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The Dalai Lama's Cat + The Dalai Lama's Cat: Guided Meditations cover art

Whimsical imaginary tale of the Dalai Lama's cat

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

Reviewed: 11-09-19

I am not entirely sure who this book is aimed at. It is either a cat story or a book about Tibertan Buddhism and I am not sure which. It is the imagined tale of the Dalai Lama's cat who lives in McLeod Ganj with his holiness having been rescued as a kitten and bought up in the Dalai Lama's palace. The cat tells the stories of the various people who have met with the Dalai Lama and the wisdom that His Holiness imparts on his audience. Much of the book is the story of the cat and her various adventures in the kitchens and the cafes of McLeod Ganj but there are some interesting snippets that may or, most likely, may not have been said by His Holiness. This is obviously a successful book as there are now three and soon to be four in the series and David Michie's soft Cape voice is an easy listen.

Me cover art

Absurdly brilliant memoir

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

Reviewed: 09-09-19

I do like Vic Reeves who is a character created by Jim Moir, And this is the memoir of Jim Moir, amusingly titled Me:Moir, which, in itself is an act of comic genius. Along with Spike Milligan and Eric Morecambe, Vic Reeves is one of those people who can make you giggle just by thinking about him. I had already bought this book as an actual book (remember those, kids?) and had read the first few chapters when I saw that this was available on Audible too narrated by the man himself.
It does not disappoint. It tells the story of a young Jim growing up in Leeds and moving to Darlington and his childhood adventures including, amongst other things, budgerigars, painted haversacks, terrapin sandwiches, Hawkwind and the inspiration for the "Dove from Above" feature on Big Night. Bob Mortimer only gets a few passing mentions in the book. Presumably because he has now found his own fame and fortune larking about on the riverbanks with Paul Whitehouse. This is as absurd as it is brilliant.

Emma Thompson cover art

Emma Thompson talks Northanger Abbey and reading

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

Reviewed: 03-09-19

Here Emma Thompson talks about her narration of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. I read Northanger when I was on holiday in Portugal last year. I had already finished my holiday reading and went to the book exchange in the hotel lobby and after shuffling through the usual Mills and Boon, EL James, Wilbur Smith and Tom Clancy paperback I came across a worn but readable edition of Northanger Abbey. I had not read Jane Austen before but was immediately captivated. Whilst this is one of her lesser works which was written early in her career and published posthumously, this is still a great work of literature from the gothic period and I liked it a lot. I enjoyed listening to Emma Thompson talking about her thoughts about the novel and how she had read it as a 13 year old and again recently. And I really liked it when Emma talked about the books she has read recently. There are some brilliant recommendations in here and I re-wound and listened to that bit a couple of times scrobbling down the books she mentioned. I will certainly be listening to the audiobook of Northanger too, it sounds great.

The Wall cover art

Dystopian near future vision is well defined

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

Reviewed: 03-09-19

John Lanchester has imagined the near future in a Black Mirror type dystopian vision that supposes that the United Kingdom will build a wall to protect its coasts to prevent the invasion of "others". Simple extrapolation of current world events that have seen the rise of popularism, the building of a wall to protect the Southern borders of the United States and the United Kingdom wanting to turn its back on the world to go it alone via its self destructive Brexit policy, make it clear how and why the author has come to this frightening scenario. In this new world climate change has reduced the weather to two types of cold and the older generation are openly apologetic for destroying the environment.
This is not as far fetched as it sounds. And it certainly gives the reader cause for thought. This book was Long Listed for the Booker Prize this year and I can understand why. Despite the plot being a little thin in places, the scenario is believable and the characters are well defined. I enjoyed it anyway. Four stars.

FREE: Crackanory Too Cracked for TV - exclusive to Audible cover art

Five short stories with a twist

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

Reviewed: 01-09-19

This was a freebee and there is nothing wrong with that. Free stuff means you don't have to pay for it which means that you have more cash to spend on other stuff like more audio books so this is a good thing in my view.
There are five short stories in this collection and it is a sort of a cross between an adults' Jackanory and Tales of the Unexpected (I'm showing my age here). They are described as "too cracked for TV" whatever that means. Yes they are a bit saucy in places but there is nothing here that is unsuitable for older children. My favourite one was the one about the author whose character comes to life, it is very well written and performed and had been laughing out loud. The Egg one is quite funny too. Recommended.

Eddie Izzard cover art

Eddie Izzard : witty, charming and entertaining

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

Reviewed: 29-08-19

I have always admired Eddie Izzard and in this short interview he talks about his book Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens. It is his autobiography in which he talks about his life as a comic and how he came out as a transvestite before the terms transsexual / transgender were invented. He is an witty and charming and entertaining as ever. I still don't know what "jazz chickens" are though. I guess I will just have to buy the book to find out.

Frank cover art

Short book of story that inspired the movie

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

Reviewed: 29-08-19

I am a big fan of Jon Ronson. I am an even bigger fan on Frank Sidebottom who is the subject of this short book that was written in 2014 just after Frank Sidebottom / Chris Sievey's death. I saw Frank Sidebottom live many times and loved his anarchic stage show. I went to Timperley to see the fantastic statue of Frank Sidebottom unveiled one sunny Sunday afternoon to hoards of adoring fans many of whom had helped to pay for this via a crowd funding campaign. It was truly heart-warming. Jon was the keyboard player in Frank Sidebottom's Oh Blimey Big Band so he was as close as anyone to the man behind the mask and he tells the story of the early days in this book. I read this when it first came out and was a little disappointed at the time at its shortness (around 80 pages) some of which stray to other weird musical creations such as The Shaggs and, briefly, Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. Entertaining as it is, I would have liked to have heard more about Frank Sidebottom. The audio book version of the story is better than the book as it is read by Jon himself and he realty relates tot he story. Jon Ronson went on to make a film, called Frank, that was loosely based on the Frank Sidebottom story which I quite liked but I would recommend Steve Sullivan's excellent film Being Frank : The Chris Sievey Story to anyone who is interested in finding out more about this amazing and strange character. It is fantastic. It really is.

Benjamin Zephaniah cover art

Interesting introduction to a great man

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

Reviewed: 28-08-19

Having already read Benjamin Zephaniah's incredible autobiography when it came out I am keen to explore the Audible version too. In this short interview Benjamin explains the process of writing and recording the book and some snippets of his incredible life. I will certainly be downloading this when I get some more credits.

Two Cheers for Anarchism cover art
  • Two Cheers for Anarchism
  • Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play
  • By: James C. Scott
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Arthur

Easy listening amble through anarchism

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

Reviewed: 28-08-19

I have tried to understand Anarchism before and ploughed through heavyweight tomes of political diatribe by the likes of Bakunin, Kropotkin and Proudhon. This is joyless task and makes you wonder whether the concept of a stateless society is really all it is cracked up to be. I took a deep breath, therefore, when I stated to listen to this book by anthropologist James C Scott which promises to be a defence of the anarchist perspective. It is written in what is describes as "six easy pieces" and it is, indeed, easy to listen to and there are several times during the "Fragments" of this book that a reader could be forgiven for thinking that this is a light hearted collections of anecdotes rather than a description of a political ideology. There is precious little mention of anarchist theories or thinkers or history and this is a welcome relief. Whilst this book does not really do much to explain or promote anarchist concepts it is an easy listen that amuses rather than taxes the reader / listener and this is not a bad thing.

Ed Balls cover art

There is more to Ed Balls than you think

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

Reviewed: 28-08-19

This short interview was recorded just as Ed Balls was starting his stint on Strictly Come Dancing. At the time he had been out of politics for around 18 months and had already been a contestant on Bake Off, become Chair of his beloved Norwich City FC and started to learn the piano, oh and written his autobiography which this interview is to promote. This book, apparently, is not a traditional chronological affair, rather it covers various themes such as friendship, loyalty, defeat and... erm... flowers. The interview does touch on politics and, at the time it was recorded, Theresa May had just been anointed Prime Minister. Ed's take on her is quite perceptive as he describes her as "a bit distant" and "dithers over making decisions"; how true.