LISTENER

alison

Samford Valley, Australia
  • 12
  • reviews
  • 109
  • helpful votes
  • 49
  • ratings
  • Queen Victoria's Book of Spells

  • An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy
  • By: Ellen Datlow (editor), Terri Windling (editor)
  • Narrated by: Kelly Lintz
  • Length: 13 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 20

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves works of neo-Victorian fiction and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call "fantasy of manners", all of which fit under the larger umbrella of gaslamp fantasy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Delicious Entrée to Gaslamp Fantasy

  • By alison on 06-17-16

A Delicious Entrée to Gaslamp Fantasy

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-17-16

Any additional comments?

According to Amazon, Gaslamp fantasy is "historical fantasy set in a magical version of the Nineteenth Century." While its first cousin Steampunk emphasizes mechanics, science and steam power, Gaslamp plays with magical possibilities.

This anthology includes spinoffs of Dickens and references to real people of the Victorian era. Queen Vicki herself gets a cameo in at least two stories. One of her prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, stars in The Jewel in the Toad Queen's Crown while William Morris, textile designer, poet, translator and social activist, takes the stage in the story For the Briar Rose. This is definitely one of those books that whets your thirst for more information. I have a brand new fascination with both Morris and Disraeli and can't wait to see where these rabbit holes lead me!

I listened to the audio version of this book. It's one I wish I had read instead. Three of the stories are epistolary, which sometimes doesn't lend itself to audio. The performance by narrator Kelly Lintz was fine, but it's a book to dip into again and again. I will probably end up buying a physical copy for my shelves.

The list below includes what I felt were the standout stories:
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells by Delia Sherman (Epistolary - entries in a young Victoria's diaries as she learns magic)
Phosphorous by Veronica Schanoes (Some very interesting social history here.)
The Vital Importance of the Superficial by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stervener (Epistolary, and superbly done.)
A Few Twigs He Left Behind by Gregory Maguire (A fascinating epilogue of Scrooge)

Maguire's offering in particular left me hankering for more of his writing (which surprised me because Wicked (the book) was not a big winner with me). I will also seek out works by Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. Book one of the Tremontaine series (Kushner) has been ordered…

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • David Copperfield [Audible]

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 36 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,405
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,252
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,231

Between his work on the 2014 Audible Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, and his performance of Classic Love Poems, narrator Richard Armitage ( The Hobbit, Hannibal) has quickly become a listener favorite. Now, in this defining performance of Charles Dickens' classic David Copperfield, Armitage lends his unique voice and interpretation, truly inhabiting each character and bringing real energy to the life of one of Dickens' most famous characters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A PERFECT narration of an English classic!

  • By Wayne on 09-03-17

A Masterpiece

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

Reviewed: 04-20-16

I was a Dickens fan before, but now I am completely besotted. David Copperfield is a masterpiece of storytelling.

Richard Armitage's performance blew me away. I have a new favourite male narrator. What talent!

Do yourself a favour: listen to this. Yes, it's long, but it is worth every minute.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Ready Player One

  • By: Ernest Cline
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 208,297
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 194,474
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 194,069

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book.

  • By Julie W. Capell on 05-27-14

Geeky Goodness

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

Reviewed: 12-15-13

If you could sum up Ready Player One in three words, what would they be?

So much fun

What did you like best about this story?

This story was action packed.

Which scene was your favorite?

It's hard to pick a favourite; the conflict builds and the climax is so much geeky retro fun. No spoilers here though!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

I probably don't qualify as a certified geek, but I still enjoyed this book. It's a perfect selection for gamers and people who love Japanese monster movies and anime.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Moonrise

  • By: Cassandra King
  • Narrated by: Jennifer James Bradshaw, Willow Hale, Elle Newlands
  • Length: 14 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 138
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 141

When Helen Honeycutt falls in love with Emmet Justice, a charismatic television journalist who has recently lost his wife in a tragic accident, their sudden marriage creates a rift between her new husband and his oldest friends, who resent Helen's intrusion into their tightly knit circle. Hoping to mend fences, the newlyweds join the group for a summer at his late wife's family home in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not sure what all the complaints are about...

  • By Kindle Customer on 09-23-13

Atmospheric With Enough Spookiness

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-23-13

Would you listen to Moonrise again? Why?

I'd reread Moonrise, but I don't think I'd listen to it again. This is the first time I haven't been bowled over by the talent of the narrators. (I usually gush. See my review of Colin Firth's reading of The End of the Affair and how I raved about the Amelia Peabody mysteries.) I have tremendous admiration for artists who can pull off multiple regional accents and characters of both genders--without sounding like a parody.

What did you like best about this story?

This book tips its hat to the Gothic classic, Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. While not in the same league as Rebecca, Moonrise didn't disappoint. Setting is all important in a Gothic novel, and the eponymous historic Victorian house nestled in Highlands, North Carolina provided the perfect spooky backdrop for a mystery. The nocturnal gardens in particular added a bit of eeriness to the story.

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

I enjoyed listening to Letters from Skye, narrated by Elle Newlands, the actor who performed Willa McPhee in Moonrise. She has a very pleasant accent (Scottish, I assume) and a lot of talent. I had a hard time understanding what she was doing in a southern story, though. If the locals of Highlands have a brogue, why didn't Duff, Willa's beau?

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I enjoyed the descriptions of the place. Of course all the people and their tangled webs of deceit and intrigue were interesting, but I hold that setting is what makes Gothic gothic.

Any additional comments?

The other trait of the Gothic genre is a fiery ending. This finale was spectacular, but it wasn't quite in keeping with my idea of the genre.

  • The Sparrow

  • By: Mary Doria Russell
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 15 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,459
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,141
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,142

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience - the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life - begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superbly Written and Thought-provoking

  • By Jim N on 08-15-12

Mind Blowing

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

Reviewed: 05-13-13

What made the experience of listening to The Sparrow the most enjoyable?

The characters were wonderful. Mary Doria Russell created multi-dimensional people and made me not only care for them, but also wish they were in my life.

What other book might you compare The Sparrow to and why?

This is my first tentative foray into speculative fiction so I don't have much to compare it to. I NEVER imagined I would enjoy science fiction so much. The characters' depth was similar to those in The Prince of Tides--these are people I who will stay with me.

Which scene was your favorite?

There were so many poignant scenes. The best was probably the moment of contact, when Father Emilio was overwhelmed with the sense that his whole life had led to that moment , and he finally experienced God.

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

I laughed, I cried, I gasped. I will need at least a week to recover from the horrific events that unfold in the final chapters. And I am already pining for my "friends."

Any additional comments?

If you steer away from science fiction because it's "not your thing," I encourage you to try this one. The writing is beautiful and smart--there's plenty to stimulate almost any reader. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, anatomy, medicine, linguistics, anthropology, Latin, psychology, faith...all wrapped up in some very clever storytelling. Honestly--don't skip over this one just because it looks like it's about aliens and other worlds.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Fault in Our Stars

  • By: John Green
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 7 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22,153
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,100
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20,202

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful Poignant Story

  • By AudioAddict on 04-25-13

Memorable Story, Tough Material

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

Reviewed: 03-04-13

Would you consider the audio edition of The Fault in Our Stars to be better than the print version?

Yes. Kate Rudd did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. The verbal mannerisms of the young characters were spot-on. On the other hand, the characters discuss big ideas--philosophy and religion and the meaning of life, and a physical copy of the book would allow for easier study. For example, several poems were referenced, and I'd love to look them up. A print version would be more convenient in that instance.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well, I'm guessing Gus is everyone's favourite. He is, as he puts it, "charismatic."

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

This is my first experience with Kate Rudd, but I will be watching out for her.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Well, that's a silly question given the book deals with dying teenagers and star-crossed love. "Moving" is to be expected. "Surprising" --that is what is interesting about this book--the surprising bits, but I can't comment on the many gasp-worthy moments or I would risk spoiling it for you...

Any additional comments?

Yes, yes: it's a tear jerker. I'd advise you not to avoid it because of the sad topic. There is so much to think about and celebrate in this beautiful book.

  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise

  • Stories
  • By: Megan Mayhew Bergman
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 26

Exploring the way our choices and relationships are shaped by the menace and beauty of the natural world, Megan Mayhew Bergman’s powerful and heartwarming collection captures the surprising moments when the pull of our biology becomes evident, when love or fear collides with good sense, or when our attachment to an animal or wild place can’t be denied.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A WONDERFUL COLLECTION

  • By Tony on 12-10-12

An Excellent Collection of Short Stories

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

Reviewed: 03-04-13

Would you consider the audio edition of Birds of a Lesser Paradise to be better than the print version?

The audio was fantastic, but this is the kind of book I'd like to take a highlighter to and underscore a few of Bergman's wonderful turns of phrase.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the disfigured vet in the story "Saving Face."

Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

None stands out. They were all stellar.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Because it is short stories, it is suited to listening in small installments.

Any additional comments?

If you think you don't like short stories, try this book. It may just change your mind.

  • Hothouse Flower

  • By: Lucinda Riley
  • Narrated by: Beth Chalmers
  • Length: 17 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 493
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 453
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 453

As a child, Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park estate, where her grandfather tended the exotic flowers. So when a family tragedy strikes, Julia returns to the tranquility of Wharton Park and its hothouse. Recently inherited by charismatic Kit Crawford, the estate is undergoing renovation. This leads to the discovery of an old diary, prompting the pair to seek out Julia's grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed Wharton Park.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • what a lovely story

  • By Cindy on 03-24-15

Life's Too Short

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

Reviewed: 03-04-13

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I had high hopes for the book--so many of my favourite themes were promised; few, however, were delivered. The book's greatest lack was forward momentum. Lagging behind that was succinctness.

Would you ever listen to anything by Lucinda Riley again?

Her style is not to my liking, so no.

Would you be willing to try another one of Beth Chalmers’s performances?

Beth Chalmers has a talent for bringing characters to life. Her skill at regional accents and her dramatisation made it easy to picture the people. Unfortunately, some of her characters were grating. The sister of the protagonist, in particular, set my teeth on edge. I turned down the volume whenever her particular character was talking.

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

Time and time again, the motives behind even simple actions were stated and explained, giving the impression the author had little respect for her readers' intelligence. When I found myself involuntarily rolling my eyes and groaning aloud, I realised it was time to call it quits. On the positive side, I came away with a deeper appreciation of what critics and writing coaches mean when they use the descriptor "overwritten."

Any additional comments?

I had to give up on this one after several hours of listening, and it came down to a simple matter of trust. I lost all faith in the author's ability to get to the point.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Book of Lost Things

  • By: John Connolly
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,028
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,768
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,767

High in his attic bedroom, 12-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is alone, with only the books on his shelf for company.But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother, he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: "Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king."

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • For Those Who Enjoy Playing with Fairytales

  • By alison on 01-06-13

For Those Who Enjoy Playing with Fairytales

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-06-13

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is one of those books that appeal to a specific listener. If I know my friend has a fondness of fairytales and enjoys rather warped retellings, I'd suggest this book.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was satisfying in its resolution, but it was perhaps a little too "tidy" for a book that was "out there."

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

His agility with regional accents from the UK is admirable.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

David's delicate state after his mother's death was heartbreaking and disturbing. John Connolly did a great job engendering pity for the boy's plight, particularly in the scene at the psychiatrist's office when David has a meltdown.

Any additional comments?

The Crooked Man stands out as a particularly menacing bad guy. Towards the end of the story, the author pushed a little too hard with an overabundance of gory details and sickening anecdotes about the character's misdeeds. My finger hovered over the fast-forward button because the gratuitous detail became irritating. We already got it: he's a really bad dude.

The Book of Lost Things portrays the healing power of stories and books.

88 of 90 people found this review helpful

  • The Blood of Flowers

  • By: Anita Amirrezvani
  • Narrated by: Shohreh Aghdashloo
  • Length: 13 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,322
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,676
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,669

In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. When her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Top 5 on my lifelong list

  • By Cheryl on 09-14-07

An Education and a Delight

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

Reviewed: 12-04-12

What did you love best about The Blood of Flowers?

Learning about carpet design and getting a detailed peek into a world I knew nothing of was a privilege. The descriptions of the food, the customs, and clothing were fascinating.

What did you like best about this story?

The author, Anita Amirrezvani, artfully spins a plot that sucks the reader in. The conflict is gripping as the protagonist's fate unfolds. Adding to the pleasure of the story are the sumptuous details about the era. The bathing rituals of women. the banquets, the intricate patterns of rugs, the silk finery of the rich and powerful colour in a culture and time that is faint in the minds of many western readers.

Which character – as performed by Shohreh Aghdashloo – was your favorite?

The main character, an unnamed girl, was brought to life. Shohreh Aghdashloo's husky voice is compelling, and once I adjusted to her lush accent, I was totally entranced by her reading. I believe she must be a native speaker of Farsi, so it was a treat to hear the proper pronunciation of words and places. In particular, the exclamations of surprise and delight--"Voy!" stuck with me.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I am surprised that none of the reviews I read prior to reading the book mentioned that a solid portion of the book was about the main character's sexual awakening. Discussing this in too much detail would spoil the plot, which is probably the reason for this oversight. Indeed, I squirmed as I read about the initial sexual situation she found herself in. To my western mindset and sensibilities, it smacked of child abuse--she was a 15-year-old and the man was older. Her lack of power--the total inability to dissent--troubled me. That she wasn't repelled by what was happening to her was hard for me to accept. I don't, however, see this as a problem with the writing; it was more of a "TILT" due to cultural constructs.

Any additional comments?

The Blood of Flowers is as rich with detail as it is thick with tension. A satisfying resolution makes it an enjoyable and educational experience.