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connie

trying to see the world with my ears

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

ratings
1497
REVIEWS
399
FOLLOWING
140
FOLLOWERS
1516
HELPFUL VOTES
3604

  • Killing the Emperors: A Jack Troutbeck - Robert Amiss Mystery, Book 12

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Ruth Dudley Edwards
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Sir Henry Fortune, celebrity curator, has vanished. So too has his partner in love and money, disreputable art dealer Jason Pringle. Panic spreads throughout the London art world when more people go missing. No one can locate Anastasia Holliday, sensational Abject artist; Jake Thorogood, the critic who catapulted her into stardom; or Dr. Hortense Wilde, notorious for having influenced generations of art students to despise craftsmanship. Hysteria hits the media when it is found that the common link between the victims is that their careers blossomed when they embraced newly fashionable conceptual art.

    p says: "bring back Bill Wallis as Narrator!"
    "too much exposition!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At first I thought Audible mistakenly placed this in the Arts and Entertainment category rather than mystery - but maybe not. RDE's mysteries never start with a corpse, and usually I love her set-up and backstory, but this novel began with almost an hour discussion of post-modern art. Unlike "Carnage on the Committee", where you do not need to know about Booker-like novels to engage with the satire (although it helps), this may require knowledge about post-modern art to get all the humour.

    Fans of the series might wonder if the new offering focuses on Lady Jack or on Robert Amiss - but really the focus is the issue (critique of so-called experts in art), and the novel is weaker for that.

    For me, Wallis is the voice of both Troutbeck and this series. Usually I like narrator McCaddon/ Doneda Peters, but not for this series - though it was funny to hear her prim voice repeatedly say the F word - which was sprinkled liberally around this novel compared to the others in the series. Is it even used in other instalments? Maybe Wallis slips it by my ears. Still, McCaddon is very competent; those who think Wallis over-the-top as Troutbeck might like the change.

    Only Plutarch the cat was in top form here. I'd recommend any other mystery in this series, unless you are interested in the post-modern art angle.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • She's Leaving Home

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs)
    • By William Shaw
    • Narrated By Cameron Stewart
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    London, 1968: The body of a teenage girl is found just steps away from the Beatles' Abbey Road recording studio. The police are called to a residential street in St John's Wood where an unidentified young woman has been strangled. Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen believes she may be one of the many Beatles fans who regularly camp outside Abbey Road Studios. With his reputation tarnished by an inexplicable act of cowardice, this is Breen's last chance to prove he's up to the job.

    connie says: "refreshing period Brit police procedural"
    "refreshing period Brit police procedural"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not saccharine-cozy, certainly not hard-boiled, this includes a decent mystery with humour and nice late 60s period touch. What the author gets refreshingly right is that overused "younger eager investigator --- older senior officer" relationship. The Beatles background is just a small part of the period setting; more prominent are the changing gender roles, sexual mores (nothing explicit though), and race/ethnic group relations. And it was better written than most of its kind. The Whispersync price was a great bargain when I purchased. I hope there are more "Tozer and Breen" books on the way - I could have tried a series binge, based on this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Christmas Eve, 1914

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 13 mins)
    • By Charles Olivier
    • Narrated By Cameron Daddo, Xander Berkeley, Cody Fern, and others
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (81)
    Story
    (81)

    In 1914, the war which was to have been wrapped up by Christmas had - in reality - only just begun, as all sides entrenched themselves deeper into the Great War. Christmas Eve, 1914 follows one company of British officers as they rotate forward to spend their Christmas on the front lines, a mere 80 yards from the German guns. Upper- and working-class men and boys are thrown together into one trench and struggle to survive.

    M. Laird says: "Moving story and performance: hope in midst of war"
    ""maybe war takes a holiday today""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This isn't too sentimental (nor too gruesome) and convincingly recreates the possible development of one possible truce situation in the 1914 trenches. It doesn't directly address any BIG questions, other than the very powerful one posed by the truces themselves. I liked that it highlighted the conditions in the trenches, again without being too gruesome for family listening. I'm so happy to see commemoration of the centenary of the Truce since so many battles are so well remembered.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Breach of Security

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 28 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (42)

    When a bunch of neo-fascist thugs named The Bulldogs attack a Gay pride march in the sleepy country town of Lafferton, detective Simon Serrailler moves quickly to find the assailants. He’s already got his hands full making security arrangements for a memorial service to honour soldiers returning from Afghanistan. When anonymous threats come in, Serrailler wonders if the Bulldogs are behind these too - and worries that they know the Prince of Wales will be in attendance.

    connie says: "So glad I found this free story!"
    "So glad I found this free story!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I"ve had Hill's Serailler series in my wish list for years, but hesitated to hit "buy." This short is just OK; however, the listen tells me enough to know that I will enjoy a full length Hill listen-- a well-written modern take on a village cozy with police procedural added, somewhere between the depth of PD James and the lightness of Deborah Crombie. The excellent narration lives up to the positive reviews of Pacey as the voice of this series.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Day the Music Died

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Ed Gorman
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    In 1950s Iowa, a murder-suicide forces a lawyer to put aside his rock-and-roll grief.

    Sam McCain loves Buddy Holly, because he's the only rock-and-roll star who still seems like a dweeb, and Sam knows how that feels. With the unrequited love of his life at his side, Sam drives more than three hours through the snow to watch his idol play the Surf Ballroom. That night, Buddy Holly dies in the most famous plane crash in music history, but Sam has no time to grieve....

    connie says: "Comfortable, well-crafted cozy"
    "Comfortable, well-crafted cozy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    American detective fiction tries to be too action packed or grisly for me, cozies tend to be too cute, and I usually skip anything containing the PI acronym-- but I’m very glad I took a chance on this. The Sam McCain series seems to be the same “weight” of a Charlotte MacLeod, with similar gentle humour, humanism and craftsmanship. McCain is a young small town PI/lawyer who sleeps with his cats since his romantic ideal eludes him; He confers with his Mom and Dad and gets sick if he drinks alcohol (but still it doesn’t get too cute).

    Gorman is I think an older author, and there is thread of respect for elders and veterans running throughout the three in the series that I’ve enjoyed so far. This is more “nostalgic” rather than historical fiction written with modern sensibility, but that made it a better comfort read, the kind of mystery that soothes a head cold and relieves tension from listening to too much about current affairs. I get the feeling that Gorman is capable of much heavier fiction, but he gifted the world with some needed diversion instead.

    Pinchot's narration was perfect. I bought the book as a Kindle edition first, thinking it would be better as a speed read, but it was written and narrated so well that I recommend the audio (check whisper sync price).

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Peace, Love, and Petrol Bombs

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By D.D. Johnston
    • Narrated By Roger Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    A coming of age story set in a Scottish fast food restaurant: take a group of full time burger flippers and cash starved students, add a likeable geek with a love of political theory, and a passionately angry French anarchist, and you have a recipe for rebellion. Rife with dry British humor and working-class sensibilities.

    connie says: "coming of rage Dickens burger flippers unite"
    "coming of rage Dickens burger flippers unite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The “coming of age” descriptor put me off, but once I started this novel, my ears ate it up – It’s like a young Scottish Colin Bateman all fired up. Not today’s youth but those becoming political aware circa millennium are chronicled in this comedy of manners. It reminded me of why elder writers like William Boyd ought not try to re-create Bertie Wooster but instead let young writers write about fresher experience for Wodesonian humour. If you’ve ever marched against the Man (be it Vietnam, Cruise, Iraq or a 1% Logo) OR if you’ve ever wanted to understand those that have— try this.

    warning: lovely working class Scots English narration (*listen to sample!) and MUCH chronological anarchy in the history this weaves

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Northanger Abbey

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Val McDermid
    • Narrated By Jane Collingwood
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    A modern re-imagining of the Gothic Classic Northanger Abbey by the bestselling crime author Val McDermid. The second book in The Austen Project. Seventeen-year-old Catherine ‘Cat' Morland has led a sheltered existence in rural Dorset, a life entirely bereft of the romance and excitement for which she yearns. So when Cat's wealthy neighbours, the Allens, invite her to Edinburgh Festival, she is sure adventure beckons.

    connie says: "well-executed, but why?"
    "well-executed, but why?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is very faithful to the original, and well recast in 21st century teen talk--- however, take the period out of Austen, and you have a light chic lit tale, too often told. I thought McDermid might bring out the darker satire of Northanger – my biggest concern before downloading was how would I react to McDermid’s usual graphic violence in an Austen classic – no worry! This re-telling will not alarm the most squeamish. I kept waiting for some kind of twist, so I kept listening (well, there’s one tiny cute twist, coming from McDermid). My time would have been better spent re-listening to Juliet Stephenson reading the original. Like an Oxford School paraphrasing of a Shakespeare play – why bother if you want more than the bare story, and if you just want the bare story, why go on (and on) about tweeting Twilight and other modern teen concerns? If the intent was to make the novel more accessible to younger audiences, I think that’s a miss, too: the beauty of Austen is that she draws readers into more complex prose and period. Perhaps if the market weren’t flooded with Austen spin-offs, this might have been a novelty at least.


    P.S. The blurbs in the publisher’s summary MUST be about other McDermid novels!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hardcastle's Actress: Hardcastle Series

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Graham Ison
    • Narrated By David Thorpe
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    The new Detective Inspector Hardcastle mystery - When the body of actress Victoria Hart is found in the early hours of Christmas Day, Hardcastle and Marriotts investigations lead them to the Beaux Belles revue, where a scantily clad Victoria persuaded young men to enlist with the promise of a kiss. It seems the alluring actress had many admirers, and when the recruiting sergeant is found dead, a link to the army can no longer be ignored...

    connie says: "good setting idea but novel didn't gel"
    "good setting idea but novel didn't gel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought Hardcastle might be a binge series for me, but I couldn't become engaged with this instalment. I like the early WWI English setting, I like the attempt at slice-of-working-class-life, and even the central mystery was OK - - but the recipe didn't cook for me. The author repeatedly tries to interpret FOR the reader very simple dialogue and actions--- without these interruptions and some extraneous and drawn out details of weeks spent travelling from Hardcastle's home station to the scene of crime area(s) and back, I might have found this a quietly satisfying whodunnit, albeit with thin characterization. I chose this instalment because it is the first in chronological order (rather than order written), and I'd expect the author to know his craft better. It's a series I want to like, but unless there are some good reader reviews for other novels, I won't be downloading more. The WWI setting earned it a third star from me.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Cross and Burn

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Val McDermid
    • Narrated By Gerald Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (92)

    Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid' s work speaks for itself: her books have sold millions of copies worldwide, won numerous accolades, and attracted a devoted following of readers around the globe.

    adrienne says: "Picking up the pieces..."
    "wince and learn"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first half of #8 in this series felt very deja vu and second rate for a McDermid, but second half contained her usual engrossing storyline. However, for me, enduring the usual Mcdermid graphic, domestic-inspired violence wasn’t worth the second-half story. If you’re not planning on listening to all of the Tony Hill-Carol Jordan series, skip this one -- On the other hand, if you’re going to read only one in the series and don’t mind the graphic descriptions of brutally abused women, this might be THE one, as it could stand alone (despite its ties to The Retribution, #7). Also this one involves Paula MacIntyre more than most others, so it might be of interest to those who like her character. I winced at the violence, but I learned from McDermid's observations on human nature.

    The usual ending that sees Tony and Carol's relationship heading around a new bend is marred by the omission of the "You have been listening to..." statement before the inclusion of a clever short story by McDermid - to me this is a three star novel with an extra star for the short story (once I figured out it wasn't the next chapter of the novel!). Narrator Doyle is excellent as usual.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • La Danse de la Folie

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Sherwood Smith
    • Narrated By Heather Wilds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (15)

    This light-hearted Regency folly stars Miss Clarissa Harlowe who wants a quiet life - but falls in love with a smuggler, the marquess of St. Tarval. Tarval's sister, Lady Kitty, is determined to write a dramatic Gothic to save her brother’s mortgaged estate - if she can reach London. Clarissa's much-pursued cousin, Mr. Philip Devereaux, is inexplicably intrigued by Lady Kitty, who is doing her best to encourage the match between him and Clarissa, except that Clarissa is now betrothed to...Lord Wilburfolde. And so the mad change partners in the dance of love.

    connie says: "respectably Heyer-like with added touches"
    "respectably Heyer-like with added touches"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like to relax or treat a head cold with a Heyer-like escape, you know how rare such reads are. I've given up trying authors who are supposed to Heyer-like; however, I really needed a break from reality when I saw this among Audible's new releases. This is the best-of-its-classification I've come across in many listens: "sweet" without being saccharine or too silly, well-written, and well-narrated. Although it has an expected plot and Regency-a-la-Heyer world - like Heyer, it's just very diverting and witty.

    I was always uneasy with the undertones of family violence/threat of violence in many Heyers and Heyer-homages (Heroes who feel like "boxing ears" or "shaking" women); this novel is refreshingly free from such patterns. And the author manages to avoid remixing Heyer's overused cliches while including mixing reader favourites (and nods to Austen). I hope Smith has more like these! I am tempted to rate as five starts, just because it can't be easy to strike the right balance in these novels, and attempts at old fashioned Regencies are getting rarer, even with the explosion of contemporary stories cloaked in Regency clothes (often losing even the clothes).

    27 of 31 people found this review helpful
  • Solo: A James Bond Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By William Boyd
    • Narrated By Dominic West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    It's 1969, and, having just celebrated his 45th birthday, James Bond - British special agent 007 - is summoned to headquarters to receive an unusual assignment. Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation, is being ravaged by a bitter civil war, and M directs Bond to quash the rebels threatening the established regime.

    connie says: "Boyd had more fun than listener?"
    "Boyd had more fun than listener?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’ve never read Ian Fleming so I know Bond only as the film icon; however, I like Boyd and wanted to see what kind of Bond he would create for late 60s Britain.

    This is a very uneven novel --- I enjoyed moving through world of the novel with this very ordinary (almost pedestrian) Bond ---when it involved a London neighbourhood or especially West Africa. Other parts, particularly Bond’s romantic encounters, are written in a "workman-like", second rate manner. I wonder if that was intentional, so much does it depart from the fine detail of other sections.

    Bond is a man of his times in many ways, but a mainstream 60s hero wouldn’t adopt his positions. Would any Bond enjoy the feeling of being in a woman station head's "capable hands"? or "His powerless made him want to weep" or "Bond began to feel a debilitating sense of impotence"? Perhaps this is a triumph -- The novel (outside of bedroom snapshots) didn't conjure up any movie Bond but a distinct character.

    Battles (army battles) and fights abound -- not gory however. No gizmos are involved. Neither is there explicit sex – the encounters are what 007 film goers wold expect, and rather corny. The setting suggests of Nigeria--Biafra in late 60s - early 70s, but those elements were not developed as much as I would have liked (though this is almost a post-colonial bond).

    I felt that the novel didn't gel for me and suspect that Boyd enjoyed writing a Bond but perhaps was restrained by external parameters and didn't put his human heart in all of the writing. I liked the parts that were Boyd---William Boyd, so I will stick to William Boyd novels.

    Well narrated in a restrained style.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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