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Audio Gra Gra

Australia
  • 74
  • reviews
  • 269
  • helpful votes
  • 189
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  • Calculating God

  • By: Robert J. Sawyer
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Robert J. Sawyer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,577
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,846
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,864

In this Hugo-nominated novel, an alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer, Hollus, asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting book, very enjoyable narration

  • By Ione on 05-07-10

Interesting premise, disappointing story

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

Reviewed: 08-21-18

Even though sci fi novels don't necessarily have to rise to the level of artistic greatness to justify themselves, I still have no idea how this book could ever have been nominated for awards. Being worthy of an award would suggest great writing, tight plot and an amazing story, and this book fails on all of these measures. The writing is, to be brutally honest, not far removed from high school level. The opening scenes in which the aliens arrive are cringingly amateurish and extremely unrealistic. It was almost as if the author just wanted to get the arrival out of the way so he could move on with the rest of the story. Want some details about the aliens? Well, be satisfied with a few trivial morsels of information. It astounds me that the main character, who spends the entire story with the main alien character, has so few questions about this alien race.
Unfortunately I am always a sucker for a great premise and this one is tantalising - aliens arrive with supposed proof of the existence of God. Sadly, the rest of the book utterly fails to deliver a convincing or satisfying story or a satisfying ending. It doesn't help that the author throws in a clumsy cardboard character subplot involving religious terrorists that has no relevance to the story arc. When the particular subplot comes to its conclusion, you are left realising that it had no real relevance to the course of the story and could have been left out completely without altering the outcome of the book at all.
The end of the story wraps things up with a neat but, as far as I was concerned, quite mundane conclusion.
The narration is mostly ok, although a few of the alien "accents" were a little silly sounding.
If you like listening to amateurish sci fi cobbled together around a childish and simplistic argument for intelligent design then this is the audiobook for you.

  • Forrest Gump

  • By: Winston Groom
  • Narrated by: Mark Hammer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 623
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 565
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 569

"Bein' a idiot is no box of chocolates," but "at least I ain't led no hum-drum life," says Forrest Gump, the lovable, surprisingly savvy hero of this wonderful comic tale. When the University of Alabama's football team drafts Forrest and makes him a star, that's only the beginning! He flunks out - and goes on to be a Vietnam war hero, a world-class Ping-Pong player, a wrestler, and a business tycoon. He compares battle scars with Lyndon Johnson, discovers the truth about Richard Nixon, and suffers the ups and downs of true love.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Storytelling Masterpiece

  • By Penn Kname on 06-30-11

A book of 2 halves

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

Reviewed: 02-21-18

For those who like myself, wasn’t a fan of the Tom Hanks movie, this audiobook might be a bit of a surprise, albeit only for the first half. I found myself quite liking Forrest Gump - his simpleminded wisdom and his forthright manner was engaging from the very beginning. Mark Hammer is the perfect narrator for Forrest, giving him just the voice I imagined it should be.
The first half of the book is excellent with plenty of humour and charm. Unfortunately the 2nd half of the book goes off into some extremely unlikely plot scenarios eg. Gump becomes an astronaut, and later communicates with an orangutan on a Pacific island. It really just stretches credibility way, WAY too far.
The first half of the book is close to 5 stars. The 2nd half however is poor, 2 stars at best.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • God Is Not Great

  • How Religion Poisons Everything
  • By: Christopher Hitchens
  • Narrated by: Christopher Hitchens
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,625
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,921
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,858

In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris' recent best-seller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ...Though Hitchens Is!

  • By Ben Capozzi on 11-13-11

Should be mandatory reading in churces

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

Reviewed: 01-30-18

Hitchens nails all the key points in his argument as to why religion should be irrelevant in a modern society. Unfortunately religious people are very unlikely to be persuaded by logic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The People in the Trees

  • By: Hanya Yanagihara
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey, William Roberts, Erin Yuen
  • Length: 16 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 273
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 252
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 252

In 1950, a young doctor, Norton Perina, signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • A dazzling, fundamentally flawed excursion into the grotesque

  • By Danimike on 05-09-15

A book that challenges your preconceptions

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

Reviewed: 04-11-17

"The People in the Trees" is an audiobook that takes a while before all the strands begin to weave themselves into place, so stick with it at the beginning. But as the story comes together, the listener will eventually find that their preconceptions were being cleverly manipulated by the author, right up until the final moments of the book.

The story begins with news stories detailing the arrest and imprisonment of Norton, a Nobel Prize winning scientist who has discovered a turtle on a Pacific Island that has given a tribe of primitive natives extremely long lives - albeit with a nasty side-effect. He is arrested for sexually abusing the many young children he has "adopted" from the island and the majority of the book is told in the form of a journal Norton has written whilst in prison, in which he tells of his childhood, his journey to the island that would make him famous and of the events that led up to his arrest and imprisonment.

As you listen, you'll find that you don't like Norton very much - some of his attitudes and behaviours seem to suggest he is a borderline sociopath and after one particular scene in which he witnesses a tribal initiation ceremony that very much resembles the crime he is later arrested for, you become convinced the pieces are in place to equip him for such a crime.

To reveal any more of the plot would be to spoil the story and the twist(s) that end the book in a very satisfying manner. All I will say is that as Norton describes in detail the aftermath of his discoveries on the island and the subsequent events that lead to his downfall and his arrest you begin to see that perhaps that there is another side to Norton and also to this story - that Norton perhaps has a sentimental side and is not without a conscience - and that perhaps he in fact an innocent victim of a cold and calculating attack on his character by a disgruntled adopted son.

Is Norton innocent or guilty? You'll find the by the end of the book you'll have changed your mind at least once, and maybe twice......

The narration can occasionally be a touch frustrating, mostly when "footnotes" are inserted into Norton's journal - often interrupting the middle of a sentence. There are also some quite noticeable "stopping" and "starting" points, where the narrator has begun reading in what is obviously a new session - his voice at certain oddly placed points has a completely different tone to the preceding sentence - this is not unusual in an audiobook except normally these "breaks" happen at the junction of two chapters, whereas it seems here that the author has just stopped reading once sentence, taken a break, and then come back and started reading the next sentence a few hours later.

For those who have read Hanya Yanagihara's "A Little Life" there is at least one common theme - child abuse - but this time told from a more distant and different perspective. While "A Little Life" is the better book, "The People in the Trees" is still well worth the read / listen - and I thought the end worked really well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Imagine Me Gone

  • By: Adam Haslett
  • Narrated by: Ellen Archer, Robert Fass
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 719
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 647
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 649

When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant, excruciating, a work of virtuosity

  • By Jeff Lacy on 04-19-17

Imagine Your Satisfaction Gone

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

Reviewed: 01-04-17

As part of a family with a long history of mental health issues, I was attracted to the premise of this book and persuaded by the mostly positive reviews. Unfortunately this book fails on every level. I can guarantee the discerning reader this: that the promise in the publisher's summary that this "searing, gut-wrenching, yet frequently hilarious novel brings alive with remarkable depth and poignancy the love of a mother for her children, the often inescapable devotion siblings feel toward one another, and the legacy of a father's pain in the life of a family." is the only delusion to be found here.

The depiction of mental illness and depression in the book seems to far more a product of vague internet research into the topic and is completely ludicrous and unrealistic, particularly the portrayal of Michael. I highly doubt the author has any real experience with anyone with depression or mental illness.

The most important part of a novel is its characters, and "Imagine Me Gone" presents a cast of cardboard cutout characters that at best are boring and cliched and at worst unlikeable. The author gives you nothing to hang onto or care about with these characters - particularly those who you are supposed to care about most as the story lurches constantly forward both in time and to other people's perspectives. Michael, the mentally ill son of a father who committed suicide - is supposed to be the centrepiece of the story - yet he is by far the most annoying and unrealistic character in the book.

Sex scenes - before reading the book, I noticed a few comments amongst reviewers expressing disapproval of the sex scenes in the book. I dismissed these people as prudes, but having now read the book, I can only agree with them. The issue with the sex scenes is not that they are graphic or tasteless (although I am sure many would say they are) - but that they are completely unnecessary to the story. Michael's brother is gay. Unfortunately, rather than supplying just enough information for the reader to gain this information, the author bludgeons the reader over the head with terribly cliched and graphic sex scenes that serve absolutely no point in moving the story forward. Even the device of Michael's brother being gay has no relevance to the story - its just like the author tossed it in to make sure he was including a "cutting edge" character in the story.

If you want to read a realistic account of depression and mental illness read William Styron's "A Darkness Visible" or "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison or "The Quiet Room" by Lori Schiller.

It seems to me that the author tried to cobble together a story by cynically trying to add the "gritty realism" of suicide, mental illness, homelessness, unemployment and a random, unnecessary side-story involving a gay brother with the hope of writing something confronting and modern. Instead he has written a meandering, boring and unrealistic mess.

I hated virtually every sentence, paragraph and page of "Imagine Me Gone".

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • A Little Life

  • A Novel
  • By: Hanya Yanagihara
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 32 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,579
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,901
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,910

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I had to call in SAD to work

  • By Angela on 10-17-15

Relentlessly dark confrontation of personal demons

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

Reviewed: 11-22-16

This audiobook is incredibly slow to begin with, and I toyed with the idea of abandoning it for a fair while as it seemed to be going nowhere. However, once the rather long (too long) introduction to the main characters subsides, the story of Jude St Francis slowly takes over and draws you in with its beautiful writing and perfect narration. I must say that this is an incredibly dark story, and one from which there is little respite during the telling - in fact it gets disturbingly darker as Jude's story continues - I often found myself squirming as new details were revealed and there is no escape from the mounting sense of doom that builds as the novel goes on.
The story begins with 4 art school friends in New York, and while all 4 friends remain constants throughout the book, it really is the story of Jude, who seems to have a secret traumatic past, and to a lesser extent, Willem, who grows up to be a movie star and a constant friend to Jude throughout his life.
The story follows Jude as he grows up into adulthood and his daily struggle to adapt to life, love, friendships and career after so much of his personality was defined by his extremely traumatic childhood, while those who hold him dear often try in vain to make him feel like an important part of their life. As someone who also had a very dark childhood, I found this book to be increasingly confronting as it neared its end and there is one quote from Jude's thoughts that has stayed with me for days since I finished the book - "The person I was will always be the person I am". It's a line that dumped me straight back into another time and another place. I am not sure how about how people with normal, happy childhoods will relate to Jude and his story - I myself had trouble empathising with his inability to relate to people and situations, while at the same time completely relating to it.
The book moves both forward and backwards at the same time - as Jude grows older, more details of what happened to him as a child are slowly, menacingly revealed and it is often quite hard to get your head around the knowledge that it is only likely that circumstances are going to get worse, not better.
Some readers may find the plot and protagonists unreasonable - how many bad things can happen to one person? How can such a deliberately concocted cast of characters inhabit a novel of such depth and starkness? Those are good questions, but perhaps it only with such artifice that those who live their nice, neat, perfect little lives can for a moment see illuminated the outsiders for whom “the daily effort it took to appear normal was so great that it left energy for little else.”

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Seinfeldia

  • How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything
  • By: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
  • Narrated by: Christina Delaine
  • Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 522
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 474
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 472

Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn't think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly 40 million Americans were tuning in weekly.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • This bad narration is making me thirsty...

  • By Audio Gra Gra on 10-06-16

This bad narration is making me thirsty...

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

Reviewed: 10-06-16

Before buying this audiobook I read the reviews and noticed a lot of negative comments about the narration. So as I began listening, I was scratching my head trying to work out what people could be so annoyed by as the narration seemed fine to me. It wasn't until the narrator begins to quote people or, even worse re-enact scenes from Seinfeld that I got the full force of some very bad narration. Every male voice by this female narrator comes across as a fat neanderthal buffoon, while her impersonation of Julia Louis Dreyfus / Elaine is cringeworthy.
If you can get past this, there is some interesting trivia about the creation of the show, the writers, and of course the actors (major and minor) and Seinfeld and Larry David. Probably a little too much importance is attached to some bizarre Seinfeld related crazes that have sprung up in the years since the show ended, including a completely unnecessary and boring account of a few faux Seinfeld twitter accounts that I doubt anyone has ever heard of. The last half an hour or so of the audiobook can be skipped and you won't miss anything except for a brief mention of the Jerry / George Super Bowl ad right in the final few minutes of the audiobook.
If you really liked Seinfeld and are interested in a peek behind the scenes, this is a mostly interesting book and has a few nice moments of reminiscence, and for that its worth the listen - if you can get past the terrible narration.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Caught in the Pulpit

  • Leaving Belief Behind
  • By: Daniel C. Dennett, Linda LaScola
  • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Linda LaScola
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 170
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 157
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152

What is it like to be a preacher or rabbi who no longer believes in God? In this expanded and updated edition of their groundbreaking study, Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola comprehensively and sensitively expose an inconvenient truth that religious institutions face in the new transparency of the information age - the phenomenon of clergy who no longer believe what they publicly preach.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiring stories

  • By Ron Phipps on 05-18-15

Listen to Linda, skip Daniel Dennett

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

Reviewed: 09-23-16

For those who have lost their faith or are weighing it up this book might be comforting as you will hear stories from pastors, chaplains, rabbis etc who have lost their faith while still entrenched in their jobs.
These stories, which are often quoted verbatim by Linda LaScola are quite interesting , although you may have varying degrees of empathy for the people telling their stories, considering some of them are still swindling their congregations by not coming clean, hiding behind the excuse they need their job / income, or are cynically and dishonestly holding out for their pensions.
The half of the book written / narrated by Linda LaScola is by far the more interesting part of the book. The alternating chapters are a collection of Daniel Dennett pieces which are fairly boring - this is the second Dennett book I have ready / listened to recently and he's got far less substance (and style) to offer than the other 3 of the "Four Horseman" of Atheism. If you've read a Dennett book before, feel free to skip his chapters as they are a boring re-hash of things he's said before that were just as boring the first time around.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Post Office

  • A Novel
  • By: Charles Bukowski
  • Narrated by: Christian Baskous
  • Length: 4 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 640
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 578
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 577

"It began as a mistake." By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than 12 years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not his best, but still Bukowski

  • By kurdis teed on 02-05-18

For fans only - his poetry is a lot better.

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

Reviewed: 09-06-16

I believe "Post Office" would be enjoyed most by ardent Bukowski fans, so if you're just a casual admirer - stick with his poetry - its much better.
This book is supposed to be one of those hipster classics in the same vein as Kerouac & Hunter S Thompson. There are some funny moments and clever sentences but the hype for this book outweighs it's substance by a large margin.
A bum in the late 60's gives us an account of his time working for the post office and the women who blew in and out of his life over that time.
Bukowski's poetry books are better because they're focussed and brief and thus amplify the grit of his natural prose, while this novel just drifts aimlessly until it's end.

I will give a special mention though to the narrator who captured Bukowski perfectly - the narration was excellent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Midnight's Children

  • By: Salman Rushdie
  • Narrated by: Lyndam Gregory
  • Length: 24 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,271
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 998
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 985

Salman Rushdie holds the literary world in awe with a jaw-dropping catalog of critically acclaimed novels that have made him one of the world's most celebrated authors. Winner of the prestigious Booker of Bookers, Midnight's Children tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born on the stroke of India's independence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Outstanding book, superb narration

  • By MarcS on 06-09-09

A beautiful bore

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

Reviewed: 07-09-16

Salman Rushdie has managed quite a feat with Midnight's Children.

He has written the most beautiful, exquisitely prosed yet boring story I have ever read / listened to. The writing is gorgeous, lush, vibrant and captivating. The story which is stitched together with this glorious writing however is a tedious bore!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful