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Belle

ratings
32
REVIEWS
27
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
2

  • You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Sarra Manning
    • Narrated By Julie Maisey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (44)

    Girls like Neve Slater don’t get gorgeous guys like William. But William’s been in L A for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down in preparation for his return. Then her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she's an experienced love-goddess then she’d better get some experience - a man to show her the ropes, like Celia’s colleague Max. And since he’s not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him...

    Aimee says: "I do have to say I love this book"
    "Authentic and entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?


    Neve and William have an intellectual connection and, while he's been in America the past few years, Neve has been working hard to ensure they have a physical connection when he gets back. She has lost a lot of weight and is no longer obese, but she's still doesn't feel ready for William's not-too-distant return. Aside from shifting the last few pounds, she needs more relationship experience - ANY would be handy - so she comes up with the idea of a "pancake relationship", a first relationship that you can chuck away like you throw away the first mangled pancake in a batch. Her sister's hot but sleazy boss Max is the perfect candidate for her first pancake, and he agrees to try the relationship because he's never really been in one himself, and it's ideal for him coz Neve doesn't care if he sleeps with other people coz she certainly doesn't want to sleep with him.

    With this hijinksy set up, I was expecting You Don't Have to Say You Love Me to be a lot of fun. And it certainly was. Charming, funny and completely entertaining. But what I wasn't expecting was just how touching it would be - and how much I would relate to it. Neve is a complete mess, and boy did I see my own messy self in her. She is intelligent and attractive, but so incredibly insecure it's painful to read about at times - all the more painful because it was like hearing my own thoughts repeated back to me. From the way she froze when a guy tried to cuddle her across her tummy, to the way she held up her fingers to indicate she was just a LITTLE bit drunk when she was actually very drunk, it was bizarre just how much I felt like Neve WAS me sometimes. Some readers may find all her insecurities annoying, but they felt completely authentic and relatable to me. She also experiences a lot of character growth over the course of her book, and her journey towards accepting and even loving herself is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.

    The funniest moments, as well as a number of incredibly moving ones, come when Neve interacts with Max. They are complete opposites in so many ways, and it makes for some hilarious and really fun scenes. Even more fun is the amazing chemistry they have, which gets harder and harder for them to resist. Max is a bit of a douche at times, but of course he has a big heart underneath. He is blokey and messy but he's also sexy and charming and respectful and lovely and a little bit broken himself. It's hard not to fall in love with him by the end.

    The secondary characters are really great, and I especially loved Neve's family relationships. The way they hurt each other but love each other so much was realistic and really got under my skin. On a lighter level, Neve's work friendships and the office politics she deals with made for an entertaining subplot. Her career ambitions and growing belief in herself, even when others don't, is an awesome part of her character arc.

    The story, characters and writing are all fantastic, but I also really appreciated the exploration of what makes a good relationship, and how your dreams and expectations don't always match reality - which can actually be a very good thing. The contrast between someone who you think is right, but who isn't at all, with someone you think is all wrong, but who is actually totally right, was really well done. The whole book was just so realistic in the most entertaining way.

    I listened to the audiobook edition of this, read by Julie Maisey, and she did a wonderful job. Neve's voice was perfect and although I was a little unsure of Max's at first, I got used to it and really liked it in the end. The pacing and expression is spot on and all in all it was very compelling to listen to. This is one of those books where you begin to resent the rest of your life for getting in the way of it. When I finished You Don't Have To Say You Love Me I had a big, goofy grin on my face - and it doesn't get much better than that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Robin McKinley
    • Narrated By Charlotte Parry
    Overall
    (181)
    Performance
    (169)
    Story
    (172)

    New York Times best-selling author Robin McKinley has won numerous awards for her writing, including the prestigious Newbery Medal. Though her two sisters are beautiful, Beauty, despite her name, is thin and awkward - but she's also courageous. So when her father makes a terrible promise to a Beast living in an enchanted castle, Beauty knows she must volunteer to be the Beast's prisoner.

    Cybele Bell says: "she's really quite a perfect reader"
    "Absolutely delightful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it contains all of the elements of the story you usually see. Loving the story so much, I was expecting to enjoy this too, and I was not disappointed. It's beautifully told, and McKinley's interpretation of the world and the characters is truly delightful. I adored Beauty, who was not "typically" beautiful or by any means perfect, which just made her all the more real and powerful. I loved the slow build of her relationship with the Beast. I loved her relationships with the rest of her family. I loved the twists and turns of the plot. I loved the narration by Charlotte Parry. I just loved this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Enchanted

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Alethea Kontis
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    Overall
    (277)
    Performance
    (249)
    Story
    (243)

    It isn’t easy being Sunday’s child, not when you’re the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night, Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him....

    Amazon Customer says: "Charming... Enchanting"
    "A lot of fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This was a charming and interesting take on the frog prince story. I really liked the main characters of Sunday and Rumbold, and the secondary characters - who apparently take centre stage in later novels in the series (I wish they were available on Audible!) - were also great. I did find myself confused in a couple of places, where I thought the backstory of exactly what was going on could have been explained better,. Overall it was a lovely book, with excellent narration by Katherine Kellgren.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bedbugs

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ben H. Winters
    • Narrated By Elisabeth Rodgers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (345)
    Performance
    (314)
    Story
    (314)

    FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker's fee. Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment. Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it's too good to pass up. Big mistake.

    Amazon Customer says: "Fantastic narration! Good, creepy story."
    "Creepy but disappointing ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Do you have any additional comments?

    Bedbugs is a pretty standard horror. A young family moves into a new home and it seems like a dream come true, until of course things start to go wrong. Strange smells, strange noises, strange neighbours, and increasing tension within the family itself. Where it differs from a lot of horror, however, is that this time it's the mother, rather than the father, who is affected by the new place and whose sanity slowly starts to unravel and turn her against her own family.

    I really liked this different perspective on the classic horror narrative. I liked the family at the centre, and loved Susan and Alex's relationship, making it hard to watch it start to unravel. True, Susan thinks some awful things even before she starts to go crazy, but that didn't make her an awful character - I found her to be incredibly realistic, actually. Everyone has bad thoughts they wouldn't ever say out loud, and it was kind of refreshing to see them on the page. I also really related to Susan's own guilt and anxiety, particularly about her painting - she left her job to focus on her art, and finds a million things to instead so she doesn't have to begin and risk failure. I wasn't expecting to connect so much on an emotional level in a simple horror story, but I guess deep down good horror is about everyday anxieties amplified.

    Which I suppose is why this book puts the hysteria over bedbugs that happened in New York a couple of years ago at front and centre. It's a good device, a threat that most people recognise, and yet I do feel like it wasn't used entirely effectively here. What was most interesting was Susan's inner chaos, and the bedbugs could have been substituted with any kind of threat or annoyance, really. They didn't form an essential part of the story. If anything they made Susan's unravelling seem a little more unrealistic, because not a lot actually happens regarding bedbugs before she's totally freaking out over them and becoming obsessive. I get that there were other things affecting her but it just seemed a little ridiculous in spots.

    There's a slow build to this book that I quite liked but it did drag in spots. It was very creepy for the most part but sometimes I just wanted something to happen. But when something did happen I was a little disappointed, the creepiness disappeared and it just felt a little... silly. I still liked it overall but I didn't LOVE it.

    The narration for the most part was very good. Elisabeth Rodgers captured Susan's voice really well and the supporting characters were great, with one exception - Emma, Susan and Alex's daughter. I get that it's hard for a grown woman to do a toddler's voice but it really got on my nerves. I think part of that was also the writing - some of the dialogue coming from Emma just didn't sound authentic to me, it was frequently overly cutesy, like how someone thinks a toddler would sound and not how a toddler actually sounds. But otherwise it was a pretty good listening experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Importance of Being Earnest

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 59 mins)
    • By Oscar Wilde
    • Narrated By James Marsters, Charles Busch, Emily Bergl, and others
    Overall
    (738)
    Performance
    (622)
    Story
    (617)

    This final play from the pen of Oscar Wilde is a stylish send-up of Victorian courtship and manners, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a lost handbag. Jack and Algernon are best friends, both wooing ladies who think their names are Ernest, "that name which inspires absolute confidence." Wilde's effervescent wit, scathing social satire, and high farce make this one of the most cherished plays in the English language.

    Tad Davis says: "Delightfully silly"
    "Delightful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Although I've seen the movie, I'd never read - or listened to - the original play, so I was excited when I came across this audiobook performance on Audible. It didn't disappoint. I loved the story of mistaken identities, long-lost family and rich people's shenanigans, and the characters were all charming and endearing in their own way. The language is obviously gorgeous and witty, and it was brilliantly delivered by the actors in this edition. It all flowed really well and was just a delight to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Woman of No Importance

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 34 mins)
    • By Oscar Wilde
    • Narrated By Miriam Margolyes, Samantha Mathis, Rosalind Ayres, and others
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (62)

    Devilishly attractive Lord Illingworth is notorious for his skill as a seducer. But he is still invited to all the "best" houses, while his female conquests must hide their shame in seclusion. In this devastating drawing-room comedy, Oscar Wilde uses his celebrated wit to expose English society's narrow view of everything from sexual mores to Americans.

    Cheryl says: "Pitch Perfect Performance"
    "Performances were forced"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    After really enjoying The Importance of Being Earnest I was keen to give this audio a try, and while it was good, it wasn't great. It too has long-lost family, mistaken identities and rich people's shenanigans, but it just wasn't as fun. The characters weren't as compelling, and the story wasn't as engaging. The performances weren't as great here either, they FELT like performances rather than like you were listening to actual conversations between the characters. I was also surprised that several of the lines were exactly the same as those found in Earnest - of course, this came earlier and so Wilde must have reused them for Earnest, and they ARE great lines, but I didn't like the repeated use. I wouldn't listen to or read this again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • About A Boy

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs)
    • By Nick Hornby
    • Narrated By Julian Rhind-Tutt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (173)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (150)

    Will does not want children, but he does see the point of single mothers, especially if they look like Julie Christie. When he meets Marcus, whose parents have split up and who is being persecuted by bullies, Will finds that he has a lot to learn.

    Michael Dillman says: "Charming story, even if you've already seen movie."
    "Surprisingly charming"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Will is an awful, self-centred, lazy, unemployed, rich, bored, philandering 36-year-old man child. Marcus is a sweet, weird, bullied, lonely 12-year-old boy with a suicidal mum and an absent dad. The two don't have anything in common but when Marcus latches on to Will, both their lives change forever. I wasn't sure that I would like About a Boy, because the only other Nick Hornby I've read was High Fidelity which I sadly hated. I had the impression Hornby generally writes the same type of unlikeable anti-hero, and while that was certainly the case here, I found the book overall to be very charming. I think it helped that the chapters were split between focusing on Will and on Marcus. It was Marcus' story that particularly got under my skin. I felt for the little weirdo, and I loved watching the development of his relationship with Will and the way they affected each other. The one drawback for me was that it seemed like Marcus had almost changed TOO much by the end. But I liked the way these two damaged characters helped and healed each other. The narration by Julian Rhind-Tutt was very good, and his voice for Marcus was particularly well done. It had the right touch of wonder and childishness without sounding ridiculous. About a Boy was a really great audiobook - I might even have to give Hornby's other books a go now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: In Aid of the Royal Theatrical Fund

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Oscar Wilde
    • Narrated By Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, Joanna Lumley, and others
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (83)

    Here is a collection of the Oscar Wilde's famous fairy tales, read by a cast of leading British actors. Additional narrators include Geoffrey Palmer O.B.E., Sir Donald Sinden, and Elaine Stritch. Music: 'Reverie De Sebastian' by Steve Davies.

    Jefferson says: "Poignant Modern Fairy Tales Wonderfully Read"
    "Beautiful but so depressing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I remember when I was a kid The Happy Prince was my least favourite fairy tale. It is just so bleak and depressing. This audiobook provided my first experience of Oscar Wilde's other fairy tales and yep, bleak and depressing is the theme for all of them. I don't think there's one with a happy ending. It got a bit much by the end of the book, frankly. Of course, the writing is exquisite and the pairings of some of the narrators - most especially Judy Dench, Joanna Lumley and Jeremy Irons - was divine. But after the first few beautiful but awful stories I found myself growing very impatient to get to the end of the collection. As wonderful as the prose it, it doesn't provide for a pleasant experience. I actually found The Happy Prince to be one of the LEAST depressing stories, and that is saying something.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • North and South

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gaskell
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (818)
    Performance
    (601)
    Story
    (602)

    Set in the context of Victorian social and medical debate, this novel is about rebellion, posing fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. This revised edition draws on recent theoretical work on gender and class.

    Sally says: "Delightful"
    "Beautiful story, beautiful narration"
    Overall
    Performance
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    Any additional comments?

    Oh I just adore this book. You know how it goes. Two people from different worlds meet and piss each other off but are secretly attracted to each other and the tension grows and ahhh it's amazing. But what's great about Gaskell is there's so much more to her stories than romance (although the romance is brilliant). North and South is about class divides and the struggles of life and faith and grief and love and friendship and learning and growing. It's truly wonderful. I don't love the religious parts myself but everything else I could connect with and relate to so much. Gaskell's characters are still as vibrant and three dimensional today as they were in their own time. Her third person narration allows insight into the minds of more than just the heroine, and this is particularly valuable for the perspective we get of the hero, John Thornton. The passion that simmers underneath his stiff exterior, which we actually get to READ about unlike in so many other classics, is extroadinary and oh-so-swoon worthy. I think I may even love him more than Mr Darcy. And THAT is saying something. As for the audio aspect, Juliet Stevenson is absolutely the best narrator I've experienced. She is SPOT ON with all the character's voices, absolutely perfect. I can't praise her highly enough. Outstanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Froi of the Exiles

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Melina Marchetta
    • Narrated By Grant Cartwright
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home ... or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not what they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess.

    Belle says: "Gets under your skin"
    "Gets under your skin"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?


    The final two books in this series are narrated by a new voice actor from the first one, and although he doesn't have any really standout character voices like Wren did, he is also much better overall. He gets the pronunciation of everything right, the pacing is good and the emotions he infuses the dialogue with are incredibly moving. There was one section in particular that I relistened to about five times before I moved on because it was so powerful - part of that was the amazing writing, but the narration really enhanced it. I still don't know if I'd recommend listening to the audiobooks if you haven't actually read the series first, but maybe that's because I adored the experience of actually reading them so much. Basically, no matter how you get them, they're going to be good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Quintana of Charyn: The Lumatere Chronicles, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Melina Marchetta
    • Narrated By Grant Cartwright
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn's unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict? When the forces marshalled in Charyn's war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves.

    Belle says: "My fave in the series"
    "My fave in the series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?


    The final two books in this series are narrated by a new voice actor from the first one, and although he doesn't have any really standout character voices like Wren did, he is also much better overall. He gets the pronunciation of everything right, the pacing is good and the emotions he infuses the dialogue with are incredibly moving. There was one section in particular that I relistened to about five times before I moved on because it was so powerful - part of that was the amazing writing, but the narration really enhanced it. I still don't know if I'd recommend listening to the audiobooks if you haven't actually read the series first, but maybe that's because I adored the experience of actually reading them so much. Basically, no matter how you get them, they're going to be good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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