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Mirium

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  • 131
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Secrets cover art
  • Secrets

  • By: Freya North
  • Narrated by: Phoebe James
  • Length: 17 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 18

Joe has a beautiful house, a great job and no commitments - and he likes it like that. All he needs is a quiet house-sitter for his seaside retreat. When Tess turns up, he's not sure she's right for the job. Her past is a blank and she's something of an enigma. But there's something about her and it looks as though she's here to stay....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved hearing the whole story!

  • By Rosie and Duncan on 02-11-10

A good plot, made tedious by the writing

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-11-10

This book opens promisingly with some intriguing questions: who is Tess hiding from? Why is she running away? - but unfortunately as the story develops it becomes very tedious. The main problem is the exceptionally slow pace of the plot. There is a good story in here but it is difficult to find underneath all the padding: endless minute descriptions of mundane events, and far too many long-winded conversations and discussions which don?t serve either to illuminate the characters or move the story along.
Tess is supposed to be thirty but a lot of the time she behaves like a silly teenager. The author may have deliberately made her a bit dappy in an attempt to make her character more appealing, but I just found her irritating.
Although the descriptions of the locations are very detailed, I never felt that they evoked much of an atmosphere or captured a spirit of place. There are occasional moments of tension and drama, but these are eclipsed by the plodding tempo of the rest of the story. The switches between past and present tense are pointless and annoying.
I struggled on to the end, but wished I hadn?t wasted time on the last hour, in which nothing really happens but a parcelling-up into a saccharine happy ending. Whatever Joe?s excuses, I find it quite inconceivable that he ?forgot? to mention to Tess the decision he has made about the house.
This is the first book I have listened to/read by Freya North, and I?m afraid it doesn?t inspire me to try any of her others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

King Solomon's Mines cover art
  • King Solomon's Mines

  • By: H. Rider Haggard
  • Narrated by: John Richmond
  • Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    0 out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    0 out of 5 stars 0

This great novel of African adventure continues to be a favorite among those who love a thrilling tale. Perhaps the reason for its enduring appeal is that it is a story filled with qualities close to the human heart: adventure, discovery, desire for immortality, terror, search for the primitive. As Kipling said of Haggard's work, "It goes, and it grips, and it moves with all the freshness of youth."

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A ripping yarn

  • By Mirium on 18-07-10

A ripping yarn

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-07-10

A ripping yarn! Attitudes a bit outdated now, but great fun.

  • Little Women

  • By: Louisa May Alcott
  • Narrated by: Barbara Caruso
  • Length: 19 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 67
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34

Most people know this book from the Academy Award-winning motion picture starring Winona Ryder. Now, introduce them to the sparkling American classic behind the movie: a charming portrait of the joys and hardships of the four sisters in Civil War New England. Separated by the war from their beloved parents, these "little women" struggle to find their place in the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brian United Kingdom

  • By Brian on 22-04-10

Sweet

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-04-10

This was one of my mother?s favourite books. She used to quote from it: ?birds in their little nests agree?; ?don?t let the sun go down upon your anger?; ?into every life a little rain must fall?, etc. I think she saw the March family as an ideal, and wished that we were more like them. We weren?t (thank heaven).

I read it when I was about 12 and remember being singularly unimpressed. Then I saw it here on Audible and wondered if it might be one of those children?s classics, like Treasure Island, that I would appreciate more as an adult. Well, my mature thoughts are that it?s a sweet book, heartwarming and uplifting ? I just wish it had a little bit more edge. While the sisters encounter disappointment, disagreement and even tragedy, there seems to be nothing that can?t be resolved with a few wise words from Marmee. Even Jo, who is supposed to be the hot-tempered rebel, never does anything really Bad.

Now, as then, I can?t quite come to terms with the family?s ?poverty? when they live in what is obviously quite a substantial house with a nice garden, eat lots of delicious food, and employ a housekeeper!

It?s nicely read, and if you want something inoffensive and unchallenging, I would thoroughly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Jamaica Inn

  • By: Daphne du Maurier
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,033
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 839
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 837

Jamaica Inn stands alone on Bodmin Moor, stark and forbidding, its walls tainted with corruption. Young Mary Yellon soon learns of her uncle Joss Merlyn's strange trade here. But does he deal in blacker secrets still?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A grand story..narration not so grand

  • By Jeremy P. James on 24-08-11

Wonderful old-fashioned melodrama

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-04-10

A wonderful old-fashioned melodrama with all the right ingredients: a creepy old inn, lonely moorland, desolate seashore, a feisty heroine, a charming desperado of a hero, a black-hearted villain, a false friend?what more could you want? Daphne du Maurier?s expert plotting stays just within the bounds of possibility, and if her writing sometimes seems a bit clich?d, my guess is that this is because later and lesser authors have copied her style.

Nicely read by Tony Britton, whose Cornish accent convinced me about 90% of the time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Book Thief

  • By: Markus Zusak
  • Narrated by: Allan Corduner
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,104
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,453
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,451

When nine-year-old Liesel arrives outside the boxlike house of her new foster parents at 33 Himmel Street, she refuses to get out of the car. Liesel has been separated from her parents, "Kommunists", forever, and at the burial of her little brother, she steals a gravedigger's instruction manual, which she can't read. It is the beginning of her illustrious career.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great listen

  • By Karen on 17-05-07

Excellent idea, let down by serious flaws

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-04-10

I had great hopes for this as it had had such good reviews, but was sadly disappointed. It was an excellent idea, let down by serious flaws in the writing and reading.
There were countless clumsy metaphors; the author was trying so hard to be clever and original, he kept coming up with things like ?gangly blue eyes? and ?the dark came in pieces?. I was so distracted by considering whether any sort of eyes could truly be described as ?gangly? that I missed the next few sentences!
Another irritating trick was the author?s habit of presenting information in the form of lists, when it could easily and more successfully have been woven into the narrative.
However, the most annoying thing, as far as I was concerned, was the dreadful German accent employed by Allan Corduner. It sounded ridiculous, like something out of ?Allo Allo?. If the characters had been Germans speaking English, then it would have been appropriate, but as they were Germans speaking German, it didn?t make sense. One of my first Audible downloads was ?Anna Karenina? read by Davina Porter. She didn?t feel the need to put on a funny accent to remind us that the characters were speaking Russian, so why do it here?
Because of these shortcomings, the pathos of the story passed me right by, which is a great shame.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite

  • By: Beatrice Colin
  • Narrated by: Jilly Bond
  • Length: 13 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

The debauched celebration of the cabaret era. The magical ascent of cinema. The deprivations of World War I and the build up to World War II. Set against the rise and fall of Berlin and the innovations in art that accompanied it, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite brilliantly weaves together the story of orphan girl Lilly Nelly Aphrodite's remarkable journey from poverty to film stardom.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A disappointment

  • By Mirium on 05-04-10

A disappointment

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-04-10

A more apt title for this would have been ?The Sad and Sordid Life of Lilly Aphrodite? as there is little about poor Lilly?s life that is luminous (except her grey eyes, which are described as such on a couple of occasions).
The story takes a long time to get going, with too much emphasis at the start on the rather uninteresting events in the orphanage. Later, the atmosphere of Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century is effectively evoked, but the characters remain curiously wooden. I could find no reason to care much about what happened to Lilly or her companions, so the ending was something of an anti-climax.
It doesn?t help that Jilly Bond sounds as though she is reading to a class of six-year-olds, in a high-pitched swooping voice with lots of emphasis.
Altogether, a disappointment: it could have been a great story, but was let down by the telling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Ghost cover art
  • The Ghost

  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 201
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44

The narrator of Robert Harris's gripping new novel is a professional ghostwriter. Accustomed to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities, he jumps at the chance to ghost the memoirs of Britain's former prime minister, especially as it means flying to the American resort of Martha's Vineyard in the middle of winter and finishing the book in the seclusion of a luxurious house. But it doesn't take him long to realise he has made a terrible mistake.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was astonished by this novel

  • By Mary on 24-06-09

A good straightforward thriller

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-04-10

This was my first encounter with Robert Harris, and I enjoyed it very much ? a good, straightforward thriller. Some reviewers have said that the plot is a bit far-fetched, but surely that is the nature of a thriller ? if it dealt with ordinary, everyday events, it wouldn?t be very exciting or intriguing.
The story is told in a well-written, straightforward style, without literary pretensions or unnecessary background detail. The world-weary, hard-drinking protagonist remains likeable despite his failings, and although I sort of guessed how it was going to end, the final twist was neatly done.
It was beautifully read by Michael Jayston in a smooth, neutral tone that allowed me to lose myself in the story. The only critical comment I would make is that two characters have similar-sounding names: Rhinehart and Rycart. On the printed page this would not have been a problem, but I kept getting mixed up as to who was who.
The consensus seems to be that this is not one of Robert Harris?s best books ? in that case I?m delighted, as it means I have lots to look forward to!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Little Stranger

  • By: Sarah Waters
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 604
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 318
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 320

In a dusty postwar summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A subtle ghost story

  • By Jill on 13-06-09

Sad and creepy

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-11-09

I chose this because I had enjoyed 'The Night Watch' but in fact I think this was better - there were fewer characters and it didn't have that distracting reverse timeline. Not having read the blurb I didn't realise it was a ghost story, which was good, because I approached all the creepy happenings with Dr Faraday's scepticism....until near the end. Although the pace is slow, the story is beautifully told, and I was gripped throughout. I was listening to it while gardening. I enjoyed the descriptions of a country house literally falling to pieces around its inhabitants, and the very convincing 1940s atmosphere - how all the doctors smoke - and offer cigarettes to their patients! Those were the days, eh?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Engleby

  • By: Sebastian Faulks
  • Narrated by: Michael Maloney
  • Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 707
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 483
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 478

Mike Engleby says things that others dare not even think. When the novel opens in the 1970s, he is a university student, having survived a "traditional" school. A man devoid of scruple or self-pity, Engleby provides a disarmingly frank account of English education. Yet beneath the disturbing surface of his observations lies an unfolding mystery of gripping power.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrible - In the very best way!

  • By Robert on 08-02-08

A gripping story, well-read.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-09

It is quite brave on the part of the author to have someone like Mike Engleby as the main character (he certainly isn't a 'hero'), as he is thoroughly unpleasant. Disturbed, deceitful, dishonest, preoccupied with smoking, drinking and taking illicit drugs, Engleby still managed to engage my interest, if not quite my sympathy. He offers no excuses for his appalling behaviour - the reader/listener has to make up their own mind whether he is mad or just bad. A police officer addresses him as "you little s**t" at one point, and I did rather agree with him.
A well-constructed plot with a poignant ending, and an effective evocation of university life in the days when undergrads wore duffel-coats and drank real ale. I'm not sure about the filo pastry, though - I don't think it would have been used for a pub pie until the 1980's.
One thing that did get on my nerves was Engleby's philosophising. It slowed down the narrative, and didn't offer any particularly original or thought-provoking insights. I also couldn't see the point of the episodes where Engleby encountered famous figures such as Margaret Thatcher and Ken Livingstone - the way they were depicted was cliched and caricatured.
Despite the criticisms, I would certainly recommend this book - it's a gripping story, and very well-read.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

Arthur and George cover art
  • Arthur and George

  • By: Julian Barnes
  • Narrated by: Nigel Anthony
  • Length: 17 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 120
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19

Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's extraordinary real-life fight for justice. Arthur and George grow up worlds and miles apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh; George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur becomes a doctor, and then a writer; George a solicitor in Birmingham. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age; George remains in hardworking obscurity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unjustly Denied the Booker!

  • By squid ink on 18-02-07

Long-winded but satisfying

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-09

I suspect that if I had been reading this book rather than listening to it, I might have been tempted to skip bits, as it is rather long-winded in places. However, Julian Barnes is a good enough writer to get away with it, and it builds up into a very rich tapestry indeed. Beautifully-read, too; having once lived in Birmingham for a few years I particularly enjoyed the Midlands accents, which to my ear sounded completely authentic.