Sarah's family is opening up their historical cemetary vault, where no one else was ever supposed to be buried. To the surprise of all present, much has changed since its official closing. The main change is the addition of an exotic skeleton with rubies set into her teeth. This is the start of a kaleidoscopic adjustment of Sarah's view of her compressed little world. Charlotte MacLeod's brilliant plot is sympathetically humanized. When I listened to my old favorite THE FAMILY VAULT, it started a whole reading and listening sequence of Charlotte MacLeod books.
I hadn't forgotten what a treasure this book is, in the 31 years since I last read it, but my memory of the elements had cleared enough that the humor was totally fresh. Gervase Fen, professor of classic literature, has decided to clear the fog from his brain by running for Parliament. The characters of a forgotten mid-country collection of small towns, from the local socialist earl to the non-doing pig, work up a happy fizz that stays in your head. The vibrant, flexible reading of Philip Bird makes the effect even more long-lasting. From this page I'm going to follow the link and see what else Philip Bird might be offering.
I grabbed CHAINS OF FOLLY as soon as I saw it was available, in spite of the beating the new reader was taking from listeners. The Magdalene la Batarde series is a delight for medieval mystery lovers, and CHAINS OF FOLLY is no exception. I wish Gellis had continued the series after this.
It is the rare reader who can produce both male and female voices faithfully, and this reader's voice is especially high. She shouldn't even try to sound male. The more successful strategy is to create the character by temperament, not timbre. However, her comprehension of the author's intention seems superior.
John Perry's life starts over at age 75, with his induction into the army. In humor, tragedy, and everything in between, John fights for humanity against the universe. When I read the perceptive and moving OLD MAN'S WAR at the time of its release, I thought it should win the Hugo.
I was dismayed when I fired up the audio of OLD MAN'S WAR and heard it was being read by the man whose superior drawl was such a poor fit for Rhennthyl of IMAGER. Fortunately, that voice is a much better fit for John Perry, who tackles his new life with experience and humor. The voice also has a flexibility it lacked in IMAGER. I laughed all the way through the pamphlet introducing John to his new possibilities, admired the insight of his relations with an enemy species, and hung on every word of high heroism.
OLD MAN'S WAR has surged to the top of my 2013 favorites so far, whether print or audio.
Great fun, both as a read and a listen. Grace and Luther are sent as operatives to identify a psychic serial killer, and find themselves in the midst of a convention of psychic criminals. To their surprise, it gives them a chance to sort out their ruined lives at the same time. Krentz writes about Grace, Luther and their friends with understanding and humor.
I loved the performance, especially Sandra Burr's creation of Grace, so much so that I affectionately tolerated her attempt to sound masculine for Luther. She throws herself with contained, wholehearted enjoyment into every sentence.
I'm a fan of Golden Age mysteries, and this is one of my favorite Ngaio Marsh mysteries. James Saxon made it just as much a pleasure to listen to as it has been to reread for most of my life. Nowadays it seems a mystery isn't a mystery unless it has a serial killer in it, but Roderick Alleyn's detection of his serial killer is psychologically consistent, a rational study of clues. The shipload of passengers he is traveling with are colorful and interesting, reacting in their different ways to the situation and each other.
The Sage of Pliocene Exile is one of my all-time favorite series. It's been so long since the first book, MANY-COLORED LAND, came out in audio that it looks like no continuation is planned. In that case, let's start again from the beginning, with a different reader. Find a good reader and do all the books.
I was amazed to find this reader has done so many Audible books. In this book she is hoarse, her reading has almost no dynamics, and I find it irritating that she invariably reads "metapsychic" as "metaphysic". Her phrasing and emphases often seem to indicate that she isn't paying attention to the author's meaning. Surely a professional should pay attention to what he/she is reading??
This is my opinion after 5 hours of listening. Maybe later she learns what words Julian May is using, but even then, not correcting early mistakes would speak badly for the producers.
Renthyl, an unusually strong imager, is getting an unusually challenging training. Forced by his superiors to avoid making normal people frightened of imagers, Renthyl is fed up with defending himself and not retaliating. He is stationed in the police corps, where he is ordered to observe and no police officer is required to take orders from him. That should curb Renthyl's tendency to handle things his own way.
As it works out, Renthyl has enemies to handle both in the neighborhoods of down-and-outers where he patrols, and in the police corps itself. Once he has learned just what hazards to image to stop his attackers and he has those enemies under control, Renthyl has no choice but to tackle (dramatically, as it turns out) the aristocrat who wants to destroy him and his family. By the end, the College of Imagers has to rethink its self-defensive policies.
William Dufris wouldn't be my first choice as a reader. He can convincingly manipulate his voice into different characters, but he has chosen to give Renthyl a superior drawl. The disadvantage of listening to these books instead of reading them is that you can't skip over the incessant menu descriptions, which are obviously Modesitt riding his hobbyhorse. Fortunately the story as a whole is an excellent one.
This reading kept me short of sleep for several nights. After work I would come home and listen until I nodded off, and then take the print version to bed with me!
In 1943 the Narnia author C.S. Lewis wrote this gods-on-earth fantasy for adults, including more dimensions of characterization, plus Arthurian mythology and social analysis. 70 years ago fictional writing styles were more leisurely than today. The reader's delivery in the descriptive sections doesn't slow them down, instead it keeps the story clothed in atmospherics. I'm sure Lewis would feel pleased with Geoffrey Howard's presentation.
Ken Follett wrote an outstanding novel about a German spy who discovers Britain's great secret leading up to D-Day, and the Britons who attempt to keep him from passing the news to his government. The dis-information campaign is here, but there's also the heroism of a few people who think of themselves as ordinary. Follett brought the story to life on the pages, and Eric Lincoln brilliantly brings it to life reading it for us.
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