Tag Archives: Audiobook

Three classic audiobooks

I recently took up a free Kindle Unlimited trial. I wasn’t that impressed with the choice of Kindle books available; most of the recent publications seem to be self-published authors I’ve never heard of. However, it does offer free Audible downloads on audiobook versions of many classic novels, which is giving me the opportunity to read some older books I probably should have read years ago.

Here are quick reviews of the three I’ve listened to so far:

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

39 StepsThis must have been a novella as it’s only 4 hours long. It’s very well read by Robert Powell with a slight tongue-in-check tone at some of the old-fashioned English. The pace of the book in the beginning is great, it trails off a little towards the end once the main character teams up with the authorities rather than being a man on the run. It’s enjoyable and an interesting intro to origins of this genre of thriller.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Jekyll and HydeAnother novella, only 3 hours long, read by actor Martin Jarvis. This is a really peculiar story, narrated by lawyer John Utterson relating the story of Jekyll and Hyde with a strange sense of detachment. It loses some of the sense of urgency and excitement by being described after the fact by a third party. It’s still interesting and quirky but probably my least favourite of the three audiobooks I’ve tried.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaOften when you read classics they feel cliched, no matter how original they were when they were first written, because they been referenced so often in modern fiction. Dracula does not suffer from this problem it was sublime, I loved it. It was probably helped by the fantastic audio version which is read by a full cast including Alan Cumming and Tim Curry. It is brilliant, I cannot recommend it highly enough! I loved the cast of characters in this novel teaming together to defeat the evil Count Dracula (who surprising barely features in the book), they have fantastic relationships with each other. The story is tense and exciting and really well-paced.

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Review of ‘The Silkworm’ by Robert Galbraith

The SilkwormI listened to the audiobook version of this book, which is very well read by Robert Glenister.

This book is very similar to Galbraith/Rowling’s first book in the series. There is a mysterious death, the police blunder around and Comoran Strike steps in to solve the case and get the police off the hook, with the occasional spot of help from his assistant, Robin.

These are very standard, quite readable crime thrillers. I think Galbraith/Rowling is proficient at writing in this genre, but not exceptional. When reading both I have guessed the killer, in both I think the important clues are quite glaring and the red herrings are easy to dismiss. However, it’s probably more satisfying to have a crime novel with enough clues to guess the villain rather than one where the the final reveal comes totally out of the blue.

Spoiler alert! In this book as soon as Strike ponders something along the lines of ‘How would you dispose of a human’s intestines’, I said out loud ‘Feed them to my dog’ and from that moment I knew who had done it. There was only one character with a dog and that dog had been shown being sick at the beginning of the book. Obvious really.

For me the crime elements of Galbraith/Rowling’s plots work better than the secondary storylines of Strike and Robin’s personal life. Particularly the plotline about Strike’s ex Charlotte. She’s not an interesting character and is not in the slightest bit fully-rounded, whenever she is mentioned my eyes glaze over, I hope Galbraith/Rowling leaves her out of the next book. Robin’s boyfriend Matthew is also pretty repetitive and dull. I’m still trying to figure out whether Galbraith/Rowling is paving the way for Robin and Strike to get together in the future, they don’t seem like they would be very well suited.

Also, I don’t believe Strike as a 35 year old, he sounds so much older. I’m 35 and don’t feel any empathy with his voice. If Galbriath/Rowling didn’t tell us his age I would assume he was in his fifties.

I expect I will continue to read this series, but I won’t be running out to buy the books on their release date as I did with the Harry Potter series, these books aren’t nearly as compelling, but they are a pleasant enough was to pass some time.

Review of ‘Juliet, Naked’ by Nick Hornby

Juliet NakedI listened to the audiobook version of this which is read by three narrators, one for each of the main characters. It’s very well read except for the occasional dodgy regional accent – Bill Irwin the American narrator really can’t do a northern English accent!

Nick Hornby is and incredibly readable author. I never fail to enjoy his books. He has an amazing ability to get right to the heart of human nature. His observations are spot-on and insightful, especially when it comes to feckless men and people who are obsessed by music. I really like how realistic and flawed his characters and their situations are.

Juliet, Naked is the story of Annie and Duncan, a boring couple who have been living a mundane life together for fifteen years. Duncan has an unhealthy obsession with obscure 80’s musician Tucker Crowe, which ends up driving their relationship apart. I was really glad when Annie got shot of Duncan, he is an idiot.

I found this book really came alive with the introduction of a chapter told from Tucker’s point of view. It was unexpected and rounded out the novel, which I felt would have been boring if we had just stuck with Annie and Duncan’s perspective. Tucker’s 6 year old son Jackson is a fantastic character, he is hilarious.

I love how this book is able to demonstrate the ordinariness of famous people compared with the expectations and speculation of their fans.

Juliet, Naked is not Hornby’s best book but it’s easy to read and enjoyable and I’m sure his fans would like it.