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Brilliant book just don't get this audio version.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I should start this off by saying I love this book and I’ve been a long time fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. However due to the length and undertaking of these novels I’ve only had the pleasure of reading them all once. After reading Fire and Blood earlier in the year, reminding myself what a great writer Martin is, and once the tv show finished, I felt the itch to go back to them.
I do a lot of running so thought this would be the ideal audiobook to distract myself from the miles on the road.
I was very, very wrong! As much as I enjoy the intricate tale Martin has weaved and was endlessly distracted and vexed by the narration by Roy Dotrice. It was too dramatic and childish for my liking. Some of the characters voices were downright disgusting, such as the slobbering Varys (not a nice sound when pitched right inside your ears!).
However I persevered to the end, which is to say for all 32 hours. Certainly there were times when I just fell into the story and forgot about the voice reading it to me. The writing and story are simply too great to ruin the telling. But needless to say, eventually the spell would be broken, either by an ill chosen accent or tone.
I’m sure there will be many who enjoy Dotrice's take on GoT, but he is not to my tastes at all. I was very dismayed to find that there are no alternative narrators for the following few books either so I’m afraid I’ll have to leave the audiobook versions alone for the foreseeable future.

Enjoyed more when I was younger but still good.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I had read this book years ago but I consumed it so quickly that I barely remembered it and felt I needed to give it another go.
I heard the audiobook, narrated by Pullman himself, was really well done so I decided to get it and listen while going out running.
At first I was distracted by the many actors voices that were interspersed with Pullmans narration, and often found it quite jarring to hear the cockney twang along with Pullmans soothing voice, but I got used to it.
The audio in general had a heavy bass sound to it, that at first I thought was an issue with my headphones but when listening in the car, it was there too.
Overall though it was an enjoyable story and these minor details didn’t deter me in any way from finishing it.
I do think I was certainly more engrossed in the tale when I was younger but I’m certainly going to continue with the series (once Audible finally get the rest of them) and hope my enjoyment of it improves as it goes on.

Plodding narrative. Achingly repetitive at times.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I just could not get into this book at all. I hated it. I hated the narrators voice (I listened to the audiobook), I hated the plodding plot which seemed to be stretched for incomprehensible reasons at times, and the characters never came across as relatable or people I could invest in.
The story is about time travel. A tricky basis for a story at the best of times, though in this aspect Haywood navigates it well. He doesn’t get bogged down in the nitty gritty dilemmas of quantum and string theory (I don’t understand these terms but it’s not due to a lack of writers and directors attempting to teach me!), and though he does touch on parallel universes it’s not critical to the understanding of the plot.
He focuses the story on three characters, the bravest people that could be found for a top secret mission upon which the most dire of consequences will fall, if they fail.
I found the initial chapters, where we are introduced to each of these characters, the most captivating in the story and they had held such promise of what was in store.
However, the story began to meander and on multiple occasions I found myself wondering why are we still at this point. The narrative should have moved on way before now. The dialogue was achingly repetitive, which becomes much more apparent I think, when listening to it, rather than reading it. Haywood’s bleak attempts at humour were just cringeworthy.
My biggest gripe is that I invested so much time into this novel, because I hate to quit one once I start but I don’t even get the satisfaction of a conclusion as this is only the first in a trilogy. I won’t be continuing the saga however.

A bit boring to be honest.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I was very disappointed with this book. I’m a fan of Lewis’ and only read Flash Boys earlier this year, which I loved so my expectations, admittedly, were high.
However, from an early stage in the book, I began to wonder when Lewis would get to the point, and this thought kept resurfacing as I read on until I eventually, sorrily, realised that this was all there was to it.
The book focuses on two prominent psychologists, albeit relatively unknown outside of their field,, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who revolutionised the way we view information and make decisions.
These academic partners, both Israeli, were geniuses and their work has changed the world as we know it and yet so few of us even know who they are.
You have revolutionary concepts, two mysterious geniuses and an untold story so it’s not hard to see why Lewis felt this was worth writing about.
Unfortunately, I found the story itself to be rather boring. The feats these men achieved, though incredible, never came across as such in the telling. As can be the case with many scientific discoveries, they so often seem like common sense once they have been proven.
As for the two men themselves, I did not find it particularly engaging learning about their upbringing, the jobs and travels or the tumultuous relationships they had between themselves and others.
Their time in the military was probably the most interesting part for me but it was only mentioned sparingly.
For anyone but the most ardent fans of Michael Lewis, I would recommend giving this a miss.

Witty, farcical and intelligent but a little dull

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I found this book both ludicrous and witty but maybe not quite hilarious. Adams tells the story of Arthur Dent, a man having the worst day ever, only to find things get ridiculously worse and that the very Earth itself is going to be destroyed.
His good friend, and also secretly an alien, called Ford, brings him on a meandering, farcical trip throughout the galaxy, giving him only a digital travel guide to educate him on his way.
Adams has a unique style of wit that has undoubtedly inspired many writers down the years. There is rarely a line in the book that is not a joke, or at least the lead to a joke.
This has been a book that was long on my list of must reads and I’m happy to have final gotten round to it. However, probably due to my high expectations, I was left a little disappointed and can’t see myself finishing the series.
I found the story itself to be a little dull, and though the writing was witty and smart, the comedy felt safe with little edge to it.

Too much pontificating.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I was hoping this book would be a useful, motivating, lifestyle guide that I could live by day to day, full of insight and thought provoking lessons. Unfortunately it left me vastly disappointed and more eager to be done with it than I’ve ever felt before.
I found it to be a tedious, meandering, pontifical narrative, which ruined what could have been a astute guide for life.
Peterson says early on that the book stemmed from a question he had seen on Quora, about rules to live by. He came up with many more than 12 in that instance but for the sake of the book he factored it down to these essential 12. I wish he had just stuck with the original list and said less about each point.
The fact that one of these rules is about how to raise your children demonstrates how this is not a book open to everyone. Many people will have no interest or are unable to raise children so it’s just 11 rules for them. This may seem slightly disingenuous, as the meaning of the rules often go much deeper than a simple chapter title but I feel in this case, it’s fair to say the majority of the chapter is solely about raising kids.
But whilst speaking about the deeper meaning, I should point out another irritating trait throughout the book, and that’s how Peterson often goes off into long rambling tangents that go on for so long that I struggle to believe I’m still on the same chapter that I started.
Perhaps most frustrating of all though, for me, an atheist, was his constant referencing of the bible and of God, as examples to prove or back his point. Peterson’s religious beliefs rarely go more than a few pages without being mentioned; beliefs that I do not share and therefore prevent me from connecting with his point. The fact that these beliefs are littered throughout almost every chapter means that very often I had to nullify myself to what he was saying, often losing touch with the point he was trying to make. If I don’t believe in the foundation of the point, how can I believe in the point itself?
There were good parts for me throughout the book though, and there will be bits and pieces that will stick with me I’m sure. Peterson is clearly a very intelligent, well educated fellow and his dedication to his faith is admirable. Maybe he couldn’t have written this book without mentioning his faith and I can understand that but I think it would have been a fuller, more embracing read if he had.

Fascinating and original. Not entirely engrossing.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

(May contain spoilers, though I've tried my best to be a vague as possible).
This is a “true crime” telling of a fictional murder that occurs in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th century. It focuses on the confessed killer, a young man, Rodrick Macrae.
Burnet tells the story in three parts, each designed to make you rethink what you know and any conclusions you may have jumped to.
The first part, a memoir written by Rody in his prison cell in Inverness as he awaits his trial, tells a fascinating and immersive tale, not only of the series of events that lead to him committing multiple, gruesome murders one solemn day, but also of the way of life for these common villagers of the highlands back in the 19th century. Indeed, the gap between wealth and poverty is always apparent throughout each part of the novel and plays no small role.
It was this first part of the book I enjoyed the most, and listening to it as an audiobook, hearing the narrator's soft lulling Scottish drawl recount the details of Macrae’s life was very easy on the ear.
The second part of the novel is an account by James Bruce Thompson, a criminal psychiatrist, who examined Roderick in prison to determine whether or not he was insane.
He tells us of his credentials, how he came to meet Macrae and in less than flattering detail, his opinions of the boy and his ‘class’.
The final part of the book is the trial itself. Here we find out many additional, and conflicting details, to the events that occurred and to the character of Roderick Macrae, and eventually this gathers pace until we get to hear the verdict of the jury.
This book was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. As a piece of writing I can see why. Macrae Burnet's writing is beautifully eloquent and flowing. Even now, I can picture the beautiful landscapes that surround the village of Culduie, and also the squalor that lay within it.
The characters were brilliantly developed although I did feel somewhat disappointed with how a few of them were left. Roderick’s sister Jetta fascinated me, and I was expecting more to come, regarding her story, but I was more than a little bereft with how it ended. It felt as though any effort I’d invested into her had been a waste. This could be said for other characters too.
Many people have heralded this novel for its mystery and humour. As for the humour, I was very rarely aware of it. This didn’t diminish my experience of listening to the audiobook but it did perplex me that so many others found it darkly funny. Maybe this humour is lost in the telling (rather than reading) of the story.
The mystery, however, to me, was not praise worthy. I never felt compelled, one way or the other to lend my support to a side. It ultimately seemed to boil down to he said/ she said (or they said) but without having a particular reason to trust one character more than the next I had no inclination as to who was telling the truth, nor a desire for one to be correct.
Ultimately this is where the novel failed for me. Whilst I remained intrigued and fascinated throughout the novel, and I’m glad to have consumed it, much like Roderick’s experience with the ram, I was left awaiting a killer blow that never quite landed.

Not Gladwell's best work

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

Reviewed: 06-01-20

I was left a little disappointed with this book. It just wasn’t what I had expected it to be. I heard great things about it; that it would change the way I look at the world but unfortunately it read more like a business book than a self help one.
There were interesting points in it undoubtedly, but just very little that I felt I could apply to my everyday life.
I do enjoy the sound of Malcolm Gladwell’s voice and his style of writing, and I would highly recommend anyone who enjoyed this book to listen to his podcast Revisionist History.
As for this book I’d take it or leave it. I was much more impressed with David and Goliath, Outliers, and more recently, the excellent Talking to Strangers.

Le Carre at his best.

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

Reviewed: 05-01-20

Brilliantly written spy thriller about a head of operations in Berlin, British agent who is brought home, only to be dismissed by the circus in disgrace.
This is a beautifully paced, intelligent, twisting tale that was just a pleasure to listen to. The level of detail could have been cumbersome to deal with but Le Carre has a skill where he just includes only enough that’s needed and the words just flow by.
I loved it down to the very last words.

Enjoyable, albeit forgettable.

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

Reviewed: 05-01-20

Kya is left abandoned as a child in her family’s shack of a house out in the marshes of North Carolina. ‘Swamp girl’ or ‘Swamp trash’ is how the locals in the nearest town refer to her.
She lives out the majority of her adolescence and 20’s in solitude and isolation, never going to school, with only the local gulls as company, and occasionally a visit from Tate, a friend of her departed brother.
The story covers the formative years of Kya’s life, how she survives and thrives in her own little world and also her dalliances with love and desire.
The story moves back and forth in time and we know from an early stage there is a sinister tale in the making.
The story was an enjoyable intrigue and Owens did well to create a sense of being back in these marshlands of 1950-60’s North Carolina.
However, the language seemed at times a bit overwrought for my liking although that could in part be due to the languid drawl of the narrator (I listened to the audiobook), which I’m sure is an authentic Carolina accent, but I found it distracting, and even irritating at times.
Overall though it was a pleasant read but not one I imagine I will remember for too long.