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  • Passenger 23

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Sebastian Fitzek
  • Narrated by: Max Beesley, Rebecca Hall, Anthony Head, and others
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 371
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 345
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 343

With no police to investigate and no escape, could it be the perfect setting for a crime? Martin Schwartz (Beesley) is an undercover detective who is recovering from his wife and sons' bizarre disappearance from a cruise ship 5 years ago. He is a desperate man willing to take big risks. Martin never wanted to step onto a cruise ship again until he receives a call which can't be ignored. On average, 23 people per year disappear without a trace from cruise ships. Never before has someone come back... until now.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • a solid thriller if you don't think too hard

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 01-26-16

Compelling presentation wasted on this thriller

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

Reviewed: 12-21-15

Passenger 23 is a thriller about people who represent the insidious,self serving components of society: A slight counterbalance is offered by the desperate, emotionally destroyed hero who is compelled by values of decency and capable of self sacrifice. But he is pretty much alone in this human soup.

There are mysteries to be solved that become increasingly complicated and contorted as the hours pass. At the end, the explanations become drawn out endeavor to hold the story line together.

So why did I finish it, despite my finger frequently moving towards the stop and delete buttons.

Well, for a start, I enjoy listening to the narrator, Robert Glenister .
The acting was professional and the audio mixing, the use of music and sound effects seamless and effective.

But I would enjoy presentations of this calibre in works that do not focus on the depraved, the cruel and the deceptive.

For me Passenger 23 was characterised by a yawning gap between the quality of the audio presentation and that of the subject matter.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The Perfumer's Secret

  • By: Fiona McIntosh
  • Narrated by: Madeleine Leslay
  • Length: 13 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

The highly anticipated new blockbuster from the best-selling author of The Lavender Keeper and The Last Dance. On the eve of the First World War, Fleurette, the only daughter of the wealthy Delacroix perfume dynasty, is being forced to marry a man she loathes, Aimery De Lasset, head of the preeminent perfume manufacturer in France. It is only the cathedral bells tolling the rally to the front lines on her wedding night that save her from sharing his bed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Passionate, sensuous and close to melodrama

  • By Jane on 12-15-15

Passionate, sensuous and close to melodrama

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

Reviewed: 12-15-15

This is a book worth listening to. Based in the France of the first world war, it explores the changing role of women in a society undergoing major upheaval.

Fleurette, born a twin, and gifted with exceptional abilities to detect and analyse perfume, responds to traditional social demands and adapts to the need to support the war effort. It is a novel that is rich in fascinating detail and has historical integrity. Swirling throughout are intense passions and sensuality.

The reader. Because this is written in the first person, the narrator has the opportunity to become the protagonist. This Madeleine Leslay achieves. Her voice matches Fleurette’s age. Her acting is controlled and voice changes for dialogues are unpretentious and work very well. Adding to the sense that she has become Fleurette, her phrasing is often unexpected and suggests spontaneity and a lack of self consciousness.
.
Although Leslay gives voice to the passion in this novel, she doesn’t transform it into the melodrama that McIntosh edges towards, especially in the last third of the book which becomes more rushed and improbable
.
The intricacies of perfume making were well researched. These details carried the saga of a woman that I didn’t particularly like or was interested in. But maybe my reaction is a testament as to how effectively this book reflects the self conscious social responsibilities of the wealthy that Fleurette morphs into self imposed martyrdom and unlikely speedy recoveries from peronal trauma and tragic losses.

  • Big Little Lies

  • By: Liane Moriarty
  • Narrated by: Caroline Lee
  • Length: 15 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43,181
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38,795
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38,721

Pirriwee Public's annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. One parent is dead. The school principal is horrified. As police investigate what appears to have been a tragic accident, signs begin to indicate that this devastating death might have been cold-blooded murder. In this thought-provoking novel, number-one New York Times best-selling author Liane Moriarty deftly explores the reality of parenting and playground politics, ex-husbands and ex-wives, and fractured families.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Oh, Calamity!

  • By L. O. Pardue on 10-07-14

Rivetting social insights

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

Reviewed: 09-17-15

This book is going to stay with me a long time.

The themes and insights are powerfully presented.

The main one that impacted me was the shocking cruelties and the complexities of domestic violence (“I should take part responsibility…..I should have picked up the children's leggo….” "That's not who he really its......"). There are the horrors of this violence perpetrated subtlety so the bruises don’t show, it is not technically rape, so (but this is wishful thinking) the children don’t see this terrible behaviour. Delusion has a commanding presense.

How splendidly does Moriarty portray the confusion on the part of the victim and the perpetrator, the anguished path to objectifying, understanding and then dealing with what is happening. If the reader hasn’t needed to identify and understand domestic violence before, this rich novel offers an outstanding introduction.

Important issues are presented in a natural flowing style that unobtrusively (and the gentle voice of reader, Caroline Lee, supports this) and easily bring characters, place and events to life.

There are other themes: early childhood education and parental attitudes; an outsider mother trying to become part of a community; understanding and respecting young children – establishing communications within trust. This was huge: allegations that are in no way substantiated but accepted on the basis of prejudice. The power of friendship and loyalty. The pain inflicted on others. Single motherhood. The arbitrarily created and often cruelly maintained social stratas. The enormous stresses and obligations placed on schools and the individual teachers. the deep pain of exclusion.

This is a rich and satisfying novel. It is made thoroughly entertaining through the compelling structure which draws the reader into the need for resolution of pain, and, most provocatively, what will happen at the school trivia night, a night that the lives of so many seem to be inexorably travelling towards.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • X

  • Kinsey Millhone, Book 24
  • By: Sue Grafton
  • Narrated by: Judy Kaye
  • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,766
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,407
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,408

Sue Grafton's X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • My X-pectations were too high

  • By Simone on 09-02-15

Disappointing, to say the least......

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

Reviewed: 09-12-15

I have enjoyed all the Sue Grafton books that Audible has made available (only 7). For a start, her characters, right down to minor players, are alive and interesting. And how endearing is Kinsey herself, and Henry. The storylines have been intriguing, pulling the reader right into the thick of the storm.

But.
.
When have I ever wished a Grafton book would end? When have I ever been totally uninterested in her characters (other than the regulars?). When have I ever found a Grafton ending such a disappointment, finishing as if the author herself didnt know how to resolve her storyline).

It was listening to X
.
I wonder why Grafton decided on three storylines, none of which engaged me at all.

However, she continued to demonstrate aspects her delightful writing skills. But I X left me wondering if she lost some confidence or even commitment as she nears the self imposed goalpost of Z. I felt she wasn't sufficiently passionate about her characters and their imagined lives to have one plot, hence the three. I hopes she returns to her former self for 'Y'.

And as for her 'most chilling book yet'. Where did publicists get that one: it's far from that.

Now to the narrator. Reading Kinsey should, in my view, be fun. She's irreverant, happy and basically optimistic. From humorous asides to life philosphies, she is a matter of a fact, somewhat self depricating woman. For me, Judy Kay, ignores the nuances of Kinsey's voice. She does not sound like a woman in her thirties, tone is monotonous and to me her voice is forced and tense.

  • Being Nixon

  • The Fears and Hopes of an American President
  • By: Evan Thomas
  • Narrated by: Bob Walter
  • Length: 20 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 369
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 337
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 335

What was it really like to be Richard Nixon? Evan Thomas tackles this fascinating question by peeling back the layers of a man driven by a poignant mix of optimism and fear. The result is both insightful history and an astonishingly compelling psychological portrait of an anxious introvert who struggled to be a transformative statesman.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sympathetic bio

  • By Scott on 07-27-15

Avoids the elephant in the room....or book

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

Reviewed: 09-07-15

On the surface this is a well organised narrative about a highly complex man. It is read with the gravitas appropriate to a President (well, perhaps a non swearing President, a non corrupt President!) and the past and present interweave offering explanations for behaviours and decisions.

The author, Thomas, asks many questions, offers many answers. He addresses the unresolved struggles between leadership, morality and responsibility: role of corruption and the accountability of democracy (as an ideal) in the functioning of leadership. How does a leader deal with (immense) power and human fragilities (in Nixon’s case, his personal insecurities, lust for power and baffling contradictions intertwined with undoubted political brilliance).

Thomas asks whether undermining and destroying Nixon was appropriate within the perspective of Nixon’s grumpy riff of ‘all the politicians undertake dirty tricks’? But in the end, Nixon himself, in a quagmire of confusion and desperation, self destroys: he does not admit to himself that he should fully play out the ‘dirty tricks’ as the Kennedys, he suggests, would have. In that context, he could have simply destroyed the tapes.

Does it make sense to undermine a person (the whole Lewinsky case, and the undoing of LBJ) in the light of the Elephant in the Room. Or should I say, the Elephant in this Book.

The Elephant: the nuclear button. It’s referred to, but casually: should we drop a nuclear bomb on Hanoi, for example.

The President has the power to make a decision that can lead to unthinkable world destruction, but, as with LBJ, we are reading about a man, who sleeps very little, who knocks back considerable amounts of alcohol from time to time; he is on valium, sleeping pills and goodness knows what else. He is at odds with various people, he is in a power competition with Kissinger. And more.

We are reading about a man who is being constantly distracted by issues that have nothing to do with the wisdom of blowing up the world or stopping people die in Vietnam (and Cambodia, and Laos).

I don’t know the answers. Of course. Nobody does. But I felt that Evan Thomas was mining his research to understand the man within the human context of Nixon as President, as a family man, as a friend. Mining a way to make this American President conform, in some measure, to the American ideals.

But I was wanting to listen to how American finds the wisest person, or group of people, to make the wisest decisions about the safety of the world

  • Presumed Innocent

  • By: Scott Turow
  • Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
  • Length: 15 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,134
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,486
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,490

Presumed Innocent brings to life our worst nightmare: that of an ordinary citizen facing conviction for the most terrible of crimes. Prosecutor Rusty Sabich is transformed from accuser to accused when he is handed an explosive case - that of the brutal murder of a woman who happens to be his former lover.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book, Gripping Entertainment!

  • By Glen on 04-16-10

Reputation kept me going

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

Reviewed: 08-30-15

I really did struggle through the first few hours of this book. Not engaged at all. But I persisted because it was a quality performance, strong writing and because of Turow's reputation: it might be worth it in the end.

And indeed it was. It became a clever and intriguing interweaving of people and events. Although I wasn't drawn to any of the characters, Turow's presentation of their thoughts, their motives, was replete with wisdom and insight. Particularly that of 'Rusty'.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

  • By: Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landor, and others
  • Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,222
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,053
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,038

London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.... As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends – and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • MUCH better than I ever expected! Give it a try!

  • By Kent on 10-19-09

Loved it!

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

Reviewed: 05-03-15

On the surface a simple presentation of letters between unpretentious people. These letters reveal the intimacies of a closely knit island society which is forced to deal with the iniquities of being invaded and occupied for five years by the German army during World War Two. There are deeply moving stories of privation and courage. There are gentle themes of the search for truth in love. Compassion, judgmentalism, innocence, torment, There is innovation, ingenuity and wonderful eccentricity. And there is the painful ambiguity of people forced to be enemies when their humanity over-rides this dreadful imperative.

Blended throughout is the appreciation of reading, largely presented in a non academic and appealing manner, .

Delightfully presented with a cast of involved and quality readers.

  • Losing Faith

  • By: Adam Mitzner
  • Narrated by: Andy Caploe
  • Length: 11 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 433
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 378
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 372

Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country's most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney whose client is Nikolai Garkov, a Russian businessman arraigned on terrorism charges for pulling the financial strings behind recent treasonous acts. The attorney informs Aaron that Garkov is looking to switch representation and will pay $100,000 just to take the meeting.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator is awful

  • By Chris on 04-17-15

An Audible mystery!

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

Reviewed: 04-26-15

Yes, this book is indeed a mystery.

There’s the who dunnit theme in this legal drama (which I think is rather lamely resolved, unfortunately – unfortunate because, generally speaking, I think Mitzner is an engaging writer).

But, the Audible mystery is: the book was recorded in their studios (I gather) and I assume from this that they thought they had a successful product that was strongly promoted on its home page. However. From the very first words (I had been looking forward to listening to this book), I was thinking: how long can I listen to this reader’s breath (quick intakes, part of the drama) and his over stated reading. Do I return it? Do I persevere and hope that I get used to the reader? Oh now: listening further on: there are women’s voices and they are straight from Sesame Street.

OK. By this time I’m getting somewhat interested in the characters although I’m finding this book less compelling than Mitzner’s earlier ones, but I may as well see what happens. Yep, getting used to the breathing.

Finished. I look back at a book that shows the skill of its writer, but his potential is far from realised.

And I’m curious about the reader, Andy Caploe. I discover he has recorded nearly 100 books for Audible. Click on a few samples and discover that he is a perfectly good, non breathy reader!

Now comes the moment when I will look at other reviews. See if I am being too intolerant or critical.

No, there is it. One after the other saying the reading was not up to the mark.

So Audible. Solve the mystery for us! Are you quality controlling the books that come from your studio?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Enemy Coast Ahead - Uncensored

  • The Real Guy Gibson
  • By: Guy Gibson
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

First published in 1944, Enemy Coast Ahead quickly became regarded as the classic Bomber Command story, following Gibson's RAF career from flying the Hampden and Manchester at the beginning of World War II to the triumphant return home of the Lancasters from the famous 1943 Dambuster raid, which Gibson led and for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The living were honored but far too many had died

  • By Jane on 02-28-15

The living were honored but far too many had died

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

Reviewed: 02-28-15

Published in 1946, this is a riveting account of the lead up to and execution of the wartime mission dubbed the ‘dam busters’. Given the date of publication it was no doubt part of national healing, describing the immense heroism of the Bomber Command, and the enormous loss of life (nearly 50% of pilots were killed flying Lancaster planes during the war, the planes used in the Dams mission -- the book is peppered with respectful eulogies).

Vance’s calm, sedate, unpretentious reading perfectly matches the stoic tone of the narrative. Judgmental phrases that may grate today, are smoothly absorbed into the historical context.

Gibson carefully leads the reader into some sense of the mechanics of the risks – an idea of how the various planes (earlier he flew Hampdens) operated, the team work required, what it felt like to be part of this situation. There is some quite lyrical writing as Gibson flies over the Britain he is fighting for.

This is a description of young people at war: but they sound much older: Gibson himself was only 24 when he led the dam buster’s operation: a massive responsibility in terms of strategy, the safety of 133 men, and liaising effectively with the extraordinary scientists preparing the ‘bouncing bombs’. But the honors and glory bestowed these men was nothing in the face of the constant deaths.

I commented earlier that I took some of the narrative as part of the stoic, the ‘stiff upper lip’ image of the UK fighting forces. But now I question that. My uncle, an Australian, was a navigator in a Lancaster, flying with the RAF. He was highly decorated, and survived multiple missions.

He never spoke of these years, never married. Was a wonderful uncle, but I never asked him about the war – too shy. Remarkably he was with the same crew for nearly 50 missions. This book by Gibson gives me some insight into his experiences – though how could anyone really understand – and of the depth of the relationships between the small team flying through the night. How did these men manage the return to the relatively mundane civilian life.

And so I wonder if the restraint and understatement (‘jolly good show, chaps’) presented in this book was indeed the reality. For Gibson, and, I suppose, for my uncle, it was a terrible but clear-cut duty. The issues were clear and no need to discuss and relive the enormity of the tragedies.

Gibson also reveals the everyday life of the pilots: their fears, how they dealt with the whole business of constantly facing death (quite apart from the comradeship, lots of beer, smoking, parties, girls -- women played very much a support and peripheral role in this account – and Gibson had his dog and his romantically portrayed wife, Eve).

Apparently this was not ghost written – he had a real talent. Though Simon Vance could make anything sound well written, but I think this really was the case.

The book does not glorify war at all: it ends with a fervent plea to stop all wars.

I found it worthwhile researching more about this book and viewing related documentaries presented by the BBC: it was very moving to see the Lancaster bomber actually flying.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • W Is for Wasted

  • A Kinsey Millhone Mystery
  • By: Sue Grafton
  • Narrated by: Judy Kaye
  • Length: 17 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,723
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,400
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,390

Two dead bodies changed the course of my life that fall. One of them I knew and the other I'd never laid eyes on until I saw him in the morgue. The first was a local PI of suspect reputation. He'd been gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. It looked like a robbery gone bad. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He'd been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Millhone's name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well worth waiting for....

  • By karen on 10-09-13

Judy Kaye is not Kinsey Millhone

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

Reviewed: 02-08-15

Selecting a reader for a book written in the first person must be like choosing actors for parts in a film or play. The reader's voice makes the text live: the voice reflects the character, the person who is sharing events, thoughts, personality.

Kinsey Millhone is a feisty, highly resilient and resourceful, thirty something detective with a sense of humor and a good serving of empathy. I really enjoy Sue Grafton’s popular series.

But it is really unfortunate when the reading of a book doesn't match what the reader/listener pictures or imagines from the words. And that’s how it is for me when Judy Kaye reads any of this series, including W is for Wasted. Her voice is far from the determinedly light hearted, almost flippantly understated and emotionally honest Kinsey that I feel Grafton is describing.

Furthermore, her voice is that of a significantly older woman who often reads the most amusing passages in a ponderous fashion.

As a result, W for Wasted is one of the least satisfying books of the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful