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Penni

St Andrews, Australia
  • 18
  • reviews
  • 46
  • helpful votes
  • 29
  • ratings
  • The Burgess Boys

  • A Novel
  • By: Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,159
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,019
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 1,023

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved, loved, loved it!

  • By Molly-o on 06-09-13

A family story, whispered in your ear by a friend

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

Reviewed: 06-18-13

This beautiful story, not just about the Burgess Boys, Bob and Jim, but their sad sister Susan, unravels with a slow, drawling fascination. Prefaced by another character entirely, who then silently haunts the book, building this story into myth, this novel entangled me and I was gutted when it was over.

Elizabeth Strout writes novels you live in for a while. You can walk around her towns and city blocks, you have the opportunity to inhabit any one of a number of psychologically rich characters. Her characters are flawed - racist, angry, sad, blinded by privilege or burdened with lack - and yet you forgive all of them ultimately because it is lonely and confusing to be human, connected and disconnected simultaneously to those around you, and to the things you live with.

Highly recommended. I also enjoyed the audiobook of Strout's Abide With Me.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Quarterly Essay 45: Us & Them

  • On the Importance of Animals
  • By: Anna Krien
  • Narrated by: uncredited
  • Length: 2 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

In this dazzling piece of reportage, Anna Krien investigates the contemporary animal kingdom and our place in it. From pets to food, from wildness to science experiments, Krien also reveals how animals are faring in this new world order. Examples range from the joyful to the deeply unsettling. As Krien delves deeper, she finds that animals can trigger primal emotions in us, which we are often not willing to acknowledge. "Us and Them" is a clear-eyed look at how we do - and should - treat animals.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic

  • By Penni on 07-17-12

Fantastic

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

Reviewed: 07-17-12

I listened to this after reading Krien's fantastic book on the contentious politics of forestry and protest in Tasmania. I just think she's awesome. She is not afraid to interrogate her own position in relation to her extremely difficult material. She bravely inserts herself into difficult scenarios and watches and listens, asking the questions that we want to ask - she is questioning, curious, uncertain - she has the truthful chime of a child. She somehow manages to make even statistics engaging. She has a few idiosyncratic pronunciations which annoyed my husband, but I found her utterly adorable. I hope my daughters grow up to be Anna Krien.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Quigleys audiobook cover art
  • The Quigleys

  • By: Simon Mason
  • Narrated by: Sophie Thompson
  • Length: 1 hr and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Meet the Quigleys in these four humorous stories. Mum, Dad, Will, and Lucy all have their own story to tell, and their quirky escapades should appeal to children and adults alike.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One for everyone, from littlest to oldest

  • By Penni on 05-16-12

One for everyone, from littlest to oldest

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

Reviewed: 05-16-12

This is such a well written book in which all the members of the family receive equal attention. The structure is cool: there are four short stories, one about Dad, one about Lucy, one about Mum and one about Will. The book falls into a genre a friend of mine calls "The Family Down the Street", which I think is my favourite genre. This is narrative of incident, gentle "real-life" stories about utterly believable characters in relatable scenarios. The adults and children are flawed and loveable, the grown ups make mistake and get cross and drink the occasional beer and run out of money and have to borrow it from their kids' piggy banks. I love these people.

I bought it for my kids (6 & 9) but after hearing snatches with them, I listened to it on my own and it was a pure delight listen.

9 year old: I think it's a good and imaginative story, with weird names.
Me: What, Lucy and Will?
9 year old (who can't talk since she's a girl called Fred): And Pokehead! There's one called Pokehead.
Me: Oh yeah.

Me: What do you think of the Quigleys?
6 yo: Um
Me: Who's your favourite character?
6 yo: Pokehead. What are you doing?
Me (explains)
6 year old: (asks questions)
Me: Just tell me what you thought of it.
6 year old: I like the name The Quigleys. I like the Dad.
Me: with his distracted hair?
9 year old: He's always distracted, all over.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Death Comes to Pemberley audiobook cover art
  • Death Comes to Pemberley

  • By: P. D. James
  • Narrated by: Sheila Mitchell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 49

P.D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story. The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister, Jane, and her husband, Bingley, live nearby, and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Extremely disappointing!

  • By Alexis on 03-16-12

Easy Listening, but a little unsatisfying

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

Reviewed: 05-14-12

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes, particularly as an audiobook, if they were wanting a not particularly taxing period drama and had read P&P. Though I'd warn them not to expect too much Lizzie. I would say, 'P. D. James is in her nineties and she can do whatever she wants.' In fact this indulgence was what I enjoyed most about the book!

Would you be willing to try another book from P. D. James? Why or why not?

Yep, because she's so accomplished.

What does Sheila Mitchell bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

A lovely grace. I possibly wouldn't have persevered with the novel if I'd been reading.

Did Death Comes to Pemberley inspire you to do anything?

Watch the period drama montage set to "It's Raining Men" on youtube over and over again.

Any additional comments?

Will the BBC televise it? Let's hope so!!

  • The Stranger's Child

  • By: Alan Hollinghurst
  • Narrated by: James Daniel Wilson
  • Length: 19 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 17

In the late summer of 1913 the aristocratic young poet Cecil Valance comes to stay at ‘Two Acres’, the home of his close Cambridge friend George Sawle. The weekend will be one of excitements and confusions for all the Sawles, but it is on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne that it will have the most lasting impact, when Cecil writes her a poem which will become a touchstone for a generation, an evocation of an England about to change for ever.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Very dissapointing - dreadful narration

  • By Stephanie Whitelock on 08-30-11

Persevered, but...

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

Reviewed: 04-09-12

What did you like best about The Stranger's Child? What did you like least?

I was incredibly fascinated by the themes of biography, memory and memoir. I found the narration terrible, largely because all the characters seemed terribly trivialised and I suspect this wasn't wholly due to the writing, but rather the delivery.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I found Daphne's character the most fascinating, but I felt Hollinghurst lost interest with her. He exploited her naivity at the end, but I didn't really believe that a character who had negotiated so many complex relationships would be that naive.
I struggled with each transition, firstly to place the characters, but then to care about them. And then I felt Hollinghurst deliberately undermined any affection that might develop on behalf of the reader, though I wasn't sure why. Having said that I thought the structure was incredibly intriguing, and it was effective.

Would you be willing to try another one of James Daniel Wilson???s performances?

No.

Do you think The Stranger's Child needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, because the structure means it contains its own sequels.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Quarterly Essay 40: Trivial Pursuit

  • Leadership and the End of the Reform Era
  • By: George Megalogenis
  • Narrated by: George Megalogenis
  • Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

In the aftermath of the 2010 election, George Megalogenis considers what has happened to politics in Australia. Have we entered a new phase with minority government and the rise of the Greens and independents? Hawke, Keating and Howard years were ones of bold reform; recently we have seen an era of power without purpose. But why? Is it down to powerful lobbies, or the media, or a failure of leadership, or all of the above? And whatever the case, how will hard decisions be taken for the future? In a brilliant analysis, Megalogenis dissects the cycle of polls, focus groups and presidential politics....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Poll-itics

  • By Penni on 02-01-12

Poll-itics

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

Reviewed: 02-01-12

A really sound discussion of issues in Australian politics that I suspect translate to other Western nations too, whereby politicians no longer truly stand for anything; instead of steadfast policy making, they are reactive, addicted to the fortnightly polls and news media cycle. Megalogenis discusses the problem the major parties face in attracting Gen Y voters while still catering to the hip pocket of the Boomers and offers (still all too relevant at the time of writing this review) insight into the fascinating and depressing leadership wrangles between Rudd and Gillard. Megalogenis reads the essay himself and it's not slick, but he has a great voice and this was anything but dry.

  • The Sense of an Ending

  • By: Julian Barnes
  • Narrated by: Richard Morant
  • Length: 4 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 986
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 834
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 831

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour, and wit. Maybe Adrian was more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 'Something Happened'...

  • By Mel on 01-09-12

Priggish

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

Reviewed: 01-27-12

Where does The Sense of an Ending rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

I am glad I listened to it on audio, because I'm not sure I could have finished this on the page. The narrator was fabulous, empathetic towards his character, thoughtful in his presentation and enhanced the experience. Having said that, I have had more satisfying audio experiences.

Would you recommend The Sense of an Ending to your friends? Why or why not?

Oh yes, but with caveats. I'd say, 'It's an easy read and a fabulous mediation on adolescence - in fact I related very strongly to the teenagers though the era was far earlier than my own coming of age decade. However [insert things here about anally retentive old men, depiction of female characters etc]

Have you listened to any of Richard Morant???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but would seek others out.

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

I found the character of Adrian very resonant, I felt like I had met men like him before. I really found the first half compellingly real.

Any additional comments?

Sometimes it does a book (if not an author) a disservice to win a major award. I had in my head the whole time,

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Regeneration: The Regeneration Trilogy, Book 1

  • By: Pat Barker
  • Narrated by: Peter Firth
  • Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 286
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 223

In Craiglockhart war hospital, Dr William Rivers attempts to restore the sanity of officers from World War I. When Siegfried Sassoon publishes his declaration of protest against the war, the authorities decide to have him declared mentally defective and send him to Craiglockhart.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insightful

  • By Ms. on 04-01-09

A Fascinating Project

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

Reviewed: 01-20-12

The intricacy of war and poetry, of exterior and interior experience, of nationalism and individuality and physical and psychological health combine in an elegant and spare novel. I listened to this concurrently with watching the (admittedly disappointing) second season of Downton Abbey and revisiting The Making of a Sonnet: a Norton Anthology. Firth is a wonderful narrator. Lots of long pauses which I find initially disconcerting, but lent the work a poised reflective quality. I admire Barker's ability to write "real" lives with such naturalism.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • By: Rebecca Skloot
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became one of the most important tools in medicine

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow

  • By Penni on 12-16-11

Wow

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

Reviewed: 12-16-11

What did you love best about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks?

I loved the layering of experience: the story of Henrietta herself, the utterly compelling narrative of the destiny of the HeLa cells, the story of Skloot's own search, and then the moving narrative of the descendants of Lacks.

What other book might you compare The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to and why?

I also listened to The Help this year, and think there is something to be gleaned from these two extended works about the healing power of storytelling. While I often shrink back from white people telling black people's stories, both these books actually tackle this problem head on, exploring the problem of who is telling whose story and why. Restoration through narrative.

Have you listened to any of Cassandra Campbell???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

She was one of the narrators in The Help apparently (must have been that weird third person section?) Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed her reading.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A story of science that comes from the heart.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Tremendous Tree Stories

  • By: Clare Viner
  • Narrated by: Clare Viner
  • Length: 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

A collection of mysterious and fascinating stories about Trees, told in a unique and original way by storyteller Clare Viner. The stories Clare tells are never written down, so they are never fixed. Each telling is new and spontaneous - like Chinese whispers the stories change a little each time they are told. Things get forgotten and new bits added in; this is the real magic of storytelling, like the breath that tells the tales, the stories themselves are alive, they cannot be pinned like butterflies.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The enchantment of storytelling

  • By Penni on 12-16-11

The enchantment of storytelling

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

Reviewed: 12-16-11

My daughters really enjoyed the freeform storytelling style of this. Viner's dreamy folk style makes this a great bedtime audiobook or good for calming the kids down in the car.