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Kells, Co MeathIreland


  • The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By A. J. Jacobs
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Cantor

    Early in his career, A.J. Jacobs put his Ivy League education to work at Entertainment Weekly. He emerged five years later knowing which stars have fake boobs, which stars have toupees, which have both, and not much else. This realization led Jacobs on a life-changing quest: to read the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 33,000 pages, all 44 million words.

    Steve James says: "What were they thinking?"
    "An enjoyable, light-hearted listen"

    Within the first minutes of The Know-It-All, I was laughing out loud, and probably looking like an idiot to the drivers of the cars around me. AJ Jacobs' quest for knowledge may be contrived for the purposes of writing a book, but so what? Bill Bryson's journeys are undertaken with the same goal in mind, after all.

    In fact, a Bryson travel book is the closest comparison I can think of to The Know-It-All, and that's high praise. Expecting to get a condensed version of the encyclopaedia is ridiculous - this book is about READING the encyclopaedia, not just abridging the interesting facts. Yes, of course he's somewhat self-obsessed - but that's kind of the point: he's writing a book about a personal endeavour, and he's populating it with anecdotes about himself and characters in his life. Personally, I enjoyed the descriptions of his relationships with his father and his brother-in-law, and I thought the tone of his humour was perfectly pitched.

    The Know-It-All isn't meant to be taken seriously, so people who are expecting it to distill all of human knowledge into a handy bite-sized chunk are going to be disappointed. Me? I thought it's the best Audible book I've listened to in a long time.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Peyton Place

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Grace Metalious
    • Narrated By Tim O'Connor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1956, when this novel was first published, communities all over New England snapped up copies to see if they were the town portrayed in the book. Peyton Place is the story of a repressive New England town known for its high standards of public morality, and the steamy sexual activities that take place behind its bedroom doors.

    Patti says: "A Must, A Classic"
    "Fabulous stuff!"

    I really wasn't sure what to expect from Peyton Place, since all I knew about it was its reputation as a 'racy' novel. In reality, what was racy in the 50s is very tame nowadays, but the issues raised as are relevant today as ever. However, this isn't a 'preachy' book - it's simply a compelling tale about a bunch of very believable, and mostly flawed, characters. As a bonus, the essay at the end about the book's impact is an informative and interesting conclusion to an enjoyable listen.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Rule of Four

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman

    Princeton. Good Friday, 1999. On the eve of graduation, two students are a hairsbreadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Famous for its hypnotic power over those who study it, the 500-year-old Hypnerotomachia may finally reveal its secrets to Tom Sullivan, whose father was obsessed with the book, and Paul Harris, whose future depends on it. As the deadline looms, research has stalled, until an ancient diary surfaces.

    Michael Walsh says: "BETTER than Dan Brown"
    "Poorly written"

    The premise of the book isn't too bad, but it's very poorly structured and executed. It lacks all of the immediacy of a Dan Brown novel, where the action all takes place in a single day, and instead is filled with flashbacks, rambling plot expositions and a host of unnecessary characters. I really thought I'd enjoy this book, but it was a struggle to finish it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Emperor of Ocean Park

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Stephen L. Carter
    • Narrated By Richard Allen

    Set in the era of the Nixon and Reagan presidencies, this novel examines the American conscience while inviting us into the glittering world of the East Coast legal community. Stephen L. Carter's book follows black Ivy League law professor Talcott Garland as he investigates the death of his father, Judge Oliver Garland, the eponymous "Emperor."

    Maria says: "Not a bad book but where was the editor?"
    "Long, drawn-out and not particularly satisfying"

    This is a curious book - it's not really a thriller as the plot is too thin and there's little action. But then it's not really a literary novel either, which is what it seems to have pretensions to be. As others have commented, the narrator evinces littles sympathy. In fact, none of the characters does. A more self-centred, obnoxious bunch you'd be hard-pressed to find. Where the book works best is in the description of a troubled marriage and the narrator's relationship with his three-year-old son, but this has precious little to do with driving the plot along. There's some good writing scattered throughout the book, but there is way too much padding and pointless meanderings. The abridged version is almost certainly a better bet - this is one title that could be cut to a third of its length without harm.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Silent Running: My Years on a World War II Attack Submarine

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By James F. Calvert
    • Narrated By Kevin Patrick

    In this riveting personal account, an authentic American hero relives the perils and triumphs of eight harrowing patrols aboard one of America's most successful World War II submarines. Courageous deeds and terror-filled moments - as well as the endless hard work of maintaining and operating a combat sub - are vividly recalled in Calvert's candid portrait.

    julie says: "A fascinating view of WW2 Sub Warfare"
    "Engrossing wartime memoir"

    Reaching the end of Silent Running, I was sorry that the Second World War hadn't gone on for another couple of years so that Jim Calvert would have a few more sea stories to tell. It's an excellent read: informative, detailed, and yet highly personal. Calvert pulls no punches when analysing his own actions during the war, both in the submarine and out of it, and it's refreshing to find a war memoir where the author doesn't consider that he won the war single-handedly. I can't recommend Silent Running highly enough.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • War and Peace

    • UNABRIDGED (62 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Walter Zimmerman

    John-Mark Stensvaag says: "Splendid Novel, Splendid Reading"
    "Relieved that it's finally over"

    Well. that's 62 hours, 18 minutes of my life I'll never get back...

    If I'd been reading the printed version of War and Peace, I'd have given up long ago. Generally, I dislike abridged versions of books, but here I'll make an exception: if W&P were half the length it would be twice as good. Tolstoy seems confused whether he's writing a novel, a historical account of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign or a philosophical treatise on free will versus necessity. Frankly, it's a mess.

    Thanks to the frequent rambling diversions and the innumerable Russian names, it takes 20 hours or so before you've a clue who the main characters actually are. When he's sticking to the story, Tolstoy can spin a good yarn, and the characterisations are interesting and realistic. But too often he wanders off on some tangent about why historians are forever getting things wrong and how Napoleon didn't actually mean to invade Russia at all, even though he ordered the invasion. I'm sorry, but most of this stuff is just plain boring. I listen in the car while driving to work, and half the time I found my attention wandering and realised I hadn't been listening for a minute or two.

    Generally, I like longer audio books as they give more time to get into the story - the short ones are often over before you realise you've started - but War and Peace is an exception. I couldn't wait for it to be over. Clearly, the narrator couldn't wait either - he sounded as bored as I was. At least he was getting paid for his troubles.

    If you're interested in novels (and lengthy ones at that) from around this period, try Alexandre Dumas instead. Now there's a man who knew how to tell a story and not bore his audience to death with inane pseudo-intellectual waffle.

    89 of 145 people found this review helpful
  • In a Sunburned Country

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion on the Appalachian Trail resulted in the best seller A Walk in the Woods. Now, we follow him "Down Under" to Australia with this delectably funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance that combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity. More from Bill Bryson.

    Larry says: "Laugh out loud funny"
    "Travel writing at its best"

    Fans of Bill Bryson will know what to expect: sharp, scathing, hilariously funny tales from the master of travel writing. If anything, this book is even better than normal because the subject matter is less familiar - giving Bryson free rein to expound on the history, culture(?) and natural perils of Australia. He also narrates the book himself - something that is normally a Very Bad Thing. But he does an excellent job - better, perhaps, than anyone else would have done. All things considered, an excellent book.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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