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Gentle Reader Jill

Seattle, WA USA
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  • Aunt Dimity's Death

  • By: Nancy Atherton
  • Narrated by: Teri Clark Linden
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 193
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 177
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 172

Down-on-her-luck Lori learns she's about to inherit a sizable estate - if she can discover the secret hidden in a treasure trove of letters in Dimity's English country cottage. What begins as a fairy tale becomes a mystery - and a ghost story - in an improbably cozy setting, as Aunt Dimity's indominable spirit leads Lori on an otherworldly quest to discover how, in this life, true love can conquer all.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • great book, lousy reader

  • By Bill on 04-27-13

Cozy story. Unbearably painful reading.

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-06-16

Would you try another book from Nancy Atherton and/or Teri Clark Linden?

This WAS me trying another book narrated by Teri Clark Linden. Her reading of The Ladies of Mandrigyn, by Barbara Hambly, was unbearable. However, that's a darker fantasy book, where Linden's Shirley-Temple style was clearly miscast. I hoped that her style would work better with the lighter, cozier Aunt Dimity books.

And it was better--with The Ladies of Mandrigyn I had to quit after the first five minutes, but with Aunt Dimity's Death I didn't have to quit until half-way through the book. True, I had to accept that Linden made Laurie sound like a dingbat (but the text can support that interpretation of Laurie, especially in the beginning), and I had to grit my teeth to get through Linden's voicings of Bill's dad and Laurie's New England friends. Still, I hung in there more than four hours: through the opening in America and Laurie and Bill's initial stay in London. The performance didn't become unbearable until the characters reached Aunt Dimity's cottage and Linden's accent-mangling became an overriding issue.

To be fair, Atherton honestly doesn't write accents very well. (And apparently her editor wasn't able to rescue her.) Using strong regional accents draws attention to Atherton's own errors--some of which are real clunkers. Anyone performing the Aunt Dimity books needs to minimize the accents, hinting at them rather than belaboring them. Unfortunately, Linden chose (or was directed) to exaggerate the accents rather than minimizing them. It didn't work.

I'd like to try another book by Atherton (or this one again), but only with a different reader.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The toy stuffed rabbit and Aunt Dimity's ghost are my favorite characters. They both make me chuckle. I am sad that I had to quit before Aunt Dimity's ghost had any lines.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Teri Clark Linden?

My short list would include American readers Lorelei King, Bernadette Dunne, and Laurel Merlington, and English readers Jenny Sterlin and Kate Reading.

I'd consider English readers because by the time Laurie is telling this first-person story, she has settled in England and would be acquiring her own English accent.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

My overwhelming reaction is disappointment that I can't enjoy listening to what I know to be a charming, cozy book.

Any additional comments?

I hope that Audible eventually re-releases the Aunt Dimity books (and The Ladies of Mandrigyn, and probably others that Linden read) with more suitable readers, because these are stories that I'd love to listen to repeatedly. Meanwhile, I suppose I need to see if I can return this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tracker

  • Foreigner Sequence 6, Book 1
  • By: C. J. Cherryh
  • Narrated by: Daniel Thomas May
  • Length: 13 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 368
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 341
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 341

First in a brand-new Foreigner trilogy by Hugo Award-winning author C. J. Cherryh. Tracker is the 16th installment of C. J. Cherryh's acclaimed Foreigner series.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beginning of a New Series in the Foreigner World

  • By Sires on 04-15-15

Pulling the threads together

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-12-15

This is an amazing book, a Foreigner series culmination in which Cherryh masterfully begins pulling together threads from all the earlier books. It's as though the entire series is a chess match, and book 16 begins the end game, the most exciting part.

I didn't mean to, but I ended up setting aside all non-essential activities and listening to the whole thirteen-and-a-half hour book in two days. Then I immediately went back and listened to some parts again. Now I can barely wait for the next two books.

This is book 16 in the Foreigner series. (All the books are in 3-book "story arc" sets.) You don't need to read all 15 previous books to enjoy this one (although they're well worth reading). However, I think the experience of reading book 16 will be much richer if you read at least books 13-15 first.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Peacemaker

  • Foreigner Sequence 5, Book 3
  • By: C. J. Cherryh
  • Narrated by: Daniel May
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 331
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 302

At last - Cajeiri has his young guests from the starship, three young folk entranced by weather and trees and creatures with minds of their own. It’s all he dreamed of.... But now safety is foremost: Cajeiri’s grandfather has been assassinated, hostile Assassins Guild invaded Great-uncle’s house, and now Bren Cameron, paidhi-aiji, who was sent to keep the aiji’s son safe, has more than the young guests on his mind. The aiji-dowager knows who’s to blame for the attacks, and they’re going after him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book, great performance, great series

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 04-02-14

Great book, great performance, great series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-14

What a tour de force! I thought I'd listen to the first thirty minutes or so the night this book was released. Ha! I couldn't put it down. I stayed up most of the night listening to it, then took the day off work and listened to the rest of it nonstop to the end. And it was worth it!

Lots of excitement, engaging characters, important conflicts, and satisfying outcomes. I was braced for long boring summaries of what had gone before, but happily Cherryh sidestepped all that. She slipped in the needed background information through interesting new content.

Many cheers for Danial May's brilliant reading and C.J. Cherryh's brilliant writing.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Wilma's Wicked Revenge

  • By: Kay Umansky
  • Narrated by: Claire Higgins
  • Length: 4 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

Wilma's older sisters are not only bossy, but are wicked queens too. Wilma is too young to be a wicked queen, but she does have her Grade Three Magic certificate, which will help her to plan her revenge on her bossy sisters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Funny. original, and well-read

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 08-27-13

Funny. original, and well-read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-27-13

Wilma's grown sisters would treat pond scum better than they treat Wilma. But then, they're professional Wicked Queens. Their mother is too busy being Queen of the Night to bother about fairness. Their father, a mere mortal, means well, but can't keep up, so he focuses on gardening (not that there's enough sunlight for vegetables in the Queen of the Night's domain). And, after a more-than-usually-distressing crisis, Grandmother shut herself into the belfry, where she fires blasts of magic at anyone who disturbs her.

Since Wilma has no one to defend her, she resolves to defend herself, and to take revenge on her sisters while she's at it. (Anyone who has ever been the picked-on youngest will sympathize.) Interfering with her powerful sisters' plans requires all Wilma's cleverness, all her magic (she's passed Level 3), plus all the help she can get. Her father's new garden assistant is willing to help her, although he and Wilma have extremely different ideas of what's acceptable behavior. In the process, they rescue a dog, and uncover (and solve) a mystery.

This is an entertaining, light-hearted story, and Claire Higgins reads it very, very well.

  • The Pride of Chanur

  • Chanur, Book 1
  • By: C. J. Cherryh
  • Narrated by: Dina Pearlman
  • Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 529
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 471
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 474

No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt toothed and blunt-fingered, Tully was the sole surviving member of his company -- a communicative, spacefaring species hitherto unknown -- and he was a prisoner of his discoverer/captors the sadistic, treacherous kif, until his escape onto the hani ship The Pride of Chanur.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great, fascinating, and exciting

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 08-22-13

Great, fascinating, and exciting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-22-13

This is a remarkable book, with vivid, complex characters, well-built worlds, and alien species that are clear and memorable. These species are thoroughly alien, and yet, when we consider them through Pyanfar Chanur's eyes, they make their own kind of sense.

Pyanfar Chanur is a shrewed space merchant captain. She's swashbuckling enough to thrive in the sometimes-deadly bluff and counter-bluff of trade and politics between six very distinct spacefaring species. Still, despite swagger and sharp dealings she's an honest, decent captain with a fine, honest crew of kinswomen. In fact it's that very decency, shown in the companionable laughter of crewwomen unloading cargo at dockside on a space station deep in alien territory, that makes a desperate human fugitive choose Pyanfar's ship to try to stow away on. It's also that same decency that makes Pyanfar refuse to return the human (a member of a never-before-seen seventh intelligent species) to the predatory Kif who had attacked his ship and tortured his crewmates to death.

There are some things a decent Hani captain just can't do. Only, by the end of the book, and again by the end of the series, Pyanfar changes her mind about what some of those things are.

While the human, Tully, proves his worth and earns a place in Pyanfar's small crew, the crisis with other species escalates. The deadly Kif want Tully badly enough to go to war to get him. The devious, physically-fragile, timid but ruthless Stsho want their own safety and profit at any cost to other species, and they will placate the Kif if that seems safest. The primate-like Mahendo'sat certainly want something very badly, but it's hard even for a shrewd Hani captain to detect what exactly they're after. A Mahendo'sat captain called Goldtooth seems to be turning into an ally against the Kif (and Pyanfar and her crew desperately need allies), but Goldtooth represents a Mahendo'sat Personage with unknown motives. Can even captains of sincere good will twist their orders far enough to stand by their friends when the best interests of their species come into conflict?

And then there are the methane-breathers, who make no sense to anybody who breathes oxygen, and who are wild cards that can change the whole situation.

Every time I read or listen to this book (and I've listened to it several times already, after having read it many times in hard copy), I'm struck by the book's sheer craftsmanship. It's exciting, and dramatic, but it doesn't slip across the line into melodrama. It's fascinating, and it deals with profound, complex issues, but it isn't pompous, pedantic, or analytical. It's tense and suspenseful, but it's also amusing, often in a wryly self-recognizing "Oh, isn't THAT the truth" kind of way. The story is character driven, but with a rip-snorting plot that could easily steal the show if the characters were weaker and less engaging.

By the way, this book is a stand-alone story, complete in itself. It's not a cliff-hanger. The next three books (Chanur's Venture, The Kif Strike Back, and Chanur's Homecoming) together tell a second story about Pyanfar and her crew.The fifth book in the series, Chanur's Legacy, tells a third story all in one volume.

The five books together are a tour de force, but this first book, Pride of Chanur (punning on "pride," the emotion, and pride as in a pride of lions--the Hani are very lion-like) is one of the all-time great enjoyable works of science fiction.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • The Blue Sword

  • By: Robin McKinley
  • Narrated by: Diane Warren
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 597
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 529
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 540

Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl, is pleased with her new home. Life in Istan is certainly easy, but a voice in her ear whispers that the home of her heart is among the Hillfolk, among the descendants of Lady Aerin, who once wielded Gonturan, the Blue Sword.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Groundbreaking, interestingly dated, & odd

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 07-27-13

Groundbreaking, interestingly dated, & odd

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-27-13

In 1982, when this book was published, I loved it without reservations. It broke new ground mixing magic and alternate history, it had a capable, self-aware heroine, and it built an exotically evocative, engaging, and appealing world.

Thirty-one years later, listening to Diane Warren's excellent performance, I realized that all those things are still true--but there's more to it. Time has brought some disturbing threads and nuances to the surface of the story, as a whole body of other works grew up following in this one's footsteps, and as capable, self-aware heroines became normal instead of oddities. Noticing those disturbing threads adds richness and complexity that, if anything, reinforces simple enjoyment of the story.

To write this book with this heroine and this plot, McKinley had to fight her way out of confining cultural expectations and stereotypes. She succeeded amazingly well--but the lingering strands of those expectations and stereotypes still show. They certainly don't undermine the book's quality or the importance of what McKinley accomplished, but they do add a kind of fey light that casts odd shadows (rather like the heroine's dual vision in the story itself). The book, caught at the hinge of a literary turning point, is, honestly, rather odd.

In some ways, this is a book about possession. The main characters perform brave, unexpected, history-changing deeds--but usually when they perform them, their will and choice is compromised by being under the influence-compulsion-control of another force. In some ways, it's a book about abduction. The main character is kidnapped, and although McKinley carefully foreshadows and justifies the character's change of allegiance, there are still queasy echoes of the Stockholm syndrome in the shift of her loyalty and affection.

Ultimately, it's a tribute to McKinley's accomplishment that even today the book succeeds on its own terms despite the overtones that were invisible (though powerful) more than thirty years ago. One believes in the romance. One cheers the shift in allegiance. The possession is more enviable than creepy.

This isn't a simple book, but it's certainly an interesting, enjoyable, and worthwhile book to listen to.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • The Knights' Tales Collection

  • Book 1: Sir Lancelot the Great; Book 2: Sir Givret the Short; Book 3: Sir Gawain the True; Book 4: Sir Balin the Ill-Fated
  • By: Gerald Morris
  • Narrated by: Steve West
  • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38

Many years ago, the storytellers say, the great King Arthur brought justice to England with the help of his gallant Knights of the Round Table. Sir Lancelot the Great: Of these worthy knights, there was never one so fearless, so chivalrous, so honorable, so…shiny as the dashing Sir Lancelot. Sir Givret the Short: Poor Givret: His size makes him so easy to overlook. But there’s more to knighthood than height. Sir Gawain the True The knights didn’t always act quite as gallantly as a true knight should. Even King Arthur’s nephew....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lively, engaging, and smart

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 04-11-13

Lively, engaging, and smart

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-11-13

I'm giving these stories to my nephews and nieces, but I also got a copy for myself. These are funny, lively, and inspire a second--or even a third--thought. They're well-informed by older versions of the Arthurian stories, without being one bit stuffy.

Three cheers for Steve West's excellent performance, and at least a dozen cheers for Gerald Morris's great storytelling. His scholarship gives his stories life and backbone, but his exuberant imagination and his smart, perceptive characters make them sparkle.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • False Colours

  • By: Georgette Heyer
  • Narrated by: Phyllida Nash
  • Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 533
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 469
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 474

The honourable Christopher Fancot, on leave from the Diplomatic Service in the summer of 1817, is startled to find his entrancing but incorrigibly extravagant mother on the brink of financial and social ruin - and more than alarmed that his identical twin, Evelyn, Earl of Denville, has disappeared without trace. Christopher, or Kit, the respectable brother, is forced into an outrageous masquerade by his wayward family's tangled affairs. But in the face of Evelyn's continued absence, even Kit's ingenuity is stretched to the limit.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow! A great listen!

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 04-11-13

Wow! A great listen!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-11-13

Phyllida Nash's excellent performance lets the quirky, likeable characters sparkle in this wonderful, witty comedy.

After a few calm pages that let us find our balance, Kit learns that his mother and brother are teetering on the brink of crisis. After that, it's unexpected turns and convolutions all the way to the end.

The story would be amusing and thoroughly satisfying even if you've never heard of Regency England. But having more background lets you appreciate its breadth and depth of authenticity.

If this were a movie, it would get a whole bundle of Oscar nominations: screenplay, leading and supporting character performances, costumes, setting, cinematography, and direction. It all seems light and effortless, but wow, it's a delightful masterpiece.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Cloaked in Red

  • By: Vivian Vande Velde
  • Narrated by: Laural Merlington
  • Length: 2 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 16

So you think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Well, then, try your hand at answering these questions: Which character (not including Little Red herself) is the most fashion challenged? Who (not including the wolf) is the scariest? Who (not including Granny) is the most easily scared? Who is the strangest? (Notice we’re not "not including" anyone, because they’re all a little off.) Who (no fair saying "the author") has stuffing for brains?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Grin, snicker, laugh out loud

  • By Gentle Reader Jill on 10-31-12

Grin, snicker, laugh out loud

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-31-12

These stories are hilarious. So is the introduction. As the author points out, if you think about this story, every line is worth a chuckle.

"What big eyes you have, Grandma."

Really? The kid notices size but not the fur, the claws, even the tail?

All the stories are clearly "Little Red Riding Hood," but every one is different. They range from just plain funny, to very surprising, to even kind creepy, to stand-up-and-cheer.

Can't say more without spoiling the twists and surprises--but I'm giving this to all my favorite family members who have a witty, wry, or snarky sense of humor.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Battles at Thrush Green

  • By: Miss Read
  • Narrated by: Gwen Watford
  • Length: 5 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 74
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60

Feelings are running high in the Cotswold village of Thrush Green. The rector's plan for the neglected churchyard doesn't meet with universal approval; there is a clash of personalities at the local school; and someone has returned to the village after an absence of 50 years.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A trip back in time to a gentler place.

  • By Debi on 01-09-12

Excellent

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-12

Wonderful characters with believable friendships, tensions, and resolutions in a small old-fashioned village. This book makes me smile. Gwen Watford's performance is perfect.

I wish all the Miss Read books about Thrush Green and Fairacre were available on Audible--I'd buy them in a minute.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful