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beatrice

El Cerrito, CA, United States | Member Since 2009

155
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 37 reviews
  • 58 ratings
  • 137 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
19

  • A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    Overall
    (21457)
    Performance
    (15561)
    Story
    (15617)

    In a time long forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons off balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. As the cold returns, sinister forces are massing beyond the protective wall of the kingdom of Winterfell. To the south, the king's powers are failing, with his most trusted advisor mysteriously dead and enemies emerging from the throne's shadow.

    DCinMI says: "Review of First 5 Books"
    "a bit silly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Imagine two columns, Column A headed "yes, please" and Column B headed "no, thanks." When you think about what you enjoy in an audiobook, into which column would you place each of the following?

    —knights and swordplay
    —made-up languages
    —ritual barbarian sex
    —animals with preternatural powers
    —fantastic buildings with inconceivable supply and waste-removal systems
    —dragons
    —zombies
    —teenaged and pre-teen heroes and heroines in adult roles
    —wenches and whores
    —blood, LOTS of blood

    I had thought I was up for all of the above. In my youth, my Tolkein paperbacks were limp from exhaustive rereading. More recently, I've been a fan of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. However, 33 hours of irony-free fantasy proved too much for this listener. Around hour 25, when bastard Jon Snow saves Lord Jeor from a midnight attack by a wight assassin, he is rewarded for his courage by being given the sword of Valyrian steel (whoo-hoo!) that has been passed from father to son in Jeor's family for five centuries. While part of me was busy noting the emotional significance of this gesture for Jon and calculating its implications for the plot...I also found myself giggling at the sword's name (for the record: Longclaw). Am I the only person who finds this epic story a bit silly?

    .


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By E. M. Forster
    • Narrated By Edward Petherbridge
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    English widow Lilia causes a scandal by marrying Gino, a highly unsuitable Italian 12 years her junior. But when her relatives are confronted by the beauty of Italy and the charm of Gino, they are forced to examine their own narrow lives.

    Kimberly says: "Classic Forster"
    "Forster's first novel, and it shows"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The synthesis of thought and feeling that makes Forster's later work so compelling is missing here, and the storyline descends into bathos (I literally rolled my eyes during the scene with the Baby's milk). I almost wish I hadn't read this book, because now I keeping thinking I detect untrammeled sentimentality around the edges of scenes in other books by Forster, like when you keep thinking you smell something bad after you actually have. Edward Petherbridge reads expressively but even less intelligibly than he did for Howard's End, which make this somewhat confusing story even harder to follow.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Room With a View

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By E.M. Forster
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (268)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (65)

    Set in Italy and England, this is a rich and romantic story of Lucy Honeychurch and the choice she must make between love and convention.

    Jefferson says: "More Funny, Beautiful, and Moving than the Movie"
    "tireless observer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After I listened to the book, Hubby and I streamed the movie. Afterwards:
    Hubby: When was the book written?
    Me: About a hundred years ago.
    Hubby: It seems so modern!
    That's Forster for you. He watches people, and understands their prejudices and passions, and gets it down in writing. And though society changes, and the nature of the pressures it exerts on people changes, human nature is just the same as it was 100 years ago. As a man with secret passions, Forster knew his material inside and out.
    Wanda McCaddon is an excellent narrator. Sometimes women's voices are too brassy for male characters, and I was concerned that McCaddon's voice would be distracting, but her inflections are so convincing that this was not an issue. I would definitely choose her again.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Good Omens

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Martin Jarvis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3751)
    Performance
    (2249)
    Story
    (2278)

    The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.

    Lauren says: "Great voice adds to already amazing story"
    "major fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you enjoy Gaiman and Pratchett, as I do, here you go—two for the price of one, a deal not to be missed (I could hear them each in my head, in different parts of the story). Could I give Martin Jarvis deserves 6 stars for his performance, I would. He keeps the multitude of voices distinct, and channels the wry humor of the Gaiman/Pratchett team marvelously.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Howards End

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By E. M. Forster
    • Narrated By Edward Petherbridge
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    First published in 1910, Howards End is the novel that earned E. M. Forster recognition as a major writer. At its heart lie two families - the wealthy and business-minded Wilcoxes and the cultured and idealistic Schlegels. When the beautiful and independent Helen Schlegel begins an impetuous affair with the ardent Paul Wilcox, a series of events is sparked - some very funny, some very tragic - that results in a dispute over who will inherit Howards End, the Wilcoxes' charming country home.

    Susanne says: "Now I need a hard copy"
    "read this, then watch the movie"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wonderful stuff about money and privilege—who's got it, who hasn't, and what consequences follow. Though Forster's work is challenging to narrate because it is so dialogue-heavy, Petherbridge reads expressively and well, and I was rarely confused as to who was speaking. My only complaint about Petherbridge's narration is that sometimes his voice sinks to a whisper unintelligible to the dogwalker or commuter, and sometimes difficult to understand even by a bedtime listener.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1007)
    Performance
    (859)
    Story
    (866)

    Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down.

    Darwin8u says: "Mantel Pulls the History out of the History"
    "what a downer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I finally realized why I don't enjoy the talented and accomplished Simon Vance as a narrator: his voice strikes me as chilly, even though I realize he might in real life be the warmest-hearted person I could ever hope to meet. But what this meant for my "Bring Up the Bodies" listen is that I was left wondering if Hilary Mantel was telling the story of a man (Cromwell) corrupted by power, who had lost some of his human qualities—or if it was just that Simon Slater (for Book One of the series) was better able to express Cromwell's tenderness and regrets. I couldn't tell if Cromwell had changed, or if I was just confused by the change in narrator. Also, while "Wolf Hall" chronicles the rise of the plucky Cromwell and equally plucky Anne Boleyn, and it's the icky Thomas More who loses his head, in "BUtB" it's the demure (and less fascinating) Jane Seymour whose star is rising, and it's hard not to feel sorry for the innocent and/or naive courtiers who end up paying the ultimate price when Cromwell starts calling in accounts. Despite the excellent writing and narration, I didn't enjoy this audiobook as much as its predecessor.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1769)
    Performance
    (1057)
    Story
    (1058)

    In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political powerEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn.

    S. Marie says: "A unique perspective of history"
    "superlative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Simon Slater's voice so much, I want to marry it. I even considered buying one of the "Dummies" books so that I could listen to him read some more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Good Soldier

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Ford Madox Ford
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (89)

    The Good Soldier is a story about the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples - one English, one American - and the growing awareness of American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian façade. It is Dowell’s attitude - his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration - that makes the book so powerful and mysterious. In Ford’s brilliantly woven tale, nothing is quite what it seems.

    Jefferson says: "The Clueless Cuckold and the Romantic Philanderer"
    "the unreliable narrator par excellence"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this book enormously engaging, because every statement--whether the narrator's or his accounts of what other characters have said--must be weighed for degrees of truth: each person has his or her own self-interests to rationalize and justify. Ralph Cosham's voice perfectly expresses the appropriate nuances of self-doubt, puzzlement, and regret. I liked Cosham's work here so much that I subsequently chose him as my narrator for Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and noticed that while his voice sounded younger and fuller for HoD, for TGS he seemed more a master of the meaningful pause, making his reading of this devastating story all the more powerful.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Lady Fortescue Steps Out: The Poor Relation, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By M. C. Beaton
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (473)
    Performance
    (405)
    Story
    (408)

    Life is not easy for the poor relations of England’s upper crust, but fate and clever schemes bring them together. Lady Fortescue and Colonel Sandhurst hatch a plan: What if they were to transform her decrepit Bond Street home into a posh hotel, offering their guests the pleasure of being waited upon by nobility? With the help of other down-and-out aristocrats, they do just that, and London’s newest hotel, The Poor Relation, is born. The establishment is an immediate hit with London’s most illustrious citizens, save the Duke of Rowcester....

    connie says: "sweet but overpriced trifle"
    "fine fluff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's like a cross between a sitcom and a costume drama (though I can't say I got a lot of period flavor in this "Regency" story--the historic details felt more like sci-fi, as if these characters were living in a parallel universe). Oh, and some romance novel thrown in, too. This may sound like a terrible combination, but the writing is clever, and Davina Porter's performance is superlative: overall, great fun. My one disappointment is that I had been looking forward to seeing how M.C. resolved some of the situations she'd set up (what happens to the forged necklace? what was the origin of the mysterious fire?) but apparently she was saving the answers for the next volume of the six-volume series.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • An American Tragedy

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Theodore Dreiser
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (185)
    Performance
    (159)
    Story
    (163)

    An American Tragedy is the story of Clyde Griffiths, who spends his life in the desperate pursuit of success. On a deeper, more profound level, it is the masterful portrayal of the society whose values both shape Clyde's ambitions and seal his fate; it is an unsurpassed depiction of the harsh realities of American life and of the dark side of the American dream.

    beatrice says: "a period piece, still resonant"
    "a period piece, still resonant"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Though most of the factory girls who make our clothes are now overseas, Dreiser's themes of social inequality, evangelical Christianity, the death penalty, and access to birth control and abortion are disquietingly familiar today. Dreiser (who partied with anarchist Emma Goldman) is sensitive and unsparing in his exploration of these issues. Protagonist Clyde Griffiths would probably make the list of "fifty boyfriends worse than yours," but narrator Dan John Miller gives him the necessary charm to make his story credible. The book drags a bit near the end, but is memorable overall.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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