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First Impressions

  • 8
  • reviews
  • 13
  • helpful votes
  • 8
  • ratings
  • The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn

  • Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 3
  • By: Colin Dexter
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 7 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42

Morse had never ceased to wonder why, with the staggering advances in medical science, all pronouncements concerning times of death seemed so disconcertingly vague. The newly appointed member of the Oxford Examinations Syndicate was deaf, provincial and gifted. Now he is dead.... And his murder, in his north Oxford home, proves to be the start of a formidably labyrinthine case for Chief Inspector Morse, as he tries to track down the killer through the insular and bitchy world of the Oxford Colleges....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great reading of an absorbing story

  • By First Impressions on 19-02-18

Great reading of an absorbing story

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

Reviewed: 19-02-18

I have watched the TV series, but wasn't sure what to expect in written form. 'The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn' as a book is different, but just as enjoyable. Pleased and have already bought another in the series.

An absorbing story - the plot is improbable (the book's weakness) but fun in a murdery sort of way. Terrific atmosphere. Writing very immediate, like being there.

Beautifully read by Sam West who sensibly decides not to "ham it up" and instead puts in just enough so we can follow everything clearly, but not so much that we are robbed of using our imaginations - just the way I like a reading.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Bookseller of Kabul

  • By: Asne Seierstad
  • Narrated by: Emilia Fox
  • Length: 6 hrs and 54 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 35

For more than 20 years Sultan Khan defied the authorities to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, and watched illiterate soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. In spring 2002, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad spent four months living with the bookseller and his family. As she steps back from the page and lets the Khans tell their stories, we learn of proposals and marriages, hope and fear, crime and punishment.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant insight to this Country and it's people

  • By Sheila on 16-04-15

Bleak 'non fiction' but can it really be accurate?

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

Reviewed: 13-11-17

A supposedly non-fiction book written by a Scandinavian who did not speak the local languages and only stayed with the bookseller's family for 3 months and yet we are to believe that she was able to get into the heads of multiple people from a completely different culture. And 100% bleakness? No place for happiness/brightness in this society? There are points of interest in it, however, and the narrator does an excellent job with the matieral available.

  • Bolshoi Confidential

  • Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today
  • By: Simon Morrison
  • Narrated by: Dugald Bruce-Lockhart
  • Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

On a freezing night in January 2013, an assailant hurled acid in the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin. The crime, organised by a lead soloist, dragged one of Russia's most illustrious institutions into scandal. Under Vladimir Putin, the Bolshoi Theatre has been called on to preserve Russia's lengthy artistic legacy and to mirror its neo-imperial ambitions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Much enjoyed, thou prob for ballet enthusiasts

  • By First Impressions on 08-04-17

Much enjoyed, thou prob for ballet enthusiasts

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

Reviewed: 08-04-17

Would you consider the audio edition of Bolshoi Confidential to be better than the print version?

I have never seen or read the print version, but I imagine this may have been even better. Brought to life by a quality narrator. I cannot tell you if any of the names/words were mispronounced, I don't speak Russian, but it made the story sound more atmospheric to me.

What did you like best about this story?

The variety. The strange beginning, the long history, arson, double suicide, dead cats being thrown, the Soviet Union springing into existence on the Bolshoi stage, the tales of dancers, unshaved armpits, a fine joke about the Soviet culture minister. Bring it on!

What about Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s performance did you like?

Interesting, strong voice - kept up a nice pace. I'd listen to him narrate something else.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The extraordinary dedication of those involved with the Bolshoi despite astonishing events and horrors outside (and sometimes inside). It seems "The Show Must Go On".

Any additional comments?

This audiobook is probably something for ballet or theatre enthusiasts, althought I might be wrong - quite a story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • How to Have a Good Day

  • Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Working Life
  • By: Caroline Webb
  • Narrated by: Caroline Webb
  • Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 189
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 166

In How to Have a Good Day, economist and former McKinsey partner Caroline Webb tells listeners how to use recent findings from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience to transform their approach to everyday working life. Advances in these behavioral sciences are giving us ever better understanding of how our brains work, why we make the choices we do and what it takes for us to be smart and savvy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good Book => Good Day

  • By Dan Holle on 19-07-16

Agony - not for me

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

Reviewed: 08-04-17

Would you try another book written by Caroline Webb or narrated by Caroline Webb?

Absolutely not. The author would have been better served by professional narration, I found it monotone and robot-like. Also - if there was a story, I got lost. Admittedly I only lasted about 25 painful minutes. This is the first time I have ever abandoned an audiobook.

What could Caroline Webb have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Nothing - it was a lost cause for me. To be fair, it wasn't my usual type of audiobook and judging by the reviews many enjoyed it.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Caroline Webb?

Derek Jacobi, Kirsty Young, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeremy Irons. What's the budget?

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment - I had high hopes. It seemed to be aimed at sales staff/middle-managers from the USA. Maybe I should have guessed as "Have a Good Day" is in the title. Not for me, might be for others.

Any additional comments?

Please note - I didn't get far into this audiobook - perhaps it got better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World

  • By: Robert Bucholz, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Robert Bucholz
  • Length: 24 hrs and 35 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 37

Beginning with the Renaissance, the culture of the West exploded. Over the next 600 years, rapid innovations in philosophy, technology, economics, military affairs, and politics allowed what had once been a cultural backwater left by the collapse of the Roman Empire to dominate the world. This comprehensive series of 48 lectures by an award-winning teacher and captivating lecturer will show you how - and why - this extraordinary transformation took place.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good overview but far too short.

  • By Mr. An Te on 15-06-17

Near impossible task - decent try - bit personal

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

Reviewed: 22-10-16

If you could sum up Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World in three words, what would they be?

Ambitious, intense, subjective.

What other book might you compare Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World to, and why?

The prequel. Much enjoyed - I recommended it. Foundations of Western Civilization I [Prof. Noble]. This covers the 4,500 years up to 1600. I found Prof Noble to be more objective and dispassionate than Prof Bucholz. It's also a period I knew less about. Prof Bucholz sometimes appeared to think that history should be a road of inevitable progress and ever more refined morality, and when there is a detour (or back step) it is a matter of personal regret and disappointment to him. I could hear the emotion in his voice. Clearly a decent bloke, but he enjoys amateur dramatics (in front of a "canned audience").

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration is usually chronological (from c.1600 to about c.2005), with the pace changing according to whether the period has particular points of importance to discuss. Something is discussed in detail - and then we get something closer to a list [e.g. "I'm now going to be going all around Europe"]. We probably have to have the lists in an ambitious history of this kind, but at times it can be a little tedious (battles, personalities, inventions etc) - especially if you are familiar with the material.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

At nearly 25 hours, probably not. It is broken up into convenient chunks.

Any additional comments?

There is a constant putting of personal views or contemporary morality on to history. When it isn't specific, it is in the voice, e.g. sadness, deep regret, cheering up. I often agree, but it is not necessary. A number of times I found myself muttering "Good grief". Here are some direct quotes:"there were no modern antibiotics in the time of the plague" and ".. at his time there was no internet, radio or television" (as they didn't have electricity, not that surprising)."By modern American standards ... " (judging the Spanish Armada)."If you don't believe this you are either wicked or an idiot" (Prof. - even if you feel the evidence is overwhelmingly one way, always allow the possibility for new information or scholarship, whether it be 10 or 100 years ahead).That said, Prof Bucholz is pleasant company, though a bit over-emotional. He had a very difficult (near impossible) job and gave it a go.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Foundations of Western Civilization

  • By: Thomas F. X. Noble, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. X. Noble
  • Length: 24 hrs and 51 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 74
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

What is Western Civilization? According to Professor Noble, it is "much more than human and political geography," encompassing myriad forms of political and institutional structures - from monarchies to participatory republics - and its own traditions of political discourse. It involves choices about who gets to participate in any given society and the ways in which societies have resolved the tension between individual self-interest and the common good.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it - I'll be ordering more

  • By First Impressions on 21-09-16

Loved it - I'll be ordering more

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

Reviewed: 21-09-16

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

It's a series of 48 lectures, covering over 5000 years of history. I think it was well suited to me because I have some background knowledge of most of the period. But I'm not an expert, I still learned a lot and it helped connect everything together. If you are fresh to the subject don't be put off - just take it more slowly, perhaps repeat a lecture that you didn't connect with the first time.

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I was disappointed that it ended at 1600 (Early Modern Period). I would have liked it to continue beyond that. I will move on to "Foundations of Western Civilization II", but it's with a different lecturer. Perhaps that lecturer will be as good. Some people would prefer homework, visual material, study certificates etc. Not something I would want/need - but everyone will have to decide themselves.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I thought Thomas Noble was excellent. He has his mannerisms, of course (asides, chortles, pauses) - perhaps that would bother some people. I found it added charm. It felt like I had a personal guide through history, not some Wiki-bot. I am considering getting his "Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation" series.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

A couple of feelings (1) I wish I'd had this overview when I was growing up. When studying more detailed history I would be better able to put everything in context. (2) This series shows that it is possible to creditably cover over 5000 years in 48 short lectures. A complement to, rather than a replacement for, serious study of more focused history.

Any additional comments?

I didn't know if a lengthy lecture series would be for me, but decided it was worth a gamble. It turns out that it suits me very well - indeed, I'm amazed - a whole new method of learning has opened up. This hasn't replaced my reading of books, but it supplements them nicely.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Woman in White

  • By: Wilkie Collins
  • Narrated by: Glen McCready, Rachel Bavidge, Hugh Dickson, and others
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5

A dark and humid night on a London highway… a ghostly woman asking directions… and the reader is away on a tale of deceit, murder, madness, stolen identities and scheming cads, elaborate plots and outrageous coincidences, in the company of some of the most extraordinary characters in fiction. Hailed as a classic the moment it was written in 1859, The Woman in White uses a dozen different narrators to tell the tale of a man’s determination to save the woman he loves....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A terrific story, well narrated - what a plot!

  • By First Impressions on 03-02-16

A terrific story, well narrated - what a plot!

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

Reviewed: 03-02-16

Where does The Woman in White rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is only my third, but my favourite. I'm not sure how I missed reading this novel, not talked about enough.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Woman in White?

When Marian visits the private lunatic asylum and, instead of finding Anne Catherick, she finds her (supposedly) deceased half sister, Laura! I also enjoyed the atmospheric first appearance of 'The Woman in White' to a very surprised Walter Hartright. Watch out for the appearances of Count Fosco. He is a fine character - an intriguing villain.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, none of them This had (I think) 6 narrators. This was ideal as the story is told via the accounts of multiple characters. The narrators ranged from very good to excellent.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Good question/s. Laugh *and* cry - and sit on the edge of my seat. It was a roller coaster - it's a sensational "thumping good read", a whodunit with a love element, some tragedy - and a nice bit of social history.

Any additional comments?

Warning: This is an abridged version of The Woman in White at 6 hours 36 mins. I must admit I was disappointed when it came to an end, I wish there was a 10 hour version. There are shorter versions (under 4 hours) and unabridged versions (24 or 25 hours) - but, arguably, the original book was somewhat padded out for serialisation in the Dickens periodical and benefits from some trimming. That said I am now reading the novel - and wouldn't rule out getting hold of an unabridged audiobook version in due course.

  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes

  • The Heirloom Collection
  • By: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 58 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,787
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,652
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,652

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales are rightly ranked among the seminal works of mystery and detective fiction. Included in this collection are all four full-length Holmes novels and more than forty short masterpieces - from the inaugural adventure A Study in Scarlet to timeless favorites like “The Speckled Band” and more. At the center of each stands the iconic figure of Holmes - brilliant, eccentric, and capable of amazing feats of deductive reasoning.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A long and rewarding listen....

  • By Lee on 29-04-15

Excellent - much enjoyed!

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

Reviewed: 20-01-16

Any additional comments?

It is remarkable that whatever format you experience the Sherlock Holmes stories they are still a thumping good yarn, with bags of atmosphere and character. Will we ever tire of them?!

This is a terrific 58 hour audiobook - and a snip at the price. Simon Vance does a terrific job - and doesn't not over act or "ham up" his performance. However - despite this being called "The complete Sherlock Holmes" I only seem to have 42 short stories and 4 novels - not the 56 short stories and 4 novels that were written. Either my download had a problem - or this isn't really The *Complete* Sherlock Holmes. I am therefore forced to take off one star in the "Overall" category. (Apologies if the explanation for the missing stories was merely a technical problem from my end.)

I much enjoyed this version, but my view, remains that the best audio version ever made was by the BBC, featuring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. Together they recorded all the stories in the canon between 1989 and 1998. Alas, I only have it on cassette tape, so it's very inconvenient for me to listen to these days. This version is a delightful and convenient alternative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful