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Simon

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  • Changeling

  • Six Stories, Book 3
  • By: Matt Wesolowski
  • Narrated by: Tim Bruce, Kris Dyer, Jane Slavin, and others
  • Length: 7 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995. Elusive online journalist Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Clever Format Doesn't Quite Deliver

  • By Simon on 19-01-19

Clever Format Doesn't Quite Deliver

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

Reviewed: 19-01-19

These books are very highly rated on Goodreads so I was finally tempted to try one. It's a clever format in which investigative journalist Scott King presents six episode podcasts on individual stories. Each episode is designed to cover the story from a different person or topic's perspective and backed up from what are secret, personal recordings by King himself. In this case he is investigating the disturbing story of a father whose son goes missing in a dark forest.

There is a lot to like here, the cast give a good performances with voices that you will enjoy listening to. The way that the author brings a few strands, including one that seemed a real outlier, together at the end seems pretty clever and I didn't see the big twist at the end coming though maybe I should have done.

The problems for me were twofold. The format forces a level of structure on the author in that there have to be six roughly equal segments so it felt to me like some of the sections stretched longer than necessary and made the pacing uneven.
The second problem is that this is a rather different book in that it's almost all speech with most of it re-enacting the podcast episodes. Having listened to several of the type of podcasts that this book is trying to re-create recently it all felt a little but too staged, the interviewees too fluent and clear-cut. The publishers have gone far enough to put together a strong cast but this is one that I think needs a real soundscape to drive the authenticity. Hearing the narrator run through a poor quality audio recording with passages like Please help me . . . indistinct noise . . . Sorry sir, what did you say? . . . crackling noise . . . is much less effective. It's possible that this book comes across better in the written form with the reader providing the background.

So, in summary, it's a clever book and not without interest but for my tastes it really did not deliver on the blurb's suggestion of taking me to places I wouldn't forget.



5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • A Demon in Silver: Book One of War of the Archons

  • The War of the Archons Series, Book 1
  • By: R. S. Ford
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

In a world where magic has disappeared, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war. So when a young farm girl named Livia demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century, there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. Duke Gothelm's tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade: All are searching for Livia and the power she wields. But Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Feisty, Pacey Mix to Start!

  • By Simon on 17-01-19

A Feisty, Pacey Mix to Start!

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

Reviewed: 17-01-19

As soon as I saw the title of this book I knew I was going to read it! Who could resist the "War of the Archons", it had to be a remake of a seventies Dr Who episode didn't it? Of course that couldn't be much further from the truth, this is an excellent start to an epic fantasy series which to me had hints of Abercrombie in the characters and Feist in the world-building. As Ford is a new author to me and this is only the first book of the series I won't go any further than that but I'm definitely feeling flutters of excitement about this one that it could become a firm favourite as it unfolds.

Speaking of Abercrombie, one of his favourite narrators, and mine, is the wonderful and sadly under-used Steven Pacey and in a very understated way Derek Perkins who narrates here reminded me of him. He's not quite such a performer but his narration is very easy on the ear and he does give the characters a suitable amount of personality each.

So there is much to get excited about for how this series will develop, if I'm hinting at Abercrombie, Feist and Pacey then I'm admitting very high hopes. It won't suit everyone. While I personally enjoyed the multiple point of view approach interlaced with the mystical back story of the Archons and how they are brought together it does switch about a fair amount.

I'd definitely recommend giving it a try though, there is a good mix of ingredients; good action, decent world-building, a little comedy, grandiose fantasy and a couple of characters I think could, in time, prove to be quite a famous fantasy duo.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Do You Dream of Terra-Two?

  • By: Temi Oh
  • Narrated by: Nneka Okoye
  • Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 17

A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, 10 astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives. It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no-one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Are We Nearly There Yet?

  • By Simon on 11-01-19

Are We Nearly There Yet?

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

Reviewed: 11-01-19

I left our intrepid crew of astronauts after about seven hours into the book as they were trying to decide how to cheer one of their number up on their birthday. I felt as if I had heard enough and this simply isn't a book that suits me at all. I've had a quick check and reviews are mostly more positive than mine with an indication that if I keep listening for another three of four hours then things might start happening.

I'm probably, therefore, rating it a little harshly but I can't give a book that didn't grab my attention enough that I at least finish it any better! What is certain is that this is a very character-focused work, there is a lot of internal wrangling by the multiple characters whose point of view we see the story through. The plot kind of limps along behind a lot of angst and if this will appeal to anyone it's those that enjoy a lot of in-depth character development in a sci-fi setting.

I'll definitely pop back to see if others have got more out of it and to see if I have made a mistake by abandoning ship at this point as the performance by Nneka Okoye was pleasing enough and Temi Oh invests a lot into her characters rounding them all out very fully.

It just felt lacking in terms of plot development and eventually, my patience ran out, like a child on a long distance car journey I kept asking, are we nearly there yet?

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Last Seen Wearing

  • By: David Hewson
  • Narrated by: Samantha Dakin, Stuart Milligan, John Guerassio, and others
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 45

It’s been two years since Dinah Collins left the NYPD in disgrace, forced out for digging too deeply into the sudden disappearance of a fellow cop - her brother, Danny. Now, scraping by as a PI, Dinah is hired to find a young woman, Lucy Fisher, who vanished on Halloween, last seen wearing a creepy costume. As she pursues a deadly trail of clues, Dinah will find she’s faced with a terrible choice: If she can only save one person, Danny or Lucy, who will it be?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bouvard Stars In New York PI Thriller!

  • By Simon on 10-01-19

Bouvard Stars In New York PI Thriller!

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

Reviewed: 10-01-19

This is another high-quality audio production from Audible Studios. The star of the show for me was Laurence Bouvard as feisty cop turned PI Dinah Collins. She's very impressive and ably supported by the whole cast who all play their parts very well. The production values overall and the soundscape are maybe not quite as impressive as some of the other recent productions but it's still pretty good. The brief snatches of incidental music may annoy some but I actually found them good little breaks to assimilate the preceding events.

The story itself is a classic Private Investigator drama with enough twists, turns and patches of action to keep most thriller aficionados happy. The female take on it with her family in the background works very well and the chemistry between Dinah and her cantankerous father adds genuine warmth. In addition, the traditional opposition from a senior police officer that's a hallmark of these dramas is provided by Lachele Carl as Lenora Parks.

Put it all together and this is a very worthwhile listen and a great way to spend a credit. The time passed very quickly listening to it which is always a very good sign.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Days of August

  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 128
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124

In December 2017 the famous porn star August Ames committed suicide in a park in the Conejo Valley. It happened a day after she’d been the victim of a Twitter pile-on by fellow porn professionals. A month later, August’s husband Kevin connected with the writer Jon Ronson so they could piece together the story of how Twitter bullying killed his wife. What neither Kevin nor Ronson realised was that Ronson would soon hear rumours and secrets hinting at a very different story - something mysterious and unexpected and terrible.   

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Ronson is the Real Deal!

  • By Simon on 04-01-19

Ronson is the Real Deal!

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

Reviewed: 04-01-19

I've listened to a few of Ronson's shows now including The Butterfly Effect which also covers the porn industry albeit from a very different angle. The depth and quality of research and the presentation is top notch. More importantly so is the apparent journalistic integrity which I noted in this one includes not setting false expectations.

This one I also found pretty compelling listening as Ronson guided us through a fairly complex cast of characters and situations. This journalist demonstrates his lack of bias and open-minded nature as he follows what seems at the start like a simple case of online bullying into the murky depths of the darker side of the porn industry.

The reason that I didn't mark this one as highly is twofold. Firstly I found it very hard to empathise with most of the people being interviewed with one or two of them seeming to be in competition to get the most f-words per minute into their answers but more importantly, they seemed very self-obsessed. Secondly, and mostly because he's such a good journalist and would not stop digging I don't think Ronson got quite the story he was hoping for when the truth was revealed. That said, the ending is powerful and sadly a little disturbing.

It is still a very human story, it offers further insight into this rather unique aspect of the film industry and I enjoyed listening to it despite those few reservations.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Two for Joy

  • By: Sarah Denzil
  • Narrated by: Jasmine Blackborrow
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

Leah Smith has a new name, a new job and a new home. The sleepy seaside town, Clifton-on-Sea, is a refreshing change from the gloomy moors of Yorkshire. She couldn’t be farther away from her serial killer stalker. Or so she thinks.... 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Blackborrow Can't Save Denzil!

  • By Simon on 29-12-18

Blackborrow Can't Save Denzil!

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

Reviewed: 29-12-18

I've said before that I have a dysfunctional relationship with Sarah Denzil's book, I really enjoyed her stories while recognising some non-trivial flaws in the storylines. This time, I definitely feel short-changed. It's a book that could have done with much more from the author, there is a side story which has some merit and some of the writing is up to scratch. However, the plot feels lazy, too much pure coincidence, this needed the extra hour or two that the first book was given.

The highlight though was an excellent performance by Jasmine Blackborrow. She put these characters out there in fine fashion but even her efforts weren't enough to save it.

If I was being cynical I might suggest that this one was rushed out too quickly to a deadline. It needed some real structural work to make it a worthy follow-up to the original. It's not the worst book in the world but I wouldn't go out of my way to read another by this author now.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Host

  • By: Peter James
  • Narrated by: Matt Reeves
  • Length: 20 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 30

Brilliant scientist Joe Messenger believes that people can be made to live forever. Knowing the human body can be frozen indefinitely, Joe devises a way of downloading the human brain into a supercomputer called ARCHIVE. But Joe's wife, Karen, is worried by his preoccupation with ARCHIVE, which seems to be developing signs of a distinct and sinister personality of its own.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Veritable Phoenix!

  • By Simon on 29-12-18

A Veritable Phoenix!

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

Reviewed: 29-12-18

How apt it is that this particular book should be resurrected a quarter of a century after its original publication and brought into digital audio life! This old boy wheezes into life showing its age both in terms of it being set in the early 90s and taking some hours to really warm up and get into top gear. There is life in this old dog yet though as once it eases its creaking joints into motion it is a good fun techno thriller of the type only the previous century seemed to produce. Ignoring some strange notions like the idea that the entire contents of a human brain could be stored in as little as a single terabyte of data or indeed that mag tapes of the day could hold as much as that it is a decent story.

It's all set around the notion of cryogenics and the idea that we can cheat death by being frozen until medical science evolves far enough to cure us of our ills or even allows us new bodies of some kind. It's a decent story of its time and does bear many of the hallmarks of James's other thriller / mystery books, including a setting that will be familiar to followers of DI Grace.

Matt Reeves does a decent job of dusting off these old words and injecting new vigour into them though while he had a decent range of voices he did tend to make Blake in particular sound a little too feminine which confused me at times.

All in all this is a decent read if you are patient with it and accept that it isn't going to feel quite as fresh as it probably did when first published.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Dogs of War

  • By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Narrated by: Nathan Osgood, Laurence Bouvard, William Hope
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

 My name is Rex. I am a good dog.... Rex is also seven feet tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy-calibre weaponry, and a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He's part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, southeastern Mexico. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog, and to do that he must do exactly what Master says.    

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Dagnabbit! He's Done it Again!

  • By Simon on 28-12-18

Dagnabbit! He's Done it Again!

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

Reviewed: 28-12-18

I guess it shouldn't surprise me given that Tchaikovsky had me rooting for an race of alien spiders in his previous book that in this one he got me attached to a partly robot killer dog called Rex! This is one clever author, albeit one who is jaundiced against the human race, though being often of similar persuasion I can't fault him for that. In Dogs of War he once again explores the best and worst of human behaviour with everyone's favourite target, big business, once again coming under fire. Just what does happen when you augment animals with tech and ask them to fight your battles?

Dogs of War explores the relationship between a loyal dog and its master when that relationship is abused by it being used with bad intent. It's another clever book though rather shorter and definitely more easily accessible than Children of Time. There is a lot of action and it is brought to a very satisfying conclusion in terms of the story of Rex and his master being completed. If I was to pick at things that might put some off it would be that although the narration is overall of a very good standard, especially in the Rex sections, when we switch to Laurence Bouvard Rex suddenly sounds very weak, not surprisingly so hardly her fault but I found it distracting. Added to that the Rex sections are a bit repetitive as he struggles to work out if he is being a good or bad dog throughout.

To me they are relatively small things though and this is another entertaining read from a clever author who quite coherently had me believing in dogs and bears becoming friends and questioning whether either has more integrity than the average human being!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • The Hanging Club

  • By: Tony Parsons
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 8 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 959
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 894
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 895

A band of vigilante executioners roam London's hot summer nights, abducting evil men and hanging them. Sentenced to death is the gang member who abused vulnerable girls, the wealthy drunk driver who mowed down a child and the hate preacher calling for the murder of British troops. As the bodies pile up and riots explode all over the sweltering city, DC Max Wolfe embarks on his most dangerous investigation yet: hunting a gang of killers whom many believe to be heroes....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very enjoyable

  • By tired & cynical on 12-10-16

Hot in the City!

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

Reviewed: 22-12-18

One of my favourite detectives finds it seriously tough going when a band of vigilantes starts performing and broadcasting their own extreme form of justice. Wolfe's situation isn't helped by the general approval they receive from significant parts of the public, the victims of the men that they are hanging were all let down by the justice system. As the Summer heat builds so does the pressure as Max's boss suffers real trauma leaving him mostly to fend for himself.

It's compelling stuff and the scenes involving the hanging club themselves are chilling stuff. On the downside with this one there were some plot holes and in particular I felt that the police's difficulties in locating the kill site were stretched a little bit beyond credibility.

However, with Colin Mace's excellent narration it's still exciting stuff and as a character Wolfe looks to have a lot of mileage in him..

  • The Slaughter Man

  • By: Tony Parsons
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,049
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 978
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 978

On New Year’s Day, a wealthy family is found slaughtered inside their exclusive gated community in north London, their youngest child stolen away. The murder weapon is a gun for stunning cattle, leading Detective Max Wolfe to a dusty corner of Scotland Yard’s Black Museum devoted to a killer who thirty years ago was known as the Slaughter Man. But the Slaughter Man is now old and dying. Can he really be back in the game?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant!

  • By Ad the bad on 23-09-15

A Wolfe at the Door!

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

Reviewed: 22-12-18

Oh yes this is a series that is starting to look very well worth the high ratings that it is receiving. The star of the show is Detective Max Wolfe who is an easy to believe character who has convincing relationships with those around him. His gentle, loving relationship with his young daughter Scout provides beautiful contrast to the harrowing plots that he becomes embroiled with. Max Wolfe's London is not a safe place and its denizens know no bounds. Colin Mace is excellent as the narrator making this top quality audio.