Gather Round the Sound: Holiday Stories from Beloved Authors and Great Performers Across the Globe
Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Listened to: December 5, 2018
Length: 1 hour 12 minutes
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
Audible’s 2017 holiday collection includes:
Zip Code 12345
This mini-documentary centers around a peculiar holiday tradition at General Electric’s headquarters in Schenectady, NY. For two decades, GE has been receiving thousands of letters from kids – children who think they’re reaching Santa Claus. And every year, a handful of GE employees give up their December lunchbreaks to respond to each and every letter.
An Aussie Night Before Christmas, by Yvonne Morrison, performed by Magda Szubanksi
This rollicking rewrite of the famous old poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas gives the original version a hilarious Aussie twist. Magda Szubanski, Australia’s most trusted personality, caries this incredibly fun romp. Kangaroos pulling the sleigh, a beer for Santa, and all the over-the-top Australian lingo, it’s everything you’d expect.
The Music Coming from the House, by Paulo Coehlo, performed by Daniel Frances-Berenson
In this magical story from the author of The Alchemist – the master of the modern parable – a disguised king visits a poor village, and what he sees through the window of a house changes his life, and those of the occupants.
The Signal-man, by Charles Dickens, performed by Simon Callow, Dan Starkey, and John Banks
For literature lovers, the holiday season needs a little Dickens. We dug up a story of his that you may not be familiar with, originally published in the Christmas edition of a Victorian short story periodical. Of course, ghosts are involved in this 19th century work told by Simon Callow (Outlander) and Dan Starkey (Dr. Who).
A Very Improvised Holiday Musical
What would the holidays be without some carols? Vern, a New York City-based improv troupe, performs a few improvised holiday songs
Gather Round the Sound was free on Audible and there was a good reason for that: It really did not need to be made into a compilation of short stories/performances. This one was a big miss for me. The best short was Zip Code 12345: I really enjoyed it and wish it had been expanded. If this had been the whole ‘book’ that would have been fine with me!
Apparently I am not a Dickens fan as The Signal-man wasn’t for me. When it was over I had no idea what had happened. Maybe it was the narrators with their accents that ruined it for me. The ‘musical chapters’ were also subpar. They were meant to be funny and entertaining, but were far from that.
I cannot recommend this compilation: I say listen to the first chapter Zip Code 12345 and skip the rest. I hate saying this, but it just did not deliver.
Author: Deborah Harkness
Published: September 18, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, a novel about what it takes to become a vampire.
On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.
Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor—the young employee at Sotheby’s whom Marcus has fallen for—is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both—forever.
A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time’s Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.
I love the All Souls Trilogy so much and when I found out that Harkness was writing another book, I geeked out in my brain. I fell in love with all these characters and to be able to spend more time with them was a dream come true. My only issue was the fact that half the book was written from Diana’s perspective, like the other books in the series. I guess it’s not really an issue, I was just surprised and I got over it very quickly. Harkness kept the tone and writing style consistent with the rest of the series and it really felt like I had just gone on a vacation and I came home and everything was exactly how I left it.
Everything great about the All Souls Trilogy can be found in Time’s Convert. Harkness has a grasp on history and combines it so well with storytelling that you actually believe all of this really happened. And getting a look into turning someone into a vampire and the culture within the vampire family was fascinating! It was so nice to learn Marcus’s story and I love him even more for it. And I’m not sure where to find Ysabeau . . . but I need her in my life cuz she’s classy and a badass! I think this is such a great addition to such an amazing saga and I absolutely recommend it to everyone!
Here is the link to my video review of the All Souls Trilogy: