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Miriam

Tuggeranong DC, Australia
  • 11
  • reviews
  • 22
  • helpful votes
  • 231
  • ratings
  • The Ghosts of Altona

  • By: Craig Russell
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

Jan Fabel is a haunted man. Head of the Polizei Hamburg's Murder Commission, Fabel has dealt with the dead for nearly two decades, but when a routine enquiry becomes a life-threatening - and life-changing - experience, he finds himself on much closer terms with death than ever before. Two years later Fabel's first case at the Murder Commission comes back to haunt him: Monika Krone's body is found at last, 15 years after she went missing.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing instalment in the Fabel series

  • By Miriam on 09-21-15

Disappointing instalment in the Fabel series

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

Reviewed: 09-21-15

The narration of this book contained some very strange pronunciations, stumbles and slips: and I don't believe it was an issue of translation or adaptation. The odd one is tolerable, but there were enough here for it to become annoying. A disappointing lack of attention to the narration - whether in editing or direction - of this product.

In addition, it saddens me to say that this isn't the strongest instalment of the Fabel series. I was surprised at how unsubtle the ending was. While the Fabel books are quite dark, they usually have a level of sophistication and innovation that seemed to be missing from this particular story. It will still be a 'must read' for a Fabel completist, but I wouldn't readily recommend it to a casual reader.

  • The Drought

  • By: J. G. Ballard
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Coote
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Water. Man’s most precious commodity is a luxury of the past. Radioactive waste from years of industrial dumping has caused the sea to form a protective skin strong enough to devastate the Earth it once sustained. And while the remorseless sun beats down on the dying land, civilisation itself begins to crack. Violence erupts and insanity reigns as the remnants of mankind struggle for survival in a worldwide desert of despair.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • For completists only

  • By Miriam on 10-02-14

For completists only

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

Reviewed: 10-02-14

Would you try another book from J. G. Ballard and/or Jonathan Coote?

I am definitely a fan of JG Ballard, but this, the second of the dystopian 'World' series (the first being 'The Drowned World' and the third being 'The Crystal World'), is not a favourite of mine. I would only recommend it to someone familiar with his work. There is an uncharacteristic awkwardness to his writing in 'The Drought'.

Jonathan Coote was a new narrator to me. I really enjoyed his narration: there are some extreme characters in 'The Drought' and he brought them to life with subtlety. I would definitely try another audiobook narrated by Jonathan Coote.

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

The most interesting aspect of this story for me is the 'missing' part of the text: the decade that passes between the start and end of the book. I can't help feeling that this would have been the more interesting phase to explore.

The least interesting aspect of this story for me is the Lomax/Miranda storyline.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Coote – was your favorite?

I can't really say that I have a 'favourite' - most of the characters in this book are (deliberately) repugnant, or (deliberate) ciphers, their motives unimpenetrable.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No - it is (deliberately) not engaging, and I cannot imagine it working as a film.

Any additional comments?

The Oedipal and Freudian overtones are pretty heavy-handed in this text.

  • The Drowned World

  • By: J. G. Ballard
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 5 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3

When London is lost beneath the rising tides, unconscious desires rush to the surface in this apocalyptic tale from the author of Crash and Cocaine Nights. Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows up the walls of the Ritz and primeval reptiles are sighted, swimming through the newly-formed lagoons.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • In dreams we meet again

  • By Miriam on 09-18-14

In dreams we meet again

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

Reviewed: 09-18-14

'The Drowned World' was the first JG Ballard book I ever read, and I consider it the most fascinating, and engaging, of the initial quartet concerned with climatic catastrophes ('The Wind from Nowhere'; 'The Drowned World'; 'The Crystal World'; 'The Burning World/The Drought'). Ballard regarded it as his 'first' novel (rather cruelly condemning 'The Wind from Nowhere', which isn't really so bad).

