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  • The Buried Giant

  • A Novel
  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: David Horovitch
  • Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,908
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,745
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,749

"You've long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it's time now to think on it anew. There's a journey we must go on, and no more delay..." The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The beauty of the reveal

  • By Pete on 03-17-15

Haunting, unresolved, strange.

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

Reviewed: 04-04-18

It's hard to know how to review this book. Let's start with the reader. Horovitch does a great job with voices for the characters. It's ridiculous to try and argue that a reader doesn't influence the way we perceive a persona, and here Horovitch gives Axl and Beatrice very similar voices... which is interesting. Sir Gawain's voice is pompous but reveals doubt and courage simultaneously.

The plot of this story, if it can be called that, is outlandish/familiar. Many things are unresolved, unfinished, untold. It's hard to think Ishiguro is being lazy by relying on the "mist" that obscures memory, but it's also hard to ignore inconsistencies in that memory: some things are recalled easily; others lost forever. (I kept being reminded of the Vonnegut story "Harrison Bergeron" in which a disruptive radio device is implanted in a man's ear to keep him from thinking too far ahead of others in an "equal" society.) Is this story a warning? A re-telling of jumbled myth? A sad, reflective celebration of what's here now, in the "mono no aware" tradition?

Agh, so much complexity. Why do I feel like I need to pronounce it "good" or "bad?" All I can say is it will stick with me for some time.

  • The Way We Live Now

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 740
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 542
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 539

In this world of bribes, vendettas, and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'. But as vile as he is, he is considered one of Trollope's greatest creations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Long, but well worth it.

  • By Nardia on 03-03-10

Why do I recognize all these people?

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

Reviewed: 04-04-18

This is one of the greats. I don't know how Trollope does it, but once again I find myself laughing, gritting my teeth, wanting to shake one character and poison another, and generally having my entire week disrupted. He manages to frame his book around a driving plot while letting character development (or revelation in some cases) take center stage.

Trollope's also a man of his time, so expect Victorian approaches to gender and race, and a sometimes silly dependence on the myth of physiognomy (ironic if you've looked at any pictures of Trollope himself). But honestly, if you can't handle that, you're stuck only reading books from whatever decade you're in at the moment. And where would we be without these beautiful old books?

Timothy West could read me lines of idiotic celebrity tweets and I'd listen. I adore his voice, his characterizations, and the humor and sympathy he, like Trollope, shows for almost all the characters.

  • The Vicar of Bullhampton

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Peter Newcombe Joyce
  • Length: 22 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45

This comprehensive novel consists of three subplots which interlink to form the whole and supply a trio of targets at which Trollope aims his proselytising pen. The first treats on the courtship of a woman by a man whom she does not love and with whom she is not compatible. Mary Lowther will not accept such a marriage of dishonesty. The second deals with the plight of a young woman who has fallen prey to the wiles of an evil seducer and subsequently adopts a life of prostitution.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Trollope discovery

  • By R. Hughes on 04-30-17

Delightful surprise

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

Reviewed: 04-04-18

A lovely portrait of a small Wiltshire village in which we meet members of the landed gentry, clergy, and tradesmen of complex character. As always, Trollop refuses to stick to stereotype: the clergyman is an excellent man but does have a proud and stubborn streak, the salt-of-the-earth miller is honest but also proud and stubborn, not to mention an "old pagan" (the last description is something Trollope won't condemn or exalt), and the "heroine" is as frustratingly believable and flawed a person as you'll meet in real life. This is what I love about Trollope. I keep thinking I know what a character will do, based on what a similar character does in another book, and I'm wrong again and again. There are so many lines I "tag" and make a note of because they're such astute observations of human life.

The reader, Mr. Joyce, does an excellent job. I was prepared to hate him because I love Timothy West's readings of Trollope above all, but Joyce nailed it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Little Stranger

  • By: Sarah Waters
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 15 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 984
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 714
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 710

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline - its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at 20 to nine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A creepy story, with atmosphere for days

  • By Lesley on 10-13-14

Flawless and unsettling

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

Reviewed: 11-28-17

This is a gorgeously written atmospheric/psychological drama the careful reader will appreciate. If you want jump scares, zombies and shocking reversals, you won't like it. But if you enjoy being gradually set a bit off-balance (think The Haunting of Hill House and Turn of the Screw) by a protagonist that might not be as reliable as he seems and lovely well-paced writing... well, here you go.

  • MaddAddam

  • A Novel
  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne, Bob Walter, Robbie Daymond
  • Length: 13 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,487
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,214
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,222

Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it's left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Fine Finish

  • By Bill S. on 01-31-14

Atwood messin' with my brain, yet again.

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

Reviewed: 11-13-17

This is a series that might just stay in your head, popping up annoyingly every time you read a news story about big pharma or Google. Each novel focuses on a different character in the story of mankind's decimation and sort-of-rebirth; this one gives us Toby, a self-deprecating, wise, and slightly steely woman with an unfair and difficult past. Another voice that emerges (in diary form, like Toby's) is that of a Craker, one of the bio-engineered humanlike (but supposedly lacking all our flaws) beings inhabiting the newly destroyed/remade world. This is a carefully innocent voice, as it must be, that contrasts nicely with Toby's more acerbic and damaged one. The stories Toby tells the Crakers are recounted here, and what comes to the foreground is the importance of ritual, tradition, and repetition. The novel has a precarious feel: will this small community survive? Will the kind of people who like to destroy and exert their power come in and ruin things yet again?

The reader's mostly okay. The male/female divide seems a little overplayed, and characters like Wren are at times annoyingly breathy/weak. Less might have been more here.

I don't know if it's a hopeful book or not, but it hasn't left me, months after reading it.

Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

  • The Power

  • By: Naomi Alderman
  • Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh
  • Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,176
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,935
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,926

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: There's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Beginning pulls you in, but end doesn't hold up

  • By Maren M. on 08-06-18

Brilliant idea, executed pretty darn well.

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

Reviewed: 10-16-17

I've been waiting for this book for some time. The premise sounded fascinating. For the most part, it didn't disappoint; certainly, it gave me a lot to think about. The multiple narrators were probably necessary (think Winds of War), but didn't allow us to really get invested in them, maybe with the exception of Roxy (but that might be partly the result of Andoh's brilliant rendering of her particular voice). Speaking of the reader, Andoh absolutely nails the multiple British and Nigerian speakers, but her American voices are as usual more caricature than character: either excessively nasal or excessively Southern, both with occasional lapses into British ("been") pronunciation and sounding just kind of simple. Her Eastern European accent is almost comically Dracula-like (yeah, I know, Romanian, but still). But if there's anyone to really root for-- and sometimes we need that --, it's Roxy.

Is it a feminist book? Maybe? I mean, yes, it makes you think about what we expect of women and men, respectively. I was watching a football game today and wondered how guys would feel if men in tiny tight outfits were dancing around athletically on the sidelines. But it's mostly a book about what happens when one gender (country/class/group) has more power than the other: some people can handle it with something like fairness, some are transformed into monsters. Alderman explores this idea with intelligence and curiosity rather than a glaring agenda (thinking of the self-justifications Mayor Cleary becomes adept at employing). Alderman also incorporates social media and conspiracy communities into the story well, acknowledging the impossibility of controlling a government or movement or religion once the ball gets rolling. But the book feels a little uneven, possibly rushed in the second half especially: the timeline of events is a little over-constructed, and the new (5000 years after the Cataclysm) society is awfully and maybe implausibly similar to our own. Maybe it should have been a trilogy or something, Oryx-and-Crake style.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Dead Lions

  • By: Mick Herron
  • Narrated by: Michael Healy
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 335
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 316
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 317

London’s Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “"low horses", as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. But now the slow horses have a chance at redemption. An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. The despicable, irascible Jackson Lamb is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Top Ten

  • By Aaron on 01-15-15

Narrator's poor (but not comparing him to Doyle)

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

Reviewed: 10-01-17

I read the first book, but thought I'd listen to the second. Just for background: I've listened to probably over 500 audiobooks. Healy's not a strong narrator for this one: the accents he uses are inconsistent, the voices are sometimes indistinguishable within one conversation, and his tone is at times completely wrong: his Spider uses a plummy self-assured voice when he's responding to grilling by his superior.

They need to record this one again.

  • The Idiot

  • By: Elif Batuman
  • Narrated by: Elif Batuman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 263
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 240
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 243

The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating point of view

  • By Amazon Customer on 04-21-17

Flawless

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

Reviewed: 05-15-17

It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a book this much for language, thought and tone alone. Thanks, Elif Batuman.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Homegoing

  • A Novel
  • By: Yaa Gyasi
  • Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,490
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,077
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,085

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the castle's women's dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • An important story but terribly disjointed

  • By Joy on 12-07-17

A little disappointing

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

Reviewed: 04-28-17

I expected more from this book. It's an important story to tell, and I see the Achebe and Haley influence, but it should be told really really well. Here, the stories are linked, but the links feel forced rather than organic. It's a young novel that has received a lot of attention, but the writing is uneven and self-conscious: relationships are resolved improbably for dramatic effect, and there's a heavy hand with the metaphors. Having said that, there are moments of really lovely imagery: I look forward to when Gyasi has more experience and trusts the reader more. Hoffman was absolutely solid.

  • The Secrets of Pain

  • A Merrily Watkins Mystery, Book 11
  • By: Phil Rickman
  • Narrated by: Emma Powell
  • Length: 16 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 76
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65

Syd Spicer served with the SAS. He has been trained to overcome pain and fear in all their forms. Well…almost all. Faced with a situation that would normally be passed discreetly to Hereford deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins, Spicer is handling it himself…and coming close to breakdown. Is there a national security aspect here, or is it something more personal? With the framework of her own world beginning to crack, Merrily Watkins is persuaded to venture into areas where neither a priest nor a woman is welcome….

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Can't imagine a Merrily story without Emma Powell

  • By Michael on 11-23-16

Can't imagine a Merrily story without Emma Powell

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

Reviewed: 11-23-16

What did you love best about The Secrets of Pain?

As always, the strong, good writing and character development. I've stopped reading books because of the clunky dialogue or unlikely behavior of characters. Rickman tends to be dead on: people are complicated, weird stuff happens and the characters are questioning their own perceptions of them in totally believable ways.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Always love me some Franny Bliss.

Have you listened to any of Emma Powell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Everything she's done in this series I've listened to. She's golden as always.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

... probably laugh, but this question's a little dumb. Why encourage people to go for the maudlin and overwrought stuff?

Any additional comments?

I have trouble listening to much supernatural/suspense stuff because of how overdone and hamfisted a lot of it is. Rickman's work puts you in a definite place (geographical and cultural), so the experience of reading isn't merely emotional or scary or educational. It's the full package.