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Paul Snook

  • 36
  • reviews
  • 55
  • helpful votes
  • 44
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  • Burmese Days

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Allan Corduner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 361
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 333
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 329

An unabridged recording of Orwell's brilliant first novel read by Allan Corduner. The story is largely based on Orwell's own experiences as a police officer in Burma. Set in the dying days of the Raj, it depicts the harshness and darker side of colonial rule. And at its centre is John Flory, a lone individual hopelessly trapped in a vast political system; themes which set the agenda for much of his writing. Burmese Days was Orwell's first novel, and was issued in 1934 in America, then a year later in the UK where there had been fears and controversy initially that the material could be libellous.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A wonderful listen

  • By Chelin on 05-12-12

Class warfare, jungle style

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

Reviewed: 01-06-18

This book is classic Orwell; a study of the English class system but uprooted and plonked in the humid jungles of Burma. Each man looks down upon the other, the women know their place, and they all look down upon the natives. It demonstrates the raw ugliness of English imperialism through the eyes of a few pivotal characters. It's all there: open racism, a detached sense of duty, alcoholism, exploitation, manifest sexism, and all underlined with dollops of self-loathing.

Needless to say, because it is classic Orwell, don't expect a happy ending. Just a shame about the dog.

  • Lincoln in the Bardo

  • By: George Saunders
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and others
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 576
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 535
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 534

Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other, for no one but Saunders could conceive it. February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved 11-year-old son, Willie, dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Mistake

  • By L on 13-07-17

Lincoln In The Muddle

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

Reviewed: 01-06-18

Perhaps I didn't give it the benefit of the doubt, perhaps I should have persisted longer than the 2 hours of this I endured, but in the end I waved the white flag and gave up.

Some books work well as an audio book, others exceptionally well. Then there are those that just don't seem to work at all and for me, this is one of those books.

I suspect that this book would be better read to oneself than having a cast read it for you because of the way it is structured. For example, there are 109 chapters. At the start of each chapter a strangely disembodied electronic female voice sounding for all the world like a telephone answering machine message, snappily barks the chapter number. Bearing in mind that some of the chapters are only a few sentences long, this can become very grating.
Then there is the extensive use of quotations which is kind of irritating, especially when you end up with half a dozen all saying the same thing. And then there's the fact that the title of the quotation source material is often two to three times longer than the quotation itself.

When one then adds in the over-riding factor that I had absolutely no idea what was going on it did make for a very long and confusing two hours before my surrender. Sure, it won the Man Booker prize; sure, it has a stellar cast giving fine performances, but there's no escaping the fact that if one is looking for an audiobook to enthrall and entertain then one would do better to look elsewhere.

  • The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials Trilogy, Book 2

  • By: Philip Pullman
  • Narrated by: Philip Pullman, cast
  • Length: 8 hrs and 54 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,489
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,749
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,756

The thrilling second book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, read by the author and a full cast. In this stunning sequel to Northern Lights, the intrepid Lyra Silvertongue and her daemon, Pantalaimon, find themselves in a shimmering, haunted other world – Cittagazze where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. Here she meets twelve-year-old Will Parry, a fugitive from a third universe.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great book... but why the changes?

  • By Kirsty on 06-01-08

So subtle you could almost cut yourself

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

Reviewed: 08-02-18

It may seem sacrilegious to say it but I prefer this second part of the trilogy to the first. It continues the theme but has parallel stories running alongside each other, crossing over, intertwining, which The Northern Lights lacked.

Mr Pullman has a stunning imagination and with him reading the text and actors playing the parts it is a wonderfully immersive story and I'm just about to download the last part of the trilogy.

When the author reads their own work it does add a special dimension to it as they are reading it in the way they imagined it being read. If I have one criticism it is that Mr Pullman does tend to read rather quickly which meant I occasionally had to skip back a little bit to repeat something that I missed.

Onto the Amber Spyglass!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Catch 22

  • By: Joseph Heller
  • Narrated by: Trevor White
  • Length: 16 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,602
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,190
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,182

At the heart of Joseph Heller's best-selling novel, first published in 1961, is a satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Keith on 25-05-09

You know there's a catch...

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

Reviewed: 17-03-17

Darkly humorous, ironic, disturbing, sad, and depressing all at the same time. Joseph Heller's magnum opus is a poignant satire on the cruelty and pointlessness of war. It is a study of men pushed to the brink of endurance and sanity by other men who want glory and 'tight bomb patterns' without having to risk themselves in doing so. It is about how men go to their premature deaths whilst others reap huge profits. It will make you laugh out loud and cringe inwardly at the same time.

It is a great novel but, and this is obviously a matter of opinion, also a badly written novel. It lacks the hand of a good editor. It is over-descriptive and the fact nobody can say anything in the book without an unnecessary quantifying adverb on the end becomes really irritating. If I'm really honest, some of the writing is quite amateur and you find yourself subconsciously putting a red pen through swathes of text just to keep it flowing, muttering to yourself 'get a move on'.

Having said that Trevor White does a splendid job with the text and really brings it alive.

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings

  • By: Marlon James
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean, Cherise Boothe, Dwight Bacquie, and others
  • Length: 26 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 600
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 567
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 567

On 3 December 1976, just weeks before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions, seven gunmen from West Kingston stormed his house. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert. Not a lot was recorded about the fate of the seven gunmen, but much has been said, whispered and sung about in the streets of West Kingston.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hope it wins Booker.

  • By Musicista on 30-09-15

A Brief Review Of Way More Than Seven Killings

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

Reviewed: 04-03-17

This is a brutal, disturbing, uncomfortable yet compelling narrative, brilliantly constructed and executed. It is told in five sections, each section covering a day in a particular year and being divided up into the recollection of events of that day as told by many different characters. It is an exploration of ghetto life in Kingston and political turmoil in 70's Jamaica, leading up to the attempted assassination of Bob Marley, the events after, and then onto the New York drug scene of the 80's & 90's. It shines a spotlight on some of the ugliest sides of Jamaican culture at those times, showing the sheer horrors that the poorest residents of the ghettos faced.

The whole enterprise could have been written with an audiobook in mind as each chapter is one person's narrative. The mix of Jamaican patois along with American and Cuban accents enhances the telling and the cast do a superb job of bringing this masterpiece to life.

If I have a criticism it with the production. It feels that it has been rushed onto the market as there many blatantly obvious moments where pieces have been edited or re-recorded. Instead of the differences being balanced-out and blended with the rest of the piece they have been left in. A bit of a shame and is the main reason why I've given it 4/5 stars instead of the full 5.


  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores

  • By: Gabriel García Márquez
  • Narrated by: Thom Rivera
  • Length: 3 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 22

On the eve of his 90th birthday, a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit - he has purchased hundreds of women - he asks a madam for her assistance. The 14-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with this sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known. Tender, knowing, and slyly comic, Memories of My Melancholy Whores is an exquisite addition to a master's work.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinting but Disturbing

  • By Dina on 02-05-14

Beautiful, if uncomfortable storytelling

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

Reviewed: 03-11-16

A wonderfully intimate story of a nonagenarian who finds love in the shape of a young teenage girl he was intending to deflower.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that this Lolita-esque storyline does not sound terribly appealing. And there were many times, when I was listening, that I felt deeply uncomfortable about the tone and implications. However, this is classic Marquez and not everything is as it seems and we have to be careful about judging a story set in 1920s(?) South America with 21st century Occidental sensibilities.

Whilst it is easy to get hooked up on the paedophiliac aspects, the primary driver for this tale is an old man facing up to death and I found myself reflecting upon my own mortality because of it.

Thom Rivera reads this audiobook in sublime fashion. His accent is perfect for the piece, still wonderfully clear and gives it a distinct flavour.

Apart from the uncomfortable subject matter, my main criticism with this book is its relatively short length. I know it is a novella but one felt that the story could have been expanded upon. As a crude simile, it was like enjoying several slices rather than a whole cake.

Still worth a nibble though.

  • Bulgakov: A Dog's Heart

  • By: Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 3 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37

When a respected surgeon decides to transplant human body parts into a stray dog, he creates a monster - drunken, profligate, aggressive and selfish. It seems the worst aspects of the donor have been transplanted as well. As his previously well-regulated home descends into riotous chaos, the doctor realises he will have to try to reverse the operation; but the dog isn't so keen....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant Bulgakov

  • By Kaggy on 28-03-14

Barking up the right tree

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

Reviewed: 31-10-16

If it is possible to be a big fan of a deceased Russian satirical author then I am one and proud of it. I love Bulgakov's stuff and this is up there with the best of his work.

This is short novel is a satire on life in Bolshevik Russia and human nature, but also a work of comic fiction. A brief synopsis would sum it up as an eminent doctor conducts an experiment in which he transplants a deceased criminal's pituitary gland and testes into the body of a stray dog he has taken in. The dog transforms over the following weeks into a manlike creature. However, instead of being a loyal, obedient dog-like person, he is an unpleasant, conniving bastard who causes no end of misery for anyone who crosses his path.

Roy McMillan reads it with verve and aplomb and it gives it the voice this story so richly deserves.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Railhead

  • By: Philip Reeve
  • Narrated by: Malk Williams
  • Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44

The Great Network is a place of drones and androids, maintenance spiders and Station Angels. The place of the thousand gates, where sentient trains crisscross the galaxy in a heartbeat. Zen Starling is a petty thief from Thunder City. So when mysterious stranger Raven sends Zen on a mission to infiltrate the emperor's train, he jumps at the chance to cross the galaxy in a heartbeat. But the Great Network is a dangerous place....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Letting the train take the strain

  • By Paul Snook on 30-07-16

Letting the train take the strain

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

Reviewed: 30-07-16

A brilliant, innovative adventure story for kids (and the middle-aged like myself). Philip Reeve is a master of imagination and this is some of his best work to date.

This story is set in a universe where planets are linked by railways. Not the plodding, choking diesel things of the 20th century but majestic machines that are sentient and emotional. Imagine some of the American streamliners of the 1930s but on a grand scale and you won't go far wrong. These railways lead into K-gates; like Cluedo tunnels that allow the trains to travel between worlds in an instant, much faster than spacecraft.

Add to this feudal politics as rival families control corporations that compete for power over the rail network, Railforce polices the lines with brutal efficiency, and mysterious, ethereal beings, part gods, part computers manipulate everything to maintain the balance.

Into this mix strays a petty thief, a teenager with little prospect, who ends up as the most wanted boy in the universe and the unwitting agent of the secretive Raven.

This is a fantastic rollercoaster of a story that I can't recommend enough, especially now that Audible have fixed the fault where the last chapter was missing.

The sequel, Black Light Express, must be coming to a station near you soon. That's a big hint Audible!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

  • By: Susanna Clarke
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 32 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,399
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,062
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,062

Winner of the British Book Awards, Newcomer of the Year, 2005.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Harry Potter for Grown Ups

  • By Cosima on 18-11-10

Strange Goings-On

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

Reviewed: 27-07-16

I read this book last year and then enjoyed the TV mini-series so the chance to listen to the book all over again was too good to miss. It is utter fantasy but is so well written it seems totally plausible and you will certainly be wishing that magic had returned to England and the faerie roads are open and accessible.

The tale itself is about a man's attempt to impress his peers and the terrible consequences of that action. The fact the man is a magician and he is trying to bring back someone from the dead should start to alarm bells ringing; it clearly isn't going to end well for all concerned.

The performance is strong, well-paced and well-characterised. It may be many hours of listening but they seem to fly by. I listen in the car during my commute to and from work, along with taking a lunchtime stroll with headphones, but it never seems long enough and I find myself sitting in the car until the end of a chapter, or sneaking a bit more listening time at the desk.

If I have one criticism it is in the author's extensive use of footnotes. When narrated, the start of the footnote is defined but not the end. Consequently you are sometimes unsure whether the narrator has finished reading the footnote and is back on the main text or not.

All-in-all a superb historical fantasy adventure that is well worth 32 hours of anyone's time.

  • The Maker of Swans

  • By: Paraic O'Donnell
  • Narrated by: Mike Grady, Imogen Wilde
  • Length: 11 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 15

It is no small matter, after all, to create something - to make it so only by setting down the words. We forget the magnitude, sometimes, of that miracle. Mr. Crowe was once the toast of the finest salons. A man of learning and means, he travelled the world, enthralling all who met him. Now Mr. Crowe devotes himself to earthly pleasures. He has retreated to his sprawling country estate, where he lives with Clara, his mysterious young ward, and Eustace, his faithful manservant.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Magic and mystery.

  • By DubaiReader on 06-01-17

Not an ugly duckling but no swan either

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

Reviewed: 19-06-16

This book, judging by the extensive list of press quotes, promised much and, to a point seemed to deliver. The story draws you in with its exciting and dramatic opening and then pads swiftly along in enigmatic style. This is, for me, the nub of the problem; it is so enigmatic that much is implied but never actually said. There are so many loose ends and unanswered questions that it left me, as the reader / listener, wondering what on earth happened. It is as though there was more text that has been carefully edited out to leave you puzzled and strangely dissatisfied. Which is a great shame as this could have been an exceptionally good novel, up there with The Night Circus, The Golem & The Djinni, and works of Mr Gaiman. Instead we are left with a jigsaw with several pieces missing.

I cannot fault, however, the performances by Mike Grady and Imogen Wilde, which do much to prop up what would otherwise be a laboured tale.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful