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Michael Mathews

Worcestershire United Kingdom
  • 6
  • reviews
  • 2
  • helpful votes
  • 14
  • ratings
  • Children of Time

  • By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Narrated by: Mel Hudson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,238
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,016
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,010

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed stand-alone novel Children of Time is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet. Who will inherit this new Earth? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

  • By Simon on 11-05-17

Hard to like

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

Reviewed: 29-01-19

Some interesting ideas here but they are soon lost in a meandering and unconvincing story.

  • Starvation Heights

  • A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
  • By: Gregg Olsen
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Van Dyck
  • Length: 13 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

In 1911 two wealthy British heiresses, Claire and Dora Williamson, came to a sanitorium in the forests of the Pacific Northwest to undergo the revolutionary fasting treatment of Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard. It was supposed to be a holiday for the two sisters. But within a month of arriving at what the locals called Starvation Heights, the women were emaciated shadows of their former selves, waiting for death.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A chilling true story told very well

  • By Anne on 20-11-10

Not one of the author’s best

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

Reviewed: 29-12-17

I’ve read several of Gregg Olsen’s books on Audible and generally found them very easy to follow and interesting. This book however seemed to be the exception.

While the plot is straightforward, it involves many people, more than a dozen come and go. To make matters worse they sometimes use aliases and undergo name changes for various reasons, thereby making the story challenging enough. But the author doesn’t do us any favours either, sometimes using multiple variations of names without warning throughout a passage.

The narrator compounds the problem by consistently speaking in a flat and unaffected drone-like manner across the many chapters. More than once I wondered if some computer voice synthesis might have been sneaked in, to give the reader a rest. But no, it’s human, just relentlessly unenthusiastic at it’s work.

Possibly the facts that the events were over a century old and documented through a filter of medical politics, meant the story would never be a gripping one. But the the overall effect is too much like hearing a collection of legal documents read back by a dedicated but slightly bored court researcher.

  • Magpie Murders

  • By: Anthony Horowitz
  • Narrated by: Allan Corduner, Samantha Bond
  • Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,542
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,284
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,272

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She's worked with the revered crime writer for years, and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It's just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway.... But Conway's latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Who? How? Where & Why?

  • By Mrs Q on 10-10-16

A chore

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

Reviewed: 21-06-17

What would have made Magpie Murders better?

Beginning writers are warned: "show, don't tell." Horowitz proves why this advice is relevant by spending page after tedious page summarising and detailing backstory. The fact that it is couched in a device of a book within a book does not make it interesting I'm afraid. In fact it seems to have given the author permission to submit for publishing a writing exercise where he describes an entire imaginary town in pointlessly mundane detail. Did I need to know where she bought the hat that covers the hair that was dyed too dark by the hairdresser who wasn't her regular? Apparently not, the author immediately moves on to lavish equal amounts of detail on the breakfast table settings at a house across town. As if daring the reader to endure another page. I've declined.

  • Early Graves

  • A True Story of Murder and Passion
  • By: Thomas H. Cook
  • Narrated by: Kris Koscheski
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5

Evil has a way of finding itself. How else could you explain the bond between Alvin and Judith Ann Neelley, who consecrated their marriage in blood? Before the killings started, they restricted themselves to simple mischief: prank calls, vandalism, firing guns at strangers’ houses. Gradually their ambition grew, until one day at the Riverbend Mall in Rome, Georgia, they spotted Lisa Ann Millican. Three days after Lisa Ann disappeared, the 13-year-old girl was found shot and pumped full of liquid drain cleaner.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Tedious and ponderous

  • By Michael Mathews on 12-01-17

Tedious and ponderous

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

Reviewed: 12-01-17

The story is reads like a police report, full of tedious details. The narrator seems to only have three voices: one an overly deep and dramatic pompous voice, a high pitched southern drawl and a low pitched variation southern drawl. All sound ponderous and overly theatrical, but it's hard to tell who's speaking when the entire story is limited to only these voices. I couldn't finish it.

  • Death Sentence

  • The True Story of Velma Barfield's Life, Crimes, and Punishment
  • By: Jerry Bledsoe
  • Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
  • Length: 14 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 15

Everybody knew Velma Barfield as the perfect wife and a loving grandmother. But there was something about her that nobody knew.... Velma Barfield had a secret life and a sick urge to kill.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not Great

  • By RubyShoes on 27-07-15

The trouble with true stories

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

Reviewed: 25-09-16

Any additional comments?

The trouble with true stories is that the writer is given his plot, for good or bad, as it happened. The history of Velma Barfield's life may simply not lend itself to a satisfying story. If every good tale needs a villain, we would expect Velma, the serial killer of this true story, to take on that role. And what we expect is for the villain to come to a satisfying defeat, bringing closure to the book. In the case of Death Sentence that all starts getting muddled up about halfway through: Velma is arrested, tried and sentenced to the capital punishment. We have reason to feel justice, resolution and closure. But, yet... the writer carries on. We have dozens of chapters to go in which our "villain" is now humanized, made to seem pitiful, pious and even noble. As the book closes we are left with a decidedly mixed feeling. Should we sympathise with a woman who poisoned her own mother (among many others)? Or should we feel vindication that a woman who becomes a paragon of caring whilst in prison, is herself then poisoned by the State? I spent the days after finishing this story wondering what to think. Ultimately it was muddied story, with no clear hero, and only a feeling of disappointment with the state of humankind in general at the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Malice

  • Kyoichiro Kaga
  • By: Keigo Higashino
  • Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 31

Acclaimed best-selling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found brutally murdered in his home on the night before he’s planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver. His body is found in his office, a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. Or so it seems.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • really interesting

  • By Irene P on 08-03-15

Interesting story, but performance was hard

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

Reviewed: 08-11-14

What did you like best about this story?

It's really the same story told three times, once by the suspect, once again by the detective, and then finally in its true form, with no misdirection or misinterpretation. As an author, this is akin to a great magician who can perform a trick, then perform it again from the opposite vantage, then actually show you how it was done, and every single time you are amazed and astounded in different ways. Higashino is such a master of the form, he can actually play with it, turning it on its head, almost reinventing it, and the result is still compelling.

What didn’t you like about Jeff Woodman’s performance?

It isn't Jeff's fault at all, since the way the story was written, the author intended it to seem as if specific characters were recounting large swathes of the plot in their own words. To translate this to a spoken performance the Mr Woodman adopted the voice of the specific character, and then read out many long passages of the story, including all dialog etc sticking always to that voice. The single voice for all that section reminds the listener that the events are being conveyed and interpreted by that character. This is a critical point in what makes the overall story work. Unfortunately a giant chunk of the book is in the voice of Detective Kaga, who is very monotone. As a character this makes him an interesting detective, but as a narrator it is quickly tiring to listen to. Still, as I said, I think the plot actually requires this, as it is so important to the what makes the story work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful