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Arthur Berrill

An avid, omnivorous but critical reader.

Goodwood, Ontario Canada | Member Since 2013

8
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 5 reviews
  • 5 ratings
  • 74 titles in library
  • 20 purchased in 2014
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  • O. Henry: Complete Short Stories Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By O. Henry, William Sydney Porter
    • Narrated By Bob Thomley
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (44)

    O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization, and clever twist endings. This collection includes "The Last Leaf", "The Love Philter of Ikey Schoenstein", "The Caliph", "Cupid and the Clock", "The Brief Debut of Tildy", "The Higher Abdication", "The Ransom of Red Chief", "One Dollar’s Worth", "Cupid a la Carte", "Girl", "Springtime a la Carte", "The Ethics of Pig", "The Social Triangle", "Witches Loaves", "The Romace of the Buys Broker", and more.

    Loren says: "Mis-named: This is not a complete collection"
    "Fun, clever stories delivered perfectly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes absolutely. And I have to many. O. Henry's short stories are filled with unpredictable twists, predictable twists that you so badly want to happen, truly elegant and enviable English and lovely ambushes of wit and humour. There is no impedance as you may find in other classics.


    What other book might you compare O. Henry: Complete Short Stories Collection to and why?

    I think O. Henry is inimitable. I have read other superbly composed English. I have read cleverly constructed short stories (Harry Harrison comes to mind). And I have read laugh out loud comic juxtapositions (like Douglas Adams). But I've never enjoyed all three together the way O. Henry does it.


    Which character – as performed by Bob Thomley – was your favorite?

    There are so many characters in a short story collection that this is tough. Lets just say that Bob Thomley, does the stories proud. He brings all the characters to life with excellent accents and tones.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    All of the short stories have a twist. Or they don't have a twist you are expecting. That's the charm of them.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a thoroughly enjoyable expedition into recent history with a narrator who brings the characters to life and leads you thorough the elegant and superbly decorated language without hesitation and delivers you the fun and humour in the deadpan manner I'm sure O. Henry would have approved of.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Land Across

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    An American writer of travel guides in need of a new location chooses to travel to a small and obscure Eastern European country. The moment Grafton crosses the border he is in trouble, much more than he could have imagined. His passport is taken by guards, and then he is detained for not having it. He is released into the custody of a family, but is again detained. It becomes evident that there are supernatural agencies at work.

    Tango says: "Give the man a (dead) hand"
    "An excessively twisted tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The narrator (Jeff Woodman) was the star of this experience. That's the only reason I would recommend it to a friend. However, I could not recommend the book. I enjoy Gene Wolfe's work and his series "The Book of the New Sun" is a masterpiece. This book however is not up to the standards I expect from him.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Easy question. Gene Wolfe weaves a complex web of interconnected chess pieces when he writes a book. Casually dropped hints become crucial to understanding what those chess pieces are doing. In this book, it just becomes simultaneously too hard and of questionable reward to attempt to see the whole board. There are loose ends everywhere, unexplained coincidences, peculiar behaviours and even a determined listener like me will give up eventually and just skim lightly over the story. I'd like a "story so far" section every few chapters so that the puzzles that defeated me are clear and I can enjoy the next part of the story.


    What about Jeff Woodman’s performance did you like?

    He caught the characters perfectly. The lead character is perfect and Jeff even uses intonation to try to give us a little more hint as to the connections being made. The different voices were instantly recognizable.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I think you have to listen in one sitting if you are to have any chance of understanding the mysterious depths of the plot and characters.


    Any additional comments?

    This book left me disappointed. Gene Wolfe always leaves you some clues to puzzle over after you have read one of his books and there is usually a reward. With this book, I was sadly not compelled enough by the mysteries, obvious logic gaps, peculiar behaviours, and twists that made no sense to attempt to unravel it more.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Mysterious Island

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jules Verne
    • Narrated By Berny Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (386)
    Performance
    (343)
    Story
    (351)

    Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne’s masterpiece. “Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump” (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive....

    Tad Davis says: "Wonderful novel, mediocre translation"
    "A bit long winded but still interesting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about The Mysterious Island? What did you like least?

    Perhaps I'm not quite as perceptive as other listeners but I was quite satisfied with the resolution of the mystery of the island. The glimpse into the behaviours found acceptable and the black and white (pun intended) view of the values of the age was fascinating at first but grew old as the novel progressed.


    If you’ve listened to books by Jules Verne before, how does this one compare?

    This was my first audible Jules Verne but I have read all of the others. This one seemed to me to be slower moving than the others.


    Have you listened to any of Berny Clark’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't heard him before but I would certainly choose him again as a narrator.


    Could you see The Mysterious Island being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    For sure. Bruce Willis would have to be the sailor and I'd love to see Morgan Freeman as the captain. Given the values of the era, this would mix things up nicely in a modern version of the tale !


    Any additional comments?

    An interesting book, well narrated with a satisfactory mystery but perhaps an ideal candidate for an abridged version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Claw of the Conciliator: The Book of the New Sun, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (328)
    Performance
    (201)
    Story
    (205)

    The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

    Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

    Ryan says: "The strange world deepens"
    "The Captivating, Meandering Tale Evolves"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Claw of the Conciliator again? Why?

    Certainly. I have read the whole series many times but listening to it fills in or lets me fill in more inferences and observations.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Still Severian. Its fascinating how well you know him by the end of this book but even more interesting that there is so much more to discover about him that you really and genuinely care to learn.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favorite?

    Severian. You could say that he is not performed by Jonathan but he is instead performed by all the other characters. I guess Jonathan does so well with the supporting characters that they throw Severian into strong relief and you see him in a wonderful context. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed the audible book so much even though I have read the books over and over.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes indeed. Gene Wolfe tells you right at the beginning of the first book what's going to happen. And the story is asynchronous and loosely coupled but yet the reader (er listener) is compelled to walk with Severian (as he expresses it). The mystery, the allegories, the superficially hidden references that delight the audience and the deeper connections that the reader can triumphantly discover draw you to accompany Severian.


    Any additional comments?

    This book develops Severian, the wonderful combination of past, present and future in Severian's world and continues the beautiful prose and penetrating perspective gently hidden in a fascinating story.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Shadow of the Torturer: The Book of the New Sun, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Gene Wolfe
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (801)
    Performance
    (502)
    Story
    (504)

    The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in the four-volume epic, the tale of a young Severian, an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession - showing mercy towards his victim.

    Gene Wolfe's "The Book of the New Sun" is one of speculative fiction's most-honored series. In a 1998 poll, Locus Magazine rated the series behind only "The Lord of the Rings" and The Hobbit as the greatest fantasy work of all time.

    Ryan says: "great writing, won't appeal to everyone"
    "A masterpiece read brilliantly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Shadow of the Torturer in three words, what would they be?

    Compelling, intriguing, beautiful


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Severian. His view of the world in which he lives is coloured and shaped in a manner that draws you deeply into the story.


    What about Jonathan Davis’s performance did you like?

    No bombast. And brilliant characterization. The speed is just right - sometimes the readers push too hard and you lose content or move too slowly and your concentration lapses.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I know the book. I've lost count of how many times I have read the whole series. But Jonathon Davis brought the book alive and I found more value in Gene Wolfe's remarkable masterpiece than I had known was there.


    Any additional comments?

    This is not a book to everyone's taste. But everyone should try reading it - or listening to it. Its one of the great science fiction masterpieces. One reviewer referred to Gene Wolfe's "achingly beautiful sentences" and Jonathon Davis savours them, holds them up to marvel at then moves to the next one.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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