Sunday, 2 June 2013

I've got to share this brilliant audiobook

I love my audiobooks. They make many an hour of dreary bus commuting into an exciting adventure, particularly over the last week or so when I have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Set around the London tube map, Neverwhere is the fantastic story of ordinary Londoner Richard Mayhew. Having stopped to help an injured homeless girl, he finds himself made invisible to the normal London above and sucked into the world of London below. A frightening place of Black Friars and Angels, Ratspeakers and Assassins, the Court of a Medieval Earl and a girl who can open any door with just the power of her mind. Richard must stay alive long enough for Door to find the people behind the murder of her family. Then he might just be able to come home. The story is an amazing feat of imagination with innumerable I-didn't-see-that-coming moments. I found myself missing Richard and Door, Hunter and the Marquis when I wasn't listening to their tale and actually wishing myself back onto a Stagecoach bus so they could continue their journey! Gaiman writes well for realistic female characters and I do appreciate that, in his stories, women are rarely just adornments to male storylines. Indeed, in Neverwhere, the traditional male-female dynamic is almost totally reversed through Door and Richard.

Neverwhere is the fourth Neil Gaiman book I've listened to and he is definitely one of my favourite authors. I also love that he is an excellent narrator. Hearing an author read their own work means you know you're getting exactly the emphasis and tone they meant all the time but, of course, not all authors are good narrators so it doesn't always work out well. My first Gaiman audio was Anansi Boys read by Lenny Henry and I followed this a few months later with Coraline read by Dawn French. Both were entertaining but I don't expect I'll repeat them. I loved Stardust which is a wonderful modern fairytale written in a beautiful old-fashioned style. It is definitely an adult book and I was captivated from start to finish. This is one I will seek out again in a few years when I've forgotten enough of the storyline to make it fresh again. Fortunately, all my audiobooks are kept on Audible so it will just be a question of searching rather than re-purchasing. The Graveyard Book started my 2013. It's fun and I enjoyed it, but as it is aimed at older children, it doesn't get as dark as Stardust or, indeed, Neverwhere. And I do like darkness in a story.

If you're looking for a book to read or hear soon, I highly recommend Neverwhere. I'm rationing my Gaiman listening because I'm sure he can only write at a certain speed. His back catalogue is quite numerous but I'd hate to have heard them all and not have another to be looking forward to. Plus it would be awful to hear too many together and become - dare I say it - bored! So I shall turn to other authors for a few weeks and then perhaps attempt the mammoth 19 hour long American Gods.

I have an Audible membership which, for me, is great value because I normally download at least two audiobooks each month. They often have three-for-two offers and there is a tremendous variety of books now available. +Audible.co.uk is part of +Amazon.co.uk . I used to listen from my trusty SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 4GB MP3 Player which I had for about four years. I've finally managed to knacker the spring on the clip though and then the buttons wore out, so when replacing my laptop I took the plunge and bought a basic Kindle Fire HD. I am on my third set of headphones. My first, a pair of Sony Mini/Lightweight Headphones had nice sound but the foam pads wore through quickly and I found I needed to wear them under hats to keep the phones secure while walking around. I then got a pair of £4.99 Karrimor Band Earphones which are bright pink! The sound quality isn't great but they certainly stay put and, for the price, I was very happy with them. I still use them when running but have recently inherited my Mum's Skullcandy Lowrider Headphones for everyday wear. They're gold! Very bling and totally not the sort of thing I would have bought for myself. However, they're comfortable and the sound quality is excellent. Probably compared to properly expensive headphones they wouldn't hold up, but I really like them.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Neil Gaiman / Fantasy / Books from England

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