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Bethann McLaren

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 25
  • reviews
  • 34
  • helpful votes
  • 168
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  • Lincoln in the Bardo

  • A Novel
  • By: George Saunders
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and others
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,548
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,080
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,043

The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented. February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A Mixed Bag

  • By Thomas More on 02-24-17

Not a book for audio listening

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

Reviewed: 09-03-17

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

How is it possible to give the performance 5 stars and the story 3...but only 2 overall? This book is not intended to be experienced audibly, despite the producer's best effort. They have a stacked cast and the narrators are all top class. Certainly, it would have been worst without such excellent narrators. They did help to differentiate the many different characters, but it just wasn't enough, and through no fault of theirs. I might have enjoyed the story more had I read it on the page, which I may have to go back and do. Without this visual markers of text, it was very difficult to follow what is going on, and this is already a book that isn't especially linear and does a lot of jumping around the plot and between characters.

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

No really sure, because I just didn't get it due to the audible format. There were some great bits and pieces that I loved, but I couldn't have a full and proper reaction due to the way listening to it affects the understanding of the novel.

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

Obviously David Sedaris is amazing! I've listened to all of his books, self-narrated and think the experience is far better than on page, simple because you get to experience the essays through his voice, tone and inflections.

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

Frustration! Don't listen to this on audible, I beg you! Get the hardcopy book and read it the old fashioned way. I'm a good listener and usually have no problem with slightly challenging audiobooks, but this one is an exception.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

  • A Novel
  • By: Gail Honeyman
  • Narrated by: Cathleen McCarron
  • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30,824
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 28,536
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28,434

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Close To Perfection--A Definite Thumbs Up!

  • By Kathy on 08-07-17

Beautiful and touching

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

Reviewed: 07-21-17

This story was a breath of fresh air! I was expecting to like it, I just wasn't expecting to like it this much. It's so original and well executed. The dialogue is fast paced and witty and the characters are all incredibly complex. To top it all off, the narration is superb. My father's family is from Glasgow and the beautiful accents reminded me of my grandparents, who have long since passed on. I didn't want the book to end. This is one of the few audiobooks I know already I'll be listening to again.

  • Jane Eyre

  • By: Charlotte Bronte
  • Narrated by: Thandie Newton
  • Length: 19 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 5,452
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5,071
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,058

Following Jane from her childhood as an orphan in Northern England through her experience as a governess at Thornfield Hall, Charlotte Brontë's Gothic classic is an early exploration of women's independence in the mid-19th century and the pervasive societal challenges women had to endure. At Thornfield, Jane meets the complex and mysterious Mr. Rochester, with whom she shares a complicated relationship that ultimately forces her to reconcile the conflicting passions of romantic love and religious piety.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect!!

  • By Amazon Customer on 04-21-16

Thandie Newton brings this classic life anew!

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

Reviewed: 06-01-17

I've read (and listened to) Jane Eyre many times before, but Newton's new reading of the book is really incredible. She has an incredible pleasant voice and is also to do all the different voices and accents with perfect believability but none of the melodrama that so often plagues audiobooks. An absolute treat and highly recommended!

  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames

  • By: David Sedaris
  • Narrated by: David Sedaris
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,412
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,483
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,464

Once again, David Sedaris brings together a collection of essays so uproariously funny and profoundly moving that his legions of fans will fall for him all over again. He tests the limits of love when Hugh lances a boil from his backside, and pushes the boundaries of laziness when, finding the water shut off in his house in Normandy, he looks to the water in a vase of fresh cut flowers to fill the coffee machine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't Start with this One

  • By Elvie on 04-28-16

So much smoking!

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

Reviewed: 09-22-16

As usual, David Sedaris's wisdom and wit are spot-on and oh-so-refreshing compared to the kind of thing that is usually churned out. That said, I found the odd fixation on smoking a little much. That isn't to say the stories weren't excellent, they were just one after the other. Had each bit been mixed into a different collection of stories I would have thoroughly enjoyed them, but I felt a bit saturated by the time I finished the audiobook.

  • The Nightingale

  • By: Kristin Hannah
  • Narrated by: Polly Stone
  • Length: 17 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 48,350
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 43,814
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 43,742

Audie Award, Fiction, 2016. From the number-one New York Times bestselling author comes Kristin Hannah’s next novel. It is an epic love story and family drama set at the dawn of World War II. She is the author of twenty-one novels. Her previous novels include Home Front, Night Road, Firefly Lane, Fly Away, and Winter Garden.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Heroic & Harrowing Work Of Fiction

  • By Sara on 08-21-15

Weak characterization

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

Reviewed: 12-24-15

This book is severely handicapped by the flat characterization of the central figures. Writing then into a horrific time in history does not make up for their one-dimensional quality. I never felt like these characters were real people. Writing about things like this can be difficult. I for one feel taken advantage of as a reader when the characters themselves are uninteresting but because they are placed in an indescribably terrible time, I feel guilty for not being more moved by their plights. I felt moved thinking that such things have happened and continue to happen to real people, in the real world, but these characters felt artificial throughout the entire book for me. I often feel that writing about such sensitive subjects - subjects that have already been written about numerous times in literature and non-fiction, often by actual survivors - is gratuitous in a way. It is using a tragedy to create a novel and although good literature is often born of these circumstances, that's not always the case. The WWII setting and the heart-wrenching occurrences in real life and in the novel, are not enough to make the Nightingale a good book.

  • Anna Karenina

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: David Horovitch
  • Length: 38 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,169
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,814
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,808

Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful story, amazing narration

  • By Marcus Vorwaller on 08-02-08

Exceptional narration

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

Reviewed: 04-02-15

I try not to review classic literature in Audible as there are plenty of reviews out their for potential readers to peruse. I do think it's important to review the narration as that can make or break even the most wonderful novel.

David Horovitch is one of the best! His voice is measured without being monotonous and he infuses just the right amount of emotion into the text, without falling prey to melodrama. He only narrates a few novels on Audible and most of them are classics so it is my intention to immediately download and listen to all of these books. After nearly 40 hours with his voice in my head, I would sorely miss his company.

  • Pure Voice Audio Bible - King James Version, KJV: Complete Bible

  • By: Zondervan
  • Narrated by: Rene Auberjonois, Scott Brick, LeVar Burton, and others
  • Length: 87 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 121
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94

The complete King James Version Bible in a pure voice audio format: each book of the Bible is read to you one voice at a time. Clear and uncluttered, this Bible speaks plainly, and making it easier for you to enter into God’s Word. Acclaimed audiobook readers speak new life to the cherished and revered King James Version of the Bible, including Scott Brick, Edward Herrmann, John Rubinstein, LeVar Burton, Theodore Bikel, Samantha Eggar, Robert Forster, Kristoffer Tabori, Juliet Mills, and more.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just the word

  • By Arthur on 06-23-13

Who is reading what?

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

Reviewed: 03-24-15

Any additional comments?

My biggest issue with this audio version of the KJV Bible is not with the actual narration itself; I enjoyed the multiple narrators, each of whom brought something unique and interesting to the table. I was mostly annoyed by the fact that I never knew who was reading what book in the Bible! As far as I can see, the PDF only tells you what books are being read in what parts (which IS helpful, by the way, although it doesn't include a reference to the exact chapter/minute each book can be found at). Unless I've missed something, we know the narrators' various identities, but we have to guess who is reading what. A minor issue overall, but still irritating.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • A Christmas Carol [Audio Connoisseur Version]

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 3 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 87

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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Prefer this to the other version I own

  • By Mary on 12-22-09

Little Fan's voicing is the stuff of nightmares

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

Reviewed: 12-10-14

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.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Awakening

  • By: Kate Chopin
  • Narrated by: Kim Basinger
  • Length: 5 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 330
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 287
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 277

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Like Seeing a Movie with Your Eyes Closed

  • By Deborah Jacob on 05-05-13

Passionless narration a real buzz kill

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

Reviewed: 12-10-14

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 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Horse and His Boy

  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • By: C.S. Lewis
  • Narrated by: Alex Jennings
  • Length: 4 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,811
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,634
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,652

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great read

  • By CocoHunt on 03-02-16

Alex Jennings is one of my new favourite narrators

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

Reviewed: 04-04-14

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful