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Another masterful epic from Max Hastings

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

Reviewed: 05-02-20

The Dambusters rank pretty high in the mythology of the 39-45 War and surely no-one doesn't know the story, if only from the classic film. Having seen and having read quite a lot on this subject in the past I was concerned that there wasn't much more to say on the subject, so I'd previously resisted buying this title. However, of course I shouldn't have worried. Max Hastings yet again brings his power of massive research, intellectual reach and historical insight to bear and he weaves the history, the interviews and the analysis into a consistently compelling narrative with not a little opinion on some of the associated personalities and the significance of some of the results of the mission. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

A rambling yarn

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

Reviewed: 05-02-20

I've downloaded a few of these expansive and generally multi-part sci-fi epics and this one is better than many in concept and scope. You don't have to concentrate too hard, so they're good for insomnia or long journeys! However, the main issue I have with many of this genre, and this one is no exception, is that they routinely seem to default to a US-Marine-based shoot-em-up in which the outer space location is largely irrelevant and the story could be transposed to Vietnam/Iraq/France etc etc in more recent times... There's lots of aerial dog fighting too, slotted in between the recurrent Marine gun action. The more thoughtful narrative bits about science, exploration or origin or even galactic politics and associated machinations are much more varied and, I found, much more interesting for that. I actually eventually started skipping through some of the fighty bits of this title to get to chapters that had a bit less gun action and more substance, and a slightly less predictable narrative thread. Let's fervently hope that this vision of a constantly warring, militarised galactic travelling future isn't how it actually turns out if the human race ever does make it to the stars!

4 people found this helpful

Starts well but tails off a bit

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

Reviewed: 07-01-20

Once I had adjusted to the laid back style of the narrator I started to enjoy the voicing and found a large chunk of this book fairly agreeable although the last part was less compelling. An adult being shipped back to re-live a life is a fairly common time travel trope but it has some interesting angles in this case. Yes, it's time travel and yes, it's fiction, verging on fantasy, but some of the plot leaps and action devices were extreme in their range while some of the behavioral inconsistencies of the main protagonist were a challenge to swallow, I found; routinely child one minute, time lord genius the next etc... Anyway, much of the articulation of the 'science' and 'logic' of time travel is well done, better in fact than the overall arc of the story which, as others have said, goes off cam in the last third, although not enough to cause me to abandon ship!

Thoroughly enjoyable meandering saga

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

Reviewed: 03-01-20

I have always enjoyed Mark Radcliffe's informed and experienced but pleasantly self-deprecating manner on Radio 1 and later on 6 Music etc, so it was great to listen to him read his own words covering his take on a bunch of pivotal moments in modern musical history. There are some good stories in here and even the bits of history with which one might be familiar are rendered in an amusing and engaging way and some bits are properly funny although I stress that this is light touch popular music history and is not a comedy book.

If you enjoy your music and music history, this is well worth a listen.

2 people found this helpful

Surprisingly enjoyable and better than expected

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

Reviewed: 03-01-20

I initially rejected this title in my browsing for a new monthly addition to my library since the 'groundhog day' type plot scenario sounded a bit hackneyed. But I came back to it and gave it a go on the strength of some of the other reviews here. I'm glad I did since I really enjoyed this book's take on the idea of how one would deal with re-living life again, and again, armed with accumulating memories of the previous lives and the associated relationships and experiences... Some of it is actually quite thought provoking as much as it is a good yarn overall.

Personally, I could have done without some of the adolescent level sexual content in several iterations of the main protagonist's life, and couldn't really understand why it needed to be there in the form it was, apart from titillation, and it maybe could have been done with more subtlety.

Compelling, insightful and well-written book

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

Reviewed: 03-01-20

As some of the other reviews have said, this book is much more interesting and enjoyable than you might expect it to be. It is certainly worth your time, even if you're not a motor racing enthusiast as it gives real insight into the fantastical level of analysis and indeed obsession that F1 designers put into their cars. There are some nice personal touches too, covering parents, schools, failed marriages, children etc, so it's not just a blow-by-blow F1 chronicle. Of course the Senna part is particularly significant (and clearly painful to Newey), but it's fascinating to hear about the functional idiosyncrasies and political machinations at Williams and McLaren, and of Newey's (almost) dalliances with Ferrari and Jaguar.

However, I wonder if Adrian Newey himself has ever listened to this narration, as he might wince at the rendering of some names/expressions. Was there much technical liaison with the narrator before sitting him behind the microphone? The quality of the narration - voice, intonation, speed etc, is actually very good but there are several clunkers that will jar with anyone who has slightly more than a passing familiarity with F1. Important acronomys (eg FOCA/KERS) are routinely spelled out rather than spoken as the single words you might normally expect and thus sound odd. There are also several familiar yet strangely pronounced driver names and circuit names. There are maybe three references to a Cosworth 'DVF' instead of DFV. None of which sounds like much, but the narrator has read some things wrongly (or at best, differently from the norm) and it harms the flow, like misprints in a hard copy book. This isn't enough overall to spoil the enjoyable nature of the book, but how difficult would it have been for an editor to make sure than any words or expressions that might be rendered wrongly are identified and the rendering clarified in advance, and thus glitches avoided in the final version? This book is certainly not alone in this issue by any means and probably reflects the downside of having a professional but non-technically au fait narrator voice a book containing specialist technical elements.

Sorry to harp on about that, because, just to reiterate, most of the narration was excellent and I did enjoy this book a lot and listened to it in long chunks without my attention flagging!

Great Gunther story but some audio oddities...

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

Reviewed: 06-10-19

These yarns are always a great mix of history and crime fiction and we shall miss the late Philip Kerr after his untimely demise a short while back. Bernie Gunther is a wonderful character but the nature of that character is very influenced by the voice and tone of the reader and this Bernie, voiced by Paul Hecht, is a very different Bernie from the much brasher Bernie evoked by Jeff Harding on most of the other Audible titles. And I'm not sure which I prefer, but Hecht's does seem a bit more thoughtful and introspective by way of the quieter tone of voice.

However, there are some odd quirks in this production with a number of spoken lines repeated as the Hecht appears to change his mind on some pronunciations, which is a little disconcerting and attention-breaking. Don't understand why this recording wasn't edited a bit better.

Anyway, for those new to Bernie Gunther you have a to to look forward to and enough books to keep you going for months! I wish I hadn't heard them all!

Really good latest addition to the series

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

Reviewed: 21-08-19

This Expanse series has been amazingly effective at drawing you in to the whole saga, book after book. If at times I became a little confused about who was who and where we were at a precise point in the story, it actually didn't matter in the end as you remain engrossed in the whole narrative flow and feel compelled to find out what happens next and how the Rocinante crew are going to prevail, or not...

(spoiler alert ! ) I thought the incidental discovery and subsequent deployment of the anti-matter was a bit of a slack plot device, but, whatever, it's just a sci-fi story after all and the drama unfolded thereafter really well. At times it gets a bit overwhelming with detail and description, but I can live with that as part of the overall flow.

I find myself genuinely looking forward to the next book, but am wondering how long Holden and crew can keep going as they're getting pretty old now, despite the advances in human lifespan - and I'm not sure it would be so compelling without the core central heroic characters who we have grown to 'love'. Very well read and recommended!

Wonderful entertainment

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

Reviewed: 21-08-19

I listen to a lot of procedural police drama and get a bit jaded by some it that doesn’t quite work as it might and leaves me feeling a bit weary when it does eventually come to the denouement. But this new DCI Daley yarn is a really, really, very good one, even though he’s a little peripheral to some of the central action - but he’s always there and always involved and the marital subplot leaves you wanting them to sort it out and achieve personal equilibrium at least. It’s actually properly nice to have a story where the characters on the ‘right’ side are actually likeable and amusing, rather that utterly dysfunctional caricature misfits who drive the plot in some similar yarns, including some others set in Scotland. I really enjoyed this book as possibly the best in the Daley series, of which I have read all, and thoroughly enjoyed. Recommended! Enjoy!

A good yarn, well read

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

Reviewed: 23-06-19

Peter Hook admits he took a very long time to grow up and that for much of the Joy Division and New Order years he was something of an immature idiot - in common with most of the other band members. Would the music have been even better if they hadn’t been quite so drunk or quite so stupid - and what might have become of Ian Curtis if they’d been a bit more switched on to what was really going on with him? Anyway, it’s an honest and gripping tale from PH and provides some great insights into music life in this period. I really like it when the writer of a book like this reads his own stuff and PH does a great job in this instance.