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  • While My Eyes Were Closed

  • By: Linda Green
  • Narrated by: Emma Gregory, Maggie Mash, Gareth Bennett-Ryan
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,474
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,347
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,348

Dare you close your eyes for even a few seconds? One, two, three... Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to 100 during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter, Ella, is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Page turner

  • By Ms on 26-03-16

I did not see this coming!!!

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

Reviewed: 08-11-17

What a brilliantly different book!
I liked the idea of this book from the start. A kidnapped child with part of the tale told by the kidnapper sounded incredibly intriguing.
What I didn't see coming was how all the complex web structures of the plots slam so brilliantly together at the end.
Oh how heart wrenching it is for all the character to have and be experiencing all that they are. You move with every single one of their heartbeats.
You feel for the mother, the child and even the kidnapper!
So brilliantly written... I can't recommend it enough.

  • The Handmaid's Tale

  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Joanna David
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,026
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,686
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,688

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed . If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A favourite

  • By Raison on 10-11-13

A very interesting book that makes you think

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

Reviewed: 08-11-17

I felt this book was very interesting as it placed you into a time and place that doesn't exist but you know could.
The premise of the world was very believable and you could feel the pain in so many people because of their position and circumstances... and I don't just mean the Handmaids.
I found there to be many unanswered questions that felt like plot holes rather than simply elements where your own conclusions should be drawn.
I wanted there to be more. More complexity, more explanation, more exploration of the other characters.
I very much enjoyed the book and this story lending itself to another medium (like the new television series) will give it the fantastic opportunity to flesh out and provide a greater context to all areas of the book.

  • The Goldfinch

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: David Pittu
  • Length: 32 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,167
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,926
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,938

Aged 13, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator Hand Picked By Tartt- Outstanding!

  • By Tara Mcgrath on 02-12-13

Utterly Sublime!

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

Reviewed: 08-11-17

This story is utterly sublime.
I didn't know what to expect with this tale as the blurb didn't give much away. I was pulled into a world where you instantly felt you were there with Theo (main protagonist). The way Donna Tartt and David Pittu have written and narrated the book is truly compulsive... you always want more. It moves you in many ways leaving you breathless, but the story is always somehow believable.
I can't describe what this book is about, it's not a story... It's more an experience.
The richness of the writing and the excellence of the narration provides you with an exception experience. One which will stay with me for some time.
I HIGHLY recommend this wonder of a book.

  • The Remains of the Day

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Dominic West
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,245
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,149
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,144

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House. In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside – and into his past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • heartbreaking

  • By Emily Essex on 14-05-16

Masterfully complex and realistic characters.

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

Reviewed: 19-04-17

Would you listen to The Remains of the Day again? Why?

Certainly! Though it has a slow start by the end you feel you know Stephens intimately. Listening again would give me the opportunity to truly understand Stephen and why he says and acts the way he does straight from the off.

What other book might you compare The Remains of the Day to, and why?

The tone, pace and feeling the book gives you is similar to Ishiguro's other novel Never let me go. It's achingly realistic and incredibly human.

What about Dominic West’s performance did you like?

Dominic West perfectly performed every detail. From West Country accents to the restrained, perplexed, dutiful Stephens.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I don't think so. That is not to say I didn't enjoy it!
It is a very intense and brooding book, therefore being able to fully process and understand the reasoning why Stephens does what he does, for me, needed time.

Any additional comments?

This book is a haunting and an acutely heartbreaking portrayal of what "duty" "Britishness" and "stiff upper lip" means to some people.

At times I was audibly shouting a Stephens, wanting to shake him with my exasperation.
Stephens is nothing less than what he aims to be, a Great Butler, but at what cost? In the name of duty, loyalty and professionalism how much of himself will he sacrifice?

This book will make you think.

  • Labyrinth

  • By: Kate Mosse
  • Narrated by: Maggie Mash
  • Length: 24 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 961
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 361
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 363

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Author of the Year, 2007.
Winner of the British Book Awards, Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year, 2006.

July 1209: In Carcassonne, a sixteen-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although she cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in protecting it.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Long and Laborious

  • By A Genealogist on 10-01-07

Dreadful narration made it impossible to finish!

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

Reviewed: 14-02-17

What would have made Labyrinth better?

A different style of narration!
I have listened to this voice artist before (girl on the train) and they did a really good job but here? It was terrible! Rendering it an impossible listenen

Has Labyrinth put you off other books in this genre?

Not at all. I plan to read the book as the story, though written in over long descriptions, was actually quite interesting. As stated before it was the narration that put me off.

Would you be willing to try another one of Maggie Mash’s performances?

Considering she gave a good performance in another audio book I've listened to I may. BUT I cannot tell if the decision to give the French characters a lazy French/northern England accent was her choice or her directors but it was awful!
Only once before have I ever stopped listening to a book because I couldn't stand the narration. Everything was so jumbled and inconsistent I had no clue who was who.

What character would you cut from Labyrinth?

I have no idea. I can honestly say the only names of characters I know for certain were the two alices. Everything else was a confusing mush of bad, inconsistent accents which just aggravated and distracted me from actually listening to the story.

Any additional comments?

I listened to exactly the half way mark of this book. At this point I had to give up.
The chapters are not in line with the chapters of the book which makes listening across devices difficult.
The way the narration has been directed is tooth grindingly irritating. It distracts you from the story.
Over emphasis and over dramatisation of every syllable makes it incredibly dull and the pace just seems to slow down to a dead stop.

I just recommend reading the book... don't bother with the audio version.

  • Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

  • By: James Thurber
  • Narrated by: Ben Stiller
  • Length: 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 699
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 596
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 594

Mild-mannered Walter Mitty is a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. This well-known and beloved tale has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Short but sweet

  • By Boggy of Bucks on 03-06-15

A fun 15 minutes

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

Reviewed: 21-10-16

Would you listen to Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty again? Why?

Probably. It was lighthearted and entertaining.

What other book might you compare Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to, and why?

I don't really like comparing stories like for like. I liked the adventure and fantasy this little story had.

What about Ben Stiller’s performance did you like?

Very enjoyable and a very relaxing voice to listen to.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Your imagination is your only limit.

Any additional comments?

Not earth shatteringly amazing but thoroughly entertaining.

  • Gone Girl

  • By: Gillian Flynn
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
  • Length: 19 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,350
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,729
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,741

Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do? Just how well can you ever know the person you love? These are the questions that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Keep going with this

  • By E on 23-02-13

Dark, intensely disturbing, unsettling and evil.

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

Reviewed: 21-10-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would, but pre-warn them they aren't in for a joyful, happy read. It is intense, relentless and very dark.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The most interesting part was the demonstration of the level of evil to which a person can go.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I can't say I "enjoyed" a particular scene as this book was so very dark. However the final part, for me, was just so jaw dropping in its evil nature. It made me squirm with the level of uncomfortable feeling it gave me.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Moved me to revulsion? Yes. Every time another level of a particular character was revealed I was just amazingly appalled.

Any additional comments?

I found this book incredibly dark and disturbing and it was an uncomfortable read. I understand the hype but I felt a very low and uncomfortable mood the whole way through.
I prefer books that provide escapism and make you feel many emotions but this was an unrelenting, heavy and depressing story.

  • The Martian

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15,508
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14,602
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14,574

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exhilarating adventure. Brilliantly executed.

  • By Kaggy on 30-08-14

Botany = heart bounding suspense? Oh yes!

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

Reviewed: 09-10-16

Where does The Martian rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have listened to many and this is certainly one of the best I have EVER listened to.

What other book might you compare The Martian to, and why?

I have never really read a book similar. I heave read a number of sci-fi genre book but the wit, sass, humour, strength and cleverness this book and performance provide I think are unique.

What about R. C. Bray’s performance did you like?

R. C. Bray's performance was the best I have ever heard from any performance of any audio work I have listened to. I can't begin to describe how perfect he was.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did! I laughed so much and I remember sitting in my garden listening to the end of the book with my palms sweating, my heart pounding and tears running down my face. I tell you, I have NEVER had such a reaction to any book before! Exceptional performance mixed with excellent writing makes you feel like you are right there with Mark experiencing everything he is.

Any additional comments?

Listen to it! Just do it! You will not be sorry!
Get ready to be abandoned on Mars!

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5

  • By: J.K. Rowling
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 29 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 6,547
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5,935
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5,910

Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors' attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord's return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort's savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Deeper, Darker, Longer . . . Brilliant!

  • By Simon on 11-12-15

A masterclass in storytelling and performance!

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

Reviewed: 09-10-16

What made the experience of listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5 the most enjoyable?

It was like discovering the story for the first time all over again. It enabled you to emerge yourself in the world yet again in a totall new way.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5?

Since I last read this book a few years ago I have lost both my parents. The moment and aftermath of Harry losing Sirius held new meaning to me and I thought the writing and performance were truly exceptional.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

There are far too many to mention. The one that stays in my mind though is the exchange between Harry and Luna after Harry has Lost Sirius. After losing my parents since I last read this book this moment had a special meaning to me.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many parts. But the aftermath of Harry losing Sirius was heartbreaking.

Any additional comments?

And truly exceptional story with a truly exceptional performance.

  • The Miniaturist

  • By: Jessie Burton
  • Narrated by: Jessie Burton
  • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,792
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,623
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,622

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed...On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Tricky to get in to

  • By DebNwood on 20-05-15

There should have been more... sadly a let down

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

Reviewed: 09-10-16

What did you like best about The Miniaturist? What did you like least?

I enjoyed the historical setting and the character descriptions.
However, in my opinion there were colossal plot holes that were not even addressed let alone resolved. That left me frustrated with the story and, for me, left the story unfinished.

Would you ever listen to anything by Jessie Burton again?

I think I would. The descriptions in the story were lovely and rich and you got a true sense of the atmosphere of the time. The actual storyline was lacking for me but I would certainly read another of her books. I thing as an author she has fantastic potential.

Have you listened to any of Jessie Burton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven't listened to a Jessie Burton performance before but listening to a book narrated by its author was certainly of interest to me.

Was The Miniaturist worth the listening time?

I cannot in good conscience say no as there were aspects I enjoyed BUT the story left me frustrated and baffled with, what I saw as, gargantuan plot holes.

Any additional comments?

Some parts of this story were enjoyable however I feel the story never actually went anywhere. In addition, I believe what could have been an exceptional story arc was never even faintly approached!
HUGE questions were never even asked by the characters!
~mild spoiler~
How/why does the miniaturist predict the future?

Why is the fact that an unknown woman who sends people dolls with accurate predictions of their future and fate is not even called into question?
Why is this fact automatically accepted as being perfectly normal?
THIS IS NOT REMOTELY NORMAL! EVERYONE ACTS AS IF IT IS!
Gah! So SO frustratingly annoying!
This was my biggest let down. Petranella never, not even for a moment, wondered how it was done. Wouldn't you? Wouldn't we all?
This book has so, so much potential but catastrophically fell at the last hurdle.
Not to be too shady but I don't know why it won so many awards.