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The cult TV show is just as good as audio comedy

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

Reviewed: 01-09-2020

It’s a dire state of affairs if you’ve never experienced either of the two completely bonkers television seasons of Danger 5. The Australian comedy show, created by Dario Russo and David Ashby almost ten years ago, is outrageous in every sense of the word: it’s laugh-out-loud funny, wildly exaggerated, and completely camp as an international team of spies attempt to outwit Hitler and win World War II. The 1960’s vibe, deliberately cheap-looking effects, off-kilter dubbing, and high-action storylines created a cult following and a unique viewing experience unlike anything else on TV at the time. Audible has now brought the team back together, including the original voice cast and writers, to present a new series of outlandish adventures, and the result is glorious. In Danger 5: Stereo Adventures, the threat of world domination by Hitler is replaced by communism across eight new illogical adventures that include squaring off against a 50-foot pussycat, meeting Spiro the conspiracy dog, getting down at Dracula’s beach party, becoming victim to an Australian bargain basement, and going on a treasure hunt in the Bermuda Triangle. Despite the lack of visuals which added so much to the cheesy goodness of the television series, the audio adventures allow the creative minds of the series to take the Danger 5 team to greater heights. The sound effects, music and dialogue combine to create a very visual experience that is as absurdist as it is exciting. The eight episodes are each replete with two fake commercial breaks that are equally nonsensical and add to the overall fun of the series. Comedian Shaun Micallef, who guest starred in an episode of the TV series, joins the regular cast as the narrator – a device not used in the original series but one which adds clarity to the insanity as each audio story evolves. Said cast includes David Ashby (Jackson), Sean James Murphy (Tucker), Aldo Mignone (Pierre), Nataša Ristić (Ilsa), and Michelle Nightingale (who dubbed the voice of Claire for actor Amanda Simons). Both Carmine Russo and Andreas Sobik also return, having played Hitler and the dubbed voice of Hitler respectively in the original series. Thankfully, there’s no need to have seen the television series to dive into the mayhem of this third season. The Audible Original production has ensured any references to earlier antics are limited and in context for new listeners. Lovers of the ridiculous, fast-paced action, and kitsch retro vibes should all rejoice in the revival of this much-loved series. Trigger warnings, for those who need them, include excessive smoking, alcohol consumption, sexism, drugs and the occasionally well-placed naughty word. Those who struggle to have a good time may wish to avoid Danger 5: Stereo Adventures.

1 person found this helpful

An audio series that will be celebrated for years

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

Reviewed: 01-09-2020

Based on the first three volumes of Neil Gaiman’s celebrated graphic novels, this full-cast dark fantasy is an epic tribute to the work, featuring a stellar cast that includes Gaiman himself as the narrator and James McAvoy in the title role, backed by a powerful music score by British Academy Award winner James Hannigan. The Sandman tells the story of Morpheus, also known as Dream. He is one of seven “Endless” beings that include Destiny, Death and Desire. After escaping capture from an earthly cult, Morpheus discovers his dream realm has fallen into darker times as other beings have sought to control it in his absence. Weakened, he must recover three relics to restore his power and reclaim his throne as the Lord of Dreams. Adapted and directed by Dirk Maggs, the story is placed in the centre of the DC Universe, with some of the action taking us to the Arkham Asylum of Gotham City. The underlying storyline is told through a series of multi-episode arcs that see Morpheus face new challenges and foes. This is the first time The Sandman has been produced as an audio production and the Audible Original production house has pulled out all stops. The 20 episodes, predominantly a half hour each, feature a notable support cast that includes the likes of Michael Sheen (Lucifer), Arthur Darvill (William Shakespeare), Miriam Margoyles (Despair), Joanna Lumley (Lady Johanna Constantine), and Taron Egerton (John Constantine). Much like another of Gaiman’s popular work, American Gods, The Sandman brings to life mythical God-like creatures with all their human foibles. The intricate plotting and large cast of characters can take some concentration but the running time of almost 11 hours provides an appropriately lengthy platform on which to tell the tale. The Sandman is not one for children. It’s an adults-only saga featuring some language and scenes that are not suitable for younger listeners. This is an audio series that will be celebrated by Neil Gaiman and DC fans for many years to come. Like NPR’s 1980s audio adaptions of the original Star Wars trilogy, Audible Original has created an outstanding series that will become a must-have for aficionados everywhere.

A good place to start is to learn how to learn!

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

Reviewed: 23-12-2019

If your new year’s resolution is to learn a new language, this audiobook might be a great place to start. Wyner speaks multiple languages and, over the years, has combined the best elements of different learning programs and psychology to work out the fastest and easiest way to learn and retain a new language – for himself. Different people have different capacities to learn and remember. Ultimately, it’s our own interest and commitment that will make the biggest difference. Where Wyner’s teachings succeed however, is through providing a lot of tips and techniques that can be combined to help wake up our memory. He reads his own audiobook successfully and varies the recording from the printed version to acknowledge the different medium. It would help enormously to read along with the printed version however, so making use of Amazon/Audible’s Whispersync option might be the way to go. Wyner refers a lot to his own website and has set up a section for audiobook listeners to access the references that need to be seen, not heard. In Fluent Forever, Wyner discusses tongue and lip positions, the use of flash cards, word lists and word associations, delving in to the way our brain connects information and the power of visualising the meaning of a word. He pushes the need to recall, not translate and goes on to explain the difference. On top of his own teachings, Wyner also directs the listener to lots of free and paid online resources, and printed resources such as phrase books and language dictionaries. If you’ve not been successful learning a language in the past, Wyner teaches you how to learn, which is an important first step. Take the time to learn about learning and you might be surprised by what you learn! Fluent Forever is an older audiobook, released back in 2017, but it’s still a current and valuable 8 hour lesson.

7 people found this helpful

Disappointing and repetative

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

Reviewed: 23-12-2019

It’s difficult to sympathise with a one-note character, which is the downfall of what should have been a good read with a strong setup. Instead, A Life of Her Own is a repetitive read with a central character that’s too weak and frustrating to care about. It’s important to note that McCallum presents a realistic sense of oppression in the protagonist, Alice Hamilton, whose passive-aggressive boyfriend manipulates her regularly by chipping away at her self-esteem. Add an aggressive, manipulative boss at work, and poor Alice struggles to find her own self-worth. It’s a setup that offers a lot of potential but instead, Alice becomes perhaps the most unlucky woman in the world, moving from one manipulative influence to the next on a cycle that doesn’t show enough variation to be interesting. Jennifer Vuletic does a nice job in the narration of the audiobook. She has a real sense of character, particularly in showing the wide expanse of personalities, ranging from weak to strong, and making something of some one-dimensional personas. Fans of McCallum’s writing may prefer the audiobook version to breathe life into this disappointing tale. As an introduction to McCallum’s writing, this story doesn’t make me want to explore her further as an author, despite her popularity as “Australia’s master storyteller” (according to the Harper Collins website). It’s meant to be an inspirational story, but only inspired me to want to sleep.

Wells’ writing holds up across the years

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

Reviewed: 23-12-2019

This Audible exclusive recording brings HG Wells’ five most popular novels to the fore, each read by a well-known and much loved actor who brings new life to the source material that has spawned so many adaptations across the past century. For the sadly uninitiated, HG Wells’ prophetic novels are the father of modern science fiction storytelling. American filmmaker Eli Roth introduces the collection by outlining with examples, how Wells’ powerful imagination foretold the coming of space travel, mobile phones, gene splicing and more. He discusses how Wells’ stories have endured the test of time by tapping into the condition of the human heart, making them as relatable today as they were when written in the 1800s. In this superb collection, David Tennant (Dr Who, Broadchurch, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) reads The War of the Worlds in his native Scottish accent. Welsh actor Alexander Vlahos (Merlin, Truth or Dare) follows up with The First Men in the Moon. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Tomorrow Never Dies) reads The Time Machine; Sophie Okonedo (Hellboy, Spooks) reads The Invisible Man; and Jason Isaacs (Hotel Mumbai, Star Trek: Discovery) finishes the set with The Island of Dr Moreau. All these actors are at the top of their game, providing unabridged readings with strong character work and sometimes, character voices. Running at more than 27 hours, this latest collection of HG Wells’ most popular works is compulsory listening for fans of his writing and anyone wanting to discover or revisiting the source material after so many film, television, audio and stage adaptations. It’s a magnificent set that offers many hours of excitement and imagination. Wells’ writing holds up across the years, and is an easy listen, unlike some classic literature which has dated poorly. It’s a bargain for so many hours of quality adventure.

2 people found this helpful

A heartwarming story

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

Reviewed: 18-12-2019

Amanda Hampson’s heartfelt novel is a travelogue of both Europe and the lives of three women turning sixty. Maggie, Fran and Rose are long-time friends who are each disenfranchised with their lives. In an attempt to rediscover the dreams and hopes they’d lost, the trio decide to relive their European holiday from forty years earlier. Now older and wiser, with a different view on life, the holiday is far from what they expect but precisely what they need to rediscover themselves and what’s important to them now. The personalities and relationships of Hampson’s characters are all distinct and recognisable, from the friendship between the three main protagonists, to the needy family, disapproving yiayia and the people the women meet on their journey. Hampson’s storytelling is full of warmth and humour, while her descriptive prose conjures up wonderful images of the locations through the reminiscing eyes of the travellers. It’s great to find an adventurous book centering around an older generation, particularly one as well realised as Sixty Summers where the characters and situations are relatable to readers of any age. The audiobook version runs for twelve hours and is narrated by the ever-talented Taylor Owynns, an Aussie actor who with a penchant for accents, making her an ideal choice to present the multicultural parade of characters in this books. It’s well worth a listen for both the quality of Hampson’s writing and the skill of Owynns engaging reading.

A satisfying, unpredictable entry in the market

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

Reviewed: 16-12-2019

Audible’s 2018 Thriller of the Year is a twisting, tense Australian thriller that exposes the duplicity of reality television when TV producer Jack Quick creates a true-life crime series about the brutal murder of Eliza Dacey four years earlier. The killer was captured and convicted based on dubious evidence, and Quick’s documentary peels back the events leading up to his incarceration. Towards the end of the series, Quick unexpectedly discovers a piece of missing video evidence that may prove the killer’s guilt. Having focussed the series on the potential innocence of the killer, it’s a discovery that would throw his whole narrative out, and so he hides it with some minor editing – a move that results in the killer being released. Soon after, another similar murder occurs. Stevenson’s debut novel is a complex beast that not only provides a gripping narrative, but questions the responsibility of the media, particularly within the realms of ‘reality television’ and how public opinion can be easily swayed. The audiobook is expertly narrated by Rupert Degas, an award-winning voice actor with over 25 years’ experience. The re-enactments of the central character’s television series are presented by a full cast of actors who include David Tredinnick, Jennifer Vuletic, Glenn van Oosterom, Paul English and Mariele Runacre-Temple. Running more than 11 hours, Greenlight was released in September 2018 and is a wonderful Australian production that is available exclusively through Audible. Crime thrillers are a popular genre and Greenlight is a satisfying, unpredictable entry in the market.

Don't miss it!

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

Reviewed: 16-12-2019

Jeff Wayne has reimaged his popular 1978 musical production of HG Wells’ science fiction masterpiece, War of the Worlds, and it is stellar. British science fiction writer HG Wells first wrote War of the Worlds in 1897. It tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth using superior technology to decimate the population and became the template for future alien-invasion stories. The novel received a revival after American actor and director Orson Welles dramatised it for radio in 1938. The broadcast presented the invasion through a series of fake news bulletins which caused outright panic across the nation as listeners tuned in late and failed to realise they were listening to The Mercury Theatre on the Air. Welles’ infamous radio play is still celebrated and studied to this day and its popularity is arguably matched only by Jeff Wayne’s rock opera of the seventies. The distinctive dramatic music, combined with Richard Burton’s narration and David Essex’ vocals has continued to keep this recording well-loved and popular. Now, some 40 years later, Jeff Wayne has removed the songs, revamped the music and released a full-cast dramatisation of War of the Worlds. A lot of the familiar, much-loved music is still there, although tweaked to modernise it, and it complements the fully-realised production and sound effects beautifully with tense underscoring and powerful but shorter musical bridges. The new music added to this production is of equal quality to the most remembered tunes of the original and it all adds to the tension and thrills of the tale. War of the Worlds has been done to death over the decades with movie adaptations, at least two television mini-series this past year alone, and countless book readings and dramatisations. Even so, Wayne has creating a fresh new version that brings back the excitement of the story and the storytelling. There’s enough of his original production to delight those already in love with the earlier version without turning this 2018 adaptation into a simple rehash. Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds 2018 musical drama remains emotive, passionate and unstoppable listening with a top-notch cast. Don’t miss it.

Who would've though sports would inspire Star Wars

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

Reviewed: 16-12-2019

British journalist Ed Hawkins turns sports psychology on its head by looking at the quirkier, darker and more esoteric beliefs of mind over matter. The Men on Magic Carpets is an exploration through the ages of people who researched and practiced alternative ways to reach sporting success, from psychic and supernatural abilities to the mind-control experiments of Russia and the efforts of the US military to create a ‘super-soldier’ in the 1970s. Hawkins takes these historical and sometimes hysterical ideas and follows them through to modern-day practices of self-actualisation and personal development for sports men and women using yoga, meditation and mindfulness training. Once upon a time, coaches and fellow players would bully and yell, applying peer pressure with the sole focus on winning the game. Nowadays there’s a move towards ensuring player bond as a team and discover their own potential. While the early efforts discussed in this book may seem whacked out, the modern sensibility may have much to thank those pioneers for. Hawkins’ book is fascinating read that should appeal to a broad range of readers, from sports fans to psychology students, lovers of the paranormal, and practically anyone who enjoys learning new ideas through a highly entertaining narrative. In these pages, Hawkins uncovers the use of neuroscience in the quest for performance enhancement, and the search for neuro-supremacy through the use of ESP, psychokenisis, ‘remote viewer’ and ‘power dreaming’. He interviews a bona fide ‘mad scientist’ from the Soviet Union, White House staff in the USA, and a number of people in between. In doing so, he finds synergies between enhancement research being done is sports and the military, and discovers it was this kind of research that inspired film-maker George Lucas to create The Force - the psychic religion of the Star Wars film franchise. In the audiobook edition, narrator Ciaran Saward puts on voices for some of the people he quotes, and offers good characterisations as he vocalises Hawkin’s trek through the secretive and bizarre world of sports people and scientist who have been or are involved in this kind of research. It’s book is a great read and the audiobook is too. Either option will amuse, befuddle and surprise. May the Force be with you.

A charming story told over multiple timelines

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

Reviewed: 11-12-2019

Sandie Docker’s second novel is told across multiple timelines, unveiling the love, grief and dreams of multiple players, culminating in a connected finale. The two main stories follows Nicole, a writer who takes up residence in a cottage at Rosella Cove. She’s escaping a recent trauma in her life, which we learn from an earlier timeline that slowly builds a picture of her life before things changed. In present day, her solace is short-lived as the friendly beachside community takes her under their wing, helping her start a new life. Also in present day, we meet Charlie, an aging hermit who lives in a nearby boatshed. His viewpoint enters the picture frequently, hinting at a deeper connection to Nicole’s cottage than what first appears. When Nicole uncovers a series of old letters, written by Ivy to her husband Tom over the span of 35 years until her death in 1976, we begin to realise that Ivy may be the connection that Charlie is hiding. The Cottage at Rosella Cove is a sweet, sentimental tale with just enough mystery to keep it intriguing. The romance element comes primarily from Ivy’s letters which are a celebration of love even through the bad times. They’re beautifully written and offer a change of style from the rest of the novel. Docker’s writing offers good place-setting and strong, distinguishable characters who feel fully fleshed out despite any real opportunities to see multiple facets of their personalities. The only real exception to this is Nicole’s fiancé, Mark, who progresses to being the most complex personality. Also sweet is Kathryn Hartman’s audiobook narration, returning after narrating Docker’s first novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café. Her gentle voice and subtle characterisations make for fine, easy listening, conjuring up the feel of a seaside town and the gentle start of new beginnings. While The Cottage at Rosella Cove isn’t a fast moving tale, it keeps its intrigue and warmth, making for a fine read.