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Matthew Hayes

London, UK
  • 9
  • reviews
  • 3
  • helpful votes
  • 12
  • ratings
  • The Crow Girl

  • By: Erik Axl Sund
  • Narrated by: Gabrielle Glaisters
  • Length: 30 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 388
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 356
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 362

It starts with just one body - tortured, mummified and then discarded. Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted. This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen. This is the world of the Crow Girl.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good story, but not for the faint-hearted

  • By crowdance on 12-11-16

Epic but slightly confusing

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

Reviewed: 20-11-17

Everything about these three books collected together is designed to confuse... A large cast of characters, not all of whom are what they appear to be combined with frequent major plot twists that change your understanding about what has gone before. By the end the investigating police still didn't know who had committed some of the murders and I wasn't sure that I did either.

The narrator has a lovely calm voice but I wonder if that was what this particular book needed. With horrific child abuse and flashbacks to the Holocaust I think a rougher and angrier voice would have been better suited.

  • The Physics of the Dead

  • A Supernatural Mystery Novel
  • By: Luke Smitherd
  • Narrated by: Luke Smitherd
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,060
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,006
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,000

The afterlife doesn't come with a manual. In fact, Hart and Bowler (two ordinary but dead men) have had to work out the rules of their new existence for themselves. It's that fact (along with being unable to leave the boundaries of their city center, unable to communicate with the other lost souls, unable to rest in case The Beast catches up with them) that makes getting out of their situation a priority. But Hart and Bowler don't know why they're there in the first place; if they ever want to leave, they will have to find all the answers to be able to understand the physics of the dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • There is Simply no Formula for Luke Smitherd!

  • By Simon on 04-03-16

Things to do in Coventry when you're dead

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

Reviewed: 12-01-17

I highly recommend The Physics of the Dead written and read by Luke Smitherd, not least because it's incredibly hard to classify. It starts off as an odd couple comedy but becomes very bleak indeed. It falls between magic realism, horror and mystery without being entirely any of these.

Bowler and Hart are a couple of ghosts confined, for reasons unknown, to a square mile in the centre of Coventry. Communication between ghosts is difficult and in most cases impossible so, although there are plenty of other ghosts around, most have been driven mad by a combination of isolation, lack of sleep and the futility of trying to escape.

Most of Bowler and Hart's efforts are therefore directed at keeping each other sane and finding a way to escape while escaping the sadistic attentions of the Beast - a monster that delights in stalking ghosts. At some stage it turns into a murder mystery (quite a feat given that the characters are all dead already) but I can't really say more about that without providing spoilers.

Don't be put off by the fact that this was originally a self-published e-book. The overall quality is very good indeed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Her Own Devices

  • A Steampunk Adventure Novel
  • By: Shelley Adina
  • Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham
  • Length: 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

Seventeen-year-old Lady Claire Trevelyan, left alone after the Arabian bubble financial disaster claims home and family, now leads the cleverest gang in the London underworld. Between outwitting a rival gang, inventing a device that will net her and her scientist employer worldwide fame, and keeping her mother from marrying her off, she can almost forget that a powerful lord wants to get closer…and if he succeeds, can destroy it all with a single word…

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another excellent story fabulously narrated!

  • By Lolah on 25-01-17

Short but Sweet

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

Reviewed: 28-04-16

This, the second in the Magnificent Devices series has the same good and bad points as the first (Lady of Devices).

It's well-written with a charming, Austenesque wit but it is far too short and leaves most of the major plot points unresolved.

Crackanory cover art
  • Crackanory

  • Series 1 and 2
  • By: Nico Tatarowicz, Toby Davies, Kevin Eldon, and others
  • Narrated by: Jack Dee, Sally Phillips, Rebecca Front, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 931
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 821
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 816

Imagine if Jackanory was set free from its childish shackles. What twisted, funny tales would it unleash upon the world? Each episode of Crackanory contains two 15-minute tales and is a master class in storytelling, combining some of the UK’s best comedy writers and performers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tales with a twist

  • By HMPS64 on 05-02-16

Cynical and Twisted (in a good way)

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

Reviewed: 16-03-16

This is a wonderful collection of cynical and twisted morality tales, less Jackanory and more Tales of the Unexpected (and definitely not for children).

A large variety of tales ranging from everyday adultery in London suburbia to art theft to an assassination attempt in Idi Amin's Uganda. All ably read by a fine selection of (mostly) British comedians and actors.

Non-British listeners may miss some of the cultural references and in-jokes but I think the stories still stand up without.

Recommended

  • Phoenix Rising

  • A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel
  • By: Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris
  • Narrated by: James Langton
  • Length: 13 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 125
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 100
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 101

Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade... and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences - the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling - will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest...

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very unexpected

  • By Amazon Customer on 20-01-14

Great story; shame about the writing

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

Reviewed: 02-03-16

Steampunk meets the X Files

Phoenix Rising is well narrated, has an engaging central duo and a well-paced story with dramatic set-pieces. Good news and probably enough to persuade me to download the next book in the series.

All of the above is nearly ruined by some rather clunky writing (over-use of the phrase "quite the", frequent Americanisms mis-use of some words e.g. "mnemonic" for "memento"). The characters range from the anachronistically modern (Eliza Braun) to crude caricatures (most of the baddies) and the occasional forays into (soft core) pornography more embarrassing than erotic.

Still, the book's good points slightly outweigh its bad points and, if you are a fan of steampunk, you'll probably enjoy this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Martian

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 16,878
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 15,888
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 15,859

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exhilarating adventure. Brilliantly executed.

  • By Kaggy on 30-08-14

"Burning out my fuse out here alone"

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

Reviewed: 22-02-16

An exciting story - well narrated.

Some of the dialogue back at NASA on earth is a bit clunky and the accents for foreign characters slightly odd but this does not detract from what was, overall, an addictive listen with a very tense and exciting ending.

There's a lot of science but it's all explained so that a layman such as myself could understand it. Those who are scientists have identified a few factual errors - particularly around the storm that sets off the events described but you shouldn't let that put you off.

Recommended.

  • The Mangle Street Murders

  • By: M. R. C. Kasasian
  • Narrated by: Emma Gregory
  • Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,602
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,473
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,463

Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. Sidney Grice shudders. For heaven's sake - she is wearing brown shoes. The Mangle Street Murders is for those who like their crime original, atmospheric, and very, very funny.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not Quite My Pot of Tea

  • By Simon on 06-02-16

An Open and Shut Case?

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

Reviewed: 10-02-16

The first of a trilogy starring the irascible 'personal detective' 'Sidney Grice and his resourceful and long-suffering ward March Middleton.

The gruesome death of a shop-keeper's wife is not nearly as interesting as Sidney Grice's usual cases and the solution self-evident (to Grice at least). Later, however, some facts come to light that cast doubt on the original interpretation of the case, and life becomes complicated as Grice tries simultaneously to preserve his reputation and to get to the bottom of what really happened.

Certainly the odd-couple detective/sidekick pairing owes a lot to Sherlock Holmes - did Victorian private detectives never act alone? There's enough that's new here, however, to overcome the slightly tired format, particularly the character of March Middleton and I found myself listening to this compulsively long into the night.

The running gag about tea gets a bit tiresome and the ending a little bit too convenient, but those are the only faults I can find in an otherwise excellent book.

The writing and the narration were both of very high quality and I shall certainly be down-loading the second in the series.

  • Lady of Devices: A Steampunk Adventure Novel

  • Magnificent Devices, Book 1
  • By: Shelley Adina
  • Narrated by: Fiona Hardingham
  • Length: 5 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire's talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It's not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't judge the book by its cover!

  • By Matthew Hayes on 22-01-16

Don't judge the book by its cover!

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

Reviewed: 22-01-16

With its horrible cover and an author whose other work seems to include Amish romantic fiction, I wasn't sure that this was going to be the book for me. Still, I like steampunk and this volume was free so I thought I'd give it a go.

I'm glad I did. This book is absolutely charming and very well written. The steampunk technology (basically, combustion engines have not been made to work) fits in very well with the plot and, barring a lightning gun or two, is more plausible than some and well worked into the plot.

Unlike some other steampunk novels, however, the technology does not crowd out characterisation and I liked the almost Jane Austen subtlety of tone and description of the everyday social conflicts of upper class Victorian society.

If the book has a fault it's that it is clearly the first volume of a series and consequently very little is resolved. I shall definitely be downloading the next volume, however, as the first volume has left me anxious to resume the adventures of Lady Claire and her semi-cilvilised but cute gang of orphans (plus chicken).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

  • Burton & Swinburne, Book 1
  • By: Mark Hodder
  • Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
  • Length: 14 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 243
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 186
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 182

Sir Richard Francis Burton is an explorer, linguist, scholar, and swordsman. His reputation has been tarnished, his career is in tatters, and his former partner is missing and probably dead. Algernon Charles Swinburne is an unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade, for whom pain is pleasure and brandy is ruin. The two men are sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum, when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not for me

  • By L on 03-06-15

One section too many?

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

Reviewed: 20-01-16

If you could sum up The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack in three words, what would they be?

Steampunk meets genetics

What did you like best about this story?

Burton is an engaging central character and his Robin/Watson sidekick, the decadent poet Swinburne, provides frequent comic relief. I liked the usual steam-driven devices but also the entertaining products of genetic engineering - especially the foul-mouthed parakeets.Nice climactic battle.

Which character – as performed by Gerard Doyle – was your favourite?

Gerard Doyle was uniformly excellent at voicing all the characters, male and female. Burton was probably the best written character with most of the others, including Swinburne, a bit two-dimensional.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Too long for that and the exposition sometimes a bit too dense. The central section dragged a bit and could have been considerably shorter.

Any additional comments?

I shall certainly try the second volume and hope that it will have a little bit less exposition and explore the character of Swinburne more deeply.