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Hilary

Member Since 2010

226
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 49 reviews
  • 426 ratings
  • 1043 titles in library
  • 26 purchased in 2018
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
7

  • Piccadilly Jim

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By P. G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Martin Jarvis
    Overall
    (49)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (19)

    Jimmy Crocker, a.k.a. Piccadilly Jim is a lively young American ex-newspaper man who meets Ann Chester, the girl of his dreams, in London. Problem is Jim once wrote a bad review of her first book of poetry. They set sail to New York together with Ann still not knowing he's the dastardly critic!

    Hilary says: "New Wodehouse characters and a very good story"
    "New Wodehouse characters and a very good story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another great story from the incomparable Wodehouse, a new set of intriguing characters, getting themselves in unlikely muddles and brought to life so well by Martin Jarvis. You can foresee the disasters coming, but as you can be sure it will all work out happily in the end, relax and enjoy with a gentle smile on your face.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A City Dreaming

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Daniel Polansky
    • Narrated By Eric Meyers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability who would prefer drinking artisanal beer to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and now a rivalry between the city's two queens threatens to make the Big Apple go the way of Atlantis. To stop it, M will have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he's ever acquired. He might even have to get out of bed before noon.

    Hilary says: "Wonderful imaginative unusual fantasy- enjoy...."
    "Wonderful imaginative unusual fantasy- enjoy...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Looked forward to reading more by Daniel Polansky, after loving The Builders, and am very happy to have found A City Dreaming. This was an unusual, fascinating book and one I enjoyed from start to finish. The style is laid back, generally mellow, the prose is a pleasure and the strange, cleverly drawn character of M appealed to me from the start..

    A clever mixture of magical realism and urban fantasy,.with no conventional plot line. Instead a series of chapters in the life of M, living in a New York where monsters and magical creatures mingle amongst the locals. We gradually get to know more about M's particular circle of friends, and the various tasks, adventures and pleasures shared are fascinating, weird, imaginative and non stop entertaining.

    M is lazy, pleasure loving, morally flexible and can be deliberately irritating, but somehow always the one who gets called if someone is in trouble, or has a problem. He has magical powers which he uses gently or harshly, depending on circumstance. M remains a mystery and that is fine by me, I don't want him analysed, just hope he is around somewhere still.

    A City Dreaming is also a long love letter to New York, shown in so many of it's complexities, diversity and idiosyncrasies. I laughed about the invasion of the coffee shops, and many
    other humourous happenings, but this is balanced by episodes of cruelty and horror. Only fair because any great city has it's dark, vile underside. If you are a New Yorker you will enjoy extra subtleties and nuances, but this does not make it any the less enjoyable for those of us who have only dreamed of visiting.

    Eric Meyers is a new narrator to me and I am glad to have discovered his talent here. He added to my enjoyment of this excellent book which will remain a long term favourite of mine. (less)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bryant & May - Wild Chamber: Bryant and May, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Christopher Fowler
    • Narrated By Tim Goodman
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (90)

    The members of London's Peculiar Crimes Unit are on the case again when a dog walker is found dead. The method of the death is odd...the killer had no way in - or out - and the dog is nowhere to be seen. But the 'hows' and 'whys' of the murder are not the only mysteries, and it seems very likely that the killer is preparing to strike again.

    Hilary says: "Not your usual Parks and Gardens book"
    "Not your usual Parks and Gardens book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wild Chamber, the latest Bryant and May book and as fascinating as ever in one of my favourite series. Each book can be read as a standalone but I believe for most enjoyment they are best read in order, or at least begun earlier in the series. A vast history of the Peculiar Crimes Unit and the various relationships of its' members and associates has built up over many years and adds immeasurably to the overall pleasure. Some particular comments or unexpected characters in a book as far along as number fourteen may seem strange to a new reader.

    A long and complex investigation here, involving several murders, but that is what we have come to expect and it didn't disappoint. I am delighted that Arthur Bryant has survived his treatment and enjoyed the way that he uses his 'hallucinations' for some apt references from the past to help his thinking fall into place.

    This time we also learned about the many London Parks and green spaces to add to the wealth of London lore we gain from every single book. It was also a warning to keep our attention drawn on the threat that real life developers are posing to these precious green spaces and our need to protect them.

    Tim Goodman as always the perfect narrator, he has portrayed every single one of the many characters become old familiar friends .

    Thank you, Mr Fowler,sir, you are a master craftsman and I suspect there are echoes of yourself in Arthur, although hopefully not the hoarding of food in your pockets. Long may it continue.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Glass Houses: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Louise Penny
    • Narrated By Robert Bathurst
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2390)
    Performance
    (2191)
    Story
    (2181)

    When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead. From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

    Sara says: "The Balm Of Community "
    "Clever, thoughtful and a pleasure to read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Very happy to read Glass Houses, the latest treat in the Three Pines series of detective novels featuring Armand Gamache, his family and friends, his team at the Montreal Securite and the villagers of Three Pines. I cannot recommend these books highly enough, but do not expect fast action adventure style crime. They are clever, thoughtful, meticulously planned and the prose is a pleasure to read.

    The crimes addressed in these books vary between those that result from personal situations, but others recognisable as directly associated with the harsh effect of breakdowns in society or political actions in our modern world.

    Glass Houses deals with the unavoidable fact that police forces worldwide are losing the battle against organised crime. They face a never ending war against criminals with vast resources of power and wealth behind them, and informants and spies at every level of society. I found this book hard to put aside, because it is very tense and I was concerned for many of the characters, but it has proved one of the very best in the series.

    As the books progress the characters grow a little older, go through various life experiences, good, bad, funny or sad and we are drawn in effortlessly to share them and to care about them. Not caring in a sentimental way, these characters are realistic, down to earth and straight talking. They are endearing because we can find parts of ourselves in most of them, not just the best, but maybe among the scared, lonely, angry, sweary or grouchy bits.

    In each book Louise Penny introduces new intriguing facts about some unusual aspect such as about Canadian life, international tradition, or a particular trade to add to the general enjoyment and this book is no exception, but I will not spoiler.

    The narrator, Robert Bathurst is excellent. His reading is clear, conveying the essence of each character well, he adds to the pleasure of this book.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Dark Sky: Keiko, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Mike Brooks
    • Narrated By Damian Lynch
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (55)

    For the crew of the Keiko, their stay at the Grand House casino on New Samara was supposed to be a well-deserved rest. It didn't last. Captain Ichabod Drift promised that the side trip to the mining planet Uragan would be a quick in and out - a data retrieval job then back to the tables. He was wrong. When the revolution comes, all you can do is choose a side and hope to get out alive.

    Sean Scott Grice Jr says: "Awesome. "
    "Great series with action, adventure and humour"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Thoroughly enjoyed Dark Sky, second book in the space opera series aboard the space ship Keiko. I like dour, conscienceless Ichabod Drift and his well mixed human crew, just about getting by with very dodgy but correspondingly well paid work. Naturally this leads to complications and so far they have made a quite a few enemies around the universe they operate in. Expecting these to turn up again in the future to extract revenge. All the crew have a complicated back story, some previous secrets revealed in the first book Dark Run, more coming out here in Dark Sky, but still much unknown.

    It is a pretty grim universe in general, with rather basic terra formed way stations between industrial planets. There are luxuries for the wealthy but everyone else out for what they can get to survive. An overriding harshly authoritarian governing body seems to be in general control, but to be honest I found this far more realistic than a future universe of sweetness and light. Despite this there is good humour among the crew and the crazy situations they land up with.

    This was great fun to listen to, read by one of the best possible SFF narrators, Damian Lynch, and his accents for the different nationalities were perfect, and he did full justice to author's well rounded characters . Specially delighted to have a big Maori around for a change. This series has me hooked and looking forward to more. Thanks Mike Brooks, please keep them coming. (less)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elemental, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Rain Oxford
    • Narrated By Todd Menesses
    Overall
    (490)
    Performance
    (451)
    Story
    (451)

    Devon Sanders, a private investigator known for his efficiency and discretion, has no interest in getting involved with the paranormal community. Unfortunately for him, the paranormal community does have an interest in him, or at least in his secret.

    James says: "A long and crazy ride"
    "Quintessence University? Enrol me now...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Enjoyable new urban fantasy series with a private detective, Devon Sanders, enrolling secretly as a new student in a supernatural university called Quintessence. A star for that name and the M C Escheresque architecture alone.

    This may sound like a cross between the two Harrys, Potter and Dresden, but this book has its own original style and individuality, as well as introducing some less common fantasy creatures. Fast action, realistic dialogue, and humour as well as flashbacks for character background. I mostly dislike flashbacks so was pleased with the way these were introduced smoothly and kept brief.

    Narrator, Todd Menesses, takes a while to get used to, although is good overall. His choice of narrative style for Devon, first person narrator, is gritty and staccato, and although Devon is not young, I didn't think he was so old or jaded. General narration fine, excellent at differentiating individual characters,of which there are many. Todd does noticeably well with the female ones, who often suffer with male narrators.

    I am a devoted Dresden fan and did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Will definitely continue with more in the series soon.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels, Peter Ganim, John Scalzi, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1206)
    Performance
    (1116)
    Story
    (1119)

    The ex-planet Pluto has a few choice words about being thrown out of the solar system. A listing of alternate histories tells you all the various ways Hitler has died. A lawyer sues an interplanetary union for dangerous working conditions. And four artificial intelligences explain, in increasingly worrying detail, how they plan not to destroy humanity. Welcome to Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi.

    Andre Wallace Simonsen says: "Small doses of "Scalzian" humor"
    "Brighten a dull day some fun"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is short and light weight but gloriously funny, filled with John Scalzi's imagination par excellence. I laughed all the way through and was sorry when it ended. Recommended with happy laughter to brighten your day.

    Excellent narrators, each perfect for the particular part they read, made it even more enjoyable. Thank you Mr Scalzi.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anansi Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Lenny Henry
    Overall
    (12578)
    Performance
    (9853)
    Story
    (9853)

    Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times best seller American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny, a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him."

    A. Hawley says: "Beautifully narrated"
    "Read with mellow perfection, leaves you smiling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Many of Neil Gaiman's stories border on the macabre and his humour is often a little grim. Anansi Boys is a world away from this style, but brim full of his neat turns of phrase and evocative description. A joyful change, packed with fun, leaving me with the satisfied smugness you indulge in when you discover yet another book that made life feel particularly good and smiling.

    A modern day folk story of two brothers, Fat Charlie and Spider, sons of Mr Nancy who have been separated since they were very young. So young that Fat Charlie had not known about his brother until he meets some old ladies at his father's funeral.

    At the same time he also learns that Mr Anansi was in reality the mischievous Spider God, Anansi, but only his brother Spider inherited the God-powers. Once they meet and interact in each others' lives more weird and wonderful human and animal god characters intervene and complicate events. What follows is a colourful riot of outrageously improbable misadventure.

    I was lucky enough to come to this as an audible book with an outstanding narrator who worked further magic on the prose and dialogue. Lenny Henry read this with mellow perfection and exactly the right voice, accent and intonation for each of the many characters. Highly recommended.

    Quote

    'Daisy looked at him with an expression Jesus might have had, if someone had told him they were probably allergic to bread and fish and could he do them a quick chicken salad…..'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • City of Blades: The Divine Cities

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Robert Jackson Bennett
    • Narrated By Alma Cuervo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (304)
    Story
    (305)

    The city of Voortyashtan was once the home of the goddess of death, war, and destruction, but now it's little more than a ruin. General Turyin Mulaghesh is called out of retirement and sent to this hellish place to find a Saypuri secret agent who's gone AWOL in the middle of a mission. But the ghosts of past wars have followed her there, and soon she begins to wonder what happened to the souls in the afterlife when the gods were defeated by her people, the Polis. Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death?

    Matthew says: "A Sequel Refined into Magnificence"
    "Meet the harsh Goddess of War and Death"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another excellent book in the Divine Cities trilogy featuring my favourite of the two female main characters from City of Stairs, General Turyin Mulaghesh. She is as gruff, tough and snarky as ever, but needs all those qualities in spades on her new mission to Voortyashthan. Fortunately another of our favourite characters, Sigrud the Dreyling eventually turns up to help.

    Although these books feature a crime as a background plot, they are not really detective stories, but more an exploration of politics, war strategy and the effects of a reversal of power when the slaves of Saypur rebelled and subdued their former masters, the states in the Continent. Now those states are paying, although some degree of aid to rebuild and improve is being given under the regime led by President Shara Komayd.

    Superbly written, with the main theme revolving around death, war and an afterlife, the story is grim and harsh, cruel and uncompromising in places, with hardly a shred of humour. This is balanced by interesting strands of plot, several good characters and fairly constant action.

    Not lightweight but interesting and worthwhile. If you enjoyed City of Stairs I recommend this and am pretty sure you will be glad to read it. Looking forward to the final book in the series while hoping it will be less grim. Real life gives sparse hope in situations such as those of the Divine Cities under a harsh master's heel, but this is fantasy so maybe a glimmer of light will break through in The City of Miracles.

    Alma Cuervo, repeating her performance from the first book and making all the characters come perfectly alive as recognisable individuals.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • City of Stairs

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Robert Jackson Bennett
    • Narrated By Alma Cuervo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (712)
    Performance
    (647)
    Story
    (652)

    The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions - until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself - first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it - stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy. Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani.

    Scott Simons says: "Something Different"
    "What happens when The Gods disappear?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett will be high on my list of favourite books this year. A strange and fascinating world and its history with divinity myths, politics, rebellions and intrigue all woven together with the investigation of a crime as the basis. It lives up to all that is promised in the summary and introduces some well rounded, articulate, intelligent characters with whom you can empathise.

    The book begins with a court scene in Saypur, the authoritarian and bureaucratic state separated by sea from the Continent it now rules. Once the dominant powers, under divine rule and protection, the states of the Continent are powerless and resentful. The Gods are gone, religion no longer officially acceptable and Saypur is a tough unforgiving master, remembering the wrongs it suffered long ago.

    Shades of Stalinist Russia are all through this book, but there are many other cultural and political references that click as you read, clear echoes of our world's problems without being forced, as well as much wonderfully imaginative invention.

    The beginning of the book may seem slow but the pace speeds up and towards the end certainly becomes a headlong rush against time nail-biting and nerve wracking in a good way.

    The two female leads, Shara Thivani, the diplomat/spy and Mulaghesh, the local military commander in Bulikov were excellent characters. They were tough, resilient, practical, and Mulaghesh's wry humour in particular provided a balance with Shara's intense concentration and concern. Sigrud, the Dreyling, of unusual race made an effective bodyguard/companion was intriguing and deserves more exposure, I'm glad he will feature in further books of this series.

    Other prominent and interesting characters were introduced and different emotions stirred. Be prepared for some serious Grim. Some of those old Gods were beneficent, as long as you obeyed the rules to the letter, and you may be showered with wonderful miracle treats – but retribution for an accidental slip was fast and cruel.

    The narrator of this audible version, Alma Cuervo was excellent, she differentiated and enlivened all the characters perfectly and added to the overall enjoyment.

    This is a complex and very rewarding book which has much of interest and detail to offer and enjoy. Look forward to the rest of the series coming to Audible and glad to recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Prince of Thorns

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Mark Lawrence
    • Narrated By James Clamp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2809)
    Performance
    (2599)
    Story
    (2606)

    Author Mark Lawrence has won over audiences everywhere with Prince of Thorns, his exciting debut novel. Nine-year-old Prince Jorg is forced to watch as his mother and brother are slaughtered. Fleeing the palace, Jorg joins a bloodthirsty band of thugs. But he’s determined to take back what’s rightfully his, so he returns to the castle a few years later - unaware of the dark and powerful magic that awaits.

    Door says: "It sticks in your head."
    "Compelling anti-hero Jorg Ancrath"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was completely absorbed in this book, and listened straight through in almost one weekend. It is an excellent start to the trilogy and confirmed my admiration for Mark Lawrence as a great fantasy writer. The plot is summarised above so will just note that it is fast moving, exciting and contains some unexpected strategies to solve problems. It is written in part with flashback chapters, but not so often as to disrupt the flow.

    My greatest pleasure in this book came from the superbly created main character, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, and written from his first person point of view throughout. He wasn't a born psychopath, but could be mistaken for one. Circumstances have taught him survival is all, decisive fast action is paramount, whatever it takes to succeed. Compromise is never a consideration.

    Without the hatred and single minded pursuit of revenge against the whole world, there would be no substance to Jorg. His childhood experience directs every aspect of his life, future plans and outlook. We are reminded of this occasionally with metaphorical reference to hooks or thorns .

    Compelling reading as long as you can accept the cruel violence as part of Jorg and his place within the Broken Empire. Jorg's road brothers, very well written and individualised by the narrator, so each was easily visualised. Other unusual creatures, maybe semi human, were introduced providing speculation on their origin and how they may affect the future.

    Some gloriously unbelievable deus ex machina moments - a fortuitous kick from a horse ? Please. But entirely acceptable because this is exactly that kind of book and we enjoy them with quiet smile as they leave our anti-hero, more or less in one piece, to carry on.

    The audible narrator, James Clamp, was excellent. He found the perfect voice for Jorg and differentiated all the other characters well. Very happy he narrates the next book in the series King of Thorns and I plan to begin listening straight away.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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