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Ian

Farnborough, United Kingdom | Member Since 2003

324
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 66 reviews
  • 149 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 44 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
59

  • The Natural History of Selborne

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Gilbert White
    • Narrated By James Taylor
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Blade Runner

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (820)
    Performance
    (462)
    Story
    (470)

    It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment: find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!

    Muddy says: "Pleasantly Surprised"
    "Now the movie makes sense"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love the movie and remember just how "other" it seemed when it was first release.

    But it never made sense.

    Now it does.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rogue Male

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Geoffrey Household
    • Narrated By Robin Browne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (28)

    An Englishman plans to assassinate the dictator of a European country. But he is foiled at the last moment and falls into the hands of ruthless and inventive torturers. They devise for him an ingenious and diplomatic death but, for once, they bungle the job and he escapes. But England provides no safety from his pursuers - and the Rogue Male must strip away all the trappings of status and civilization as the hunter becomes a hunted animal.

    Richard says: "Nice book, first person, not fly on wall"
    "An Englishman's ditch is his castle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the (many) books I have loved. I read it first when I was about 12 and the plot and some of its scenes have lived in my head for a very long time.

    It is very English.

    It is very 30's.

    It is very good.

    It's Englishness and it's 30'sness mean that some of its language and some of its sensibilities will jar on many 21st century minds. Get over it. The point of historical texts is to let us see where we came from and this does that well.

    The writing is clear and direct. The language is simple and the descriptions are concise. The story is simple in concept but deep enough to stay interesting.

    It translates well to audio and Browne's narration is clear and without excessive characterisation.

    This will make it to the repeat listen list with no problem.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Richard E. Grant
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    Gordon Comstock loathes dull, middle-class respectability and worship of money. He gives up a 'good job' in advertising to work part-time in a bookshop, giving him more time to write. But he slides instead into a self-induced poverty that destroys his creativity and his spirit. Only Rosemary, ever-faithful Rosemary, has the strength to challenge his commitment to his chosen way of life.

    Timothy says: "Gordon's Grey World is Colored with Grant"
    "Great performance. Loathsome character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gordon Comstock may just be the least appealing character in any book I have ever read. Whining, self pitying, grasping (of everything but money) he is almost completely devoid of human sympathy. At one point I nearly abandoned the book because he is such an unsympathetic persona.

    But it is an Orwell. You can't give up on an Orwell. It's the law. And Gordon does finally redeem himself for the most human of all reasons. If you love Orwell you need to work your way through all of his work. If you don't love Orwell you need to work your way through all of his work so that you eventually will. This is certainly no "Animal Farm" and "Coming up for Air" is a friendlier read (next please Audible) but it certainly repays the listening time.

    Richard E Grant's performance is excellent. Just the right amount of self important sneer in his voice and just the right tone of undeserved and unappreciated privilege in his delivery. All round a very good audiobook.

    1 of 1 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
    (68)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    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.

    3 of 3 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Flashman on the March

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By George MacDonald Fraser
    • Narrated By Toby Stephens
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    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.

    1 of 1 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
    (26)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (24)

    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.

    6 of 6 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
    (11)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    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!!!!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Day Of The Triffids

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By John Wyndham
    • Narrated By Samuel West
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (34)

    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.

    Emily says: "Classic British sci-fi, well read and engrossing"
    "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
    (2230)
    Performance
    (319)
    Story
    (332)

    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

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