Audible audiobook review roundup Jan 2017

Here’s a few short reviews of the audiobooks I’ve been listening to over recent weeks. Check them all out on Audible!

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Read by Simon Vance although his name isnt listed first in the credits for some reason

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I enjoyed this but, let’s be honest – only the first book in this series is truly a classic. Herbert’s writing style is good and the narration is absolutely fantastic but the story here is only good rather than great. Paul Atreides is still here and so are many of the other characters we bonded with in Dune, but this is a shorter book.
Still highly recommended, but maybe only worth 4 stars rather than the 5 Dune deserved.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Read by Simon Vance

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Well, you know I MUST have enjoyed Dune Messiah because I straight away moved onto this, the next in the series! Paul is gone (or is he…?) and we follow his children in this book. There’s not a lot of action but the politics and psychology of the tale are really well done and this is a worthy successor to Dune Messiah.

It’s still not as good as Dune though!

Another 4/5.

HP Lovecraft The complete omnibus vol 2 

Read by Finn J.D. John

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I bought this because the previous audio collections of Lovecraft I’d bought didn’t include certain stories for some reason. At the Mountains of Madness for example, which I really wanted to hear (bear in mind I’ve read all Lovecraft’s stories multiple times over the years).

The narrator here initially struck me as really good, to the extent I thought about buying volume 1 too. But for some reason, after a few hours listening, I’m not really drawn into this collection. It’s not the stories that are at fault because The Shadow Over Innsmouth and my favourite Lovecraft tale ever, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, are included. These are really excellent stories but…I don’t know what it is. The narrator has a great voice, he acts out the parts very well and it should be great but, for some reason I seem to switch off completely when listening to him and before I know it I’ve missed half the story and need to replay it!

The previous Lovecraft collection I listened to used a variety of narrators and, at the time, I didn’t understand what the point was but now I think it may have been a good way to hold the listener’s interest.*(See my review of that collection at the foot of the page!)

I really don’t know how to rate this – the tales are fantastic, the narrator certainly seems good but I’m bored listening to it and it’s NOT spooky even when I listen to it on my own, in the dark, out in the middle of nowhere around Glasgow when I’m at work!

Weird tales indeed….

Mort by Terry Pratchett

Read by Nigel Planer

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I love Planer’s reading of Pratchett’s stories so much, he is perfect for them and this is no exception. As usual, the sound quality is horrendous, but other than that this is a good tale that will make you laugh (does anybody remember laughter? – I hope you read that in a high-pitched rock god’s voice). Death himself working as a cook in a greasy-spoon cafe is great as is the titular hero wondering WTF is going on as he slowly morphs into the grim reaper. Hugely imaginative as always with Sir P!

4/5

The Cross and the Curse by Matthew Harffy

Read by Barnaby Edwards

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Longtime friends and followers of mine might know that I endorsed Harffy’s debut novel, The Serpent Sword. That was a self-published affair which garnered enough interest and sales that Matthew was taken on by a major publisher, Aria, and this is the resultant sequel.

The tale is quite straightforward with love, action and beautifully written prose aplenty and, combined with a really good narrator, makes for a great listen. It gets especially nasty (in a good way!) about two-thirds in and things really start to come together there.

I felt a little as if this was a bridge between the first book and the next, setting things up for what’s to come for the rest of the series. That’s no bad thing and there is enough to keep your interest up throughout although I did miss a bit of humour. The events are dark and gritty and the characters know it – but it would have been nice to have a bit of childish banter between the men just to lighten things. As it is, the word I kept thinking of as I listened was “earnest”. The dialogue is earnest, the characters are earnest and the prose is too. I was wishing someone would fart or stand in a dog turd but sadly there’s no slapstick silliness here!

This series has been compared to Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred stories (by me, actually, in that previously-mentioned endorsement!) but, although settings and time period are similar, the writing is completely different in The Cross and the Curse. Fans of one author will enjoy the other I’m sure, as both are absolutely brilliant.

5/5

Finally,

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Read by Luke Daniels

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The narrator here sounds so much like the guy that did VH1’s “Behind the Music” that I kept expecting him to say something like “Dave Mustaine’s drug use spiralled out of control and left Megadeth in a state of limbo. When we return…!”

But he never did and, Googling the guy it seems he’s got nothing to do with “Behind the Music”. It was quite off-putting for a while but I got into it soon enough and I started really enjoying the narration. His voices are really good, nailing the 60’s hippy stoner in particular, and it leads to a great listening experience although it’s quite short.

The story is Dick’s usual mindf**k that leaves you scratching your head wondering if reality is as real as we’re led to believe, with twists and turns all over the place. Some of which don’t make much sense but you can forgive that because it’s such an interesting book.

It’s a slow burner but stick with it because by the end of it you won’t want it to stop! I still want to know what happened next!

5/5
Next time I’ll be listening to Bernard Cornwell‘s The Flame Bearer and the final two books in the Dune series so keep it here…Also, don’t forget the final book in my Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf, is now available from Audible, read by Nick Ellsworth as usual. Save a credit for it, it’s an incredible listen!

 

 

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*The Necronomicon by HP Lovecraft

Read by various. This review is one I posted originally on Audible.co.uk

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“Eldtrich and unspoken horror…no, wait!”

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I’ve loved it! I assume you already know Lovecraft if you’re looking at this so I’ll review it with that in mind.
The stories are well read and, although it’s not quite as creepy as reading them yourself, it’s still great and…come on, you get about 65 stories here, for ONE CREDIT?
That has to be (at the mountains of) madness!

What did you like best about this story?

I sometimes work at night and driving around the dark, wintry streets of Glasgow, often out in the sticks, with this audiobook playing in the background….brilliant!

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?

Some of the narrators are great, some not so much.

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

I locked the doors in my car when I was listening in the dark….who knows what lurking horror might have crept up on me?
Lovecraft is never terrifying or shocking in a 21st century way, but his writing is always creepy and sticks in your mind. This collection does a fine job of bringing that crawling chaos to life.

Any additional comments?

Considering I got this for one monthly credit I honestly can’t complain. There’s 60-odd stories, all professionally read and that is just great value for money. I’ve read the stories dozens of times myself over the years and yet still found myself wanting to listen more to this to see what happened next. And I’ve only listened to the first few stories so far! Can’t wait until I hear the likes of “Shadow Over Innsmouth” or “The Call of Ktulu” (oops, sorry, I’ve got Metallica on just now, got mixed up for a sec!).
Needless to say, if the quality drops I’ll edit my review but for now I just wanted to post my thoughts as there’s not a lot for other listeners to go on.
Trust me – if you’re a fan of HPL give this a go.

5/5

Some audiobook reviews – Terry Pratchett, Bernard Cornwell, Graham Hancock, Dr Penny Sartori, and Donnie Eichar

I listen to quite a lot of audiobooks nowadays, through the Audible app on my phone or tablet. I got into it when I had to proof-listen my own audio versions (read, of course, by the fantastic Nick Ellsworth) and it’s a great way to enjoy books you might not have time to physically read.

Here’s some short reviews of my most recent listens. Ben Kane’s Eagles At War is next up…

If you’ve read (or listened to) any of these let me know what you thought of them in the comments section, or email me via the CONTACT page!

Bernard Cornwell Warriors of the Storm narrated by Matt Bates

Graham HancockMagicians of the Gods narrated by Graham Hancock

Donnie EicharDead Mountain narrated by Donnie Eichar

Dr Penny SartoriThe Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences narrated by Penny Sartori

Terry PratchettThe Colour Of Magic narrated by Nigel Planer

Dead Mountain

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I’d been quite interested in this whole myth, legend, whatever you want to call it, for a while now. For those
that don’t know, basically a group of pretty experienced and competent hikers went out climbing near Siberia
and didn’t return. They were found in various states of undress, all dead, having left their tent in a hurry.
But why?
Well, this book aims to explain it.
The narrator is quite good, although his voice can be a bit droning and ultimately it’s a short book. That
said, the main revelation, the reason why we’re listening to this, could fit in half an hour so the other 6
hours is basically the author’s tale of his journey retracing the hikers’ steps.
And it’s an interesting one, well told, really taking you along on the snowy ride with him.
His theory for what happened to the group makes perfect sense to me – better than UFO’s or Yetis or KGB agents
in my opinion. When you put yourself in their position and listen to what he thinks happened it really does
seem like he’s figured it out.

I managed to listen to this whole thing in one day, so that tells you two things: 1) it’s short and 2) it’s
compelling listening.

Recommended!

Warriors of the Storm 

warriors of the storm audiobook

I personally believe this series has gone on for too long. It should have been tied up, with Uhtred retaking
Bebbanburg at least four books ago.
However, Cornwell is such a great writer that, although I feel the story overall isn’t as powerful as it could
have been in a shorter series, I still read or listen (as here) to each new book as soon as they come out!
The previous novel (Pagan Lord if I recall correctly) I felt was a bit meandering, and this one starts much
the same, with not a lot happening – certainly no blood or thunder – for a while, and I was starting to worry.
But it soon picks up and Uhtred heads off to Ireland and returns again, killing and mutilating lots of enemies
and even setting up a new king along the way.
The supporting characters, like his daughter and her husband, are great – just as blood-thirsty as Uhtred
himself, yet, like him, still likable!

It’s good stuff and the end suggests Bebbanburg may, finally, be the focus next time around.
I hope so.
The narrator isn’t as good as the guy that did Cornwell’s King Arthur series. I don’t know how old this fellow
is, but his VOICE makes him sound like he’s in his early-mid twenties. Since this story is told from Uhtred’s
point of view, and Uhtred is an older man, the whole thing just seems off. To his credit though, he reads well
and has a good range of accents, even if some of them don’t quite come off every time!

Overall, if you have enjoyed this series so far, you will like this one just as much, possibly even more than
some of them.
Bernard Cornwell really is a master of his trade!

Magicians of the Gods 

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I, of course, read Hancock’s earlier book, Fingerprints of the Gods, years ago and it led me onto his other
work and more by the likes of Robert Bauval, Graham Phillips, Christopher Dunn etc so I was interested to read
this one. Since I don’t have much time to read books these days I decided to try the audio version.
I’m glad I did, BUT, it must be said, audio for a book like this has its downside.
First of all, Graham has an entertaining, engaging voice. Yes, he has a slight accent, but who doesn’t? It
never once annoyed me and, overall, he reads excellently, with a passion and knowledge of the writing that
only the author could bring.
However, with a book like this I really like to a) see photos of the things being described and b) research
some of the places and themes that are covered.
With a physical book both of these are not a problem, but with audio there are no pictures and on more than
one occasion I had no idea how to research something Graham was talking about. These places are in foreign
lands, so the spelling isn’t always obvious and there’s stuff I’d like to have found out more about but I’ve
forgotten what they were now since listening to this while driving around at work made it impossible to take
notes!
Still, I got the overall gist of what the book was about and much of it was utterly captivating (that seed
bank hidden somewhere underground really captured my attention – I just wish I knew how to spell its name!).
In terms of value for money, this is a really long book so well worth your monthly credit.

These books sell millions, yet they’re still viewed by the mainstream as somehow crackpot, which probably puts
many people off them.

If you find yourself even remotely interested in the ideas in the book’s synopsis I recommend you give this a
listen. Maybe try and borrow a copy of the hardback from your local library though, so you can dig deeper
yourself!

Recommended.

The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences

dr penny sartori audiobook

I had really high hopes for this when I started listening to it and I should stress I did enjoy listening to
it. But I felt there wasn’t enough science in it – it’s mostly anecdotal evidence and a lot of it is from
people who claim to be “psychic”.
I’d have liked to hear some hard facts about what the doctor’s research found but from what I can gather her
experiments didn’t really prove anything. The symbols she set up high so anyone in her ward experiencing an
NDE could see them were never seen. So you can take that as evidence of the NDE not being as real as its
claimed, can’t you…?
I expected to be convinced by this book but ultimately it just raised a lot of unanswered questions. If it’s a
REAL thing, why do cultural expectations play any part?
It IS worth a listen, and the narrator is quite good just don’t expect to embrace death after listening to it!

The Colour of Magic

terry pratchett audiobook review

Nigel Planer’s reading here is perfect, it literally had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions. His Hrun
(or whatever he’s called) is so funny I looked forward to that character appearing every time. Pratchett
really got off to an amazing start with this book, his writing really shines. I’ve read the paperback before,
of course, at least twice since I first discovered it back when I was a lad and this version brings it all to
life.
The one issue is the horrendous sound quality. I can only assume this was recorded back when the book first
came out, in the 80’s, and the production team used TDK D90’s to capture Planer’s voice. When transferring the
audio to digital for this version they must have played back that old cassette, recorded it on a potato and
uploaded it to Audible. It is really that bad.

HOWEVER, it does NOT ruin the overall experience that much and I still really recommend you buy this. It’s a
fantastic piece of escapism and I couldn’t wait to download the Light Fantastic and now, Sourcery, to enjoy
Rincewind’s adventures for as long as possible.
RIP Terry Pratchett, a true literary master.

 

I hope you give some of these books a try, and if you haven’t already dipped your toes in the world of audio, the Audible app is FREE and you also get to choose one (might even be two now) FREE audiobooks as a trial so there’s no reason not to give it a go.

All of my own books are also available from Audible and (I believe) on iTunes. If you’d like to know more about them please comment below or use the CONTACT button!

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