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Ian

Farnborough, United Kingdom | Member Since 2003

280
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 63 reviews
  • 119 ratings
  • 750 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
57

  • Lord Jim

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Joseph Conrad
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    From his many years on the high seas as a mariner, mate, and captain, Joseph Conrad created unique works, including Heart of Darkness, that have left an indelible mark on world literature. First published in 1899, his haunting novel Lord Jim is both a riveting sea adventure and a fascinating portrait of a unique outcast from civilization.

    brandon says: "A Bit of Beauty, A lot of Gibberish"
    "Good - but not great."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have enjoyed previous Conrad works that I have listened to. This one too. But its not one of his best.

    It feels a bit like he had a collection of tales and characters that kinda sorta fit together but he couldn't quite come up with a story to unite them all. So he decide to stitch them together in a bit of a patchwork quilt. They are all interesting and well written and if presented as seperate short stories I would have probably enjoyed them more. The pace is slow, both in the original work and in the narration. There were several bits where I realised I had stopped paying attention and on rewinding to relisten realised that i had lost nothing from the story. The writing isn't exactly bloated , just a bit extended. If you are looking for a Conrad to start off on then "The Secret Agent" is a better story.

    The narration is very clear and measured - sometimes so measured that I checked my player to make sure it hadn't come to a halt.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Elusive Pimpernel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Baroness Orczy
    • Narrated By Johanna Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (34)

    In this sequel to The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy Blakeney's arch-enemy travels to England in pursuit of the impudent enemy of the French Republic. Monsieur Chauvelin devises a dastardly plot to annihilate, once and for all, both Sir Percy and his beautiful wife, Marguerite. Lured to France, where the entire town of Boulogne is held hostage on their behalf, they seem to be hopelessly trapped. Will the Scarlet Pimpernel prevail?

    Julie Ann Koehler says: "Witty, funny and well read."
    "The difficult second album......."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I relisten to "The Scarlet Pimpernel" frequently but this isn't going to make it to the repeats list.

    It lacks the humour and adventure of the original and spends too much time talking about how luuuuuuvly Blakeney is and how much she luuuuuuvs him and frankly it wears a bit thin after an hour or so. But maybe that's just me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • 'A' Force: The Origins of British Deception During the Second World War

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Whitney T. Bendeck
    • Narrated By Derek Perkins
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    "A" Force explores an area of World War II deception history that has often been neglected. While older studies have focused on the D-day deception campaign and Britain's infamous double-agents, this work explores the origins of Britain's deception activities to reveal how the British became such masterful deceivers. This is the first work to focus exclusively on "A" Force and the origins of British deception, examining how and why the British first employed deception in World War II. More

    Ian says: "Not what it could be."
    "Not what it could be."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This should have been a fascinating exploration of the techniques and methods used in this interesting and important aspect of the second world war, and by extension war more generally. But it isn't. It expends too much effort on who did what and when they did it and not enough on what they did.

    The narration is OK and the details are vaguely interesting but the trick is missed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Flashman on the March

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By George MacDonald Fraser
    • Narrated By Toby Stephens
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Many have marvelled at General Napier's daring 1868 expedition through the treacherous peaks and bottomless chasms of Abyssinia to rescue a small group of British citizens held captive by the mad tyrant Emperor Theodore. But the vital role of Sir Harry Flashman, V.C., in the success of this campaign has hitherto gone unrecorded.

    D. says: "Another Great Flashman!"
    "I gave in."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't often give in on a book. This one, this time, I did. And about 80% of the way through! On the rare occassions when I abandon a book it is usually early on but this one took hours to grind me down.

    I suspect that I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt because I have enjoyed other tiles in the Flashman series.It may be because the historical background to this one is little known to me. It may be because the narration didn't strike me as well fitted. It may be because even a great author (MacDonald Fraser is quite good but definitely not great) pushes out a dud every now and then. More realisically it is a mix of all of them.

    I came to this after relistening to an old Flashman favourite (F in the Great Game) and a new addition (Flashman).

    The first of these is narrated by Timothy West who is perfect for the part.

    The second by Rupert Penry-Jones who was startlingly adequate at the role. I was wthin a whisker of abandoning that one when it finished.

    But this title is narrated by Toby Stephens whose performance was as patchy as they come. The reason West is perfect is because these are the memoirs of a man being read in his later years relating his exploits as a young man. They should be read by an old duffer and Timothy West does old duffer about a hundred times better than either of the other two. I'll be willing to bet cash money that he costs more than either of the other two but the quality is there all the way through the recording. It just sounds very very wrong to have a 12 year olds voice reading an old man story.

    So I'm left up a stump now. I had intended to build a listening career on this series but now find that unless they are narrated by West I am quite likely to abandon them.

    My advice is probably to either only listen to the ones narrated by West or never listen to them. Without his performance they are pretty insipid stuff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (17)

    Mark Twain's complete, uncensored Autobiography was an instant best seller when the first volume was published in 2010, on the centennial of the author's death, as he requested. Published to rave reviews, the Autobiography was hailed as the capstone of Twain's career. It captures his authentic and unsuppressed voice, speaking clearly from the grave and brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions. The eagerly awaited second volume delves deeper into Twain's life, uncovering the many roles he played in his private and public worlds.

    Tad Davis says: "Magnificent"
    "The way it should be done."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I purchased this with some small fear. Not about Twain's part of it but because the first volume was ballasted with way too much information about who the editors and compilers were and how clever they had been in editing and compiling the work. And in volume 1 it was all at the beginning of the book and of the chapters so at no time was it safe to use the guff blocker that is labelled "fast forward".

    But this edition is done the way it should be done. Hoorah!!!! There is still some content about the editors and financial contributors, as I am sure is only fair. But it is all at the end. Hoorah Hoorah!! Puttng it there, where it belongs, means that as a listener you have been able to enjoy Twain's stream of consciousness after which you realise how much you should be grateful to the people in the credits section and are happy to listen to it and give them credit.

    Grover Gardner is an inspired choice as narrator reading the material with inflection and style. Getting excited in the exciting bits and amused in the amusing bits. If anybody ever wants an example of how an audiobook should be performed then they shoulduse this as their guide.

    As to the content - It's Twain - Just buy it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Allan Quatermain

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By H. Rider Haggard
    • Narrated By Bill Homewood
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    We have met the intrepid hunter-tracker Allan Quatermain before, in H. Rider Haggard’s marvelous King Solomon’s Mines. This time, grieving from the tragic loss of his son, Quatermain longs to return to his beloved Africa. He sets out in search of a lost white tribe, the Zu-Vendis, ruled by two beautiful sister Queens. Once again, Quatermain’s companions are the indefatigable Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, and the magnificent Zulu warrior Umslopogaas. The journey is incredibly dangerous, and thrillingly told.

    Ian says: "Bit tedious really."
    "Bit tedious really."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I could not help visualising a scene in the office of Haggard's publisher where the publisher is saying
    "Can't you do King Solomon's Mines 2 - The Return or something like that. That I can sell."
    "All the same old stereotypes?" asks Haggard
    "Of course. Oh - do you think you can fit a cowardly and stupid Frenchman in there as well. Everybody likes a cowardly Frenchman. Oooh Ooooh - I know - make him a chef"
    "Not a problem" says Haggard as he gets up to leave.

    And that's what he did. Same old stiff upper lip nationalism. Same set piece action scenes. Same over elaborate pointless descriptions with bizzare irrelevant details which go on and on and on.

    Narration carefully chosen to be as pompous as the writing. And I usually like this stuff!!!!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Day Of The Triffids

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By John Wyndham
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    The Triffids are a monstrous species of stinging plant; they walk, they talk, they dominate the world. The narrator of this novel wakes up in hospital to find that, by missing the end of the world as he knew it, he has survived to witness a new one. But the new world that awaits him is fantastic, horrific - and entirely plausible.

    Calliope says: "Great apocolyptic story stands the test of time"
    "Wyndham is underrated"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My previous experiences of reading Wyndham have been in his "childrens" novels which I loved as a child and now love as a man. This is written on a more adult scale and despite the fact that time has overtake some of the ideas in the book there are others which remain absolutely plausible today. The story is well written, well narrated and thoroughly enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Douglas Adams
    Overall
    (2198)
    Performance
    (292)
    Story
    (305)

    The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy, the first volume in the five-part Hitchhiker "trilogy" made Douglas Adams a science fiction sensation, and is a must-listen for any and all fans of the genre. Don't forget to bring a towel!

    Victor says: "still a winner!!!"
    "Magic. Just magic."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I worked with a bloke once who quoted this work endlessly. I'd never read it and never quite understood what he was talking about. So this was one of the first books I signed up for after signing up of Audible (several years ago). And I've just got round to writing this review.


    It's BRILLIANT!!!!!


    I listen to this 4 or 5 times a year. It makes me laugh out loud every time. The fact that it is narrated by Douglas Adams is a real bonus. The man is a real loss. Not only was he clever and witty and a talented writer but he knew about performance as well. The science isn't bad either.

    So if you have a teenager who you want to make curious about how the universe works get them to listen to this to start them off and then make them read the rest of the series on paper. Paper. Not kindle - paper! Then let them listen to Douglas Adams doing those as well. And if you don't have a teenager and you are interested enough to be reading this review then do the same thing yourself and start by buying this book. Today.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • My Life with the Chimpanzees

    • ABRIDGED (2 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Jane Goodall
    • Narrated By Jane Goodall
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    At 23, Jane Goodall made her first voyage to Africa and began her determined steps to achieve her goal of studying animals by living among them. In My Life with the Chimpanzees, she shares the remarkable journey which took her from her childhood in London to the realization of her dream in the wilds of Gombe, Tanzania.

    Janice says: "My 10-year old loved it!"
    "Feels a bit lightweight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I probably misunderstood the ambitions of this title. I think I was hoping for more insight into Goodall's work with primates than this title sets out to give. Basically I was hoping for chimps featuring Jane Goodall and what you get is Jane Goodall featuring chimps. As an inspirational story for children it's probably great but as science or natural history less so. I'm afraid that I also find it offputting when scientists make reference to supernatural beliefs in their writings. Personal prejudice. I'm stacked full of them.

    So basically this was interesting but not what I was hoping for when I purchased it. Goodall is a competent narrator as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lord of the Flies

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By William Golding
    • Narrated By Martin Jarvis
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    A plane crashes on a desert island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. As the boys’ delicate sense of order fades, so their childish dreams are transformed into something more primitive, and their behaviour starts to take on a murderous, savage significance.

    Ian says: "Classic - if a bit disturbing."
    "Classic - if a bit disturbing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another classic that I have been seeking on audio to add to my library for a while. This one because I had read it as a boy and enjoyed it greatly and wanted to add it to my rotating library of repeat listens. It makes it to that list very very easily.

    The basic story is probably fairly well known. Group of boys. Desert Island. Add some time and wait for chaos to reign. I remembered that much from my boyhood read but there are layers here that I didn't get as a spotty teen.

    And I'm coming to the conclusion that this is what makes a great book great.

    Every time you read it it makes you think about some element of it differently and see some feature in a new light. Ostensibly this is a book about how small boys will happily become savages if left without authority. It is also wider, deeper and longer than that if you pause the recoding every now and then and let your mind wander over a scene for a few minutes and think about whatever else it throws into your head. Bit like tasting a good wine where you can (I'm told - cheap plonk man myself) start to seperate out individual notes from the flavour. "I'm getting - the beginnings of religion - the draw of superstition - mans inhumanity to man.........."

    That said , if all you want is a good book with a good story well told and well read then this will do that for you too. Just that there is more there if you want it.

    Martin Jarvis does an excellent job on the narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Natural History of Selborne

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Gilbert White
    • Narrated By James Taylor
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    More than any other writer Gilbert White (1720-93) has shaped the relationship between man and nature. A hundred years before Darwin, White realised the crucial role of worms in the formation of soil and understood the significance of territory and song in birds. His precise, scrupulously honest and unaffectedly witty observations led him to interpret animals’ behaviour in a unique manner.

    Ian says: "Delightful"
    "Delightful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been looking for this on audio for a while. I live near Selborne and have visited Gilbert White's house several times and that always helps to make a work more interesting. Also this work has been quoted as an influence by several respected naturalists and scientists so I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

    My concern was that a 220+ year old book by a country parson talking about swallows and spiders might not be that rivetting or translate well to audio. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    From the first few words it is a complete joy to listen to. The narrator manages to give the perfect feel to the work and the words themselves are beautifully written and sound like they could have been produced yesterday.There is very little archane langauge and the pace is crisp and clear. The book is actually a series of different letters written over a period of time so each one forms a discreet package and none of them dwells too long on any one subject. The observations in the letters are not just natural history but also give a facinating glimpse of life , human and animal, in the English countryside in the 18th century.

    The narration is clear and measured and the production is very good. There is a tiny introduction by the narrator which sets the scene nicely without getting in the way of the work.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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