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  • 83
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  • 58
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  • Lord Jim

  • By: Joseph Conrad
  • Narrated by: Nigel Graham
  • Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

The story tells of Jim, a young, good-looking, genial, and naive water-clerk on the Patna, a cargo ship plying Asian waters. One night, when the ship collides with an obstacle and begins to sink, acting on impulse, Jim jumps overboard and lands in a lifeboat, which happens to be bearing the unscrupulous captain and his cohorts away from the disaster.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Marlow brought to life

  • By William on 22-04-11

a real masterpiece of the genre

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

Reviewed: 09-12-18

Although there are times when the story drags and becomes tedious, (probably because it was serialised for a magazine and had to fill 12 issues) the profundity makes up for it. It is Conrad's masterpiece along with Heart of Darkness. The narrator is brilliant and brings the novel to life.

  • All the Light We Cannot See

  • By: Anthony Doerr
  • Narrated by: Julie Teal
  • Length: 17 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,439
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,336
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,333

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighbourhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Despite the narrator

  • By James on 06-02-15

Compelling but unnecessarily complicated

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

Reviewed: 23-07-16

Let's start with the narrator. I suppose she was selected because of her ability to speak German and French, but one should not neglect her need to speak English! ! She had the infuriating knack of mispronouncing several normal English words and means she lost credibility.

The story itself is exceptionally good but the author choses to tell it in fragments of time, jumping forwards and backwards for no real stylistic reason and with little effect.

  • A Little Life

  • By: Hanya Yanagihara
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 32 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,081
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,011
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,011

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance. When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success and pride.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Devastating but brilliant

  • By J Harrison on 27-01-16

A worthy piece of literature

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

Reviewed: 23-07-16

This is a truly splendid piece of writing. Using the modern narrative style she evokes incredibly vivid and gripping portraits of her beloved characters. The main story line is compelling and the book is impossible to put down. But I must keep my highest praise for Oliver Wyman the narrator whose characterisation is superb.

  • The Silkworm

  • Cormoran Strike, Book 2
  • By: Robert Galbraith
  • Narrated by: Robert Glenister
  • Length: 17 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,109
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,598
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,580

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives - so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 star rating based on quality not name

  • By Linda on 06-08-14

JKR is a master in any genre

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

Reviewed: 21-09-14

First and foremost in detective fiction is imagination. If it is an obvious plot the story is boring. The detective needs to be fallible but astute, and the other characters need to be interesting.
Robert Galbraith ticks all these boxes.

In this second Cormoran Strike novel we see the brute of a detective come into his own. He is cumbersome and vulnerable, he is socially awkward. But when there’s a killer to be caught no one can out-think him.

The author’s real talent is unwinding the story in a credible sequence, steering the suspicions of the readers up several garden paths. At one point I just knew who he killer was because of the subtle hints, only to be caught completely off guard by the final resolution.
It is entertaining, well-written, funny at times and very clever indeed.

Highly recommended for being a perfect example of the genre.

Great narration too - gets the accents 100% right.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Remembrance of Things Past

  • Swann's Way
  • By: Marcel Proust, Scott Moncrieff - translator
  • Narrated by: John Rowe
  • Length: 19 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 58

Swann's Way is Marcel Proust's literary masterpiece and the first part of the multivolume audiobook Remembrance of Things Past. In the opening volume, the narrator travels back in time to recall his childhood and to introduce the listener to Charles Swann, a wealthy friend of the family and celebrity in the Parisian social scene. He again travels back, this time to the youth of Charles Swann in the French town of Combray, to tell the story of the love affair that took place before his own birth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Masterpiece

  • By Mrs C Sampson-Dunmore on 30-10-16

Attraction despite no action

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

Reviewed: 26-08-14

This has often been called the greatest book ever written. There is a play on words because it is indeed great – Part 2 alone makes War and Peace look like a pamphlet. I read only the first book of the first tome – Swann’s Way. But it is great literature even in translation.

Where else can an author spend most of the first hundred pages on the thoughts of a boy deciding whether or not to get out of bed? Where else can an entire chapter be dedicated to the author’s recollection of a single type of flower?

Proust’s imagery and imagination are simply beyond equal. His evocation (for example) of flowers, smells, sights, village people, emotions from (his) childhood are fascinatingly real and engrossing. His eye for detail is matched only by his command of language which paints vast landscapes and microscopic grains of pollen with equal panache.

There is almost no plot, yet the characters are fascinating and the book is compelling because one is allowed to observe a great master at work.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Idiot [Blackstone]

  • By: Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Narrated by: Robert Whitfield
  • Length: 22 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

Prince Myshkin, is thrust into the heart of a society more concerned with wealth, power, and sexual conquest than the ideals of Christianity. Myshkin soon finds himself at the center of a violent love triangle in which a notorious woman and a beautiful young girl become rivals for his affections. Extortion, scandal, and murder follow, testing the wreckage left by human misery to find "man in man."

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • tremendous but a bit difficult to follow

  • By osama on 04-11-16

Too much of nothing

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

Reviewed: 21-05-14

Abandoned about 70% through. It was a promising start - reminiscent of Tolstoy, but it just got deeper and deeper into an endless waffle about vague topics by transient characters, none of which were properly formed. The emotions are incomprehensible and the motives are peculiar. I just cannot recommend this.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Goldfinch

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: David Pittu
  • Length: 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,390
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,131
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,145

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

Not worth the wait

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

Reviewed: 12-04-14

Donna Tartt writes one book every ten years. Her previous “highly acclaimed novel was very disappointing and I thought I would give her one more chance. This one is definitely better. A young boy (Theo Decker) has his life changed forever when a cataclysmic event kills his mother and throws him onto the path of a dying man who steers his life into a new direction.

He staggers from one crisis to another, trying to find or avoid family connections. He encounters every facet of American society, from the very wealthy to utterly desolate. Theo has an incomprehensible and very irritating habit of being startled into silence whenever the plot needs him not to make a very simple explanation. There are twists and turns and many, very deep introspections, including a vast retelling of a drug-induced sequence which is just tedious.

Tartt tells a good story, but tells it too long. She cannot see the world from a male point of view, and she really does not try very hard. But she does give is two absolutely brilliant characters: Hobie, the most generous and gentle soul; and Boris – a friendly but dangerous friend. She makes Boris the narrator for much of the second half of the book. Although he has broken English she still manages to place phrases such as “cultural patrimony” in his mouth. I think the inconsistence of the characters she draws and the words they say (and the thoughts they think) ultimately sink the story.

The finale is a tedious stretch of moralising lifted from the Disney Corporation. Written in the current American style (lots of talking, little depth, even less description) it is like watching a talk show. Fortunately there will be another 9 years before I may be tempted into trying another Tartt offering.

The narrator is absolutely brilliant – his accents (except for the Dutch) are brilliant and consistent. I guess it is a tall order to find someone who is good at Russian and Dutch.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • One Summer

  • America 1927
  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 17 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,345
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,231
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,229

One Summer: America, 1927, is the new book by Britain’s favourite writer of narrative nonfiction, Bill Bryson. Narrated by the man himself, One Summer takes you to the summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and changed the world forever. In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day, a semi-crazed sculptor with a plan to carve four giant heads into a mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown, and finished it as the most famous man on Earth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bryson hits another Home Run

  • By Colin on 21-10-13

Hold on to your seats for one heck of a ride...

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

Reviewed: 02-03-14

Bryson has selected a period of about six months (April to September) in one year (1927) when the most remarkable events and people in the USA intersected. He is a master story teller and traces the history and personalities of his “actors” without ever reverting to a catalogue of dates or achievements.

It was one heck of a year: Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, Al Capone, Talking pictures, prohibition, Saco and Vanzetti, Mount Rushmore and a handful or murderers all had their moment in the sun – and this is not a complete list.
It was a perfect moment in time - after the war and before the depression. It was an instant when the height of 1920s excess clashed with the depths of conservative USA reaction. All in all, a remarkable year.

Bryson revels in this type of book – he dredges up little-known facts and sketches his characters as larger-than-life figures (or not). The “story” never lags and his sense of hyperbole keeps the reader riveted. How about this as a sample of the irrelevant but interesting snippets which litter to book: The morning after Lindbergh’s triumphant landing in Paris the authorities collected over a ton of lost property at the airfield (following the frenzied reception by the French). There are many more. Some of the actions, decisions and statements are almost inconceivable. The fact, for example, that Al Capone paid wages of almost $700,000 every week – to crooked cops in Chicago.

I guess there were other summers which held as many significant occurrences (probably very few) but I wonder if it is an accident that exactly 40 years later the summer of love would again yield a treasure trove of events and personalities. I’m hoping Bryson is busy on this book already: 1967 Another Summer.

I really wish publishers would stop using authors to read books. I have said this so often. Bill is a great writer and he is one of my favourites. His diction is poor and his reading style is rushed and unprofessional. PLEASE USE ACTORS to read and writers to write.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Cuckoo's Calling

  • Cormoran Strike, Book 1
  • By: Robert Galbraith
  • Narrated by: Robert Glenister
  • Length: 15 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,239
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,463
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,441

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's complex world, the darker things get - and the closer he gets to terrible danger...

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining and likeable

  • By Dragon on 06-05-13

Good, even if you didn't know it was JKR

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

Reviewed: 16-02-14

By now everyone knows that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym used by JK Rowling. Despite that knowledge I think one would have considered this a very good detective novel. JKR deftly paints the picture of the archetypal PI – dishevelled, unwashed, crumpled and broken. Her story is strong and well told and her characters are real and have very little to do with magic schools.

Cormoran Strike is the PI and his client is John Bristow, whose very famous sister committed suicide just a few months prior. He does not believe it was suicide and tasks Strike to find out if there was foul play. Weaving through a complex story of fashionistas, Hollywood producers and stunning models Strike comes to a startling conclusion.
JKR creates pauses in the action during which she demonstrates her writing prowess. Here is a description of the funeral of one of the characters (Spoilers removed).

The north London crematorium where XXXX’s funeral was held three days later was chilly, anonymous and depressing. Everything was smoothly nondenominational; from the dark-wood pews and blank walls, carefully devoid of any religious device; to the abstract-stained glass window, a mosaic of little jewel-bright squares. Sitting on hard wood, while a whiny-voiced minister called [mispronounced the deceased’s name] and the fine rain speckled the gaudy patchwork window above him, Strike understood the appeal of gilded cherubs and plaster saints, of gargoyles and Old Testament angels, of gem-set golden crucifixes; anything that might give an aura of majesty and grandeur, a firm promise of an afterlife, or retrospective worth to a life like XXXX’s. The XXXX had had her glimpse of earthly paradise: littered with designer goods, and celebrities to sneer at, and handsome drivers to joke with, and the yearning for it had brought her to this: seven mourners, and a minister who did not know her name.

This is apparently the first in a series of Cormoran Strike novels and I will definitely be following them. She really gets the medium and there is a very nice twist in the tail.

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 5 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,565
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,440
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,445

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark - from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman. It's about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us. It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cunning Darkness

  • By Simon on 08-10-15

Gripping tale in a tiny shell

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

Reviewed: 19-01-14

Fantasy is not my favourite genre so I started on this book with some reluctance. I was interested in all the hype surrounding the book so I took the plunge (forgive the pun).

At first I was hesitant, the story was laboured and it was very artificial, but because it was such a short book I thought I’d carry on, and I am very happy I did.

The story grows on you and the characters are appealing and intriguing. It is a simple story of a boy who meets a girl who lives on a farm at the end of the lane. A tragic event throws their fates together and what happens over the following two days will change their lives forever.

By the end of the book I was enthralled and I am happy I read it. It is a story well told.
Reluctant as I am to listen to authors reading their own works I think Gaiman did a good job of it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful