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Toby

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

Portsmouth, NH, United States | Member Since 2010

81
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 58 reviews
  • 58 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 137 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
4

  • Help the Poor Struggler

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Martha Grimes
    • Narrated By Steve West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (70)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (61)

    Around bleak Dartmoor, where the Hound of the Baskervilles once bayed, three children have been brutally murdered. Now Richard Jury of Scotland Yard joins forces with a hot-tempered local constable named Brian Macalvie to track down the killer. The trail begins at a desolate pub, Help the Poor Struggler. It leads straight to the estate of Lady Jessica, a 10-year-old orphaned heiress who lives with her mysterious uncle and ever-changing series of governesses.

    Kathi says: "Grimes sets a more serious tone--good listen"
    "Just another masterful Grimes mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Help the Poor Struggler rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    If you mean those by Martha Grimes, it is near the top. I have read her books before (when I had normal vision) and am now listening. I wish you offered all of her books on audible.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Help the Poor Struggler?

    I tend the enjoy the scenes with the children and the various pub scenes with the usual cast of characters. I adore the amount of detail in her descriptive prose.


    How could the performance have been better?

    You could have used a different reader. Had it not been for the story and my love of Martha Grimes' work, I would have ceased to listen. I do not think this reader does her prose justice. He gets in the way and his voice gets on one's nerves. He is too flat.


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

    I suppose the ending. I don't really think about books in terms of moments.


    Any additional comments?

    A very good cozy mystery that does not disappoint. If only the reader could have been up to par with the mystery itself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Casual Vacancy

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By J. K. Rowling
    • Narrated By Tom Hollander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2863)
    Performance
    (2515)
    Story
    (2535)

    When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it at first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.

    cristina says: "I was surprised by how much I liked it"
    "This could be called any small town in US or UK"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Casual Vacancy to be better than the print version?

    I cannot answer as I am too blind to read pint books.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This is difficult, but I suppose I really liked Teassa and Samantha and Andrew. Perhaps because they seemed to the ones with whom I most identified. It was easy to loathe some of the others.


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I liked the reading, but didn't like that the voice raised so much and that the sound was not uniform. Meaning, it would disturb my husband when there was shouting and I had to turn the volume down.


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

    Yes. I read it in two day.


    Any additional comments?

    Despite some negative and mixed reviews, I loved this book. It was also scarily real as the forces of development and gentrification are universal in these capitalist-driven times. Money and racism and class make for bad bed fellows. I thought the ending was near perfect. Would love a sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Sophie Hannah, Agatha Christie
    • Narrated By Julian Rhind-Tutt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (12)

    Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified - but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman?

    Robin says: "Disappointed"
    "Read this if you have missed Hercule Poirot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Monogram Murders again? Why?

    I probably would, as I do listen more than once to favorite reads. I like the way Hannah has her grip around Poirot and the plot.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hercule, I think. I did also enjoy the hotelier and Fen, the server at The Pleasants cafe.


    Which character – as performed by Julian Rhind-Tutt – was your favorite?

    Poirot. My only complaint would be that when he raised his voice so much it altered my volume and as I often listen in bed, this can disturb others in the home. Prefer an even toned narrator. Still, he was good.


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

    The scene in the village with the tombstones and Martha watching out the cottage windows. It was harrowing.


    Any additional comments?

    It cannot be easy to take on a book in the character of a long dead author, but I think Hannah did a superb job. Usually I do not like such, but this one was great. For example, the recent adaptations by modern authors of Jane Austen have been dismally bad.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Red Is for Rubies

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Linda Mitchelmore
    • Narrated By Karen Cass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In the first flush of love, Jonty promised to buy Lydie a ruby necklace when his art career took off. But the ruby never materialised and Lydie is left heartbroken when the relationship ends. Nearly 30 years later, Lydie still thinks of Jonty, stuck in a marriage to a man she never loved. And then he comes back into the picture, changing her life beyond anything she could have imagined.

    Toby says: "A bit too unbelievable yet soap-opera-ish"
    "A bit too unbelievable yet soap-opera-ish"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. It wasn't deep enough. I only finished because I wanted to see how the author would pull off such an unbelievable plot. Well, not so well.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Not believable.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The voice went up and down in volume too much. Became very annoying at times.


    Do you think Red Is for Rubies needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. I simply do not care and the plot is so unbelievable it almost reads as if a book for the young adult market. Could have been greatly improved by more descriptive detail.


    Any additional comments?

    The segments about the "crazy" sister were almost pointless. Insensitive, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Buying a Piece of Paris

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Ellie Nielsen
    • Narrated By Nicki Paull
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Paris has seduced many admirers, but for visiting Australian Ellie Nielsen, it's true love. So deep is her infatuation that, if she can't have it all to herself, she'll only be satisfied with buying her own little piece of Paris.

    Norma says: "A Delight for Paris Lovers"
    "I expected far more from a book about Paris"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Ellie Nielsen and/or Nicki Paull?

    Perhaps.


    If you’ve listened to books by Ellie Nielsen before, how does this one compare?

    I was dismayed at the lack of character development and plot. The descriptive prose, which I adore when reading of Paris (or any European city) was lacking.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Not much, given the material.


    Could you see Buying a Piece of Paris being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    This book had so much potential. It would have been so much better had it focused more on the people, place and not just shallow real estate. Also, the husband was never more than a one-dimensional character.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Man at the Helm

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Nina Stibbe
    • Narrated By Imogen Church
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Not long after her parents' separation, heralded by an awkward scene involving a wet Daily Telegraph and a pan of cold eggs, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel, her sister and little brother and their now-divorcée mother are packed off to a small, slightly hostile village in the English countryside. Their mother is all alone, only 31 years of age, with three young children and a Labrador. It is no wonder, when you put it like that, that she becomes a menace and a drunk. And a playwright.

    Toby says: "An absolutely perfect novel of wit and character"
    "An absolutely perfect novel of wit and character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Man at the Helm in three words, what would they be?

    I want more.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Man at the Helm?

    There were many. The horse on the second floor. The boy pretending to be a dog. The children enacting their mother's play. The men. The girls.


    What does Imogen Church bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She was a superlative reader. Wonderful. Perfect cast to her voice for the various characters. Just amazingly good.


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

    Lizzie, of course.


    Any additional comments?

    If only there were more novels full of wit, wisdom and charm. This is so beyond the norm of the day. Stibbe reminds me a bit of Barbara Pym, as well as Trollope and even Kingsley Amis in his early days. Masterful!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Girl Next Door

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Noble
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Here is a gorgeous and unforgettable novel set in a turn-of-the-century New York apartment building on the Upper East Side. The Girl Next Door features four interwoven stories about love, life, and living together. This emotional listen is full of fascinating characters.

    Margaret says: "Even reversed, an engrossing story"
    "A pleasing romp through the lives of New Yorkers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not sure. Probably only to those who don't want to be overly taxed intellectually or depressed by the medical stuff/death.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I liked the details of New York life, but always wanted to know more about some of the characters. It was not an even representative of the characters. I wish the author hhad developed some of the characters more fully.


    What does Lorelei King bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She was good enough. Her accent for British men was a bit lame.


    Was Girl Next Door worth the listening time?

    Meh. Had I been in better health and not stuck in bed, I probably would have not finished it.


    Any additional comments?

    Such great potential for a good tale, but left me wanted more in-depth and realistic depictions. I thought NYC got the short drift in this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sunshine on Scotland Street: A 44 Scotland Street Novel, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Robert Ian Mackenzie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (32)

    Once more, we catch up with the delightful goings-on in the fictitious 44 Scotland Street from Alexander McCall Smith. With customary charm and deftness, Alexander McCall Smith gives us another instalment in this popular series, now running in its eighth season in The Scotsman.

    Monterey Brookman says: "This deserves 10 stars!"
    "Another enchanting addition to this series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Sunshine on Scotland Street?

    Being able to spend time again with the cast of characters. I would have liked a bit more of Pat, but this series just keeps one wanting more and more.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The adventures of Bertie and the manipulative ways of Irene, his mum. It was entertaining that the husband finally stood up a bit. Comical, yet so real.
    I also always like the attention AMS pays to architecture and societal customs and changes.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Ian Mackenzie’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes, all in the series. He is talented.


    Who was the most memorable character of Sunshine on Scotland Street and why?

    This was answered above. In general, I cannot pin it down to one event. Not possible. The overall is the total of my enjoyment.


    Any additional comments?

    I only wish it was longer! I hope the next one will not take so very long to be available on Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Karen Le Billon
    • Narrated By Cris Dukehart
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    When she moved her young family to her husband's hometown in northern France, Karen Le Billon expected some cultural adjustment. But she didn't expect to be lectured for slipping her fussing toddler a snack, or to be forbidden from packing her older daughter a school lunch. Karen is intrigued by the fact that French children happily eat everything-from beets to broccoli, from salad to spinach - while French obesity rates are a fraction of what they are in North America.

    Toby says: "A must read for those who care about food"
    "A must read for those who care about food"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up French Kids Eat Everything in three words, what would they be?

    This book was a great read, even if you do not have children. I learned much and was engaged from the first page. This is a well written and insightful book about not only food, but manners and cultural differences


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed how the author coped, wrote about, and expanded her experience of living in France and eating.


    Which character – as performed by Cris Dukehart – was your favorite?

    The author, of course.


    What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

    Eating while sitting, eating a little bit of everything, eating vegetables. The socialization of dining. I could continue ....


    Any additional comments?

    I hope this author will write a second book. I would read it with relish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Vertigo 42: A Richard Jury Mystery, Book 23

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Martha Grimes
    • Narrated By Steve West
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (93)
    Story
    (94)

    Richard Jury is meeting Tom Williamson at Vertigo 42, a bar on the 42nd floor of an office building in London’s financial district. Despite inconclusive evidence, Tom is convinced his wife, Tess, was murdered 17 years ago. The inspector in charge of the case was sure Tess’ death was accidental - a direct result of vertigo - but the official police inquiry is still an open verdict and Jury agrees to re-examine the case.

    Alice says: "As always, Martha Grimes comes through"
    "Yet another stellar Richard Jury mystery by Grimes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Vertigo 42 the most enjoyable?

    As a longtime Martha Grimes fan, I was not disappointed. Unlike some, this one didn't have Jury in a love affair ... but every other element was present.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Richard Jury and Melrose Plant. The odd couple of an engaging British mystery series


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

    Yes, all the ones he narrates of Martha Grimes. He is good.


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

    Yes, but I tried to pace myself as I know there will not be another one for some time.


    Any additional comments?

    A most enjoyable read. The one brief appearance of Agatha, Melrose's not blood related aunt, was limited and I didn't mind this. Would have like more of the antiques dealer. All in all, however, a wonderful book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Courtney Maum
    • Narrated By Sam Deveraux
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (39)

    Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to appreciate his fortune. But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne, has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life - just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair.

    Toby says: "A tremendous romp through the Paris art world"
    "A tremendous romp through the Paris art world"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is up near the top. A most enjoyable read and my short headline does not say it all as the book is clearly more than a romp through the art world of Paris.


    What other book might you compare I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You to and why?

    One other does not come readily to mind. Perhaps, along the lines of India Knight and Ian Moore.


    What does Sam Deveraux bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The reader was wonderful and never did that over-acting, shouting thing that is so annoying in some audible books.


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

    I liked the scene where the artists videotaped his parents in the kitchen of the seaside house in England.


    Any additional comments?

    There are many levels to this novel and all work well together. I would read more by this author.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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