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akaGracie

AUSTIN, TX, United States
  • 18
  • reviews
  • 14
  • helpful votes
  • 497
  • ratings
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem

  • By: Joan Didion
  • Narrated by: Diane Keaton
  • Length: 6 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 830
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 764
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 754

Universally acclaimed from the time it was first published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been admired for decades as a stylistic masterpiece. Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton ( Annie Hall, The Family Stone) performs these classic essays, including the title piece, which will transport the listener back to a unique time and place: the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the neighborhood’s heyday as a countercultural center.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Diane Keaton doesn't read this book very well

  • By The Companion on 09-28-15

Great book ruined by reader

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

Reviewed: 05-27-18

I’ve read this book at least three times (starting with its initial publication) and thought I might enjoy it even more if Diane Keaton, a favorite actress, read it to me - but I was wrong. Regrettably, Ms Keaton is a terrible reader. I’ve deleted and returned this audiobook. Note: do read it in print, though, because it’s excellent.

  • Beowulf

  • By: Seamus Heaney
  • Narrated by: Seamus Heaney
  • Length: 2 hrs and 13 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 756
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 559
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 544

New York Times best seller and Whitebread Book of the Year, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney's new translation of Beowulf comes to life in this gripping audio. Heaney's performance reminds us that Beowulf, written near the turn of another millennium, was intended to be heard not read.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Why, oh, why is it abridged?

  • By Tad Davis on 09-25-08

A Wonderful Translation Brought Alive

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

Who better to read Seamus Heaney's magical translation of Beowulf than Seamus Heaney? I believed in him from the beginning, when he said in his beautiful voice, "That was one good king."

Way back in the last century, I majored in English Lit - but I never read Beowulf (how is that possible? I didn't read The Canterbury Tales then, either, but I did read lots of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy, so there's that). As soon as Mr Heaney's translation came out I bought it, and carried it around with me as some sort of proof (to myself) that I was a real English major. I read it over quickly, then slowly, and then I tried convincing everyone else that they should read it, too. In fact, it was my choice for my book group - they humored me but then we went back to more recent history such as The Metaphysical Club and Paris 1919, interesting and well-written, but nowhere near as stirring as Beowulf.

Beowulf is meant to be heard. It's like Joyce's Ulysses in that regard (Jim Norton's is the version to listen to), and Alice Oswald's Memorial: A Version of Homer's Iliad (narrated by Mark Ashby). I can also recommend two versions of The Canterbury Tales: The Retelling by Peter Ackroyd and the Blackstone Audio version.

This isn't a book just for English majors - it's a book for everyone who likes a gripping story with great heart. That we have the opportunity to hear Seamus Heaney himself read his translation is a gift.

I rated this all 5s because it's a masterpiece everyone should have the opportunity to hear.

  • Intuition

  • By: Allegra Goodman
  • Narrated by: Kathe Mazur
  • Length: 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 29

Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are codirectors of a lab at the Philpott Institute dedicated to cancer research and desperately in need of a grant. Both mentors and supervisors of their young postdoctoral proteges, Glass and Mendelssohn demand dedication and obedience in a competitive environment where funding is scarce and results elusive.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing

  • By Baby on 10-11-06

Allegra Goodman is a Genius

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

How does she do it? I've read this book, and listened to it twice, and I still don't know how Allegra Goodman made this work.

Each time I return to it, I enjoy the story, I like the characters, I want to be part of the world depicted here - but the mystery at its heart (what actually happened in the lab) evades me again. I think one thing happened but apparently it didn't.

After three experiences, though, I will return to it again early in 2017 and once again I know I will be so pulled into the story that I won't notice the writer's skill until it's over and I'm once again wondering how it all worked.

Kathe Mazur's beautiful performance made this audio version even more pleasurable than the physical book.

Now if only someone would record Kaaterskill Falls and The Family Markowitz, and do a better recording of The Cookbook Collector - but I can definitely recommend them in book form.

  • Persuasion

  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: Flo Gibson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 161
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 70

Anne Elliott foolishly let true love slip through her fingers when she allowed herself to be persuaded that the man she adored was an unacceptable candidate for marriage. Now, after years of carrying a torch, Anne finds herself confronted by the dashing Wentworth, newly returned from years at sea. In this, her final novel, Jane Austen savagely skewers the rigid social sensibilities of the day with brilliant satire.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A Difficult Listen

  • By Sheri C on 06-17-05

My favorite Jane Austen

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

Spoiler Alert: The story of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth is one of the great love stories of all time. Yes, dear reader, they do end up together - but there were times I despaired of it.

I listen to this book every year, as I do Emma, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility. Northanger Abbey is fine, but not to my taste, and I cannot stand that prig Fanny Price so I've read it only a few times (on the other hand, the 1999 production of Mansfield Park with Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Hugh Bonneville, and Frances O'Connor as a less-insipid-than-usual Fanny is well worth watching). I digress.

What I love most about Persuasion is that it's a love story about more mature people of real character who have experienced loss but remained steadfast. The comeuppance of various others is especially satisfying, too (every time I read it I am again happy with the end to Mrs Cole's machinations). Anne is no flighty Emma or Marianne; she's a complex woman. Frederick is an honorable man who loves deeply.

I could go on at length, but you probably already know the story and have your own ideas about it. The question that remains is: which narrator is best?

For me, the answer here, as often happens, is Flo Gibson. I know she's not to everyone's taste, but her clear, no-nonsense voice is a favorite. She doesn't over-emote; she doesn't have a voice for every single character; she doesn't swoop and trill - she just reads the book as if she knows it well and wants to share it with you. For me, that's what a professional reader does.

Rated 5 for story, 5 for performance, 5 overall because it's one of my all-time favorites.

(Also, do look for the 1995 production of Persuasion, starring Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, with Susan Fleetwood, Corin Redgrave as the perfect Sir Walter Elliot of Elliot Hall, and Sophie Thompson - who brings Mary Musgrove to hilarious life. I watch it every year, too.)

  • Bruno, Chief of Police

  • By: Martin Walker
  • Narrated by: Robert Ian MacKenzie
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 848
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 733
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 729

Bruno is a former soldier who has embraced the pleasures and slow rhythms of country life - living in his restored shepherd's cottage; patronizing the weekly market; sparring with, and basically ignoring, the European Union bureaucrats from Brussels. He has a gun but never wears it; he has the power to arrest but never uses it. But then the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army changes everything and galvanizes Bruno's attention.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • High hopes for this series!

  • By Sandra on 09-14-14

I'm ready to move to Perigord!

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

Another reviewer compares Bruno to Inspector Gamache, and I think that's apt. There's less of the mystical here, though (Three Pines is the sort of place one knows could never really exist; Saint Denis seems more like a possibility in a mirror world to this one). And the food - oh, the food - is even better than that served in the Three Pines bistro! The mystery in this book seemed unlikely; the characters were somehow unreal; the situations felt like set pieces; but it's the food & drink I'll remember. This was the first in a series, and I enjoyed it enough that I bought the second. If the characters are more fleshed-out, and the mystery more believable, this could be a good series. As for the narrator: clarity of speech matters more to me than authentic accents or great acting (although poor accents are problematic & over-acting is distracting), and I found Robert Ian MacKenzie a pleasure to listen to.

  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late

  • A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Harry Kemelman
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 520
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 482
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 484

Young and unassuming Rabbi David Small sorts through puzzling pieces of mysteries with logic straight from the Talmud. In Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, a shocking discovery on the temple grounds threatens to ruin both the diligent rabbi and the entire Jewish community at Barnard’s Crossing. Unaware that his congregation is grumbling about his rumpled appearance and absent-minded manner, Rabbi Small spends long hours poring over scholarly books.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I slept late too, because i was up late listening.

  • By DARBY KERN on 12-19-12

Rabbi Small is a treasure

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

The Rabbi Small books aren't great literature, but the stories are a pleasure to listen to and even a source of solace. I remember when these came out originally; I was a teenager and far too sophisticated for this sort of book. When I found them again 30 years later, I remembered my (Episcopalian) grandmother had enjoyed them for the light mysteries & the discussion of various religious practices, and that encouraged me to read a few of them. Now I'm a bit older than my grandmother was when she read them, and I find I enjoy them even more than I thought I might. In fact, as soon as I finished this book, I bought the next in the series and plan to listen to it tomorrow night. George Guidall is the perfect narrator for Harry Kemelman's books: he has a soothing, pleasant, clear voice that one wants to listen to on a rainy night while sipping hot tea.

  • Last Writes

  • By: Catherine Aird
  • Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

Last Writes is a mischievously clever compendium of 22 short stories from the pen of classic crime author Catherine Aird. Not only do her much-loved police duo, Detective Inspector Christopher Sloan and Detective Constable William Crosby, feature, but there's also a list of new characters, including the mysterious Malcolm Venables of the Secret Service. Full of delicious twists and turns, Last Writes is a collection to curl up with and savour.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Catherine Aird writes with intelligence & wit

  • By akaGracie on 12-07-16

Catherine Aird writes with intelligence & wit

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

If only all the C.D. Sloan books were available on Audible - and if only all were read by Robin Bailey! Failing that, it's a pleasure to listen to Gordon Griffin read some new (to me) short stories by the ever-inventive Catherine Aird. These are classic mysteries, always fair and even slyly funny. Now, please, let's have more of Ms Aird's stories available on Audible! (NOTE: I give books 4 stars when I know I'll re-read/re-listen to them; I read the book nearly 2 years ago & just listened to it this week. This is a book that is even better listened-to)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Before Lunch

  • By: Angela Thirkell
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58

Published in 1939, Before Lunch is a portrait of the charming English community of "Barsetshire." When the erection of a tea shop and garage threatens to spoil the bovine pastures of Pooker's Piece, Lady Bond and Lord Pomfret unite with the Middletons and the Stoners to stop it. In the meantime, the young and the not-so-young all fall in love - though not always with the right person - and sort out their affairs in a hilarious welter of cross-purposes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • How Does a Body Get Into These Kinds of Scrapes?

  • By Joseph R on 08-22-09

Angela Thirkell + Nadia May = Heaven

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

Reviewed: 12-07-16

One of my favorite writers, read by one of my favorite readers! Angela Thirkell's work is always charming and soothing: one knows what to expect from her books. Especially in trying times, Ms Thirkell is a witty and intelligent source of comfort. Nadia May is a professional: her voice is clear, her reading is never over-the-top; she always sounds as if she knows and enjoys sharing the book she's reading. My only regret is that Ms May hasn't recorded every one of Ms Thirkell's Barsetshire books.

  • Ulysses, Volume 1

  • Episodes 1-3
  • By: James Joyce
  • Narrated by: Jim Norton
  • Length: 1 hr and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 176
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 45

Ulysses is regarded by many as the single most important novel of the 20th century. It tells the story of one day in Dublin, 16 June 1904, largely through the eyes of Stephen Dedalus (Joyce's alter ego from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman. Both begin a normal day, and both set off on a journey around the streets of Dublin, which eventually brings them into contact with one another.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This book shouldn't be

  • By Timothy on 03-13-05

The best version of Ulysses

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

Reviewed: 12-08-14

I've wanted to read Ulysses for a long time, and have owned this version for a few years, but just couldn't get into it until this year. Here's how I did it: First, I finally started listening to this absolutely brilliantly performed work read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan. These readers make the words come alive, and the production is impeccable. After listening to each chapter, I read the print version. Then, I watched the Great Courses class on each chapter, taught by Prof James Heffernan. His presentation, combined with the beautifully read audiobook, made Ulysses an absolute pleasure - not easy, mind you, but much more intelligible and satisfying. Not everyone will want to put in that much effort, of course, and you can get a great deal out of just listening to Mr Norton and Ms Riordan (I listened to Molly's soliloquy three times just because it was performed so beautifully).

  • Flying Shoes

  • By: Lisa Howorth
  • Narrated by: Debra Winger
  • Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 23

Mary Byrd Thornton could understand how a reporter couldn' t resist the story: a nine-year-old boy sexually molested and killed on Mother's Day, 1966. A suspect to whom nothing would stick. A neighborhood riddled with secrets. No one, especially the bungling or complicit authorities, had been able to solve the crime. Now, 30 years later, the reporter' s call will reel a reluctant Mary Byrd from Mississippi back to Virginia where she must confront her family - and, once again, the murder's irremovable stain of tragedy.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good Story Spoiled by Narrator

  • By akaGracie on 09-26-14

Good Story Spoiled by Narrator

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

Reviewed: 09-26-14

Lisa Howorth's Flying Shoes is interesting - even absorbing in parts. Clearly, she is a very talented writer with a good story to tell. Sadly, Debra Winger's reading spoiled it for me. The character of Mary Byrd frequently sounded whiny in this recording, reminding me of the less attractive aspects of the characters Ms Winger played in Urban Cowboy and Terms of Endearment. Given her skilled performances in those parts, I can understand why the publisher thought Ms Winger would be a good choice for the narrator, but it was a mistake in this instance. To determine whether it was the character of Mary Byrd as written or the performance that was off-putting, I read part of the book in print. The character's voice was far less appealing in this recorded version than in the written work. I recommend the book, but not this recording.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful