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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

69
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 58 reviews
  • 72 ratings
  • 163 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
20

  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1244)
    Performance
    (406)
    Story
    (413)

    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.

    M says: "A worthy challenge."
    "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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1168)
    Performance
    (1131)
    Story
    (1124)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive-and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills-and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit-he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Robert says: "Great 'read'"
    "Excellent!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Absolutely wonderful! Great, tense writing, flawless narration and spotless production - what more could you ask for? It's not literature, but it is one of those truly visceral books that made me smile, laugh and wince at every calamity that befalls our poor, yet brilliant, hero. Read it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Tom Holland
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (40)

    In the 6th century AD, the Near East was divided between two venerable empires: the Persian and the Roman. A hundred years on and one had vanished forever, while the other seemed almost finished. Ruling in their place were the Arabs: an upheaval so profound that it spelt, in effect, the end of the ancient world. In The Shadow of the Sword, Tom Holland explores how this came about.

    Sheridan says: "I've struggled with this but my fault"
    "Epic. And bloody."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A vast and epic account of the blood-soaked centuries that saw the fall of the ancient Zoroastrian and Christian empires, and the rise of Islam. I found the book quite difficult, but I think this was due more to the audio format - where it is more difficult to keep track of the names of people and places - than to the writing itself. However, it was very interesting and the tales from that era are certainly full of drama. And blood.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dinner

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Herman Koch
    • Narrated By Clive Mantle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (94)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (42)

    A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son.

    CARRYN says: "Truly Excellent"
    "A wonderfully dark modern parable."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a sucker for a good allegory, and Herman Koch serves up a deliciously dark apologue in "The Dinner" with the dysfunctional families at the heart of the tale representing those of us in the privileged West, and how - either through complacency, complicity or actual downright bloodyminded and fully conscious awareness - we'll cross our so called "civilised" moral borders in order to protect our own, and hang onto our entitled lifestyle, should they be threatened.
    There's nobody to like here and, wonderfully, the only character who's willing to do what's "right" is the one we universally and instinctively despise: a vain and self-serving politician. We're all in here somewhere, no matter our class, and we're all found guilty. A wonderful and disturbing book that was brilliantly narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Treasure Island

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Narrated By Tim Gregory
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Clear the decks for one of the greatest swashbuckling stories ever told. Masterfully crafted, Treasure Island is a stunning yarn of piracy on the fiery tropic seas, an unforgettable tale of treachery that embroils a host of legendary swashbucklers, from honest young Jim Hawkins to sinister, two-timing Israel Hands, to evil incarnate, blind Pew.

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

    Wonderfully dark and full of adventure, intrigue and rum. An absolute classic that I can't believe I've waited till I'm nearly 40 to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hilldiggers: A Novel of the Polity

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Neal Asher
    • Narrated By David Marantz
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    During a war between two planets in the same solar system - each occupied by adapted humans - what is thought to be a cosmic superstring is discovered. After being cut, this object collapses into four cylindrical pieces, each about the size of a tube train. Each is densely packed with either alien technology or some kind of life. They are placed for safety in three ozark cylinders of a massively secure space station.

    M says: "Solid Asher."
    "Solid Asher."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great piece of scifi that's not as brutal as Asher's other books, and probably the better for it. Thoroughly enjoyed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Daron Acemoglu, James Robinson
    • Narrated By Dan Woren
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (43)

    Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

    judith says: "History made science"
    "Repetitive, but interesting."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As has been said - repetitively - by other reviewers, this is a very repetitive book. And not just thematically. If you removed the words "inclusive", "extractive", "institutions", "glorious revolution of 1688" and ”creative destruction" the book would be about 9 hours shorter. It's still quite interesting (especially when they zoom in on specific histories, like with Botswana, Uzbekistan and Brazil, about which I knew nothing) and I kept going to the end, but the Grand Theory being espoused doesn't seem all that remarkable, unfortunately. (It can be summarised as: If your public institutions are strong enough to stop the gangsters from getting in charge, you're probably going to be okay, if not, you're screwed.) So, not bad, but not brilliant either. (Did I mention it's repetitive?")

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Siddhartha

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Hermann Hesse
    • Narrated By Victoria McGee
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    The spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha. One of the most influential books of the 1960s.

    M says: "The original hippy."
    "The original hippy."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Best read on a beach - stoned - with someone else who - also stoned - wants to discuss life, the universe and everything. Buddhism is just as strange and plausible as most other religiophilosophical creations, but at least it values the profane as much as the heavenly. A cool little book with unexpected twists, dreamily narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Look Who's Back

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Timur Vermes
    • Narrated By Julian Rhind-Tutt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (300)
    Performance
    (283)
    Story
    (283)

    Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed - no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen.

    Wendy says: "A very guilty and entirely disconcerting pleasure"
    "Hitler. Part II"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The point of great satire is to poke a stick at the great and the good, the bad and the ugly, and you don't get much uglier than Hitler. And the author brilliantly uses Hitler as both poker and pokee. Through his eyes he dissects our modern society, with its technological marvels and freedoms, and shows us to be less than what we should be (to put it mildly ....), while contrasting us against Hitler's pure self-assuredness with his monstrous ego and vision of how the world should be. Nobody - not the characters or the readers - come out of this looking good, and that is the sign of great satire. Beautifully translated, narrated and produced, I'd recommend this to everyone.

    0 of 0 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
    (101)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (61)

    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
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    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

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