Winter King is a detailed, clearly written and logical account of the life of Henry VII. I had previously read little about this English king, founder of the Tudor dynasty, so I appreciated the depth the author provided in this biography of the man. However, Henry wasn't a particularly admirable or charismatic person, so while learning this much about him was "good for my mind," it was not especially enjoyable or inspiring.
I recommend this book only for readers who are seriously interested in the Tudors and want a more complete understanding of the man who began their period of rule. The account explains much about the infamous Henry VIII who more than made up for his father's basic dullness with his own flamboyant, ostentatious reign. In many obvious ways he counter-scripted his father's style of kingship. However, both men were very aware of the tenuousness of their claim to the English throne and were therefore scrupulous in surrounding themselves and their court with a number of blatant outward symbols of royalty and wealth. They both could be extremely ruthless in holding onto power and obtaining what they wanted personally, showing little regard for the rights of their subjects or even those of their own family members.
Listening to Winter King was a worthwhile use of my time because the biography was well done, but mostly because I have a fascination with Elizabeth I and this book fills in an important piece of her family puzzle.
For the most part this was a well done account of the lives of a selected group of Titanic survivors after this tragic event. However, I rated the book only as 3 stars because of the liberties the author took in providing the final thoughts of some individuals at the ends of their lives. I found it especially egregious when he described the dying thoughts of several suicides as if he were working from a transcript of their last musings. This is not a novel; it is a work of nonfiction. As such, the author had the responsibility to his subjects and his readers to at least offer some disclaimer explaining that he was taking license based on his understanding of these people from his research.
The sinking of the Titanic has fascinated people of all ages for more than a hundred years. As a child, I remember watching the TV production of "A Night to Remember" and then reading the book. Years later, my young students loved the section of their reading anthology that described this historical event. There are so many books and movies about the Titanic that have continued to be immensely popular. "Shadow of the Titanic" is unique in continuing this tragic story past the horrific events of that cold night in April of 1912, past the headlines and shock around the world. It carefully probed the effects this event had on the future lives of a broad array of survivors. I found it worth reading and carefully researched. The book forced me to think about the actual people involved, and I cared about them. Perhaps that is why was I was offended when the author attempted to read their minds as they died. To me this was a serious flaw in an otherwise excellent book.
I rated this book 5 stars from my reading of the print version several years ago and would rate it even higher, if I could, after finishing the audiobook. It's clearly a novel; the author takes the liberty of revealing Henry's thoughts which, of course, are unknowable. However, the background is so well-reserached that Henry's "thoughts' fit well with what is recorded about him and the times. Will Somers' comments helped provide counterpoint to Henry's perspective and occasionally add needed objectivity. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Tudors.
There was a lot of good information on positive ways to interact with and train your dog in this book. I like that. However, the frequent name-dropping of Hollywood clients, such as Oprah, got more than a little tiresome. Also, the narrator’s cloyingly sweet tone in the audiobook became annoying quickly.
I believe in positive training methods, I really do. However, this trainer implied that changing aggressive and troublesome canine behavior was simply a matter of getting your dog to love you through treats and petting. It’s often way more complicated than a few simple sessions of positive reinforcement. I applaud that she was attempting to get people to think positively and work with their dog’s issues rather than dropping the animal off at the nearest shelter. Unfortunately that is a very common response, and the author was clear and blunt about what actually happens when a dog or cat is discarded this way. People need to know that BEFORE they take on the responsibility of an animal and think long and hard before giving up once they have.
So while giving people effective tools to work with the problems their companion animals have is a great thing, it is also important to be clear about the time and effort significant behavior change takes. It’s definitely worth doing, but the transformation seldom happens over-night or even within a 30 day period of time. In addition, I believe there is a place for negative consequences in training troublesome canine behavior that is not responding to more positive, “friendly” methods. You need to love your dog (or your child) enough to be the “bad guy” occasionally. It can save their life.
I’m glad I listened to this book. The author is an experienced trainer with much to offer. She just doesn’t have the entire answer for every dog in all situations. If her program doesn’t work with your dog(s), try some Michael Ellis training DVDs and use what works for you.
I enjoyed this book. It was light and fun, just what I was in the mood for. I plan to listen to others by this author when I'm looking for something similar. Time travel always requires some suspension of belief but this made enough sense to work without being distracting. I thought the book was well-written and provided just enough glimpse back into the historical period to teach me a little something along the way. Nicola Barber did a nice job of narrating the book. No need for a plot summary here; audible has provided that.
If you like a bit of history and a light romance with some time travel thrown in, give this book a try.
This was a fairly short book, and as a devoted dog parent, I found that it went quickly. This audiobook was narrated by Hilary Swank which added a lot to the listening experience. Pack of Two is a very personal account of the author's relationship with her dog, Lucille, and how it enriched and deepened her life. However, it provides both sides of the dog/human bond, including some of the very special benefits as well as darker aspects that, in some unfortunate cases, became pathological.
There were times when I honestly felt sorry for Caroline Knapp because she seemed so needy and isolated. I really love our three dogs and spend a great deal of time working and playing with them, but this author was truly obsessed with Lucille, her only close connection in the world. I was glad she had this wonderful being in her life, a dog she had rescued from probable euthanasia in a shelter, but she seemed so concerned with the possible abnormality of their relationship that I pitied her a little. She gave examples of friends with similar issues, a few of whom were pretty scary. Her own background was quite tragic, involving a lonely childhood, struggles with anorexia, and alcoholism. Her relationship with her dog in her mid-thirties was the first in her life that felt authentic and satisfying.
As a pretty fanatic animal lover myself, I identified with her devotion to her dog, and I enjoyed the book mostly. I only wish her life had been happier in other ways. She died several years after writing this book of lung cancer, and I can't help wondering what happened to Lucille when Caroline was no longer there to care for her. I can only hope a family member or friend has adopted the dog and continued to provide her with the love and devotion she had come to depend upon. We owe our animals that for the many gifts they give us.
I liked this book more than I had expected. It’s a novel, a fictionalized account of what might have happened if Anne Boleyn had written a diary. Of course the author made assumptions that cannot be verified as fact--that’s what happens with historical fiction. What mattered to me was that these assumptions not clash with what is actually known about Anne, those around her, and the setting in which she lived. The events in her story must agree with those from history sufficiently for me to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the book.
I have more than a casual interest in Tudor history and found that the author was remarkably accurate in relating the known events that occurred during Anne’s life. This made the fiction mostly plausible for me. The novel is a sympathetic portrait of Anne Boleyn, told from her perspective, showing a woman living in the “man’s world” with all the struggles and tragedies this entailed. I recognized a number of quotes from Anne, Henry, and others that have been documented by historians and placed in this fictional context. This gave necessary credibility to the tale as it unfolded. Of course I knew the ending, but I still cared.
Robin Maxwell wove her story of Anne with that of her daughter Elizabeth, newly come to the throne as a young and passionate woman. For me that was one of the most effective aspects of this novel. It is the story of two women, living in an age where they were considered mere chattel, having virtually no rights or control over their lives. Neither was suited to their prescribed female roles in that society, and both struggled mightily against its constraints. The mother was destroyed while the daughter prevailed to become one of England’s greatest rulers. This novel attempts to explain how this might have come about.
I found other reviews interesting. People seemed to love this book or hate it. I agree that there were problems with the story--elements that seem improbable knowing what we do from history. But there was a lot this author got right as well. I’ll not give it 5 stars because I did notice the occasional implausible details and they disrupted the narrative for me a bit. However, from my perspective this novel deserves 4 stars for what the author got right and for this unusual portrait she gave me of Anne, Elizabeth, and the Tudor era. Besides, it was a lot of fun to listen to!
I enjoyed listening to this novelization of Shakespeare's Macbeth far more than I had expected. I was concerned about modern authors taking my favorite of The Bard’s plays and putting it into a completely different format. For the first hour I remained unconvinced that this had been a good idea. It took me that long to become immersed in 11th century Scotland where this story is set. From that point on I was swept along with the characters through the familiar events of the play, but seeing all of it from a completely new perspective.
It was a brutal, unforgiving landscape with bleak, lonely castles, cold winds, rain and sleet; it was peopled by semi-civilized men from all stations in medieval Scottish society. It is against this backdrop and within this culture that a basically decent man and his wife find themselves tempted to face and confront the basest aspects their nature. When they urge each other to submit to sinister ambition and justify the murder of their king, they bring about utter ruin for themselves as individuals and for their previously deep and committed relationship. By losing their integrity, they forfeit everything that has given their lives and their marriage meaning.
The novel form of this story did more than fill in details not found in the play. It allowed the authors to fully develop characters not only of Macbeth and his wife but of many other players as well. The witches were fleshed out and appeared prominently throughout the story as malevolent, unearthly reflections of Macbeth, Skena, and those around them. One of the important points of the play and this novel is that we are what we do; the choices we make define us. The witches merely reflect back to the characters what is already inside of them, causing them to become self-aware. They never actually force anyone to act on this knowledge.
I almost gave this audiobook five stars instead of four Overall. The narration was superb, and the story itself totally captivated me after the initial hour. However, unlike the play, this novel was less than subtle in pointing out its important themes. At times I felt distracted as the authors interrupted the flow of their narrative in order to bludgeon me with its “deeper meaning,” as we described it in high school. I want important messages to become clear as the story moves along, but I should at least have to pay attention to notice them.
However, I’m so glad I purchased this audiobook from audible, and I recommend it to most readers, especially if you liked Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I also appreciated the comments given by A.J. Hartley at the beginning of the presentation and again after it ended. They provided historical and literary context which I found helpful.
I love all of Ken Follett's books! I guess I'd have to say that Pillars of the Earth is my favorite, but I have also enjoyed the first two books in his new trilogy on the 20th century. Fall of Giants was very good, but I liked this novel more, possibly because WWII is more compelling than the preceding period--at least for me. I've read a good bit of non-fiction and fiction on this topic but I had never before been exposed to the Fascist movement in Britain during the 1930s or the underground spy system that operated to aid the Soviets in Hitler's wartime Germany.
Placement of central characters in the U.S., Britain, German, and the U.S.S.R. made these events and their connections personal and relevant for me. Where most WWII books end happily at the end of the fighting, this one continues after peace is declared and portrays the ravages of the fighting on people and cities that had been bombed nearly to rubble. I never understood the context that caused the British to vote Churchill out of office so soon after he had brought them successfully to victory; it makes sense to me now. Follett even showed why some American scientists were willing to give the Soviets information to build nuclear weapons; he didn't justify it but he did provide perspective and enabled me to see it from a more rational point of view.
I found Winter of the World compelling because of its plot and character development, but it also caused me to view the history I had lived through in a new light. It encouraged me to consider and re-evaluate events I thought I had long ago settled opinions on. It's rare to find a novel that can entertain and enlighten at the same time. I recommend this book enthusiastically.
I love the style and thoroughness of this author. Her books are lengthy, and truthfully I just don't have the time to sit down long enough to read them although I really enjoyed her book about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Time and Chance. It took me forever to finish because life kept interrupting whenever I sat down to pick it up. With the audio version of Lionheart, however, it was wonderful to put on my earphones, turn on the iPod, and lose myself in the saga of Richard I while going about my tasks. I'd really like to do this with the rest of her books. Hopefully they will become available in audiobook format soon.
I enjoyed listening to the language, descriptions, and historic detail in this book. The characters were portrayed as complex and flawed which brought to life these distant and often murky historical people.
I just enjoyed the total tapestry created by the author and really couldn't choose a favorite section. It all fit together which is one of the things that made the book so excellent.
The narrator's performance enhanced the book for me. Listening to this book in one sitting was not possible because it was over 24 hours in length. However, I did have trouble turning of my iPod when I needed to.
I learned a great deal from listening to Lionheart and really hope audible can provide the sequel when it becomes available as well as at least some of Penman's other novels.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.