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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

62
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 45 reviews
  • 59 ratings
  • 149 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
16

  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    Overall
    (1189)
    Performance
    (348)
    Story
    (359)

    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
  • Macbeth: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By A. J. Hartley, David Hewson
    • Narrated By Alan Cumming
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (31)

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Ascent of Money

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Hugh Ross
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (33)

    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.

    1 of 1 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
    (62)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (61)

    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 ...

    1 of 1 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
    Overall
    (806)
    Performance
    (482)
    Story
    (494)

    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
    (35)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    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
  • On the Steel Breeze

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By Adjoa Andoh
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (70)

    A thousand years in the future, mankind's influence expands into the universe. Alastair Reynolds epic vision of our journey into deep space will redefine Space Opera. Mankind is making its way out into the universe on massive generation ships. The new novel from Alastair Reynolds is one for fans of Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks. Read by Adjoa Andoh.

    John says: "Poseidon's Children"
    "Chillin' on The Steel Breeze"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's a place for slow, epic and thoughtful science fiction, and Alistair Reynolds' Poseidon's Children series is a wonderful example. The universe he's creating is expanding with each chapter and book, and he's filling it with characters that you slowly get to know and care about as they deal with the never ending crises that he throws in their paths. It helps that it's extremely well narrated as the African-ness of the family at the heart of the story really comes across strongly and this adds a very interesting feel to the whole novel. Chilled but intelligent stuff - recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Quantum Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Hannu Rajaniemi
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut. Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster.

    Carole says: "Narration-style enhances this story's 'otherness'"
    "Great ideas; no characters ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a story full of ideas and brilliantly imagined technologies but unfortunately the characters lacked life, and their earnest humourlessness left me feeling irritated that their adventures were getting in the way of the view. And, though the audiobook was excellently narrated and produced, it couldn't compensate for this lack of humanity at the heart of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Gospel of Loki

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Joanne M. Harris
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (69)

    With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge. But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds.

    D. Menashy says: "Loki Lips...."
    "Never trust a demon ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The tone of the writing (and narration) is spot-on here. Loki is perfectly portrayed as the cunning, callous yet charming God he was. A brilliant, contemporary re-telling of the ancient tales - thoroughly recommended!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The News: A User's Manual

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Alain de Botton
    • Narrated By Nicholas Bell
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. In his dazzling new book, de Botton takes twenty-five archetypal news stories - including an airplane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview and a political scandal - and submits them to unusually intense analysis with a view to helping us navigate our news-soaked age.

    judith says: "Not his best"
    "On The Media ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As always, after finishing one of Alain de Botton's books, you look up with a fresh perspective on something that had seemed sorted and steady in your mind; the world seems to be a slightly brighter and more interesting place. Here he takes on that multi-headed behemoth, the Media, and slowly dissects it and its relationship with us so that we can better understand its motivations and faults. A very good read, though the production (the music, and the constant interruptive numbers) was slightly distracting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs)
    • By Tony Judt
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (35)

    Almost a decade in the making, this much-anticipated grand history of postwar Europe from one of the world's most esteemed historians and intellectuals is a singular achievement. Postwar is the first modern history that covers all of Europe, both east and west, drawing on research in six languages to sweep readers through 34 nations and 60 years of political and cultural change-all in one integrated, enthralling narrative.

    Marcus says: "Masterful"
    "Eye opening."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fantastic book that puts some much needed perspective on the Europe we find ourselves living with at the turn of the 21st century. It filled in many of the gaps that lay in my ignorance of our continent, and opened my eyes - and mind - to many things of which I simply was not aware. Evocatively written, this is historical story telling at its best, and should be read by everyone with an interest in recent history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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