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Bronwyn Soell

Illinois, United States | Member Since 2009

191
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 38 reviews
  • 97 ratings
  • 303 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
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FOLLOWERS
21

  • Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ellen Kushner
    • Narrated By Ellen Kushner, Dion Graham, Katherine Kellgren, and others
    Overall
    (829)
    Performance
    (737)
    Story
    (739)

    On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless--until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

    Stacy says: "What a beautiful book..."
    "Splendid :) A real treat!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've loved this book for years for its elegant prose and detailed and interesting world and sense of honor, danger and romance. It is a great example of the 'show don't tell' theory of storytelling and really sets the standard for classic modern fantasy.

    I've never been a huge fan of full cast recordings of audiobooks. I find many of them to be sort of overdone- all the background noise, various voice actors, etc. can just turn the story into a mish mash that can ruin the prose you enjoyed in the book in the first place.

    So when I read that Swordspoint was being produced with a full cast, I was not enthused. Until I saw that it was being produced by Neil Gaiman and read by Ellen Kushner herself. I knew that if anyone could do it up right, it would be these two and my trust in them more than paid off.

    This is simply lovely- deliriously fun and witty and clever to listen to. The background noise and actors are unobtrusive and a perfect counterpoint to Ms. Kushner's reading as well as the other actors who also portray the main characters. If you love fantasy, just get it and let yourself fall into Riverside. You'll be glad you went.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, Rob Reiner (foreword)
    • Narrated By Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, and others
    Overall
    (1964)
    Performance
    (1779)
    Story
    (1773)

    From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

    Anne Morris says: "I don't normally write reviews but..."
    "Charming and not to be missed!!!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even if the Princess Bride isn't one of your favorite films, treat yourself to the pleasure of listening to the utterly charming Cary Elwes telling stories about the making of the film and the wonderful experience everyone involved with it had. A must for any fantasy OR film buffs. I just felt good after listening to this book- it will put a smile on your face and make you want to go and watch the movie all over again :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goblin Emperor

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Katherine Addison
    • Narrated By Kyle McCarley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (228)
    Performance
    (210)
    Story
    (209)

    The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir. Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

    Skipper says: "Not bad, but not what I expected"
    "read the book first- a pleasure to listen to"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A detailed coming of age story filled with complex court etiquette, politics, intrigue and a little action. If you are looking for a basic swords 'n sorcery fantasy this is not the book for you. But the author is so inventive- her elvish/goblin kingdom is full of dirigible airships, pneumatic tubes, burgeoning women's rights and the industrial revolution, among other things. It takes the basic tropes of elves and goblins and puts them into a completely new and believable setting. On top of it, her complex court rituals and the 'window dressing' of her worldbuilding is detailed and fascinating. It makes me eager to see what she writes next. The main character, Maya, who becomes emperor totally unexpectedly, is insecure and immature and has to quickly grow up and get wise to how things work. I found this process both touching and realistic. I am very impressed with the narrator, whose voices were distinctive but mostly because (having read the book) I enjoyed hearing the many complicated names of people, places and things pronounced correctly! I do think some of the names could be confusing if you have not read the book first, but either way, I think this is well worth the credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Harper Lee
    • Narrated By Sissy Spacek
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3651)
    Performance
    (3263)
    Story
    (3270)

    Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep south - and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred, available now for the first time as a digital audiobook. One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages, sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the 20th century by librarians across the country.

    Alan says: "Stunning"
    "Cannot imagine this classic read any better!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of my favorite books. I'm not even going to try to recap the story, but I will say that Sissy Spacek's narration is absolutely perfect. She brings a total honesty and directness to the story that illuminates each chapter. This is a great way to experience this American classic.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Bride of the Rat God

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Barbara Hambly
    • Narrated By Marguerite Gavin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    It is 1923, and silent film reigns in Hollywood. Of all the starlets, none is more beloved than Chrysanda Flamande, a diva as brilliant as she is difficult to manage. Handling her falls to Norah, widow of Chrysanda’s dead brother. She has always done her job well, but she was never equipped to deal with murder. When a violent killing shocks Chrysanda’s entourage, and other weird happenings swiftly follow, Norah begins to suspect that some strange power is stalking the star. In Chinatown she receives warning that a curse has been placed on the actress as vengeance for wearing a sacred amulet in one of her films.

    Bronwyn Soell says: "fun mix of fantasy and 1920s Hollywood"
    "fun mix of fantasy and 1920s Hollywood"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love all of Barbara Hambly's books, but I have to admit to an extra soft spot for this stand-alone. Mixing ancient Chinese magic with 1920s Hollywood, a kind and brave English war widow who becomes a companion to her Hollywood vamp movie star sister in law, some Pekingese dogs and too many more details to mention here, Bride of the Rat God is funny, clever and an entertaining read for people who like fantasy or for those who don't normally read it.
    The main characters are all really engaging, the system of magic is interesting and most importantly, (as with all her other books, mystery,fantasy, whatever) Hambly's writing is very detail-oriented and her fascination with the early history of Hollywood, silent films and the time and places she writes about shine through. The book is filled with historical research inserted so seamlessly into the story that it adds verisimilitude and charm to every section.

    The narration and accents were very well done and did not disappoint for a book which I had read many times. This is a fun trip through old Hollywood, Chinatown with some magic and honestly scary bits along the way as well. I recommend it highly!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Traveler's Wife

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Fred Berman, Phoebe Strole
    Overall
    (5013)
    Performance
    (2282)
    Story
    (2314)

    Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36. They were married when Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

    Scott says: "Epic Drama & Love Story through Time Travel"
    "Really makes Claire and Henry come to life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A lot of this book takes place in Chicago in the 1990s and I was in my 20s then and there, so I really appreciate the author's absolute command of that scene. The world Claire and Henry inhabit there is totally congruent with my memories. The two narrators do a beautiful job of handling their strange co-existence and bring great charm and incredible sympathy to both characters and their unique situation. This is a beautifully realized version of the book and I recommend it highly, whether you have read the book or not.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Helen Simonson
    • Narrated By Peter Altschuler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2585)
    Performance
    (1284)
    Story
    (1278)

    You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction.

    Sara says: "A Surprising Treat!"
    "Charming, excellent narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is a story of unexpected love, a love that comes along gradually and later in life to Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, a widow whose husband ran the local village shop. The way their friendship unfolds, the common interest in books, small kindnesses, and finally a blossoming attraction and romance is completely compelling. The viewpoints of those around them, ranging from awkward discomfort to absolute horror at the impropriety of it all can be both funny and sad, but is always believable. You will find yourself rooting for the prim and proper Major and the kind and brave Mrs. Ali. I enjoyed this book tremendously and the narration, both accents and just the attitude of different characters was excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Queens' Play

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Dorothy Dunnett
    • Narrated By Andrew Napier
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (41)

    This is the second book in the famous Lymond Chronicals by Dorothy Dunnett, exploring the intricacies of 16th century history through the exploits of the soldier Francis Crawford of Lymond. In Queens Play, Crawford is despatched to France and embarks on a nightmare game of hide and seek in the court of Henri II...

    Suzanne says: "A wonderfully complex, satisfying story"
    "Wonderful to finally have Dorothy Dunnett here!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is such a wonderful series to read and the audio version is superlative. Andrew Naiper's narration is authentic, his accents are excellent and his characterization is totally believable. I am thrilled to finally be able to get this author's work in audio form. Her understanding of history and ability to narrate historical events in a way that makes them exciting and relevant while including fictional characters that catch your imagination and keep you listening/reading through long series and then going back to read them again makes Dorothy Dunnett the greatest author of historical fiction, IMO. I was fortunate enough to meet her in person before she passed away, and she was personally gracious and charming as well as being a fascinating speaker.

    HOWEVER, I have to note that the first book in the series is NOT available on Audible. This is the second book of the series and although the quality of the writing, performance and production is so high that I think even a new listener could enjoy it, you will definitely not have the whole story of Lymond or the other characters in the book and their relationships to one another. I hope Audible will have the first book soon, because I would hate for anyone to get discouraged and not continue with this extraordinary series because they were a little lost from having to start with the second book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Bossypants

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Tina Fey
    • Narrated By Tina Fey
    Overall
    (23030)
    Performance
    (17997)
    Story
    (17936)

    Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey's story can be told....

    Warren says: "Tina Fey broke my new SUV"
    "Absolutely wonderful and entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Not only is Tina Fey hilarious, but she is also really, really smart. Every bit of this book is filled with humor and intelligence. But she also comes across as kind, thoughtful, and I think she is probably a really good boss. Listen to this book and the hours will fly by!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Insurgent: Divergent, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Veronica Roth
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15560)
    Performance
    (13836)
    Story
    (13940)

    One choice can transform you - or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

    Lore says: "Decent but not as interesting as Divergent"
    "good writing and voice, but story is lacking"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The narration is very good in the book and the appeal that the reader gave to the different characters kept my interest more than the story did. The author is not a bad writer- she does well with dialog and has some interesting ideas. But the actual story was lacking for me. Many things that were supposed to be big 'reveals' were so blatantly obvious from the beginning that it was just annoying to sit through. This book takes place immediately after the first one, but what I had hoped were just 'first novel' mistakes kept happening here. Tris continues to do things that are so just dumb, that I lost interest in her as a character. It isn't a terrible book, but I think it could have been a much better one.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • How Green Was My Valley

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Richard Llewellyn
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (54)

    How Green Was My Valley is Richard Llewellyn’s best-selling - and timeless - classic, as well as the basis of a beloved film. As Huw Morgan is about to leave home forever, he reminisces about the golden days of his youth when South Wales still prospered, when coal dust had not yet blackened the valley. Drawn simply and lovingly, with a crisp Welsh humor, Llewellyn’s characters fight, love, laugh, and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people. Richard Llewellyn (1906–1983), a Welsh novelist, was born in Hendon, England, in the county of Middlesex.

    Jan says: "The rhythm of life... the pattern of words..."
    "A beautiful and timeless story- very moving"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story of a Welsh coal mining family and the village they live in is lyrically written and beautifully narrated. It is not a fast book, it is a book you listen to carefully, for the sake of the language. It is an old-fashioned book, that allows you to listen to someone remembering a time long gone and a way of life that has disappeared. The Morgan family is loving and loyal and tries hard to stay true to themselves and the ideals they were raised with, even as the world is changing around them and their small village becomes a place that is filled with bitterness and poverty. But if you just listen to the melody of the language and let the story flow, I believe that this book will stay with you and move you more than you may realize at first. I loved reading it years ago and I loved listening to it as well. If you are looking for a slower-paced listen and want to savor the language and writing, give it a try!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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