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Liz... Bristol

Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 49
  • reviews
  • 85
  • helpful votes
  • 136
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  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

  • By: Haruki Murakami
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas
  • Length: 26 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 900
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 629
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 625

Toru Okada is going through a difficult time. He is without a job, his cat has disappeared, and his wife is behaving strangely. Into this unbalanced world comes a variety of curious characters, a young girl sunbathing in a nearby garden; sisters who are very peculiar indeed; an old war veteran with a violent, disturbing story. Okada retreats to a deep well in a nearby house. And the story unfolds.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A very different listen

  • By Martin on 04-05-09

Another excellent Murakami novel, very well read.

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

Reviewed: 13-08-17

Murakami has created a story that is full of mystery and strangeness, and is not neatly up by the end. Indeed, there are quite a few strands that remain without any explanation at all. This does not cause me any difficulty whatsoever as it is an entertaining tale full of apparent sidetracks and dead-ends. If that sort of thing is anathema to you, the story may leave you exasperated. I know little of Japanese culture, but find that his stories are full of intrigue and leave me thinking about them for days afterwards.
I must comment that Rupert Degas is an exemplary narrator with an amazing range of voices. He is particularly good at women's voices, which many men are unable to carry off. This is very important in this story as it has more female than male characters.
This is the second Murakami novel that I've listened to, and have found both of them a very refreshing change from almost everything else that I choose. They have both been quite long, again, not normally an aspect of novels that I look for; in fact I tend to avoid them, so he must do something not only right for me, but do it very well indeed.
I cannot recommend Murakami's books (at least the two I've heard) highly enough. If you've not tried one yet, give him a listen!

  • The Siege

  • By: Helen Dunmore
  • Narrated by: Jilly Bond
  • Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 101
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 70

Leningrad, September 1941. German tanks surround the city, imprisoning those who live there. The besieged people of Leningrad face shells, starvation, and the Russian winter. Interweaving two love affairs in two generations, The Siege draws us deep into the Levin's family struggle to stay alive during this terrible winter.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Harrowing and deeply moving

  • By Kirstine on 08-10-16

Existential heroics from civilians.

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

Reviewed: 18-07-17

This is a civilian's view of war, and makes a great change of pace from the combatants' story. The sacrifices and privations of young and old as they stretch every last calorie to make it last. Helen Dunmore shows how the Russian people coped under siege, the lengths to which they had to go to stay alive, particularly the children. The freezing winters that made life for the attackers difficult also made it as difficult for those defending. Just to stay alive was heroic.
Jilly Bond does a good job narrating, sharing the voices of men, women and children under duress.
This isn't a happy story, but a heroic one. No-one faces gunfire or is even in uniform, but the struggle is no less severe for that. Well worth a listen. I recommend this book, all the more as it's not written by a Russian or a survivor of the siege themselves.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Snow Crash

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 17 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 779
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 601
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 603

Neal Stephenson is a blazing new force on the sci-fi scene. With the groundbreaking cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, he has "vaulted onto the literary stage." It weaves virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility - in short, it is the gigathriller of the information age.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Manga mini-whirlwind

  • By John on 19-01-10

Inventive story with good ideas about the future.

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

Reviewed: 05-07-17

Snow Crash has some interesting ideas that I haven't come across before, so full marks for ingenuity to Neal Stephenson. (If his ideas are not new, then I've clearly missed where they came from, which is entirely possible). However at times I wasn't quite sure where the storyline was going. The heroine was nicely drawn and underplayed compared to a few of the male characters. It's not a space opera-type story, for which I was pleased. It has a fair amount of action, but not for the sake of it or a lack of plot. What there is was well thought out and didn't feel repetitive at all.
Jonathan Davis did well as the narrator, and none of my occasional confusion was as a result of his work. I'd be happy to listen to his narrations in the future.
I'll also listen to a Neal Stephenson book, particularly if it's as inventive as this was. If you like a story which uses inventive ideas, then this is for you.

  • The Name of the Rose

  • By: Umberto Eco
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 21 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 557
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 528
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 529

This hugely engaging story of murder, superstition, religious politics and drama in a medieval monastery was one of the most striking novels to appear in the 1980s. The Name of the Rose is a thrilling story enriched with period detail and laced with tongue-in-cheek allusions to fictional characters, the most striking of which is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville, who displays many characteristics of Sherlock Holmes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sean Barrett does justice to this wonderful text.

  • By Booklover on 12-01-15

A classic brought wonderfully to life.

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

Reviewed: 09-06-17

I decided to listen to this as I've seen the film several times, but not recently. Sean Barrett does his usual immaculate narration. If pushed to choose just one reader, I'd have to nominate him, although there are lots of excellent narrators.
The story is pretty much what I recall from the film, but with more detail, naturally. I have no knowledge of life at the time this story is set, but it sounds from Eco's writing quite believable. I must likewise acknowledge the translator, although I have no idea who that may be. There is plenty of Latin and some Greek within the story, but I can speak neither language; but it added to the atmosphere.
If you know nothing of this story, listen anyway. It's excellent, managing to describe life in an Abbey for monks as well as to relate a story of detection. Quite a combination!

  • Star Maker

  • By: Olaf Stapledon
  • Narrated by: Andrew Wincott
  • Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 59
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 52

One moment a man sits on a suburban hill, gazing curiously at the stars. The next, he is whirling through the firmament, and perhaps the most remarkable of all science fiction journeys has begun. Even Stapledon's other great work, 'Last and First Men' pales in ambition next to 'Star Maker' which presents nothing less than an entire imagined history of life in the universe, encompassing billions of years.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Simply Divine

  • By Basho on 09-01-13

Not what I'd expected.

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

Reviewed: 02-06-17

If this isn't science fiction, I don't know what I'd call it. However it's not like any other sci-if that I've read/listened to. Speculative fiction may be better, as it truly is. It has an element of spirituality to it as well. It's my first Olaf Stapledon, so I don't know if it's typical of his writing. It didn't always hold my attention, but my concentration is not the best.
Andrew Wincott may have some responsibility for my feelings about attention, or it could be that he did his best with what he had. I shall spend more time researching Stapledon's novels before risking another one. As such, there is nothing wrong with Star Maker, it just wasn't what I'd expected, even from its' descriptions. I couldn't really begin to relate this novel in a cover blurb. I got it because I'd come across a recommendation elsewhere as it being an early example of the genre. It has little in the way of what I think of as plot development, but that may suit other people. If you fancy this, I hope it suits you; it wasn't really my cup of sci-fi coffee.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Bleak House

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett, Teresa Gallagher
  • Length: 35 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 441
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 328
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 325

A complex plot of love and inheritance is set against the English legal system of the mid-19th century. As the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce drags on, it becomes an obsession to everyone involved. And the issue on an inheritance ultimately becomes a question of murder.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Ultimate Dickens Audiobook

  • By nero5 on 17-01-12

A great story read by great narrators.

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

Reviewed: 14-05-17

It's worth my noting first that I'm not a fan of long books, and this is certainly the longest that I've ever listened to. With that said, it is also one of the best. I'd loved the BBC TV version with Anna Maxwell-Martin and Gillian Anderson, so risked this. Dickens proves his mastery of the form, putting many other excellent writers in the shade.
The narrators are excellent. I knew of Sean Barrett's terrific work already, but Tessa Gallagher is absolutely outstanding here. I shall watch out for her other work.
So, a very good story narrated very well indeed. If you want to listen to one of Dickens's best novels, you probably can't do better than this. Don't worry about the length, I didn't notice and neither will you.

  • Slaughterhouse-Five

  • By: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Narrated by: James Franco
  • Length: 5 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 984
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 930
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 924

Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut's usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralfamadorians, who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence).

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Did I Enjoy it or Experience it?

  • By Simon on 05-06-17

A story of life and ideas, well done.

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

Reviewed: 13-04-17

I bought this on it's reputation, knowing little about the story. Much of the story is, essentially, amazing; but is read in quite a deadpan manner as Billy Pilgrim, with all his experiences of time travelling, probably would tell it. It's short but packs a lot in.
James Franco does a good job of his deadpan delivery, and as it's short i didn't get bored with it. It is the content of the story, the events of Billy's life, that give the story it's variation and interest. Undoubtedly Audrey Niffenegger took the principle idea of this novella for The Time Traveller's Wife, but went in a romantic direction with it. There are no other similarities, but it was a big 'borrow' nonetheless.
Would I recommend Slaughterhouse Five? Definitely. Despite its title and aspects of it's storyline, there is no gory description of any kind to put anyone off due to their sensibilities. I know little of Vonnegut's other work, so can't comment on how it compares. I've not seen the film, so again, can't comment, but I now want to watch it. Technically it may classify as science fiction, but there is nothing here to put off those who dislike space operas.
Have a listen to a short novel with an interesting concept.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Level

  • DI Nick Dixon, Book 5
  • By: Damien Boyd
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 135
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 115
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 114

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the wife of parliamentary candidate Tom Perry is brutally murdered in an apparent burglary gone wrong. With the by-election campaign about to start in earnest and the festive season in full swing, torrential rain brings with it flood warnings on the Somerset Levels.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Voices

  • By Maggie on 11-04-16

Half-decent story spoilt by narrator.

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

Reviewed: 11-04-17

This is not the best story I've heard, by some way. It seemed a bit clunky in characterisations. However this was as nothing compared to the narrator. Napoleon Ryan has a rather deep voice which led to many of the male minor characters having what I can only describe as cartoonish voices. How he managed the female voices I'm not sure; either his voice was digitally altered, or a female narrator was brought in but not credited. Either way, it's a cheat.
The story had some potential, but the characterisations and narration will prevent me hearing another Boyd story or anything spoken by Ryan.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Career of Evil

  • Cormoran Strike, Book 3
  • By: Robert Galbraith
  • Narrated by: Robert Glenister
  • Length: 17 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,178
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5,751
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,744

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past whom he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another gripping story.

  • By Bernadette on 22-10-15

Excellent if a bit gory.

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

Reviewed: 22-03-17

JKR has hit her stride here, with a real sense of threat and stress for the main characters. The Blue Oyster Cult references are an interesting move, and not a connection to the author that I would have made. It tempts me to go back and listen to the band all these years later. The quotes seem a good tie in with the plot of the story and it's more visceral aspects. This story is a long way from Hogwarts! While there are gory references, Rowling doesn't linger over them, thankfully. Less is more, as they say. The relationship between the two main characters is deepened and extended, and teased a bit.
Robert Glenister is his usual, excellent narrator, always a pleasure to listen to.
Rowling is clearly enjoying the characters she has created, and probably has plenty of ideas that she will explore in novels to come. I will be ready to listen when Cormoran Strike returns.

  • The Dark Forest

  • The Three-Body Problem, Book 2
  • By: Cixin Liu
  • Narrated by: Bruno Roubicek
  • Length: 23 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 228
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 205
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206

The Trisolarian fleet has left their home world and will arrive in four centuries' time. But the Sophons and their extradimensional emissaries are already here. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a last-ditch defence that grants four individuals almost absolute power to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Where is the third book in this trilogy?

  • By MR A CARLIN on 08-01-18

Interesting sci-fi from a Chinese author.

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

Reviewed: 15-03-17

I thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi from a different culture. It brought a different angle to the genre, for me. My only difficulty was remembering the different character's names. I managed to follow the storyline well enough.
Bruno Roubicek's narration was excellent, minimising my inability with the names.
I will listen to the others in this trilogy, but don't understand why the first book has been unavailable to listen to almost since I came across it. Hopefully this will be corrected soon, and certainly before the third book is released to listen to.