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Mark Sanford-Wood

  • 15
  • reviews
  • 31
  • helpful votes
  • 22
  • ratings
  • Eye of the Needle

  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 86
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 75

It is 1944 and weeks before D-day. The Allies are disguising their invasion plans with a phony armada of ships and planes. Their plan would be ruined if an enemy agent found out...and then The Needle - Hitler’s prize undercover agent, a cold and professional killer - does just that. Hunted by MI5, he leads a murderous trail across Britain to a waiting U-boat. But he hasn't planned for a storm-battered island and the remarkable young woman who lives there.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A real page turner.

  • By D. A. Morse on 31-08-18

Great delivery of a poor story

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

Reviewed: 26-01-19

The performance is excellent and Ken Follett writes beautifully as always. Sadly, at multiple points in the book the plot is just ridiculous. Time and again the spy catchers allow their quarry to slip through their fingers in the most incompetent way. It is a shame, because better plot planning could have avoided the recurrent shattering of the illusion.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • White Lies

  • By: Stephen Leather
  • Narrated by: Paul Thornley
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 379
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 376

Dan "Spider" Shepherd is used to putting his life on the line - for his friends and for his job with MI5. So when one of his former apprentices is kidnapped in Pakistan, Shepherd doesn’t hesitate to join a rescue mission. But when the rescue plan goes horribly wrong, Shepherd ends up in the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists. His SAS training is of little help as his captors torture him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Action all the way

  • By B. Lawrenson on 24-03-15

Limited, but an easy listen

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

Reviewed: 25-08-15

Special Forces operating covertly behind Islamic lines to save the good guys held captive. Books of this nature have two potential pitfalls: falling into cliched stereotypes, and; being too linear and unimaginative. White Lies just about manages to avoid the first, but seems oblivious to the second. That is, of course, if we ignore the cliched view of Pakistani forces.

The writing is reasonable, and the performance makes listening easy so staying to the end is not a chore. There is nothing wrong with it, but you are left feeling like you have just eaten the mildest Cheddar, when you were hoping for Pont L'Eveque.

I can't help thinking that this ease of prose would be a real winner if it were harnessed to a plot that really pushed the envelope. Below average plot, with above average writing and performance gets this an average rating.

  • The Stranger House

  • By: Reginald Hill
  • Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
  • Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 292
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 149
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 149

For years, the Stranger House has stood in the village of Illthwaite, offering refuge to travellers. People like Sam, a brilliant young mathematician, who believes that anything that can't be explained by maths isn't worth explaining. And Miguel, a historian running from a priests' seminary, who sees ghosts. Sam is an experienced young woman, Miguel a 26-year-old virgin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good detective novel with a touch of romance

  • By Thomas on 02-11-07

Average offering that promised much more

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

Reviewed: 25-08-15

Like many, I came to this from The Woodcutter, so had high expectations. The Stranger House is not in the same league.

I agree with many that the narration leaves something to be desired, especially in the attempt at an Australian accent, but there was a half-decent stab to add some variety to the Cumbrian characters.

The plot was just a little bit all over the place, and felt loose. Bits and pieces seemed forced together in a way that didn't fit. Neither did the attempted foray into mysticism really work. In all, this felt like a book that could have been excellent if only a bit more work had been put in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Bone Garden

  • By: Tess Gerritsen
  • Narrated by: Lorelei King
  • Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

Present day: Julia Hamill has made a horrifying discovery on the grounds of her new home in rural Massachusetts: a skull buried in the rocky soil - human, female, and, according to the trained eye of Boston medical examiner Maura Isles, scarred with the unmistakable marks of murder. Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, medical student Norris Marshall has joined the ranks of local "resurrectionists".

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My very first Gerritsen!

  • By S.A.M on 05-07-15

Disjointed and unsatisfying

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

Reviewed: 25-08-15

I came to The Bone Garden from enjoying Body Double and was keen to try a bit more Tess Gerritsen. Sadly, she doesn't make the transition to historical fiction well.

The constant jumping back and forth between time frames is quite irritating, especially when the link between them is so tenuous. The plot is thin for what is essentially an 1830 whodunnit, and in that context the present day passages seem like unnecessary adornments serving no real purpose.

The main problem with this title, though, is the narration. Many people have praised Lorelei King, but I found her choice of accents painfully off-putting. The male voices all sounded like a comedienne attempting to poke fun at gruff macho men. Worse still the attempts at Irish accents perpetually reminded me of Lea Thompson attempting Maggie McFly's brogue in Back To The Future. Acceptable for a two minute scene, but not an entire book.

Generally rather disappointing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Proxima

  • By: Stephen Baxter
  • Narrated by: Kyle McCarley
  • Length: 17 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 526
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 495
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 496

The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous Galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light...

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Compelling story, odd accent

  • By Gadget on 24-01-15

Plausible and entertaining

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

Reviewed: 24-08-15

Sci-Fi is just not my thing. I downloaded this as I had hit a thin patch on Audible. So, Stephen Baxter had a tough job with me, and did it remarkably well. The reason I dislike most SF is because I am a scientist and detest the sloppiness of much of the genre. The author here worked hard to explain the technology he created for his world.

I enjoyed the development of the xenobiology, although once the solar flare problem has been overcome the length of time things would have been evolving around a red dwarf would have generated considerably more biodiversity.

That aside, the book really makes you think hard about the kinds of environments in which advanced biology might thrive. I had hoped Baxter would have made much more of the parallel universe angle that was opened up half way through, but perhaps that sits in a sequel.

There have been many comments criticising the narration, and so I was expecting difficulties. I had a very pleasant surprise indeed when I found the timbre and pitch to be very easy to listen to. There are one or two odd pronunciations, but that adds to the other-worldliness of the story.

Altogether, a well researched and thoughtful take on a possible future. It's not perfect in either plot or performance, but it is entertaining and thought-provoking.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Suspect

  • By: Michael Robotham
  • Narrated by: Crispin Redman
  • Length: 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,477
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,211
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,211

Joseph O'Loughlin appears to have the perfect life: a beautiful wife, a loving daughter, and a successful career as a clinical psychologist. But nothing can be taken for granted. Even the most flawless existence is only one loose thread away from unravelling. All it takes is a murdered girl, a troubled young patient - and the biggest lie of his life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • I only wish I'd read these in order!

  • By Gamester on 07-12-13

Unbelievable from start to finish

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

Reviewed: 24-08-15

A thriller can only work when meticulous attention is paid to the fine details, and only when characters behave in believable ways.

The Suspect fails in both of these vital respects. Ultimately, you cannot believe that anyone could be so stupid or egotistical as the main character, as he blunders through professional over-confidence to professional malpractice. Alternatively if you do believe it then you find yourself wanting him to be caught and for the key to be thrown away.

And then there is the detective who could not possibly be that thick... until the suspect sends one single e-mail, and then suddenly everyone believes him to be innocent.

Probably the worst continuity error is where the Parkisons-suffering protagonist out-runs a perfectly healthy copper to arrive at the denouement to save his estranged wife... single-handedly, of course.

I'm afraid this is very sloppy writing, whose delivery is not helped by the limited performance.

  • The Woodcutter

  • By: Reginald Hill
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 16 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,467
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,922
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,911

Wolf Hadda's life was a fairytale - successful businessman and adored husband. But a knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later Wolf begins to talk to the prison psychiatrist and receives parole to return home. But there's a mysterious period in Wolf's past when he was known as the Woodcutter. Now the Woodcutter is back, looking for truth and revenge...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Woodcutter

  • By jackie Hammond on 23-05-11

Great tale of revenge and twisted loyalties

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

Reviewed: 24-08-15

This is my first Reginald Hill book, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

There are points when the plot stretches credulity, but only ever stretches it. The author takes care to try and help you along at those points. He makes an effort to ease the path for you to stay with him, and his respect for you as a reader should be repaid.

The writing style is easy, and certainly helped by Jonathan Keeble's narration that simply keeps the whole thing flowing along, while the author takes great care to ensure that you empathise with the main character from the start. In that way the injustice begins to feel personal.

The twist in the tail of the plot is also well concealed.

Well worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • 1Q84

  • By: Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)
  • Narrated by: Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett
  • Length: 46 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,430
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 990
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 987

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Murakami sparkles as ever

  • By Nick on 22-01-12

Such an epic. Such a flop.

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

Reviewed: 24-08-15

There are already extensive reviews on this book. I read them and decided to make my own mind up, but 45 hours later feel a huge sense of disappointment.

The weirdness of the plot construct, wedded to the quirky delivery style has the potential to spark into life in an exciting way. And yet ultimately you are left wondering what on earth it is supposed to be about, or what the book is trying say.

It is particularly galling that so many things go unexplained, despite the epic length. Small people chanting "ho ho ho", a magical air chrysalis here and there, girls with doppelgängers, ghostly subs collectors, double moons, and an unshakeable love bond born out of two eight year olds fleetingly holding hands once.

Perhaps that is the message - make up your own story and explanations. Perhaps I am too superficial to appreciate the depth of the existential riddle so beautifully half-painted.

Perhaps.

But it left me feeling that the author was laughing at me in a kind of Emperors New Clothes kind of way. Is this deeply meaningful prose with a vital message? No. The emperor is naked.

There are passages of delightful writing, so the book does not get a 1 from me. Much of the narration is grating, but there are snippets of quality, so the performance does not get a 1 either.

45 hours is a long time to wait for something to get off the launch pad. It is worse when you stick with it to the end and only then realise there was never really any attempt to launch.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Etymologicon

  • A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
  • By: Mark Forsyth
  • Narrated by: Simon Shepherd
  • Length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 856
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 739
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 726

A quirky, entertaining and thought-provoking tour of the unexpected connections between words, read by Simon Shepherd. What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces? The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth's Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant and hilarious book

  • By Will on 06-01-13

A circular tour de force

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

Reviewed: 24-08-15

This book is simply outstanding.

I challenge anyone with half an ounce of love for the English language not to be carried away in the engaging musings of Mark Forsyth. The research that must have gone into the book is impressive enough, but Forsyth's turn of phrase woven into genuinely fascinating subject matter is a real winner.

Simon Shepherd brings a personal quality to the narration that carries the whole thing along at a pace and with an energy that is captivating.

The only down side is the sense of loss when you finish.

  • V for Vendetta

  • By: Alan Moore
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 141
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 107
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 106

Imagine a Britain stripped of democracy, a world of the not-too-distant future in which freedom has been surrendered willingly to a totalitarian regime which rose to power by exploiting the people's worst fears and most damning weaknesses.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Undecided

  • By Danuta on 21-06-10

Strangely engaging

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

Reviewed: 24-08-15

Take an adult comic strip and convert it into a novel. One would expect a bit of a train-wreck, but would then be very happily surprised with this audiobook.

It manages to retain the dark edge I imagine was present in the original DC Comics strip, and the delivery is sufficiently dramatic to carry it off. It should fail on so many levels, and yet triumphs at each turn. It should stick out like a sore thumb as a cliched dystopian comic book born of the paranoia of the early 1980s, converted into a novel for no apparent reason. It doesn't. It unbalances you, and asks awkward questions. It makes you think.

Simon Vance puts in an excellent performance that maintains the tension without being intrusive.

It had me contemplating the philosophy of totalitarianism, and the ease with which commonly held liberties can slip through our fingers. It is not a classic, so gets 4 stars from me. But it is very good indeed, and well worth a listen.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful