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Bethann McLaren

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

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2008

2
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 122 ratings
  • 374 titles in library
  • 43 purchased in 2014
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  • Prince Caspian: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Lynn Redgrave
    Overall
    (1661)
    Performance
    (528)
    Story
    (552)

    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
  • A Christmas Carol [Audio Connoisseur Version]

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (22)

    The spirit of Christmas has never been captured better than by Charles Dickens' masterpiece about Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and all those wonderful spirits, especially the ghost of Jacob Marley. It can be fairly stated that Dickens was so successful with A Christmas Carol, that his characters have become more well known than the title itself.

    P. Lane says: "I'm happy with my choice"
    "Little Fan's voicing is the stuff of nightmares"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What didn’t you like about Charlton Griffin’s performance?

    I listen to the audio version of this classic Dicken's tale every year. Usually I listen to Simon Prebble's version but I had a copy of Grifin's version I hadn't listened to in years and thought I'd switch things up. Griffin's voice is generally quite good, BUT he unfortunately does the most horrendous, artificial little girl's voice for Scrooge's little sister Fran that I had to stop listening. I've listened to this version several years ago and somehow had forgotten how terrifying Griffin's children's voices are. Simon Prebble's version is significantly better.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Awakening

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kate Chopin
    • Narrated By Kim Basinger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (213)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (177)

    Kate Chopin’s novel, a landmark work of early feminism, is seen as a pre-cursor to the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The upper-class Creole society of New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the 19th century is brought to audio in a stirring performance by Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Better to sleep in peace than awake to nightmare?"
    "Passionless narration a real buzz kill"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made The Awakening better?

    Is Kim Basinger hadn't read it. She has a soothing voice, but she's so fridges and bland and timeless I felt like I was instantly going to fall asleep whenever she spoke. Also, I never read this as a young woman in my teens or early twenties and I really think that's when this book would be most relevant. For a book hailed as a classic and a key piece of feminist literature, I felt the characters were boring and underdeveloped. It was difficult for me to relate to or care about any of them.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Listening to A Christmas Carol now.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kim Basinger?

    Anyone but. It seems terribly ironic that a book that's called the Awakening and is about female passion, sexuality and desire could be narrated in such a dreary, monotone fashion.


    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
    (1381)
    Performance
    (463)
    Story
    (483)

    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
  • The Silver Chair: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1173)
    Performance
    (410)
    Story
    (424)

    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 Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Chronicles of Narnia

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By C.S. Lewis
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi
    Overall
    (1361)
    Performance
    (458)
    Story
    (475)

    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 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
    (1857)
    Performance
    (596)
    Story
    (615)

    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
    (3682)
    Performance
    (1043)
    Story
    (1089)

    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
    (3939)
    Performance
    (2253)
    Story
    (2306)

    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
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4390)
    Performance
    (3191)
    Story
    (3192)

    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

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