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Rodney Wetherell

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Excellent portrayal of a confused young outsider

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

Reviewed: 19-12-2020

From a slow and depressing beginning, I came to love this book with its portrayal of a teenage boy who has suicide in mind a great deal. The confrontation and bullying from his mother's new partner Steve is a central point, which brings Sam to despair, but after coming through that, his friendships with Peter, then Diane, enable him to become stronger in himself. This book takes a constant 'roller-coaster ride' through events and emotions, and after the first 25 mins or so, it engrossed me strongly. The reader Harvey Zielinski was superb too.

Fine scriptural analysis of pandemic issues

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

Reviewed: 18-12-2020

This book was used at my parish church for an Advent study group, and it was perfect, as we came out of lockdown in Melbourne. I appreciated Tom Wright's scriptural scholarship and his application of various texts from OT and NT to our predicament today.

Excellent reading of classic novel

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

Reviewed: 07-12-2020

I have given this 5 stars in all categories, but this does not mean it is Dickens' best novel. It seems to need better shaping for one thing - but no doubt it was published in serial form, with no opportunity for the writer to revise the text. There are some wonderful passages in it, describing the turbulent times of the French Revolution, and the extraordinary characters Dickens has assembled. I found Sydney Carton an unsatisfactory character - I did not feel we got to know him as we knew other characters, notably Dr Manette, Lucy, Charles Darnay and the frightful de Farges. This is nearly a horror story really, in the scenes involving Madame de Farge and her determination to get as many people as possible to the guillotine. In all my 70+ years I had never read this novel, and was delighted to find it was available as an audio book - I did enjoy it, especially for the masterful reading by Martin Jarvis. It's one of those readings in which I found myself wondering how many there were in the cast - of course they were all played by Jarvis. His reading alone was worth hearing, no matter what the book was.

Enjoyable if largely trivial material

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

Reviewed: 30-11-2020

Craig Brown is a very clever writer for Private Eye, and he has written a clever book which will not be to everyone's taste - so much gossipy stuff about one woman. Yet she is an extraordinary figure - not very nice, a combination of royal dignity and bohemian affectations, always looking for a meaningful place in the world. I was naive in swallowing some sections of the book, eg Margaret's supposed marriage to Picasso, until I finally woke up - wait a minute! Craig Brown simply relates these sections as if they were part of the factual information, which makes the reader distrust the text from then on, at least slightly. He has researched his subject well, going through so many diaries which are no doubt otherwise forgettable, extracting some fascinating snippets. The whole book has the flavour of 'fascinating snippets' - and not so fascinating. I had no trouble finishing the book - and by the way, the reading by Eleanor Bron was one for the connoisseurs. She nailed the tone of the book perfectly, I thought. In fact it was Ms Bron who kept me reading keenly, when I might have got bored by the material.

Weird story made worse by reader

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

Reviewed: 30-11-2020

Having loved Boy Swallows Universe, I found this one very hard to listen to. The earlier novel certainly had an element of magic realism, which I enjoyed, but at bottom it was a realistic story of a family dealing with all manner of crises in Brisbane. The later one is off the charts of magic realism, to the point that I could accept very little of it as credible, and did not care about Molly, Greta and the rest. I kept wondering how much my impression of the book was spoilt by the reader, Ruby Rees, whose style I found repellent from the very start. She emphasizes every second word of the book, rising to a shriek whenever she reads a line from Molly. She makes Molly sound an awful moraliser for a start - she knows everything from the age of seven. I went back to the audio book many times with the intention of finishing it, but did not last long. Finally, with about 90 mins to go, I bailed out of the book with relief. I have read some rave reviews of this novel, but I do not share these reviewers' high opinion of it.

5 people found this helpful

Fine reading of an entertaining book

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

Reviewed: 02-11-2020

This is another good book by Robert Dessiax, with his usual irreverence and humour, plus lots of interesting quotes and references. As an old person myself, I am tired of the usual cliches one hears on all sides, about growing old gracefully in posh retirement villages, and feel refreshed by his demolition of these. I have heard Paul English reading several books via Audible, notably Tom and Meg Keneally's detective novels set in colonial times. He is always good, but this time he has excelled himself. The tone seems to me exactly right, and he has made sure of pronouncing the many names and titles well, which not all Audible readers do. His pace is quite fast, but not too fast for the material to be understood well.

Essential reading if depressing

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

Reviewed: 09-10-2020

I remember well most of the events outlined in Marian Wilkinson's excellent book, from the Kyoto Conference to the various emission trading schemes proposed, to Paris and Copenhagen. But I could not have described them in any detail - probably they tend to blur with time. Marian Wilkinson has performed the very useful service of reviewing all the major episodes in Australia's response to the climate change issue, in the last twenty years. It is a depressing story, partly because of the 'Carbon Club', the assembly of powerful forces determined to defeat any progressive move to deal with human-induced climate change. Wilkinson finishes her study by saying this Club has largely faded, but its continued influence can be seen in the PM's latest 'roadmap' for our use of energy. The ALP has a patchy record too, because of the many jobs tied up with the coal industry, as well as gas. Meanwhile our use of alternative energy is increasing all the time. I am very glad Wilkinson has devoted so much time in the book on the problems of the Great Barrier Reef.

Fine reading of a magnificent book

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

Reviewed: 26-09-2020

First I would like to congratulate Bill Bryson on his engaging way of reading his book. He has a droll, understated style which matches the material and keeps me well entertained. I am gobsmacked by the amount of stuff he has discovered, or already knew - and he has said he is no scientist. I only wish I could remember one tenth of it, but I intend to go back and listen to certain sections again. I loved the stories of doctors and scientists who have made important discoveries - or have pinched them from others, in some cases.

2 people found this helpful

Fine biography of a fascinating city

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

Reviewed: 24-09-2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this history of Prague, despite the many disasters and invasions that occurred there. I have been there and knew something about it, but had little idea of its history, going right back to the Germanic tribes which inhabited the region in the 'dark ages'. Richard Fidler has done an extraordinary amount of research, and weaves the long story into a coherent and entertaining whole. He reads the book very well too. He brings the city to life, physically and spiritually. I wondered why there were so many Baroque churches in Prague, and he tell us they were built as symbols of a cultural takeover by the Habsburgs of Vienna. Like him I sensed the mysteries and oddities of Prague, as well as the sense of a city of great suffering, notably for its Jewish residents, once in considerable numbers.

Full of information, humour and silliness

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

Reviewed: 09-09-2020

I have never heard anything quite like this podcast, and did not know quite how to take it at first. I do like Nazeem Hussain very much, and this was a great idea, for him to go to Sri Lanka with James and some recording equipment. Most of the sections of this podcast are very enjoyable, eg the first one set in Nuwara Eliya, where I went in 1974, and was amazed to hear that nothing much had changed, in the world of British-style hotels with dress codes. The most serious section, on the state of politics in Sri Lanka (avoiding taking sides) was well done, and I felt I learnt a lot from it. Other sections were also fine, but there was too much silliness for me, eg when Nazeem and James pretend not to know what concubines are. The part about the martial arts guy was so ridiculous, I thought it should have been left out. However, on the whole Rogue Son was entertaining to listen to, and told us again that people like Nazeem, caught between two cultures, have difficult lives, but also rewarding ones, in that they can point towards ways of reconciling differences between nations and cultures.