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Colin

WATFORD, United Kingdom
  • 97
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  • 588
  • helpful votes
  • 104
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  • Imperium

  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: Bill Wallis
  • Length: 13 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,033
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 937
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 937

When Tiro, the confidential secretary of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events which will eventually propel his master into one of the most famous courtroom dramas in history. The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Cicero, a brilliant young lawyer and spellbinding orator, determined to attain imperium - supreme power in the state.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb story, utterly superb narration.

  • By Amazon Customer on 09-01-17

All of a sudden, nothing happens...

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-06-18

I dunno, I'm really trying to like this book, but it's a real struggle. I'm a big fan of Robert Harris' work (Conclave and Munich are both excellent), and the reviews for this title were universally good. I see the RSC are putting on a play based on this book, so I thought this was a must-read title. But I'm almost halfway through and nothing has happened; There's no tension, no excitement, just nothing at all.

I have to say the narration by Bill Wallis is first-rate ( and spookily similar to John Hurt), I'm just finding the lack of any real meat in the story frustrating. I honestly think I may end up returning this one...

  • The Hanging Club

  • By: Tony Parsons
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 8 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 899
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 838
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 839

A band of vigilante executioners roam London's hot summer nights, abducting evil men and hanging them. Sentenced to death is the gang member who abused vulnerable girls, the wealthy drunk driver who mowed down a child and the hate preacher calling for the murder of British troops. As the bodies pile up and riots explode all over the sweltering city, DC Max Wolfe embarks on his most dangerous investigation yet: hunting a gang of killers whom many believe to be heroes....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very enjoyable

  • By tired & cynical on 12-10-16

Really unsettling...

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

Reviewed: 17-05-18

It’s a mark of Tony Parsons talent that his writing engages the reader almost immediately, and pretty much refuses to let go, keeping you hooked right up to the last page.

For me, however, this quality has backfired on this title, as I found the story so bleak, with continuous tales of innocent members of the public becoming the victims of senseless and extremely violent crime, which the police seem powerless to investigate and the courts unwilling to punish, so that the perpetrators literally walk away laughing.

A young father remonstrates with drunken youths who are urinating against his car, and is kicked to death whilst they film it for upload to YouTube; a college student looks at the wrong girl in a club and is blinded by the girl's boyfriend on the dance floor. And all the time, all the young crowd can think to do is film it...

Whilst I’m sure a good deal of the incidents depicted are based on real events, I just didn’t recognise Parson’s dark and dangerous London, filled with street violence and lawless gangs (despite the recent news events of 2018). This isn’t the London I know or have experienced over many decades of frequent visits to all areas. Like any big city London has its problems, but the dystopian world Parson draws would have you too scared to walk the streets, day or night.

I really don’t think I’ll be able to finish this…

  • History of the Groove: Healing Drummer

  • Personal Stories of Drumming and Rhythmic Inspiration
  • By: Russell Buddy Helm
  • Narrated by: Russell Buddy Helm
  • Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Russell Buddy Helm was classically trained from the age of eight and has performed and recorded with many greats: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Tim Buckley, Allman Brothers, Frank Zappa, Bethlehem Asylum, Mike Bloomfield, Kinky Friedman, Big Joe Turner, and many others, and also on soundtracks for Ron Howard and other filmmakers. He wrote the Star Wars comic strips for George Lucas.  

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A very different book...

  • By Colin on 15-05-18

A very different book...

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

Reviewed: 15-05-18

As a drummer myself, I could happily reel off the names of some of the greatest players of our time (Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Chad Wackermann) and be fairly sure the general public has no idea who I'm talking about. I was therefore curious about this book because, despite his undoubtedly-impressive CV, I've never heard of Buddy Helm. Well, I'm more than halfway through and I still have no idea who this guy is.

This is a very strange book, and is no 'Rags to Riches' story of rock 'n roll excess, private jets or hot-and-cold running supermodels. Buddy grows up in the deep south of the USA and becomes a jobbing drummer, touring continuously with a variety of bands from the time (late 60s onward) but, despite this, never actually breaking through to 'The Big Time'. A gun-for-hire he was, and a gun-for-hire he remained. The book is unclear about whether Buddy is a drummer in the traditional sense of the word, (ie: behind a drum kit) or whether he's a percussionist. Either way, the guy never stood still, and the book charts his endless touring, road-trips and one-night stands (in the performing context) that were his life.

I'll admit I'm finding the book fascinating and hard work in equal measures. Fascinating because of the times he lived through, including a tour where it turns out the piano player was an FBI plant, sent there to 'get the dirt on the hippies'. Hard work because the story meanders around a lot, with little overall flow, and Buddy himself has a tendency to mumble. And boy, does he repeat himself, and I mean a lot. If he's told the story about the dinner where the FBI tried to recruit him once, he's told it four or five times. At one point I thought the book had jumped back a few chapters, but no.

Buddy's narration is delivered in a slow drawl, reminiscent of the Tommy Chong character from the Cheech & Chong sketches, and his tempo when he speaks is disjointed and often pauses in mid-sentence, if not mid-word.

Buddy also has that endearing American outlook where everything that's important in the USA 'must' have global consequences, and so consequently refers to Watergate as an event that 'Shook the world', and Dick Clarke (a music presenter of the late 60s) introducing Buddy's band 'to the world'. Yeah, right....

While writing this, I just noticed that the book is only 10hrs long. It feels a l-o-t longer...

  • Speed of Sound

  • By: Thomas Dolby
  • Narrated by: Thomas Dolby
  • Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42

Thomas Dolby's hit songs 'She Blinded Me with Science' and 'Hyperactive!' catapulted him to international fame in the early '80s. A pioneer of new wave and electronica, Thomas combined a love for invention with a passion for music, and the result was a new sound that defined an era of revolutionary music. But as record company politics overshadowed the joy of performing, Thomas found a surprising second act.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Astonishing Life...

  • By Colin on 26-04-18

An Astonishing Life...

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

Reviewed: 26-04-18

This is possibly the best music autobiography I've ever read. Even if you're not a fan of Dolby's music it's a fair bet you've heard his signature other-worldly, sweeping synths on such tracks as Foreigner's 'Waiting for a girl like you' or Bowie's Live Aid 1985 set.

I'll admit I have a bad habit of skimming the opening chapters of a biography, eager to get to the meat of the story, I don't much care where they went to school or what their pet dog was called. No such problem here as Dolby kicks off with his first 'proper' job in a band, playing for the much-underrated Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club in the early 1980s. This led to a tour with Lene Lovich, which led to a meeting with Foreigner, and away he goes.

But this is no tale of rags-to-riches pop superstardom; far from it. With each success comes a corresponding challenge that leaves Dolby thinking that Fate is out to get him. On the eve of starting a 30-date USA tour to support the excellent "Aliens Ate My Buick" album, his record company (EMI) call to say they're not sure how to pigeon-hole his sound and this is affecting their marketing efforts. Consequently, rather than put some actual effort into solving the situation, they're withdrawing support (and backing) for the tour.

In the mid 1990s Dolby just gives up on the music industry. He's sold millions of albums and yet is still struggling to get by, and so Part Two of the book tells the tale of his venture into the world of high-tech business, and what a roller-coaster that turns out to be.

I've been a fan of Dolby's work since the 80s, and found parts of the story would cause me to visit Spotify to relisten to his music, only now with a far better understanding of what the songs are about.

Dolby narrates clearly and very engagingly throughout, and comes across as a very decent, honest man, swimming against the tides of corporate America.

A highly recommended peek into the worlds of the American music industry and Silicon Valley.

And you are going to love the Stevie Wonder story...

  • Theft by Finding

  • Diaries: Volume One
  • By: David Sedaris
  • Narrated by: David Sedaris
  • Length: 13 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 282
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 258
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 257

For nearly four decades, David Sedaris has faithfully kept a diary in which he records his thoughts and observations on the odd and funny events he witnesses. Anyone who has attended a live Sedaris event knows that his diary readings are often among the most joyful parts of the evening. But never before have they been available in print or audio.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not what you might be expecting...

  • By Colin on 15-03-18

Not what you might be expecting...

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

Reviewed: 15-03-18

I am a great fan of David Sedaris’ work, both the written and the performances, in which he shows an uncanny eye for finding the ridiculous and absurd in everyday people and events. Listen to any of his books, and you will find yourself smiling, a lot.

Not so with this title in which, through his personal diaries, Sedaris draws a picture of an America far darker and more dangerous than Hollywood ever let on, populated by bigoted and ignorant people who’s only thought is ‘What’s in this for me?’

David is in his 20s, and has relocated from the family home in North Carolina to the big, bad city of Chicago. Financial pressures mean he has to consider every penny when scouting for a rental apartment, and thus he ends up living in a very run-down and dirty part of town. He learns early on that if you want the cops to come to your aid you need to use the word ‘Gun’ when you call them, otherwise they just ain’t coming.

A typical day for Sedaris starts with the physical and verbal abuse he experiences from passing cars or strangers on the street pretty much every time he steps outside, followed by witnessing repeated abuse toward waiters in his favourite diner, then having his possessions snatched from him by vagrants as he walks along. This is then compounded by the dark, awful stories of abuse, addiction and squalor he hears from random people he encounters. A nation of helpless, hopeless people who have given up, and now spend their days with only one aim, to get as high as possible at someone else’s expense. People with nothing, who have nothing to lose…

The writing, and Sedaris’ delivery, is as brilliant as ever, even though I do find I take a deep breath every time I take off my headphones, just to clean the dirt out of my system.

A very different listening experience…

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

  • A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • By: Mark Manson
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 5 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,064
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,889
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,837

For decades we've been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F*ck positivity," Mark Manson says. "Let's be honest, shit is f*cked, and we have to live with it." In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn't sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is - a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is his antidote to the coddling, let's-all-feel-good mind-set that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • First half interesting, second half meh

  • By P. Healey on 30-03-17

Gold-dust from start to finish...

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

Reviewed: 12-02-18

This book is amazing. I've found myself re-listening to every chapter, sometimes 2-3 times, and this morning I've started back at the very beginning. It's just that good.

Chapter One is quite light-hearted and entertaining, and I found myself stifling my laughter from my fellow travellers on the daily commute. But, as the chapters progress, the tone becomes more serious, more direct, and I really did find myself recognising some of the behaviours discussed, both in myself and others I know.

The author's style is direct and frank, and he pulls no punches when debunking lifestyle gurus, self-help 'consultants' and the current trend across all areas of the media that extols how 'Everything should be awesome, every day'.

He also illustrates his points with stories of people he has known, some types of whom you probably know too. The ambitious 'go-getter', always with a million-dollar project in the works, always name-dropping, high on their own importance and awesomeness, and yet who never actually achieve anything. The cynical naysayer, too scared of failure to try anything new, and yet always there with a sarcastic put-down to belittle those who do.

The writing is both informative and well-paced, keeping you interested in the subject in hand. This is very ably helped by the excellent narration of Roger Wayne, who is engaging throughout.

A first-class title, brilliantly written and performed. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  • Mythos

  • By: Stephen Fry
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,731
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,149
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,116

The Greek myths are amongst the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney. They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. You'll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia's revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I need more!

  • By Lily on 08-11-17

Excellent re-telling of the early myths

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

Reviewed: 30-01-18

This has been a most enjoyable re-introduction to the titans, gods and assorted characters that populate the early Greek myths. I particularly liked the way that the Greeks created such intricate stories in a bid to make some sense of everyday things they didn't understand (The path of the sun, the seasons, why crows are black...)

As expected, Stephen Fry proves yet again why he is hardly off of the TV or radio these days, with his precise and measured tones keeping the listener both engaged and entertained.

Like other listeners I was hoping for the book to go further, and cover the tales of the epic heroes like Theseus, Hercules, Icaraus & Daedalus, and Achilles, but I'm getting the impression that book is still to come....

Highly recommended

  • Artemis

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: Rosario Dawson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,975
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,643
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5,633

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Jazzed Up Sci-Fi Crime Caper

  • By Simon on 15-11-17

Another winner from Andy Weir

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

Reviewed: 27-12-17

I imagine that, like me, a lot of people bought this title based on their enjoyment of The Martian, and I’m very pleased to say that I was not disappointed. From the get-go, the story grabs you and never lets go.

Without giving anything away, the basic premise is based in a colony city on the moon. Our heroine, Jazz Bashara, spends her days working as a loader in the cargo bays, whilst all the time building a very profitable sideline by smuggling goods to order for anyone who can pay.
But the opportunity for some highly-paid side-work results in far-reaching consequences.

As with The Martian, the heroine faces seemingly insurmountable problems, comes up with a solution, which then introduces different problems in need of further fixes.

The narration by Rosario Dawson is first-rate, and kept me engaged throughout. Highly recommended

  • Uncle Dysfunctional

  • Uncompromising Answers to Life's Most Painful Problems
  • By: AA Gill
  • Narrated by: Alexander Armstrong
  • Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91

From 2011 up until his death at the end of 2016, the inimitable AA Gill reigned supreme as Uncle Dysfunctional, Esquire's resident advice columnist. In this raffish, hilarious, scathing yet often surprisingly humane collection, Gill applies his unmatched wit to the largest and smallest issues of our time. Whether you're struggling to satisfy your other half, having a crisis over your baldness, don't like your daughter's boyfriend or need the definitive rules on shorts, leather jackets and man-bags, AA Gill has all the answers - but you'd better brace yourself first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Finally the advice we've all been looking for!

  • By Tom on 16-11-17

Absolute Gold-Dust

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

Reviewed: 27-12-17

This book is a gem, and has that rare quality of standing up to repeated listening.

AA Gill's Agony Uncle dispenses his unique mixture of insight, opinions and wit with such panache that you will be laughing out loud.

But it's not all risque humour and bluntness; for some of the problems sent in he comes up with realistic and workable, if a bit left field, solutions.

The uncle you always wished you'd had when growing up. Masterfully read by Alexander Armstrong. Highly recommended...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Can't Stand Up for Falling Down

  • Rock 'n' Roll War Stories
  • By: Allan Jones
  • Narrated by: Matt Bates
  • Length: 12 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60

Allan Jones launched Uncut magazine in 1997 and for 15 years wrote a popular monthly column called Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, based on his experiences as a music journalist in the 70s and 80s. By turns hilarious, cautionary, poignant and powerful, the Stop Me...stories collected here include encounters with some of rock's most iconic stars, including David Bowie, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Smiths, R.E.M. and Pearl Jam.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Funny, touching and informative

  • By Jim on 09-09-17

A must for any music lover

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

Reviewed: 24-11-17

As a sallow youth of 14, I discovered my older brother's copy of Melody Maker and was instantly hooked. At last, a publication that talked about the only thing I really cared about at that age; music.

Our story starts when a 21yr old Alan Jones blags his way past an interview with the paper to become it's newest junior features writer having, it must be noted, zero experience in such a role. But there's one thing Alan can do very well, and that's drink; and so in no time he finds himself the confidant and best buddy to any number of the rock stars who strode the earth from the early 70s through to the late 90s

But this was no easy ride, not one bit of it; negotiating the fragile ego of a rock star was a 24hr-a-day job, and you always had to be on your guard, in case you caused some offence and were banished, such punishment ranging from sullen silences (Van Morrison) to a full-on violent assault in which teeth were lost (Tony Iommi).

The book is very well structured, with each chapter dealing with a specific meeting or event, and Jones painting a world filled with petulant prima donnas, filled with their own importance and surrounded by people whose soul job was to pander to every whim. (Bowie is the only one who comes across as a decent person)

A word must be said about the narration by Matt Bates, which is excellent. He has a gift for giving an inflection of a star's voice without going into an out-and-out impersonation. (Although his Sting voice was eerily accurate.)

This book is amazing, and a wonderful reminder (should we need it) that rational, sane people have no place in the music industry.

Fascinating stuff...