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Ian Smith

  • 54
  • reviews
  • 37
  • helpful votes
  • 78
  • ratings
  • A Picture of Murder

  • A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 4
  • By: T E Kinsey
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 139
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 138

Late October 1909, and the season of ghouls and things that go bump in the night has descended on the village of Littleton Cotterell. Lady Hardcastle and her trusted lady’s maid, Florence, find themselves hosting a colorful cast of actors whose spooky moving picture, The Witch’s Downfall, is being shown to mark Halloween. But things take a macabre turn when the first night’s screening ends with a mysterious murder, and the second night with another. One by one the actors turn up dead in ways that eerily echo their film.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enchanting as always

  • By HH Galaxy on 13-03-19

Entertaining continuation of the series

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

Reviewed: 22-07-19

Another nicely-performed entertaining "cosy" mystery story set in 1909, with a colourful cast of characters. Interesting mystery at the heart of the story and some nice details about life in a small rural village at the time. A bit of foreshadowing of some threat from their past which no doubt will be developed in due course, as well as of a possible romantic interest for Florence!

  • Villa in Italy

  • By: Elizabeth Edmondson
  • Narrated by: Nicolette McKenzie
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 637
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 575
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 574

Marvellously atmospheric tale of strangers summoned to a grand but neglected villa on the Italian coast. Each of them has been named in a will, but nobody knows their benefactress.... Four very different people are named in a will. Delia, an opera singer robbed of her voice by illness; George, an idealistic scientist who cannot face what his skills have created; Marjorie, desperately poor and unable to dislodge her writer’s block; and Lucius, ostensibly in control but whose personal life is in chaos.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent book

  • By david dodson (purple triangle ltd) on 24-02-16

An entertaining story, very well narrated

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

Reviewed: 26-06-19

Overall, an entertaining and rather leisurely story. It felt a teeny bit slow at the start, but things picked up once the "ensemble" of characters were all in place. The major characters don't all get the same proportion of story-time, but their stories come across nicely. The final mystery about why they were all invited was nicely resolved.

I felt that this was easily the best-narrated audiobook I've listened to so far, and other narrators should listen to it and learn from Nicolette MacKenzie. Every character, male and female, had such a distinctive and consistent "voice" that there was often no need for a name "tag". It was almost like listening to a radio drama.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Sapiens

  • By: Yuval Noah Harari
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,222
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,327
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,227

Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us sapiens? In this bold and provocative audiobook, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here, and where we're going.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thought provoking but overconfident

  • By Jan W. H. Schnupp on 24-09-15

Thought-provoking

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

Reviewed: 29-05-19

I really enjoyed almost all of this book, and found it interesting and thought-provoking.

Recent archaeological results mean some of the more ancient dates cited are now known to be too recent, but that doesn't detract too much from the main points made by the author. I particularly enjoyed hearing his thoughts about our history and the development of modern cultures, but not so much the speculation with which the book concludes.

  • The Fallen

  • By: David Baldacci
  • Narrated by: Kyf Brewer, Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 11 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 831
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 754
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 751

Small towns which have seen better times are not unusual. But the mysterious events in Baronville, Pennsylvania, are raising the highly tuned antennae of Agent Amos Decker and his FBI partner, Alex Jamison. What was supposed to be a relaxing vacation turns into a murder investigation when two bodies are found in a nearby deserted house. With the body count rising, Decker and Jamison dig deep to uncover a sinister truth in Baronville, which could be the canary in the coalmine for the rest of the country.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic storyline

  • By "janetbm" on 05-06-18

Entertaining and it kept me guessing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-05-19

An enjoyable crime thriller, with plenty of twists and turns, and it kept me guessing most of the way through. In a few instances, I guessed right, but had to wait until near the end to be sure! Some strong and engaging characters helped lift this from being another procedural into more of a drama. I liked the dual narration, too, as it worked well for me. I'll certainly look at more stories by David Baldacci.

  • Immortal Hearts

  • Fate of the Witch, Book 1
  • By: Raven Moon
  • Narrated by: Jessica Threet
  • Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Rainelle Sterling grew up in the Smoky Mountains, so when she returned home, she made plans to visit the place where she had spent her childhood. What was supposed to be a fun, relaxing weekend away with her brother and friends changes as she learns her grandmother’s tales weren’t tales at all but a warning as she faces a devastating loss, a fight for her life against the unimaginable. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Impressive start to a series

  • By Ian Smith on 28-05-19

Impressive start to a series

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

Reviewed: 28-05-19

Raven has obviously heard the advice offered to writers that the story happens when your characters are outside their comfort zone. Well, poor old Rainelle starts outside hers, and things get worse!

This is a fast-paced book with lots of promise for a series to come. There's action, ominous build-ups, unexpected events, mysteries galore, and the start of a steamy romance. Witches, shifters, magic, secrets... who could ask for more?

I've read this as a book as well, and the narration hits the spot nicely, sharing the story in what sounds like an authentic regional accent (I'm British, so it's hard for me to tell!)

  • Becoming

  • By: Michelle Obama
  • Narrated by: Michelle Obama
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15,399
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13,665
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 13,617

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites listeners into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Audio better than print

  • By Fersh on 03-12-18

Interesting and engaging

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-04-19

Nicely narrated by the author herself.

I thought this was an excellent piece of work, and Michelle Obama came across as honest, self-aware, courteous and intelligent. I learned a fair bit about her, her family, and America, and it gave an interesting insight into some aspects of life in American politics.

Like most US writers, she assumes all English-speaking audiences are familiar with US cultural icons and their educational and political system. I do wish we'd get the odd brief explanation, if only to save me wondering what she's on about rather than listening to the next few seconds.

  • The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries Box Set Collection I

  • Prequel + Books 1 & 2
  • By: H.Y. Hanna
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 17 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 120
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 120

"Scones, a tea shop in England, a kitty and a murder...yes, please!" Enjoy the first three books in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries, in one handy collection! Join tearoom sleuth Gemma Rose, her mischievous feline Muesli, and the nosy Old Biddies as they tackle murder and mystery in the beautiful city of Oxford - not to forget the delights of delicious baking and afternoon tea in a quaint English village!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A much loved series.

  • By Inishowen Cailin on 06-03-18

Entertaining enough

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

Reviewed: 16-02-19

Rather mixed feelings, overall. These are cosy mysteries at heart, with an underlying romantic sub-plot, and some humour. The mystery stories are entertaining, and Pearl Hewitt does a decent job with the narration.

H.Y. Hanna appears to be very familiar with Oxford, but for me overdid this by being almost gushing at times. The stories felt rather slow at times, over-focusing on unnecessary details. The dialogue was a little unrealistic at times, lacking the normal conversational contractions we all routinely employ.

The characters didn't quite ring true. I'm sure Gemma would be a bit tougher and more mature after 8 years of corporate life in Australia, her mother is far too similar to that in the Bridget Jones stories, and her father remains a complete mystery even after these three stories.

On points of detail, even an Oxford graduate wouldn't get to be an experienced DI by the age of 29, and PhD students are only examined on their thesis in a lengthy interview at the end of their studies, not by conventional examinations.

  • New Corpse in Town

  • Secret Seal Isle Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Lucy Quinn
  • Narrated by: Traci Odom
  • Length: 5 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

FBI agent Cookie James is enjoying her extended leave from the agency on Secret Seal Isle, managing her quaint inn, and flirting with the oh-so sexy-handyman, Dylan Creed . . . until her 60-year-old mother goes skinny dipping and is almost drowned by a corpse. A phone call to the sheriff should mean the end of Cookie’s involvement, but when it’s clear the sheriff has no interest in the investigation, Cookie calls in reinforcements - her ex-partner Hunter O’Neil.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Audio’s not great

  • By Susi Moffat on 20-03-19

Entertaining and engaging, if fairly lightweight

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

Reviewed: 10-07-18

Not a bad introduction to a series of (presumably) not-quite official investigations involving an FBI agent laying low from the mob, and I enjoyed Traci Odom's narration.

Entertaining collection of characters, which I suspect will grow with the series, and who will be involved in different ways, and with a potential competition for her attention from two men, one with a mysterious past.

This would make an entertaining "not-very-serious" TV show.

  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain

  • By: Ian Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Greg Wagland
  • Length: 19 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 490
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 450
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 451

If you could travel back in time, the period from 1660 to 1700 would make one of the most exciting destinations in history. It's the age of Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London, bawdy comedy and the libertine court of Charles II, Christopher Wren in architecture, Henry Purcell in music and Isaac Newton in science. In The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain, Ian Mortimer answers the crucial questions that a prospective traveller to 17th-century Britain would ask.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Informative, interesting and entertaining history

  • By Kirstine on 21-09-17

Excellent continuation of the series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-06-18

I greatly enjoyed listening to this entertaining and informative book, which follows on nicely from the two earlier volumes. It's fascinating to realise how society has changed in a relatively short time. The narration was clear and articulate, a great benefit as I listen to audiobooks while driving.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Ratking

  • Aurelio Zen, Book 1
  • By: Michael Dibdin
  • Narrated by: Michael Kitchen
  • Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58

A powerful industrialist, Ruggiero Miletti, is kidnapped. Inspector Zen is transferred to Perugia to take over the case - but finds that there are many obstacles in his way. The local authorities see him as an interloper, and the victim’s family, one of the most powerful in Italy, seem content to let Miletti languish in the hands of his abductors. Zen has crossed swords with the establishment before - and lost. Can he succeed this time?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Idiosyncratic Narration

  • By S on 12-03-14

Really enjoyed this, delightful work

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-02-18

I was introduced to Zen through the three episodes shown on the BBC a few years ago. I enjoyed those, and was curious to read the books which inspired them.

I fully understand that any TV or film adaptation has to simplify the story quite a lot, and feel that the TV scriptwriters did a great job.

Although the basic stories were similar,, the book has so much more delightful depth, detail and complexity than the TV show with the same name. Zen seemed more life-like, with plausible "real-life" problems away from the office, and his situation, balancing his police work with the politics of the Italian judicial system, was intriguing.

I thought Michael Kitchen was an excellent narrator, with good clear diction and leaving nicely-judged pauses for emphasis and pacing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful