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Frank M

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  • 8
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  • 15
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  • The Shape of Water

  • Inspector Montalbano, Book 1
  • By: Andrea Camilleri
  • Narrated by: Mark Meadows
  • Length: 4 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner's verdict is death from natural causes - refreshingly unusual for Sicily.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Start to the series

  • By Gery Lynch on 24-01-18

Excellent story. Let down by narration.

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

Reviewed: 21-06-18

Like most people, my first introduction to Inspector Montalbano has been through the visual medium, in other words BBC 4 and I loved it from the start.

I have an advantage over most British people in that I speak fluent Italian, and having spent time there I get the subtleties and nuances that are missing in the subtitles. Having watched ALL the available programs so far and read some of the books, I thought I'd see how the Audiobooks compare so I invested one of my monthly credits into The Shape Of Water, the first novel.

Having read the book, it holds no surprises for me, so I was hoping to just be able to enjoy listening to it.

Alas, although I enjoy the story and the fun element, albeit, a lot is lost in translation, to me the whole thing is let down by the choice of narrator and the way it is being read. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Mark Meadows just gets this totally wrong.

The first thing I find grating is the English posh school accent delivered with an over the top RADA Radio play style with middle England characters. Think Wilmot-Brown and son, on Eastenders and you get the idea. NO one speaks like that in real life. They'd get a smack in the face.

Next, whenever a person or place name is spoken, it sounds like it's coming out of a vocoder with slight over the top parody of Italian. Think The Italian Captain on Allo Allo and you'd be on the right lines. On the plus side, they are mostly pronounced correctly, and for a British rendition, that is a miracle in itself. It was the one thing that I was dreading most, so happy with that at least, allowing for what I've already said.

Thirdly, Montalbano just sounds wrong and most of the other charcaters, given the very little variety in the rendition, don't ring right either. It just does not say Sicily, Italy, or even Anywhere remotely near the Med. Surrey stockbroker belt definitely.

The translation of the Montalbano books also leaves a little to be desired and could have been much better. Some Italian phrases have been translated in a slap dash manner and really do not make good reading or hearing in English. A minor point maybe.

I don't think I'll invest in anymore of these unless the narrator is different and then I'll check out the preview first.

Hey ho, I was so looking forward to this.

Not recommended to real Inspector Montalbano fans. Others may enjoy it. I doubt the former will.



  • War at the Edge of the World

  • By: Ian Ross
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 99
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 99

Once a soldier in an elite legion from the Danube, Aurelius Castus believes his glory days are over, stuck in Britain's provincial backwater. But history is about to take a hand and when the king of the Picts, the savage people beyond Hadrian's Wall, dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to command the bodyguard of a Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians. But the diplomatic mission ends in bloody tragedy…

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • solid story, good action

  • By john cb on 24-09-15

Excellent story line and beleivable characters

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

Reviewed: 13-03-18

Where does War at the Edge of the World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This has been one of my favorite audiobooks. The main character Castus is a reluctant hero, who doesn't act heroically becase he wants to but because he has to. His life depends on it. That and his own intuition and luck.
The characters are believable and the story moves along at a good pace so no boring middle bit where nothing happens for hours then is all resolved in one chapter.
The book kept me interested all the way from beginning to end.

What did you like best about this story?

I'd say I liked the fact that the characters convinced me. I didn't feel any were in the book for effect or for the author to force something. Everything fitted and was believable.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Keeble – was your favourite?

Has to be Castus with his thick Eastern accent ad slow talking manner

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

Can't say as don;t want to spoil it for anyone else

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended. Best historical "war" type novel I've listened to to date. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • The Long Earth

  • By: Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
  • Narrated by: Michael Fenton Stevens
  • Length: 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,938
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,605
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,609

The Western Front, 1916. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of No Man's Land gone? Madison, Wisconsin, 2015. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive - some said mad, others dangerous - scientist when she finds a curious gadget: a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a potato. It is the prototype of a life-changing invention....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engrossing.

  • By Martin on 10-03-13

BIggest disappointment of the 21 century so far

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

Reviewed: 28-02-18

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you like listening to descriptions of forests and the odd strange animal and really really annoying sounding Tibetans ten this book is for you.
Even so I would warn anyone that Lobsang's voice will irritate you as will the constant build up to a possibility of something happening then the let down when nothing does other than more description.
YOu really have to be a total fam of either writer for whom they can do not wrong whatever to appreciate this book. Even so I'd question if anyone really does.

Has The Long Earth put you off other books in this genre?

I have been a long time fan of Terry Pratchett to the point that i can't believe his name is on this book. Can't say for Stephen Baxter as I've not read any of his work.

I am not put off the genre as such, but I certainly am not looking forward to listening to the rest of this series as I've already bought it, thinking it would be better

Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Fenton Stevens’s performances?

I think he did the best with a bad script if you see what I mean however, his rendition of Lobsang or Lob Sang is really really annoying.

The fault though is in a badly written book with bad dialogue and interaction between characters.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Boredom followed by more boredom followed by huge disappointment

Any additional comments?

I find it difficult to reconcile the facat that Terry Pratchett put his name to this. Seem like far too many holes in the plot, bad dialogue and really lack of movement for his writing.

Wish I could return the whole series and get my money back, but it's too late now.

The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume I, Fort Sumter to Perryville cover art
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume I, Fort Sumter to Perryville

  • By: Shelby Foote
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 42 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume 1 begins one of the most remarkable works of history ever fashioned. All the great battles are here, of course, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, and Antietam, but so are the smaller ones: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island Ten, New Orleans, and Monitor versus Merrimac.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant But Not For The Faint Hearted

  • By Vic W on 06-09-06

Best Civil War published work ever

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

Reviewed: 05-02-18

My wife got me the set when we were just going out together many years ago and they immediately became my favourite books about the war.
when I saw them on Audible, I immediately got them.
The books have lost none of the thrill from when I first read them and if anything, have gained from the reading.
Can't fault at all.

  • Sanctus

  • By: Simon Toyne
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 383
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 182
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 182

An explosive apocalyptic conspiracy thriller from a major new British talent that will set the world alight…REVELATION OR DEVASTATION?The certainties of the modern world are about to be blown apart by a three thousand year-old conspiracy nurtured by blood and lies …A man throws himself to his death from the oldest inhabited place on the face of the earth, a mountainous citadel in the historic Turkish city of Ruin. This is no ordinary suicide but a symbolic act.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sanctus

  • By Steve Sparkes on 25-05-11

A good story that keeps you interested

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

Reviewed: 28-12-17

Would you listen to Sanctus again? Why?

I would listen to this book again at some point if only to get to grips with the characters. There are qute a few of them and the story flits between their points of view, so sometimes it is difficult to keep track of what is going on if not paying 100% attention.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gabriel, because he was just so down to earth

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

I've not listened to any other recordings by Jonathan Keeble as far as I'm aware, but he does an excellent job of narrating this book. Characters have different voices so it is easier to follow this story and the accents are not as confusing as it would otherwise be.
I would definitely be happy to listen to more by this narrator.

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

No, I wouldn't want to listen to this all in one got, but I did find that as it drew towards the end I didn't want to stop.

Any additional comments?

An interesting book sometimes, specially at the start, I felt the point of view shifted too often between different characters and it was rather confusing until the main ones started to emerge and the story became clearer.
I did not expect the ending, and it seems quite fitting for the story. I was not disappointed and felt it was a good way to finish.

All in all recommended.

  • Cloudstreet

  • By: Tim Winton
  • Narrated by: Peter Hosking
  • Length: 12 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 105
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 78

Two rural families flee to the city and find themselves sharing a great, breathing, shuddering joint called Cloudstreet, where they begin their lives from scratch. For 20 years they roister and rankle, laugh and curse until the roof over their heads becomes a home for their hearts.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Home Sick

  • By William on 06-10-13

Totally absorbing and believable

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

Reviewed: 09-03-17

If you could sum up Cloudstreet in three words, what would they be?

Brilliant, magical, happy

What other book might you compare Cloudstreet to, and why?

I rally can't compare to anything else I've read or listened to as it's not something I would normally go for. I bought this after seeing the TV adaptation, which I also thought was superb.

What does Peter Hosking bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Pete imbued life into the story. His narration is excellent and he manages to give it atmosphere and pathos depending on the situation.

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

This is one of those books that has you laughing out loud one minute, then crying the next. You can't but smile at Fish but get angry at Rose and so on. A real rollercoaster of a story. One of those books you wish would go on and on.

Any additional comments?

One of my favorite books, which I will go back to time and again, I@m sure.

  • Down Under

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: William Roberts
  • Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,001
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 810
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 804

Australia has more things that can kill you than anywhere else. Nevertheless, Bill Bryson journeyed to the country and promptly fell in love with it. The people are cheerful, their cities are clean, the beer is cold, and the sun nearly always shines.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hilarious

  • By Lynette Morris on 24-12-12

Aother hit form Mr Bryson

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

Reviewed: 08-03-17

What did you like most about Down Under?

I love Bill Bryson't style and the way he captures the little details that make his stories so wonderful.
As a long time fan, and an Aussie myself, this book is just brilliant.

Can't fault it other than I wish it was longer.

What other book might you compare Down Under to, and why?

If you've ever read any other books by Bill Bryson or listened to them, then you'll know what to expect. A rollec coaster of a ride. You can't not pay attention because every sentence carries full weight and takes you to the next one.

The other author you could compare to is Clive James, who, although a gentler style, has similar views and insights in his writing.

Which character – as performed by William Roberts – was your favourite?

I can't say I had any favorites. It was all brilliant.

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

Bring a tissue. You'll need it to wipe the tears of laughter

Any additional comments?

Go for it. You won't be sorry.

  • The Very First Damned Thing

  • An Author-Read Audio Exclusive
  • By: Jodi Taylor
  • Narrated by: Jodi Taylor
  • Length: 2 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,362
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,263
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,259

Jodi Taylor reads the long-awaited prequel in her Chronicles of St Mary’s series, as Dr Bairstow struggles to set up St Mary’s as we know it in a world still scarred by the ravages of civil war. Ever wondered how it all began? It’s two years since the final victory at the Battersea Barricades. The fighting might be finished, but for Dr Bairstow, just now setting up St Mary's, the struggle is only beginning. How will he assemble his team? From where will his funding come?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An intro....not much more

  • By Robyn on 29-11-16

Dreadful is too good a word for this.

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

Reviewed: 08-03-17

What disappointed you about The Very First Damned Thing?

This is so bad I don't even know where to start.Might have just about been saved by a professional reader, maybe, but as it is, the author puts the final nails in the coffin herself.I was hoping it would be an improvement on "One thing after another". If anything it's worse.Can't find a single thing to redeem this story. Sorry.

What could Jodi Taylor have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Bin it before it saw daylight.

How could the performance have been better?

Anything else could hardly have been worse.

What character would you cut from The Very First Damned Thing?

Frankly my dear, I don't give a dam.

Any additional comments?

Take this off the lists, please. I know it;s free, but that is overcharging for it.

  • Count Belisarius

  • By: Robert Graves
  • Narrated by: Laurence Kennedy
  • Length: 19 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

The sixth-century Roman Empire is a dangerous place, threatened on all frontiers by invaders. But soon the attacking armies of Vandals, Goths, and Persians grow to fear and respect the name of one man, Belisarius: horseman, archer, swordsman, and military commander of genius. As Belisarius triumphs in battles from the East to North Africa, his success causes him to become regarded with increasing jealousy and suspicion. In his palace in Constantinople, the Emperor Justinian, dominated by his wife Theodora, plots the great general’s downfall.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Hero Maligned (in so many ways)

  • By Tally Pendragon on 17-07-15

Exccellent

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

Reviewed: 08-01-17

Would you consider the audio edition of Count Belisarius to be better than the print version?

Each to their own, but I find Robert Graves books very difficult to read due to the lengthy narrative with very little dialogue. Audiobook in this instance works miracles as otherwise I would have missed out on this superb book.

What other book might you compare Count Belisarius to, and why?

I Claudius, probably his best known books, due to the TV adaptation, are comparable. Similar style and prose. If you liked those you'll like this.

Which character – as performed by Laurence Kennedy – was your favourite?

The narrator.

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

Engrossing

Any additional comments?

A must "listen" for I, Claudius fans

  • Wild Cards II: Aces High

  • By: George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Pat Cadigan, and others
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 14 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41

After the alien virus struck humanity in the wake of World War II, a handful of the survivors found they possessed superhuman powers. The Wild Cards shared-world volumes tell their story. Here in book two, we trace these heroes and villains through the tumultuous 1980s, in stories from SF and fantasy giants such as George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Pat Cadigan, Lewis Shiner, Walter Jon Williams, and others.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Silence can be golden

  • By AmV Andy on 21-08-16

Not as good as Wild Cards I

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

Reviewed: 08-01-17

What did you like best about Wild Cards II: Aces High? What did you like least?

Unfortunately I just wasn't impressed enough by any of this book to say any of it impressed me most. It was pretty much all magnolia wallpaper. I listened to it all in the car, but can't remember a single thing, which says it all.

What was most disappointing about the authors’s story?

Too bland. I guess it was the brief they were given, but the whole thing was just dull. Sorry.

What does Luke Daniels bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Luke Daniels does a great job of performing something that is ultimately not very interesting, so have to give him fll marks for that, but, as Obama once said. You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.

Do you think Wild Cards II: Aces High needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, it ran it's course during book 1. Another one is just prolonging the death.

Any additional comments?

Don't waste your time on this one.