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!
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.
I enjoy the Agatha Raisin franchise and think the choice of Penelope Keith as narrator is inspired, but this one is a disappointment. Is MC Beaton really a male who doesn't like his female characters, or females in general? And the deux ex machina of getting James out of his predicament was quite loathsome.
I hope the next one won't disappoint on either account.
I adore the prose of Pratchett, which is the only thing keeping the review from being 'one star'. It's sprinkled through this mess like curls of dark chocolate throughout a tall stack of cardboard.
It's almost painful to hear Sir Terry's voice in this dreadful book; he does have a dark side, and I much prefer his Discworld series to his juvenilia, but this simply can't have had much of his input.
An amazing concept of endless parallel worlds in which some humans can just step somehow devolved into this depressing mess, and concur completely with previous reviewers that the entire first half is redundant.
One of the many wonderful things about Sir T is his basic love of humanity, that no matter how far down we dig ourselves, there is always a hero, a Vimes or Sybil or Librarian with a handy ladder, but there is little such joy in this book; although there are glimpses with the cannonball bird and the frisbee octopus which alas are catalogued and listed instead of joyfully embraced and described, and instead of the possibility of freedom, we have female victims, HAL and 2001, weed addicts, and terra-ism.
In my hope for a happy ending, I could hardly wait for it to be over; how sad, and in so many senses and worlds.
If you're looking for a truly Pratchettesque take on evolution, buy 'The Lost Continent'.
Looking forward to Dodger, and won't read the sequel to The Long Earth.
Better than the previous couple of books in the series; how's that for praise?
This time Laurence and his beloved Chinese Celestial dragon Temeraire are freed from transportation in Australia and reinstated for a diplomatic mission to Brazil, to intercept Napoleon's envoys .
Are they too late? Will England now stand alone in the world against Napoleon? Will the supercilious dragon squabbling defeat their own mission?
Novik nicely adds some Incan history and geography, as well as a Patrick O'Brien-esque sailor flavour to their long voyage to South America and overland. According to the author's blog, there will be two more in the series; perhaps north to Captain Vancouver's Island next?
Simon Vance is an excellent narrator, and a joy to listen to: hopefully he can also complete the complete/unabridged O'Brian series.
I grew up in Mennonite country, so I was very interested to see a whole series devoted to the Amish, and on sale for $5!
An interesting premise, but plot holes aplenty, female characters are sexless servants and passive victims, and the prose is so grey, dusty and redundant that I counted ten repetitions for a single plot point. This is a tale that could have been told in 30 minutes, so if you're listening to this audiobook over a lot of ambient noise or fall asleep, don't worry, you haven't missed much, it'll be hammered back in your skull in the next three chapters or twelve.
The narrator is earnest and articulate, but there's not much to be done with the material or characters. There's no beauty here.
So don't bother. Read the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths or 'Plain Girl' instead.
Ever wondered how great narrators remain suave? I'm happy to report they don't.
I adore having audiobooks, which I credit keeping me from road-, air- and queue-rage many a time. Most audiobooks in my library are really good, some are great, and there have been a few stinkers. How can narrators say some of those lines and keep a straight face? Well, they can't.
It also made me think of authors from previous centuries who designed their works to be read aloud, and how few of the recent ones have. Or are they sadists, writing lines like 'slicked back into a sleek chignon' to bedevil our heroes and turn narrators into mere humans, who can trip over tongue-twisters.
And how can they narrate goopy or ungrammatical or gross lines, without vocalising 'eurgh'!?
Well, they can't.
Nice to know!
A charming little diversion which I have yet to finish, but I needed to refute the previous review ASAP, and this is made to dip into for a laugh. Some snippets made me wish for a menu and who's who of both authors and narrators, but I understand how some may wish to remain anonymous.
And now I'll never be able to say the word 'phenomena' without singing the Muppets 'Mah-na-ma-na' refrain after it. Sing it with me: 'Phenomena. Do doo do doo!'
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