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M

I'm a singing songwriting postie living in Yorkshire. Sometimes I like to be challenged by a book, and sometimes I just want to lose myself.

Wakefield, United Kingdom | Member Since 2012

67
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 50 reviews
  • 64 ratings
  • 158 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
19

  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1214)
    Performance
    (377)
    Story
    (385)

    Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

    Francis says: "Past imperfect."
    "A worthy challenge."
    Overall

    I wasn’t finding this a particularly easy book to read (or at least to listen to) until I was about halfway through. Then something clicked, and I realised what it was about the writing that felt strange: there’s no plot - or should I say that the plot is so old and well known that the author doesn’t bother with it. The characters are real people from our past and their life stories are history: set in stone, in a thousand textbooks, their fates are already decided, even if it's only us - the readers - that know it. And Hilary Mantel presumes we do, and so, freed from twisting and shaping a plot, she concentrates on their language: their thoughts and inner voices; the words they might have spoken; even their body language is used to take us deep into their lives and motivations, and Hilary Mantel certainly can write. Whether it’s Thomas More intellectualising his inhumanity or a coarse fisherman going on about some prostitutes her writing is fluid and believable.

    Thomas Cromwell was unknown to me before I started Wolf Hall but now I’ve got the feeling that he’s going to stay with me as one of the great (non?) fictional historical characters. (I don’t know, or really care, if this is a true portrait of Thomas Cromwell, but the author made a great decision by putting him at the heart of this pivotal moment in history.)

    He’s a wonderfully complex man: his fidelity to his friends, family, masters and ideals contrasts with the ruthlessness of his politics; his drive to free England of the shackles of Rome is bizarrely made possible by the whims of his King, and he accepts this and uses it; and most of all, his comfortableness with the commoners combines beautifully with his ability to motivate and manipulate his betters.

    The narrator - Simon Slater - gives every character their own distinctive voice and he adds depth, menace or lightness as needed. So, overall, not an easy read but a beautiful and worthy challenge.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Dirty Streets of Heaven: A Bobby Dollar Novel, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Tad Williams
    • Narrated By Joe May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (53)

    Bobby Dollar isn't your average angel! Sure, he takes the occasional trip to Heaven, but his job as an advocate - arguing the fate of the recently deceased - keeps him pretty busy on Earth, and he's more than happy to spend the rest of his time propping up the bar with his fellow immortals. Until the day a soul goes missing, presumed stolen by "the other side". A new chapter in the war between heaven and hell is about to open. And Bobby is right in the middle of it, with only a desirable but deadly demon to aid him.

    Jm Buckley says: "Excellent!"
    "$Bobby"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Tad Williams set himself quite a task writing a detective noir novel set in heaven, but I think he pulls it off quite nicely. The narration is spot on, getting just the right level of humour in the darkness, and the writing is rich with one-liners and smart descriptions. Overall, pretty damn fine - on to the next one ...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Fighting Chance

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Warren
    • Narrated By Elizabeth Warren
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher - an ambitious goal, given her family's modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but 15 years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington, DC, to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws?

    M says: "Excellent!"
    "Excellent!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first political autobiography, and, sheesh, it's a doozy! She's a remarkable woman, and I hope that America realises it. Superb!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Flash Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (150)

    Michael Lewis, the Master of the Big Story, is back with Flash Boys. If you thought Wall Street was about alpha males standing in trading pits hollering at each other, think again. That world is dead. Now, the world's money is traded by computer code, inside black boxes in heavily guarded buildings. Even the experts entrusted with your cash don't know what's happening to it. And the very few who do aren't about to tell - because they're making a killing.

    judith says: "I can't praise this book highly enough..."
    "Filthy Lucre!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wall Street, the icon of global capitalism, is a fraud, and Michael Lewis does a fantastic job of steering us through the convoluted scams at its 'heart'. A marvellous read - excellently narrated - that reads like a parody, except, sadly, it's true.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Michael Lewis, Jesse Boggs
    Overall
    (373)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (89)

    The long-awaited follow-up to the global best-seller Liar's Poker, The Big Short tells a story of spectacular, epic folly. It has taken the world's greatest financial meltdown to bring Michael Lewis back to the subject that made him famous. His international best seller Liar's Poker exposed the greed and carnage of the City and Wall Street in the 1980s; he wrote it as a cautionary tale, but people seem to have read it as a how-to guide. Now, he wants to settle accounts.

