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Richard

ratings
72
REVIEWS
11
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
18

  • Winter in Madrid

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By C. J. Sansom
    • Narrated By Gordon Gordon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (38)

    Winter in Madrid is set just after the bloody Spanish Civil War, with World War II looming over Europe. Reluctantly, Harry Brett looks for an old schoolmate who's become a person of interest for British intelligence.

    Annie says: "realistic characters in historical context"
    "Shardlake fans will be disappointed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The very negative reviews of this book might well be the result of the jarring difference in style, tone, and narrative from the Shardlake series. Winter in Madrid is written in a literary style" with a weak plot, third person narration, flashbacks, and a generally bleak mood. As a fan of the Shardlake series I was unpleasantly surprised by all of the above. I wouldn't consider Winter in Madrid to be a failure or a bad novel, but it was neither what I expected or enjoyed. For anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War I would recommend Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Invasion: Alaska: Invasion America, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Vaughn Heppner
    • Narrated By Mark Ashby
    Overall
    (298)
    Performance
    (276)
    Story
    (278)

    In this controversial book, Vaughn Heppner explores the theme of a shattered America facing the onslaught of the new colossus in the East: Greater China. The time is 2032, and the Chinese are crossing the polar ice and steaming through the Gulf of Alaska. They have conquered oil-rich Siberia and turned Japan into a satellite state. Now a new glacial period has begun, devastating the world’s food supply. China plans to corner the world’s oil market and buy the needed food for their hungry masses.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Suspenseful and believable"
    "Weak story with appalling writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book because of an interest in speculative geopolitics. The idea of China invading Alaska in the aftermath of a sovereign debt depression intrigued me. However, neither the geopolitical speculation nor the story grabbed me. Instead I suffered through endless (and repetitive) descriptions of military weaponry, battle scenes described in the most purple of purple prose (worthy of first prize in a "bad writing" contest), cartoonishly shallow characters (to call them cardboard would be to insult inanimate fiber material), rampant stereotyping and cultural chauvinism, etc. I disliked this book on every level imaginable. In the end, however, it failed to connect with my interest in geopolitics and near-future sci-fi.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Little Drummer Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (57)

    On holiday in Mykonos, Charlie wants only sunny days and a brief escape from England's bourgeois dreariness. Then a handsome stranger lures the aspiring actress away from her pals - but his intentions are far from romantic. Joseph is an Israeli intelligence officer, and Charlie has been wooed to flush out the leader of a Palestinian terrorist group responsible for a string of deadly bombings. Still uncertain of her own allegiances, she debuts in the role of a lifetime as a double agent in the "theatre of the real".

    Darwin8u says: "Terror is Theatre: Le Carré Awakens Anger & Love"
    "More than a spy novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For my money this is the best of the post-Smiley books. It is not only sophisticated in its understanding of the moral ambiguities and contradictions of the ongoing -- no end in sight -- conflict in the Middle East, it is a compelling psychological study of a young woman on the fringes of left-wing politics who is drawn -- more accurately kidnapped -- into a plot to thwart a terrorist bombing. Charlie is a theater actress of only modest success, which is to say she makes a living but only barely. She is the quintessential anti-heroine of the story. Sexually promiscuous and co-dependent, an abused girlfriend (of the cretinous "Long Al," a fellow actor), drawn to but also repelled by the brutal logic of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and finally an accidental if not unwilling savior of innocent lives. This is also a love story, counterposing Charlie and "Joseph," a Mossad operative who despite his legendary status as the coolest, toughest spy among the best of both types, is fraught with existential doubt about the consequences of meeting violence with more violence. Le Carre's prose is, as always, superlative. Little Drummer Girl stands up to anything ever written in this genre, including Graham Greene at the top of his game. Michael Jayston's narration is a perfect match for Le Carre's prose.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The End of the Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Graham Greene
    • Narrated By Colin Firth
    Overall
    (2505)
    Performance
    (2304)
    Story
    (2294)

    Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God is an English classic that has been translated for the stage, the screen, and even the opera house. Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man) turns in an authentic and stirring performance for this distinguished audio release.

    Emily - Audible says: "Colin Firth Kills It"
    "Colin Firth & Graham Greene are a perfect match"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having previously read The End of the Affair a few years ago and thinking it a minor Greene book, I have raised it to my A-list based on Colin Firth's extraordinary narration. Firth approaches perfection in bringing out the rhythm's and nuance of Greene's unpretentious but beautifully crafted prose. If there's any weakness here it is Greene's preoccupation with Roman Catholicism, which becomes a bit wearisome toward the end of story. Though not as great a novel as The Heart of the Matter, which appears on many lists of the 100 greatest novels ever written, The End of the Affair as narrated by Colin Firth is a must listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Walk in the Woods

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    Overall
    (2310)
    Performance
    (562)
    Story
    (575)

    After 20 years in Britain, Bryson returned to the U.S. and decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. This is his humorous, inspiring account.

    Jeff says: "Wonderful book, but hardly abridged"
    "Story runs out of steam"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bill Bryson fans, please don't hate me. I'm actually one of yours. However, I grew as weary of this book as Bill must have felt slogging across the Appalachian Trail. The story starts out strong, as Bill prepares for the adventure by a hilarious visit to his local sporting goods store. It builds nicely in momentum as he and his less than stalwart companion travel to the hinterlands of Georgia and embark on the Trail. They immediately encounter the eccentrics that populate Bryson's books, and Bill makes the most of his raw material. But all too soon the narrative deteriorates into the usual "man against mountain" (or ocean, jungle, outer space, or whatever) story, with the usual overwhelming circumstances, narrow escapes from the jaws of death, etc. Some people like reading about this kind of thing. I do not. As the book loses its strength (along with the hikers' resolve), and similar scenes seem to reoccur (bad weather, impossible terrain, psychological weariness), Bill interrupts his trip to take a break. He should have realized there and then there wasn't a complete book to be had from the experience. It's always a pleasure to hear Bill Bryson read his books. I imagine he's the kind of guy you'd like to hang out with for a beer or two (or three), soaking up his quirky sense of humor and basking in his overall bonhommie. But not this book, for this reader/listener, at least not after the first few chapters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    Overall
    (2310)
    Performance
    (390)
    Story
    (394)

    In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson takes his ultimate journey - into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It's a dazzling quest, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.

    Brent says: "This audio edition is abridged!"
    "Science not social history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am huge Bill Bryson fan, and I could pleasurably listen to him and his quirky digressions for hours and hours. That said, I was expecting more social history instead of the extended foray into the science of the physical universe and biological life. So the "nearly everything" in the title needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. I opted for the abridged version because I love Bryson's narration. I'm not sure what was cut out of the complete book, but judging by what was left in, the subect matter was about all I could take. I followed up this book with Bryson's "At Home," which was much more my cup of tea.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Russia House (Dramatized)

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By Tom Baker
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Tom Baker stars in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of John le Carré’s powerful thriller. In the third year of perestroika, London publisher Barley Blair is sent a manuscript from Moscow. Exposing Russian nuclear threats as a sham, the information - if it’s genuine - could shatter East-West relations. Jazz-loving, hard-drinking Blair is hardly the spymasters’ idea of the perfect agent, yet they are forced to send him to Moscow to make contact.

    Richard says: "Just okay--No substitute for a narrated book"
    "Just okay--No substitute for a narrated book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a Le Carre fan I've exhausted Audible's selection of his books. So I turned to the dramatised production of Russia House in hopes of getting more. I have ot say it's a bit of a letdown, with a lot of over-acting and irritating sound effects that I found distracting. Although Russia House was made into a pretty bad movie (starring Sean Connery), some of Le Carre's books have been successfully adapted to film and television (Smiley's People with Alec Guinness is simply superb). It's not an impossible task to capture Le Carre's distinctive prose style and nuanced characters in a medium other than the printed word. This dramatised version of Russia House falls far short of excellence. I hope that Audible will add the book to its offerings at some point.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Our Man in Havana

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Graham Greene
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (106)

    In a legendary novel that appears to predict the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Graham Greene introduces James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose life in transformed when he is asked to join the British Secret Service. He agrees, and finds himself with no information to offer, so begins to invent sources and agencies which do not exist, but which appear very real to his superiors.

    Jean says: "Delete the Music and It Would Be Fine"
    "Annoying music nearly ruins book"
    Overall

    Whoever edited the audio productions must be a big fan of shopping center music. A VERY LOUD Latin rhythm or British band music interrupts the narration every five minutes (or so it seems) at the end of every chapter and between sections within chapters. It was like being tapped in an elevator for 7 plus hours, which very nearly ruined the book for me. "Our Man in Havana" is one of Greene's lightest works, an absurd comic plot but with serious (and prescient) political insights. The reader is adequate. The story itself is well worth the time if you can live with the frequent musical interruptions.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Twice Shy

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Dick Francis
    • Narrated By Tony Britton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (94)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    In this third Dick Francis classic from The Audio Partners, physicist Jonathan Derry is given some musical tapes by a friend. But the tapes are really an elaborate computerized horse betting system that can make the owner a rich man, or a dead one if the wrong people know he has possession of these tapes. Unfortunately, they find out. Thriller master Dick Francis weaves together a wicked villain, non-stop action, and an explosive showdown in a superb audiobook that races to the finish line.

    A says: "Don't let this be your first Dick Francis Novel"
    "One of the author's weaker efforts"
    Overall

    Dick Francis is always at his best writing about what he knows: jockeys, horses, and horseracing. Unfortunately, this book spends most of its time describing in excrutiating (and generally not very well-informed) detail computer technology circa 1980s that is used to construct a betting system that predictably becomes the McGuffin of the plot. It also features an unbelievably vengeful psychopath as an antagonist that any self-respecting protagonist would have done away with whenever he had the chance. Instead the guy keeps popping up in a way that would be unintentionally funny if it were not so annoying. There are many other Francis books that show off his experience and knowledge of horseracing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Man in the High Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (452)
    Performance
    (269)
    Story
    (274)

    It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. It's all because, some 20 years earlier, the United States lost a war - and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

    Julie W. Capell says: "Meta before meta was cool"
    "Brilliant and thought provoking"
    Overall

    The social dimensions of contra-factual history here (Germany and Japan win WWII) are executed brilliantly, evoking a credible and thought-provoking image of what an America occupied by Japan and Germany would look like 15 or so years after the end of the war. Dick is at his best writing about society and human nature. He is relatively weak when it comes to dealing with technological change--something which is glaringly apparent now, decades later. However, this is a minor shortcoming in what is otherwise a tour de force. Note: I found the narration perfectly acceptable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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