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Ian

Frankston South, Australia | Member Since 2010

29
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 27 reviews
  • 37 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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  • A Dance with Dragons (Part One): Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    Overall
    (274)
    Performance
    (242)
    Story
    (243)

    This is Part One of A Dance With Dragons. The fifth volume in the greatest epic work of the modern age, George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, this recording is unabridged and split into two parts. The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance. In the east, Daenerys, last scion of House Targaryen, her dragons grown to terrifying maturity, rules as queen of a city built on dust and death, beset by enemies.

    Ian says: "What happened here?"
    "What happened here?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After book 3, I was gutted to find out Roy Dotrice didn't do the narration for book 4. Instead, some talentless no-mark got the gig and, almost without exception, made an absolute dog's dinner of it.
    So imagine my delight when Dotrice returned for book 5!
    And then I started listening...
    I've praised Dotrice's work previously because he gave a huge range of characters a unique and consistent voice. Why then does he suddenly elect to give a young girl the screwed up voice of a yokel crone when previously she'd been anything but? Why then does he take what was previously a rich, husky female voice and again turn it into something more suited to a wart-nosed witch? Yes, the majority of the characters are as they were, but these two aren't the only jarring changes but they are by far the worst.
    And then there's the story. The previous books had intrigue, shocks, revelations and great characters and a wide but still cohesive narration that was occasionally interspersed with chunks of 'nothing much happens'. This book still has the intrigue etc, but it also has great swathes of text where characters just... really... don't... do... much. At all. I'm looking at you Daenerys, you wishy washy sack of absolute tedium. Other characters that have been dead since before book 1 suddenly take centre stage. Martin has never been shy of offing major characters but he seems to be developing a taste for occasionally resurrecting them without really seeming to have good reason. The cast just keeps getting bigger and more complex. The chronology of events from one place to the next gets tricky to follow.
    Dragons feels more like a book from an author who's created too much 'stuff'' in his world trying to give it all time in the sun so he can get it straight. As a result, the tale sometimes seems a little forced and occasionally 'round peg, square hole' as pieces are forced into places and events that just lack.. something.
    Still, if anyone can tie it all together in the end, it's GRRM.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Forsaking Home: The Survivalist Series, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By A. American
    • Narrated By Duke Fontaine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (76)

    Morgan Carter has weathered the weeks after the collapse of the nation's power grid, reuniting with his family and ensuring their safety, but his struggle isn't over yet. Carter must focus on survival in an increasingly unstable society - but the challenges he faces are beyond his wildest imagination. Meanwhile, the enclosed quarters of the nearby government-run refugee camp make for an environment where injury, assault and murder are the norm.

    Ian says: "Less a conclusion and more a lingering death"
    "Less a conclusion and more a lingering death"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Look, none of the series is particularly well written, but what they had was passion and belief in them. The guy writing them knew his subject - survival when society crumbles - and that made up for an awful lot that was missing in terms of literary merit. Often the book was a manual for surviving when the brown stuff hits the fan but by book 3, the author was struggling to keep things going whilst not repeating the same old things.

    Book 4 though is almost entirely a waste of time and, in terms of the overall story, pretty much irrelevant. Characters that weren't that brilliant to start with but were at least kind of believable, are now paper thin, spouting trite and repetitive dialogue. Plot points that were once fresh and interesting to read are repeated and rehashed, with what should be major events built up into absolute non-events.

    Most of the time you get the distinct impression our author Angry American ran out of things to say and just... kept typing anyway. It's almost entirely filler.

    Avoid.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Silkworm: Cormoran Strike, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Robert Galbraith
    • Narrated By Robert Glenister
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives - so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

    Anne says: "Another great mystery with Cormoran Strike."
    "Pretty much perfect"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Rowling is at the top of her game, and reintroduces us to some already well-established characters and adds more to them as we go. She's a natural storyteller, plain and simple, and she does so with smooth and seemingly effortless skill.

    The narrator is absolutely flawless. His characters never jar, he never over-eggs his narration and always gives them detail and definition without 'acting' them out.

    The 'whodunnit' story is set in the world of publishing and you know Rowling is an expert witness in telling us what it's like there.

    Thoroughly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hospital: The FREE Short Story: The First Mountain Man Story

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 37 mins)
    • By Keith C. Blackmore
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (361)
    Performance
    (335)
    Story
    (335)

    "Mountain Man" Augustus Berry is a survivor in undead suburbia. He scavenges what he can from what's left over. He is very careful in what he does and where he goes, taking no chances, no unnecessary risks, and weighing every choice...until he decides to visit the hospital at the edge of town, and experiences terror the likes he's never encountered before.

    DEMPSY says: "Great surprise"
    "Kind of Undersells Book 2"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I'd rewrite it to better suit the tone of book 2. As a standalone story it rates about an 'ok'. It's typical horror and seems to be written primarily for shock-value. Book 2 is almost the opposite of this.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Meeting Gus.


    Have you listened to any of R. C. Bray’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He's fast becoming my favourite narrator. Manages to avoid the 'tough guy with gravelly' voice cliche whilst still making everyone distinct. He also does female voices very well.


    Did The Hospital: The FREE Short Story: The First Mountain Man Story inspire you to do anything?

    I bought book 2.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm complaining about something that's free, but I just think book 1 might put some people off reading book 2 which would be a shame.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Going Home: The Survivalist Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By A. American
    • Narrated By Duke Fontaine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1218)
    Performance
    (1118)
    Story
    (1120)

    If society collapsed, could you survive? When Morgan Carter's car breaks down 250 miles from his home, he figures his weekend plans are ruined. But things are about to get much, much worse: the country's power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored - if it ever will be.

    Randall says: "A page turner, if. . ."
    "A Pleasant Surprise"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Going Home in three words, what would they be?

    Need solar panels.

    Seriously, reading this made me want to buy a large backpack and convert my house to solar power. I'm not being facetious.


    What other book might you compare Going Home to and why?

    It should stand comparison to all manner of post-apocalyptic books, but it actually stands fairly alone. That being said, this is my first survivalist-themed story.


    What about Duke Fontaine’s performance did you like?

    It's a decent sized cast of characters and he gives them all a strong, unique voice. He also doesn't give the hero a hero voice, instead going for something more grounded and everyman.


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

    Not moved as such, but I found the depiction of how quickly society would break down to be both believable and more than a bit worrying.


    Any additional comments?

    This is very obviously written by someone who knows what they're talking about. Often, the story feels like a survival manual; recipes, plans, how to modify equipment, what equipment to get and more besides are all covered in detail and the story really has substance behind it. The reason for the apocalypse may (or may not for all I know) be unlikely, but the characters reactions to it rarely feel less than very real.
    I was entertained enough to easily justify buying the other stories in the saga and went through them all in short order. Pretty thoroughly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5441)
    Performance
    (5175)
    Story
    (5183)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold ""human error"" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "Faultless"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Martian the most enjoyable?

    It's a book I picked up simply because so many were raving about it and now I'm one of them. The most recent comparison is probably the movie Gravity and the central premise, one person fighting to survive against all the odds, is sort of the same. The big difference is that in Gravity the threat of death was immediate, just minutes away at any time.
    In The Martian, death can be anywhere from just a minute or two away, or a year or two in the future or anywhere in between. You could survive for months for nothing, making that one mistake that costs you your life. Some essential piece of equipment could fail and maybe end it quickly or maybe just make you aware you have a finite time left and that you will die.
    Or maybe you'll survive long enough to starve to death.
    It's a genuinely tense book. A manned mission to Mars has to be aborted and one man is left behind, and he is, in every sense of the word, alone. You're reading his journal and though you might think you're reading as he writes it, for all you know you're reading it after the fact. And that starts to prey on you as the reader, something not helped by the fact that our hero is such a well-written and thoroughly likable character.
    It's tense, often laugh out loud funny, endlessly inventive and just... smart. The book feels like a survival manual for an alien planet more than it feels like an adventure story, and that feeling of being grounded adds further to how much you genuinely care about what happens.


    What did you like best about this story?

    So many times the hero is faced with a situation where there is no way he can survive. It's just not possible and so you know, as the reader, that the author's going to have to come up with some contrived way to get him out of it.
    But he never does, not once. There's no stretching of credibility, nothing impossible and nothing absurd. Mostly it's lateral thinking and sheer determination that gets the guy through and the more he does so, the more you end up rooting for him.


    What does R. C. Bray bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    This type of story can easily be ruined by a bad narrator. A lot of books annoy the hell out of me when the hero is given the kind of voice that comes from chewing-gravel; dark and deep and almost a parody of a tough guy voice.
    Bray knows that this is an everyman and gives him an everyman voice that's a pleasure to listen to. He also manages to surround the central character with a range of distinct characters; accents sound genuine, female characters sound feminine and nobody jars the ears. It's a pretty sublime piece of work all round and makes an obvious great book into an equally great audiobook.


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

    I laughed out loud regularly, yet none of what I was laughing at felt contrived. The characters speak believably and so it's easy to respond to them. They're written very naturally and Bray gives them natural voices. Most of the time I felt more like I was listening in than being read to.


    Any additional comments?

    Easily one of my favourite audiobooks. Early in the review I compared this to Gravity and they share another trait; both are improved by a variation on the standard media. Gravity is a great movie but it is immeasurably better as a 3D movie; it becomes genuinely breathtaking. The Martian is a great book, but it's immeasurably better as an audiobook.
    I honestly can't rate it highly enough. Flawless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dust: Silo Saga, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Hugh Howey
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (771)
    Performance
    (707)
    Story
    (713)

    Wool introduced the silo and its inhabitants. Shift told the story of their making. Dust will chronicle their undoing. Welcome to the underground.

    Tango says: "Meanders, then races to a satisfying conclusion"
    "Brilliant conclusion to a brilliant trilogy."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Dust?

    Everything.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Juliette, who has every characteristic of the indomitable hero and none of the cliches that usually go with it. Great character and if they ever make a TV series of this (and they really should - it's perfect for the medium), there'll be no shortage of actresses who want the gig.


    Which character – as performed by Tim Gerard Reynolds – was your favorite?

    Juliette. See above.


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

    Yup. Couldn't manage it but one day I'll go on holiday and devour the trilogy on a beach whilst cooking in the sun.


    Any additional comments?

    Thanks to the other reader reviews that made me give the trilogy a whirl. Most appreciated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brilliance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Marcus Sakey
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    Overall
    (1089)
    Performance
    (960)
    Story
    (963)

    In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible. They’re called "brilliants," and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in.

    Benjamin says: "Predictable Thriller"
    "Just... Average"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Brilliance better?

    An original idea.


    What was most disappointing about Marcus Sakey’s story?

    It was just so formulaic and predictable. Narration was a bit too 'trailer voice-over guy' to give the story any impact, which didn't help, but the characters are just paper-thin. There's treachery, but you see it coming. All is not what it seems, but you see it coming. It's a story that's been done many times and usually better than it's done here.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Luke Daniels’s performances?

    He's a good narrator in that he's clear and his voices are fairly distinct from one another, but he just can't wind in the 'square jawed hero' voice. Like I said, often his narration sounds like an audition for trailer voice-over work; it was a time of warrrrr.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Brilliance?

    Nothing, I just didn't click with the story. Some people probably will.


    Any additional comments?

    At least I listened to the entire story, so it couldn't have been that bad.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Doctor Sleep

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (74)

    Stephen King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special 12-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

    Sharon says: "Revisit The Shining if it's been a while"
    "King By The Numbers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I'm a big Stephen King fan and have very much enjoyed his last couple. While this wasn't classic King, it was certainly an enjoyable listen.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Finding out what happened to Danny Torrance after The Overlook burned down was the most interesting. Find out about The True Knot and, in particular, Rose the Hat, was often dull and predictable.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Will Patton?

    I have; Alas, Babylon (which was fantastic). He's pretty good here and I have no problems with his narration, though he does sometimes get a bit over-wrought.


    Was Doctor Sleep worth the listening time?

    Way more worthwhile than answering the same question you asked first off in this review. Allow me to cut and paste...'I'm a big Stephen King fan and have very much enjoyed his last couple. While this wasn't classic King, it was certainly an enjoyable listen.'There. Happy now? Good. Moving on...


    Any additional comments?

    Not his best but plenty good enough. The middle third especially is outstanding, but the first third is too long and windy and the climax is oddly formulaic for King, something which can arguably said for most of the story. It feels like a good idea not quite seen through, if that makes sense.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • One Summer: America 1927

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (84)

    One Summer: America, 1927, is the new book by Britain’s favourite writer of narrative nonfiction, Bill Bryson. Narrated by the man himself, One Summer takes you to the summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and changed the world forever. In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day, a semi-crazed sculptor with a plan to carve four giant heads into a mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown, and finished it as the most famous man on Earth.

    Ian says: "Classic Bryson"
    "Classic Bryson"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

    I've read a lot of Bryson books and the ones he narrates are always a cut above their print versions. His voice is (unsurprisingly) perfect for his books. The audio-books of his work that are NOT read by the man himself, however, are to be avoided at all costs. I'd rather listen to abridged Bryson read by him than unabridged read by someone else.


    What other book might you compare One Summer to and why?

    Really only other books by Bryson. Pick one. Down Under, A Walk In The Woods, Life & Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid (probably closest in terms of painting a portrait of a time gone by), At Home... the list goes on. There's no other author quite like him.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The unfolding story of Charles Lindbergh, how this wholly uncharismatic man and genius pilot was made into an unwilling and often bewildered American legend.


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

    No (it's not that kind of book really) but all of it entertained me.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like Bryson, you will love this. If you don't like Bryson, there's no reason to think this one will change your oddly tasteless mind.
    But if you've never given Bryson a try, I genuinely envy you. Start immediately. Buy half a dozen of his non-language books (not my cup of tea) that are read by him (no other narrator is capable of voicing his voice, so to speak), take a long weekend away from distraction, and relax. I very much doubt you'll regret it.
    You see, it doesn't matter what or who or when Bill Bryson turns his gaze onto, what matters is that it's his gaze. He is sublimely gifted at looking at the most mundane or well known of events and showing you that, truth be told, you were almost completely misinformed about it, assuming you were informed at all.
    I'm not American. I have little interest in American history or the 20s in general. I have no fascination for Lindbergh or Babe Ruth or Al Capone or any one of the other characters, big or small, that fill this book. The folly of Fordlandia doesn't matter to me. Baseball and boxing from the 20s is a subject I've never pondered on. The race to be first to cross the Atlantic by plane is a subject I know nothing about other than Lindbergh was first and he was loved for it.
    But all of that changes when it's Bryson telling me about these things. He picks out the most wonderful details and anecdotes, gives them a life of their own and makes you fascinated by the same things you didn't give a hoot about before you started listening.
    He's just a wonderful author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • On Writing

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Stephen King
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (32)

    In June of 1999, Stephen King was hit by a van while walking along the shoulder of a country road in Maine. Six operations were required to save his life and mend his broken body. When he was finally able to sit up, he immediately started writing. This book - part biography, part a collection of tips for the aspiring writer - is the extraordinary result.

    Karen says: "Part 'How to' part Autobiographical"
    "A Must Have"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    That some people still refuse to think of King as anything other than simply a horror writer baffles me. Even at his worst he's considerably more entertaining, inventive and downright readable than most authors are at their best.

    On Writing is simply King advising authors how to improve their skills. It's a nuts and bolts 'how to' guide really but, as with most things King writes, there's way more to it than that. Yes he deals with everything from punctuation and vocab to finding an agent and getting published, but along the way he talks openly about his own journey.

    From his first big payday to alcoholism, from drug abuse to being almost killed by someone who might have been a character from one of his own books, On Writing is tightly written and yet never feels lightweight. And King's account of the aftermath of being hit by a van whilst out walking is some of the most wince-inducing horror I've ever read.

    Faultless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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