    Chris Downing says: "What went wrong, in a way you'll understand."
    "Big Bad Money!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Michael Lewis somehow manages to successfully merge the characters and the bizarre financial creations they personify (or is it the other way round ...?) Brilliant storytelling - documentary noir - that evokes actual visceral responses to the sheer audacity of the utter illogical, disgusting revoltingness of the "Masters of the Universe". Read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Raising Steam

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett
    • Narrated By Stephen Briggs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (680)
    Performance
    (643)
    Story
    (639)

    To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it's soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

    Andrew John Rae says: "Essential for fans, but not the best of Discworld"
    "Vive Le Industrial Revolution!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sir Pratchett's strength has never been Plot, but rather in the dynamism of his characters and how they react, in their all too human way, to the ever-changing world they find themselves in, and, in Raising Steam, they confront an array of new-fangled ideas and mechanisms that bear a striking resemblance to those we face in our little Roundworld, such as terrorism, gender identity, atavism, HS2 and, well, modern life in all its messy marvellousness. It's a fast paced book, brilliantly narrated, and though it's not one of Sir Terry's classics, it's still bloody great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Macbeth: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Alan Cumming
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (34)

    Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare's tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature's most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape in which they are played.

    Alan says: "Think you know Macbeth - think again!"
    "Toil and trouble ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A brutal and marvellous re-telling of the classic dark tale of betrayal and destiny. Loved it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ascent of Money

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Hugh Ross
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labour. But in The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential back-story behind all history.

    Tim says: "Excellent Car Journey Material"
    "Money, money, money. It's so funny ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm still none the wiser as to how the financial world's complex creations actually work, or how the Masters of The Universe get away with what seems to me to be nothing but gambling, but this book did challenge my general view that the econosphere is basically evil and bad for society in general. The rise of civilisation - seen through the prism of the financial markets - is certainly dependent on the movement of huge amounts of cash, and there's no doubting that our general prosperity and way of life is, to a large degree, due to the evolution of the markets, but what is certain is that the folks at the top of the money pile need a whole lot of regulation and accountability so as to reign in their all-too-human tendencies to get carried away with their schemes. A very interesting and thought-provoking book, well narrated.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Richard Armitage
    Overall
    (85)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (83)

    It is a tale of ghosts, of madness, of revenge - of old alliances giving way to new intrigues. Denmark is changing, shaking off its medieval past. War with Norway is on the horizon. And Hamlet - son of the old king, nephew of the new - becomes increasingly entangled in a web of deception - and murder. Beautifully performed by actor Richard Armitage ("Thorin Oakenshield" in the Hobbit films), Hamlet, Prince of Denmark takes Shakespeare's original into unexpected realms, reinventing a story we thought we knew.

    JD says: "Ten hours well spent"
    "To read, or not to read ...?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    To read or not to read? Easy - read the damn thing! A superb novelisation of one of the greatest works of literature in the English language, and brilliantly narrated too. Onto Macbeth now ...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A History of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Andrew Marr
    • Narrated By Andrew Marr, David Timson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (842)
    Performance
    (518)
    Story
    (529)

    From the earliest civilizations to the 21st century: a global journey through human history, published alongside a landmark BBC One television series. Our understanding of world history is changing, as new discoveries are made on all the continents and old prejudices are being challenged. In this truly global journey, Andrew Marr revisits some of the traditional epic stories, from classical Greece and Rome to the rise of Napoleon, but surrounds them with less familiar material, from Peru to the Ukraine, China to the Caribbean.

    Adisha Kariyawasam says: "Awsome, educational and epic work"
    "Big History!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Big History, and this 26 hour long blitz through the rise and rise of humanity - in all its multifarious and nefarious cultural forms - is pure bliss. Andrew Marr has basically taken the best bits from the best history books and strung them together into one very readable narrative. I don't think there's anything particularly ground-breaking here, but it successfully and entertainingly contextualises and compares the empires, technologies and memes that have shaped the society we find ourselves in now. An excellent story, well narrated - read it and feel glad you don't live back then.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Nicholas Shaxson
    • Narrated By Tim Bentinck
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Most people regard tax havens as being relevant only to celebrities, crooks and spivs, and mistakenly believe that the main offshore problems are money laundering and terrorist financing. These are only small parts of the whole picture. The offshore system has been (discreetly) responsible for the greatest ever shift of wealth from poor to rich. It also undermines our democracies by offering the wealthiest members of society escape routes from normal democratic controls.

    M says: "To pay, or not to pay tax ...?"
    "To pay, or not to pay tax ...?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    To pay taxes, or not to pay taxes, that is the question ... To which the corporate, international financial and global criminal fraternity have answered with a resounding No. This is a wonderfully dark tale of money eating itself and spewing out more, on which it then feeds and grows, warping the laws and norms of civil society to their own needs to the point that all we can do is willingly, though blindly, throw ourselves into it to feed its relentless greed. A fascinating, inspiring and depressing book - brilliantly narrated, though poorly produced - that has left me angry and thoroughly intrigued. Read it. Then read it again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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