It seems a bit redundant to give a summary to The Hobbit, but it feels wrong to start a review without havingThis review covers both audiobook-parts.
It seems a bit redundant to give a summary to The Hobbit, but it feels wrong to start a review without having first given at least a short overview over the book's content, so here we go. Bilbo Baggins is a typical hobbit ... until the wizard Gandalf enters his home and sets a series of events in motion that will make Bilbo a very special hobbit. Gandalf invited a dozen dwarfs and made them believe that Bilbo is a master-thief who could help them in their current venture. Thus Bilbo sets out with the dwarfs. During their travels to the Lonely Mountain where they intend to retrieve their treasures from the dragon Smaug, they have to face numerous dangers.
The Hobbit is a typical adventure story, intended for a younger audience (I'd say older children into the early teenage years). The heroes, i.e. Bilbo, the dwarfs and sometimes Gandalf, have to face difficulties on their way to reach their goal. The main focus lies on Bilbo. The fact that Bilbo is not, of course, a real master-thief, but only a Hobbit leads to some interesting and sometimes quite funny situations for our hero. It is always a pleasure to see how Bilbo manages to "save the day" without having to relay on strength (Hobbits usually aren't that good at fighting). Instead he manages to come up with good ideas.
During the course of the book Bilbo grows as a character and he leaves the story as another person than when we first encountered him in the beginning.
I've first encountered this story by listening to the German audiobook. That is a wonderful dramatized production, but sadly it is also abridged (it fits on four CDs, so nearly half the book has been cut). After years of break from the story I decided to listen to the unabridged audiobook edition and I'm glad I did so. Rob Inglis is a wonderful narrator. He also narrates all three books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Thus I was already acquainted with his voice and was instantly drawn into Middle Earth. While I found Inglis' voice sometimes difficult to understand when I originally listened to his interpretation of the Lord of the Rings years ago, I really enjoyed his narration this time. He has a deep, calm voice that gives the impression of being told a story while sitting before a nice, warm hearthfire. Still he manages to give every character its distinct "voice". After listening to The Hobbit I count Inglis among my favourite authors and this has made me want to re-listen to The Lord of the Rings (of course narrated by Inglis)....more
Sam has grown up in the knowledge that it is a bad idea to get a kid at 16. While his mother loves him and they have a good relationship, she also tolSam has grown up in the knowledge that it is a bad idea to get a kid at 16. While his mother loves him and they have a good relationship, she also told him countless times that getting pregnant with him at such a young age has changed her future for the worse. Sam tries to avoid his mother's "mistake". He is going to go to college. In his free time he loves skateboarding. His greatest idol is Tony Hawk; Sam has read his book and knows it by heart. He even talks to a poster of Tony Hawk and to Sam Tony Hawk even answers with quotations from his book. Sam's life is rapidly changing when he meets Alicia and they begin a romantic relationship. Soon Sam is in danger of following in his mother's footsteps, but Tony Hawk doesn't leave Sam in the lurch. He shows Sam his future.
I have to admit that I had a few problems with this book. The main problem was that I couldn't really emphasise with Sam. This might be due to the fact that I'm older than Sam and female. This doesn't make a great difference in fantasy novels, where the focus is not so much on the protagonists "inside". In this book it was making it hard to get into it. Apart from Sam I also found the rest of the characters flat and not good developed. Alicia's parents were particularly cliché, but his mother didn't have more depth, either.
The plot was also average. It was well enough but didn't offer a lot of surprises. The "future-dreams" purportedly sent by Tony Hawk were an interesting twist to the storyline but after the first one they became an old hat as well.
Nicholas Hoult as the narrator did a good job at his narration, but again nothing outstanding. At the beginning I had a few problems with getting into his narration and I somehow found him an unfit narrator for this work. Somehow I couldn't imagine his voice alongside a 16-year old protagonist. This was especially difficult because the story is told from Sam's point-of-view as first-person narrator, not from a neutral third-person narrator.
All in all I found this book average. There were no great faults, but it certainly didn't find its way to my heart and the possibility that I'll listen to the audiobook or read the book again is fairly slim. ...more
As the title suggests, this book tells the story of Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, who later becomes Désirée Bernadotte and Queen of Sweden. She waAs the title suggests, this book tells the story of Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, who later becomes Désirée Bernadotte and Queen of Sweden. She was born into a family of silk merchants and never had high aspirations. It was a coincidence that Désirée (who was then still known as Eugénie) met Joseph Bonaparte, the elder brother of Napoléon Bonaparte. She invited the brothers to her home for a dinner. Her family was indignant at Désirée's behavior. Napoléon was already a distinguished general, but the Bonapartes were a poor family of Corsican immigrants. Thus the Carlys did not want to have anything to do with them. But Napoléon's charme managed to capture the family and soon both brothers were regular guests at the Clary's. Désirée's sister Julie married Joseph and Désirée got engaged to Napoléon.
But destiny would not have Désirée as Napoléon's wife. Before the marriage Napoléon left for Paris in order to convince the political leaders of France of his plans for France. In Paris Napoléon also meets Joséphine de Beauharnais. While Désirée had a large dowry, Josephine has influence in Paris. Thus Napoléon dissolves his engagement with Désirée and marries Josephine instead. At first Désirée is devastated, but soon she finds a new love as well in General Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Jean-Baptiste even becomes one of the Marshalls of France under Emperor Napoléon.
This novel details Désirées life from her teenage years until her fifties. It is presented in the form of Désirée's diary entries. I'm always a bit ambivalent about books written as a diary, because this can go terribly wrong. However, in this case it seems to have been the perfect choice. Désirée writes entries whenever something decisive happened in her life. This gives a vivid picture of the time and Désirée's life without getting boring with too much detail (a problem quite a few historical novels have). It is easy to empthise with Désirée and I enjoyed her story very much. I can easily understand why this books belongs in the category of bestsellers.
The audiobook production lives up the the story. The narrator, Nicole Quinn, has a calm voice that is is pleasant to listen to. However, I had one problem with the audiobook: There were quite a few sudden volume changes. This is especially bad when one listens in the car or with headphones.
All in all this is a very enjoyable novel and I'll probably listen to the audiobook again some time and might even look for other books by Selinko. I'm torn between four and five stars in this case but tend towards four....more
Bound for Eternity by Sarah Wisseman and narrated by Priscilla Holbrook, published by Iambik in 2012 is one of the shorter audiobooks I have listenedBound for Eternity by Sarah Wisseman and narrated by Priscilla Holbrook, published by Iambik in 2012 is one of the shorter audiobooks I have listened to in the recent past with only 6 ½ hours. It is part of a series of mystery novels whose protagonist is Lisa Donahue. In Bound for Eternity Lisa is curator at a museum for historical/archaeological artefacts. Normal work routine is interrupted when one of the museum employee’s is found dead in the building. As things progress it becomes more and more obvious that one of the other employee’s must be the murderer. While trying to plan the next exhibit Lisa notices that some artefacts are not where they are supposed to be and even begins to suspect that some of the items might be forgeries. Are both incidents connected?
When I first began to listen to the audiobook I wasn’t too thrilled by the narrator’s performance. She seemed to read without much fervour and intonation. However, I soon discovered that the narrator’s way of reading the book suited me surprisingly well. I never had any problems in staying with the story and had a vivid picture of it in front of my mental eye. The only thing that was a bit annoying was the fact that sometimes the volume changed a bit. It was no big leap, just a small change that I noticed because it often happened within a sentence. It was not so dramatic that I needed to adjust my player’s volume level, so it’s actually no great deal, but it does take the attention away from the story for a moment.
Usually I’m a bit dubious about books by new author’s I’ve never read before, especially when I didn’t “choose” the book myself but got it for free, in this case as a review copy. So I was favorably surprised when I soon began to really like the story. The solution of the mystery is not too obvious. It’s obvious that the author has experience in archeology and the way a museum works and while this often leads to too much detail and boring explanations, it is woven into the story without disturbing it but giving it a believable and vivid background. The characters were round and I liked the protagonist and her love interest.
All in all I can really recommend this audiobook for mystery friends and everyone who has some interest in archeology. I’ll certainly read Sarah Wisseman’s other books featuring Lisa Donahue and would really enjoy to have those as audiobook as well (as far as I can see only Bound for Eternity is available as audiobook at present)....more
The Swarm is one of the few books by German authors that reached real popularity, so naturally I was curious about it. So I grabbed a copy of the audiThe Swarm is one of the few books by German authors that reached real popularity, so naturally I was curious about it. So I grabbed a copy of the audiobook from my local library. The story follows several characters that start out in different places but will eventually all arrive at the same place and focus their efforts. The reason for this is the necessity to research a threat that comes from the sea. Formerly peaceful whales are beginning to attack humans, worms are destroying the ice in the north and seafood poisons everyone coming into contact with it. At first all these occurrences seem to be random, but then the researchers discover that all seems to be directed by an intelligent being, which seems to be living in the sea. I liked the book well enough. The characters were round and easily distinctable from each other (the audiobook was dramatized, so that might have helped as well) and the plot fast-moving. However, this sort of book is generally not my thing and as such this will probably never get onto my favorite-ever shelf and I’ll probably not re-read it. Descriptions of whales attacking people and icky stuff coming out of seafood freak me out, so one time is really enough. Still, the book included some thought-provoking aspects (are humans really the only “intelligent” species on the planet?; how far can we go in maltreating nature, especially the oceans?) and I really liked this about the book. So for a book not in my comfort zone of reading it was surprisingly enjoyable....more
Years ago a man was sentenced and hanged for the murder of his mother. Now a new witness affirms the alibi of the supposed murderer. Of course this meYears ago a man was sentenced and hanged for the murder of his mother. Now a new witness affirms the alibi of the supposed murderer. Of course this means that the whole case is dug up again and the question of who really murdered the woman is raised. The main suspects are the rest of the family, especially a mixed bag of adopted children. As always she manages to lay false hints to make more or less everybody suspicious. I didn’t have a clue who might have been the real culprit until the was revealed. Again a great novel by Agatha Christie (and a great audiobook production, although, alas, only in German as I listened to it together with my mom)....more
I was in the mood for some Trekkie-books last week, so after listening the series continuation, The Red King, I also read a prequel to the original seI was in the mood for some Trekkie-books last week, so after listening the series continuation, The Red King, I also read a prequel to the original series, which narrates the story of Captain Kirk’s first mission aboard the Enterprise. His first mission consists in ferrying a cabaret group to the locations of their performances. Kirk feels that he has deserved a more exciting mission, but he doesn’t know yet that his ship will encounter a yet unknown species during their travels. In comparison the The Red King I liked The Red King better. Enterprise: The First Adventure was a nice read and it was certainly interesting to read about the beginnings, but the first chapters of the book were quite weak and sometimes the characters and events seemed just ridiculous. I liked the second half of the book better. ...more
At the moment I try to read as much book off my shelves as I can and only supplement those with books that are public domain, so I can get them free aAt the moment I try to read as much book off my shelves as I can and only supplement those with books that are public domain, so I can get them free as audiobook from LibriVox or as ebook. That made The Secret Agent the obvious choice for me when deciding which group read to read. They even had an audiobook of it at LibriVox. When I downloaded that I noticed that this was the first audiobook produced by LibriVox. One also notices this by listening, because there are still some stumbles of the narrators that would have been edited out in a newer production. Still, the overall quality of the production was quite good, considering that it was the first audiobook at LibriVox. Content-wise I found The Secret Agent one of those average books that I like well enough but where I don't feel the urge to re-read it over and over again....more
Michael Kohlhaas is a classic in German literature. I found the book by accident and really enjoyed it. Michael Kohlhaas tells the story of a horse-deaMichael Kohlhaas is a classic in German literature. I found the book by accident and really enjoyed it. Michael Kohlhaas tells the story of a horse-dealer of the same name, who encounters injustice by the rulers of his country and is determined to fight for his rights and obtain justice. When his law-suit fails to achieve the desired results he is even prepared to take up arms against. This story is based on real events that happened in Brandenburg and Saxony (both Germany) during the mid-16th century. I could probably relate to the story all the more because I study law, so the legal problems that make up a large part of the story interest me on a professional basis as well. But I found it even more intriguing for the moral aspects it presents and the questions it raises. Where does one’s right to fight for justice end? While this is set in a time and society quite different from the present, I found that the questions and values presented in this book have not become outdated. This is really a recommended read for everyone. And while I’m at it I have to praise the LibriVox narration once again. I listened to the German LibriVox solo narration, which was really good. I’ve also noticed that LibriVox also has an English narration of the book, but haven’t listened to that, so I can’t say anything about the quality of that version. ...more
The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of those classics of which I've heard often lately, but which I didn't have to read for school and so far haven't reThe Picture of Dorian Gray is one of those classics of which I've heard often lately, but which I didn't have to read for school and so far haven't read at all. It is also one of those book that I intended to read for quite some time. So I simply had to get it when audible offered it for free as part of their whispersync-for-voice promotion. My first impression of the book was that it might belong to the average book and that I might quickly tire of it. However, this impression was quickly replaced (if I can remember correctly sometime during the second or third chapter) by a feeling that this is really a very good book. It shows the depths of the human soul and how a “nice person” can be changed for the worse when making the false choices and being flattered one time too many. This certainly belongs to the books that everyone should read at least once. The audiobook is also quite good. I liked the narrator immensely and can recommend that as well....more
Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is sometimes referred to as the first How-to-Book (at least I read that somewhere, though I can’t recall now where).Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is sometimes referred to as the first How-to-Book (at least I read that somewhere, though I can’t recall now where). It’s certainly interesting to read (or hear when listening to the audiobook) of his early life and how he became a man of importance. Also, the writing style isn’t too monotone or boring (I’m listening to a novel right now that has a more boring style than this non-fiction). Usually I struggle with biographies (or autobiographies/memoirs), but this belonged to the better ones I’ve read so far.
I listened to the free LibriVox audiobook of this book. Those are of varying quality. This production was of average (tending to good) quality. ...more
The first encounter I had with Paradise Lost was when I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy (which included quotations from Paradise LostThe first encounter I had with Paradise Lost was when I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy (which included quotations from Paradise Lost). That was years ago and somehow the quotations always made me want to read Paradise Lost. It took me years to actually read it (I listened to the audiobooks of His Dark Materials in mid-2007, so it actually took me five years). It was the right decision to wait and not read Paradise Lost instantly. My five-year-younger self wouldn’t have appreciated it and I’m not even certain I would have finished it in 2007. I now listened to the LibriVox group audiobook and found my thoughts sometimes straying from listening to my next riding lesson or how to re-order my bookshelf. I probably would have had more problems with straying thoughts would I have actually read it as opposed to listen to the narration (my mind has decided as it has to concentrate on law-related reading the whole day, it may take the freedom to take a break when it doesn’t enjoy my “entertainment reading”.) But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy listening to the audiobook. As usual I’m surprised by the quality of the narrators at LibriVox. Except for the first track (the narrator used some distorted voices that hurt my ears) I didn’t have any problems with sound quality and the narrators all did a decent job. Paradise Lost is one of those classics that one should have read at least once and I’m glad I did so. I might even listen to the audiobook (or try myself at actually reading it) again at one time (though not in the too near future). ...more
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is nothing more and nothing less than the story of a young boy’s childhood/youth. It doesn’t have a large plot (althoughThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer is nothing more and nothing less than the story of a young boy’s childhood/youth. It doesn’t have a large plot (although there are some elements in the story that span from the beginning to the end). Instead it details the everyday life of Tom Sawyer, his little woes and pleasures and what pranks he played. As with the previous Mark Twain books I read, I thoroughly enjoyed The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. His way of telling a story makes even the most everyday occurrences to something special and the book repeatedly made me smile. I listened again to the narration by John Greenman (which is available for free at LibriVox.org) and found that this wonderful story was improved by such a great narrator....more
I had intended to read a book by James Patterson for quite a while now. So I got his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, from audible. I have to sI had intended to read a book by James Patterson for quite a while now. So I got his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, from audible. I have to say I’m not impressed and judging by this book, I can’t understand why he is so popular. Judging by other reviews of this book, this seems to be his weakest book, so I might still give another of his books a chance.
The Thomas Berryman Number isn’t a long book but it is too long for this non-existent plot. I’ve had a really hard time in getting into the book and the audiobook narrator didn’t help, either. There are some audiobook narrators that manage to really get a book across; Will Patton isn’t among them, at least not for me. Perhaps I’ll try to read the next James Patterson book instead of listening to the audiobook (or I’ll try to find one with another narrator). ...more