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  • The Fallen Angel: Gabriel Allon, Book 12

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Daniel Silva
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1544)
    Performance
    (1287)
    Story
    (1283)

    After narrowly surviving his last operation, Gabriel Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, has taken refuge behind the walls of the Vatican, where he is restoring one of Caravaggio's greatest masterpieces. But early one morning he is summoned to St. Peter's Basilica by Monsignor Luigi Donati, the all-powerful private secretary to his Holiness Pope Paul VII. The body of a beautiful woman lies broken beneath Michelangelo's magnificent dome.

    Audiophile says: "When will Gabriel retire?"
    "Don't start a series with the latest books!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really tried with this book, having been drawn to it by the Italian setting and the good reviews. But I forgot my own rule which is to read books that are part of a series, in the order they are written. So I didn't know the characters. However, the author obviously wanted to present a stand alone novel, so it was laced with short explanations of what had gone before....synopses of entire books, I suppose....and....I just found it all a bit much....and, anyway, too gloomy.

    I don't think this is a fair review -- I'm sure Silva fans who are familiar with the characters would enjoy it.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
    • Narrated By Paul Baymer, Susan Duerden, Roselyn Landor, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3526)
    Performance
    (1670)
    Story
    (1677)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: The best book club you’ve never heard of – but will be eager to join, courtesy of a full cast of true characters. January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb....

    Kent says: "MUCH better than I ever expected! Give it a try!"
    "Loved it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On the surface a simple presentation of letters between unpretentious people. These letters reveal the intimacies of a closely knit island society which is forced to deal with the iniquities of being invaded and occupied for five years by the German army during World War Two. There are deeply moving stories of privation and courage. There are gentle themes of the search for truth in love. Compassion, judgmentalism, innocence, torment, There is innovation, ingenuity and wonderful eccentricity. And there is the painful ambiguity of people forced to be enemies when their humanity over-rides this dreadful imperative.

    Blended throughout is the appreciation of reading, largely presented in a non academic and appealing manner, .

    Delightfully presented with a cast of involved and quality readers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Losing Faith

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Adam Mitzner
    • Narrated By Andy Caploe
    Overall
    (227)
    Performance
    (204)
    Story
    (198)

    Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country's most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney whose client is Nikolai Garkov, a Russian businessman arraigned on terrorism charges for pulling the financial strings behind recent treasonous acts. The attorney informs Aaron that Garkov is looking to switch representation and will pay $100,000 just to take the meeting.

    Chris says: "Narrator is awful"
    "An Audible mystery!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes, this book is indeed a mystery.

    There’s the who dunnit theme in this legal drama (which I think is rather lamely resolved, unfortunately – unfortunate because, generally speaking, I think Mitzner is an engaging writer).

    But, the Audible mystery is: the book was recorded in their studios (I gather) and I assume from this that they thought they had a successful product that was strongly promoted on its home page. However. From the very first words (I had been looking forward to listening to this book), I was thinking: how long can I listen to this reader’s breath (quick intakes, part of the drama) and his over stated reading. Do I return it? Do I persevere and hope that I get used to the reader? Oh now: listening further on: there are women’s voices and they are straight from Sesame Street.

    OK. By this time I’m getting somewhat interested in the characters although I’m finding this book less compelling than Mitzner’s earlier ones, but I may as well see what happens. Yep, getting used to the breathing.

    Finished. I look back at a book that shows the skill of its writer, but his potential is far from realised.

    And I’m curious about the reader, Andy Caploe. I discover he has recorded nearly 100 books for Audible. Click on a few samples and discover that he is a perfectly good, non breathy reader!

    Now comes the moment when I will look at other reviews. See if I am being too intolerant or critical.

    No, there is it. One after the other saying the reading was not up to the mark.

    So Audible. Solve the mystery for us! Are you quality controlling the books that come from your studio?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Enemy Coast Ahead - Uncensored: The Real Guy Gibson

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Guy Gibson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    First published in 1944, Enemy Coast Ahead quickly became regarded as the classic Bomber Command story, following Gibson's RAF career from flying the Hampden and Manchester at the beginning of World War II to the triumphant return home of the Lancasters from the famous 1943 Dambuster raid, which Gibson led and for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

    Jane says: "The living were honored but far too many had died"
    "The living were honored but far too many had died"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Published in 1946, this is a riveting account of the lead up to and execution of the wartime mission dubbed the ‘dam busters’. Given the date of publication it was no doubt part of national healing, describing the immense heroism of the Bomber Command, and the enormous loss of life (nearly 50% of pilots were killed flying Lancaster planes during the war, the planes used in the Dams mission -- the book is peppered with respectful eulogies).

    Vance’s calm, sedate, unpretentious reading perfectly matches the stoic tone of the narrative. Judgmental phrases that may grate today, are smoothly absorbed into the historical context.

    Gibson carefully leads the reader into some sense of the mechanics of the risks – an idea of how the various planes (earlier he flew Hampdens) operated, the team work required, what it felt like to be part of this situation. There is some quite lyrical writing as Gibson flies over the Britain he is fighting for.

    This is a description of young people at war: but they sound much older: Gibson himself was only 24 when he led the dam buster’s operation: a massive responsibility in terms of strategy, the safety of 133 men, and liaising effectively with the extraordinary scientists preparing the ‘bouncing bombs’. But the honors and glory bestowed these men was nothing in the face of the constant deaths.

    I commented earlier that I took some of the narrative as part of the stoic, the ‘stiff upper lip’ image of the UK fighting forces. But now I question that. My uncle, an Australian, was a navigator in a Lancaster, flying with the RAF. He was highly decorated, and survived multiple missions.

    He never spoke of these years, never married. Was a wonderful uncle, but I never asked him about the war – too shy. Remarkably he was with the same crew for nearly 50 missions. This book by Gibson gives me some insight into his experiences – though how could anyone really understand – and of the depth of the relationships between the small team flying through the night. How did these men manage the return to the relatively mundane civilian life.

    And so I wonder if the restraint and understatement (‘jolly good show, chaps’) presented in this book was indeed the reality. For Gibson, and, I suppose, for my uncle, it was a terrible but clear-cut duty. The issues were clear and no need to discuss and relive the enormity of the tragedies.

    Gibson also reveals the everyday life of the pilots: their fears, how they dealt with the whole business of constantly facing death (quite apart from the comradeship, lots of beer, smoking, parties, girls -- women played very much a support and peripheral role in this account – and Gibson had his dog and his romantically portrayed wife, Eve).

    Apparently this was not ghost written – he had a real talent. Though Simon Vance could make anything sound well written, but I think this really was the case.

    The book does not glorify war at all: it ends with a fervent plea to stop all wars.

    I found it worthwhile researching more about this book and viewing related documentaries presented by the BBC: it was very moving to see the Lancaster bomber actually flying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • W Is for Wasted: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Sue Grafton
    • Narrated By Judy Kaye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1716)
    Performance
    (1506)
    Story
    (1503)

    Two dead bodies changed the course of my life that fall. One of them I knew and the other I'd never laid eyes on until I saw him in the morgue. The first was a local PI of suspect reputation. He'd been gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. It looked like a robbery gone bad. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He'd been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Millhone's name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.

    karen says: "Well worth waiting for...."
    "Judy Kaye is not Kinsey Millhone"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Selecting a reader for a book written in the first person must be like choosing actors for parts in a film or play. The reader's voice makes the text live: the voice reflects the character, the person who is sharing events, thoughts, personality.

    Kinsey Millhone is a feisty, highly resilient and resourceful, thirty something detective with a sense of humor and a good serving of empathy. I really enjoy Sue Grafton’s popular series.

    But it is really unfortunate when the reading of a book doesn't match what the reader/listener pictures or imagines from the words. And that’s how it is for me when Judy Kaye reads any of this series, including W is for Wasted. Her voice is far from the determinedly light hearted, almost flippantly understated and emotionally honest Kinsey that I feel Grafton is describing.

    Furthermore, her voice is that of a significantly older woman who often reads the most amusing passages in a ponderous fashion.

    As a result, W for Wasted is one of the least satisfying books of the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Grapes of Wrath

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1941)
    Performance
    (1692)
    Story
    (1702)

    At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation during the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

    J. H. Monaco says: "Wonderful Tale Punctuated with Loud Harmonic Licks"
    "Magnificent classic, relevant to modern Australia"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Listening to Dylan Baker's brilliant interpretation of this classic was an emotional and intellectual journey. The Grapes of Wrath wasn't just about the excruciatingly difficult challenge facing this tough little family. It was also about society as a whole: how it is governed by politicians, manipulated by bankers, dominated day to day by the complacently rich or economically safe, the self righteous, the cruel, the uncaring. And how people with the qualities of decency, love, strong morality try to survive against these monolithic factors.

    Because every word has weight and implication, listening compelled a depth of appreciation that visual reading may not have offered: such was my concern for this family that I could have been tempted to skip the superb analysis of Steinbeck's overviews.

    The characters are real: they live. It is an extraordinary feeling listening and needing, wanting, to reach out and be right there with them. Help them. Change things for them.
    My favorite? Of course, hard to say, but I think it would have to be the Preacher: he is the philosopher, observer of realities but ultimately, in his questioning, hopeful of something better.

    The ending: I have never before finished listening to book in tears. But the ending is not a completion: it is a culmination of lives to that point, a blending of the analogies and themes that weave richly throughout the novel.

    Among the many emotional impacts for me, was the realisation that this was a novel for today. Written in 1939, it describes key issues confronting my own country, Australia. Our capacity for cruel exclusions, inward looking, complacency, injustice, manufactured fears and prejudices. And the capacity of so many for bravery, compassion, cooperation, fairness, empathy.

    Steinbeck was delivering an uncompromising mirror to society, his emotions powering the novel. That it was recognised as such through the accolades and awards that poured upon this book (and him as an author, Nobel Prize included), shows that his message was received and understood by many then, and ever since. He was imploring his American to be a generous and understanding society, to build on the capacity for love and caring that the journey of the Joad family, and many thousands like them, exemplified.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Road Back

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Di Morrissey
    • Narrated By David Tredinnick
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    From the mountains to the valleys, from big cities to tiny towns, to the outback and our islands, Di Morrissey knows this country. She's been there. In The Road Back, Di weaves a tale of reconnection and starting over. Journalist Chris Baxter is at a crossroads. Returning with his teenage daughter to his mother's house in the beautiful township of Neverend, Chris hopes to pick up the pieces after his life takes an unexpected turn. Sometimes taking the road back is the start of a journey forward.

    sarah yates says: "marvelous. reading"
    "Family life is better in small Australian towns"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The small town of Neverend, on the Australian eastern seaboard, is where people can relate honestly and safely to each other, have time to value relationships and the environment. It is where school students have the advantage of community life and families are more likely to have fewer economic (and therefore relationship) pressures than those in the more expensive cities. Where there is history and continuity.

    Life events propel journalist Chris Baxter back to Neverend where he confronts his role as father to his teenage daughter, is offered wisdom from his mother (retired from teaching there for 40 years and is thus an integral part of the community) and, now unemployed, needs to recreate his role in society. In turn, he becomes a catalyst for his mother to revisit key life events as they dove-tail into the present where their repercussions still lie dormant.

    As a background rumble, Neverend is juxtaposed against the violent politics of Indonesia of the 1960s and their implications for the contemporary relationship between Australia and this crucially important neighbor.

    Rich pickings here.

    Morrissey's invariably worthy themes are delivered with craft and care in her many novels. In The Road Back there is an all pervading feeling that she really wants people to accept her major themes, which she clearly believes are important for the future well-being of the places and people she cares about. As a result she over repeats and reiterates her central ideas. This amounts to something like a lack of confidence which is even reflected in the structure: rather than presenting ideas that will thread through the book and hold the reader: the beginning is slow and earnest and there is little to engage.

    But Morrissey’s well deserved reputation will entice the reader to persevere and this will be rewarded.

    The experienced narrator, David Tredinnick, failed to lift the slow beginning where his reading was occasionally breathy and with unexpected pauses. He succeeded in creating satisfying voices without excessive tone change but his Australian accents bordered on the patronising. Nevertheless he was a sympathetic reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Personal

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Jeff Harding
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (61)

    Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him. This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child’s number-one best-selling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris - and then to London.

    Greg says: "A swing and a miss"
    "Tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have enjoyed Jack Reacher sagas before, but this one did not engage me at all. Jeff Harding did well to put energy and some urgency into his reading of it, but even that could not rescue this book. Despite being tempted to ditch Personal, I limped on but the end did not redeem it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Children Act

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Lindsay Duncan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (46)

    Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful 17-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life.

    Jane says: "Packs a memorable and rewarding punch"
    "Packs a memorable and rewarding punch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    McEwen confronts the reader with a thought provoking issue presented with compassion and skill.

    When should the state intervene in a family decision which has been based on strongly held religious beliefs: in this case, Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Adam, almost a legal adult, passionately, idealistically, agrees with his parents that, although dying from leukaemia, he must not accept a blood transfusion. Fiona, a judge, herself caught up in a personal crisis relating to the meaning of her marriage, fidelity and betrayal, must make a ruling on this matter.

    This is a dynamic listen, beautifully read by Lindsay Duncan. It is concise, raw, disciplined. The language rich and melodious. The characters live, each travelling paths that the listener identifies with, participates in. What would I do? How do I feel about what happened?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Even Money

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Dick Francis, Felix Francis
    • Narrated By Tony Britton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    On the first day of Royal Ascot, the crowd rejoices in a string of winning favourites. Ned Talbot has worked all his life as a bookmaker - taking over the family business from his grandfather - so he knows not to expect any sympathy from the punters as they count their winnings, and he counts his losses. He’s seen the ups and downs before - but, as the big gambling conglomerates muscle in on small concerns like his, Ned wonders if it’s worth it any more.

    Tracey says: "on the money"
    "Reassuringly 'decent' characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Desite the odd murder and person of evil intent, the Dick Francis books are a consistently and reassuringly the England of a few decades ago: the dramas of the racecourse (never attended one in my life and never likely to, so this is a new world) and traditions of basic decency being upheld.

    This book held my interest throughout, the characters are alive and entertaining and it culminated in an unrushed and satisfying conclusion.

    And speaking of old boys, I always find the voice of Tony Britton, excellent reader that he is, much older than the late thirty something that is required in the Francis books. Also, his women's voices leave a lot to be desired. But for all that, his moderate and thoughtful tone underscores the world and its values that are being evoked.

    0 of 0 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
    (300)
    Performance
    (274)
    Story
    (279)

    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."
    "The second in this series did not disappoint"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Book One, The Cuckoo’s Calling, deftly, convincingly, introduced detective Cormoran Strike and his offsider, Robin (of course). The Silkworm smoothly continues this narrative and with a new ‘case’, though referring to, and building on, the previous one.

    This time, the contrast between Robin’s unwavering decency, echoed ponderously by her tedious fiancée, and Cormoran’s life-induced cynicism and capacity for the self sacrificing pursuit of social and legal justice, is further underlined by characters who take these two to the seamy, low life, indecent under-belly of society.

    This side of life got to be bit much for me! I’m not a fragile flower: I was just edging on the bored because involving the reader in vile humans can edge towards the gratuitous – and Galbraith was coming pretty close to that line, much closer, I suggest, than in Book One.

    But nothing would deter me from following the lives of these two detectives, who were more interesting.

    The book was structured with the skill of a consummate and successful author (AKA Rowling).

    The reader, Robert Glenister, complemented the material flawlessly: his acting was superb.

    Bring on the next book in the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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