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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
  • 55 reviews
  • 69 ratings
  • 160 titles in library
  • 25 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
    (1227)
    Performance
    (389)
    Story
    (396)

    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
  • Treasure Island

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Narrated By Tim Gregory
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    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
    (70)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (42)

    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
    (276)
    Performance
    (259)
    Story
    (259)

    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
    (95)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (55)

    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
  • Flash Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (180)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (166)

    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
    (378)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (93)

    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
    (695)
    Performance
    (658)
    Story
    (654)

    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

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