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John

Dublin, Ireland
  • 9
  • reviews
  • 54
  • helpful votes
  • 28
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A Monster Calls
    
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Patrick Ness
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Jason Isaacs
    
    


    
    Length: 3 hrs and 51 mins
    265 ratings
    Overall 4.7
  • A Monster Calls

  • By: Patrick Ness
  • Narrated by: Jason Isaacs
  • Length: 3 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 230

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming.... This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful, touching and poignant.

  • By @Scattered_Laura on 09-07-12

Good - but where's the illustrations?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-11-11

Not for the first time am I little bit annoyed to read a rave review of a book that failed to mention that it's a children's book. But all in all, I still really enjoyed it.

Apart from the review, the cover really drew me in. I love the cover. I was a bit disappointed to discover that the physical book is chockablock with fantastic illustrations. Why are audiobook listeners deprived of these? Is there still some myth that most audiobook listeners are blind? I would have loved if the images were part of the download. Actually in a perfect world, a digital purchase would get you an audiobook and an e-book in package.

I also just finished listening to a Mark Kermode book where he said at one point "Look at the image below"!

6 of 9 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 2,190
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,369
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,364

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

Sorry Bill - you're just not a narrator

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-06-11

BRYSON: So I want to do a follow up called "A short history of some other stuff too" - a potted history about lots of other odds and ends I find interesting.
PUBLISHER: No, no, no. You can't do that - you need a new title and a new theme.
BRYSON: Oh.
PUBLISHER: Here's a whacky idea. But it might just work. Call it "At home" and base each chapter on a room of your home and then just talk about whatever you like.
BRYSON: Really? And not have anything to do with the room I'm talking about?
PUBLISHER: Well there will be a few easy ones at the start, like the kitchen and the bedroom. You have enough material for those to make them very topical. But then you could start getting more and more tenous in other chapters, no one will notice.
BRYSON: ummm
PUBLISHER: Yeah it'd be hilarious - do a whole chapter called The Study - but instead talk about mice and rats, and don't even mention the study. By the end you can talk about whatever you want. The Attic can be about Darwin, you like Darwin don't you?
BRYSON: Erm - yeah
PUBLISHER: So what are you waiting for? Off you go.

So some chapters are specifically related to the room at hand, others amusingly bear not the most tenuous link. Not that that takes anything away from the content. It's a good book It's not quite the fantastic read that "A short history of nearly everything" is, but it's in the same vein.

In fact despise lots of amusing historical stories, and word origins, and top notch trivia, I didn't enjoy this book half as much as some of his others, and hardly laughed at all. Unusual for reading Bryson.

Pretty sure I can put it all down to buying the audiobook even though I knew better after having major doubts while listening to a sample. Someone told me I'd get used to it. He was wrong. Bryson just doesn't have the delivery to read an audiobook and amazingly makes his own words sound far less interesting by merely reading them out loud. So I imagine it's a much better book on paper.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • When God Was a Rabbit

  • By: Sarah Winman
  • Narrated by: Sarah Winman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 646
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 392
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 391

This is a story about a brother and a sister. It's a story about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a story about love in all its forms.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My first review

  • By Lou on 20-04-11

Loved it

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-03-11

I fell in love with this book within the first thirty pages. I love a lot of books but there aren't many that I have been IN love with it. And so it went with When God Was s Rabbit, an adorable, slightly quirky story, about a girl called Elly and those she loves.?

I find it hard to separate the book from the audiobook in this instance. The audiobook was such a perfectly complete piece. Its read by the author, Sarah Winman, with great warmth and perfect nuance, already knowing her characters so well. She has a fantastic voice both as a writer and narrator. I loved the cheeky voices of the children. Adult narrators often over do the chirpy voice thing. ?

Though the children are such adorable characters you miss them when they've flown the coop, all too soon for my liking. Its hard not to be a bit dissapointed when you discover they've jumped to adulthood. I wanted to stay immersed in the wonderful world of childhood that bit longer. But such is life. Like it or not, Adulthood comes knocking and Sarah Winman does her best to hold on to the things we hold dear from our formative years.

Its all too ?easy for novelists to make BIG things happen in their books. Its too easy to give characters great luck, or bad luck, or greath health or wealth or disease, or fame or fortune. I often wince at the obvious plot devices, but?Sarah Winman hilariously turns that on it's head and does it all! ?You could retitle it to?When God Was A Novelist.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

Never Let Me Go
    
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Kazuo Ishiguro
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Emilia Fox
    
    


    
    Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
    477 ratings
    Overall 3.7
  • Never Let Me Go

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Emilia Fox
  • Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 477
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 69

Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were pupils at Hailsham, an idyllic establishment situated deep in the English countryside. The children there were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there? It is only years later that Kathy, now aged 31, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb

  • By Chris on 07-02-11

Good but bit disappointng too

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-03-11

I did like it. It's a very easy read. And some nice writing but I had quite a few problems with it and wouldn't rate it quite as highly as many other people.

The voice of the audiobook sounded much older than I think they were supposed to be which was quite misleading. Seeing the trailer of the movie since I finished, portrays the characters in a very different light to the audiobook.

  • 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 1,017
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 741
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 737

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

Great but full of woo woo

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-02-11

As much as I don't like the fact myself, my loathing for all things woo has started to taint fiction for me recently. Any mention of fortune-telling or anything of that ilk produces and internal groan I just can't help.

Even though I like otherwordly novels with mystical characters, another half of me is thinking 'what a crock...'. I know, I know, it's ridicilous to be thinking that way. It's pure fiction but I can't help thinking the slightest encouragement for that nonense is unhealthy. Ridicilous that it should taint fiction for me really, just a tad, but it does.

So I really liked The Wind-up Bird Chronicle but couldn't exacty bring myself to say I loved it. Not as much as most people seemed to

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • By: Rebecca Skloot
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 310
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 219
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 219

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became one of the most important tools in medicine

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating...and I don't really like science

  • By Helen on 10-03-15

Fascinating

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-02-11

Fascinating book, perfectly marrying scientific fact with the amazing story of one woman and her immortal cells which are still growing today in thousands of labs all over the world. The author, Rebecca Skloot becomes a vital part of the story as she takes the angrily uninformed Lacks family by the hand and drags them from the superstition and misinformation that plagues the family, through to a more appreciative understanding of the contribution their mother's cells have made to the world.

The idea of reading a scientific history of cell culture wouldn't exactly thrill me - but this is an amazing (true) story, wonderfully told with a bunch of interesting characters. And the audiobook is beautifully narrated too, which really brought it to life.

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

  • By: Susanna Clarke
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 32 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,767
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,409
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,410

Winner of the British Book Awards, Newcomer of the Year, 2005.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Pleasingly long

  • By Felix on 24-08-05

Not good enough to justify being so long

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-01-11

Entertaining enough but it came so highly recommended from an audio book review site, that I found it extremely over-hyped and ultimately quite disappointing. It was just a bit too light and flimsy for me; it could have almost been a children's book.

Some of the smaller stories were amusing enough. The humour was almost Douglas Adams like but not quite.

I think the biggest problem I had with the book is that it just wasn't good enough to justify the length. If it was half the size, I might not have got so bored and annoyed with it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Finkler Question

  • By: Howard Jacobson
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 128
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 45

Julian Treslove and Sam Finkler are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick. Now all three are recently widowed, in their own way, and spend sweetly painful evenings together reminiscing. Until an unexpected violent attack brings everything they thought they knew into question.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant, dark, funny and a complete pleasure

  • By Deborah on 14-01-11

Interesting but soulless

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-01-11

Even though I know it was deliberately void of character development, it was just a bit too soulless for me. Lot's of clever thematic metaphors and all that malarkey but all head and no heart makes Serge a dull boy. One for the critics to de-construct.

The narrator didn't help much either. He reminded me of a newsreader half the time. Maybe he was just keeping in spirit with the lack of emotion in the book. The sound quality wasn't great either though.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Freedom

  • By: Jonathan Franzen
  • Narrated by: David Ledoux
  • Length: 24 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 338
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 172
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169

Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of too much liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's intensely realized characters, as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The new 'Great American Novel'

  • By Deborah on 07-03-11

I avoided all the hype and loved it

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-10

I don't understand why more people don't write like Franzen; portraying the struggles, frustrations and complications of everyday life that are right there in front of us. Like Frank Skinner sticking it to other songwriters ?Apparently there's a whole world out there somewhere. It's right there, right there?.

Maybe most people do read to escape but I just get frustrated with unrealistic fiction. If the characters and the world they live in aren?t real, I don?t care about anything else ...more I don't understand why more people don't write like Franzen; portraying the struggles, frustrations and complications of everyday life that are right there in front of us. Like Frank Skinner sticking it to other songwriters ?Apparently there's a whole world out there somewhere. It's right there, right there?.

Maybe most people do read to escape but I just get frustrated with unrealistic fiction. If the characters and the world they live in aren?t real, I don?t care about anything else in the book. Apart from deliberate surrealism of course. Maybe it?s because you?d really have to put so much of yourself and your loved ones in there to render such well drawn characters. Is that what makes it so hard for other writers?

So I loved Freedom. I was really looking forward to it and it lived up to expectations and ticked all my authenticity boxes. I was always dying to get back to it and see what everyone was up to and spend some more time in their company. Not that I necessarily liked them. They all had likable and dis-likable traits, which in itself is just another healthy dose of reality.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful