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  • The Ophelia Cut: Dismas Hardy, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By John Lescroart
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (213)
    Story
    (216)

    Moses McGuire has good reason to be concerned about his beautiful 23-year-old daughter, Brittany. She moves quickly from one boyfriend to the next, and always seems to prefer a new and mysterious stranger to a man she knows something about. But her most recent ex, Rick Jessup, isn’t willing to let her go, culminating in a terrible night when Brittany is raped. Within 24 hours, Rick Jessup is dead, Moses McGuire is the prime suspect in the investigation, and Dismas Hardy has been hired to defend his brother-in-law.

    Jane says: "Entertaining but unconvincing plot resolutions"
    "Entertaining but unconvincing plot resolutions"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I looked forward to listening to David Colacci's performance (always very well done) of John Lescoart's latest work The Ophelia Cut, and revisiting the many characters he has established so very well.

    This book is not a stand alone work -- it is number 14 in the Dismas Hardy series (all books are available in Audible, thanks!) and the plot is linked to number 9, The First Law (which is difficult to listen to due to the reader and it would be good if it was re-recorded by Colacci).

    I felt that The Ophelia Cut lacked some of the discipline and care of his previous books. So, what was happening to the author?

    Tired? (I hope not -- I'm looking forward to his next novel!) My feeling is that he opted for easy answers to the plot lines that he initially established in his usual intriguing way, and as a result the resolution to the problems were not satisfying. Or was he being overly ambitious? Anyway, disappointly, the overlay of credibility was missing. And, apart from Hardy himself, he did not manage to create that deeply personal involvement with the protagonists that Lescroart normally develops so skilfully.

    But this is, none the less, an entertaining listen.

    9 of 9 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
    (1700)
    Performance
    (1491)
    Story
    (1488)

    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
    (1911)
    Performance
    (1668)
    Story
    (1678)

    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
    (61)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (59)

    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
    (49)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (45)

    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
    (296)
    Performance
    (270)
    Story
    (275)

    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
  • Long Knives

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Rosenberg
    • Narrated By Kate Rudd, Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (95)

    Jenna James’ life has been smooth-sailing since she left the high-powered law firm of Marbury Marfan. She’s happily ensconced as a professor at a prestigious law school, where she’s well liked by her students, coupled up with a handsome colleague, and on track for tenure. But things take a shocking turn one morning when a student, Primo, comes to Jenna’s office seeking her advice about a treasure map he recently inherited. When Primo turns up dead and Jenna is suddenly the prime suspect in a murder investigation, everyone turns on her.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Disaster on Campus"
    "Did not disappoint"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I downloaded this novel as the last words faded from Rosenberg's first novel, Death From a High Floor. How's that for a recommendation. The quality reading from Christopher Lane is complemented by co-reader, Kate Rudd. And, so engaged was I with the characters I had just met, I wanted to know more about them.

    Bring on book three!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Death on a High Floor

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Charles Rosenberg
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (907)
    Performance
    (799)
    Story
    (805)

    On the 85th floor of a glittering high-rise in Los Angeles, Robert Tarza steps into the lobby of the Marbury Marfan law firm to discover his partner Simon Rafer lying in a pool of blood - an ornate dagger plunged into his back. Robert had worked with Simon for decades, and their relationship was fraught with conflict. But he never imagined he would wind up as the prime suspect for his colleague’s murder. As the evidence stacks up against him with frightening speed, he quickly falls from his respected position to that of a criminal dragged through the tabloids.

    Charles Atkinson says: "Excellent Mystery, Brilliant Narration"
    "What a good find!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This novel was casually, randomly chosen as an under $10 book to use up a credit. What a find! Upon completing it I immediately downloaded the sequel (equally low cost – goodness knows why – these were quality books).

    The reader was first rate – want to hear more from him. The characters strong. I think there may have been too much detail if I had been reading this but listening to it I devoured every word (again, because of the quality of the writing and reading).

    Ok Grisham etc, there is a new writer to join your ranks. The writer a lawyer so I assumed the proceedings were soundly presented: Google search shows he was the legal script advisor to three prime time television shows which included my personal favourite, Boston Legal. I am waiting enthusiastically for the third book from Charles Rosenburg.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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