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Toby

Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

Portsmouth, NH, United States | Member Since 2010

45
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 33 reviews
  • 33 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 53 purchased in 2014
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5

  • Are We Nearly There Yet?: 8,000 Misguided Miles Round Britain in a Vauxhall Astra

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ben Hatch
    • Narrated By Kris Dyer
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    They were bored, broke, burned out, and turning 40, so when Ben and Dinah saw the advert looking for a husband and wife team with young kids to write a guidebook about family travel around Britain, they jumped at the chance. With naïve visions of staring moodily across Coniston Water and savouring Cornish pasties, they embark on a mad-cap five-month trip with daughter Phoebe, four, and son Charlie, two, embracing the freedom of the open road with a spirit of discovery and an industrial supply of baby wipes.

    Toby says: "Laugh, Learn and Cry a Bit"
    "Laugh, Learn and Cry a Bit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Are We Nearly There Yet??

    I loved best the interaction between the author and his wife and his children. I loved the hilarity of the descriptions of the towns visited.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I loved Dinah, the wife.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    In the animal park with the lions. The world's largest pencil. The penthouse scene in Edinburgh.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A family's car journey through Britain with two tots. Don't really know as I am not up on films.


    Any additional comments?

    The back story and account of the author's father's declining health and end was poignant, but not overdone. It read REAL. One felt as if present.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tempting Fate

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Jane Green
    • Narrated By Jane Green
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (9)

    In Tempting Fate by Jane Green, Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for 18 years. They have two teenaged daughters; they have built a life together. So why does 43-year-old Gabby feel like she has only three more minutes left of youth? Why do her friends so desperately try to hang on to their attractiveness? And why does she ever even look at the handsome guy - 10 years younger - at the other end of the bar one night? Gabby is the last person to have an affair - a physical one, at least.

    A. C. Fritz says: "Self Narration is not always the best idea"
    "A rather predictable scenario in most ways"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Meh. It was not as engrossing as earlier Jane Green books, and I am a fan of this writer. One aspect that drove me nuts is that the author read the book herself and she was not as good as a professional reader would have been. It got on my nerves.


    Would you recommend Tempting Fate to your friends? Why or why not?

    Probably not, as I don't see this one as one of her best. I couldn't empathize with this almost stereotypical "american" sort of suburban story with a feel good ending. Yes, spoiler alert here.


    How could the performance have been better?

    With a proper, professional reader and not the author.


    Do you think Tempting Fate needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. I don't care that much about any of the characters. The most interesting (with only a brief appearance) was Gabby's mother from London.


    Any additional comments?

    The author reads this almost as if a soporific sermon on romance, but yet it is not. I almost did not finish, but decided (given the promo reviews) to keep going. A bit shallow, too, given that the characters have no worries about money, health, etc etc etc. An almost juvenile book for those who think dreams come true.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Murder in the Monastery: Libby Sarjeant, Book 11

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Lesley Cookman
    • Narrated By Patience Tomlinson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    The eleventh book in the Libby Sarjeant series of British murder mysteries which features a retired actress as the female sleuth and is based in the picturesque village of Steeple Martin. Libby Sarjeant is invited to look into the provenance of a jewelled Anglo-Saxon reliquary which has appeared on a website. The nuns at St Eldreda's Abbey are curious, as it apparently contains a relic of St Eldreda herself.

    Toby says: "Not so much a cozy as a good sedative"
    "Not so much a cozy as a good sedative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. While I am a fan of the British cozy/tea cake genre, this was so boring. i did not finish the book.


    Would you recommend Murder in the Monastery to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. Not any of the characters were charming or interesting to me. Patricia Wentworth is far superior.


    What didn’t you like about Patience Tomlinson’s performance?

    The reader got on my nerves. I prefer British readers, but this was too shrill and the male voices annoying.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Very disappointed as I was looking forward to a new series of a cozy. I do not require fast action (in fact, loathe it) but this was just so very dry and boring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Island Hideaway

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Louise Candlish
    • Narrated By Antonia Beamish
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Eleanor Blake, distraught after breaking up with her fiancé Will, decides to do what most would scarcely dare: secretly follow him to the island hideaway where he's on holiday with the woman who took her place. But on the shimmering, sun-drenched Sicilian island of Panarea, distractions come in many forms and her fellow hotel guests Lewis and Frannie may not be all they seem either.

    Toby says: "This is a perfect romance novel with travel notes"
    "This is a perfect romance novel with travel notes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The Island Hideaway rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very high in the category of interesting novels with a background in Italy.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eleanor because she is realistically interesting and a unique character.


    What about Antonia Beamish’s performance did you like?

    I liked the soft resonance of her voice. I liked that she did not "overact" the various voices when reading dialogue. She is talented.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Quite a few, actually. I liked Eleanor's initial encounter with Franny. I liked the scene on the hydropo boat over to Siciliy with Lewis. Moments with Natalie, the nymphet were thoroughly believable and well-characterized.


    Any additional comments?

    This book made me happy, engaged and not wanting it to end. I also greatly appreciated that the author did not "wrap it all up" with a traditional ending. It was a very good and happy-making read. The descriptions of the islands were priceless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Barbara O'Neal
    • Narrated By Joyce Bean
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Barbara O’Neal’s novel of food, friendship, and the freedom to grow your dreams brings together four very different women longing to savor the true taste of happiness. Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone.

    Toby says: "Don't bother"
    "Don't bother"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    No one I know, that is for sure. Before I finished (only a short time to be fair), it read like a book for children. Simplistic prose.


    Has The All You Can Dream Buffet turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes. I love to read about food, but not "inspirational and aspirational" garbage that is so banal and American-centric.


    What didn’t you like about Joyce Bean’s performance?

    Everything.


    What character would you cut from The All You Can Dream Buffet?

    None.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I could get a refund.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Elisabeth Eaves
    • Narrated By Erin Bennett
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Spanning 15 years of travel, beginning when she is a sophomore in college, Wanderlust documents Elisabeth Eaves’ insatiable hunger for the rush of the unfamiliar and the experience of encountering new people and cultures. Young and independent, she crisscrosses five continents and chases the exotic, both in culture and in romance.

    Toby says: "A grand travel memoir for a modern woman"
    "A grand travel memoir for a modern woman"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Wanderlust rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Amongst the travel memoirs, it ranks very high. I like that the author is a modern, intelligent woman not directed by the need to be "traditionally" the dumb woman.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Wanderlust?

    Many. I liked the scenes in Paris and New Guinea in particular. Also, her descriptions of Seattle resonated with me.


    What three words best describe Erin Bennett’s voice?

    Soothing to listen.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, it did not make me cry. It stoked my own wanderlust and love of travel.


    Any additional comments?

    Great to read a book like this by a woman who is not constrained by notions of hearth and children. Also, that she is intelligent. A rarity in most American published books written by woman. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blackberry Pie Murder

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Joanne Fluke
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (70)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (63)

    It's been a sleepy summer for the folks of Lake Eden, Minnesota. In fact, it's been a whole four months since anyone in the Swensen family has come across a dead body - a detail that just made the front page of the local paper. And that means Hannah Swensen can finally focus on her bakery. . .or can she? Life is never really quiet for Hannah. After all, her mother's wedding is a little over a month away and guess who Delores put in charge of the planning?

    Susan Fryman says: "Blackberry Pie Murder"
    "Not as good as her earlier mysteries. Lackluster"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Blackberry Pie Murder better?

    If the plot had been more complex and the dialogues more interesting and witty.


    What could Joanne Fluke have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It could have been more humorous. Her earlier books captured me mostly because of the humor, but this one was simply boring. I did not finish it. I had no cause to contnue listening


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration was as flat as this mystery. The voice did not lilt or have depth. It was a boring voice.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Blackberry Pie Murder?

    I would have added plot twists and humor. It has become a big bore that the two men are so content with vying for the one woman. Let them have an orgy or something!


    Any additional comments?

    I won't buy her next book, that is for sure. I miss the earlier ones.
    How about adding some more of Jo Dereske? You only have one and she is a master at dry humor and understated wit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Summer at the Lake

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Erica James
    • Narrated By Antonia Beamish
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    A fateful car crash sets in motions a series of events for Floriana, Esme. Floriana gathers the courage to attend the wedding of her one true love, and Esme journeys with her to Lake Como to find the man who stole her heart many years ago. It’s time for Esme and Floriana to face the past - and the future - on the shore of the most romantic and enchanting of lakes.

    Sarah says: "Story picks up halfway through, narrator terrible."
    "A sweetly woven tale of lovable characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Summer at the Lake rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is not a query I can answer as I listen to so many types. i will say that Erica James told a great story here and held my interest throughout. Loved the locales of Oxford and Lake Como in Italy, and Venice, too. Great fodder for armchair travelers.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Fiorina and Esme, equally. Both were lovable and clearly drawn women.


    Have you listened to any of Antonia Beamish’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have. She is a very good reader and I love her measured, soft tone of voice. She is exceedingly listenable as a reader.


    If you could take any character from Summer at the Lake out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Esme because she has more tales to tell and is the wise elder, yet vulnerable. She orders a martini in Venice. Perfect.


    Any additional comments?

    While I loathe such comment, I make one here. This is a perfect novel to read on a holiday or when not well. It is the perfect gift to a friend who needs cheering up and also a laugh ot two. It is perfectly balanced.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Forever Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Susan Lyons
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    Amanda and her husband, David, feel fortunate to be raising their son and daughter in the close-knit community of ex-pats on Grand Cayman Island, an idyllic place for children to grow up. Their firstborn, Sally, has always listened to her heart, deciding at age four that she would rather be called Clover and then, a few years later, falling in love with her best friend, James. But the comforting embrace of island life can become claustrophobic for adults, especially when they are faced with difficult situations.

    Benedict says: "So, so remarkable!"
    "Bits of the AMS we all love, but lacking in the en"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, probably not. As someone who has read all of AMS's work (except for the number one detective series), this one fell flat. It was almost as if he didn't write it. I shudder to think he would have a factory of writers, but still ..


    Would you recommend The Forever Girl to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. See above.


    Which character – as performed by Susan Lyons – was your favorite?

    I cannot say that I hd a single favorite.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No, but then I do not go to films.


    Any additional comments?

    I was very excited when I saw this listed and how lovely and long it was. I forced myself to keep listening, thinking it would improve. It did not. It had none of the charm of the 44 Scotland Street or Corduroy Mansions series. Or even the Sunday Philosophers. It did not sound like the author's voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Bookstore

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Deborah Meyler
    • Narrated By Heather Wilds
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Brilliant, idealistic Esme Garland moves to Manhattan armed with a pres­tigious scholarship at Columbia University. When Mitchell van Leuven - a New Yorker with the bluest of blue New York blood - captures her heart with his stunning good looks and a penchant for all things erotic, life seems truly glorious...until a thin blue line signals a wrinkle in Esme’s tidy plan. Before she has a chance to tell Mitchell about her pregnancy, he suddenly declares their sex life is as exciting as a cup of tea, and ends it all. When Mitchell recants his criticism, his passion and promises are hard to resist.

    Toby says: "A perfect love story to a bookstore and New York"
    "A perfect love story to a bookstore and New York"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Bookstore again? Why?

    Yes. I almost rushed through this book because I found it so captivating. The prose was exceptional.


    What other book might you compare The Bookstore to and why?

    This is difficult. There are nuances of Anita Brookner, Jennifer Wiener and Joanna Trollope. The brevity of the wit and the NOT over usage of sentimentality was perfect.


    What about Heather Wilds’s performance did you like?

    I found the reader to be most engaging and easy to listen to. She did not over-dramatize the characters, which is always preferable.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed some. I loved that the female protagonist was not stupid. It was believable. The various scenes of NYC were memorable especially the one when the snow is falling.


    Any additional comments?

    I can only hope that this writer will continue to write. A sequel would not be out of order. In fact I would love to see this become a series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Unfaithfully Yours

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Nigel Williams
    • Narrated By Carole Boyd, Christian Rodska
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    When Elizabeth Price engages private detective Roland 'Orlando' Gibbons to find out the truth about her husband's suspected affair, she unwittingly sets off a chain of correspondence that reunites four formerly close-knit couples. They all live just a few suburban streets away from each other; they are all still married; so how - and why - did they become so estranged? In a series of letters - from love notes to condolence messages (the latter one arriving some years late) - each protagonist is far more self-revealing than they would ever be in person.

    Toby says: "A rather classic British rom full of wit"
    "A rather classic British rom full of wit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would suggest this novel to those chums who enjoy wry British wit and a bit of a farce.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The detective was notable. Actually, most of the characters were interesting. Varied in their own eccentricities.


    What about Carole Boyd and Christian Rodska ’s performance did you like?

    I thought both of the readers were exemplary.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, several sittings, but it was a fast read.


    Any additional comments?

    This book made me laugh. Lots of twists and turns in the plot, too. It held my attention.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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