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Mary-Liz

I am book junkie. Read to me.

ratings
12
REVIEWS
12
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
22

  • Apple Tree Yard: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Louise Doughty
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (96)
    Story
    (98)

    Yvonne Carmichael, renowned geneticist, public authority, happily married mother of two, sits in the accused box. The charge is murder. Across the courtroom, not meeting her eye, sits her alleged accomplice. He wears the beautiful pin-striped suit he wore on their first meeting in the Houses of Parliament, when he put his hand on her elbow, guided her to a deserted and ancient chapel, and began to undress her.

    Melinda says: "No Scarlet 'A' in Apple Tree"
    "Not bad, but a relatively plain mystery, really"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Juliet Stevenson infuses pathos and melancholy into a dreamy, naive protagonist who becomes entrapped in what proves to be a rather mundane murder. The story is told first-person from the protagonist's viewpoint and she addresses her thoughts to a unnamed "you," the man with whom she engages in an improbable affair. For most of the novel, the real mystery is figuring out who the man really is, his motivations and his true feelings for the protagonist. We don't even know his name until more than two-thirds of the way into the story. I found the device wore very thin and I probably would have bailed were it not for Stevenson's expert reading. As it turned out, I am glad I stuck with it because I do think the novel had some intriguing elements and the writing is excellent in parts, with interesting characterizations. By the end it was clear Doughty meant this to be, in part, a play on the techniques of storytelling. At one point in the protagonist's trial, she observes, "I realized that all one needs for a story is a collection of facts." Yes, that and few more things, and maybe especially a consummate actress like Juliet Stevenson reading your stuff.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • True Grit

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Charles Portis
    • Narrated By Donna Tartt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1921)
    Performance
    (1084)
    Story
    (1090)

    Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

    Tommygaus says: "So worth it!"
    "Beautifully written"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can't believe I hadn't read this until now. Charles Portis writes in a way that would make taxes or legislative bills fascinating. His dialogue, settings, characters -- especially his characters -- ring absolutely true. Is there anyone more appealing in fiction than the brave, formidable Mattie Ross? The film versions just make her feisty, which is nice, but she is so much wiser and morally complex than the child she appears to be. The Cohen Bros. did a very good job with this story; the John Wayne version seems a cartoon set against the real narrative. Neither movie does True Grit justice. You miss all those wonderful, expertly chosen words. And who knew Donna Tartt, a fine novelist herself, had such an engaging, Southern reading style? Really, please, buy this immediately and listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Stranger House

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Reginald Hill
    • Narrated By Gordon Griffin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (48)

    For years, the Stranger House has stood in the village of Illthwaite, offering refuge to travellers. People like Sam, a brilliant young mathematician, who believes that anything that can't be explained by maths isn't worth explaining. And Miguel, a historian running from a priests' seminary, who sees ghosts. Sam is an experienced young woman, Miguel a 26-year-old virgin.

    Jennifer says: "an OK read"
    "Scrappy heroine, pleasingly complex mystery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Well written and crafted thriller, which uses the classic chestnut of the remote village, with residents who distrust nosy outsiders, to great effect. You think this is going to be an old-fashioned horror, with restless ghosts and forbidden, pagan rites still practiced by the weird locals. In fact, it's a modern, psychological drama, its twists attributable to very human fears and desires. Some of the crimes may be too modern for certain listeners: If you are bothered by stories that involve hurting children or torture, be aware that this narrative takes a few dark turns. Nothing overly graphic, but it does go there, if not all the way there.
    There are two mysteries here, one historical, one contemporary, each with its related protagonist, a compassionate Spanish ex-priest and a scrappy, Australian mathematician named Samantha Flood. Sam Flood is almost worth the price of admission alone -- she's that appealing.
    Great reading by Gordon Griffin, who differentiates the many characters with vocal distinctions and quirks. I had no trouble keeping the large cast straight.
    My only complaint is that the epilogue, while intriguing, ties up the threads too neatly. Still, the rest of the story is so good that I'm willing to forgive Reginald Hill for this over-zealous bit of plot writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Monkey's Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Alan de Queiroz
    • Narrated By Jonathan Todd Ross
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (23)

    How did species wind up where they are today? Scientists have long conjectured that plants and animals dispersed throughout the world by drifting on large landmasses as they broke up, but in The Monkey’s Voyage, biologist Alan de Queiroz offers a radical new theory that displaces this passive view.

    Mary-Liz says: "Fascinating, if you can handle the detail"
    "Fascinating, if you can handle the detail"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an exhaustive study of biological history and evolution, as it relates to continental drift, cladistics and other off-shoots and counterpoints to Darwin's theory. I had never heard of the field of biogeography until I listened to this book and now I feel very comfortable with the subject. The author begins with Darwin and then looks at each successive theory in turn, ultimately disproving many or tempering their strict stances with alternative possibilities. De Queiroz builds his case brick by scientific brick, until he returns to Darwin, who first suggested that many, if not most, of the breaks and bizarre pan-continental connections in the biological narrative could be attributed to seemingly impossible journeys across oceans by species. Darwin did several experiments but didn't live long enough to prove his suppositions. De Queiroz, however, with the benefit of DNA testing, cites numerous examples of plants and animals that could not have reached certain shores any other way except by ocean travel.
    I found this book illuminating and entertaining. I've read Darwin, but I am not a scientist, so some of the theoretical explanations went a bit too deep for me. But de Queiroz works hard to engage the non-scientist and his enthusiasm for his subject is hard to resist. He brings to life many interesting historical characters, such as the gentleman-explorer who influenced Darwin and the passionate, if wrong-headed, Leon Croizat, who thought Darwin "congenitally not a thinker."
    The reader does a great job with material which, while very well written, can be dense in its exhaustive detail.
    I bought this book on a whim and I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Persuasion

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1193)
    Performance
    (855)
    Story
    (866)

    Anne Elliot has grieved for seven years over the loss of her first love, Captain Frederick Wentworth. But events conspire to unravel the knots of deceit and misunderstanding in this beguiling and gently comic story of love and fidelity.

    Emily - Audible says: "Juliet Stevenson is Simply Amazing"
    "Great tale, well told and read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of my favorite Austen novels and I loved the BBC Radio 4 version with Juliet Stevenson in the role of Anne Elliot. She seems to understand the heroine's inner conflicts better than anyone else. Stevenson brings all of her sensitivity and training as an actress to this reading. Simply beautifully done.
    In every Austen novel, there are the silly characters whom Austen meant to be comical, but whose persistent idiocy irritate me to the point where I just skip over their parts. They are almost always women, the worst being Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, although Miss Bates in Emma and Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility are similar, if lesser, annoyances. But in Persuasion, the silly character happens to be a man, Anne's father Mr. Elliot, and I find that, far from irritating, Mr. Elliot is one of the funniest and most ridiculous characters in Austen's fiction. Stevenson seems to appreciate him, too, for she reads his part with relish, infusing him with all the pompous self-importance Austen intended. I found myself stopping the performance and replaying those parts two and three times. Great laughs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • American Gods

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5258)
    Performance
    (2141)
    Story
    (2156)

    For the three years Shadow spent in prison, all he wanted was to get back to the loving arms of his wife and stay out of trouble for the rest of his life. But days before his release, he learns that his wife has been killed in an accident, and his world becomes a colder place.

    Joseph says: "Amazing, powerful book about America."
    "I bailed after Part 1"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Neil Gaiman, I really do, but I could not keep reading this. This is his "revised" version, which adds something like 20,000 more words to the narrative. Really. Too much. George Guidall is a good narrator and gamely tackles the often difficult text with strong characterizations and lively conversations, but it wasn't enough. I just found the story about demons and angels battling in the Midwest frustrating, weird and alienating.
    I felt guilty giving up but I did. Life's too short. So sue me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Gods and Warriors

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Michelle Paver
    • Narrated By Toby Stephens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    The unabridged, digital audiobook edition of Gods and Warriors, the first in Michelle Paver’s breath-taking new adventure series set in the Greek Bronze Age. Read by the actor Toby Stephens. From a time of myths and ancient magic will come the legend of the lost city of Atlantis, tales of gods and warriors - and the rise of a hero? His sister is missing. His dog has been killed. High in the Greek mountains, Hylas is running for his life. The mysterious black warriors want Hylas dead.

    Georgia Burns says: "Why Should the Kids Have All the Fun?"
    "Well-paced story for kids; fantastic reader"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a big Toby Stephens fan, so picked this because he is the reader. But I found I liked the story, too, which is set in a fantastical ancient world which may or may not be prehistoric Britain.
    Michelle Paver is a popular British children's writer and this marks the start of a new series for her.
    The plot zips along apace, with many cliff-hangers, figurative and literal. Altogether an entertaining read. I'll be looking for the sequels.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Grimm Tales for Young and Old

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Philip Pullman
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (38)

    In this enchanting selection of fairy tales, award-winning author Philip Pullman presents his 50 favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm in a 'clear as water' retelling, making them feel fresh and unfamiliar with his dark, distinctive voice.

    C. Bolliger says: "A fun listen between big books"
    "Girls cry. Boys fight. Same old roles."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Philip Pullman reinterprets classic tales, some not as well known as others, with interesting results. The main problem here is the portrayal of males and females in condemning traditional roles. Girls are too often weak victims unable to think for themselves or they are conniving, evil witches; boys are rambunctious, impetuous and too quick to fight. These faults lie with the origin of the tales and not with Pullman, but you have to question his desire to retell such outmoded ideas in the first place. This is not to say that children shouldn't hear these stories. But it might be best to offer them in context and perhaps with gentle discussion about how we see people differently today.
    Sam West does an amazing job, as always. He's a top-notch narrator. I love his voice.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Wind Singer: The Wind on Fire Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By William Nicholson
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    In Aramanth, exams are everything. When Kestrel rebels, her family are sentenced to the harshest punishment. To save them, Kestrel learns the secret of the wind singer and she sets out to discover the true source of the evil that grips Aramanth.

    Erica says: "An Overlooked Masterpiece"
    "Wonderful narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A well-written fantasy/dystopia story for middle-grade readers. Samuel West is an excellent narrator. He interprets the story with wit and verve. All the characters, and there are many, are distinct and easy to recognize through his many subtle voice variations. Beautifully done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Woman Chased by Crows: An Orwell Brennan Mystery, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Marc Strange
    • Narrated By Christopher Prince
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Dockerty police chief Orwell Brennan has his hands full. The town’s mayor keeps trying to use him for re-election while her slick, out-of-town challenger is smearing him every chance he gets. Meanwhile, Brennan’s middle daughter is getting married soon, his youngest is starting to notice boys, his wife has him on a diet, and someone keeps stealing his favorite cookies. Things take an ironic turn for the worse when a Toronto police officer, who was in town to investigate a local murder, is killed in his hotel room.

    Mary-Liz says: "Use a Canadian narrator, please"
    "Use a Canadian narrator, please"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We get Scots reading Scottish writers, English reading English writers and Americans reading Americans, so why not Canadians reading Canadians? Then at least we'd have someone who knows how to pronounce Canadian cities and towns. I cringed every time this narrator pronounced Montreal as MON-treal (American pronunciation), instead of Mun-tree-ALL (English Canadian) -- I was cringing a lot because the complex story has a plot twist that involves Quebec.
    Narrator has quite a few goofs on place names, the worst being pronouncing the Ontario town of Guelph as "Gelf" instead of "GWelf." But he also had odd ways of saying perfectly ordinary words: "umbrellla" was UM-brella, and "coaxing" was co-AXE-ing. (Heard that one on my morning run and almost tripped in disbelief.) His general reading style is robotic and bizarre, like someone who doesn't understand punctuation. His inflection would suggest sentences had ended before they actually had, or he runs on in the same monotone as if a string of sentences were one long, single sentence. It goes on like this for 11 unabridged hours.
    I've listened to more than 200 audiobooks over several years and I'm usually easy-going about the narration. But this one left me feeling irritated and cheated of a good story -- not to mention the price of a credit. I hate to sound dreary and mean, but I must say that I will never purchase another audiobook narrated by Christopher Prince.
    Marc Strange is a good writer, with a keen sense of plot and interesting characters. His work deserves a better reading than this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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