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Anthony

Sydney, Australia
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  • Oryx and Crake

  • MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: John Chancer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 895
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 751
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 756

Margaret Atwood's classic novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed: it's much worse. The narrator of this riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he's sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engrossing, disturbing, amusing, entertaining

  • By Martin on 03-02-10

Wonderfully written sci-fi (partly) dystopia...

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

Reviewed: 05-01-19

Margaret Atwood writes brilliantly about an awful world that is just a step or two away from today's scientific possibilities.

A neoliberal dystopian future in which brilliant scientific discoveries, all available for some time now, escape the lab and go feral. All so very possible in today’s Trumpian world where constraints on science, technology and profit are increasingly unhinged.

Published around 15 years ago, Atwood’s gene splicing wordplay worryingly entertains.

Be prepared...

  • Milkman

  • By: Anna Burns
  • Narrated by: Bríd Brennan
  • Length: 14 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,065
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 971
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 969

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very, Very Good

  • By David M on 20-10-18

Growing up with the Troubles

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

Reviewed: 18-11-18

Beautifully written this story offers insights into the relationships within families and the community during Northern Ireland's political struggles. The insights, the humour and the melancholy are all observed close-up, in the day-to-day lives of people trying to live their lives while being drawn into the politics, the suspicion, and the violence of everyday life.

The author barely presents a single name throughout the story - always talking about the milkman, the first sister, third sister, brother-in-law, nearly boyfriend, and a range of others. This conveys the sense that these events and relationships could have occurred, or indeed did occur, in every family, and how disruptive and destructive this was.

It's also a coming of age novel in which the narrator established what her own life and loves are about while trying to fend off the powerful influences and imposed stereotypes of others. The twists and turns reveal some unexpected casualties and events, sensitively shared and narrated.

One of the most distressing scenes I've ever read about describes the vicious throat-slitting of all the dogs in a small town by UK government-supported paramilitaries (or perhaps they are UK forces themselves). It brings home, like few passages I've read, the dreadful nature of internal conflict and of the attempts by different sides to silence the others and to gain political advantage. The dogs' crime? To let the community know that strangers were present and that some foul activity was underway. One can feel the pain, the sorrow, the mournfulness of community members searching through a pile of canine cadavers, covered in blood, retrieving their own 'best friend' to cuddle and carry the bloody corpse home for burial.

Lots of other by-the-by insights into the undermining of communities resulting from surveillance, false accusations, suspicion, and surreptitious acts of terror. It's easy to see how longstanding the corrosive impact of political violence can be within communities, and invariably is...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Ep. 1: Current Puns (Fry's English Delight, Series 1)

  • By: Stephen Fry
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 24 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 95
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 89
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90

Why does our language groan with the weight of puns? What exactly is a pun? And who, or what, is the Thief of Bad Gags?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Magnificent!!

  • By Anonymous User on 30-09-18

Have pun listening to Stephen Fry

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

Reviewed: 18-11-18

A pun audio exhibiting Stephen Fry's punniness in talking about this manner of speech; examining where puns come from, and why they're so much a part of English humour and culture. Very informative, well researched, cleverly narrated, and invariably amusing... well worth the 25 minutes or so required to listen, and as always, to admire Fry's intellectual gymnastics and accomplishments.
The others in the series are also excellent - quotes, metaphors, and cliches...

  • Fear

  • Trump in the White House
  • By: Bob Woodward
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,129
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,004
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 997

The inside story on President Trump, as only Bob Woodward can tell it. With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • balanced and the text is served well by narration.

  • By David W. on 12-09-18

Solid...

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

Reviewed: 29-10-18

I'm waiting for the book that helps me understand why we (yes, including me) obsess over Trump. This is the third or fourth I've read. It is well researched, clearly presented, and apparently, depressingly accurate. Trump and his coterie are more than a little off-beam; yet they retain the support of nearly 40% of the US population. This book offers insights into the dysfunctionality within the White House and how the Presidency is being undermined, and probably not by accident. Well worth a read but it's neither a page-turner nor a reveal all expose.

Instead it's 'just' a solid indictment of a toxic narcissist and of those around him.

Sad.

  • The Diary of a Bookseller

  • By: Shaun Bythell
  • Narrated by: Robin Laing
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 804
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 729
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 734

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A gentle pleasure

  • By Flint on 11-12-17

Books and book-lovers ... behind the shop-front

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

Reviewed: 15-10-18

As a lover of second hand book stores, and bookshops more generally, I found it interesting to hear about the challenges that have accompanied book-selling over the years. The rise of Amazon is welcomed by us, the buyers: we love the access, the low prices, the front-door deliveries, the scouring of bookshops across the land for sought items; the algorithms generating likely likes... For the bookshop owner, however, it brings the frustrations of being competitive at all times, the resources required to offer both an online and physical presence, the frustrations of dealing with distant purchasers who demand a quality service and readily take advantage of the power they wield through feedback and ratings.

It is indeed fascinating to hear what drives the bookseller on: the odd comments of odd customers; being offered a themed collection for purchase and onsale (usually after a death of a family member); the thrill of finding a valuable first edition or a signed copy by a much wanted writer; the satisfaction of selling a valuable book at a reasonable price to a purchaser who appreciates the inherent value. Also interesting are the pet hates of the booksellers - customers taking advantage; crooks erasing prices and replacing them with ridiculously low alternatives; ex-library books that are marked and covered with plastic and sellotape; cheapskates who demand discounts on already marked down items; free-riders who settle in for a day of reading and then walk out without making a purchase. These insights give one pause to consider. [Lucky there's no mention of audiobooks - where would that leave us?!]

The somewhat interesting but somewhat irritating element is the daily tally of how many customers came into the shop (remarkably few), what the totals were at the till (remarkably low), and what proportion of books requested online were found and orders fulfilled (remarkably high). It might be possible to gloss over this feature - interesting as it is - if reading the hard copy, but on audio one has to suffer these details far too frequently. I'd rather have seen the monthly tally than hear the daily details. That said, the bookseller has to deal with them line by line; perhaps we need to respect and appreciate such daily challenges in providing a much loved site and purpose in an ever more competitive environment.

Informative and well worth a listen.

  • Trumpocracy

  • The Corruption of the American Republic
  • By: David Frum
  • Narrated by: David Frum, James Anderson Foster
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

Best-selling author, former White House speechwriter, and Atlantic columnist and media commentator David Frum explains why President Trump has undermined our most important institutions in ways even the most critical media has missed, in this thoughtful and hard-hitting book that is a warning for democracy and America's future. Quietly, steadily, Trump and his administration are damaging the tenets and accepted practices of American democracy, perhaps irrevocably.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • P45 warts and all

  • By Paul Muers on 14-06-18

Interesting but needs updated edition

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

Reviewed: 14-07-18

An interesting and informative book, well researched, but already out of date given he pace of #Trumpocracy disruption. The author makes no secret of his views of Trump as a self-interested corrupt narcissist but who is nevertheless the leader of the world's most powerful country.

David Frum explores the challenge to liberal democracies that result from the election of Trump and similar other leaders. Their insidious, and often direct, attacks on democratic institutions and moral values, are well presented and convincingly argued.

The book, however, is already somewhat out-of-date given the pace of Trump's ongoing efforts to disrupt and unsettle (or perhaps dismember) USA governance structures, institutions, and public policy programs.

Excellent but a next edition is already required, and probably edition 3 by the end of 2019 too...

"Sad"

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • American Pastoral

  • By: Philip Roth
  • Narrated by: Ron Silver
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 162
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 160

Philip Roth presents a vivid portrait of an innocent man being swept away by a current of conflict and violence in his own backyard - a story that is as much about loving America as it is hating it. Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, and the prosperous heir of his father's Newark glove factory comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even a most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall ... a strong, confident man, a master of social equilibrium, overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful living out life in rural Old Rimrock in his 170 year-old stone farmhouse with his pretty wife (his college sweetheart and Miss New Jersey of 1949) and his lively albeit precocious daughter, the apple of his eye ... that is until she grows up to become a revolutionary terrorist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mature, complex, meditative.

  • By J. Neal on 02-12-15

Tragic America

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

Reviewed: 07-07-18

I read this after learning of Roth's death in 2018 and hearing this book cited as one of his greatest. It doesn't disappoint - fascinating, sad, engaging, beautifully written and read... a terrific audiobook.

More than sad, this is a tragic story of a family that have worked so hard to achieve the American Dream - integration and success, despite difference - and of how this all falls apart in the next generation which challenges US engagement in Vietnam. This is a beautifully written novel highlighting the dilemmas in a father-daughter relationship seeking to overcome a range of almost insurmountable difficulties ... childhood stuttering, rejection of community, revolutionary action, adoption of a cult-like faith. Feelings of love and admiration are interface with guilt, despair and deep loss. We, the reader-listeners experience the fluidity and depth of this emotional journey and the powerlessness of the main protagonist, Seymour Levov.

Deeply engaging with no simple solutions to the unfolding personal, family and community tragedy. Wonderful!

  • The Yellow Birds

  • By: Kevin Powers
  • Narrated by: Holter Graham
  • Length: 5 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 32
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 32

Everywhere John looks, he sees Murph. He flinches when cars drive past. His fingers clasp around the rifle he hasn't held for months. Wide-eyed strangers praise him as a hero, but he can feel himself disappearing. Back home after a year in Iraq, memories swarm around him: bodies burning in the crisp morning air. Sunlight falling through branches; bullets kicking up dust; ripples on a pond wavering like plucked strings. The promise he made, to a young man's mother, that her son would be brought home safely....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • should be compulsory listening for all politicians

  • By chrissie on 27-01-13

Destructivess of war writ large

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

Eloquently written and narrated... this is a story of war’s deep cuts into being human...

A young American soldier and his relationships with friends, the military, and the ‘other’ in Iraq are laid bare. Beautifully written - crude evocative language - maps the destructiveness of this conflict on the behaviour and psyches of those engaged. We are drawn into the slow unraveling of a US soldier’s ability to cope with a futile war, the intensity of loyalties that lead to bizarre but credible behaviour, the mechanisms deployed to manage sanity in an insane situation, and the grief of a mother who just wants to know what happened...

We do not learn much about ‘why the war?’ ... but we learn a lot about ‘what the war? ... and it is not pretty.

An impressive short, but deep, anti-war book...

  • The Unconsoled

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 44

By the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. Ryder, a renowned pianist, arrives in a Central European city he cannot identify for a concert he cannot remember agreeing to give. But then as he traverses a landscape by turns eerie and comical - and always strangely malleable, as a dream might be - he comes steadily to realise he is facing the most crucial performance of his life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Narcissism, ADD, Kafka, and regret intertwined

  • By Anthony on 24-03-18

Narcissism, ADD, Kafka, and regret intertwined

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

Reviewed: 24-03-18

Recent to audible, this was written decades ago.

Beautifully written and impressively narrated, but frustrating as one gets sucked into a scenario in which the protagonist, Ryder, a famed pianist, is both victim and fool.

His narcissism leads him astray; his attention deficit disorder (not mentioned but certainly appears to be the case!) make it difficult for him to stay on task, and despite narrowing time frames and increasingly important decisions he is unable to perform ethically or effectively. Kafka seems omni-present, it is all somehow absurd and we never determine what exactly is going on, why, or who are the winners and losers and in whose interests they are operating. Ryder is not a likeable person and his return to the town of his youth to share his celebrity is clearly manipulated by local elites and others each wanting to a portion of his fame and time for often unclear but seemingly devious agendas.

As with much of Ishiguro's writing, the relationships are interesting and unfold in their complexity; and tales of regret and what might have been. weave their way across the pages.

A compelling read, frustratingly entertaining ... Somehow I still recommend it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Nepal - Culture Smart!

  • The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
  • By: Tessa Feller
  • Narrated by: Anna Bentinck
  • Length: 4 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Nepal - Culture Smart! provides essential information, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Informative but somewhat shallow

  • By Anthony on 14-03-18

Informative but somewhat shallow

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

Reviewed: 14-03-18

Useful quick read or listen if you are visiting Nepal. Helps understand what a wonderful country this is with its diverse cultures and communities. Always useful to get some quick tips to help navigate places and people, but having visited Nepal several times I wanted more depth to understand issues of ethnicity, caste, politics, history... even the food, natural environment. This book is pitched at first time visitors and tourists, and certainly covers some useful background, information, and insights.

Such guides need to be kept pretty up-to-date to serve this purpose... hope there are plans to do so @audible and associated publishers.