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Bethann McLaren

Farm girl, voracious reader, lover of wine & whiskey.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2008

2
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 118 ratings
  • 370 titles in library
  • 39 purchased in 2014
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  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi
    Overall
    (1348)
    Performance
    (444)
    Story
    (461)

    The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his first voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, their cousin Eustace, and Caspian to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan's country at the End of the World.

    Sarah says: "Favorite Narnia book"
    "Beautiful rendition of a childhood classic!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely! The Chronicles of Narnia were my favourite books as a kid, and even now as an adult with a BA and MA in English Literature, I return to this series frequently. Each time, I discover something new and rewarding, be it another dimension of allegory I'd previously missed, or else some clever joke that went over my head as a younger reader.


    What does Derek Jacobi bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Derek Jacobi is really one of the better Harper Audio "Narnian" narrators, my only qualm is his voicing of Reepicheep the Mouse, which can be a little bit grating for long-term listening! Just a bit melodramatic for my taste, although other listeners, particularly younger ones, might really enjoy his interpretation of the character.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Horse and His Boy: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Alex Jennings
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1359)
    Performance
    (441)
    Story
    (461)

    On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.

    Bryan J. Peterson says: "Couldn't turn it off."
    "Alex Jennings is one of my new favourite narrators"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Have you listened to any of Alex Jennings’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is the first recording I have heard by Mr. Jennings and I will absolutely listen to more if I have the chance! He was absolutely perfect for this role. I really appreciated how his voicing of Hwin and Bree was very humanized, which is how I believe Lewis intended the characters to be. He didn't give them ridiculous "horsey sounding" voices which would have been especially tiresome to listen to for 4 or 5 hours! Really just a perfect voicing of all the characters and a soothing and enjoyable listen overall.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Prince Caspian: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Lynn Redgrave
    Overall
    (1637)
    Performance
    (506)
    Story
    (529)

    Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan's own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia, the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.

    A User says: "A hidden jewel"
    "Glad they got a lady to do one of the Chronicles!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I can see why there is a tendency to get male narrators to read the Chronicles of Narnia, the most obvious reason being that Lewis is a male and the Chronicles are written in a kind of combined third person objective and first person narration style. readers identify the narrator with C.S. Lewis, which I think he very much encourages them to do. That said, this is a world of fiction and literature and magic and I really appreciate the diversity of narrators that harper Audio got to do this series. Lynn Redgrave really does a fabulous job!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Silver Chair: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    Overall
    (1151)
    Performance
    (389)
    Story
    (402)

    Narnia is in peril, and only Eustace and Jill can help. Along with Puddlegum, a gloomy but valiant Marsh-wiggle, they are sent by the mighty lion Aslan to find Prince Rilian, heir to the throne. Their quest leads them past hungry people-eating Giants, and deep into the dark underground. But the true test for this noble band of friends comes when they face an evil witch and her deadly enchantments.

    book buyer says: "wonderful!!"
    "Northam only enhances the magic!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What does Jeremy Northam bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Northam is the perfect "Narnian" narrator for me. He's able to give each character voice, without being too melodramatic in invasive. For me, it is curtail that narration isn't too dramatic - I want to feel like I'm being read to, not like I'm at the theatre. At the same time, you don't want someone so monotonous they put you to sleep (unless you do!). Northam is the perfect balance for me. I particularly loved his use of different English accents and dialects to voice the different characters.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Magician's Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Kenneth Branagh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1829)
    Performance
    (571)
    Story
    (587)

    Digory and Polly meet and become friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory's Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to...somewhere else. They find their way to Narnia, newborn from the Lion's song, and encounter the evil sorceress Jadis, before they finally return home.

    Jason says: "An incredible children's series"
    "Branagh's narration is a real treat!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What other book might you compare The Magician's Nephew to and why?

    The Horse and His Boy


    Have you listened to any of Kenneth Branagh’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is first and I hope it won't be the last!


    Any additional comments?

    Branagh is wonderful! He really brings this classic to life. Second best only to my father.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Michael York
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3639)
    Performance
    (1005)
    Story
    (1048)

    Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor's mysterious old house. At first her brothers and sister don't believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch.

    Caitlin says: "Great audiobook!"
    "A fine classic with decent narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Michael York can be a bit melodramatic and some of his character voices are a little irritating and distracting. When reading as narrator, he's quite good and very pleasant to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Count of Monte Cristo

    • UNABRIDGED (47 hrs)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (3865)
    Performance
    (2179)
    Story
    (2231)

    Dashing young Edmond Dantès has everything: a fine reputation, an appointment as captain of a ship, and the heart of a beautiful woman. But his perfect life is shattered when three jealous friends conspire to destroy him. Falsely accused of a political crime, Dantès is locked away for life in the infamous Chateau d'If prison. But it is there that Dantès learns of a vast hidden treasure.

    Sanford Rosenberg says: "What a pleasure to read a classic!"
    "Wonderful, strong narrative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The Count of Monte Cristo rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 15


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love how this tale is a rollicking, good hearty adventure novel, in addition to being an exquisitely crafted piece of classic literature.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    Lee is an excellent narrator and his style especially well-suited to a novel of this length. I think I speak for most avid, non-abridged audiobook listeners in saying that melodramatic narration is irritating. Conversely a completely monotone narrator is equally insufferable. Lee strikes a great balance between the two. I especially appreciated how he was able to do a distinctly different voice for each character. There are often characters who tell in-depth tales within this overarching story and the carefully voiced characters make it easier to distinguish who's speaking. In this especially long novel full of very verbose characters, this is an invaluable quality!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • State of Wonder: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Ann Patchett
    • Narrated By Hope Davis
    Overall
    (4333)
    Performance
    (3144)
    Story
    (3142)

    Research scientist Dr. Marina Singh is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared in the Amazon while working on an extremely valuable new drug. The last person who was sent to find her died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding answers to the questions about her friend's death, her company's future, and her own past.

    F. B. Herron says: "Do yourself a favor and listen to this book!"
    "Decent narrator, BUT..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from State of Wonder?

    Absolutely not! Hope Davis wasn't half bad, however Patchett's novel is easily one of the worst I have read in the last 5 years. I cannot believe it has received so many glowing reviews! I would certainly give Davis another chance were she narrating a different book I was interested in.


    Any additional comments?

    This novel is full of horrible, self-absorbed characters who do awful things to one another. In and of itself, this isn't a bad thing; great literature revolves around just this kind of character. However, a good author is able to make us understand why the characters do what they do. We are supposed to feel torn between judgement, sympathy, empathy and even self-loathing for feeling this way about a character. These characters were awful and I couldn't stand any of them enough to care how they treated one another or what they did. Furthermore, the plot was so ridiculous, far-fetched and patchily strung together, I found it difficult to believe any of the characters would have been in such a situation in the first place.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9359)
    Performance
    (8575)
    Story
    (8586)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Masterfully written tale, seller performance!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Goldfinch the most enjoyable?

    I have to say David Pittu was incredible. His accents were executed perfectly and he was neither too dramatic, nor too boring nor too forced. He was just perfect.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Absolutely Boris. Theo gets a bit tedious and irritating at times, but how can you know love the self-destructive, Artful Dodger-esque Boris who of all the characters sees the most clearly despite his drug and booze induced haze most of the time.


    Have you listened to any of David Pittu’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I listened to him read The Marriage Plot and thought he was okay but nothing out of this world, but the Goldfinch was definitely his time to shine. I absolutely loved his rendition.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book evokes a lot of thought about the different kinds of people in the world. the characters were so well drawn, I felt like they all might be people I went to high school with at one time. Boris alone was the only character to make me laugh out loud though. His self abasing, easy going personality and random sense of humour even in the most extreme of situations was infectious and much appreciated amid so much dark content.


    Any additional comments?

    I loved how each character (even Popper the dog) was carfully and intentionally drawn up and inserted into the book. Unlike many expansive epics, there are no characters in Tartt's novel that are randomly inserted and forgot about. You can be certain they all serve a very specific purpose and will be returned to and revisited at some point in the novel.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lonesome Dove

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Larry McMurtry
    • Narrated By Lee Horsley
    Overall
    (3272)
    Performance
    (1732)
    Story
    (1764)

    Larry McMurtry's American epic, set in the late 19th century, tells the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, a drive that represents not only a daring foolhardy adventure, but a part of the American Dream for everyone involved.

    Richard Delman says: "A masterpiece. An epic western story."
    "One of the best books ever written."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Lonesome Dove the most enjoyable?

    Initially, I hated the narration and was on the verge of either returning the book or just quitting and not bothering. I've read Lonesome Dove before (in the traditional sense of the verb) and loved it, but the experience of listening to it was very different. The accents irked me and initially I thought Lee Horsley was irritatingly melodramatic. But somewhere in the first hour or two, I got hooked and just couldn't stop listening. I still feel like Horsley's a little too melodramatic for my taste, but somehow, it suited this book. The accents were still there, but after a while, I adjusted and they stopped bothering me. Suddenly, I was just enchanted by the story and the voices didn't matter anymore - they were even perhaps charming. It was a similar sensation to what I felt when I was a kid, and had trouble listening to my old Scottish grandfather's heavy brogue accent. Somewhere along the line, I started understanding perfectly what he said and the accent didn't seem so obvious anymore.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I found a Gus a little annoying at first (especially the way Horsley voiced him), but as with Lorena, it didn't take me long to be completely charmed by his personality, spirit and his genuine goodness of character. He seemed so real. Deets also, I utterly feel in love with. A true Jean Valjean-esque character. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to love Deets, and not to find some of his scenes the most moving in the entire book.


    If you could rename Lonesome Dove, what would you call it?

    I sincerely hope no one thinks they have a better name for this masterpiece!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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