Given that 'The Drowned World' is Ballard's 'first', or at least very early, work, it's supremely confident, yet economical, writing. The style seems more concise, and the plot more precise, than the other works in the quartet. At the same time, the subtext/s are packed in tightly: a lot of commentators will point to the Freudian and Jungian undertones, the apparent parallels with Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' (explicitly denied by Ballard), Ballard's incorporation of Surrealist techniques and themes (perhaps novel here, but not a surprise to anyone familiar with his later works - the resonances between this and 'The Atrocity Exhibition' are fascinating in retrospect), and allusions to Shakespeare and classical mythology. I have no doubt that 'The Drowned World' can be analysed on these (and probably other) levels if you wish. Much of of the delight of the book is in Ballard's lavish descriptions of the bizarre externalities and it is easy for a reader to 'lose themselves' in the evocative landscapes. However, for me, 'The Drowned World' (much like 'The Crystal World') is all about psychology, not geography. What Ballard is really inviting you to consider is not the unusual world he describes, but how people react to, and behave in, such extremes.

Many readers feel that Ballard's characters (especially the lone female character of Beatrice in 'The Drowned World') are not sufficiently well-drawn to connect with, and it is therefore impossible to be interested in their their motivations and their decisions. I doubt this is an oversight, rather a very deliberate technique: he's not inviting you to empathise, rather to analyse. Ballard acknowledges explicitly that even the characters rarely connect with one another, that "their only true meeting ground would be in their dreams".

Julian Elfer's narration of this text is very good - a couple of odd pronunciations here and there, but the pace and tone is excellent.

As Ballard never disowned 'The Drowned World', I suggest it's a good starting point for anyone wanting to 'try' Ballard. My only negative comment would be that, in audiobook form, I found the last third or so of the book more chaotic than I remembered from my last reading (in written form). For me, Ballard excelled in the short-story/novella format - his books, such as this one, can feel like they pack too much in and/or 'run out of steam' before the finish ... but as notions of time always play such an important element in his writing, I'm comfortable admitting that perhaps this is a reader failing, not a writer fault.

  • The Atrocity Exhibition

  • By: J. G. Ballard
  • Narrated by: William Gaminara
  • Length: 5 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 15

A prophetic and experimental masterpiece by J. G. Ballard, the acclaimed author of ‘Crash’ and ‘Super-Cannes’. This edition features explanatory notes from the author. The irrational, all-pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force. The central character’s dreams are haunted by images of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, dead astronauts and car-crash victims as he traverses the screaming wastes of nervous breakdown.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Ballard's extreme experiment - bizarre & brilliant

  • By Miriam on 08-30-14

Ballard's extreme experiment - bizarre & brilliant

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

Reviewed: 08-30-14

I had no idea how this would work as an audiobook, as it has had several incarnations in print, including annotated and heavily illustrated editions, but I thought it worked remarkably well. This is apparently the 'annotated' version - the author's commentary is incorporated in the form of endnotes at the end of each 'chapter' (in my opinion, a much better way to deal with annotations than trying to work them into the narrative at the point at which they appear in the written text). However, this audio version only has two of the four 'appendices' or 'found texts' that were added to the book in later years.

I was critical of William Gaminara's narration of Ballard's 'Hello America', but I thought his narration of this intentionally disorienting and disjointed text, which is more collage than narrative, was excellent. With one very minor exception, any accents are subtle and his narration is clear and well paced, which assists with the focus that is needed to follow this text.

If you are coming to this book for the first time, understand that this is a deliberately disturbing text. It's a surrealist exercise, challenging in form and in substance: it explores themes that are perverse, pornographic, violent and confronting. It is non-linear, intentionally repetitive and, to a certain extent, has dated (with its particular references to events and personalities of the decade in which it was written, not all of whom may be familiar). However, one of its most powerful aspects is its critique of violence and the media spectacle, a theme that remains (sadly) relevant.

I personally found it extremely difficult to get into the first 'chapter' (I can't remember if I had the same issue reading the hard copy text). If you have similar difficulties, remember that each 'chapter' was originally published as a stand-alone story, and it is possible to read the chapters in an alternative order. Once you are acclimatized to the flow of the writing, it may be easier to return to those chapters/those stories that initially seem less accessible.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Crystal World

  • By: J. G. Ballard
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 17

Through a 'leaking' of time, the West African jungle starts to crystallize. Trees are metamorphosed into enormous jewels. Crocodiles encased in second glittering skins lurch down the river. Pythons with huge blind gemstone eyes rear in heraldic poses. Fearing this transformation as a herald of the apocalypse, most flee the area in terror, afraid to face a catastrophe they cannot understand. But some, dazzled and strangely entranced, remain to drift through this dreamworld forest.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Couldn't finish

  • By Aa-bomb on 04-14-15

Perfect narration for Ballard's descriptive prose

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

Reviewed: 08-27-14

I feel I must announce my bias upfront: I am a fan of both Ballard as a writer, and Barrett as a narrator. Even with that bias, I truly felt that this particular audiobook was a 'perfect marriage' - a five-star narration that enhances a vivid, evocative text. I would definitely recommend this audiobook as an introduction to early Ballard.

A lot of readers - even Ballard fans - don't like this book: some common criticisms are that the characters are unbearable and their motivations ambiguous, the descriptions of landscapes interminable, the symbolism heavy-handed and the ending, in particular, irreconcilable. I would never dare suggest Ballard as 'light-reading', but I nevertheless think that 'The Crystal World' is one of his books that can be read 'simply', as a pure narrative (without interposed analysis). If you are going to approach it in that way, perhaps it is helpful to have in mind Colin Greenland's thesis that it's all about acceptance and acclimatization: seen in this light, the characters' choices may be more relatable.

I do find it interesting that one of the common complaints about 'The Crystal World' is the focus on describing the environment in which the characters find themselves. In this regard, 'The Crystal World' reminds me somewhat of Lem's 'Solaris' - the awesome beauty is almost a distraction from the destructive (and/or transformational) nature of the environment. Jason Heller's take on Ballard as "[u]nimaginable horror meted out in the most disciplined packages" is the one that resonates the most with me. I don't think that there is an extraneous word in 'The Crystal World', and Barrett's subtle narration is the perfect complement.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Acid Dreams

  • The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond
  • By: Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 292
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265

Few events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This audiobook for the first time tells the full and astounding story - part of it hidden till now in secret Government files - of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influence it has on our time. And what a story it is, beginning with LSD’s discovery in 1943 as the most potent drug known to science.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable but unstructured

  • By Miriam on 08-02-14

Enjoyable but unstructured

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

Reviewed: 08-02-14

I really enjoyed this book - so much so that I want listen to it again, and soon. Having said that, it didn't deliver what I expected, especially given that I understand it's primarily regarded as a textbook. I thought it would focus on the development and dissemination of LSD, and it certainly started that way, but somewhere after the first third of the book, it became more and more an account of some key events of the late 60s and early 70s and a (selective) look at some of the personalities of that time. (I know it describes itself as a 'social history', but I still expected there to be a greater focus on the drug itself.) I liked the narrative turn, but unfortunately it felt pretty unstructured from this point: another reviewer described it as 'kaleidoscopic' - it certainly could be dis-orienting at times, as the authors focussed on one social movement or one personality, then circled back (in time) to follow another, rather than showing how these events and individuals interacted or influenced one another. I also hoped for more of a discussion about the development of the drug itself as manufacturing expanded, and the experience of users: it is clear that there is a wealth of evidence from the (then-legal) use of the drug in therapy, in government and defence contexts, and in personal journals, but the authors barely touch on this area.

Also, was it my imagination, or did the narrator change suddenly, towards the end (and then the original narrator returned)?! The narrator/s were good. The treatment of footnotes was a little odd: the footnotes seemed to be read at exactly the point they appeared in the original text, resulting in some strange diversions in already complex narratives! It would have been better to have treated them as endnotes, or at least to finish the sentence to which they related before reading the footnote in!

These negatives aside, if you are prepared to approach this book as more of a historical (though not linear) narrative of the 1960s and early 70s, albeit with a selective focus, constructed around the thread of LSD - rather than a concentrated consideration of the drug itself - then I am sure you will find plenty to keep your interest.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Hello America

  • By: J. G. Ballard
  • Narrated by: William Gaminara
  • Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 3

Following the energy crisis of the late 20th century America has been abandoned. Now, a century later, a small group of European explorers returns to the deserted continent. But America is unrecognisable - the Bering Strait has been dammed and the whole continent has become a desert, populated by isolated natives and the bizarre remnants of a disintegrated culture. The expedition sets off from Manhattan on a cross-continent journey, through Holiday Inns and abandoned theme parks.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Eccentric accents galore!

  • By Miriam on 08-02-14

Eccentric accents galore!

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

Reviewed: 08-02-14

On one hand, I am just SO excited to finally have more of Ballard's work than 'Crash' and the odd short story on Audible that I'm not even going to critique the story, except to say that the Amazon reviews generally raise valid points. I accept that this is probably not one of Ballard's stronger stories, but I think the social commentary is still interesting, and remarkably relevant - when one remembers this was first published in 1981 - especially the ecological aspects.

I enjoyed William Gaminara as a narrator, as I expected I would, but some of the accents made me cringe! This is not a criticism of Gaminara; I expect this was a directorial decision, and it was executed fine, but the accents unfortunately really detracted from the narration for me.

Overall, probably not the best choice for your first foray into Ballard on Audible: I see 'The Crystal World' is 'coming soon' (August 2014) and will be read by Sean Barrett - probably a better introduction to Ballard than 'Hello America'. For those already familiar with Ballard or with this story, I suppose it depends on whether you are a completist or not - if you didn't like this story on first reading, or prefer 1960s/70s Ballard, then this interpretation will probably not endear you to this tale.

  • Soul Murder

  • By: Daniel Blake
  • Narrated by: William Hope
  • Length: 15 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

Pittsburgh homicide detective, Franco Patrese, is about to be put to the test by a series of shocking murders… The charred body of a renowned brain surgeon is found in one of the city's luxury apartment blocks. Then a Catholic bishop is set alight in his Cathedral. Patrese's investigation uncovers high-class prostitution, medical scams and religious obsession, but it will take a terrible betrayal to uncover the truth.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable, with weaknesses; good narration

  • By Miriam on 02-12-14

Enjoyable, with weaknesses; good narration

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

Reviewed: 02-12-14

The narration was excellent, as could be expected from William Hope. The story was perfectly enjoyable, but nothing spectacular. In particular, I felt the conclusion was rather unsubtly signalled from quite early in the story - perhaps this was intentional (ie breadcrumbs for the reader) but it's a approach that may lead to reader frustration with the protagonists' lack of awareness. This aside, the most annoying element for me was the reliance on long soliloquies to impart information: they were glaringly unnatural in the context in which they occurred - the first might have gotten a pass, but the repeated use of this technique was jarring in the latter half of the book. Again, the story was delivered excellently by the narrator, but the flaws in writing or story editing detracted from the experience. I personally will try other Daniel Blake novels, and I can suggest this as a pleasant diversion, but nothing special.

  • The Eyes of the Sphinx

  • The Newest Evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Egypt
  • By: Erich von Daniken
  • Narrated by: Danny Campbell
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 213
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 179
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 184

In this follow-up to Erich von Däniken's worldwide best seller Chariots of the Gods, the author reveals startling new evidence that could prove his theory that ancient Earth had contact with aliens. Von Däniken claims that an alien race helped to create the pyramids of Egypt, a claim he based upon the ruins themselves.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Ok

  • By Jedperks on 03-23-16

Disappointing narration

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

Reviewed: 10-15-11

This is a favourite of mine amongst Von Daniken's writings, but I was disappointed by the quality of the editing/production - in particular, persistent mispronunciations by the narrator.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The 7th Victim

  • Karen Vail Novel, Book 1
  • By: Alan Jacobson
  • Narrated by: Lila Wellesley
  • Length: 12 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 72

The Dead Eyes killer lurks in the backyard of the FBI's famed Behavioral Analysis Unit. His brutal murders, unlike any others previously encountered, confound the local task force, despite the gifted skills of Special Agent Karen Vail, the first female ever promoted to the profiling unit. But along with her keen insight, Vail brings considerable personal and professional baggage--both of which threaten to derail the investigation, destroy her storied career and get her killed.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Dissapointing

  • By kws on 09-27-11

Disappointed by the conclusion

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-09-11

I really enjoyed this audiobook ... until the ending. While it certainly was an intriguing resolution, it seemed 'rushed' (compared with the time devoted to other aspects of the plot), and, in my opinion, let down what was, overall, an interesting novel with engaging characters and pleasant narration by Lila Wellesley.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful