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  • The Winter of the Witch

  • Winternight Trilogy, Book 3
  • By: Katherine Arden
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Gati
  • Length: 14 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 44

Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers - and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic. Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya's shoulders. But she may not be able to save them all.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect ending<br />

  • By Mrs U on 12-01-19

A bit of a slog!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-02-19

The author has packed everything that I did not like about the first two books into this third and final instalment. The whimsy and fancifulness in Vasilisa's world are mostly gone. Long sections of complex emotional interplay and backstory explanations left me slogging wearily along. Unfortunately, I found that I started to dislike Vasilisa as she matured into her final form and the story never captured the wonder I so enjoyed in its predecessors.

  • Bring Up the Bodies

  • By: Hilary Mantel
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 14 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,943
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,390
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,390

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith's son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. In Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb

  • By Maddy on 02-06-12

genuinely superior historical drama.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-10-17

A very well written and enjoyable genre novel.

History, in this novel, does not feel irrelevant or out of date - but present, real and deadly dangerous.

The main protagonists are beautifully written and well fleshed out. Ultimately, however, the author's skill in character development is why I couldn't give this novel a higher score - I did not like any of the main characters!

King Henry is both childlike, selfish and politely tyrannical. Thomas Cromwell is amoral, manipulative and cunningly ruthless. There is no honour or nobility in this! I was not able, at any point, to cheer for the characters. What they achieved, was always despicable.

Look, the author succeeds in what she set out to do. No one is a hero; because in real life no one is a hero. The central characters could come straight from a Mailer, Green or le Carre piece.

All the main characters in this novel are flawed but the ultimatly demoralising honesty of this book, is that all these characters know that they are flawed. They are all self-aware. They all tell lies. They all attempt to deceive themselves. They are all so falliblely human; It is the Law, it is Parliament, it its the will of God. It is all so human and so sad.

Very well worth pointing out, as a strange highlight, is the execution scene of Anne Boleyn. I felt like I was at an execution. I did not want to look!

Simon Vance is a world-class actor and delivers a great performance here. Such was his commitment to the text, that I struggled to believe he was both Henry and Cromwell, at some points. This is a great example of where a narrator truly makes a story sing and come alive.

I liked this book - the performance and the narrative. Make no mistake: this is literature and not a page-turner, though. It can be heavy gowing and esoteric. This is not a "feel good" novel. It is human, brutal and depressing. Yet, such are the skills of the author and narrator, that it feels contemporary, truethful and worth the journey.

Honestly, this is an uncomfortably novel. It is definitely not for all, but it is something that I have thought about after the fact.

I can't score it higher because it is just so bleak and the protagonist just so awful. However, Vance is brilliant and for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, as a genre, this is a supervisor if sometimes heavy gowing, quality audio book.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Lolita

  • By: Vladimir Nabokov
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Irons
  • Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,019
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 855
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 852

Savagely funny and hauntingly sad, Lolita is Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel. It is the story of tortured college professor Humbert Humbert and his dangerous obsession with honey-skinned schoolgirl Dolores Haze.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a truly spellbinding and brilliant book

  • By Tom on 04-05-10

Mesmerizing narration!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-05-15

Over half a century on from its initial publication, this book still remains disturbing and shocking!

Universally accepted as a modern classic, it is described as a tragic comedy. However, don't expect any laughs. The author creates a truly detestable anti hero who's relationship with the eponymous Lolita should leave no place for any emotion except revulsion. That you do feel empathy for him, towards the end of the book, is something that you may not thank the author for.

The book is written in a self-consciously literary style. There is subtle word play and considerable use of French phrases and language which are impossible to fully appreciate in a rapid audio format. The plot is easily followed but feels contrived; with a final conclusion that I found unrealistic and a slight afterthought.

Narration in this work is simply mesmerizing. Jeremy Irons gives a performance which is both urbane, educated and monstrous all at the same time. Igore his portrayal of peripheral characters, it is in his depiction of the central protagonist that his liquid voice resonates love, desolation and madness.

This is not an easy audiobook to listen to. The subject matter is revolting. Linguistically, the book is knowingly high brow. There are sections of it written in French, which receive no translation!

This is a clsssic though. It comes alive through Iron's haunting voice and will stay with the listener many weeks after.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful