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Phil

Bedford, United Kingdom
  • 13
  • reviews
  • 63
  • helpful votes
  • 18
  • ratings
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy cover art
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

  • The Karla Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: John le Carre
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 12 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 870
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 313
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 316

Mr George Smiley is small, podgy, and at best, middle-aged. He is disillusioned, wrestles with idleness, and has been deserted by his beautiful wife. He is also compassionate, ruthless and a senior British intelligence officer in short-lived retirement from the Circus the British Secret Service organisation situated in London. But Moscow centre has infiltrated a mole into the Circus and it’s more than likely that the perpetrator is Karla Smiley’s old adversary and his opposite number in Moscow.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Hottest Cold War Novel Ever Written

  • By KDT on 27-04-10

As good as it gets in this genre

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-02-12

Convoluted, understated, atmospheric. This is typical Le Carre and I would guess is literary Marmite - you'll either love it or hate it. It requires concentration and a questioning mind but the characters are beautifully drawn and the plot complex enough to keep one (or at least me) guessing to the end. The narration is good and the whole thing a classic example of a cold war espionage thriller.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Crimson Petal and the White

  • By: Michel Faber
  • Narrated by: Jill Tanner
  • Length: 41 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 652
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 364
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 360

NOW A MAJOR BBC DRAMA starring Romola Garai, Chris O'Dowd, Gillian Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Shirley Henderson and Mark Gatiss. 'Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them....' So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen, and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I loved it!

  • By knittyboot on 26-05-11

Ultimately disappointing...

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-02-12

When I was at school, we were taught that a good story had a beginning, a middle and an end and that the most frequent failing of young writers was to devote too much time and space to the beginning and middle and then have to rush the ending. If Michael Faber was taught this at his school, he has clearly forgotten the lesson.

This book has an intriguing start and we are drawn into Victorian London; its strata of society, the hardship of the poor contrasting with the fecklessness of the rich, all carried along by strong narration. A good tale is being woven, with interesting characters and I was always keen to find out what would happen next. However after about 15 hours listening, I began to wonder where the story was heading. Lots of social comment, an abundance of period detail but slow progress on the storyline. After 30 hours, I was beginning to despair. I felt a little ashamed because it's undoubtedly well written and well read but does seem to drag so!

In the end, it became almost a badge of honour to finish the damn thing and, at around 42 hours it stopped. Not with an ending but right in the middle, as if the author had run out of steam or had not the wit to concoct a decent finish. Having listened for the equivalent of a working week, I felt let down, cheated even, and begrudged having invested so much when I could have enjoyed something else.

The book has had some rave reviews so I guess I'm in a minority. Perhaps it was just too literary for me...

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Fatal Legacy

  • By: Elizabeth Corley
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Oliver
  • Length: 16 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 85
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29

When the managing director of Wainwright Enterprises dies everyone is amazed to find he was far richer than they supposed, and that he's left his estate to his nephew Alex and his wife Sally. She uncovers accounting irregularities within the company, but resists involving the police - until the firm's accountant is murdered. But DCI Andrew Fenwick's investigation reveals a web of corruption reaching the highest levels of the local community that puts his own child's life in peril.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A complex web of deceit unravelled

  • By Kirstine on 23-06-11

It depends on how you like your crime...

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-05-11

If you like your crime to be gritty like, say, Simon Kernick, this is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you're more a Midsomer Murders or Daziel & Pascoe fan, then this could be right up your street. It's a good story and well narrated but the premise is unrealistic and the plot has one or two holes. Having said that, it's an enjoyable listen (as are Elizabeth Corley's other books) and not too demanding. Perfect to chill out with!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Secret History

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: Donna Tartt
  • Length: 22 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,473
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,203
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,202

The smartest murder-mystery you will ever hearA misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them. And soon they enter a terrifying heart of darkness from which they may never return.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An interesting tale

  • By mj on 06-09-16

Ruined by the narration

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-02-11

Some authors, such as Philip Pullman are great readers and add an extra dimension when reading their own work. For others, the reading must be an ego trip as the execution is so poor it ruins a good book. Unfortunately Ms Tartt falls into the second category. The book is written in the first person with the tale told by a 28 year old man, although you'd never guess that from the narration! If you're looking for a page turner, this is not for you. Other reviewers find the plot and the characterisation brilliant. I found it slow and dull. My conclusion is that if you are a 'literary' listener, you may enjoy this but if, like me, you want easy entertainment, you may wish to seek it elsewhere.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

Glasgow Kiss cover art
  • Glasgow Kiss

  • By: Alex Gray
  • Narrated by: Joe Dunlop
  • Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

Eric Chalmers is one of the most popular teachers at Muirpark Secondary School in Glasgow. So when precocious teenager Julie Donaldson accuses Chalmers of rape, the school goes into shock. How could a deeply religious family man like Chalmers do anything like that? And then things get much worse - Julie Donaldson goes missing and the police are called in.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hooked

  • By Brian on 02-09-11

Not Rebus but not bad

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-02-11

Alex Gray has been billed as writing the Glasgow version of the famous Rebus series. In my view, it's not even close. This is a perfectly good crime thriller, but without the cental police character having the same sort of flaws that define Rebus and shape his investigations. After a slow start, this picks up nicely and is a competent, if not outstanding, novel. However it is lifted by the narration which is outstanding. Joe Dunlop successfully tells the story while creating a web of characters with a range of Scottish accents; male and female, urban and country, young and old. To sum up, an enjoyable but unchallenging listen. You won't regret buying it but neither will it blow your socks off!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sharpe's Tiger cover art
  • Sharpe's Tiger

  • Sharpe, Book 1
  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: William Gaminara
  • Length: 12 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

When the army's most important spy is captured by the Tippoo of Mysore, Sharpe and a young lieutenant must infiltrate the Tippoo's forces. But once inside the island citadel of Seringapatam, Sharpe realises he will need a miracle to succeed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sharpe's Tiger

  • By Peter on 04-03-10

Earns its stripes.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-11

The initial problem with this book is that one has to overcome the expectation that Sharpe will sound like Sean Bean, as he has made the charcter his own after numerous TV outings in the role. However, the book has Sharpe born in London, not Sheffield, and the link to the TV series is soon forgotten as William Gaminara's fantastic narration soon takes hold of the listener's imagination. To start with, this is a great book, with a strong plot, good characterisation, plenty of action and excitement and attention to realistic portrayal of the period. Mr Gaminara's reading brings out a wide variety of characters, and his pace and tone makes the whole 12 hours an undiluted pleasure. It's a good book to read and it's a great book to hear.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Dracula

  • By: Bram Stoker
  • Narrated by: Greg Wise
  • Length: 18 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 256
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 186
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 186

Bram Stoker's masterpiece is at the same time intensely romantic and very modern. It unfolds the story of a Transylvanian Don Juan, the aristocratic Count Dracula who preys on desirous damsels.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The original vampire story is still the best.

  • By Phil on 26-01-11

The original vampire story is still the best.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-11

I can remember reading Dracula for the first time when I was fourteen and it really scared me. This audio version also had the capability to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Greg Wise's narration is excellent, bringing the characters to life and judging the pace to perfection. If you enjoy the Dracula story, this is a terrific version of the classic tale. But be warned - you may not be able to stop listening!

7 of 7 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

Could it be true?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-11

An enjoyable thriller with some red herrings along the way and a neat twist at the end. The parallels to a recent Prime Minister are obvious and have been widely reported. I couldn't help having him and his wife in mind while listening. I thought the narration was excellent and wouldn't agree with a previous reviewer's comment that the disprity in age between the main character, whose account this is, and the narrator is evident. Worthy of four stars but it didn't quite grip me enough to award five. However, it does leave one wondering whether the scenario laid out could really happen...

  • By the Mast Divided

  • By: David Donachie
  • Narrated by: Peter Wickham
  • Length: 15 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54

London: 1793. Young firebrand John Pearce, on the run from the authorities, is illegally press-ganged from the Pelican tavern into brutal life aboard HMS Brilliant, a frigate on her way to war. In the first few days, Pearce discovers the Navy is a world in which he can prosper. And he is not alone; he is drawn to a group of men who eventually form an exclusive gun crew, the Pelicans, with Pearce their elected leader.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Becalmed!

  • By Phil on 26-01-11

Becalmed!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-11

It's hard to assess this book. I knew it would be well read as I've previously bought a couple of Kate Ellis audiobooks and enjoyed Peter Wickham's narration. By The Mast Divided is clearly well researched with painstaking attention to detail. The problem I found is that the descriptions of activities and the development of the characters are done so thoroughly that it takes most of the pace out of the story. Almost all of part one - just over seven hours of listening - is over and all we've done is get the main characters pressed into naval service and leaving English shores. I feel a bit of a misery criticising the book because the quality of the writing is very good. However, I found myself 'tuning out' for a few minutes, then paying attention again and finding I hadn't missed much! On the basis of this, I much prefer Bernard Cornwell to David Donachie when we're fighting the French and the officer classes!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Cobra

  • By: Frederick Forsyth
  • Narrated by: John Chancer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 418
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 158
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 163

The cocaine industry is worth billions of dollars a year to the drug cartels who spread their evil across Western society, causing incalculable misery, poverty and death. Slowly, gradually, inexorably it is spreading and it is a blight which must be stopped. One man, Paul Devereaux, intellectual, dedicated, utterly ruthless and ex-CIA special ops, is given what seems like an impossible task. At his disposal is anything he wants – men, resources, money. And he will not stop until he has completed his mission.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Forsyth back on form

  • By Kirstine on 23-08-10

Not bad but not his best

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-11-10

I'm a fan of Frederick Forsyth but, while enjoyable, this is not up to his highest standards. It does give the listener an excellent insight into the astronomic margins produced by illicit drug trafficking and the premise of taking out drug cartels by destroying them economically is a good one. However once the action is up and running, so to speak, the narrative seems to slow and lack pace. The ending suffers from being predictable and unconvincing. But it's an easy listen and the narration is good, without being outstanding. If you like Mr Forsyth you won't be disappointed but you won't be 'wowed' either.