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G. Steyn

Newton, MA United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
385
REVIEWS
26
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
38

  • The Poet

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Michael Connelly
    • Narrated By Buck Schirner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3477)
    Performance
    (2121)
    Story
    (2109)

    Our hero is Jack McEvoy, a Rocky Mountain News crime-beat reporter. As the story opens, Jack's twin brother, a Denver homicide detective, has just killed himself. Or so it seems. But when Jack begins to investigate the phenomenon of police suicides, a disturbing pattern emerges, and soon suspects that a serial murderer is at work.

    Tom says: "Is Connelly the Best Crime Writer Or What?"
    "Solid novel improved by the narration"
    Overall

    "The Poet" is a very good police procedural, but not exceptional. A reporter tracks a serial killer through some unpredictable plot twists.

    But, for me, the narrator raised this into 5-star territory. Even the most minor walk-on parts have their own distinct voices, and have more individuality than Connelly gave them. I was very impressed.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Dragon Scroll

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By I. J. Parker
    • Narrated By Roy Vongtama
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (13)

    On Sugawara Akitada's first official assignment as a young government clerk in 11th-century Japan, he is sent from the capital city on a nearly impossible mission to Kazusa to discover why tax convoys are disappearing. In the politically murky world of the Japanese court, he has been set up to fail. However, the resourceful Akitada, his elderly servant, Seimei, and his impudent bodyguard, Tora, are determined to fulfill their mission and discover the truth in a town of dangerous secrets.

    G. Steyn says: "Anachronistic, with a weak narrator"
    "Anachronistic, with a weak narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm fairly interested in Japanese culture and I enjoy mystery novels, so this book seemed like a good bet for me. Unfortunately, the story is weak, the novel is anachronistic, and the narrator is mediocre.

    The story: The main story involves the disappearance of some tax convoys under mysterious circumstances. Unfortunately, the culprit isn't hard to guess, and Parker's attempt to throw a red herring in is pretty clunky, requiring characters to not talk to each other for no good reason (spoilers elided).

    The setting: I suspect most people read this novel because the 10th century Japanese setting seems interesting. But the writing is really jarring, from calling women "skirts" to the easy familiarity between Tora (a peasant) and Akitada (a minor noble).

    Narration: The narration is largely competent enough, but all minor characters get a bizarre faux Japanese accent. I know the book is set in Japan, but all of the major characters have an American accent, so the mix sounds very strange.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Emma

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (848)
    Performance
    (553)
    Story
    (557)

    One of Jane Austen's most popular novels. Arrogant, self-willed, and egotistical, Emma is her most unusual heroine.

    H. CRODDICK says: "Wonderful listen"
    "A great narrator matched with a great novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've loved Jane Austen's novels for a long time, but I recently decided to go on a little audio-version kick. I'm not going to review the novel itself, but I will say that Juliet Stevenson's performance of this novel is outstanding. Her Harriet is just a bit ditzy, her Mrs. Elton is properly condescending, her Mr. Knightly stern and upright.

    Whether you're already an Austen fan or you just want to know what the fuss is about, this is a great recording to go with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Case Histories: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kate Atkinson
    • Narrated By Susan Jameson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (490)
    Performance
    (314)
    Story
    (319)

    Case One: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case Two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case Three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

    Carrie says: "Deftly written, completely original mystery"
    "Bad literary fiction, awful mystery story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'll start with the positive -- on a sentence-by-sentence level, Atkinson is a solid writer. Nothing particularly spectacular, but nothing wince-worthy either.

    Unfortunately, at any higher level than that, this book is awful.
    * There are coincidences at a level to make Dickens blush.
    * There are plot points that come out of nowhere (Brody's inheritance, for example).
    * There are wild events that are more appropriate to a Tom Clancy novel or a Roadrunner cartoon (does anybody except Wile E. Coyote attempt to kill someone by dynamiting his house?)
    * The detective does virtually no detecting -- probably just as well, because by the time the third case comes his way, we're almost 2/3 through the novel. One of the cases is solved by one phone-call.
    * The stories are resolved with the kind of magical wand-waving that I associate with Victorian literature, not modern serious writing.

    I was pre-disposed to give this novel a lot of leeway -- as I wrote above, Atkinson's writing is very solid, which is a nice thing. But I just don't even begin to understand the glowing reviews this book is getting.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: Fourth Movement

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Anthony Powell
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (76)

    Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.

    Ricardo says: "Was England ever thus?"
    "The end of the epic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "A Dance to the Music of Time" draws to a close with these three novels, and that's probably a good thing. I loved the first 9, and I even like number 10 (the first part of this installment). But 11 and 12 are not as fresh. It's probably silly to even review these, though -- if you've listened to the first three volumes, you're going to listen to this one, and, even if it's not as solid as the earlier ones, it's still very good.

    Simon Vance's portrayals are, as always, excellent. With so many characters coming and going, his voicings often give me additional context to remember who some of the characters are.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Grass for His Pillow: Tales of the Otori, Book Two

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lian Hearn
    • Narrated By Kevin Gray, Aiko Nakasone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2726)
    Performance
    (610)
    Story
    (608)

    The exhilerating tale of Takeo continues in book II of the internationally best-selling Tales of the Otori trilogy, a sweeping saga set in a mythical, medieval Japan.

    RacerX says: "Good book. First one was better"
    "Story good, one narrator not so much"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've read "Across the Nightingale" floor, you know what to expect here: a thinly disguised fantastical Japan, lyrical descriptions, etc. I thought the first book was stronger, but it could be that it was just more fresh, whereas this is more of the same. I will say that her Japan feels very well-researched to me (a bit of a Japanophile myself). Her place-names feel real, "woman's writing" vs. "men's writing" was a real distinction, and so on.

    But I had only read, not listened to the first volume. In this volume, the woman reader was sooooo slow. I ended up putting my iPod onto double speed just to make her sound normal. I think that I'd have preferred just reading the book to listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Cold, Cold Ground

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Adrian McKinty
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1305)
    Performance
    (1128)
    Story
    (1123)

    Adrian McKinty was born in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. He studied politics and philosophy at Oxford before moving to America in the early 1990s. Living first in Harlem, he found employment as a construction worker, barman, and bookstore clerk. In 2000 he moved to Denver to become a high school English teacher and it was there that he began writing fiction.

    Alan says: "What a stunning book"
    "Another solid McKinty/Doyle effort"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Adrian McKinty has always been a solid writer, and he continues to mature. For all it's pyrotechnics, "Cold, Cold Ground" feels more restrained that, say, "Dead I Well May Be." The violence is more restrained than in previous works, and so is the language (although the opening is as beautiful as anything he's written).

    Gerard Doyle is a great narrator for McKinty. I haven't liked him as much reading other books, but in these novels he shines.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night Watch: Discworld #27

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Stephen Briggs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1126)
    Performance
    (590)
    Story
    (597)

    Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all. But now he's back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck.

    Terry A. Austin says: "Another brilliant Pratchett"
    "Performance doesn't quite ruin a strong story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Night Watch is Terry Pratchett in top form. I'd stopped reading him for a while (years, actually), but this novel has me hooked on the series again. The humor is great, his characters are great, and it's not too preachy.

    Unfortunately, the narration is terrible. It sounds like it was recorded at double speed. I can keep up with it, but my wife and kids were lost pretty quickly. In addition, the volume varied pretty dramatically.

    The story is good enough to make it worth listening to, but reading this one is probably the way to go.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • North and South

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gaskell
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (790)
    Performance
    (573)
    Story
    (575)

    Set in the context of Victorian social and medical debate, this novel is about rebellion, posing fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. This revised edition draws on recent theoretical work on gender and class.

    Sally says: "Delightful"
    "My first Elizabeth Gaskell novel, but not my last"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect of "North and South." I downloaded it on a bit of a whim, and I'm very glad I did.

    Reviewers have compared Gaskell to Jan Austen, which seems very strange to me; they have very little in common. Gaskell is trying to explore the effects of industrialization and labor unrest through the eyes of her heroine, who has moved to industrial Northern England from the more bucolic South.

    Gaskell has nice characters to represent the capitalist class, the workers, and others. If anything, they're a bit too good to be true, but it also lets her set out the conflicts without putting in straw men. Her workers and capitalists are at odds with each other, and Gaskell doesn't draw out an easy solution, which is probably just as well, since it would destroy any realism the novel has.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Warded Man

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Peter V. Brett
    • Narrated By Pete Bradbury
    Overall
    (2507)
    Performance
    (1863)
    Story
    (1875)

    Peter V. Brett has won accolades from critics, fans and fellow authors alike for this riveting debut novel. The Warded Man features a world where demons stalk the night, hunting humans who have long forgotten the magic of their ancestors. But all is not lost, as some hold out hope that a savior will release humanity from the demons' terrifying reign.

    Meloney says: "Brilliant"
    "Too long by far"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "The Warded Man" covers a lot of ground in its heroes' lives -- about 15 years or so. Unfortunately, author Brett seems to want to cover every minute of every year, and the novel really drags.

    The eponymous Warded Man doesn't show up until the last third or so, by which time I was beyond caring what happens to everyone in the novel. His characters aren't compelling enough to carry a novel of this length.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Falling Glass

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Adrian McKinty
    • Narrated By Gerard Doyle
    Overall
    (1296)
    Performance
    (1029)
    Story
    (1020)

    Richard Coulter is a man who has everything. His beautiful new wife is pregnant, his upstart airline is undercutting the competition and moving from strength to strength, his diversification into the casino business in Macau has been successful, and his fabulous Art Deco house on an Irish cliff top has just been featured in Architectural Digest. But then, for some reason, his ex-wife Rachel doesn’t keep her side of the custody agreement and vanishes off the face of the earth with Richard’s two daughters. Richard hires Killian, a formidable ex-enforcer for the IRA, to track her down before Rachel, a recovering drug addict, harms herself or the girls.

    Cheryl says: "Hold on to your seat!!!"
    "More mature McKinty"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I came to this book after listening to the Michael Forsyth trilogy (but not having read Fifty Grand). The first thing that struck me is how much the pyrotechnics (both plotwise and stylistically) are cooled down.

    In the Forsyth books, there are multiple shootouts that can end up stretching credulity; here, we have a more cat-and-mouse plot, with a lot of energy going into characters hiding out from other characters. It's a nice refreshing change, as much as I loved the Forsyth books. Killian, the hero of the novel, is no superman, and so there's a constant knife-edge of tension, since odds are, if he gets in a fight he'll lose.

    Verbally, the Forsyth books have poetic flights of fancy, which are fewer in this book. Although I missed them, they really stand out when they happen, since there are so few of them. Again, it's a refreshing change, and shows that McKinty can write in more than one voice, fitting his style to the more down-to-earth Killian.

    Doyle, as always, seems perfectly suited to this material. It's hard to imagine another voice for these books (and, for that matter, I've heard Doyle on another author, and it felt lacking).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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