LISTENER

Gail N.

  • 123
  • reviews
  • 269
  • helpful votes
  • 332
  • ratings
  • The White Mirror

  • A Mystery
  • By: Elsa Hart
  • Narrated by: David Shih
  • Length: 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37

In The White Mirror, Li Du, an imperial librarian and former exile in 18th-century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when a detour brings them to a valley hidden between mountain passes. On the icy planks of a wooden bridge, a monk sits in contemplation. Closer inspection reveals that the monk is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted wound. His robes are rent, revealing a strange symbol painted on his chest.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • another enjoyable murder mystery from Elsa Hart

  • By PeterK on 10-05-17

Spellbinding and satisfying

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

Reviewed: 04-14-19

I have listened to this book twice. The second time, about 2 years after the first, was more enjoyable. It is a complicated story and requires concentration. This experiences convinces me that the listener's frame of mind influences how a book is received.

The narrator is pitch perfect. His voice is soothing and mysterious at the same time. The prose is magical, at times so vivid it seems like I was looking a painting. And painting is part of the story. The saga of Li Du, the librarian from the Imperial Library in the Forbidden City, continues. He is traveling after his last adventure in the mountains between China, Tibet, and India. It is cold and snow has fallen. Just the kind of place for a magical story.

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few

  • By: Becky Chambers
  • Narrated by: Rachel Dulude
  • Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 410
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 384
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 384

Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way. But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. As many Exodans leave for alien cities or terrestrial colonies, those who remain are left to ponder their own lives and futures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Science Fiction

  • By Daniel Cascaddan on 10-14-18

Shopping malls on an alien planet

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

Reviewed: 04-09-19

I could not believe how bad the writing is. The humans, who had to leave earth because they destroyed the planet, have gone to another galaxy and opened a lot of shops. In fact working in these shops is a major occupation. Another career is someone who takes inventory. Another is some kind of a town clerk who registers, and also celebrates, births. There are the most ridiculous types of devices which we now call cell phones, but instead of one powerful device, you have a vox or a scribd or you get feeds of information. There is this kind of touchy feely quality to the writing which made me cringe. The reader is pretty terrible too. I gave up after chapter 7.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Raven Tower

  • By: Ann Leckie
  • Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh
  • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 242
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 228
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229

For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven's Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven's watch, the city flourishes. But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By CCCii on 03-04-19

The story did not engage my interest

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

Reviewed: 03-26-19

The writing was wooden and the story did not engage my interest. It seemed to go nowhere. The reader did not improve things and read in a tedious monotone. I gave up after about 1 hour.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • This Rough Magic

  • By: Mary Stewart
  • Narrated by: Helen Johns
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 111
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110

The pioneer of romantic suspense, Mary Stewart leads her listeners on a thrilling journey to a Mediterranean island paradise in this tale of mystery, murder and intrigue, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Barbara Pym. Lucy Waring, a young, out-of-work actress from London, leaps at the chance to visit her sister for a summer on the island paradise of Corfu, and what's more, a famous but reclusive actor is staying in a villa nearby. But Lucy's hopes for rest and romance are shattered when a body washes up on the beach and she finds herself swept up in a chilling chain of events.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • PERFECT BEACH READ, rediscovered

  • By Susan on 08-02-18

Lightweight and dated

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

Reviewed: 03-19-19

This cold war drama/mystery wrapped up in the pretty trappings of a holiday on Corfu, published in 1965, has not stood up well. It needed some serious editing as the last quarter goes on interminably, even at 3x listening speed. Had it been an 8 hour listen, had the heroine had the brains to match her daring, and had the end brought some satisfaction, it could have been saved from melodrama and absurdity. As it is, I thought it deserved 3 stars for an average listen since your mind can wander, you can relax and not really miss anything. The reader is pretty good but her Greek accent sounds Spanish. The literary references are not too obscure and add some interest. The locale and the dolphin are by far the high points. Ms. Stewart evidently spent time on Corfu. Not recommended but not panned either if you cannot find something more to your liking.

  • Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy

  • By: Padraic Colum
  • Narrated by: Sean Pratt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 15

The Iliad and The Odyssey are retold in a glorious saga of courage and magical adventure. Written in a manner that will delight both young and old, this is a great way to learn the immortal epics of Homer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Spell binding!

  • By Susan on 01-13-09

Abridged version of Homer's Odyssey

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

Reviewed: 03-17-19

This abridged version of Homer's "Odyssey", translated into contemporary English prose, is disappointing. All the interesting female characters have been edited out. We barely see Penelope. The female characters are what make the story so compelling. Since antiquity scholars have speculated that the Odyssey may have been written by a woman since, unlike the "Iliad", so many female characters have significant and interesting roles: Penelope, Helen, Circe, Calypso, Eurycleia, Athena, Nausicaa, Arete, and Ino. If you are interested in novels which use Homer as a starting point, I recommend reading "Circe" by Madeline Miller and "Homer's Daughter" by Robert Graves which are both based on the "Odyssey, and also "The Silence of the Girls" by Pat Barker which is based on the "Iliad". The narrator's voice is pleasant but rather monotonous and gives the story a ponderous and weighty feel. If you want to listen to (or read) a simply brilliant translation of the "Odyssey", then try Emily Wilson's translation. Her introduction and translator's notes are very helpful and insightful. This work pales by comparison.

  • Hild

  • A Novel
  • By: Nicola Griffith
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 23 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 323
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 299
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 302

A brilliant, lush, sweeping historical novel about the rise of the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages: Hild. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods are struggling, their priests worrying. Hild is the king's youngest niece, and she has a glimmering mind and a natural, noble authority. She will become a fascinating woman and one of the pivotal figures of the Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I'd give it 10 stars if I could

  • By David on 03-27-14

The correct title: St. Hilda of Whitby

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

Reviewed: 03-17-19

This book starts out well. I did not mind the confusing names and magical realism. Although loosely based on early British history, I considered this a world-building fantasy novel featuring a precocious and engaging child who will grow into a powerful woman. The prose is almost poetry, magical and alliterative and kept me engaged and rather spell bound UNTIL I realized it was about the life of a Christian saint in early Britain. So I listened to about 1/3 of the book before deciding not to continue.

There is little in the first third to reveal where the book is ultimately headed and certainly nothing in the description provided by Audible to clue me in. But there were little warning signs. I decided to hope that the pagan tradition of Ireland and Britain, which gave women a great deal of power and sexual freedom, would be the main religious theme. This would have been so much more interesting with an alternate reality theme. I was misled. The book should have been titled St. Hilda of Whitby. Then I would have known not to invest any of my time in it.

The author, Nicola Griffith, is a self-identified feminist, as am I. I agree that she has created a strong and powerful character in Hild. But for such a person to aid in building an organization which has suppressed women since its founding, burned them at the stake, refused to allow them full and equal status in its institutional structures, and undertakes to refuse the human rights of women throughout the world is disappointing and left me feeling betrayed, both by the main character and the author. Although Hild helps to turn the people of Britain into Christians, I would feel equally displeased if she were converting them to any of the other two major Abrahamic religions: Judaism (the original) and Islam. All 3 currently deny full human rights to women. The pretext is somehow that Hild wants to teach people to read and supposedly only Christianity provides a way to this knowledge. In reality the Romans were literate millennia before they lost their empire which crumbled more from within than from without as sadly it appears we in the west are doing now, perhaps in part because of their adoption of Christianity. The best roads in Britain were built by Romans, as were water works and public buildings. These lasted for centuries after the Romans decided that Britain was not worth the effort and left.

  • The Farthest Shore

  • The Earthsea Cycle, Book 3
  • By: Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Narrated by: Rob Inglis
  • Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,020
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 921
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 921

Return to Earthsea with Ged, the brash young wizard who survived the enchanted labyrinth of The Tombs of Atuan. In the third episode of this brilliant fantasy saga, a much older Ged sets off on a harrowing quest for the source of a terrible darkness that is taking the magic out of Earthsea.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The most poignantly esoteric of fantasy writers, sailing with the full force of the mage-winds of Earthsea!

  • By Uther on 03-04-17

Dull, uninteresting, and predictable

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

Reviewed: 03-11-19

Having enjoyed the previous novel in this series quite a lot, I was really looking forward to this one. "The Tombs of Atuan" is original and creative, while "The Farthest Shore" follows a familiar trope of a quest of good against evil and is predictable and uninteresting. The characters are one dimensional and unbelievable. Perhaps Ms. Le Guin got too wrapped up in the notion of a coming of age for the young fellow traveler who accompanies the wizard on his quest and forgot to make the story entertaining. I did listen to the whole thing hoping for some redeeming idea but never found it. The narrator only added to the leaden feel of this boring listen. Even on 3x speed it could not be over soon enough for me.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Tombs of Atuan

  • The Earthsea Cycle, Book 2
  • By: Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Narrated by: Rob Inglis
  • Length: 5 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,465
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,332
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,326

A bold young wizard enters the labyrinth of the sacred Tombs of Atuan to steal the magical ring of Erreth-Akbe. Instead, he finds an unhappy priestess in need of a hero to save her.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • In Some Ways, the Best of the Original Trilogy

  • By Troy on 06-22-14

An atmospheric and uplifting tale

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

Reviewed: 03-11-19

Having found "The Wizard of Earthsea" uninteresting and predictable, I was pleasantly surprised by the uplifting story of a girl who avoids her fate as a slave of a heartless god culture and breaks free by dint of her intelligence and courage. The description of the caves is ominous and realistic. The other characters are one dimensional but work well in this story. The narrator is a bit too heavy handed. I think a female narrator would have been a better choice since the wizard only plays a small part while the story centers on the heroine, Arha. I believe that George Martin based his character, Arya from "A Song of Ice and Fire", on Arha. Instead of "Nameless Ones" representing the dark gods of the caves, he created the "Faceless Ones". Many fantasy authors borrow freely from one another, and perhaps Ms. Le Guin considered this a tribute rather than obvious plagiarism.

In this tale, the Wizard of the previous novel in the series returns in search of a part of a ring! (As I was saying, fantasy authors borrow from each other freely.) Arha and the Wizard work together well and each helps the other. However, where the book disappoints is in the way that the heroine never comes into her full power as a woman and is treated merely as a stepping stone for the Wizard. Ms. Le Guin, who thought of herself as a feminist, admits that she portrayed women poorly in this series. She says she had trouble thinking of a woman as a wizard! In any case, for most of the story Arha won my heart and I am simply saddened that Ms. Le Guin could not take Arha's story further.

  • Early Riser

  • A Novel
  • By: Jasper Fforde
  • Narrated by: Thomas Hunt
  • Length: 15 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 197
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 180
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 180

Every Winter, the human population hibernates. Your name is Charlie Worthing, and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artifact borne of the sleeping mind. When the dreams start to kill people, it's unsettling. When you get the dreams, too, it's weird. When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A different book from Jasper Fforde

  • By Marilyn Armstrong on 02-16-19

Hilariously funny at time, but repetitive

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

Reviewed: 03-01-19

This is a highly original novel. At times, it was hilariously funny, as in the phrase "hard of thinking". But it was ultimately so depressing and repetitive, I just gave up on it. Maybe if I had lived in Wales, it might have been funnier. Many of the jokes seem to be gently making fun of modern day Welsh culture and customs. Or even British culture overall. Or maybe if it had been edited and streamlined to better hold one's interest. In any case, do not let my review deter you. It just wasn't something I could get into.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Cinnamon and Gunpowder

  • A Novel
  • By: Eli Brown
  • Narrated by: James Langton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 153
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 138
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 139

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail. To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • a win for me

  • By Erin - Audible on 06-26-13

Intelligent, witty, philosophical and entertaining

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

Reviewed: 02-17-19

I cannot praise this book highly enough. The story is so original and exciting - it kept me spellbound for hours and I was bereft to have to leave the magic web it wove when I finished. The great humanity of the characters, their depth, creativity and wit is a marvel. Of course, it is the creativity of the author, Eli Brown, which is the real marvel. Three cheers for Audible and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for publishing this unusual gem. I was cheering for the captain, chef and crew of the Flying Rose, as marvelously ethical a group of pirates who ever sailed the seas, as they took me along on their fabulous quest. The selfish depravity of the capitalists is exposed. Organized religion is right and truly mocked. And the cleverness of the plot, which never seems contrived, was such a joy. That it does not have more readers and more 5 star reviews is a wonder. I had this book in my wish list for over a year. I came to it because I am a great fan of the reader, James Langton, who does the book justice.

I truly hope that Eli Brown will collect and publish his short stories and give us another novel before too long. This is one of the best listens ever! I am so glad I decided to listen. You will be too!