I'd never heard of John Finnemore before listening to this series, but I was intrigued by a comedy starring Benedict Cumberbatch [who was astonishing at the National as both Frankenstein and his monster, although more known this side of the pond for playing a contemporary Sherlock Holmes], Stephanie Cole [Waiting for God, Tenko] and Anthony Stewart Head [Buffy, Little Britain, Free Agents]. To my surprise, they do a beautiful job together!
Dame Cole has always played characters decades older than herself, and here she plays someone closer to her own age, owner of a struggling single-plane airline, and mother to the steward, the endearingly rattle-brained Arthur, played by Finnemore, the genius behind the entire series. Cumberbatch is the pilot [after seven goes at the pilot's exam] who works unpaid just to fly. His suave co-pilot is a demoted captain who knows all the tricks of the trade, but can't bear to tell his wife he's not #1 on the flight deck any more.
Each episode is a new and alphabetic destination, with some word games for the bored cabin crew, trouble and hijinks.
In Series 3, they veer from Paris to Ottery St Mary to Rotterdam, but the episode in St. Petersburg is worth the price of the whole set, with beautiful voice performances, wordplay, zaniess, and poking fun at the flight industry. Looking forward to Series 4!
(No spoilers). This began as a charming tale of two cities and their cookery, transplanted but traditional Mumbai Muslim food versus traditional French provincial cuisine.
I was intrigued by the character to be played in the upcoming movie adaptation by Dame Mirren, the very unusual female chef; alas, there is all too little of her in the last half of the book, and the hero and his dad, and possibly the author, are traditional jerks through much of it.
One of the few books I've read that will likely make a better movie than a novel.
*no spoilers*Ever wondered how books are chosen for major literary prizes? Having a friend in publishing, I've heard plenty of real-life anecdotes which match these fictitious behind-the-scenes maneuvers to get your favourite book on the short-list: regional politics, sex, race, political correctness, and 'too long, didn't read' jostle titles on and off the list for a Commonwealth prize.
The judges perfectly articulated some of my own prejudices when choosing a book: [ugh, child abuse narrative in regional dialect: next!]. But the ending is rushed; otherwise this would have received 4.5 stars.
If you've ever been to a party and fibbed that you've read a 'hot' book and got called out on it: this one is for you!
*no spoilers* Many of our old favourites and nemeses are back to help and hinder our troubled wizard, Harry Dresden, pull the ultimate bank-job for an evil alliance: stealing the Holy Grail from -- Hades? Santa, Celtic fae, the Greek god of Hell and knights Templar meet in this pantheon mashup [fingers crossed for Sedna, Innu goddess of seals, in the next volume!]: a Mission Impossible/Oceans Eleven for the magical set
Great premise; although the first half is a too-long set-up for the quest/heist, it's still worth the journey.
But Butcher has the stalker-nerd's-eye view for his female characters [all young and hot] and fails the Bechdel test of having two female characters talking about something other than men, and the torture scenes go on wayyyyy too long and take you out of the story.
James Marsters is inspired casting as narrator, and probably with a new director since mispronunciations were minimal.
The heist twists and turns and narrative on rewards and punishments, family and alliance, doubt and faith, are well worth the journey, and keep you looking forward to the next Dresden file.
(almost) 4 stars
Interesting premise of a writer with a Scotland Yard detective fianc/e happening upon murder mysteries in post-WWI England. However, the female characters are again either bitter ignorant virgins, useful fat chicks, loose women or dutiful wives. Disappointing!
A great opportunity: it's early WWI in London: a murdered policeman, a murdered merry widow: alas, you know within the first chapter whodunnit, and it's plenty of 19th century class warfare and misogyny to follow, where women are mothers, whores or murder victims.
The narrator does a great job with various classes of male voices, and he and the interesting military history save this from being a 1.5* review.
A murder mystery set in the New York Public Aquarium and written shortly after the 1929 Stock Market Crash in New York has 21st century sensibilities; you could see the characters in any current reality show. (No spoilers)
Like many, I was introduced to this series from the fun 30's movies starring Edna May Oliver and James Gleason as the spinster teacher/would-be sleuth and the New York Chief of Detectives Oliver Piper. I could buy the whole series, except for the terrible narrator; I found using my device to play at 2x speed made her bearable. It also irks me when neither the narrator nor the producer/director can be bothered to check pronunciations; a clang to hear sisal [as in the hemp rope for hanging] pronounced as 'sizzle'! It's also a bit rough to hear the sexism and prejudices of almost a century ago, going downhill from the big dumb strong Swede and slaloming through many minorities, but at least we've come quite a ways since.
An above-average who-dunnit which will keep you guessing until the end, with a prickly but likeable heroine and hero. But try the sample to see if you can stand the narrator, and/or try listening at double-speed.
What if you were dangerously ill somewhere in Asia, and as you recover, someone told you you owned a dragon? Seeing what problems they cause, would you even want it?
Our hero, Captain Laurence, is lost overboard during a storm, and separated from his beloved Chinese Celestial dragon Temeraire. Even when reunited, Laurence can't recall or feel the once unbreakable bond they once shared. All he knows is his duty to do whatever it takes to stop Napoleon's sacking Moscow. And what is worse, the casual brutality of dragons, the machinations of men, or the epic brutality of war?
Can this disjointed pair survive? Will Laurence return to his familiar life in the navy and give up Temeraire forever? Will Temeraire return to China and find another partner? Can Laurence regain his memory, or does he want to?
Simon Vance is back again, a perfect narrator for this tale.
The action is cut off mid-brutal-battle, when seems more of a cheat than hurtling us into the next book in the series.
Still, can't wait!
I enjoyed Hard Magic, the first book in this trilogy and its intriguing alternate history; what if magic and steampunk meet WW I?
But the second book Spellbound was a disappointment, and this last in the trilogy is worse [although contrary to buzz, I think there will be a tetralogy].
Heavy-handed, dismissive, and repugnantly anti-New Deal, spend your credits on something else like the Dresden Files. Bronson Pinchott's strong narration if only for strong male characters rescues this from getting a 'one'.
A plain and retiring retired man goes on a very spontaneous, very touching and very human 21st century pilgrimage northwest through England to visit a dying colleague he hasn't seen in 20 years.
Sometimes there were unexpected objects in the house windows: "a porcelain figure, or a vase, or even a tuba; the tender pieces of themselves that people stake as boundaries against the outside world."
I love that humans are portrayed as basically good, but we all wish we had a re-wind button for the things we have said and done, and not said and not done, especially to our loved ones. This book describes us and the English summer countryside in equal parts funny, sharp, poignant and achingly beautiful observations.
The first 2/3rds are fantastic; but details noted so carefully are missing in the last portion; otherwise, this would have rated 5 stars rather than 4.5
Jim Broadbent is a perfect choice, with clear and compelling narration which seems to convey his sympathy for the characters.
A must-read for 2013.
An end to a guilty-pleasure series: [no spoilers]
Our part-fairy heroine Sookie is again at a crossroads in her life; her friends are growing up, moving away, getting married, having babies. After hearing her vampire boyfriend might be lost to a marriage of convenience, what's a telepath addicted to hot vampire sex to do?
Thuds of foreshadowing, lack of canon (why doesn't she get out of her predicament by using her powers and being less passive and more alert is a frequent miff) and some mispronunciation prevent it from getting 4 stars, but I was pleased to see many old favourites were brought back for a curtain call in this, the last Sookie Stackhouse book.
If you enjoyed any of her books, it's worth your credits. Thanks for the wild ride, Ms Harris: 3.5 stars.
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