point in the protagonist's trial, she observes, "I realized that all one needs for a story is a collection of facts." Yes, that and few more things, and maybe especially a consummate actress like Juliet Stevenson reading your stuff.
I love Neil Gaiman, I really do, but I could not keep reading this. This is his "revised" version, which adds something like 20,000 more words to the narrative. Really. Too much. George Guidall is a good narrator and gamely tackles the often difficult text with strong characterizations and lively conversations, but it wasn't enough. I just found the story about demons and angels battling in the Midwest frustrating, weird and alienating.
I felt guilty giving up but I did. Life's too short. So sue me.
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