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Connie Rea

Wiltshire, UK
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  • reviews
  • 2
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  • The Last Kingdom

  • The Last Kingdom Series, Book 1
  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,169
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,074
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,074

The first book in a brand-new series, The Last Kingdom is set in England during the reign of King Alfred. Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at 10, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault. The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred's growing up.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fate is unstoppable

  • By A D MCCLENAGHAN on 13-12-14

The Last Kingdom

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

F'ing hell what a book. What in the world am I to read next as I can't jump into book 2 right away. I need to savour this series and my beloved warrior, Uhtred Ragnarson...

That was all I could write when I finished this book and attempted to do a review. Really...I was just overwhelmed...now it has been several weeks and I still don't know what to say...

Here is part of a conversation I had with with a mate when she told me she didn't like historical reads:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Really isn't that different than some of the other stuff you've read honestly...except some of it is based on fact...King Alfred the great, the Danes and some of the battles...but people are people no matter the time...

Basically a young orphaned boy that discovers what it feels to loved and valued for the first time in the enemy's camp...later his loyalties are tested time and time again...people want him to be educated, but he just wants to be a warrior...

A quote that won't leave my mind from the book

"'Touch a harp,' I said, 'and it just makes noise, but play it and it makes music.'"

The same is true about writing...put letters on a page and you just have words, but written by a writer and true magic can happen....

Once again (never happens enough for me) a book I've read is well deserving of its high ratings...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

That's what this book was to me...true magic....I am ready to continue on with book two...let's be honest...I can't stop thinking about book 1, even though it's been near two months...I might as well follow my heart and carry on...

as testament to another quote from the book...

"Destiny is everything"

  • Middlemarch

  • By: George Eliot
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 35 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,336
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,085
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,080

Dorothea Brooke is an ardent idealist who represses her vivacity and intelligence for the cold, theological pedant Casaubon. One man understands her true nature: the artist Will Ladislaw. But how can love triumph against her sense of duty and Casaubon’s mean spirit? Meanwhile, in the little world of Middlemarch, the broader world is mirrored: the world of politics, social change, and reforms, as well as betrayal, greed, blackmail, ambition, and disappointment.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • All consuming

  • By Caro on 27-04-11

Middlemarch

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

This is a book I wish I had read a very long time ago. I wish I was reading it over and over again. There are just so many characters involved and I know I missed out on bits...but never fear, I am already starting it over again!

This book is just so delightful. I was so angry at some of these people. I adored some of these people. I was totally exasperated with some of these people. With some of them, I was all three things at different points within the novel.

When I started this novel, I won't lie, I thought Dorothea was a bit silly. However, by the end of the book I loved every single thing about her. I wouldn't change a single thing about her.

There are just so many things going on in this novel! So many little storylines that all make up the day to day life in Middlemarch...I feel as if I really MUST do a re-read to make sure I have not neglected or overlooked anyone.

I wish I could recommend this book to every single person in the universe. There just aren't words enough to express how much I enjoyed it. At the same time, it makes me a bit sad because I know most of my friends would ask me what the big deal was and they found it boring.

So these feelings just leave me a bit dejected and I don't even know how to deal with that.

This is how much this book means to me...I am heartbroken over a perceived notion that my mates won't enjoy it that much...how crazy is that...

although I must say....many of the problems the characters of Middlemarch found themselves in could have just been avoided entirely if people had just spoken their minds...

So I say now...Go forth and read this book...Love it as much as I do...and if you don't like it...well....shame on you!!!

  • Necroscope

  • By: Brian Lumley
  • Narrated by: James Langton
  • Length: 17 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 146
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 146

Harry Keogh is the man who can talk to the dead, the man for whom every grave willingly gives up its secrets, the one man who knows how to travel effortlessly through time and space to destroy the vampires that threaten all of humanity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I've waited years for this to come to Audible.

  • By Mr D Jones on 28-04-18

Necroscope

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

How to rate this book. I loved parts of it, but also found myself waiting for the *real* action to begin. Knowing that there are over 30 books to follow this one, I guess I will have to be satisfied knowing this was only the beginning and as such, maybe, it was designed to set up the story line and ensure I lusted for more....
I read Dracula last month. I won't bore you with explaining why I was utterly bored with it, actually finding myself yawning at parts. I only bring it up to say that when I read that book, I was looking for the type of feel this book gave me. A sense of evil that is timeless. Evil that has existed though out all the generations and still exists today. This book excited me in the way that I had hoped Dracula would. I could hear the ancient rasping voice of pure evil when the old Vampir spoke from his earthly tomb. I could actually feel the air grow chill. *This* is what I was seeking from the Count....Stoker did not deliver that feeling (for ME), but Lumley certainly did.

Here you have Boris Dragosani and his ability to tear apart the dead and learn their secrets...and then you throw in little Harry Keogh, who speaks for the dead, who the dead admire and, in fact, seek him out and what is there not to love! This same ability, two vastly different types of humans who can both speak to the dead, but displayed at two total different angles fascinated me.

It was also very interesting to have the KGB and other world intelligence agencies use all of these physic powers against one another. James Bond has entered a entirely new realm here. It's all so very believable. So how much does physic ability play in attaining intelligence from other counties? We all have heard of mediums being used behind closed doors to help track down killers, but what if these mediums were used AS THE killers? How true is the "evil eye"? What if one talked to the dead, not to reassure the living, but to learn of the dead's secrets...secrets that up until that point had been taken with them to the grave?

Parts of this book I felt were rich in detail and left me wanting even more...yet other parts I felt needed more detail and they, too, left me wanting more.....

I won't be going into any ancient forests in Romania anytime soon....that is one thing I know for sure.....

  • Norse Mythology

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,400
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,796
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,778

The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling - from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman's own award-bedecked, best-selling fiction. Now he reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Norseome

  • By AnnG on 03-03-17

Norse Mythology

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

Not my favourite book by this wonderful author...but that is most likely because this is a retelling of Norse mythology and not stories dreamed up by the author himself. I did listen to the audiobook, and as Neil himself (did fans of Gaiman see what I just did there?) reads it, well it's worth it just for that voice! I did enjoy the stories. I did find them entertaining. I guess I just wished for an ongoing story with a start and a finish (this is not Neil's fault...it really isn't that type of book!)

I will say, my favourite part was in the forward (hey, the forward was all Neil, right?) where Mr Gaiman encourages us all to take these stories and make them our own. That if we enjoyed one to make sure we retell it in our own space and time...

If you love mythology stories written out in shorts, or things like Aesop's Fables, then this is definitely the book for you..oddly enough I usually love those things...but just wasn't feeling it today sadly...again, it's not the books fault...the book was exactly as it was suppose to be...

  • The Pale Horseman

  • The Last Kingdom Series, Book 2
  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 14 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 902
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 837
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 833

A Saxon raised by Vikings. A pagan fighting for a Christian King. The conflict at the heart of a hero will be played out in the fight for England. It is 877. Across the kingdoms of Britain the Danes are gaining strength. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a pagan warrior, must decide who he will align with: the Vikings who raised him or Alfred, King of the West Saxons.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • great narrator

  • By D. Boskma on 04-01-18

The Pale Horseman

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

This series is just breathtaking. Seriously, I kid you naught, it left me breathless more than once. I won't say that Cornwell's battle scenes are g rated, but I have read much more graphic...however Cornwell does have me having to slow myself down, alternately, afraid of what I am about to read, whilst at the same time trying to rush ahead to see what happens next. At one point in the novel, I think I actually said, "HOLY SHIT" in the middle of the night.

But before you wander off, thinking this isn't the story for me because you hate that type of thing, let me remind you that this isn't just about battles. In fact, there are only a few that take place in this novel. This is a novel about a young warrior named Uhtred. Northerner nobleman by birth, English by circumstance, Dane by force, Pagan by choice, but warrior at heart.

One has to be reminded time and time again that Uhtred is only a young man in this, the second novel, of the Saxon Stories. He is still battling with his choices, his conscious, his loyalties, his religion and most definitely with his warrior soul.

Watching Uhtred make his journey into adulthood and trying to weave his way through all that he faces, be it strategical, personal, or political, is in of itself, well worth the time it takes to read this series. You will be hard pressed to find someone that inspires or moves you as much as Uhtred does.

More than that though, this is an amazing retelling of history through fiction. I find myself searching for Alfred the Great and reading more about these battles and the locations. Of the defeats and the obsession of religion. Of how he came to be...and of how he came not to be..This is a story that inspires one to learn more about what came before.

I have always found England fascinating. From time to time, I've asked people, here in England, how does it feel to know that you walk where kings and knights have walked? On the very same ground. Where legends were born and countries were made? They often look at me like I am either daft or a lunatic. Here, however, is the proof. The very same places that I see around me are here, mentioned in this novel. The chalk grounds I see are where blood was spilled in the wars between the Saxons and the Danes.

That is what great story telling is about. As I went to sleep each night reading this novel, I awoke, not in the 21st century, but in the 9th. In England as it must have been then, the damp, the sound of battle cries in my head, the smell of fires, the bitter cold, and the knowledge that we fight for a cause...and her name is England...

  • The Greatest Knight

  • By: Elizabeth Chadwick
  • Narrated by: Christopher Scott
  • Length: 17 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 267
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 207
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206

From humble beginnings and a narrow escape from death in childhood, William Marshall steadily rises through the ranks to become tutor in arms to the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Based on fact, this is the story of William Marshal, the greatest knight of the Middle Ages.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant

  • By JW on 04-08-11

The Greatest Knight

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

Whilst I enjoyed this book, it just felt a bit flat to me. Perhaps if I hadn't read some of Chadwick's other works that I absolutely loved I would have enjoyed this one more. I just felt that we missed out a lot of what made Marshal...well...William Marshal. Or course no one can know what was going on in his mind, but with some of Chadwick's other works I actually felt that I understood the character a bit more and had a connection with them. I didn't feel that way with Marshal. Of course though, many in the book couldn't connect with him, so maybe that was the point. No doubt he was loyal...but he had to also be pretty smart to advance as he did...The loyalty was displayed in the novel, however I felt that the cunningness was not. If one knows anything about the royalty of the past it is that one had to be crafty as well as loyal...perhaps craftiness was even more important to stay on their good side. In many ways, I felt that William was simply a pawn that went where he was told to go and blindly followed like a beggar dog...however, I want to imagine that in real life it would have been much different. He would have had to use his wits along with his loyalty and oath to advance as he did...and he would have had to use them all to make sure that he advanced as he wished. Kings and Queens did not just award blind loyalty...they had to be manipulated just as anyone else does...maybe more so...maybe I have it all wrong, but regardless of that fact, Chadwick gave me nothing on Marshal that made me believe his loyalty, personality, and aloofness was enough to see to his advancements...especially since those advancements came from various Kings that were oftentimes fighting amongst themselves... Yes I will continue on with this series...but, sadly, it will be on the strength of Chadwick's other novels and not based on the strength of wanting to know more of William Marshal...

  • A Place Beyond Courage

  • By: Elizabeth Chadwick
  • Narrated by: Peter Wickham
  • Length: 24 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46

It is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John FitzGilbert Marshal is one of them. Raised high, as the kin of the deceased King Henry battle each other for England's throne, John reaps rich rewards but pays a terrible price for the choices he makes - as does his family. His wife, fragile, naïve Aline is hopelessly unequipped to cope with the demands of a life lived on the edge and, when John is seriously injured in battle, her worst nightmare is realised.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant!

  • By louise on 04-05-08

A Place Beyond Courage

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

Probably never going to be a favourite of mine, but was really interesting to see where parts of Henry II life started from a different viewpoint. I have became bit enamoured with Henry following his wife's, Eleanor of Aquitaine story. This is the story of William Marshal's father. Marshal, of course, is considered one of England's greatest knights. His father, John FitzGilbert, was the marshal to Henry I. Once he died, FitzGilbert found himself trying to survive the political fallout over determining England's next ruler.

I did feel that Chadwick tried too hard to make FitzGilbert into a likeable character. I doubt very much if he took so much time to make sure his 1st wife was satisfied before gaining his own pleasure (hubba hubba) especially since Chadwick make it pretty clear that they weren't suited for each other. Of course I liked his second match much better, but that was purely because of Chadwick' manipulation of the story. Not really complaining...just pointing out that these things led to me not enjoying the book as much as I could have.

I can like a ruthless man just as much as a polite and thoughtful man, so long as it stays true to the story. I felt more discord between FitzGibert's and his first wife would have made the story more true to life...

However, at the end of the day, it's my take verses Chadwick's take...and no one is around to tell us which is true...I couldn't write a book, Chadwick can...so she wins by default! Ha!

I am glad to have read this book, but confess, it felt a wee bit like homework to prepare myself for the real test...William Marshal himself...I am well excited to carry on and follow William Marshal's storyline now that the homework and backstory is completed..

  • Calypso

  • By: David Sedaris
  • Narrated by: David Sedaris
  • Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 634
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 569
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 565

If you've ever laughed your way through David Sedaris' cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you're getting with Calypso. You'd be wrong. When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it's impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Rrpeat repeat

  • By P. Lee on 08-06-18

Calypso

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

If you've read a Sedaris book and hated it...well...you won't like this one either...I also have to ask why the hell not? Do you take life to seriously?

Don't get me wrong, I think Sedaris takes life way too seriously, hence why he is so bitter and so very snarky.

I lost track how many times I laughed out loud during this one. Despite all the laughter there was some serious issues going on in this one. I come from a family that isn't really what you would call close. I am not so daft as to not realise that the lack of family bonding I've had hasn't affected me a great deal with my "grown up" issues. So whilst reading this, I just have to marvel at all the times Sedaris and his family attempt to be a family, despite the fact that they often don't seem to feel that closeness..or perhaps that closeness is why they continue to reach out to one another. Don't get me wrong, it's obvious that Sedaris has a close bond with some of his siblings, however I often get the feeling that with others, meh, not so much...Maybe because of his age he makes those attempts and I still have a few years to get it right myself...after all, Sedaris also makes it clear that for many years of his youth he was out of touch with everyone on the planet, including himself!

However, I don't think that's it. Maybe my wires are completely severed and beyond repair...but alas, Sedaris in all his snark makes it pretty clear to me that it's a choice I make...just like it's a choice he makes to continue on...even though both of us might feel like it's a not really a choice at all...

See, I guess this isn't a review, but it's just the ponderings that reading the book has brought me to...

Regardless of all of that, if you love Sedaris even a little bit, you should hurry up and get to this one...

Why? Well, because honestly, now I can't wait to to tell some to shove their fist up me arse and give my shite a good wanking off...you too, might need this ultimate insult information as well one day...

Honestly, maybe I shouldn't post this review on my blog now...but dang it, after I picked my jaw up off the floor I almost fell down with the laughter..don't we all need some honest to god outrageous and inappropriate belly laughs such as this from time to time...and Sedaris, as always, is happy to provide them for us...

  • Helter Skelter

  • The True Story of the Manson Murders
  • By: Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 26 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 657
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 584
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 579

Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider's position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the 20th century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Now available for the first time in unabridged audio, the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime is brought to life by acclaimed narrator Scott Brick.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Evil: Step by Step

  • By Eugene on 18-12-14

Helter Skelter

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

I thought I knew about Manson and "his family". I mean we've all heard about him and know who he is. We can all probably pick his photo out of a lineup. I've seen and heard plenty about the girls involved too, even though the Tate Murder's happened before I was even born.

I was wrong. I guess Manson was even worse than I ever imagined. In some ways I'm glad I was way too young (I was born about when his trial stated) to experience his crimes. In other ways, I admit, it would have been interesting (for lack of a better word) to see how all of this was playing out in the public. How people actually view Manson and his family.

I had no idea about the other murders. I had no idea about Manson's earlier life. I had no idea how big the family was.

What shocked me most wasn't about Manson and the family itself (although I was amazed and left speechless by parts of this novel). The police and how they handled all of this is what shocked me the most. I know police procedure has came a long way since these murders happened (or so I hope it has) but I am still appalled at what took place. How many instances of police who conducted interviews and never noted the interviews or let commanding officers know about them. About tips from other departments or the public that officers took upon themselves to ignore and not make mention of. Refusal to share evidence/tips between other departments. Refusal to investigate period, just because an officer couldn't be arsed. Loss of evidence. The list just goes on and on...

If you're interested in crime, or the justice system, or just crazy ass fuckers like Manson and his family, well, I suggest you read this book and forget about what you think you know about the case...

  • Sapiens

  • By: Yuval Noah Harari
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 13,757
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,047
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,959

Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us sapiens? In this bold and provocative audiobook, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here, and where we're going.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thought provoking but overconfident

  • By Jan W. H. Schnupp on 24-09-15

Sapiens

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

Reviewed: 12-03-19

I listened to this book (the narrator is fantastic BTW) and it is one that I am anxious to go out and buy not an e-copy, but a physical copy..there are a hundreds (yes hundreds) of passages I want to re-read...and many I wish to study...yes, study. This book gave me so much to think about...Not just in an eye opening way...but also in an entire change your way of thinking period.

I should also say that I read some reviews after reading the book. I admit, the first part was completely eye opening and fantastic, but many people found the book less fascinating as it went on. I did not. At first I thought I might, but as it went on...well....talk of commerce, industrial revolution, empire conquests, and capitalism...well...for me...even though I know the gist of all of these things...the novel, again, gave me a different depth of perception to it all...Harari gave us some really complex information on all of this....but did it in such simple stepping stones that the reader had absolutely no problems following along....then would find themselves at the end of the chapter and be like, "WHOA, DUDE! MY ENTIRE HEAD MIGHT EXPLODE TRYING TO PROCESS THIS ALL"...okay, perhaps I'm the only reader to have those thoughts....but Harari, really pushed me to look at complex matters in a simple way and in doing so, pointed out the obvious that we just totally ignore in real life...

My first concise thought I had though is one that I still had once I finished the book. It is one that I still have days after finishing the book.

Mankind has always been made up of assholes...and it brings to mind a quote by Sir David Attenborough, "We are a plague on Earth."