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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

51
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 39 reviews
  • 49 ratings
  • 132 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
10

  • Wolf Hall

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Slater
    Overall
    (1095)
    Performance
    (255)
    Story
    (263)

    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 Quantum Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Hannu Rajaniemi
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    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
    (32)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (30)

    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.

    M says: "Never trust a demon ..."
    "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
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    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
    (97)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    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
  • Terra

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Mitch Benn
    • Narrated By Mitch Benn
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (63)

    An SF fable for the young-at-heart from stand-up comedian and satirical song-writer Mitch Benn. No-one trusts humanity. No-one can quite understand why we're intent on destroying the only place we have to live in the Universe. No-one thinks we're worth a second thought. And certainly no-one is about to let us get off Rrth. That would be a complete disaster. But one alien thinks Rrth is worth looking at. Not humanity, obviously, we're appalling, but until we manage to kill every other living thing on the planet there are some truly wonderful places on Rrth and some wonderful creatures living in them.

    JH says: "Funny, touching and beautifully read"
    "Mitch Benn to the masses!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the multi-talented Mitch Benn's first novel and, as I'm already a big fan of his satirical songwriting, I was delighted - if not all that surprised - to discover that he's a published author too. And then to see that he's following in the footsteps of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and using Science Fiction as his medium - my cup of joy did overflow!
    Terra is fun and funny, with heart and depth too, but it does feel like a first novel and its simplicity is probably its weakest point: it is quite predictable. However, I can't imagine where Mr. Benn will take us next, but wherever it is, it's gonna be fun!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Testament of Mary

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Colm Toibin
    • Narrated By Meryl Streep
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (46)

    The incomparable, multi-award-winning Meryl Streep reads this spellbinding novel from acclaimed author Cólm Toibín. 'I remember everything. Memory fills my body. As much as blood and bones.' This is Mary. A mother whose son was taken from her and lost to the world. A woman who lives now in exile, watched by those who seek to preserve the sanctity of her son's memory. But Mary's recollections of his difficult life and tragic death are a truth that few who knew her son now recognize.

    Caroline says: "Wonderful re-telling of an old story"
    "Wonderful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fantastic book to read alongside 'Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth' by Reza Aslan, as they both try to humanise Jesus, and peek behind the vast mythology that has sprung up around him. Whether or not you believe he was the son of God he was, first and foremost, the son of Mary, and her loss is the greatest, and this is beautifully portrayed in this book. A great read - fantastically narrated by Meryl Streep - and I'd fully recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Midwich Cuckoos

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By John Wyndham
    • Narrated By Nathaniel Parker
    Overall
    (78)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (27)

    Midwich is a quiet English village until, one night, a curious occurrence results in the village being cut-off from the outside world for a day. When all the women of child-bearing age become pregnant, it is clear that something strange is happening. This novel was the basis for the classic science-fiction film, Village of the Damned.

    Peter says: "Very good"
    "Beautifully dated."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a beautifully dated science fiction horror novel. The tone, style and language - brilliantly performed by the narrator in the audiobook I listened to - is of its time, in postwar little England, and what it lacks in action and pace it more than makes up for in tension and moral exploration. A great idea, excellently crafted, and thoroughly enjoyed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Harvest

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Jim Crace
    • Narrated By John Keating
    Overall
    (36)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (28)

    As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the manor house set on fire, the harvest blackened, three new arrivals punished, and his neighbours accused of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it...

    Peter Hope-Jones says: "A good (maybe great) book poorly read"
    "Very good."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love it when a novel takes me to a place or time that's new and unknown to me, and 'Harvest' certainly did that. The vague impressions I have of that period in British history, around 1800, when the aristocratic landowners were able to clear the common lands of the common people, in order to use the forests for the much more profitable rearing of sheep, were brought to wonderful, brutal life by the author.
    What I like about this novel, though, is that there are no innocents. The village is ancient, but not venerable; it's not a bucolic paradise but a closeted little world with harsh justice and a stagnant gene pool. The indigents may be innocent of the crimes they're accused of, but they're unforgiving and vengeful in the end; and the landlord, and his people, are, for better or worse, responsible for preparing the way for the industrial revolution and our modern world ... So we're all found wanting in this tale. It's well narrated (though the narrator's idiosyncratic pronunciation of 'cloth' as 'clorth' was distracting) and I'll definitely be searching out more of Jim Crace's work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Doctor Sleep

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Will Patton
    Overall
    (446)
    Performance
    (414)
    Story
    (416)

    Stephen King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special 12-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

    Sarah says: "Stick with The Shining"
    "Redrum ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a cracking good story that had me hooked straight off. Stephen King's strength, I think, is in the way he gets you into his characters' heads, and thereby letting them get into yours. (This was helped by the absolutely brilliant narration of Will Patton whose performance was a master class in voicings, dynamics and story telling.) King's a very natural writer, and his dialogue sparks with beautiful home-spun idioms which really do bring the people to life. I don't think Doctor Sleep is particularly scary, but it is dark and tense, and that'll do for me. So, overall, an extremely enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone who - like myself - always knew there was something sinister about motor homes ...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Persuasion

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    Overall
    (120)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (37)

    Anne Elliot has grieved for seven years over the loss of her first love, Captain Frederick Wentworth. But events conspire to unravel the knots of deceit and misunderstanding in this beguiling and gently comic story of love and fidelity.

    Caroline says: "Juliet Stevenson excels again!"
    "Persuaded."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've never read any Austen before, but having lived in the UK now for 20 years I've kinda soaked up the period drama thang by osmosis and was pretty sure of what to expect - or so I thought ... While the plot was fairly straight forward, when it came to the characters Ms. Austen didn't shy away from baring her teeth and taking a merry bite at the crass and petty snobs that filled her society. I thoroughly enjoyed the way she took the p**s out of the families and their obsession with class and correctness, and exposed their hypocrisy - especially regarding the ethics of wealth and family honour: she did it with a keen eye and a wonderfully subtle wit. (I listened to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson, and her voicings really did help to grasp the characters' natures.) Thoroughly, and surprisingly, enjoyed!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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