This is the Blackstone Audio version of the novel. I found that the Recorded Books version, also available here on audible.com, was the narrator I preferred. Both are good, it is simply a matter of taste.
I was despairing at having chosen this audio book as I slogged through the first four chapters, which cover his family history, but once he started in on his own life, in chapter five, things started looking up, and in the end, it was a rewarding listen. (There are thirty-nine chapters in total).
This title has two narrated versions available. This one, narrated by the author, at over 13 hours, and a second one, narrated by Finty Williams (Judi Dench's daughter) at 10 hours 55 minutes (available on audible.co.uk, audible.de etc.) I found Deborah Cadbury's narration had advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage: she is a very even toned narrator, so I sometimes found myself nodding off, especially in the beginning. The advantage: she inserts noticeable pauses between topic changes, which helped me follow the story line. Finty William's narration, on the other hand, is delivered in a bit more "exciting" manner, but was also a bit harder to follow because delivery was faster and the pauses shorter. I think if you are an American listener, you might do better with Deborah Cadbury's narration, but just try out the audio samples yourself.
The history is not just U.K. chocolate companies (Cadbury, Fry, Rowntree), but also Swiss (Lindt, Nestle) and American companies (Hershey and Mars) in detail, and all the major players in Germany, France, and Switzerland are at least mentioned (Menier, Stollwerck, Suchard, Callier, Van Houten and many more), and the history goes up through the take over of Cadbury by Kraft in 2010.
The is a fun and pretty upbeat* book, with a strong female lead (the President of the U.S. no less!), a Texas cop, and an alien. The alien intelligence can jump from mind to mind of its human hosts, influence their behavior and health, or take them over completely. He jumps around various people in the Oval Office, over to a leader abroad, and after a drama of unfolding events surrounding the President, into the mind of a Texas cop. It is both sci-fi and political mystery-thriller.
*(Upbeat? Okay, yes, there is The Torture Scene, but the reader knows the alien is going to jump in and save the day, so we can just look forward to the bad guy getting his just desserts as the scene unfolds).
It put me in mind of "A Warm Place to Call Home: A Demon's Story" by Michael Siemsen, which I also enjoyed.
The book ends cleanly, no cliff hangers, but leaves the door open for further exploration. If there is ever a book two, I'll buy it on the day it comes out.
If you are thinking of beginning this series, I suggest starting with Book 1 "The Thought Readers". This short story, "The Time Stopper", while it precedes Book 1 in time, has a very unsympathetic main character (Mira, the Russian girl, female lead in books 1 and 2). Her sluttish behavior (in an aside she mentions she has had sex multiple times with Russian gangsters, for pleasure, before turning eighteen), and her childish and violent tantrum with her brother are repellent, and I wouldn't have continued the series had I begun with this story. I imagine she is portrayed so negatively to give the narrative arc of the series a starting point from which we can watch her heal and grow, and cheer her on in her progress. But that all lies in the future.
This is a short book that delivers exactly what it promises, a report written by a middle-class English woman on a package tour through the U.S. in 1904 to visit the St. Louis Exposition. (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. train trip through Virginia, West Virginia, Cincinnati, St. Louis. Return via Niagara Falls, steamer on the St Laurence, and Hudson River, back to New York).
Listening was worth it to me, just to hear about the Disney World like rides on "The Pike" - the entertainment district of the World's Fair. On the Paris ride for example, guests boarded a submarine, rode underneath the Atlantic Ocean viewing strange sea creatures, rode an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, boarded an airship, flew over the France viewing the cities below, crossed the Channel, saw London from the air, and encountered a storm over the Atlantic on their return "flight". There were rides depicting visits to Hell, and the Garden of Eden. Their was a Filipino Village with over a thousand residents, a ten acre recreation of the Holy Land, a staged battle from the Boer War was fought on a ten acre battlefield everyday, and on and on,
This is an amateur narration and their are many and frequent mispronunciations - quay, embankment, apotheosis, Adirondack for example - but the narration is rapid and easy to follow. Until Chapter 17 arrives. The first five minutes is in completely unedited and raw form. The narrator repeats phrases five and six times to get them right, coughs, pauses, etc. The words lost all meaning with all the repetition, so I just skipped through the worst five minutes of it.
I really enjoyed listening to this book and rated it five stars, but I see that the only two other people to rate it so far have only given it two stars. I think the difference may lay in expectations. This isn't light summer reading - it expects the reader to be well educated and well traveled - at least in the mind's eye - with a nodding acquaintance with the beaches of Europe, classical history - and an anglophile. I'm an American anglophile classicist living in continental Europe - so I ticked all the boxes and this book was just my cup of tea. If you know where Scheveningen is, what class of ancient Romans lived on the Bay of Naples, who had his summer residence in Brighton, which famous poet swam across the Dardanelles, have friends with a beach house in New England (or wish you did), and enjoy reading books where rivers "debauch" into the ocean instead of flowing into it - this book is for you. My pro-tip: skip the first chapter about the geology of beaches - the information is outdated and wrong, and the author clearly didn't enjoy writing that chapter. There is a night and day difference between the first chapter and the rest of the book.
This translation of the Aeneid stands head and shoulders above anything else I have seen in English. It's exciting, to the point, and very very nuanced. The narrator is a fantastic choice too. His voice creates a world and moves you along through it. I put on my earphones just intending to to listen to a few minutes of the beginning the night I downloaded this, and I was pulled in for four hours of adventure before I could finally force myself to click "stop".
I dowloaded and lsitened to this Napoleon book, and the one by Fischer also available on Audible. I am new to Napoleon, and if you are too, I recommend starting with this book by Johnson first, and the one by Fischer afterwards. Johnson's short book sets the stage for the modern reader and is read is a gripping manner by John Lee. Fischer's book provides sought after detail but loses the novice Napoleon reader because it assumes some familiarity with the outlines of his career.
The author of this lecture series speaks quickly and with energy. Her style of delivery pulls you in and carries you along. I've heard five lecture series (two at audible and three from another company) and this was the best in terms of "narration".
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