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.
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!
I was afraid the book might be too much of a 'downer' but the nuance of the story is very balanced. A young woman who is bright and funny but without any formal education and who can't really seem to think of a future for herself becomes a caretaker and companion to a young man who is a quadriplegic. Although I felt great sympathy for Will (the young man) the character's personality is very well defined and forceful and I found myself really relating to the character as a person and not just as a 'disability character' set up for the purpose of the story. The voices are very well done, and a few chapters are briefly told from a different character's perspective- Will's mother, who appears cold and distant to the other characters, and also his male nurse. These glimpses into how the main characters and their situations are seen by others were enlightening to me and really rounded out my perception of the story as a whole. But mostly I just really enjoyed these people's lives and was completely drawn into what was happening to them and wanting to know how the book would end.
The narration was excellent and made me feel as if I really knew the main characters. The descriptions of the just everyday difficulties of Will's life really made me examine my own life and how I react to people with disabilities, as well as just thinking about some issues I had not previously given much thought to.
I've seen some reviews here that complained that Will is made a 'token' character- the guy in the wheelchair- because none of the chapters are told from his point of view. I have to disagree completely with this. For me, this was a key part to the understanding of the story and Will's entire situation- the main crux of the book is can Will live- does he want to live- while having to largely participate only vicariously in what was once a very active life in every way. Sexually, physically, etc. he no longer has access to the things he once did. IMO, the author tells the story through other people's perceptions in order to school the reader somewhat- I found myself trying very hard to understand Will's perspective, in part BECAUSE he never speaks in first person. That said, the character of Will is very complete and his speech, personality, etc. shine through. I had no trouble at all coming to know him or realizing his charisma or frustration through the third person perspective. Just as Will, the character, ultimately keeps much of his illness and inner emotions private from his fellow book characters, those things are also private from the reader. I felt it added to my understanding and did not detract from the book or my involvement with it.
The narrator seemed to get Zelda Fitzgerald's 'voice' spot-on. I am very familiar with many writers and artists from this time period, and Zelda Fitzgerald is often dismissed as a sort of appendage to her husband, or as someone who held him back. While both of these things are at least partially true, this book helps to give a much more nuanced portrait, not only of Zelda herself, but also of her husband and the world they lived in. It made Zelda not just sympathetic and likable, but also really gave me some insight into the qualities that made her so irresistible to her husband and the generation she came to help represent.
Zelda! Scott doesn't come off at his best here, I've always thought Hemmingway sounded like a jerk, and although all of these Jazz Age people are very well-drawn, it is a book about Zelda, after all, and her perspective is really interesting. There was a lot more to her than I had realized.
If you enjoy reading authors of the 1920s or that period in history, you may already be familiar with many of the characters here and I think you will find a fascinating interpretation here of their personalities. If you have only heard a little about Zelda Fitzgerald, as the famous flapper married to the brilliant and troubled Scott, you will find a much deeper portrait of her as a person. Either way, it is a charming and engrossing listen.
I felt that the author managed to convey a lot of information about how our military and our attitude to it as a nation and a government has changed- and that those changes have not been accidental. I felt that the book was mostly very non-partisan and feel that a person of any political opinion could read it and find the factual information fascinating. Also, it was pretty funny in some parts- definitely not a dry, dully recited history.
I have seen her show on tv a few times, but have not heard her read before. She reads very clearly and with great humor and character. She is able to deliver facts and history in a lively way that really shows how they relate to current real world situations.
I believe that anyone, of any political persuasion, could not fail to be moved by her final chapter of how the lives of our soldiers have changed and the negative effects on they and their families. Her points about how much easier it is for us to go to war and how so many of the 'improvements' of the military complex have not really made things better for our serving military personal and their families was deeply touching and disturbing to me.
I think a lot of people might automatically not want to hear or read this book because of the author and pre-conceptions about her positions and political views. All I can say, is I encourage you to listen to this book, no matter what end of the political spectrum you sit on. I believe there is information here that is important for Americans especially to know, if you are interested in how your country is run and goes about the business of going to war. It is much more than black and white ideology and Maddow does a very good job of showing that with both humor and seriousness. I believe there is a lot to absorb and discuss here, and that people of all political beliefs will find a great deal of information that may be new to them and give them a broader perspective.
Not better, but the closest thing to reading it that I have found.
I think in many ways, you cannot compare Tolkien to other fantasy series, because so much of what has been written later is based, however loosely, upon his ideas, which have become fantasy 'standards. Listening to this book is almost more like hearing a work of history- Tolkien seems as concerned with the history and reality of his world as with the story.
I have not listened to him before, but his rich voice give this performance a gravitas that works very well with the material. You are at once both hearing a story and feel as though you are listening to something of great importance. His character voices are good and his descriptive reading is a pleasure to listen to.
No, I have been listening to it in stages while driving, which has been perfect for me.
This brings back to me the importance of these books, both as literature and to me personally. It is a pleasure to hear someone else read a book that I am so familiar with. Not only because it is so well read, but also because of the little differences in how things are read, and to hear remembered phrases or sentences that come back to me. Overall, no Tolkien fans should deny themselves the pleasure of listening to this edition.
Incredibly moving without ever being maudlin or fake. Funny and tragic and wonderfully written.
The realism of the characters. I know a kid who fought cancer and is still with us, so I could appreciate the gallows humor of the Cancer Perks, the ruthless practicality of parents and doctors, the support of friends- and the ultimate futility of all of it. To term this as just a YA book is an insult. It is a fine, fine novel for anyone who wants to be moved and provoked to think about the world in a different way.
Her voice was spot-on as Hazel Grace and as the other characters. Her inflections, which changed with characters' health or personal situations, her accents, everything was perfect. I can honestly say that I cannot imagine a better narration of this book.
“You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”
This is a quote from the book. Hazel, who has terminal cancer has pushed away Agustus, because she sees herself as an emotional grenade- a time bomb that can only, in the end, bring pain to her parents and anyone who cares for her. The quote above is Gus's reply.
I read a lot of books and many of them are very good. But I continue to be moved and provoked to think about one that I finally feel I have to designate as the best book I read in 2012. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is not only as good as all the reviews have said, but better. If you've ever known someone who is terminally ill, read it. If you have a teenager, read it. If you've loved someone and lost it, read it. And- if you've already read it, listen to the audio version, read by Kate Rudd. It has just wrecked me all over again, in the best possible way that a book can suck you in and spit you back out. There is so much painful and beautiful truth, as well as teenage characters written with honesty and great warmth and humor. Don't deny yourself the experience- read and listen to The Fault In Our Stars today.
This book has been a favorite of mine for years. My son is almost 13 and I thought it would be perfect to listen to during a car trip. Well, it was- sort of.
The story is eerie and wonderful and takes you back in time to the US of the 1960s in a way that reminds me a little of To Kill A Mockingbird. The narrator, Richard Thomas is wonderful, his voice, accents and characters all completely believable and compelling.
So why does it only get 3 stars? It is ABRIDGED. I should have noticed before I bought it how short the audible book was, but I was so happy to see it that I didn't. This version cuts out much of the richness and texture and magical realism of the original novel, leaving you with a sort of cockeyed murder mystery story- still enjoyable, but so so disappointing to anyone who has read the book.
Buy this if you want a great introduction to Robert McCammon- and then join me, as I am sure you will want to, in asking Audible to give us the REAL book, and not this poor cut up imitation.
The Chaperone is just wonderful! I try to be an unbiased reviewer and I can honestly say that this has been a marvelous listening experience. The book itself is touching, charming and a fascinating view of an interesting time in our history. It a story about people coming into themselves- stretching out and finding out what they can do and be. It is moving and funny by turns and the writing just flows along so beautifully that you find yourself floating on a river of words and suddenly you are near the end and don't want it to be over!
The writing is excellent, but a lot of the credit must go to Elizabeth McGovern's inspired performances. Her voice is so perfect- not only for Cora, the main character, but for all of the people and accents and situations she conveys to us. McGovern's voice has both charm and gravity- she compels you to listen. I cannot praise her performance here too highly- she really conveys the essence of the novel's emotions with every word.
The Chaperone goes right up at the top of my vocal performance list- I will be looking for future novels from this author and for other books narrated by Elizabeth McGovern.
There are few books that remain as interesting or as good to read or listen to years after they were published. The Stand is one of those books. Any references to the time in which the book is set only serve to add to a nostalgia for all that the world has lost or how things have changed.
Just as many books can disappoint if one goes back to them years after a first reading, not many narrators could hold up to the marathon of characters, situations, accents and subplots that are encompassed by The Stand. But Grover Gardiner is more than up for the challenge- he is simply brilliant. I was familiar with his excellent work on Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series, and therefore had very high expectations of his narration here. He surpassed my expectations in every way. His accents are dead on, whether twanging or subtle and he continues to be one of the most believable male narrators when voicing women (in my opinion). He can convey menace, fear, joy or reverence with just a word and I cannot recommend his skills enough- this book just gives him so much to work with and shows off his talents so very well.
But the book itself... well, Mr. King has written some very good things over the years and some not-so-great things, but I do believe this is one of his stand-out works. This is a book I remember reading in high school and feeling that it really taught to to THINK for the first time about the larger implications of what I was reading, even as I was both scared and entertained by it. A lot to live up to in later years, but I am finding the listening experience now to be just as rich, both as entertainment and as thought- provoking material. The language veers from armchair philosophy to the possible supernatural, to the horrors that man perpetrates upon other men with no prompting needed from any outside force, to mundane, everyday concerns like where do you find a washboard to hand wash clothes with, or how do you get power generators running again?
In a post-Katrina world, I found the parts of the book detailing the Burial Committee of the Boulder Free State and their marking of the houses and descriptions particularly eerie- they were very similar to what had to be done in the 9th Ward after the hurricane and considering when this book was written seemed almost prescient.But that is just one detail of what is a rich and detailed picture of a great battle for humanity, in all the large and small ways possible.
This is a long listen, and not unlike The Shining, can be so intense at times that I have broken away from it for a lighter book on occasion. But the material is so dense and fascinating, I cannot stay away for long. This is an audio masterpiece on every level.
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