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Kingsley

Henely Brook, Australia
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  • Conqueror Collection

  • Biographies on Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great
  • By: Adam Morrow
  • Narrated by: Jim D Johnston
  • Length: 2 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

This collection contains biographies on: Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • four quick overviews

  • By Kingsley on 10-23-18

four quick overviews

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

Reviewed: 10-23-18

Coming in at two hours in length, and covering four major historical figures, means that each person here only gets 30 minutes. Thirty minutes is only enough to give a little taste, a sparks notes version, of each of these people. While the small amount of time given is well used, it it never going to be enough to get a full appreciation of the conquerors and their achievements.

What Morrow has put together here is pretty good. He covers the major events and formative actions of the figures. He gives a bit of context for their period, how they rose to power and how their reign ended.

There are small things that while inconsequential took away form the overall package - there is no apparent rhyme or reason for the order of the four parts. They aren't chronological. And they aren't even in the same order as they are listed in the title. It is four smaller books collected together, and there is no references between them, no building on items learnt in the previous chapters to give a wider context of where the events sat in relation to one another.

The book gives a good overview and introduction and maybe it's enough to inspire you to go find a larger, more complete book.

Narration by Jim D Johnston is good. Nothing outstanding, but certainly a solid performance. He is clear and well paced, with no obvious errors or production problems. There is not a whole lot of work with for showing a range of talent in the narration, due to the nature of the book, but he does well with what he is working with.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • The Importance of Being Earnest

  • By: Oscar Wilde
  • Narrated by: James Reynolds
  • Length: 1 hr and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on February 14, 1895, at the St James' Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious persona to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage and the resulting satire of Victorian ways.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You Will Smile and Laugh Through The Entire Story

  • By Romance junkie on 10-22-18

One of the greatest comedic plays of all time

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

Reviewed: 10-20-18

Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' is simply brilliant. It's a play that everyone should see or read (or listen to, in this case). It is a classic, filled with brilliant wit, farce and humour.

It tells the story of two young Lords, neither of them name Earnest, and their attempts to get two young ladies to marry them, both of whom decide they want to marry someone named Earnest. Both men have secret 'second lives' that they use to escape their normal life, causing confusion to each other and the ladies, and setting in motion a whole of of lies and mistaken identities. Through the play they learn the double meaning of the importance of being earnest (truthful) and of being named Earnest.

James Reynolds persofrms the play well - as well as you could expect from a single person doing a multipart play. He separates the characters, so it is easy to follow who is speaking and what is going on. while it's clear it's not multiple actors, he does characters well enough that it's a reasonable facsimile. He (almost) always hits the right timing for the humour. It is a really good recording of the play, and as I've already stated its a play everyone should know, this is a good way to hear it.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • Toussaint Louverture: Leader of the Haitian Revolution

  • By: in60Learning
  • Narrated by: Stuart Liam McConville
  • Length: 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

Historians consider the Haitian Revolution the most successful slave revolt in all of history. Though many fought in the rebellion, one man ensured their victory: Toussaint Louverture. With his political savvy and leadership skills, this former slave helped the inhabitants of what was then called Saint Domingue to challenge their French oppressors. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Easy History

  • By Rayc on 10-22-18

Great overview of the Haitian Revolution

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

Reviewed: 10-20-18

In60 Learning is a great way to quickly learn something about a topic which you know very little. 60 minutes is not enough to give you an in depth look, but it's a cheap and quick way to get an overview and determine if you want to pick up that larger tome about the subject. They are well researched, and densely packed for such a small book. And for that alone, in60 learning books will likely always get my tick.

'Toussaint Louverture: Leader of the Haitian Revolution' tells the story leading up, during and after the Haitian revolution of the 1790's. While it is technically about Toussaint Louverture, and he is covered in detail, the scope of the book is more than that. It succinctly explains what else was going on in the world (french revolution, slavery etc) and how it affected Haiti at the time. It explains how the revolution happened, who was for it or opposed, and what has happened as a result of it - including subsequent attempts at revolution based on the Haitian one.

Narration by Stuart Liam McConville is good. clear, well paced. Easy and enjoyable to listen to.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration

  • By: Jerome J McLaughlin
  • Narrated by: Bill Nevitt
  • Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9

Through engaging narrative and first-person accounts, B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration captures the painstaking restoration of a World War II-vintage Boeing B-17 bomber by more than 100 volunteers in Pooler, GA. Airplane restoration and military aviation enthusiasts alike can follow the airplane's journey from the storage hangers of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum to the Combat Gallery of the Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable read

  • By Roger & Jean Fauble on 10-22-18

Great retelling although it loses steam at the end

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

Reviewed: 10-20-18

3.5 / 5

The first two thirds of this book tell the story of how the National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force acquired and restored a B-17 flying fortress. Opened in 1992 the museum was built with the space for a B17, but it wasn't until 2009 that they got one - and in very bad shape. The next 6 years were built restoring the plane to it's former glory. The book tells the history of the plane (it never actually saw combat, but that an extensive post-war career) and how the restoration work was done. This was really interesting and highly informative.

The last third is pretty much just all recollections and statements from people involved. Some stories are interesting, some are just repetitive. It includes a large section that is just person after person stating how they got involved that why. It's an extended credits and thank yous, effectively. It is an important thing to capture, but it doesn't make for an exciting read. Especially after hearing something of "I did it a a memorial for the people who fought" twenty times in a row.

The writing and structure is a little stilted, but it works. Throughout the book it has little personal anecdotes or recollections from people involve in the work. they aren't included organically, instead are all prefaced with 'This was a recollection from XXXX' and end with 'and now continuing with out story'. It was very clunky.

But even with all my issues, I really enjoyed the book and the information within. I would definitely recommend googling the museum as there are lots of photos on it's website of the restoration. Would have been great if they could have been included in a PDF with the audiobook or something. I will admit, until I looked up the photos i was imagining in my head a B24, not a B17.

Narration by Bill Nevitt is good. He inputs the emotions of the personal anecdotes, but doesn't provide 'voices' for them. His accent (I'm guessing Georgian, to match the place of the book) grated at first, but I got used to it. He is well paced and clear and conveys the information well. Happy to listen to more of his work.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • Secret Kindness Agents

  • By: Ferial Pearson
  • Narrated by: Rosemary Watson
  • Length: 1 hr and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Moved by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Ferial Pearson wondered if a simple act of kindness could change a life. She thought of the school where she taught and the students she guided every day and wondered what would happen if we started secretly carrying out small acts of kindness in school. Could a modest act of compassion really change the course of a life? She posed the question to her students. They didn’t have the answers, but they were willing to find out. So they became the Secret Kindness Agents. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not what I expected

  • By Danee C Jones-Mitchell on 10-17-18

A classroom project to share kindness

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

Reviewed: 10-15-18

This book is partially a history of how a school teacher set up a programme of 'random acts of kindness' in her school, and partially a how-to for setting up a similar project. It's mostly the former, explaining what was done and how it impacted people, including those who set it up.

Following the Sandy Hook school shootings Ferial Pearson wanted to make the world a kinder place, hoping that if people had been kinder something like Sandy Hook could be avoided. He developed a school project where each student signs on to do 'random acts of kindness' - even small things like sitting with different people at school or saying something nice to someone. The effects were quick, and ongoing, with the project growing beyond her original vision and into many other schools. The effects are encouraging and heartwarming.

Pearson here explains her process (right down to a cheesy theme song for the project) and how you can follow it to set up a similar project

The narration by Rosemary Watson is good. Clear and easy to follow. Well paced and enjoyable.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • William Wallace

  • The Spirit of a Scottish Martyr
  • By: in60Learning
  • Narrated by: Alexander Doddy
  • Length: 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

William Wallace started out as a humble knight, but he died a war hero. He gave up everything in his fight for Scottish freedom, including his life. When captured, Wallace was hung, drawn, and quartered by the English king for crimes against the crown. Though he was memorialized in the 1995 film Braveheart, this book tells how much of what we associate with Wallace is more legend than fact. Still, the spirit of the great Scotsman lives on in the hearts and minds of his compatriots today. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A 60 minuet look at William Wallace

  • By Catrina P on 10-21-18

They will never take our freeeeedom!

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

Reviewed: 10-15-18

In60 Learning is a great way to quickly learn something about a topic which you know very little. 60 minutes is not enough to give you an in depth look, but it's a cheap and quick way to get an overview and determine if you want to pick up that larger tome about the subject. They are well researched, and densely packed for such a small book. And for that alone, in60 learning books will likely always get my tick.

William Wallace: The Spirit of a Scottish Martyr does a very good job of giving an overview of the time period - what was going on between Scotland and England at the time, and why a fight for Scottish independence was brewing. It tells of who Wallace was and what he did, and why he is still important even now. And of course, it helps separate fact from fiction and let's us know where liberties were taken with the story in Braveheart. It also acknowledges where information is scant, and goes into some of the most recent 'discoveries' of information about Wallace.

Overall it's a great introduction to the person, enough to whet your appetite for a longer, more in depth historical study.

Narration by Alexander Doddy is good. He narrated in a fitting Scottish accent (not sure if it's his natural accent or if he puts it on for the recording, but it sounded good to me). He is clear and well paced and conveys the information well.

An enjoyable and informative audiobook.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • Cooking on a Budget: A Short Read on Simple Strategies & Solutions That Work for Saving Money & Eating Healthy

  • By: Ash Mahoney
  • Narrated by: Aida-Maria Boiesan
  • Length: 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15

Are you thinking about eating healthy, but not sure how to save money? Would you like to being healthy eating all while you budget like a pro? Then, Cooking on a Budget is for you! This short guide about properly budgeting for healthy eating habits includes: Cooking 101, a back to basics approach to food preparation, budgeting for beginners, how to save and eat what you want, how to incorporate healthy cooking into your daily life, information on money saving most dieting books won’t cover, and more.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Cooking on a Budget

  • By Catrina P on 10-08-18

Good overview, lots of lists

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

Reviewed: 10-10-18

Cooking on a Budget is a fairly simple book, but that doesn't mean the information isn't useful.

It goes through simple times on how to cut costs (don't shop when hungry, stick to a list, if you can't tell the difference then buy unbranded etc.). All very useful, if simple.

The book contains a lot of lists (such as which fruit and veg are in season in which month) but it does come with a PDF with all this information, which makes it easy. You don't have to memorise the list.

Note that there may be some translation needed in some places, due to different names for things. for example Rutabagas are mentioned several times. But in the UK, Australia and other places (likely all commonwealth nations) they are called Swedes, not Rutabagas.

Narration by Aida-Maria Boiesan is good. Despite the large amount of lists you never feel lost or overwhelmed. She is well paced and easy to follow.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • Battle of Kinds

  • The Far End Prequel
  • By: C. A. Gleason
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 2 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9

While witnessing a significant battle between rival kinds, a slave realizes what he wants for his life - but first he must escape the servitude of a powerful Efftrul leader.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • great intro to a series I'd never heard of

  • By TU on 10-17-18

Decent introduction to characters

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

Reviewed: 10-10-18

The story follows a slave, Rawluv, as he undertakes somewhat of a journey of self discovery, determining who he is and who he wants to be - including no longer being a slave.

Not having read any of the Far End series I found this prequel to be a good introduction to the person I assume is the main character of the series. The rest of the series is not required reading to follow this story, although I assume that if you read the series first this would potentially be more meaningful. As a short story by itself it is generally complete - there are no dangling threads forcing you to read on - but it's certainly not the whole story. It's clear this is just the beginning leading to more.

It does throw you somewhat in the deep end, in that it doesn't explain the races and clans etc. in much detail. The detail isn't needed to follow the story here and I assume these things are explained in the main series. As it is, in this book it just points to a wider, more complex and fleshed out world. Which is a good thing.

Also, several people have mentioned 'sci-fi' in their reviews. I feel we listened to different books. This is completely a fantasy book, there are no sci-fi elements in it.

Narration by Mark Deakins is good. There aren't many characters in this for him to show of his characterisation, but for those that re here he does a good job. He is well paced, easy to follow and there are no technical issues with the narration.

Overall, a great short piece of fiction.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear

  • By: JZ Murdock
  • Narrated by: Tom Remick
  • Length: 1 hr and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

This is a story where a world famous surgeon helps his missing son's best friend, only to find that his actions lead to monumental changes in the United States as well around the world and all in ways he could never have foreseen and might regret for the rest of his life. If only he could. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very enjoyable!

  • By Karen Tipton on 09-10-18

Full of ideas, strange story structure

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

Reviewed: 10-09-18

This is a short sci-fi story that feels in a similar vein to some of the short Philip K Dick stories. Interesting ideas, a strange world with a bit of a weird style of storytelling. The author isn’t as good as the amazing PKD, but there is a similarity in style and content.

‘In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear’ is a strange story. It is told from the point of view of an expert surgeon who befriended a billionaire, genius dictator then does a surgery on him that makes him nigh immortal. However most of the story is not exactly told by the surgeon, or by event told in real time, but is told by the surgeon watching a television show that is providing a dramatization of the surgeon and billionaire’s friendship. The surgeon provides thoughts and commentary on what he is seeing on the television, but the whole thing gives it a strange, impersonal feels. Very much being told about something, rather than seeing it unfold.

Within the story there is a whole lot of details of how be billionaire dictator came to be, with people slowly handing over control of everything to him. The way it happens doesn’t feel overly realistic, as it’s presented as more people actively giving up their agency to him, rather than it creeping up and taking them unawares. The concepts are interesting, they just don’t feel like something that could actually happen. There is also a whole lot of explanations of the guy’s inventions, such as teleportation and how it works (and how it proves there is no soul!) that just don’t flow with the story. The author put them in because he had a cool idea, either technologically or philosophically, that he wanted to tell but it doesn’t necessarily serve the story.

Once the story gets up to the present day and moves on from the ‘retelling through the TV’ element I enjoyed it more, with the ending being quite good.

Narration by Tom Remick is good. There is very few characters in this tale for him to have to differentiate for the listener, but I feel he did a good job of it, and of keeping interest through the book. He is generally well paced, easy to follow and engaging.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

  • Harry Potter: A History of Magic

  • By: Pottermore Publishing, Ben Davies
  • Narrated by: Natalie Dormer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 490
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 452
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 453

The history of magic is as long as time and as wide as the world. In every culture, in every age, in every place and, probably, in every heart, there is magic. Harry Potter: A History of Magic reveals some of the hidden stories behind real-world magic and explores some of J.K. Rowling's magical inventions alongside their folkloric, cultural and historical forebears.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An enjoyable making-of documentary of sorts

  • By Tasha on 10-04-18

Springboard to a history of our Muggle world

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

Reviewed: 10-08-18

Is this for a fan of Harry Potter? Maybe. Is it for a fan of Harry Potter who is also interested in the stranger side of world history? Definitely.

The book is not exactly about HP, but uses the books as a spring board to talk about other things – mostly our real world history.

It is a bit of Making of HP, filled with interviews from those involved in the book such as artists who drew the pictures and covers, and those that recorded the audiobooks, but that isn’t really the focus of the book. These are placed in between the main focus of the book: history.

The book is really a history of ‘magic’ in our muggle world. So not talking about the ‘in universe’ magic, but looking at real life events. It uses HP to guide the discussion of our history, and also uses real world histories to give insight into how JKR wrote the books and incorporated real items, Latin roots, and history into her books. One example is 14th century apothecaries (potions masters) and what they used to create ‘magic’. They talk to experts on the apothecaries and discuss some of the ingredients they used, and what for. Unicorns horn and narwhal horn are discussed, for example. Some of the potions are shown to be completely useless, while others are discussed as actually having some good medical effects.

The book uses each of the classes students take at Hogwarts as a launching board to discuss the history and beliefs associated with this teachings.

A few other things (not an exhaustive list) discussed and expanded on:
• Witch trials (the history of them, and discussions on how our view and tropes of witches developed – cauldrons, brooms etc.)
• Magical creatures (real life unicorns and a real history of ‘unicorn’ hunting – although not quite what we image unicorns to be. Why are familiars always Owls, toads and cats?)
• Charms and words like ‘abracadabra’, looking at where the words developed
• Herbology (similar to magical creatures, but looking at strange things people have used plants for)
• Other classes taken at Hogwarts – divination, astronomy, defense against the dark arts etc.
• The real Nicholas Flemmel, Philosopher's stone

There is a lot of ‘museum directors’ interviewed in this, filling out the histories, and discussions with people from British Libraries.

There isn’t a whole lot of ‘new’ information here, but it is a collected and nicely packaged history, with lots of interviews and excerpts from the HP audiobooks. There is discussions of drawings or storyboards – either stuff JKR did while putting her story together or of official images in the were in the books, which would work much better for an ebook or physical version. An inclusion of a PDF with the discussed images would have been really nice, as without them you can be a little lost.

Natalie Dormer does the main narration, around the interviews, putting them in context of the larger picture. She does really great with this. Very enjoyable to listen to, well paced and clear while keeping your attention. The interviews are generally really good. Occasionally there is an interview where the audio quality is lower but generally it is high quality.

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