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Lord Peridot

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Eustachia Vye & Diggory Venn

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

Reviewed: 27-05-20

Like Dickens before him, Hardy comes up with some spectacular names for his characters. Who amongst us has ever met a woman called Eustachia or a man going by the name of Diggory? Never mind, it all adds to the power of this novel, one of Hardy's best. The story starts slowly and enigmatically as the author sets the scene of Egdon Heath with its empty vistas of moorland and sparse assortment of dwellings. But it soon picks up speed and maintains the readers interest with a variety of entanglements, surprises, joys & troubles. If you like any of Hardy's other books you will enjoy this one too. The main question is whose resding to choose from. I started with Alan Rickman's but found his strength of voice too much for the narrative. So I switched to Simon Vance's reading which I thoroughly recommend. And thanks to Audible's returns policy this was easily accomplished without incurring any extra expense.

Alan Rickman's reading

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

Reviewed: 07-05-20

Well, like many I'm a fan of this English actor and his reading of this book is even more critical than usual. It was all fine till he started playing the parts of the various rural characters and then it was too much. He's a great actor & seemingly likeable person but you don't want to be thinking about the readers voice when you are listening to the story. I've switched now to John Lee's reading and thats the one I recommend. He also strongly voices the parts of all the characters but for me at least it all works. And brilliantly at that.

K/T Boundary

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

Reviewed: 29-04-20

This a charming personal account of the scientific search to find & understand the cause of the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Note that its not about the dinosaurs themselves who were not at fault for suffering a sudden demise. The author was a major participant in this geological mystery so is writing from first hand experience. He does his best to simply explain basic geological terms & thinking for but inevitably a basic understanding of chemistry & physics will help the layman reader to follow the plot. Its a fascinating story & very well told.

Room for improvement

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

Reviewed: 29-09-19

This is a highly political & thus a rather two dimensional biography. Seeing that Baldwin was a key figure of the 1920s & 30s its disappointing that he is not better represented in the round & with a greater emphasis on national & international events. Jenkins certainly brings much information to his skillfull account but its mainly about personal relationships at Westminster which leaves one feeling disengaged & strangely none the wiser either about Baldwin the man or about his significance in shaping the momentous events of this important time in European & British history. So not a great choice for the general reader. One should grateful for what one can get. And its not as though there is much else about Baldwin available. Read clearly but in a detached & halting style, la di da di da - la di da di da, which quickly becomes distracting. To be honest have given up half way through.

Funny but ...

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

Reviewed: 11-09-19

Taibbi is a literary star. Hilarious, insightful & an ingenious wordsmith. This book will have you laughing out loud for sure. But he lets himself down by firing buckshot at the American Truth movement. His principle narrative is about the time he spent being inducted into the world of right wing Christian theology. Interspersed with this theme are chapters about the troops in Iraq and his musings on Truthers. Strangely his writing about the people he gets to know in the Army & his new Christian pals is far more sympathetic and colourful than that which he writes about the truthers who are treated as a bunch of deluded, obnoxious cartoon characters. Why should this be?

The Truther community is as diverse as any other with many coming from respectable professional, academic backgrounds. They work extremely hard & selflessly to try and make sense of whats been going on behind the scenes. Taibbi must know this. So I wonder if Taibbi's derangement on this subject has affected his usual ability to write infectiously & sympathetically, his imagination paralysed by misgivings about his own failure to show respect & support for the people in this community who like himself want to see an America which lives up to the ideals it professes to believe in. Excellent reading by Slavin.

Men of another time

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

Reviewed: 29-07-19

Contrary to what is often believed, Scott's expedition to Antarctica was as much as a scientific expedition as it was an attempt to reach the South Pole. And there were many men involved in the trip that did not make the fatal attempt on the South Pole. Furthermore, scientific work continued after it became clear that Scott and his select band had perished on the return leg of their journey, having been beaten to the Pole by rival Norwegian explorers who had taken a different route and were more accustomed to cold weather exploration than the British.

It seems wrong to say that this expedition is inspiring to a modern day reader. But it is none the less, in the sense of the fortitude and courage of the men who undertook the trip. And its all the more inspiring for the way in which it is recounted with typical English reserve and modesty, further enhanced by the subtle reading of Simon Vance. Throughout the book, there are quoted passages from the diaries of the explorers. So one gets a very accurate and vivid picture of what they were experiencing and thinking.

As I recall, the title of the book actually refers not to the attempt on the pole, but a subsidiary 6 week expedition to collect Emperor Penguin eggs which was undertaken in the Antarctic winter, so it was permanently dark and travelling was so hard that, despite pulling their sleds for 12 hours a day, it took them 3 weeks to cover just 60 miles. And on one occasion their tent blew away in a fierce hurricane. Without it they knew they would surely perish themselves. But they scrabbled around in the dark, in a wild gale and in the freezing cold. And in an outstanding piece of luck they stumbled across it, a mile or two distant from their camp and so were saved.

1 person found this helpful

Clear, concise, compelling

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

Reviewed: 29-07-19

Clarke served from 1998-2003 as the USA's National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, also known as the Counterterrorism Czar. Thus it was his job to coordinate the response to events of the 9th September 2001. His account of that day is revealing in many ways. Certain facts stand out. One of them being the difficulty he had communicating with the Vice President who was ultimately in charge, seeing that the President happened to busy reading aloud stories in a children's school. When Clarke did eventually obtain access to the secure underground control bunker, he found that the Vice President was more interested in watching how the news was being reported on TV than in talking to his security coordinator about what they should do about it. On following days, Clarke found himself heavily pressured by the President to link the events of the 11th to Iraq, even though he, the FBI and the CIA were clear that there weren't any links. Clarke comes across as a genuine, patriotic American who did his best to serve his country and who is cautiously angry with the behaviour of the administration he was obliged to serve.

Triumph and tragedy

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

Reviewed: 23-07-19

If you're a fan of Skynyrd then you will find this account of their life on the road entertaining and interesting. Written and read with enthusiasm and skill by Ron Eckerman who was their tour manager at the time of the fatal plane crash, but who was one of the lucky ones to survive relatively unscathed. There is so much humour and colour in this book that you just have to get it and enjoy it. Though there is of course this sadness too that this great band loved by so many was cruelly devastated whilst still in its prime.

Excellent book, excellent reading

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

Reviewed: 23-07-19

Julia Boyd weaves a huge amount of research into a fluid & interesting narrative which does much to illuminate the character of Germany from 1919 to 1945. Taking various aspects of the country in each chapter and constantly moving the clock forward, she selects what seems like hundreds of pertinent quotes from visitors to Germany at that time, most of which are British or American, some famous, some not.

This is a fascinating account made even better by the perfect reading by Stephanie Racine who keeps foreign accents to a minimum only pronouncing a few foreign words like Fuhrer and Reich with pluperfect accuracy. Those interested in this subject should also check out the books by William Shirer which are available on Audible. He was an American reporter living in France and Germany in this period. His books are long but are filled with pertinent detail throughout and complement Boyd's book very well.

1 person found this helpful

One war leads to another

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

Reviewed: 22-07-19

Concise & well presented overview of the diplomatic & military course of the two C19th wars which established Prussia's dominance over the German states & set the scene for German aggression in the C20th. These were major wars which get relatively little attention from the Anglo American perspective on European affairs. And their short duration must have contributed to the mistaken expectation that WWI would be settled equally quickly. Well read by Ken Teutsch.