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Tips for hobos: a self-help guide

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

Reviewed: 22-08-2020

If you have ever wanted to know how to jump a freight train, earn a few dollars from a stab lab, bum a handful of coins from Mexicans or turn your meal tickets into real cash then this book will show you how. Even if you haven't but just love road trip books then this is for you. Kaldheim is constantly teetering on the edge of disaster in a book that is both gripping and entertaining. Well-written despite the author's penchant for finding twenty different synonyms for 'said', the book has heart and is excellently read by Kerry Shale. Ignore all negative reviews.

Worth a Listen

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

Reviewed: 29-07-2020

A book that twists and turns both in terms of plot and genre. Part a condemnation of the filthy rich and of the power of money, part social commentary, part whodunnit, and part thriller, it contains one of the most interesting and monstrous characters I have come across in a long time, Griff, brilliantly brought to life by Abigail Thaw, is a totally ruthless billionaire but keeps us entertained whenever he is in a scene. The other main characters are also well depicted and interpreted. I found the melodrama at the end rather drawn out but that is my only complaint.

Curate's Egg

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

Reviewed: 08-06-2020

The book starts well with some interesting tales, but eventually the persistently twee tone and (let's be blunt) snobbery gets on the nerves. The narration by a Joyce Grenfell sound-alike doesn't help. In one chapter Carew talks about imbibing a magic mushroom. The last chapter is so overblown I thought she must have written it under the influence of those funny fungi. "Diary of a Nobody" without the laughs. Carew may have previously written an award winning book but this is not it.

Worth a listen

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

Reviewed: 27-05-2020

Follows the lives of three generations of an odd-ball American family living in New York and Washington. Quite zany and lots of American references I just didn't get but it all sounded authentic. A little annoying at first, but once I got into it I started to enjoy hearing about the lives of the various family members who seemed to drift through the world, from post-punk, via 9/11 to Trump. Convincingly read by Eileen Stevens.

Brilliant

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

Reviewed: 08-05-2020

Sue Prideaux has produced a revealing biography of a restless and relentless major figure of nineteenth century philosophy. Ironically, Nietzsche was only just becoming famous as he lost touch with reality. Prideaux gives us enough background on his life to allow us to see how and why his ideas evolved. His relationships with his family, friends and particularly Wagner are examined in great detail but the impetus of the book never slackens. The author wanders off the main path just enough to help us understand his motivation. We are presented with many of his ideas but in a digestible form so that with a little concentration one can see what he was trying to say. Occasionally, it feels as if she is acting as an apologist for him, and for the way his ideas were deliberately misunderstood and corrupted by others. The book is well narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith but regular mispronunciations make one wince. Never mind. It is a massive tome and massive achievement by all concerned.

Vladimir and Estragon Reprise

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

Reviewed: 04-12-2019

Basically a chat between two aging Irish scoundrels with a rather bizarre background in drug running. Funny and poignant in turn the (back) story purrs along aided and abetted by the mellifluous tones of the author.

Worthy

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

Reviewed: 14-11-2019

I hate to give Colson Whitehead a less than perfect review since he seems such a nice guy but this book didn't take off for me in the same way "The Underground Railroad" did. It's great that this kind of story gets told and who would have thought that sixty years ago such atrocities were still taking place. But, even though it is not a long book it still seemed drawn out. Maybe I should read the book to see if the narration had an effect. I guess the deadpan delivery was supposed to heighten the sense of outrage but just made for dull listening.

Two for the price of one

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

Reviewed: 13-11-2019

What is there not to love about this Kerr masterpiece - the laconic narrator, the interesting characters, the sense of time and place, the twisted plots, the amount of background research by the author. We get vivid pictures of pre-war Germany, and pre-Castro Cuba as Bernie Gunter moves on from Hotel detective in Berlin to odd-jobbing fugitive in post-war Havana. Brilliant interpretation by Jeff Harding as always.

Cut!

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

Reviewed: 10-09-2019

Tana French is a consummate storyteller and her dialogue-driven plots are a joy to follow. However, I think she has over-reached with this one. As a whodunnit the book is implausible but absorbing. But she strives to include a host of other ideas: how undercover detectives can go native, how people can knowingly or unwittingly manipulate others for their own ends, how misfits can be drawn into an appealing but ultimately poisonous environment, how a house can become a security blanket, how a traumatic event in someone's childhood can damage them for life, and, no doubt other themes I missed. The book started to outstay its welcome about three quarters of the way through. Still, French is a famous author so what do I know? Perhaps that was the attitude of the editor who really should have administered a surgical knife. Big Bouquet to Grainne Gillis for distinguishing all those different characters and accents (although the Australian one was a little iffy).

Eye-opener

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

Reviewed: 03-08-2019

The author goes under-cover in four different UK locations in four markedly different zero-hours contract jobs. Although the jobs are different the conditions are predictably similar. In each case, the workers are exploited to the hilt to earn millions and billions for the owners of the companies - minimal breaks (or, in one case, no breaks), barely tolerable working conditions, positive propaganda from the firms in question "aren't you so lucky to have such a good job", big-brother style surveillance and generous tax breaks for the employers and employment agencies. A little too much soapboxing from the author, probably preaching to the converted anyway, and rambles on at the end, but overall worth listening to, despite the idiosyncrasies of the narrator.