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ratings
250
REVIEWS
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HELPFUL VOTES
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  • Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Anna Funder
    • Narrated By Denica Fairman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (117)
    Story
    (116)

    In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police could become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories.

    Jane says: "Important book"
    "Important book"
    Overall

    Anna Funder visits what was East Germany, armed with fluent German and knowledge of international law. She listens to the stories of those who endured immense pain at the hand of the Stasi, the regime which replaced Hitler as dictators of this part of Germany. She also listened with undisguised amazement and horror, to the world view and self justifications of some of the Stasi themselves. In Stasiland she portrays a society imprisoned by the notorious Wall as well as webs of betrayal, lies, mental and emotional torture.

    This is neither sensationalist or a horror story. It is an intelligent, measured exploration of the extremes of human nature, from bravery and the capacity for endurance, to the self delusion and cruelty of dictators. It reveals the insidious ways that a people can be controlled through their minds -- in effect, life was simple if everyone capitulated without question to the arbitrary, contradictory, the blatantly ridiculous. In return, citizens were given apparent certainties in housing, employment and health, certainties which some now mourn.

    This is a shared personal journey and the narrator, Denica Fairman, offers a reading that works as an outstanding partnership with Funder.
    Stasiland not only delves into recent history, but places before the reader the realities of human nature that contribute to human society -- from small communities to whole nations.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Road Back

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Di Morrissey
    • Narrated By David Tredinnick
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    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.

    Jane says: "Family life is better in small Australian towns"
    "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
    (32)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    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.

    2 of 2 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
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    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.

    Geoff says: "An Absolute Gem"
    "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?

    0 of 0 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
    (213)
    Performance
    (196)
    Story
    (198)

    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.

    0 of 0 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
    (79)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (73)

    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
    (787)
    Performance
    (693)
    Story
    (697)

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Signature of All Things

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (64)

    Elizabeth Gilbert’s first novel in twelve years is an extraordinary story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning across much of the 19th century. This audiobook follows the fortunes of the brilliant Alma Whittaker (daughter of a bold and charismatic botanical explorer) as she comes into her own within the world of plants and science. As Alma’s careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she loves draws her in the opposite direction into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.

    Jane says: "Superb"
    "Superb"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This has the sedate, carefully structured, beautifully nuanced atmosphere of a nineteenth century classical novel. Appropriate, since that is the setting. This is underlined by the glorious, melting intelligence of the ever-superb reading of Juliet Stevenson.

    This is many novels. Broadly, it is about the British dominating the globe through individual strivings, even personal sacrifices, both at home and abroad. It is relationships and dealing with loneliness (the sexual tension was very well done), family, mandated personal self sufficiency. Life and meaning -- where there is no apparent meaning; and the courage to generate meaning. Each and every character lives.

    It is also a novel that reaches over time. It visits the theories of evolution. For those who are comfortable with the conclusions of Darwin and Wallace amongst others, it is a journey into the minds of those who walked this path and wonderfully sympathetic to the limits imposed on Victorian women which denied the full flowering of their brilliance; it is an eloquent sharing of these thought processes for those who continue the doubts of those now long distant times.

    It is an introduction to new worlds. I now look at mosses completely differently -- and with real appreciation and curiosity!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sea Swept: The Chesapeake Bay Saga, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By David Stuart
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1011)
    Performance
    (708)
    Story
    (726)

    A champion boat racer, Cameron Quinn traveled the world spending his winnings on champagne and women. But when his dying father calls him home to care for Seth, a troubled young boy not unlike Cameron once was, his life changes overnight.

    Louise says: "Outstanding"
    "Tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Roberts is a prolific and popular writer. I was interested to check out some of her work. So, of course, this was a well presented story. But I certainly was not one of her target readers. Rare for me, lots of fast forwarding, well, to see if what happens in the end is what is clearly going to happen in the end! It just went on and on. However it is an optomistic read for women who need the hope imbedded in a saga of tough no-housework, no-children, no-settling-down men being converted into dedicated and skilled family men.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Barracuda

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Christos Tsiolkas
    • Narrated By Grant Cartwright
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (35)

    He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close. His whole life Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done, every thought, every dream, every action takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best.

    Can't listen enough says: "Loved it"
    "Interesting, confronting."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The selfishness of young Dan was almost claustrophobic. I assumed something was going to happen beyond his excrutiating hyper focus on being the best swimmer in the world and his mother's subservience to him (or was it just pure love -- imponderable) and the theme of social exclusion based on class and behaviours. But this young man really didn’t interest me at all.

    But I decided to continue because this book has attracted widespread attention in Australia.

    Dishearteningly, this was also being read in the context of two key events outside the book. Our newly elected national leader was speaking and behaving in a way that made me ask if his was the voice of an older Dan, modified by time but the core aspirations still there – sport: to be the strongest and the best; leadership: the strongest and the best. Whatever it takes. And not particularly adept when the prize was his.

    Secondly, a local television station aired a distressing discussion which included victims, their loved ones and rescuers, about the marked increase in attacks on people, young people, that do not lead to a good old fashioned dust up, but are glassings, and king hits, coming from nowhere. Echoes of Dan. This level is new in Australia.

    One has to keep listening to see if this selfishness will be resolved. It is true, there is a constant and almost contradictory underpinning of generosity and patience in Can's care for ill people and this suggests a path that will transcend earlier behaviours. But for me there is a sense of ‘wishful thinking’. This difficult person sweeps past others, not with the power of hope and the holy grail of excellence, but with an urgent self absorbed belief that validates all that he does. The oft repeated mantra of his goal of strength and being the best has unsettlingly echoes, again, in many models of political leadership. Self indoctrination. Indoctrinate the others around us.

    So much does the author want to donate Dan a socially acceptable future that there is even a hint that his crime has some justification as a social critique.

    I agree that the role of the family as a more selfless decency is a heartening theme and the Tsiolkas effectively bestows on these poor people a positive role amid random acts of violence and personal disorientation.

    So, there you go. I have read a book that has offered an interpretation, or explanation, of selfish and singleminded youth (is this a comment on the modern generation?), the school based training of a closed selfish and singleminded upper class, the comforting power of the family, and the acceptance of the fulfilment of homosexuality. OK. Done. But I found the language without music (intentional?) but I thought it was read very well -- with compassion, appropriately paced.

    But despite any increase in understanding the human condition I may have gained from it, I really didn’t like the book but thought it had been worth completing.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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