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Rob

middleton st george, United Kingdom
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  • The Psychopath Test

  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Narrated by: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,597
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,136
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,115

This is a story about madness. It all starts when journalist Jon Ronson is contacted by a leading neurologist. She and several colleagues have recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail, and Jon is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • It is indeed utterly compelling.

  • By Graeme on 30-08-11

Deft storytelling, good observations

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-06-11

I've long been a fan of Ronson's work. He's a rare breed of journalist these days - one who will spend years researching a topic - and this commitment shows. The Psychopath Test is about his investigations into what a psychopath is and how psychopaths have been perceived. Characteristically, the investigation leads Ronson to question his own behaviour as an investigator and the integrity of journalism in general. It's a thoughtful and humane book.

My only criticism is that Ronson repeats some points several times throughout the book. My suspicion is that this might have been more necessary in print than it is in audio. It's mildly annoying in an audiobook, but hardly a dealbreaker.

Ronson isn't an actor and this is evident from his reading. I think this adds to the charm of the book: its nice to hear him describe his own anxieties in his own slightly anxious voice. That's what the book's about, after all.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Rivers of London

  • Rivers of London, Book 1
  • By: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Narrated by: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
  • Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,746
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,409
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,397

My name is Peter Grant, and until January, I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - we do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluble....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • brilliant original story great narrator

  • By valb on 05-08-11

entertaining but flawed

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-06-11

I'm a little surprised at all the glowing reviews of this book. It's entertaining enough and an enjoyable listen, but has numerous flaws. On the plus side, the secret underground world of London depicted is quite endearing, although not at all original. In this world, many supernatural things exist and there's an agreement between human authorities and...well, someone else, presumably, it's never made particularly clear. The pace is good. The descriptions of places in London are good and not overdone.

On the downside, there are a lot of clichés in the backstory: it's nothing we haven't seen before...and it's only just impossible to believe. All the senior police officers know about the supernatural but somehow the constables don't, even though some constables are routinely involved in supernatural business. When those constables are introduced to the supernatural...they don't bat an eyelid. They take it in their stride, even the main character who is nominally sceptical. And that main character isn't very likeable or realistic. He begins the story tentatively in love with a colleague. He demonstrates a brief spurt of urgency when she's later threatened, but doesn't seem to care too much when the thing he was half-heartedly trying to prevent happening happens. The best emotion he can summon is a vague hope that she might eventually be OK. He doesn't seem to care much either way.

The other clumsiness comes from all the unblown Chekov's Guns. They're everywhere. All sorts of things are mentioned in the text as Important Things which are never mentioned again. I understand that this is setting up a sequel, but it wastes our time and treats us as punters rather than readers. I don't appreciate that.

I think the book is entertaining and the guy has a talent for telling stories. But he needs to work on being less obvious, less clumsy and on giving us characters we can possibly care about.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Blackout

  • By: Connie Willis
  • Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren, Connie Willis
  • Length: 18 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 62

In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds - great and small - of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collideand the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • First of a great pair of books

  • By PrintersPie on 25-02-11

Doesn't live up to the promise

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-04-10

As others have noted, this is a nice idea for a story, but I found the execution to be poor. The characters are one dimensional and seem to act and speak improbably. This becomes more and more annoying over time. The story drags on and doesn't really seem to go anywhere. I was unable to finish the book, so I don't know whether any of the threads were resolved and I don't really care.

Some of the accents and pronunciations are bizarre and grate very quickly. As another reviewer has noted, "parsanger" is one of the worst offenders. This sounds like a minor quibble, but I found it surprisingly aggravating. It's a nice concept and it's a shame the book and its reading do not live up to it.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful