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  • 6
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  • 9
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  • Notes From a Small Island

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: William Roberts
  • Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,491
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,139
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,133

After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson, the acclaimed author of such best sellers as The Mother Tongue and Made in America, decided it was time to move back to the United States for a while. This was partly to let his wife and kids experience life in Bryson's homeland, and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Note From A Small Islander

  • By Jo on 05-11-08

An excellent book, well read.

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

Reviewed: 02-02-16

Great fun. I always enjoy Bill Bryson and this did not disappoint. Knowing well some of the places he visited it was really interesting to hear his comments and it made me laugh out loud at times.
William Roberts' narration was also spot on. He introduced just enough extra quirkiness into the text, through understated use of accents, and his delivery was so relaxed and natural it made you feel aa if he had written the book himself.
Highly recommended.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Seveneves

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Peter Brooke
  • Length: 32 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 729
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 681
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 681

The astounding new novel from the master of science fiction. What would happen if the world were ending? When a catastrophic event renders the Earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain....

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Mixed feelings

  • By Chris on 24-07-15

What A Disappointment

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

Reviewed: 29-12-15

Would you try another book written by Neal Stephenson or narrated by Peter Brooke?

Having listened to this I'd be very dubious about listening to another Neal Stephenson book. If it wasn't for The Better Half being such a big fan I'd give up on him entirely as this is the second book of his that I've felt let down by. As for Peter Brooke? No, I found his voice to be too nasal and off-putting.

Has Seveneves put you off other books in this genre?

No, but it has considerably reduced my enthusiasm for the author...

Did Peter Brooke do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

Yes he did, to a certain extent, but I didn't like his voice so that put me off a lot.

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

At first I was extremely intrigued and interested to see where he was taking the story but, the further on I got, the more disappointed I felt. I only finished it too see if it would pull itself back together at the end. It didn't.

Any additional comments?

After reading "The Diamond Age" and feeling that it was a great series of ideas that fell apart into an unintelligable mess near the end I was ready to give up on Neal Stephenson but The Better Half encouraged me to give him another try and I'm glad I did it on audiobook because there is no way I'd have persevered with this rubbish had I been reading it as a paper book. There's so many missed opportunites here. It's a book of three parts that all seem like they are rough sketches for three individual books in a series.
The first part could have been a treatise on the human condition and how it would cope with the end of the world. Instead we are introduced to a series of characters that, while having really interesting backgrounds, seem utterly devoid of emotion and we are left with something akin to a list of procedures and the human beings are just cyphers to hang the science on- a theme that continues throughout the book.
The second part could have been a truly fascinating take on a political thriller but, sadly, the main protagonists are removed from each other for most of the story, the whole thing dissolves into page after page after page (this is why I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it) of technical description of orbital mechanics and lectures on physics. It's fabulously well-researched but, by the gods is it dull, and I love this sort of geekery. Again, character and emotion is almost entirely absent. Oh, and one whole plotline is abandoned never to be heard from again (unless I missed something) in a very rushed finale.
Finally, the third part. Here we have some incredible ideas wrapped up in the thinnest of storylines but at least the robotic, emotionless nature of the characters is given some sort of reason for being so this time. A futurist vision of human society is explored in great mechanical detail but emotion is left far behind as the humans are just organic parts of the world-machine. All well and good but, just as we are given the chance to see the effect this has really had on the human race...the book just comes to an end and the entire third part comes across as a 200+ page epilogue.
I really wanted to like this. The initial premise is brilliant and the science is so well-researched but there's no life, character or human emotion here. The entire humn race is wiped out, ffs, and barely anybody bats an eyelid or sheds a tear, as they have jobs to be getting on with. There are some fabulous twists to the plot but they are all essentially wasted.
I have read that Mr. Stephenson spent nearly ten years working on this. Might I suggest that, next time, he might look to spending some of that time searching for a collaborator? Someone who can write real human beings and give a counterpoint to the hard science, perhaps.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Drowning Girl

  • By: Caitlin R. Kiernan
  • Narrated by: Suzy Jackson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 24

India Morgan Phelps - Imp to her friends - is schizophrenic. Struggling with her perceptions of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about her encounters with creatures out of myth - or from something far, far stranger....

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Real or not?

  • By sarahmoose2000 on 18-10-12

An excellent insight into the schizophrenic mind.

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

Reviewed: 15-11-15

I enjoyed this. Neil Gaiman was dead right, in his introduction, when he spoke of how suitable the narrator was. She made the story come to life. As for the story itself it is a fascinating (and, I have been told) extremely accurate look into the mind of a schizophrenic. I feel this detracted from the story ever so slightly, leaving this reader a little unfulfilled at the conclusion. However, this should not be seen as a massive criticism as I really did enjoy the book as a whole. I felt for the characters and the situation was brought to live in a vivid and engaging fashion. I will be seeking out further work by the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • At Home: A Short History of Private Life

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,144
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,328
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,325

Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More Fact Pact Bryson

  • By Stewart Webb on 06-06-10

This is how history should be taught in schools.

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

Reviewed: 11-10-15

Bryson manages to bring elements of social history, that are normally overlooked by mainstream history books, to vivid life. His narration is smooth and utterly unobtrusive and fits perfectly with the personal nature of some of the narrative. It's also eye-opening to see how some of the worst aspects of 19th century life are being played out in modern political rhetoric. A superb book and highly recommended.

  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 10 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 432
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 408
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 402

Global phenomenon and Sunday Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction, following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things, which includes a never-before published American Gods story, "Black Dog". In this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it!

  • By Skiamakhos on 23-02-15

A must for Gaiman fans

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

Reviewed: 28-09-15

Immensely enjoyable stories and Gaiman is a surprisingly good narrator. Especially good to have another story of Shadow to round off the collection.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful