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  • The Church of Scientology

  • A History of a New Religion
  • By: Hugh B. Urban
  • Narrated by: Contessa Brewer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    2.5 out of 5 stars 3

Scientology is one of the wealthiest and most powerful new religions to emerge in the past century. To its detractors, L. Ron Hubbard's space-age mysticism is a moneymaking scam and sinister brainwashing cult. But to its adherents, it is humanity's brightest hope. Few religious movements have been subject to public scrutiny like Scientology, yet much of what is written about the church is sensationalist and inaccurate.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • long and not very informative

  • By G on 13-09-14

long and not very informative

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

Reviewed: 13-09-14

I learnt very little listening to this book. It is unnecessarily long, self-consciously academic in style, very repetitive, and despite containing many promises of "astonishing" and "stunning" descriptions of scientology's activities in the hour-long introduction, it never actually delivers any stories about what it is that happens among scientologists which makes the cult so infamous.

The author clearly says that there are many things he cannot say because of a fear of legal action from scientology, and in the end the listener comes away none the wiser about what the problem really is with this group. For example, it is said that ex-scientologists have been bullied or harassed or threatened, but no concrete examples are given of such incidents.

As for the nature of the "religion" itself, it's such goobledygook that there is nothing to understand. One thing the author does not discuss at all is why anyone in their right mind would ever be attracted to it. It seems to me there is room for a discussion about why this kind of organisation appeals to people, but nothing is said about that.

Finally, the author's approach is politically correct in the extreme, maybe not for an American but certainly for a European. That is to say, he places scientogoly on the same plane as any other religion. He says all religions should be regarded in the same light, with both respect and suspicion, regardless of what they preach or of their methods. He even says government agencies should be treated in the same way. In other words, the IRS and the FBI should be regarded with the same amount of respect and suspicion as scientology!

Ultimatately, a two- or three-hour book, or even a Wikipedia page, would give you just as much information as this book does. Don't bother with it.

  • Middlemarch

  • By: George Eliot
  • Narrated by: Gabriel Woolf
  • Length: 31 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

Middlemarch is considered one of the masterpieces of English fiction. Published in 1874, it is the seventh and penultimate novel by George Eliot. It pursues a number of underlying themes, including the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism and self-interest, religion and hypocrisy, political reform, and education.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Just don't.

  • By KOPONEN ALEKSI I on 17-02-11

pick a different narrator

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

Reviewed: 13-08-14

This is the first time I've given up on a book. Honestly, this recording should be removed from the listings. The sound is metalic for one, but more importantly, the narrator seems to feel the need to reproduce what he probably imagines to be a speech pattern that reflects the tone of the Middlemarch world. It's monotone, sad, bored, lethargic, and unnecessarily upper-class. Surprisingly, the narrator is excellent when it comes to the characters' voices, which are a relief to his slow and tedious humdrum.
Another feature of the recording is the way the narrator stumbles through words, often re-reading parts of sentences from which words are initially omitted. There is also the occasional clearing of the throat. It does make for a genuine "live" performance, but it's not what one expects from a serious recording.
Finally, the story itself is long and full of unnecessary detail, but generally I like that sort of thing in 19th century literature, and the characters are interesting, even if there's not much drama.
Incidentally, I managed about 20 hours, out of the 32, but enough is enough. I'll probably listen to a different version of the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Philomena

  • By: Martin Sixsmith
  • Narrated by: John Curless
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 364
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 330
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 336

Falling pregnant as a teenager in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent in Co. Tipperary to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption. She spent the next 50 years secretly searching for him, unaware that he was searching for her from across the Atlantic.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Glory Be!!!

  • By mollyeyre on 18-07-14

an incredible true story

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

Reviewed: 29-07-14

Very well written. A fictional account of a real person's life, from birth among Irish nuns specialized in the adoption "trade" in the early 1950s, to adulthood close to the epi-centre of government in Washington D.C. Much of the detail of the story is clearly the fruit of the author's imagination, but the underlying truth of the journey embarked upon by a boy born to an unwed Irish teenager is fascinating. A bit long perhaps, but ideal for someone with a long job to do (in my case, painting a very large room) and who needs something more stimulating than daytime radio to stay alert.

  • Christine Falls

  • By: Benjamin Black
  • Narrated by: Timothy Dalton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 61

The first in the Quirke mysteries - now a major TV series starring Gabriel Byrne. Now a major TV series: Quirke starring Gabriel Byrne and written by Andrew Davies. Quirke’s pathology department, set deep beneath the city, is his own gloomy realm: always quiet, always night, and always under his control. Until late one evening after a party he stumbles across a body that should not be there - and his brother-in-law falsifying the corpse’s cause of death.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • More than just a crime story

  • By Genny on 25-05-09

a dark story with brilliant writing

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

Reviewed: 29-03-14

Don't expect the run-of-the-mill suspense novel here. The writing is of a literary style, dark and evocative. It somehow reminds one of Joyce's The Dead. Catholic Ireland of the 1950s is presented in all its harshness and without compromise. The plot is simple enough but engaging and coherent from start to finish, with different perspectives introduced that add dimension to the story. The main character is larger than life, and the many other characters each carry plenty of weight to make them remarkable. A very good read, albeit not for the light-hearted.

Readers who witnessed or experienced the oppression of the Irish Catholic church during their childhood will no doubt feel that this story strikes a particular chord. There is a bitterness throughout that can only be evoked by someone who has experienced first-hand the control over society that the clergy of the period exercised.

Finally, the narrator is excellent (I presume it's the Timothy Dalton of James Bond fame), a little fast at first but perfect for the job.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • War and Peace, Volume 1

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: Neville Jason
  • Length: 30 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 586
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 417
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 420

War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it examines the relationship between the individual and the relentless march of history. Here are the universal themes of love and hate, ambition and despair, youth and age, expressed with a swirling vitality which makes the book as accessible today as it was when it was first published in 1869.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An epic reading

  • By Francis on 01-05-07

for people with a lot of time on their hands

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

Reviewed: 21-03-14

Without wishing to state the obvious, you need a lot of time to listen to the story from beginning to end. There are lots of characters, lots of settings, lots of dramatic moments and a lot of historical references.

I had the time and enjoyed it very much. I'm not sure why it's such a celebrated novel. The story just goes on and on. There are also extended passages that border on the philosophical. I'm pretty sure I would never have had the patience to read this story in paper form.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Striking Back

  • The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response
  • By: Aaron J. Klein
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 7 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29

1972. The Munich Olympics. Palestinian members of the Black September group murder 11 Israeli athletes. Nine hundred million people watch the crisis unfold on television, witnessing a tragedy that inaugurates the modern age of terror.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thrilling and Riveting

  • By Anonymous User on 31-08-18

not balanced at all

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

Reviewed: 21-03-14

This is completely one-sided. It is a glorification of the Israeli secret services of the nineteen-seventies (referred to as "warriors" and "combatants"). The Palestinian opposition is portrayed as vainglorious and hateful. Third parties like France and Germany are depicted as cowardly. The notion that extra-judicial killings carried out in other sovereign nations might be wrong does not seem to cross the author's mind.

So, if you like the idea of a biased historical account of how teams of hitmen went around killing opponents, with all the planning, build-up, and execution of operations involved, you'll like this.

Actually, I quite enjoyed it.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Verdict

  • By: Nick Stone
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 21 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 815
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 750
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 749

Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk, desperately trying to get promoted. And then he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite. The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, turns out to be not only someone he knows, but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry's career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him so badly?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Verdict by Nick Stone

  • By Steven on 29-01-14

crime fiction or character introspection?

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

Reviewed: 20-03-14

There are two dimensions to this story. First, the crime, its aftermath for the various protagonists, and then how the invesitgating law firm clerk manages to gradually get to the truth. Pretty conventional and not a bad yarn, even if the resolution is a bit of an anti-climax. Second, the said clerk protagonist's persona, detailed family life, and demons from the past. Not at all interesting. The character is simply not engaging.

Add the fact that the narration is in the first person (the narrator even addresses the reader directly) and the result is disappointing. A lot of unnecessary detail is given, making the book much longer than it needs to be. The pseudo-London-educated-working-class accent adopted by the narrator is most annoying, even if one does eventually get used to it.

On a plus side, most of the voices of the various protagonists are well done, the plot is reasonably well thought through, and the amount of dramatic build-up at the beginning is sufficient to keep the story going right to the end.

  • Silent Running

  • My Years on a World War II Attack Submarine
  • By: James F. Calvert
  • Narrated by: Kevin Patrick
  • Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18

In this riveting personal account, an authentic American hero relives the perils and triumphs of eight harrowing patrols aboard one of America's most successful World War II submarines. Courageous deeds and terror-filled moments - as well as the endless hard work of maintaining and operating a combat sub - are vividly recalled in Calvert's candid portrait.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • an easy listen with lots of drama

  • By G on 24-02-14

an easy listen with lots of drama

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

Reviewed: 24-02-14

Five war patrols over three years are presented, with all the drama of creeping up on and sinking Japanese ships. Each engagement is described in quite a lot of detail, but it's always clear what's going on and the excitement of the situation comes across well. Almost everything in the book focuses on pre-combat training and then the combat itself. Little is said about life on board a submarine when not in battle. There is even less mention of the death and destruction of war.

The writer is a squeaky-clean all American hero, almost unreal is his skill, self-discipline and soundness of character. A true poster-boy for life as a navy officer. I found myself regretting having been born fifty years too late and not being American! How easy it must be to be duped into believing in the righteousness of the military when you read a book like this. Don't expect any soul-searching or self-doubt. That said, Mr Calvert comes across as a very pleasant man. Of course, he would hardly present himself in a poor light.

Overall, half a credit well spent (there was a two for one offer)!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Knots and Crosses

  • By: Ian Rankin
  • Narrated by: James Macpherson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 944
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 836
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 826

'And in Edinburgh of all places. I mean, you never think of that sort of thing happening in Edinburgh, do you...?' 'That sort of thing' is the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls. And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disenchanted wife, is one of many policemen hunting the killer.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An uncertain beginning

  • By Simon on 02-09-15

not very convincing but an easy listen nonetheless

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

Reviewed: 08-02-14

Many short cuts taken without too much concern for small inconsistencies. Quite a few clichés: the tough-as-nails journalist, the dour Scottish police detective, the beautiful female colleague who falls for him. Much of the emphasis is on the main character's demons, to the extent that the story line almost becomes incidental to the character's psychological portrait. A real feeling of being in Edinburgh. A perfect narrator with a very pleasant Scottish accent.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Caine Mutiny

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 26 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58

Having inspired a classic film and Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny is Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater. It was immediately embraced upon its original publication as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of the Second World War. In the intervening half century, this gripping story has become a perennial favorite, selling millions throughout the world, and claiming the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a great story about life in the WWII US Navy

  • By G on 06-02-14

a great story about life in the WWII US Navy

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

Reviewed: 06-02-14

What did you like most about The Caine Mutiny?

At the core of this story lies the protagonist's passage to manhood that results from his experience of a year on board a rust-bucket mine-sweeper commanded by a crazy captain. The story is quite long and parts of it could have been left out. A vivid picture of life in the US Navy during WWII is painted, and of life at sea in a more general sense. The "mutiny" of the title takes a long time to occur in the story, and is followed by almost as much story in the second half of the book. If you like all things Navy and the action set in WWII, you'll like this (incidentally, there is practically no "action" as far as combat is concerned, making it all the more engaging and realistic).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful