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Tom

West Wickham, United Kingdom
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Disappointing

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-11

I hesitate to disagree with other reviewers but I found this book a disappointment.

The plot is just too far-fetched and very contrived, and the way the author tries to rack up the tension just didn't work for me. It's been done far better by other authors eg Richard Matheson and the great Edgar Allen Poe.

Jermey Northam is a very talented narrator and he does his best - indeed it was the only thing that kept me going to the end - but a good narrator cant make up for a mediocre book. Sorry.

10 of 20 people found this review helpful

The First American cover art

A fascinating biography of a truly great man

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-11

What a wonderful book. I had not realised what a unique and brilliant character Benjamin Franklin was. The book sets him superbly well in his time and blends the personal story and his role in the great events of the age in a well balanced way. H W Brands' prose style may be a little old fashioned for some people, but he tells the story well, and despite the length of the book, it didn't drag.

I would have given the book five stars, but for the narration which didn't really do it for me - too homespun, I think. Someone like Grover Gardiner - who narrated the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich so well - would I think have brought the book more to life, and captured better Franklin's unique blend of common sense and humour.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

A fine and interesting book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-11

I read this book when it was first published many years ago, and was looking forward to the updated edition. Alistair Horne tells the story of Algeria's war of independence in an absorbing and interesting way. There's plenty of detail, but he doesn't let it get in the way of the narrative and his judgements seem to the point and well balanced, particularly when he is drawing comparisions with the present day. Hindsight is wonderful, but you do wonder how politicians dont seem to learn from history.

I did find it quite hard to keep a grip of the huge cast of characters, not made easy by the foreign names, but that's me not the book's fault! But you might want to keep a map of Algeria handy if you're not familiar with the geography. Understanding and keeping track is greatly helped by a wonderfully well paced and clear narration, One of the best I've heard.

Quite a long book but well worth a listen if you are interested in modern history from off the beaten track.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

A fine and interesting book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-11

Barbara Tuchman won a Pulitzer Prize for this book and it is easy to understand why. She deals with a massively important turning point in history and writes in such an uncluttered and interesting style, and strikes a nicely judged balance between the historical narrative and comment. But you do need to concentrate to keep a grip of the huge cast of characters and the foreign names!

Superbly well narrated.

The only problem with listening to audio history books with a military them is that unless your grasp of of the geography is very good, you occasionly need to resort to a map to keep track of what's going on. But this does not detract from the enjoyment of the book.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Absorbing and inventive book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-11

This was the second John Irving audiobook I have listened to - the other being A Prayer for Owen Meany. It's taken me a while to get round to it as I was slightly put off by the length; although I enjoyed Owen Meany, it did lack the narrative momentum that makes a really good audiobook, and I was a little concerned that Son of the Circus might be the same, and this might make it a demanding and long listen.

But I was very pleasantly surprised. The plot is certainly an original one, very interesting and inventive, and the book never flags. The cast is quite a big one, but the author paints them all with a sure and vivid touch, and yoou want to know what is going to happen to them. Narration by David Colacci is excellent and he really makes the book such a pleasure to listen to.

All in all, a very enjoyable book and strongly recommended.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

Classic Wodehouse

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-11

I was really surprised to come across a PGW work which I had not previously read - what a lovely treat!

This is a Blandings Castle adventure with all the usual ingredients - Lord Emsworth beset by the dragon Connie, an unwelcome guest in the person of the ghastly Duke of Dunstable, complicated love interest, impostors and the wonderful Galahad Threepwood coming to the rescue of all in his own brilliant style. Perhaps the plot does not achieve the same supremely inventive daftness of some of the earlier Blandings tales, but it is wonderfully entertaining nonetheless. Nigel Lambert is a superb narrator; he paces the book brilliantly; he really savours the jokes and he brings all the characters vividly to life, especially the horrible Dunstable.

Strongly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Good stuff from the master

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-11

I love listening to P G Wodehouse audiobooks. He is such a good writer that it is sheer pleasure to go at the pace of the narrator so you can savour every word and chortle at every joke.

PGW is on top form in this quite short Jeeves outing. Dinsdale Landen is a fine narrator - really enjoying himself and bringing the book splendidly to life - but he goes just a tad too fast for my liking. Still, well worth a listen and excellent entertainment.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Great reading of a great classic

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-07-11

Crime and Punishment is such a dark and intense book, with a reputation arguably with being difficult which I'm sure puts many people off. Perhaps, however, the best way to experience it is an audiobook; much of the book comprises dialogue or inner monologue, so a good narrator can really make sense of the story and bring the book alive.

And indeed Anthony Heal does a marvellous job in this audio-version; he reads at quite a pace, but always clearly, and this in fact suits Dostoyevsky's style very well. He also paints the large cast of complex characters in a convincing and vivid way, and is assured with the pronunciation of Russian names. I have previously listened to the George Guidall reading, which is truly excellent, but this version is just as good.

One minor beef: sound quality was not ideal - quite heavy in the base registry - surprising with such a modern recording; dont think it was my headphones, but try a sample first if you are thinkng of buying the book, though I wouldn't let this put you off.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

An enjoyable audiobook

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-07-11

I confess that I had never read this classic before, having perhaps been illogically put off by not liking "Wuthering Heights", and was expecting a rather heavy and overwrought experience, so it was a pleasant surprise that the book was so enjoyable. The characters of the two main protaganists - Rochester and Jane Eyre herself - are not at all as they are perhaps assumed based on film versions. Jane turns out to be feisty and independent-minded and Rochester warmly vulnerable. The story bowls along at a good pace, even though at times it gets bogged down a tad. Best of all is the narration which really brings the book alive.

I might give Wuthering Heights another chance!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

An interesting book, very well narrated

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-07-11

This is a very entertainingly written book about an obscure corner of modern history, namely how the CIA came to back the Afghan mujahadeen in their fight against the Russian Invasion of 1979 (?). It probably would not pass muster as serious history, but it is surprisingly absorbing and thought provoking - particularly with regard to the consequences vis a vis 9/11 and the War on Terror etc. It also shines a light on the working of government in the USA, which I for one found very interesting. Narration and sound quality are excellent.

If you like modern history and are looking for something off the beaten track, you could do a lot worse than try this book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful