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Stephen

Shatin, Hong Kong | Member Since 2002

16
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 5 reviews
  • 94 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ian Mortimer
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
    Overall
    (461)
    Performance
    (336)
    Story
    (336)

    Imagine you could travel back to the 14th century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? And what are you going to eat? Ian Mortimer shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. He sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you to the Middle Ages. The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: evolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail.

    Marc-Andr? says: "Detailed, Interesting and Entertaining"
    "Best travel book ever"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have always enjoyed medieval history and historical fiction. My favourite setting is England, and my favourite century is the fourteenth. This is a travel guide to England in the fourteenth century, and it really brought the time and place brilliantly to life. It is all in the present tense, and really does succeed in putting you right there among villeins, yeomen, sheriffs, forest outlaws, minstrelry, the 'great pestilence' (black death), manorial courts, etc etc. Loved every minute of it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • SPQR III: The Sacrilege

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By John Maddox Roberts
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (67)

    When a sacret woman's rite in the ancient city of Rome is infiltrated by a corrupt patrician dressed in female garb, it falls to Senator Decuis Caecilius Metellus the Younger, whose investigative skills have proven indispensable in the past, to unmask the perpetrators. When four brutal slayings follow, Decius enlists the help a notorious and dangerous criminal.

    Judith A. Weller says: "Great Roman Mystery"
    "Contrived and disappointing conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes. The story was very entertaining and provided plenty of historical atmosphere, but the ending was very disappointing. SPOILER ALERT: The truth behind the mystery was revealed towards the end of the book in a long letter written by one of the murdered characters. This struck me as a plainly lazy way to round out a murder mystery. Also, the letter that named the murderers and revealed a treasonous plot was conveniently handed over to one of the plotters (a real historical character) in a final scene that seemed like the ancient Roman equivalent of a movie car chase. It was quite corny and very hard to believe.


    Would you be willing to try another book from John Maddox Roberts? Why or why not?

    Yes. Parts 1 and 2 of the series were excellent, so I am prepared to believe that the substandard conclusion of part 3 was anomalous.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    Lee was an excellent and most convincing narrator.


    Did SPQR III: The Sacrilege inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I am looking forward to the many subsequent instalments in this series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The History of Ancient Egypt

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Bob Brier
    Overall
    (316)
    Performance
    (297)
    Story
    (300)

    Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. It lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. Its Great Pyramid of Cheops was the tallest building in the world until well into the 19th century and remains the only Ancient Wonder still standing. And it was the most technologically advanced of the ancient civilizations, with the medical knowledge that made Egyptian physicians the most famous in the world.

    Nassir says: "Incomprehensibly complete"
    "Tombs, tombs, tombs"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would have appreciated a bigger picture narrative and assessment of ancient Egypt, rather than one that focuses so much on archaeology.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    There is far too much focus on the minutiae of the archeological record.


    Do you think The History of Ancient Egypt needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Yes; a book that gives a better overview of Egyptian politics, economics and society.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Silver Pigs

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Lindsey Davis
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (258)
    Performance
    (139)
    Story
    (139)

    One fine day, A.D. 70, Sosia Camillina quite literally runs into Marcus Didius Falco on the steps of the Forum. It seems Sosia is on the run from a couple of street toughs, and after a quick and dirty rescue, P.I. Falco wants to know why.

    Matthew R. Fomby says: "Wonderful adventure..."
    "Show some respect, commoner!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I love historical fiction, especially when it is set in the Roman Republic or Empire. This is the first Didius Falco novel I have read, and I found it generally entertaining. I quite like Falco himself, and the way in which the author depicted Rome and Roman Britain. Everything was going nicely until Falco (a plebeian gumshoe detective in 70 AD) started interacting directly with senior members of the imperial family, including the Emperor himself. Falco seemed not the slightest bit awed or even outwardly respectful. He was even fairly rude to them. Not only that, but Falco also spurned, in a most rude way, a high honour bestowed on him by the Emperor. His behaviour was not exactly irrational (there were some barely good reasons), but his behaviour was difficult to believe in the historical and social context of ancient Rome. I found this aspect of the book significantly detracting from the aura of historical realism that surrounded an otherwise 'ripping yarn' from classical Rome.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lisey's Story

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Mare Winningham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1497)
    Performance
    (531)
    Story
    (539)

    Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband, Scott, two years ago, after a 25-year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Scott was an award-winning, best-selling novelist, and a very complicated man. Early in their relationship, before they married, Lisey had to learn from him about books and blood and "bools". Later, she understood that there was a place Scott went, a place that both terrified and healed him, could eat him alive, or give him the ideas he needed in order to live.

    krista says: "Atypical"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall

    I bought this because it was written by Stephen King and I have greatly enjoyed pretty much everything he has written, including the much-maligned "Cell". What a disappointment this book turned out to be.

    First of all, this is basically a love story. That's ok, I was interested in how King might approach the genre. The trouble is, the main character (Lisey Landon) is just plain boring. She appears to have no life, interest, or friends of her own. Her only relationships seem to be with her sisters.

    Even 2 years after his death, Lisey is still obesessing over Scott every waking minute, and in her dreams. This gets really tedious. The tedium is only partly alleviated by the stalker with whom Lisey needs to deal, and by the flashbacks to Scott's childhood where some seriously King-style supernaturalism is going on in the form of were-wolfism, parallel existences, and some nasty but mysterious beast called 'Long Boy'.

    Like many other reviewers I found the constant overuse of catch-words and catch-phrases ('smucking', 'bad gunkie', 'strap it on', etc ad nauseam) intensely irritating. Unlike some, I was able to follow the somewhat overcomplicated structure of many of the flashbacks, though there were times I came too close to literally losing the plot.

    I also came close on several occasions to giving up on this book before the end. I didn't because it was King, and I was sure he would spring a surprise and turn the whole experience around. It didn't happen. I should have given up and used those hours for something else.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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