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Marina

Early adopter, longtime listener, bookhungry.

Member Since 2005

104
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 21 reviews
  • 311 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
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50

  • Come Away, Death

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Gladys Mitchell
    • Narrated By Patience Tomlinson
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Sir Rudri Hopkinson, an eccentric amateur archaeologist, is determined to recreate ancient rituals at the temple of Eleusis in Greece in the hope of summoning the goddess Demeter. He gathers together a motley collection of people to assist in the experiment, including a rival scholar, a handsome but cruel photographer and a trio of mischievous children. But when one of the groups disappears, and a severed head turns up in a box of snakes, Mrs Bradley is called upon to investigate.

    Yvette says: "Great book, but you have to pay attention!"
    "No more Mitchells for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gladys Mitchell's books are always tempting—the synopsis sounds promising, Patience Tomlinson is a lovely narrator—but always a baffling disappointment. Mitchell's heroine, Mrs Bradley, is an unsatisfying detective whose methods are opaque and whose psychology is suspect, as well as extremely outdated. I've fallen for three of these books now and come out of every one irritated. The convoluted mystery plot unravels at a lame snail's pace, the cast is overlarge and undifferentiated, the main characters are dolts, and the entire proceedings are remarkably humorless. Never again, Mitchell, never again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Homesman: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Glendon Swarthout
    • Narrated By Candace Thaxton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (92)

    Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman is a devastating story of early pioneers in 1850s American West. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of: the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by a life of bitter hardship. A "homesman" must be found to escort a handful of them back East to a sanitarium. When none of the county’s men steps up, the job falls to Mary Bee Cuddy - ex-teacher, spinster, indomitable and resourceful.

    Janice says: "Riding into a different sunset"
    "hugely disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This begins as an interesting inversion of the western formula, with a strong spinster rancher carting four madwomen home to the east. She co-opts a rascally claim-jumper, after saving his life, and the crew sets off. So far, excellent. But Swarthout betrays this promise by abandoning the strong woman (after first negating his own creation by making her turn weak and silly) and switching point of view to the claim-jumper. The four madwomen, whose backstories are painstakingly detailed, are slammed into a box and never speak or act with volition again; they're no longer characters but just Woman 1, 2, 3, 4. I won't do a spoiler, but Swarthout cripples his own book by killing off a vital character in a ridiculous denial of everything the character is about, and then lets the story dwindle off for ages in a diminishing, eternal, and very disappointing denouement. This is not a book for women listeners, especially any who might identify either with a strong self-sufficient woman or a woman who's gone insane after dealing with fate, winter, and idiots.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Madensky Square

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Eva Ibbotson
    • Narrated By Juanita McMahon
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Susanna Weber is the best dress maker in Imperial Vienna. Through skill and hard work, she now owns her own dress shop, looking out over the beautiful Madensky Square. To do so, she has left her past behind, if not without regret, at least resolutely. Looking around her, at her customers and friends, Susanna is aware that she has more than most - but a few small changes cause her to realize just how precarious her situation is.

    Marina says: "Charming afternoon treat"
    "Charming afternoon treat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A charming book from Eva Ibbotson, from her frothier side. "Journey to the River Sea" remains my favourite book of hers, but this is a tranquil, discursive, always interesting look at fashionable life in pre-war Vienna. Especially if you are interesting in fashion, Madensky Square is enjoyable and undemanding, and delightfully stylish.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tripwire: Jack Reacher, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Jonathan McClain
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1363)
    Performance
    (1220)
    Story
    (1236)

    Reacher's anonymity in Florida is shattered by an investigator who's come looking for him. But hours after his arrival, the stranger is murdered. Retracing the PI's trail back to New York, Reacher's compelled to find out who was looking for him and why. He never expected the reasons to be so personal - and twisted.

    Elaine says: "Story Alive!!"
    "Give it a pass"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Give this one a pass. The story is marred by too torture-y a villain, made almost laughable because the narrator Jonathan McClain made the serious error of using a voice exactly like the Austin Powers' villain Dr Evil. The girl is more than usually bland, her character mainly delineated by her extreme thinness, and the romance is anemic. Child must have been tired when he got to this one, and in many passages he simply repeats sentences—at one big reveal, Reacher actually has someone repeat a piece of news (which we've seen coming for about an hour) four times. Four times. Skip to the next, this one was a dud.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Anything for a Quiet Life

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Michael Gilbert
    • Narrated By Christopher Scott
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Jonas Pickett, solicitor and commissioner of oaths, leaves London to set up a practice in a genteel Sussex resort. This collection of nine inter-linked stories tell the stories of his clients: from a retired Admiral to the queen of the gypsies.

    Marina says: "Cool, amusing, intelligent: ideal Michael Gilbert"
    "Cool, amusing, intelligent: ideal Michael Gilbert"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    These connected stories are amusing, elegantly-written, and engrossing. Michael Gilbert is one of the very best of the Brits, not nearly well enough known. His books encompass every kind of mystery and thriller: these are legal conundrums, far more interesting puzzles than Rumpole ever constructed, and told with cool detachment but no lack of suspense. As story follows story, Jonas Pickett's new life unfolds and complicates and resolves. High recommended—and great re-listening, too.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Final Throw

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Michael Gilbert
    • Narrated By Andrew Timothy
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Morrissey, head of London's Regional Crime Squad, is trying to bring down a financial empire which is involved with organised crime and drug smuggling. He enlists the help of a Welshman and his pretty ex-girlfriend to aid him in the 'Snakes and Ladders' operation.Michael Francis Gilbert (1912- 2006) is recognized as one of the most versatile British mystery writers. He was a lawyer in London for many years and at one point had Raymond Chandler as his client. He wrote almost every sort of mystery and thriller.

    Marina says: "One of the best Brits, and one of his best books"
    "One of the best Brits, and one of his best books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Michael Gilbert is a brilliant mystery writer, perhaps less known than he ought to be because he did not have a series detective, just a fantastic series of one-off books. The Final Throw is one of his best, starring the rascally Welshman David Morgan and his highly-intelligent beloved in a twisting story of greed and corruption. The reader here, Andrew Timothy, is strangely well-chosen—his is not a dry professional read, but an exuberant impatient attack, complete with page-turning sounds and odd, forgetful pauses; he sometimes even seems half-drunk. But it's a great voice for David Morgan, and for the whole raffish, down-and-out, drink-addled tone of this thriller. Highly recommended, as are all Michael Gilbert's audiobooks.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Thou Shell of Death: Nigel Strangeways, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Nicholas Blake
    • Narrated By Kris Dyer
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Fergus O'Brien, a legendary World War One flying ace with several skeletons hidden in his closet, receives a series of mocking letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day. Undaunted, O'Brien throws a Christmas party, inviting everyone who could be suspected of making the threats, along with private detective Nigel Strangeways. But despite Nigel's presence, the former pilot is found dead, just as predicted, and Nigel is left to aid the local police in their investigation.

    Marina says: "Poetic Injustice"
    "Poetic Injustice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A decent country-house mystery, written by the poet Cecil Day-Lewis under his Blake pseudonym, but sadly almost ruined by the reader. Dyer's accents are heavy-handed, but it's the Shatner-like inappropriate breath-breaks that really make this a tough listen.
    It's not the best of the Nicholas Blake books and you'll solve the mystery early on—but that's not so bad, makes a person feel clever to know the truth before the sleuths do. I hope the publisher continues to produce Blakes, but with a new reader please.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Case of the Gilded Fly

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Edmund Crispin
    • Narrated By Phillip Bird
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (37)

    Yseut Haskell, a pretty but spiteful young actress with a talent for destroying men's lives, is found dead in a college room just metres from unconventional Oxford don Gervase Fen's office. The victim is found wearing an unusual ring, a reproduction of a piece in the British Museum featuring a gold gilded fly but does this shed any light on her murder? As they delve deeper into Yseut's unhappy life the police soon realise that anyone who knew her would have shot her, but can Fen discover who could have shot her?

    Constance says: "Witty, Well Written Classic British mystery"
    "Sad disappointment"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is far from Crispin's best. Nicely narrated by Philip Bird, who cannot save it from its top-heavy academic preciousness and a case of systemic sexism which I don't remember from Crispin's other books. Every woman is a girl, every girl has a shapely body and an empty head, and even the clever, independent, professional ones secretly long to have someone "make an honest woman" of them. Crispin does not play fair with the clues (the murderer's motive stems from an unrevealed, unguessable foreign life), and Gervase Fen, who in later books like The Moving Toyshop is funny and clever, here suffers from advanced insufferability, and maunders on about how he knows who did it for half the book in a very annoying way. Skip this one (unless you think women are irretrievably venal and silly, in which case you'll be confirmed in your opinion) and listen to the other Gervase Fen books which are much more entertaining.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • On a Chinese Screen

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By W Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Richard Mitchley
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Maugham spent the winter months of 1919 travelling 1500 miles up the Yangtze river. Always more interested in people than places, he noted down acute and finely crafted sketches of those he met on countless scraps of paper. In the resulting collection we encounter Western missionaries, army officers and company managers who are culturally out of their depth in the immensity of the Chinese civilisation.

    Marina says: "Not Maugham's forte"
    "Not Maugham's forte"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a series of non-fiction vignettes on Chinese life—if you are researching western attitudes to China in the late 19th, early 20th century, perhaps you'll find it useful. But the clichés of thought and action are too embedded and stale to make this book worth listening to. Find Maugham's fiction for a glimpse into his subtle mind and imagination, rather than getting depressed by the lack of understanding here.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Laurie R. King
    • Narrated By Jenny Sterlin
    Overall
    (438)
    Performance
    (380)
    Story
    (380)

    As Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes embark on their 11th adventure together, they find themselves immersed in the world of silent filmmaking. Here, the pirates are real—and unlike the shooting done with a camera, this sort can be deadly.

    Debra says: "Very disappointing"
    "What on earth?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unbelievably awful. I am a great fan of Laurie R. King's Sherlock/Mary Russell novels, especially the Beekeeper's Apprentice and Locked Rooms—but they're all worth listening to, erudite, complicated, perfectly in period, and very satisfying. EXCEPT this appalling outing, which is impenetrably stupid, plotless, asinine and boring. Listen to all the others first, they're very good!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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