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G. Steyn

Newton, MA United States
  • 26
  • reviews
  • 97
  • helpful votes
  • 517
  • ratings
  • The Dragon Scroll

  • By: I. J. Parker
  • Narrated by: Roy Vongtama
  • Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 26

On Sugawara Akitada's first official assignment as a young government clerk in 11th-century Japan, he is sent from the capital city on a nearly impossible mission to Kazusa to discover why tax convoys are disappearing. In the politically murky world of the Japanese court, he has been set up to fail. However, the resourceful Akitada, his elderly servant, Seimei, and his impudent bodyguard, Tora, are determined to fulfill their mission and discover the truth in a town of dangerous secrets.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Anachronistic, with a weak narrator

  • By G. Steyn on 03-11-14

Anachronistic, with a weak narrator

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-11-14

I'm fairly interested in Japanese culture and I enjoy mystery novels, so this book seemed like a good bet for me. Unfortunately, the story is weak, the novel is anachronistic, and the narrator is mediocre.

The story: The main story involves the disappearance of some tax convoys under mysterious circumstances. Unfortunately, the culprit isn't hard to guess, and Parker's attempt to throw a red herring in is pretty clunky, requiring characters to not talk to each other for no good reason (spoilers elided).

The setting: I suspect most people read this novel because the 10th century Japanese setting seems interesting. But the writing is really jarring, from calling women "skirts" to the easy familiarity between Tora (a peasant) and Akitada (a minor noble).

Narration: The narration is largely competent enough, but all minor characters get a bizarre faux Japanese accent. I know the book is set in Japan, but all of the major characters have an American accent, so the mix sounds very strange.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Emma [Naxos]

  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,096
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,591
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,583

One of Jane Austen's most popular novels. Arrogant, self-willed, and egotistical, Emma is her most unusual heroine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Why can't all literature be like this?

  • By Theodore on 10-15-11

A great narrator matched with a great novel

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-30-13

I've loved Jane Austen's novels for a long time, but I recently decided to go on a little audio-version kick. I'm not going to review the novel itself, but I will say that Juliet Stevenson's performance of this novel is outstanding. Her Harriet is just a bit ditzy, her Mrs. Elton is properly condescending, her Mr. Knightly stern and upright.

Whether you're already an Austen fan or you just want to know what the fuss is about, this is a great recording to go with.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Case Histories

  • A Novel
  • By: Kate Atkinson
  • Narrated by: Susan Jameson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,271
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,025
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,027

Case One: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case Two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case Three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • captivating story

  • By tinaswfl on 02-01-09

Bad literary fiction, awful mystery story

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-24-13

I'll start with the positive -- on a sentence-by-sentence level, Atkinson is a solid writer. Nothing particularly spectacular, but nothing wince-worthy either.

Unfortunately, at any higher level than that, this book is awful.
* There are coincidences at a level to make Dickens blush.
* There are plot points that come out of nowhere (Brody's inheritance, for example).
* There are wild events that are more appropriate to a Tom Clancy novel or a Roadrunner cartoon (does anybody except Wile E. Coyote attempt to kill someone by dynamiting his house?)
* The detective does virtually no detecting -- probably just as well, because by the time the third case comes his way, we're almost 2/3 through the novel. One of the cases is solved by one phone-call.
* The stories are resolved with the kind of magical wand-waving that I associate with Victorian literature, not modern serious writing.

I was pre-disposed to give this novel a lot of leeway -- as I wrote above, Atkinson's writing is very solid, which is a nice thing. But I just don't even begin to understand the glowing reviews this book is getting.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • A Dance to the Music of Time: Fourth Movement

  • By: Anthony Powell
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 23 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 171
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132

Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a 4 volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times", A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Imagination must...select and arrange reality.

  • By Darwin8u on 01-05-17

The end of the epic

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-23-12

"A Dance to the Music of Time" draws to a close with these three novels, and that's probably a good thing. I loved the first 9, and I even like number 10 (the first part of this installment). But 11 and 12 are not as fresh. It's probably silly to even review these, though -- if you've listened to the first three volumes, you're going to listen to this one, and, even if it's not as solid as the earlier ones, it's still very good.

Simon Vance's portrayals are, as always, excellent. With so many characters coming and going, his voicings often give me additional context to remember who some of the characters are.

  • Grass for His Pillow

  • Tales of the Otori, Book Two
  • By: Lian Hearn
  • Narrated by: Kevin Gray, Aiko Nakasone
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,486
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,316
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,318

The exhilerating tale of Takeo continues in book II of the internationally best-selling Tales of the Otori trilogy, a sweeping saga set in a mythical, medieval Japan.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good book. First one was better

  • By RacerX on 03-10-04

Story good, one narrator not so much

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-23-12

If you've read "Across the Nightingale" floor, you know what to expect here: a thinly disguised fantastical Japan, lyrical descriptions, etc. I thought the first book was stronger, but it could be that it was just more fresh, whereas this is more of the same. I will say that her Japan feels very well-researched to me (a bit of a Japanophile myself). Her place-names feel real, "woman's writing" vs. "men's writing" was a real distinction, and so on.

But I had only read, not listened to the first volume. In this volume, the woman reader was sooooo slow. I ended up putting my iPod onto double speed just to make her sound normal. I think that I'd have preferred just reading the book to listening.

  • The Cold, Cold Ground

  • Detective Sean Duffy, Book 1
  • By: Adrian McKinty
  • Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
  • Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,521
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,191
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,171

Adrian McKinty was born in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. He studied politics and philosophy at Oxford before moving to America in the early 1990s. Living first in Harlem, he found employment as a construction worker, barman, and bookstore clerk. In 2000 he moved to Denver to become a high school English teacher and it was there that he began writing fiction.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a stunning book

  • By Alan on 01-17-12

Another solid McKinty/Doyle effort

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-17-12

Adrian McKinty has always been a solid writer, and he continues to mature. For all it's pyrotechnics, "Cold, Cold Ground" feels more restrained that, say, "Dead I Well May Be." The violence is more restrained than in previous works, and so is the language (although the opening is as beautiful as anything he's written).

Gerard Doyle is a great narrator for McKinty. I haven't liked him as much reading other books, but in these novels he shines.

  • Night Watch

  • Discworld #27
  • By: Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by: Stephen Briggs
  • Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,947
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,260
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2,262

Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all. But now he's back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another brilliant Pratchett

  • By Terry Austin on 02-02-04

Performance doesn't quite ruin a strong story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-17-12

Night Watch is Terry Pratchett in top form. I'd stopped reading him for a while (years, actually), but this novel has me hooked on the series again. The humor is great, his characters are great, and it's not too preachy.

Unfortunately, the narration is terrible. It sounds like it was recorded at double speed. I can keep up with it, but my wife and kids were lost pretty quickly. In addition, the volume varied pretty dramatically.

The story is good enough to make it worth listening to, but reading this one is probably the way to go.

  • North and South

  • By: Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 18 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,853
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,461
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,477

Written at the request of Charles Dickens, North and South is a book about rebellion that poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. Gaskell expertly blends individual feeling with social concern and her heroine, Margaret Hale, is one of the most original creations of Victorian literature. When Margaret Hale's father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience she is forced to leave her comfortable home in the tranquil countryside of Hampshire....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful

  • By Sally on 01-04-10

My first Elizabeth Gaskell novel, but not my last

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-03-12

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of "North and South." I downloaded it on a bit of a whim, and I'm very glad I did.

Reviewers have compared Gaskell to Jan Austen, which seems very strange to me; they have very little in common. Gaskell is trying to explore the effects of industrialization and labor unrest through the eyes of her heroine, who has moved to industrial Northern England from the more bucolic South.

Gaskell has nice characters to represent the capitalist class, the workers, and others. If anything, they're a bit too good to be true, but it also lets her set out the conflicts without putting in straw men. Her workers and capitalists are at odds with each other, and Gaskell doesn't draw out an easy solution, which is probably just as well, since it would destroy any realism the novel has.

  • The Warded Man

  • By: Peter V. Brett
  • Narrated by: Pete Bradbury
  • Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,608
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,462
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,485

Peter V. Brett has won accolades from critics, fans and fellow authors alike for this riveting debut novel. The Warded Man features a world where demons stalk the night, hunting humans who have long forgotten the magic of their ancestors. But all is not lost, as some hold out hope that a savior will release humanity from the demons' terrifying reign.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Should Have Read It Long Time Ago

  • By Hassan on 11-07-14

Too long by far

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-03-12

"The Warded Man" covers a lot of ground in its heroes' lives -- about 15 years or so. Unfortunately, author Brett seems to want to cover every minute of every year, and the novel really drags.

The eponymous Warded Man doesn't show up until the last third or so, by which time I was beyond caring what happens to everyone in the novel. His characters aren't compelling enough to carry a novel of this length.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Falling Glass

  • By: Adrian McKinty
  • Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,564
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,181
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,163

Richard Coulter is a man who has everything. His beautiful new wife is pregnant, his upstart airline is undercutting the competition and moving from strength to strength, his diversification into the casino business in Macau has been successful, and his fabulous Art Deco house on an Irish cliff top has just been featured in Architectural Digest. But then, for some reason, his ex-wife Rachel doesn’t keep her side of the custody agreement and vanishes off the face of the earth with Richard’s two daughters. Richard hires Killian, a formidable ex-enforcer for the IRA, to track her down before Rachel, a recovering drug addict, harms herself or the girls.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hold on to your seat!!!

  • By Cheryl on 03-09-11

More mature McKinty

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-21-11

I came to this book after listening to the Michael Forsyth trilogy (but not having read Fifty Grand). The first thing that struck me is how much the pyrotechnics (both plotwise and stylistically) are cooled down.

In the Forsyth books, there are multiple shootouts that can end up stretching credulity; here, we have a more cat-and-mouse plot, with a lot of energy going into characters hiding out from other characters. It's a nice refreshing change, as much as I loved the Forsyth books. Killian, the hero of the novel, is no superman, and so there's a constant knife-edge of tension, since odds are, if he gets in a fight he'll lose.

Verbally, the Forsyth books have poetic flights of fancy, which are fewer in this book. Although I missed them, they really stand out when they happen, since there are so few of them. Again, it's a refreshing change, and shows that McKinty can write in more than one voice, fitting his style to the more down-to-earth Killian.

Doyle, as always, seems perfectly suited to this material. It's hard to imagine another voice for these books (and, for that matter, I've heard Doyle on another author, and it felt lacking).